The Alamedan questionnaire: Board of Education candidates

The Alamedan questionnaire: Board of Education candidates

Michele Ellson
BOE candidates

Sherice Youngblood, Anne DeBardeleben, David Peterson, Sean Cahill and Steve Good are among the 10 candidates vying for Mayor Trish Spencer's unexpired school board term. Photos provided by the candidates.

On Tuesday night, the school board is set to pick a new member to fill the remainder of Mayor Trish Spencer’s unexpired term. We asked all 10 of the finalists for the board seat how they would handle some of the key issues the board will be addressing over the next few years, and also, what their priorities would be as a board member. Nine of the 10 responded. Here’s what they had to say; responses were posted in the order they were received.

STEVE GOOD

What, if any, educational experience do you possess (e.g. teacher/administrator, parent, PTA, prior school board experience)?
I am a career educator. I’ve been a teacher, assistant principal, principal, executive director of a private school district (seven schools) and am currently the executive director of a nonprofit, educational charter management corporation founded by the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department that works closely with the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development.

Our schools/programs serve over 3,000 students a day in San Francisco, Oakland and Los Angeles. One hundred percent of these students are high school dropouts, and two-thirds of them are currently in jail. In my current role, I’ve successfully negotiated three labor contracts with United Educators of San Francisco (representing our 170 teachers), and twice co-presented at conferences with the unions on how we negotiated win-win collective bargaining agreements; I currently manage multiple sites (34 currently); have consulted with the U.S. Department of Education on two significant publications; overseen WASC accreditation; been named School Master of the Year; last year operated Northern California’s Charter School of the Year; and I am one of the main coordinators/partners of California Attorney General Kamala Harris’ new educational pilot program, “Back on Track.”

I’ve also served on the Otis Elementary School Site Council for two years.

If selected, what would be your top three priorities as a board member?
1. Labor negotiations: Negotiating a fair and equitable contract that pays teachers a competitive wage and provides a benefits package that doesn’t negate a salary increase.
2. The search for a superintendent. The district needs an educational leader who the schools and community can rally behind to tackle the significant work and challenges ahead for the school district.
3. Strategic implementation of Measure I and continual implementation and oversight of the parcel tax, Measure A.

Do you support passage of a parcel tax to replace Measure A when it expires? Why or why not?
This wouldn’t be my default response to funding challenges; however, it would be difficult to eliminate this as a possibility. Last year, California took steps to overhaul its historically inequitable funding structure by replacing it with the Local Control Funding Formula, which increased funding across the board for California schools; however, while we experienced an increase in base funding, Alameda’s demographic profile works against the district for larger increases in revenue as compared to other districts. Even with the revised funding structure and a current strong economy, there is still much uncertainty around future school funding levels, particularly in light of the need to increase teacher salaries and large pension costs on the horizon.

I think the district needs to explore many options such as partnering with the city to create a “rainy day fund” for schools (San Francisco was very successful with this idea), look to business and the nonprofit sector for new opportunities, and work with our legislators to sponsor bills that will address facility and program issues.

Great schools not only help improve our economy and make our communities safer, they increase property values and make communities desirable places to live. While Alameda has relatively high property taxes compared to other cities, our quality of life is better too. If we were unable to fund the programs we need to keep our schools great, then I most likely would support another parcel tax.

Should Alameda Unified operate one comprehensive high school or two? Please explain your reasoning.
I don’t believe one comprehensive high school is best for our students or our community. The idea of closing two Alameda high schools to be replaced by one state-of-the-art facility will most certainly lead to an emotional and passionate debate about the benefits of a new super campus versus retaining our neighborhood schools. There are advantages to both ideas; however, investing in capital upgrades to our current schools to modernize and allow for growth seems a better option. A few of the most significant reason include:

  • There currently isn’t enough funding to cover the cost of a new campus; this would require another bond and further increase property taxes.
  • We currently have enough funding from Measure I to do the necessary upgrades to both Encinal and Alameda high schools to create 21st century learning environments.
  • If we need to increase property taxes again after Measure A expires, I’d rather see that money go directly to the classrooms and programs to support student learning and to support competitive wages and benefits for our teachers and staff
  • Closing our neighborhood schools reduces the sense of community we have in Alameda. Moving the students out of the main parts of Alameda and onto a yet-to-be determined space on the old base will change the daily complexion of our city.
  • The remodel of Alameda High would potentially create enough space for the district office to move out of an expensive leased facility.
  • Even if the large school was broken into smaller learning communities, it’s not the same as a local, neighborhood school that provides a choice for families in Alameda. A 3,000-student campus, regardless of how structured its programs are, wouldn’t meet many of our families’ needs and desires for smaller, more accessible neighborhood schools.
  • Closing schools brings down property values in the surrounding neighborhoods and can lead to blight, and the ongoing maintenance costs of those facilities don’t go away. Additionally, closing Encinal and Alameda in favor of a new, larger campus will almost guarantee charter developers will propose new high schools with smaller populations. We should continue the driving of innovation at Encinal and Alameda and creating choices for families, not looking to close them.

What is your understanding of Common Core, and do you think it’s a positive step for education? Explain your answer.
The Common Core is an attempt to standardize what students should be learning across the county. In the past each state, and in some cases, local school jurisdictions, developed their own set of standards. This led to great amount if inconsistency across the country with regards to academic rigor and content. The Common Core is an attempt to bring consistency along with an increased emphasis on critical thinking, problem solving and applying analytical skills to school academic — which are needed for success in our modern world.

I think that this is a positive step for education; however, the curriculum, assessments and materials are still in development, and the accompanying time to adequately implement the Common Core is not sufficient (nor is the funding). A handful of professional development days and collaborative planning time isn’t really enough to fully train our teachers on how to best implement the Common Core. That said, this is our new reality, and each school has a Common Core implementation plan to follow, and it is incumbent for us to make the best of the situation we have and look for opportunities to support our teachers and students through this process.

What role do you think charter schools should play in educating Alameda students?
Charter schools: There are limited resources in our city and district, and we have large financial challenges ahead with both facilities and programs costs – losing more students and facilities to new charters would have a serious impact on the district’s ability to meet the challenges. I don’t support the development of new charter schools in Alameda.

The charters schools I operate were founded by the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department in partnership with the city and school district to meet a need that the San Francisco Unified School District couldn’t — to serve county jail inmates. In fact, the district is a partner that contracts with us to provide special education to inmates. For our community programs, one of our major goals is to provide credit recovery for minors who have dropped out of school so they can return to the district and graduate. In a recent meeting I had with Senator Mark Leno and union president Dennis Kelly, they both stated that “all charter schools are not created equal” and that our program is exceptional and an exception.

