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Alameda’s new Nea charter school approved

The Alameda Unified School District board voted last night 3-1, with board president Bill Schaff out of town and Janet Gibson dissenting, to approve the Nea Community Learning Center charter. The school’s facilitators have requested space to house the new school at Longfellow Education Center. The Island has details.

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Alameda school board to vote on Nea charter tonight

Ten days ago I attended a two-hour workshop sponsored by the Alameda Unified School District on the finer parts of the laws governing charter schools. I learned a good deal about charter law, but by far the biggest takeway from the panel discussion, which included Chuck Cadman of School Consulting, Inc., Carlene Naylor, the associate superintendent for the Alameda County Office of Education and Carolina Monroy of the California Teachers Association, is that the key to a successful charter, however it’s organized, is cooperation between charter and district. Monroy:

The reason we have some really good charters is because they’re working in a very complementary manner with the school district. There’s give and take. There’s discussions of the financial aspects. There’s constant ongoing communication…

When I’ve see they haven’t been really successful is this mindset that’s competitive, that we’re doing what the district can’t…that’s really very harmful all around.

As those of you who followed the first application for charter from Nea last year may have noted, there seems to be some negative history between the district and the Nea organizers, many of whom are affiliated with the Alameda Community Learning Center. So whatever the school board decides tonight on Nea’s second application, my hope is that district administrators and charter administrators will work hard to work together.

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For Alameda: Economic news from around the state

Los Angeles Times: Foreclosures, delinquencies skyrocketing among ‘prime’ borrowers

Los Angeles Times: Shopping malls are running on empty

The Sacramento Bee: Demand for social services rises as funding falls

The Sacramento Bee: 3 California budget practices fall short. More Dan Walters.

The Mercury News: State legislators call off Sunday session as budget impasse deepens

And even more state budget crisis news.

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Hey, Alameda: Budget crisis news from around the state

Perhaps you’ve been distracted by the failing of major banking institutions/insurance companies/car companies, to notice that California’s budget is looking to be $28 billion short in the next 18 months. What might the impact be around the state? Here’s some headlines:

By capping enrollment in the state college systems, the community college system may become even more impacted. And more cuts to K-12 schools seem inevitable. Look for cuts to social services, to city services, and parks.

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Rob Siltanen: “Defend Measure H”

Blogger/government teacher/Alameda parent Rob Siltanen has a post up today at School 94501/94502 detailing 1. the nasty state of California’s budget and 2. the importance of Measure H funds to the Alameda Unified District’s budget. Highlights:

…AUSD has very little control over its revenues. The overwhelming majority of AUSD revenues come from the state. So when the state economy is in a recession and the state budget is in free fall — as happened for 08-09 and as will happen again for the 09-10 budget cycle — AUSD’s revenues will drop precipitously. Even though “the district” and “the Board” have the responsibility of dealing with the resulting budget crisis, the situation is not of their making.

Furthermore, unlike a business that can balance its books by closing divisions and operations, AUSD may not cut costs by, for example, shutting down its highly unprofitable “special ed division” or suspending any of its other services for high needs (and therefore more expensive) students. AUSD must educate all students wishing to enroll in public schools in Alameda.

He goes on to detail the current state budget crisis and its impact locally:

The state budget is in such dire straights that the Governor has called a Special Session of the legislature to enact additional budget cuts for the CURRENT SCHOOL YEAR (”mid-year cuts”). Among the “highlights” of the Governor’s proposal to cut 2.5 billion more from the education budget for this school year – yes, those would be cuts for the year for which school districts were required to approve a budget last June — are (1) retroactively eliminating the COLA for 08-09 and (2) retroactively reducing revenue limit funding (i.e., general funding) by 1.79 billion. Even more ominously, this draconian Special Session plan only addresses 11 billion of the state’s projected shortfall. The Governor projects another 13 billion deficit for 09-10. That means that in January we will hear about even more cuts ON TOP OF THESE for the next, fast-approaching budget cycle. If the legislature is unable or unwilling to act in the Special Session (which I think is likely), the whole problem of a 24 billion deficit would be carried into 09-10.

