On budgets, behavior and basketball
Lotsa school news today … Nonpartisan Legislative Analyst Elizabeth Hill is questioning the viability of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s plan to balance California’s budget on the back of our underperforming state lottery. Unless the governor has a crystal ball or time machine that propels him into the future, no one knows whether his plan to borrow from future (ostensibly increasing) ticket sales is going to work or be a big disaster – particularly for schools, whose roughly $1 billion a year in lottery funds could be jeopardized by the plan. As it is, the Legislative Analyst’s Office found that Schwarzenegger’s revised budget plan for next year isn’t much different from what he trotted out in January; he simply revised the state’s funding guarantee downward to the tune of about $3 billion and shuffled some cuts elsewhere in the schools budget. Hill’s office proposes $900 million more for the schools, more targeted cuts and redirection of additional redevelopment funds for schools. The school district is still working out what this means for us locally, though I’d bet it’s not good. Will the states’ Democrats come to our aid? Stay tuned.
In other news, the Chron’s longtime education writer, Nanette Asimov, has penned a piece on school suspensions (referenced on Lauren Do’s Blogging Bayport in the comments here) and the data she’s got for Alameda schools looks kind of scary. Will C. Wood Middle School looks to be the worst of the bunch, with one drug- or violence-related suspension for every five students. Ruby Bridges Elementary came in third (behind Island High), with 75 such suspensions at the 484-student school. Some argued that high suspension rates could reflect a no-nonsense principal. But according to experts cited in the piece, a suspension rate higher than 5 percent means schools are “not doing enough to calm campus tensions.” Eight of the district’s 18 schools (including the charter Alameda Community Learning Center) have suspension rates that top 5 percent. I admit that I’m just entering the school system next year, so I lack context on these numbers. Anyone out there who’s got involvement with the schools here got anything to add?
Last but not least, a positive note: The Warriors and Toyota have refurbished basketball courts at Washington Elementary School (regulation!), which they’re unveiling with a special ceremony at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday. Warrior Matt Barnes and former Warrior Al Attles will be there, as will a group of Warrior Girls, to enhance this educational experience for the kids.