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Final school master plan workshop is Tuesday

Submitted by on 1, November 16, 2009 – 5:50 amNo Comment

washington-schoolThe School Board wraps up its series of master plan workshops at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in the cafeteria at Alameda High School, corner of Oak and Central.

Tuesday’s workshop will focus on fundraising opportunities, school parcel tax and presentation of an inventory of the district’s programs, and will also include a report from volunteers who have been gathering input from local residents about the district’s plans.

The board and district leaders are essentially trying to figure out how to boost achievement in the face of declining revenues, most notably a potential $16 million revenue gap when the district’s existing taxes sunset, after the 2011-12 school year.

Ideas for raising revenues so far include creating a new parcel tax, selling off unused or underused property and exploring outside revenue sources. The district may also look to save money by streamlining its central office, closing school and boosting elementary school class sizes.

Programmatic changes could include changing grade configurations and creating magnet programs to draw students to less-populated schools, enhance educational choices and – district leaders hope – help address nagging achievement gaps for the district’s African American and Latino students.

So far, volunteers who have talked with people about the options being considered said local residents favor a new parcel tax and that they have a strong interest in magnet programs, though opinions on increasing class sizes are mixed.

The district has a separate committee working on a new parcel tax that was set up to settle a legal challenge to the Measure H parcel tax. Its progress must be reported to the Alameda County Superior Court on December 17.

Increasing K-3 class sizes to 25 students per teacher from 20, converting one school – Washington Elementary, Lum Elementary or Wood Middle – to a K-8 dual language immersion school and converting Encinal High School to a “multiple pathways” school with a series of academies could save the district $1.05 million, they estimated in a PowerPoint presentation given at an October 20 workshop.

Increasing K-3 class sizes to 32 students per teacher and closing Encinal High School, Wood Middle School and three elementary schools could save the district $7.05 million, they estimated.

The plans also integrate efforts to close Chipman Middle School and to reopen it as a charter school. The Board is set to vote up or down on the charter proposal on December 15.

A draft master plan is scheduled to go to the board on December 8. They’re slated to discuss is January 12 and to vote on the plan on January 26.

More information is available on Alameda Unified’s Master Plan web page.

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