This week, the school board will hear a presentation on SunCal’s plans for Alameda Point (courtesy of outgoing trustee David Forbes), discuss action plans for this school year and get an update on their superintendent search (apparently they’ve winnowed it down to six candidates to be interviewed this weekend). What’s not yet on the agenda is a discussion about the millions of dollars the state may cut from our schools this year and next year.
If we may editorialize for a moment: We’ve personally been involved with the public school system for just two months now, and while we are impressed with the quality of teaching we’re getting and the efforts of parents and other volunteers to provide a decent education to all of our kids, we are frankly shocked at how much is missing.
There’s no art, unless parents volunteer to teach it. There’s not much music, unless the PTA decides to pay for more. The district’s gifted and talented program exists in name only, and its special ed program doesn’t have all the resources it needs. Our principals are doing double duty in the district office, our teachers get paid like crap and our superintendent and school board are holding the whole damn thing together with paper clips and gum, kind of like MacGyver.
Our district has weathered almost $8 million in cuts over the past few years – that’s 10 percent of its current budget. And it’s set to potentially lose millions more. If someone could point out specific places where the district can make cuts without worsening the Dickensian situation our schools are finding themselves nearing (and we admit, we haven’t line-itemed the budget, so maybe those opportunities do exist), call the district now, please.
Rob Siltanen, who is a teacher at Alameda High School and a passionate advocate for our schools, has laid out in clear language the financial crisis facing our schools on his blog, School 94501/94502. He’s got a pretty strong point of view on Measure H and the lawsuits over the parcel tax prop, but regardless of how you feel about it, the numbers he lays out are pretty compelling. In short, he says the district could be facing another $7 million in hits in the next year and a half alone.
And we wanted to let you know about this blog we stumbled across recently, which catalogs news articles and information about Proposition 13 (which, it could be argued, is the main source of the problems). We understand the reasons why the tax-limiting prop was passed 30 years ago. But we’re getting a pretty concrete feel for the ramifications, too (see above).
Oh, and by the way, the district is hosting at charter schools workshop, at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the multipurpose room at Haight School, 2025 Santa Clara Avenue. Now, a lot of folks hate charter schools because they suck money and, we’re assuming, high-achieving students out of school districts. But we can understand why folks who don’t feel they’re getting what they want out of their public schools (in an almost grossly ironic turn) might find them attractive.