That said, Alameda has a couple of charter schools that were started with the support of the school district and are embraced by their student and parent communities. We are fortunate to have these choices and excellent charters in Alameda.

However, now isn’t the time to be opening new schools while we are relying on bond and parcel taxes to fund our current school needs.

Alameda Unified’s bargaining agreement with its teachers expires this year, and a new one is now being negotiated. What to you are some key items that the new agreement should address?
1. Teacher salaries and benefits: Alameda is one of lower-paid districts in the area, and that is shameful. Our teachers our entrusted with our children and don’t make enough to live in our city. What does that say about how we value education?
2. Professional development and ongoing training and support; support programs for new teachers.

The district’s pension costs are set to escalate over the next several years. How would you address these costs?
Rising pension costs are a problem that will need relief from both the state and local levels. The challenge is how to fund this without in effect eliminating salary increases for teachers and staff. Part of the social contract with public employees is that they are compensated slightly less than the private sector in exchange for a better retirement plan. Eliminating salary increases and cutting retirement breaks this fundamental principle. This certainly will involve difficult decisions and will require all options to be explored, including looking health benefits at retirements. Alameda should look to other districts to see how they are addressing this issue and develop a collaborative working group of teachers, staff, administrators, and city officials now to begin looking at this issue — much like the City Council’s pension committee, but specifically for schools.

SHERICE YOUNGBLOOD

What, if any, educational experience do you possess (e.g. teacher/administrator, parent, PTA, prior school board experience)?
I have three children: Shariff Youngblood (16), Shamil Youngblood (12) and Siyah Youngblood (8). Through my children I act as an educator daily. In addition to my experiences at home, I currently serve on the governing board of The Academy of Alameda, and I sit on the Measure A Oversight Committee. I also serve as the assembly coordinator for Paden Elementary and the E-Scrip chairperson for Encinal High School and The Academy of Alameda.

If selected, what would be your top three priorities as a board member?
If selected to the Alameda Unified School District governing board, my top three priorities would be securing leadership by solidifying a permanent superintendent, building trust between our union members and the school board in addition to working toward financial solvency.

Do you support passage of a parcel tax to replace Measure A when it expires? Why or why not?
Yes, I support the passage of a parcel tax to replace Measure A when it sunsets in 2017. My first experience with civic duty in Alameda was working on the Measure A campaign. As I canvassed my neighborhood soliciting votes for Measure A, I was impressed by the reaction of this community. While working to ensure the tax passed, I was not aware of the magnitude of its impact. I now enjoy my son and daughter’s class sizes, my son’s junior varsity basketball career and their access to technology in large part due to Measure A.

My subsequent work with the Measure A Oversight Committee over the last year has truly illustrated the importance of a succeeding this parcel tax. Alameda can’t afford to lose the amount of quality programing it will lose if a tax is not passed. This community has witnessed the power of the tax and continues to benefit from each and every student affected by the tax. I believe these sentiments will serve as the foundation for a new parcel tax.

Should Alameda Unified operate one comprehensive high school or two? Please explain your reasoning.
To accurately answer this question I would need access to information I don’t currently have. I do know multiple community meetings have been scheduled to discuss this idea in depth. Although I have reviewed Robert Clark’s report presented at the January 13th school board meeting, I would want the opportunity to compare and contrast the cost of two schools as opposed to one, the location, and hear the community voice. Most importantly, I would want the ability to obtain information pertaining to the educational and emotional impact on students, teachers, and administrators prior to making a decision.

What is your understanding of Common Core, and do you think it’s a positive step for education? Explain your answer.
I see Common Core as exploring not only what children know but examining how they know it, and what they can do with the knowledge. I’m of the opinion that this gives the information a deeper sense of purpose. These concepts prepare children to think critically in all aspects of their life in and outside of the classroom. I do believe this is a positive step for education.

While I am in support of Common Core, I remain sensitive to the difficulty such a shift creates for students, teachers and administrators. Based on this, our support for our teachers and students as they embark on this new learning path will be crucial.

What role do you think charter schools should play in educating Alameda students?
As charter schools are a part of our California education code, we by law have to coexist with them. Charter schools can play various roles in educating children. I firmly believe this depends on the child, the family and their needs.

Children are individuals requiring individual solutions to address their specific needs, which is why I feel it’s important for parents to have the opportunity to exercise choices when it comes to educating their children.

While I understand the concerns around funding and sentiments around a potential lack of resources charter schools may cause, I see the Alameda children attending charter schools as our children. I personally chose the charter school created by the district due to our neighborhood school closing. This was the best choice for one of my three children due to its close proximity to my home (across the street), after school program and dedicated staff. With clear communication, consistent civic engagement and tolerance, charter schools can serve as tools to educate our children.

Alameda Unified’s bargaining agreement with its teachers expires this year, and a new one is now being negotiated. What to you are some key items that the new agreement should address?
The key items to address during the bargaining agreement are transparency, communication and respect. When information is transparent and communicated effectively, you build a culture of respect. Within a respectful culture you may not agree; however, you can advance a decision-making process. I’m positive every member of the bargaining union wants what’s best for the children in Alameda as well as a cohesive, competitive and safe work environment. I believe the district also shares these desires. I’m also aware we have one of the lowest teacher pay rates in the county. I respect the need to critically address this in the effort to form a plan to compensate our teachers in a way that respects their talents and works within our budget.

The district’s pension costs are set to escalate over the next several years. How would you address these costs?
This is also a question I would need more information to answer fully. The district will not be the only district with escalating pension costs. It’s my position that we will have multiple school districts facing similar situations as well as others in the profit and nonprofit sector. The best approach would be to begin fact finding exercises immediately, gathering information to address pension costs.

DAVID PETERSON

What, if any, educational experience do you possess (e.g. teacher/administrator, parent, PTA, prior school board experience)?
I have spent the past six years volunteering in a wide variety of capacities at Haight Elementary, where my children attended school, with the main goal of trying to develop a strong sense of community to support student success. During that time, Haight Elementary made great strides in improving student success and creating a positive learning environment. Over those six years, I served on the school site council for two years, volunteering in the classroom as an art docent and with the kindergarten motor fitness program. As a member of the PTA, I worked on countless events in support of students and their families to create a supportive community. Specifically, I helped start a male involvement program (Dads Club) to encourage other fathers to be more involved in their child’s school, and served on the PTA executive board as treasurer.