The whole post is here. And, yes, it is long, but is a clearly-articulated, reality-based portrait of the current state budget crisis and its local impact.

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More California budget cuts proposed for the current year

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced additional cuts to the state budget today. To bridge an estimated $11.2 billion budget gap, he’s proposing to raise $4.7 billion with new taxes (including raising the state sales tax by 1.5 cents, taxing services like car repair and veterinary visits, and raising taxes on drinks served in bars and restaurants). Cuts to K-12 education funding in the current school year total $2.5 billion under the new plan. No word yet on what cuts will look like for 2009-10. “A drastic situation like this,” Schwarzenegger said in a news conference, “takes drastic measures.” State Republicans say they’ll fight the increase in taxes.

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Prop. 8 passage means sorrow for many Alamedans

I interviewed Alamedan Amy Gorman just after the California Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in a May decision. Below is a letter from her about her reaction to Tuesday’s passage of Proposition 8 which will, unless it is overturned by legal challenges, amend the state’s constitution to ban marriage between same gender couples (For the record, it looks like the “No On Eight” campaign has not yet conceded.):

Dear Friends,

Last Sunday night Sue and I celebrated our 17th anniversary. I paused to think about all we had been through together…birth and death….sickness and health, youth and middle age, joy and sorrow. I was confident that all Californians would acknowledge our life and we would move forward to plan our wedding once all this nonsense about equality was finalized at last. I am in a fog of both shock and outrage that so many would choose discrimination over equality. I feel foolish in waiting…as we should have gone to City Hall at the last minute as our friends did…”just in case”. It may take years, and many more notarized documents to cover our family so we may have some of the same rights as others. I thought for sure that society was past all this nonsense, that people were educated and respectful.

I want to sincerely thank all of you for your support of NO on Prop. 8 and your words of kindness today. Many of you did phone banking, wore buttons, and talked to neighbors. I appreciate your efforts and hope someday to live in a world where this issue is thought of as trivial and outdated (as segregation and bi-racial marriage are now). Last night was a wonderful moment in our history as we move forward in a hopeful new direction for our country. We made a point to take both our kids to the voting booth with us, in hopes that they may remember this day. I hope someday that Californians will correct this horrible error in judgment and acknowledge our 17 years.

Sincerest Thanks,
Amy

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Alameda election returns at 11:19 pm

As you could not possibly not know, Obama has won the national contest. Locally, with absentee voters and 25 of 52 precincts tallied, Measure P is failing (but close): there are 8,607 no votes (50.71 percent) and 8,365 yeses (49.29 percent). In the school board contest, newcomers appear to be ousting the incumbents, with Niel Tam the top vote getter with 9,492 votes. Trish Spencer is currently in second place with 7,019, trailed by Ron Mooney with 6,792 votes, Janet Gibson with 6,616 and David Forbes with 6,043. In the contest for city council, incumbents Doug Dehaan (8297 votes) and Marie Gilmore (7,983) are in the lead. Challengers Tracy Jensen and Justin Harrison are trailing. More election data here, of course.

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Sunny day: Alameda voting underway

The parent news organization of this blog, the Bay Area News Group, has posted this mid-morning election day round up: Smooth Sailing as voting beings in Bay Area despite vandals in Santa Cruz, malfunction in Antioch. The Bay Area News Group is asking for your thoughts on this election: What was your experience of voting? What do you think this election means? And, for good measure, look for returns from all contests later in the day here. Also check out News Group politics blogger Josh Richman here. [Edited 2:30 pm: Here's an account of today's voting in Alameda County.]

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The big election day has finally arrived!

Just as they’ve been across the country, voting lines were long this morning at Alameda’s Edison Elementary. [Left: Anna Martin walked over to the polls with daughter Esther. Right: Evan Ackiron with daughter Samantha waiting in line to vote. ] evan voting
mom and daughter votingI’ll have more on the election as the day goes on. If you’re still waffling, I recommend a big no on Prop. 8, which would deny same-sex couples the equal rights that have already been granted them by the California Supreme Court. For school board, I cast my votes for Ron Mooney, David Forbes, and Niel Tam. And here’s some info about the city’s Measure P.