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Making the pot right

Submitted by on 1, April 17, 2008 – 7:30 amNo Comment

Okay, I’ll admit that we here at The Island have been a wee bit focused on efforts to pass a parcel tax to help fill the huge funding crater Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s budget proposal would create next school year. But the push to pass Measure H is one of many things the school board and other education supporters here in town are doing to try to make our education pot right.

Under the direction of Brooke Briggance and others, the Alameda Education Foundation has pulled together a strategic plan that includes longer-term solutions like pressing the state for the same amount of funding per student that other districts get, and getting the state to give school districts more say over how their share of school funds are spent. The organization is also gearing up to help the school district write grants for arts, science and other programs, AEF board secretary Ron Mooney said.

Alameda High teachers/parents/recovering lawyers Rob Siltanen and Ann Casper have been working on a possible class-action lawsuit to reform the state’s wonky school finance system. They’ve found a lawyer to take their case, and are pressing forward, Rob reports on his School 94501/94502 blog here.

And the folks on the school board have been busy working with our connections in Sacramento to try to find some solutions, including less sexy-sounding but more likely-to-happen short-term budget patches. Board President William Schaff was in Sacramento on Wednesday testifying on a bill he asked Alameda Assemblyman Sandre Swanson to sponsor that would allow school districts to temporarily shrink their reserve requirement, a move that could free up $1 million for Alameda schools next year.

District representatives also presented state Sen. Don Perata with a “wish list” back in December asking for equal per-student funding, more freedom to make spending decisions with state dollars and a lower voter approval threshold for passing parcel taxes.

Meanwhile, Alamedans continue to make it abundantly clear how they feel about Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposal to cut billions in education funding next year. Hundreds turned out to greet the governor on Wednesday at Alameda Point, where he spoke to business leaders at the Bay Area Council’s Outlook Conference 2008. The governor didn’t address protesters, though he did say he “believes strongly in compromise.” Maybe we’ll find out what that means next month, when the governor’s revised budget plan is released.

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