Prior to volunteering at Haight Elementary, I spent two years as part of the Alameda Head Start Policy Council. In this role I participated in the advisory oversight of the Head Start early education sites, which support the success of young children in Alameda.

If selected, what would be your top three priorities as a board member?
The top priority for any board member is to provide the best learning environment possible for its students, and that is what I would always consider in dealing with any issue. Beyond that, I feel that one of the most important issues for the board will be finding and hiring a new superintendent. This position is critical to the overall success of the district and in setting the culture within the district, so it will be very important for the district to find the right person for this very important role. Additionally, I would focus on making sure that the funding provided to the district through both Measure A and Measure I are managed properly and spent in ways that provide our students with the best chance for success.

Do you support passage of a parcel tax to replace Measure A when it expires? Why or why not?
Yes. While I believe that the state should do more to support public education, it seems clear that this will not happen any time in the near future. As a result, communities need to find ways to provide appropriate funding to support their schools, and a reasonable parcel tax is how this is most often done. Another option would be to look into the possibility of extending the existing Measure A parcel tax, since it could be less costly and more likely to be supported than a completely new parcel tax measure.

Should Alameda Unified operate one comprehensive high school or two? Please explain your reasoning.
I think Alameda should keep the two high schools it currently has and use the facilities bond funds to repair, remodel, and upgrade these schools. While I think there could be some benefits to having one high school, issues such as cost and finding an appropriate location prevent this from being a realistic option at this time. Alameda has two good high schools and we should use the facility bond funds to make them great high schools.

What is your understanding of Common Core, and do you think it’s a positive step for education? Explain your answer.
My understanding of Common Core is that it is a shift in learning which focuses on students questioning and investigating to solve problems and find the answers, rather than replicating what is demonstrated by the teacher. I believe this is a positive step for education because it teaches students to be inquisitive and active learners, which will help them to be more successful in their future careers.

What role do you think charter schools should play in educating Alameda students?
I think charter schools should continue to play a similar role in the education of Alameda’s students as they currently do. They provide an option to traditional public education for families who feel their students benefit from the alternative environment. While I am a firm believer in public education and my children attend traditional public schools, I know many families who have children in charter schools and have had positive experiences there.

Alameda Unified’s bargaining agreement with its teachers expires this year, and a new one is now being negotiated. What to you are some key items that the new agreement should address?
A major, key item will be to work to provide competitive benefits and salaries to retain and attract highly qualified teachers, while working within the restraints of the district’s budget. Additionally, I think we should try to provide adequate opportunities for professional development to help teachers implement the new Common Core curriculum.

The district’s pension costs are set to escalate over the next several years. How would you address these costs?
I would investigate the current structure of the pension plan and how it is projected to increase to better understand possible adjustments. Then I would see if we can find possible new sources of funds to invest in the pension plan to bridge any gaps in funding.

SEAN CAHILL

What, if any, educational experience do you possess (e.g. teacher/administrator, parent, PTA, prior school board experience)?
Curriculum initiation, development and institutionalization; roundtable institutional committee initiation, development and co-chair; Measure E parcel tax executive committee member; Franklin PTA Diversity Committee co-chair; art docent; physical education volunteer; classroom reading group volunteer (multiyear); Franklin School fourth grade film producer and editor, “All I Want To Be Is Me”; Alameda Unified School District master plan public education volunteer; Alameda Unified School District Community Advisory Diversity Committee member; Alameda Unified School District staff development K-12 presenter; Encinal High School “Facing Fear” event participant and planner; Alameda Harvey Milk Day event producer, Lincoln Middle School, Wood Middle School, Encinal High School, College of Alameda.

If selected, what would be your top three priorities as a board member?
Supporting student success is my top priority, and I would achieve this by promoting a rigorous process to select a permanent superintendent as quickly as possible; securing the respectful resolution of our employee bargaining unit contracts; and developing the necessary support mechanisms to implement our bond issuance monies so our facilities are running at their best capacity as quickly as possible.

Do you support passage of a parcel tax to replace Measure A when it expires? Why or why not?
I do support the passage of a parcel tax to replace Measure A. My reason for supporting a replacement parcel tax is so we can maintain high quality schools that protect strong core programs. For example: Highly qualified and experienced teachers, small class sizes, music, arts and athletic programs, media centers, advanced placement (AP) classes, classroom technology, and a host of relevant structures that contribute to our community and bring to it a culture of dignity and respect. The current Measure A tax makes up more than 13 percent of the Alameda Unified School District general fund (about $12 million annually/$1,275 a student). Losing this money would undermine our ability to support the level of education Alamedans have come to expect.

Should Alameda Unified operate one comprehensive high school or two? Please explain your reasoning.
Although there is evidence to support the success of either model, the discussion to operate one comprehensive high school or two is still being understood by the community. In order to nurture an environment that respects the process, I am excited to hear more from the community about their perspective. Scheduled meetings for this discussion have been set on the calendar by the Board of Education, the meeting dates and times are as follows: Community meeting where preliminary direction will be identified, 7 p.m. Thursday, February 5, Encinal High School, 210 Central Avenue; board study session, 7 p.m. February 17, Alameda High School, 2200 Central Avenue; staff recommendation to board, 7 p.m. February 24, City Hall, 2263 Santa Clara Avenue.

What is your understanding of Common Core, and do you think it’s a positive step for education? Explain your answer.
Common Core is a set of educational standards in English language arts/literacy and mathematics that have been adopted by 43 states to meet career and college readiness, bringing holistic structure to those standards and consistent learning goals across states, thus allowing success from a variety of backgrounds based off the common standards framework. I believe any step we take toward making our educational process better that has passed a test of rigor among key minds connected to the industry should be embraced for its well-thought-out intention. One must not be afraid to move forward with tools that intend to grow opportunity. As a product of new idea implementation a keen eye to functionality and adaptation must inform the process, better aligning outcomes. This will allow the good to not become a victim of the perfect and for our engagement to remain vigilant and honorable to the youth and families we serve. More information about Common Core can be found at the California Department of Education website: http://www.cde.ca.gov/re/cc/

What role do you think charter schools should play in educating Alameda students?
Charter schools, private schools, traditional public schools, magnet schools, home schooling, vocational schools, etc. clearly offer a variety of options to the community. Recognizing the diversity of culture in our city, country and world and then only applying homogeneous models, stifles innovation, creativity and productivity. I embrace a strong culture that offers a dynamic variety and promotes and encourages multiple pathways to college and career readiness. For this reason I promote charter schools, in the same way I support and promote any of the other available formats.

