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School district issues more layoff warnings

Submitted by on 1, April 23, 2010 – 4:50 amNo Comment

One quick catchup item from the April 13 school board meeting: The board okayed layoff warnings for 86 district employees, including the entire staffs of the Alameda Family Literacy Program, the district’s homeless assistance program and the after school program that serves 3,000 students in the district’s poorest schools.

Some 65 people working in those three programs alone could be laid off at the end of the school year, even though most of the state and federal grant funds that support the programs are still in place.

“During these times of change and transition, I think we need to keep in mind all the hard work that has been put in to support the West End residents over the last 10 years,” said Cynthia Wasko, who has run the family literacy program for a decade and the homeless assistance program for eight years. “Programs like the family literacy program, the McKinney-Vento (homeless assistance) program and the after school programs have been powerful forces of change for the West End neighborhood. And I would hate to see these powerful forces diminished.”

District officials could not be reached for comment on the layoff warnings, which also went to 21 other staffers, including a half dozen special education paraprofessionals, custodians, school and health office workers and others. All told, district staff told the board the layoffs could save the district $1.2 million next school year.

Separately, the board approved layoff warnings for 3.29 preschool teaching positions at Woodstock Child Development Center, for an anticipated $148,279 savings. The notices follow pink slips warnings delivered to 150 teachers in March.

The after school program includes the Leaps, RISE and JetSetters programs at the district’s Title I elementary, middle and high schools (school qualify for the Title by having a high percentage of students who are poor enough to qualify for free meals). The programs, which were funded this year by a $706,875 state grant, offer sports, arts, science and other enrichment programs for students at Henry Haight Elementary, Washington Elementary, Paden Elementary, Ruby Bridges Elementary, Wood Middle, Chipman Middle, Encinal High and Island High schools.

The family literacy program provides reading help for low-income families. The program, which requires an escalating share of local support, is paid for in part by a federal William F. Goodling Even Start grant. Alameda Unified got a $120,750 grant to support the program this year, and Congress has okayed the same level of federal funding for the program for 2010-11 that was in place for this school year.

The homeless assistance programs helps “transitional” children and young people from preschool to age 22 by providing bus passes, school supplies, clothing and help finding community services so that they can stay in school. The program is funded by a McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Act Grant. The grant amount was not immediately available Thursday. In 2008, the program served 260 youths who fit the federal definition of homelessness.

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