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School board trustee Mike McMahon launches blog

Mike McMahon’s web site has long been the motherlode for school-district-related documents and information. And now he has launched a blog.

And while all heads have been turned toward the change in leadership at the national level, there are lots of fish to fry re the state budget and school funding in particular. McMahon’s site is sure to be a good resource.

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California budget woes abound

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger wants to require state employees to take two mandatory, unpaid furlough days each month. Some state officials are saying no. You can read more about it here, here and here.

Sacramento Bee reporter Peter Hecht has this piece about how no one really seems to be paying attention to the budget crisis: “Warnings of budget ‘Armageddon’ don’t rouse ordinary Californians.”

MSNBC Story: Is California Dreaming Over?

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“Save our City! Alameda” runs new ad

A group called “Save our City! Alameda” has launched a 30-second ad. Here’s a list of supporters of the group (you’ll have to scroll down to see all the names), which include David Howard, Pat Bail, Art Lipow and David Kirwin. You can watch the ad (which I happened to catch as I was flipping channels the other night) below.

Here’s Lauren Do’s analysis of the the claims made in the spot, and also more info about “Save Our City! Alameda” from Michele Ellson over at The Island. And here’s the Alameda Journal story on the current state of Alameda Point development plans.

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A state budget fix? Not yet.

Yesterday Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said he will veto the budget proposal that the Dems passed yesterday. From the Sac. Bee:

California’s budget mess got messier Thursday as Democratic legislators approved a package of tax increases and spending cuts, Republican legislators threatened to sue over the package’s questionable constitutionality and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger made the issue moot by promising to veto it.

The Contra Costa Times has this:

Just when it looked like Democrats had devised a way out of their suffocating impasse with Republicans over the state budget, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger stepped in Thursday afternoon with this message: Not so fast.

In a dramatic day at the Capitol that alternately had on display exultant Democrats, angry Republicans and a frustrated Schwarzenegger, the governor announced he would veto a Democratic gambit to raise billions in new revenue.

By exploiting a legal loophole over the definition of taxes vs. fees, Democrats had hoped to sidestep the state’s two-thirds majority hurdle for raising taxes. But the part of the package that offended the governor most did not involve the end-run on taxes; instead, Schwarzenegger said the proposal did not go far enough to trim spending and stimulate the economy.

More up to the minute state budget info at Calitics.

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California budget stalemate continues

To recap, Repubs proposed this on Monday:

…GOP leaders released a $22 billion package of their own that called for deep cuts to education and social service programs, as well as raiding other pots of money voters approved for early child development and mental illness. Democrats contend the Republican’s plan to cut more than $10 billion from schools amounted to shutting down every school in the state for two months or increasing class sizes by 40 percent. [Read the entire AP story here.]

The state is facing a budget deficit which is now estimated to be something over $40 billion. If nothing is done, it is looking like California will run out of cash to pay its bills some time in February. Dems have a counterproposal, which wriggles around the tyranny of the minority (a solid majority of California lawmakers are Democrats), caused by state laws which require two-thirds vote of both state legislative bodies to pass any new taxes. A bit about the Dem proposal from the Chronicle:

State lawmakers are expected to vote today on an $18 billion budget, put forth Wednesday by Democrats, that contains more than $9 billion in added revenue and requires only a simple majority vote of the Legislature to be approved. The move boxes in Republicans, who have just enough votes to block lawmakers from approving tax and budget bills that require a two-thirds majority in the Democratic-controlled Legislature.

But a spokesperson for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has said he will not sign off on the Dem plan without some changes. More up-to-the-minute budget news at Calitics.

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State Republicans propose $22 billion in budget cuts

Despite having strong majorities in both the California Assembly and the Senate, California Democrats have little power to take action to make budget numbers line up. Any new taxes in the state require two-thirds vote of both legislative bodies, so staunchly anti-tax state Repubs can block any legislation they like. It’s pretty much the reverse of majority rules.

Republican cuts in the package presented today:

* Cutting monthly payments for supplemental security income recipients – to $830 from $870 for singles, and to $1,407 from $1,524 from couples

* Cutting nearly $10 billion from K-12 education over the next 18 months

* Cutting $6 billion from higher education funding

More state budget crisis details here and here and here and here.

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Alameda’s new school board’s first night in action

I watched only the smallest snippets of last night’s school board meeting from the comfort of my own home, but Michele Ellson of The Island was there and issued a full report. One highlight: newly-elected board member Trish Spencer nominated Ron Mooney for board president and then, after Mooney withdrew his name from consideration, Spencer nominated Mooney a second time, that time for board vice president. In response to which, second term board member Tracy Jensen withdrew her name for consideration for the position.

So, Alameda, your new school board president is Mike McMahon and your vice president is Ron Mooney. Retired principal Niel Tam, rounds out the group of five. You will likely be hearing more about them as the state budget continues to collapse and board members are faced with ever-more-difficult choices about how to run AUSD schools with less.

In a sign of the miserable economic times, the Alameda Education Association, which represents district teachers, has asked simply to extend their current contract for another year. Hopefully, turning their energy toward fighting state-level mid-year budget cuts to education funding.

Ellson’s whole report is here.

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Southern California teacher sells ad space on student tests

Crazy world, yes indeed. But one Southern California high school teacher has found a new way to pay for the copying services his school no longer pays for.

Math teacher Tom Farber began selling ads on tests and quizzes this fall when the district cut its per teacher copy budget from $500 to $316. Local businesses can insert ads for services, and some parents have paid for inspirational quotes.

The State of California cut more than $4 billion in education funding for this year school year and is poised to make even deeper mid-year cuts, to the tune of $2.5 billion.

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Bay Area companies making layoffs

Delivery giant DHL Monday announced it would be cutting more than 800 Bay Area jobs. The company will no longer offer express delivery within the United States, but will continue their international delivery service. The last day of work for the affected DHL workers is scheduled to be sometime in late January.

The Alameda-based Avigen has cut 70 percent of its workforce—following last month’s clinical failure of its multiple sclerosis drug. The company is considering shuttering its Alameda office entirely.

More on biotech cutbacks here and here.

[Edited 12/3: Emeryville-based LeapFrog is cutting 10 percent (or 70) of its workers. The story's here.]