Alameda Unified’s bargaining agreement with its teachers expires this year, and a new one is now being negotiated. What to you are some key items that the new agreement should address?
The key items for negotiation have been highlighted by the Alameda Education Association in their sunshine address. As publicly reported by association president Audrey Hyman at the Board of Education meetings, the good faith bargaining efforts are progressing in a positive manner. The articles being addressed can be found on the Board of Education website at http://alameda.novusagenda.com/agendapublic/CoverSheet.aspx?ItemID=4346&.... One of the core values of these articles is the need to lift compensation so we reflect pay that elevates our certificate employees from the bottom of the local pay scales and more respectfully aligns their wages to the market conditions reflected in our community. I support compensation and the other elements in these articles that enable our employees to access the tools necessary to support both themselves and those they serve.

The district’s pension costs are set to escalate over the next several years. How would you address these costs?
Operational costs at every level of the organization are constantly escalating. Understanding our responsibility to fiscal prudence is necessary for survival. As such, each of us holds a level of responsibility to the success of the institution and must help to maintain that infrastructure. This is handled in a variety of ways and includes elements like bond and parcel taxes to achieve the monies needed to support costs. Each of us can make the necessary contributions for success, helping to keep the escalation of pension costs in check so we can continue to provide the very best product.

In closing I would like to add my appreciation for the work being done at The Alamedan sharing information with the community so that we can all be better informed. Thank you for your contributions.

ANNE DEBARDELEBEN

What, if any, educational experience do you possess (e.g. teacher/administrator, parent, PTA, prior school board experience)?
My educational experience is derived from hundreds upon hundreds of volunteer hours supporting our schools. This began over 10 years ago when I joined the
Alameda Education Foundation board and continued through my work on several parcel tax and bond measure campaigns.

As I began working on campaign activities, it became clear to truly support the work being done in our classrooms, I needed to become more knowledgeable about what the district offers our students as well as the issues it faces. Therefore, about five years ago I began attending school board meetings regularly, reaching out to board members and staff to better understand budgets and department reports and educating myself on the policies and processes of public education in California.

If selected, what would be your top three priorities as a board member?
As an appointed board member, my top priority is to work with the elected board to address issues currently facing our district, including:
1. Successful negotiations with our bargaining units and hiring a permanent superintendent.
2. Implementing Measure I as approved by Alameda voters, including allocation of funds and community driven discussions on high school configurations.
3. Driving community discussions to develop a parcel tax measure to replace Measure A before it sunsets in school year 2017-18.

Do you support passage of a parcel tax to replace Measure A when it expires? Why or why not?
Absolutely. As noted above, I believe this is one of, if not the most, important issue facing the health of our school district. Though funding mechanisms and the economy have improved, our district continues to face budget constraints as the state offsets income gains with new expenses and redirects promised funds to other budget areas. Our state has still not returned full funding to our schools. The current projections indicate we “may” have funding fully restored by 2021. If I have learned nothing over the past 10 years, it is that we cannot rely on the state to do the right thing for our schools.

I have served on the Measure A Oversight Committee for the past three years and know firsthand how important the parcel tax dollars are to our district. The current parcel tax provides approximately $12 million annually to our general fund, representing 13 percent of the annual district revenues. Without passing a replacement measure, we will once again face school closures, increased class sizes, furloughs and major cuts to the dedicated workforce, and loss of important education programs. Our students, teachers and community deserve better than this and the board must come together with all stakeholders to ensure we continue to provide the best education possible for our students. This will not be possible if we lose this community invested funding.

Should Alameda Unified operate one comprehensive high school or two? Please explain your reasoning.
Measure I requires the board to work with the community to determine what configuration is the best for our district. In addition to discussing whether or not to combine Encinal and Alameda high schools into a single campus, this is an opportunity to explore educational options for our students. Two interesting suggestions are either a single high school with two campuses or two high schools where learning can be shared through technology. In the first, each campus would be geared towards specific specializations; one may have courses tracking for students wanting to graduate with an emphasis on math, science or technology, where the other may be English, social studies and fine arts, sort of a twist on the school within a school concept. The latter could allow students to be part of a viral classroom where they would use technology to be part of a class on a different campus.

What will be most important in the discussion is to balance the best solution for our students with the funding and space available. I am very interested in hearing what our community wants for our high schools and would work with the board to find a solution that best meets those needs.

What is your understanding of Common Core, and do you think it’s a positive step for education? Explain your answer.
Common Core allows teachers to be far more creative in the classroom and to help each student find a way to excel with their strengths and thought processes. Students have the opportunity to learn through problem solving, exploration, group discussion and trial and error. The stagnation of only one way to solve a problem is removed. Most importantly, neither teacher nor student is pigeonholed by teaching to the test.

Our district is ahead of the game because of the implementation of Inquiry by Design several years ago. Training was provided to and embraced by our dedicated teachers and the proof is reflected in student results. Though there will likely be adjustments along the way, the days of standardized testing are behind us and I believe this is a very positive step towards 21st century learning.

What role do you think charter schools should play in educating Alameda students?
Alameda Unified School District board members have no role in the education of students attending charter schools as each charter is governed by its own board and administered by its own staff. The board’s role is limited to approval and review of charter applications. If a charter school’s application meets all the criteria under Proposition 39, the district must approve the charter and provide available classroom space.

The increase in applications is creating a difficult issue for all school districts and is compounded in Alameda, where we face funding and facility challenges. Therefore, it is incumbent upon our district to keep the standards high and offer innovative programs that will continue to encourage parents to choose Alameda Unified School District schools.

Charter schools are here to stay, and our district must work with their leadership to make the best of a difficult situation.

Alameda Unified’s bargaining agreement with its teachers expires this year, and a new one is now being negotiated. What to you are some key items that the new agreement should address?
Our teachers work tirelessly to ensure students receive the best education possible, and they have the right to good wages and benefits as well as a safe and respectful working environment. The board’s role is to approve the final agreement, and it is not directly involved in discussions held between the bargaining units’ leadership and district office personnel assigned to negotiations.

The most important responsibility the board has during negotiations is to strongly encourage district personnel to engage in respectful negotiations where all parties involved may openly discuss ideas and concerns allowing a reasonable solution.

Parties will need to compromise to achieve the best agreement within the fiscal restraints of our budget. This can only occur successfully when everyone at the table believes their viewpoint has been heard, seriously considered and discussed respectfully.

The district’s pension costs are set to escalate over the next several years. How would you address these costs?
As California faces the impending reality of fully funding long term liabilities, Sacramento has once again pushed the responsibility down to employees and local districts. As districts have very limited options to increase revenues, the only realistic option is to find ways to reduce existing costs. The best way to reduce costs is to continue to find ways to be more efficient in day-to-day operations. By doing so, the impact stays out of the classrooms.

This is one more example why it is crucial that a replacement parcel tax is in place before Measure A expires. If our district has to absorb these costs and lose community funding, the effect on our schools and community will be devastating.

JANE GARRISON GRIMALDI

What, if any, educational experience do you possess (e.g. teacher/administrator, parent, PTA, prior school board experience)?
I have three children enrolled in Alameda schools, including one who is about to go off to college. I have been an active parent, PTA member, PTA executive board member and PTA Council board member during the past 12 years. During this time, I’ve worked in the classroom with our teachers as a volunteer, I’ve communicated with parents and students at my own children’s schools and with parents, students and teachers from the other schools.

I have experience with school board matters, as well. Our Alameda Unified School District budget and policy are familiar territory. I’ve campaigned for Measures A, H, C and I. I’ve worked with board members and have met with our superintendents on many occasions. I’m no stranger to speaking up for our families and our students either in the community or at board meetings or when meeting with a superintendent.

If selected, what would be your top three priorities as a board member?
There are so many important issues at hand.
1. Working on the Measure I decisions is up there on the list. I’m glad the board has some decision-making latitude each step of the way, if items need to be reprioritized.
2. Making sure we hire the perfect superintendent for our community.
3. Ensuring our teachers are being compensated fairly.

Do you support passage of a parcel tax to replace Measure A when it expires? Why or why not?
As a school co-captain for the Measure A campaign the first time around, I supported that parcel tax wholeheartedly and will support renewing it. School closures and loss of programs are very real consequences that inspired our community the first time around, and will again. We deserve the high quality neighborhood schools we can afford with Measure A.

Should Alameda Unified operate one comprehensive high school or two? Please explain your reasoning.
I heard so many interesting comments and valid arguments for either direction at the first community meeting on January 29. The aging facilities and equity problems of the two high schools are real problems. However, the biggest argument against a single, new high school is that we don’t and won’t have the money needed to build it. There isn’t enough money in this bond and we don’t have sufficient bond capacity to have another one passed. After hearing the architect speak, I’m confident issues of modernization and equity of facilities can and will be addressed. I’m thrilled by some of the changes he mentioned, including the fact that the district offices will have space again in Alameda High School’s main building, because that solves a large financial drain.

What is your understanding of Common Core, and do you think it’s a positive step for education? Explain your answer.
Common Core is a positive step for education because our students are learning critical thinking skills and learning to look deeper. Students are no longer being simply taught answers to a test. There’s still, however, the lingering problem of standardized, high stakes testing with Common Core.

What role do you think charter schools should play in educating Alameda students?
I think charters can be useful wellsprings of innovation because they have the latitude to experiment that the district schools don’t have. It’s also great to have an option for a student who needs something a little different or who might not have a positive experience in one of the traditional Alameda Unified School District schools.

There’s a saturation point, however, where Proposition 39 demands start taking away from the students attending non-charters. We saw this problem played out at the last Board of Education meeting. The Academy of Alameda has started a new charter elementary school, and the struggle to find the space for the kindergarten and the first grade portion of the new school is causing problems. The options were “disrupt and impinge on students at Haight” or “disrupt and impinge on students at the adult school.” The families at the Academy don’t want to negatively impact their friends and neighbors so they must feel conflicted, and Alameda Unified School District families don’t want their students to lose services and programs afforded by space. We heard how they feel at that board meeting. When Alameda exceeds our comfortable limit of new charters, then it becomes harder to recognize the positive ways they add to our community.

Alameda Unified’s bargaining agreement with its teachers expires this year, and a new one is now being negotiated. What to you are some key items that the new agreement should address?
Our teachers’ compensation currently makes them some of the most poorly paid teachers in the state. They have lower pay and now increasing demands with the placement of special education students into the classroom. Add to that increased costs of their own benefits, and there’s much work to be done here!

The district’s pension costs are set to escalate over the next several years. How would you address these costs?
For the most part, pension costs are determined by the state, and they’ve already begun the process of reform with the 2013 Pension Reform Act. Costs will rise, but eventually should drop with more reform. Until then, we need to honor the commitments we’ve made to our teachers. They work hard and a decent pension is the bare minimum to expect.

So, what can we control and how do we afford these costs? This is obviously a complicated problem and a solution won’t fit in a few paragraphs. The short answer is that we find the money elsewhere. We think outside the box and cut costs creatively. For example: Solar energy, simply turning off the lights at our school sites, replacing inefficient heating and cooling systems with the bond money, and other green solutions save money. Moving the district offices out of the leased site saves money.

BLANCHE KIM

What, if any, educational experience do you possess (e.g. teacher/administrator, parent, PTA, prior school board experience)?

  • PTA member 2008-present
  • PTA executive board: Lum Elementary School, 2010-present; Will C. Wood Middle School, 2014-present
  • School Site Council: Lum Elementary, 2010-present (chair 2012-2014); Wood Middle, 2014-present
  • PTA Reflections Art Program chair: Lum Elementary, 2011-present; Wood Middle, 2014-present
  • Safe Routes to Schools Champion: Lum Elementary, 2011-2013; Wood Middle, 2014-present
  • Ongoing or past volunteer work since 2008: Art docent, classroom volunteer/room parent, individual help with at-risk students, Response to Intervention, Speed Up and Read Fast, science fair judge, spelling bee judge, fundraising committees, reading level assessments, Go Green lunchtime help, kindergarten motor fitness, kindergarten garden lessons, homework club

If selected, what would be your top three priorities as a board member?
1. Facilities: This is high priority because of the recent bond. The spending for upgrades has not been dealt with before on such a large scale and requires careful oversight.
2. Funding: Without a parcel tax to replace Measure A, many important programs will be further cut. Part of this issue is rebuilding the trust and confidence in our district to garner the support needed to pass with a two-thirds majority.
3. Teacher contracts: See below.
4. I have to add hiring a new superintendent, because all of the aforementioned matters will be impacted by district leadership. It’s important to select the right person who can instill confidence and trust in our district.

Do you support passage of a parcel tax to replace Measure A when it expires? Why or why not?
Yes, a strongly funded public school system is essential to quality of life. It’s part of what attracts many families to Alameda. Specifically, I would like to see more of the arts funded in our schools, enrichment (especially for students who don’t have access), and adequate compensation for our teachers and staff.

Should Alameda Unified operate one comprehensive high school or two? Please explain your reasoning.
I am a proponent of maintaining all of our current high schools (Island, ASTI, Encinal and Alameda), as they each serve different needs. Combining Encinal and Alameda would drastically change the landscape of whichever neighborhood it would be located, and that has yet to be determined. I think an unintended consequence of combining the two would be the loss of families who feel they have no choices and would opt for charter or private schools. There were many good reasons for and against a consolidation discussed at the first meeting about this issue. I feel that many of the arguments for combining could be addressed in the current configuration. The reality is that the district does not have, and is not likely to receive, funds to build a new facility, let alone purchase an appropriate site.

What is your understanding of Common Core, and do you think it’s a positive step for education? Explain your answer.
In extremely brief language, my understanding is that Common Core is about learning and understanding the subject matter in greater depth, rather than covering more in less time. By really understanding and exploring the subject, students develop critical thinking skills and are able to problem-solve and innovate. This is a positive step. The drawback to Common Core as a program is the way it forced teachers to alter their lesson plans/timelines with very little time and not much support (textbooks, tests, etc.).

What role do you think charter schools should play in educating Alameda students?
Charters were originally created to provide alternative learning programs and spur innovation. It’s hard to know if they are actually doing those things because there is little to no oversight from the district. There is simply no funding or staff to devote to that. Test scores really only tell us if their demographics are changing, not that their educational approach is superior. It’s understood that each student who leaves the district takes money from the district coffers that would otherwise be there for all the students, but there are other considerations as well. Proposition 39 negotiations have repeatedly divided our community and negatively impacted district students, especially at Title I schools. Public education should be a social contract, not a business.

Alameda Unified’s bargaining agreement with its teachers expires this year, and a new one is now being negotiated. What to you are some key items that the new agreement should address?
As always, adequate compensation and benefits to attract and retain teachers must be discussed. Our district’s wages are among the lowest in the surrounding area. As teachers retire and new ones are needed, we need to recognize the changing landscape. It is increasingly difficult to find affordable housing in Alameda, and long commutes are not desirable from many standpoints.

Another issue to address is support for teachers in implementing Positive Behavior Interventions & Support, Response to Intervention and accommodating special education inclusion.

Also, please see below about pensions.

The district’s pension costs are set to escalate over the next several years. How would you address these costs?
We are not the only school district in this pickle. The governor’s budget proposal asking districts and teachers to contribute more towards pensions surprised many and threatens to dismantle programs our students need. It is a complicated issue. Trying to address it in this format wouldn’t be adequate. I am aware of the legislation (AB 340) regarding CalPERS, how it affects CalSTRS, and some of the reform measures and offsets being discussed. It’s a bigger statewide issue, of which our district is only a small part. At the district level, we need to have open discussions with our teachers and community so that everybody understands the impacts, and look to see how other districts are resolving the issue.

TOM LYNCH

What, if any, educational experience do you possess (e.g. teacher/administrator, parent, PTA, prior school board experience)?
I have 10 years of PTA leadership experience in Alameda. In addition to PTA Council president and PTA unit president experience, I’ve served in board positions as treasurer, advocacy and legislation, and parliamentarian. I was asked by the district to serve on the Teacher of the Year selection committee and worked with the district to bring the PTA School Smarts program to every elementary school throughout the district.

Another important piece of my experience was my work dealing with state and local governments. I have knowledge of the fiscal process that public institutions go through, how they acquire funds, and the process that one needs to go through to allocate funds. This includes public school systems.

If selected, what would be your top three priorities as a board member?
1. Work to align Alameda Unified School District priorities and goals to support our children’s educational needs.
2. Work to ensure the same access to educational resources to all our children across Alameda.
3. Work at the local, city, and state levels to ensure adequate funding for educational resources.

Do you support passage of a parcel tax to replace Measure A when it expires? Why or why not?
Yes I do. Our school district needs a reliable source of local funding to compensate for both the lack of funding from the state and the instability of funding from the state. It is also unclear how much more the state is going to ask school districts to fund. For example, the state is currently asking school districts to pay an additional 11 percent of total payroll costs to fund the teachers pension fund, CalSTRS. This will amount to a huge new annual cost for our school district.

I think it is important to note that the state’s temporary tax increase to support education sunsets at the same time that Measure A sunsets. The governor has indicated that he doesn’t plan to renew the temporary tax increase. So without a replacement for Measure A, the district could be in the untenable position of trying to maintain programs across the district while two significant sources of funding dry up.

Should Alameda Unified operate one comprehensive high school or two? Please explain your reasoning.
I’m supportive of a high school solution that provides equal access to all high school resources for every child in Alameda. We should be able to provide state of the art resources to every high school student in Alameda that includes things such as a science and technology center, performing arts center, liberal arts center, athletic facilities and career training resources. A person’s residential address in Alameda shouldn’t determine what high school resources are available to their child.

I’m supportive of whatever solution can achieve the above vision.

One high school can definitely achieve the above vision. A two high school solution may be able to achieve the above if properly planned for. However, at the current point in time I think we are missing a lot of information to make an informed decision. The current proposal for $80 million-plus does not provide a solution for equal access to resources between two high schools. The $80 million also doesn’t provide, for example, a 2,300-seat athletic stadium, a 400-seat theater, college classrooms, geothermal heating, photovoltaic windows or a commercial instructional kitchen, all of which are part of the more expensive one high school solution proposed. And I’m a bit skeptical about the proposed cost for a single high school of $216 million in today’s money. If correct, it would make a single high school in Alameda one of the most expensive high schools, if not the most expensive high school, built in California. (The cost model was based on the $161.9 million American Canyon High School, the first in the nation to complete the certification process of the Collaborative for High Performance Schools, a green compliance standard. Construction started in 2008 and was completed in 2010. It was funded by a $183 million Napa Unified bond tax plus funding from the state, the City of American Canyon, and Napa Valley College.)

I think the voters of Alameda need to weigh in on the decision. I would recommend that a non-binding resolution be put on the next ballot asking the voters of Alameda whether they would want one large high school for the city or continue with two high schools. I would then say we try to implement the desire of the voters.

What is your understanding of Common Core, and do you think it’s a positive step for education? Explain your answer.
Common Core is a set of standards for the learning of math and language arts. It was first conceived in 2008 by the president of the National Governor’s Association, Janet Napolitano. She was the governor of Arizona at the time and is now the president of the University of California system. The idea was to create a common set of K-12 grade level standards that all states could implement in order to improve college preparedness, and to maintain the academic competitiveness of the United States internationally. It has since been supported by the association and also by the chief state school officers. Forty-four states have committed to adopting the Common Core standards.

The Common Core standards promote not just the procedural skills students have been taught, but also the conceptual understanding of the standards.

I think one of the most common areas parents can see the Common Core in action is the way math is now being taught to our children. I was taught multiplication, division, subtraction and addition by memorizing the operations. Now, a student needs to conceptualize how these operations are performed using different models.

I do think this is a positive step forward. However, the implementation of the standard has been a bit haphazard. The deployment of any new standard costs a lot of money for retraining our teachers, procuring new curriculum, investing in new testing (the Smarter Balanced test) and other major financial burdens. I believe our teachers need to be much more involved in this deployment.

I would like to see more progress and status reports from the district and teachers on what they are experiencing with the deployment. It is essential that we try and keep parents updated on the progress of the deployment of Common Core curriculum and testing.

What role do you think charter schools should play in educating Alameda students?
I’m basically neutral on charter schools. I’m aware of the disruptions they cause within a unified school district. I would advocate at the board level that the district do what it can to ensure the climate for charter school conversions don’t happen. I would also ask that we make sure that charters are paying their fair share of their rent as required by law. I find it ironic that charter schools are struggling with how to increase their enrollments to remain financially viable. This is a lose-lose scenario between charters and the district.

Alameda Unified’s bargaining agreement with its teachers expires this year, and a new one is now being negotiated. What to you are some key items that the new agreement should address?
I’m a big fan of a teacher’s right to a collective bargaining agreement. I believe in working collaboratively with the union to implement a new agreement. Here are some of the key issues that I know should be discussed in the next agreement:

  • Teacher salaries: I believe we should bargain to develop a plan that gets our teachers’ average pay to the average pay a teacher earns across Alameda County. Today, we only rank above the Oakland school district in average teacher pay across all school districts in Alameda County.
  • Teachers’ ability to influence the curriculum: I support more teacher involvement.
  • Support for continuous teacher improvement: I’m supportive of incorporating many of the recommendation of the Linda Darling-Hammond/David Plank “Supporting Continuous Improvement in California’s Education System” policy paper dated January 2015, published by the Stanford Center for Opportunity in Policy in Education.
  • Give teachers a process to provide feedback and evaluation of their administrators, including principals and the superintendent.
  • Incorporate other best practices found in other school districts’ collective bargaining agreements.

The district’s pension costs are set to escalate over the next several years. How would you address these costs?
This isn’t just an Alameda Unified School District issue. It is a state issue. CalSTRS is currently underfunded by about $75 billion. CalSTRS was fully funded back in the late 1990s. The state then lowered its contribution into the fund by about a half percent thinking that prudent investing would make up the difference. That didn’t happen, especially with the 2008 crash. The state is now asking teachers to increase their contributions into the fund from 8 percent to 10.25 percent over three years and school districts to increase their contributions from 8.25 percent, not to exceed 19.1 percent, over the next seven years. The state expects that their increase in the Local Control Funding Formula will help offset this 11 percent increase that all districts will need to bear. It is unclear if this is realistic or not.

It is important that we as a district continue to advocate for state support to address this issue. We will need to continue to work with our legislature to solve this problem and work with our advocates, like the California School Board Association, to solve this issue on a statewide basis.

PHILIP HU

What, if any, educational experience do you possess (e.g. teacher/administrator, parent, PTA, prior school board experience)?
I have spent the past 19 years in higher education as a classroom instructor in both the California State University system as well as the community college system. For the past 13 years, I have been fortunate enough to be a tenured professor of English. On average, I taught 30 students per class, with a full load being five classes, for a sum total of 300 students per year. Courses I taught included Freshman English, Introduction to Literature, Critical Thinking, Children’s Literature, Creative Writing, Short Fiction, and Poetry.

I am also a former, elected school board member for San Gabriel Unified. I was elected in 2009 and reelected in 2013. I am also the parent of one child in Alameda schools with another child entering the district this fall.

If selected, what would be your top three priorities as a board member?
First, we must rebuild trust, reestablish good will, and ensure transparency and integrity of process. From what people have been saying, it sounds like there have been deep divides in relation to these issues, and healing, to some extent, is necessary. This is cardinal and indispensable because every piece of school district business and interaction with the community radiates from this core underpinning.

Second, we must provide students with a 21st century education. An acute focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) education will provide our students with foundational skills that make them competitive in the fast-changing, new global economy. We must not sacrifice the arts in this process, because more and more research shows that music, languages and other creative arts have correlations to brain development that help with understanding the STEM field.

While we focus on these traditionally “academic” courses, we must not neglect another important field: career technical education. Formerly known as “trades classes,” “shop classes,” or “ROP classes,” CTE has become more important and more necessary than ever. With the majority of workers in these trades retiring in the next 10 to 15 years, there will be a large gap of knowledgeable, trained workers ready to step in to those positions. Who will build our buildings? Not every graduating senior is ready to go to college; not every graduating senior wants to go to college. Career Technical Education opens the doors to an entirely different career path – often times a very good, high-earning, well-benefitted career path –minus the “second mortgage” that college tuition is swiftly becoming.

Finally, we must enterprise. There has to be a long-term vision, one that invites and incentivizes creative, out-of-the-box thinking. Earnestly, all school districts need to start enterprising because all school districts are losing funding. Declining enrollment is a reality (people simply are not having as many kids as they used to), which makes declining average daily attendance funding a reality. Part of this enterprising is political — school districts need to have representatives grabbing face time and seat time with legislators, doing major advocacy in Sacramento. The attendance-based funding system needs to be reexamined and recalculated. Part of this enterprising is to be proactively pursuing purposeful industriousness.

At San Gabriel Unified School District, we modernized our buildings (with bond funds) to become more energy efficient; then we used Proposition 39 funds to start a solar program that will save the district an estimated $500,000 a year. We instituted a dual-language immersion program in Spanish at our program improvement school, and will institute a dual-language immersion program in Mandarin Chinese this fall at a school about to enter its first year of program improvement. We are actively exploring comprehensive music education (like El Sistema, which originated in Venezuela and has seen huge success in Miami). We are exploring instituting a district-run, free-of-charge preschool. We are looking at many ways to distinguish the district, to set it apart from neighboring districts as a way to attract more students (and more returning students from private schools) to ensure expanded — and sustained — funding.

Do you support passage of a parcel tax to replace Measure A when it expires? Why or why not?
I absolutely support passing a parcel tax to replace Measure A when it expires in 2018. While people generally don’t like paying more in taxes, there are good taxes and bad taxes. There are useful and meaningful taxes and there are woeful and wasteful taxes. A parcel tax for Alameda Unified School District would be incredibly helpful. As I understand it, the district has never quite been “made whole” from the exodus of military families, and the great recession of the past seven years has only compounded matters. Measure A gave the district an additional $12 million a year for seven years. That makes a real difference.

Losing $12 million could mean losing a lot of teachers; it could mean losing vital classified staff and the critical services they provide; it could mean losing entire programs. Losing $12 million will have a severe impact on students and their educational experience.

While I skipped a breath when I saw my property tax bill, I would absolutely be in favor of another parcel tax, and I would actively work to ensure it passes.

Should Alameda Unified operate one comprehensive high school or two? Please explain your answer.
There is clearly some history here, and possibly a few minefields onto which I do not want to venture in some clomping, uninformed manner. This is a question I cannot answer fully right now simply due to not having the history.

However, that also could be advantageous. I am a blank slate – a completely neutral third party free of allegiances and unburdened by prior loyalties to an alma mater, to an “end” of the Island, etc. I would engage all constituent groups and listen attentively to all sides and carefully consider their rationales before making the necessary (and I’m sure, tough) decision. My decision would neither stem from deep attachments nor contain confirmation bias of actual or perceived slights. It would simply be made on the primacy of what is in the best interest of educating our students and what will allow the provision of the best educational opportunities by the district.

What is your understanding of Common Core, and do you think it’s a positive step for education? Explain your answer.
I like the intent and the spirit of the standards set up by Common Core. Essentially, Common Core State Standards orbit around the “Four Cs:” comprehension, clear communication, creativity, and critical thinking. Emphasis is placed on research and evidence. This is nearly everything (in terms of quintessential skills) I have endeavored to teach in my college English classes: the ability to comprehend fully, think critically, and to articulate thoughts and points clearly and effectively. These standards are applicable and important to all disciplines of education. Additionally, the primary goal of Common Core State Standards is to align K-12 expectations with college expectations. With “basic skills” or “developmental education” courses being the fastest growing segment of college course offerings, Common Core State Standards is well timed, well intended, and ought to be well used.

What role do you think charter schools should play in educating Alameda students?
Philosophically, I am not a fan of charter schools primarily because they have wandered far away from the original intent of charter schools. Conceptualized as a haven where teachers can freely innovate new teaching and student engagement techniques, charters were supposed to be the epitome of academic freedom, and that which tenure was intended to protect. Today, some of them, under the umbrella of various charter school associations, have become predatory. They target distressed schools (or districts), petition in — or more and more, are invited in because charter school associations spend huge money to elect school board members — and then are entitled to district funds and facilities.

My point of contention is basic fairness. Most distressed schools are distressed due to poor funding. How can the solution to that be additionally designating more (of the little) funding for other use? Charters can also operate more freely than public schools. They do not have to follow certain state education codes as well as have more freedom to wiggle within certain education codes.

I am a proud product of public schools. All of my extended family went to public schools. We have surgeons, business owners, investment bankers, corporate trainers, a journalist, a pharmacist, and many working high-level jobs in information technology among our ranks. All this is to say the corporate media agenda pushing the demise of American public education has been greatly overblown.

That being said, a previous iteration of this school board voted to let charters operate within the Alameda Unified School District. We must honor that. As someone who made a career of teaching students how to research, how to seek out information, and how to think critically, I am open to meeting with those who run the charters in the Alameda Unified School District, learning about their operations from them, and examining objectively what they do and have done in the instruction of Alameda students. If they have performed in stellar fashion, we applaud them and continue the partnership. If they have not, we examine options.

In personal philosophy, I am not a fan of charter schools, but in governance philosophy, I am very pragmatic on this matter.

Alameda Unified’s bargaining agreement with its teachers expires this year, and a new one is now being negotiated. What to you are some key items that the new agreement should address?
Priority one for me is competitive salaries for our employees. Because I have heard many people talk about it openly, I know our teachers are underpaid. Being at the bottom or near the bottom in this county is not the place for Alameda Unified School District teachers to be. In the short term, our teachers will feel a certain sense of devaluation. In the long run, staying at the bottom or near the bottom will cause us to lose outstanding, experienced teachers. When those mentors are gone, we will start losing the up-and-coming shining stars to other districts. Another possible scenario would be we slowly become just a farm system where new, high-potential teachers may go to, get their induction training, and just when the time and money invested in them is about to pay dividends, they move on to a better paying district. Eventually, it becomes difficult to even recruit and hire good teachers, never mind retaining them.

I have seen this phenomenon happen in other districts. I do not wish for it to occur in Alameda.

The district’s pension costs are set to escalate over the next several years. How would you address these costs?
Under the budget act last year, a CalSTRS rate increase was passed. The PERS board also approved, independently, their rate increase. Governor Jerry Brown is looking to shift the bulk of the $74.4 billion unfunded liability on to the employers. Twenty billion will be funded by the state, $8 billion by employees, and $47 billion by employers. For STRS, the school district’s rate increase will go from 8 percent to roughly 19 percent by 2021. For PERS, it’s roughly 10 percent to possibly over 20 percent by 2021.

This will have a direct impact on the district’s budget. On average, for most school districts, this will work out to an estimated 3 percent of unrestricted general funds. There are no two ways about it. This money will have to come out of the same pot that pays for everything else.

How to address these costs?

We must fight to extend Proposition 30 funding.
We must reform Proposition 13.
We must push for a better state funding mechanism.
We must have a successor to Measure A.
We must enterprise!

Comments

Submitted by Kurt Peterson (not verified) on Wed, Feb 4, 2015

Once again a total joke at tonight's school board special meeting. The board decided to change their prior agreed upon process for the appointment of the new member to replace Trish Spencer's seat. First they reduced the field down to three finalist based on their stated process (Jane Grimaldi, Philip Hu and Sherice Youngblood). Then when the board was deadlocked in trying to get three votes for one candidate with Griimaldi getting two votes and Hu and Youngblood each getting one, the board decided (a idea brought up by new board member Gary Lym) to go back and do the first steps of the process over again with Hu and Anne DeBardeleben being the only two candidates up for the final vote. At this point I left the meeting. We have a group that can't hold to their principles, but will cave in for anything to make a decision easier. I'm sure glad my children are no longer attending any regular schools in this district. Thank goodness there is still hope for our current and future youth with Charter Schools!