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AUSD master planning meeting tonight at Haight School

Tonight is the first of three Alameda Unified School District community meetings about the future of Alameda schools. The idea, as I understand it, is to create a master plan for the public school system in Alameda. The meeting starts at 6:30 and Superintendent Kirsten Vital as well as members of the school board will be discussing three possible scenarios for addressing the long term fiscal sustainability of public education in Alameda. They’ll be discussing how dwindling state funding impacts the district, the possibility of chartering the district as on whole, as well as the possibility of generating more funds for Alameda schools at the local level. The meeting is at Haight Elementary.

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Alameda Fire Chief Dave Kapler station on impact of cuts

I met with the Alameda’s Fire Chief Dave Kapler this morning to ask him the question that I think is probably on most Alamedans’ minds: “What do fire station ‘brown outs’ mean for us when we call in an emergency?”

Kapler gave me some stats, comparing response time in 2008 to response time in 2009 since brown outs began. (His stats are from before last week when the department changed the vehicle slated to be closed when staffing levels drop below 27 because of illness or vacation from a Bay Farm ambulance to the engine at station five, the western-most Island station.)

In 2008, the average time in took both vehicles (staffed by five firefighters/paramedics) to be at the scene of an emergency was Continue Reading

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Tentative ruling in Alameda school parcel tax lawsuit

An Alameda County judge has issued a tentative ruling today in Borikas v. Alameda Unified School District, the suit filed last fall against Measure H.

Measure H is the parcel tax that passed last June with the support of more than two-thirds of Alameda voters. The tentative ruling in Borikas is good news for the school district, with the judge tentatively finding that Measure H applies uniformly and therefore does not violate Cal. Government Code section 50079, which requires that school parcel taxes apply uniformly to all taxpayers or all real property within the school district. The court will hear argument on the tentative ruling on Tuesday, March 17.

More info about the lawsuits against Measure H here and here.

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Alameda’s John Beery involved in another lawsuit

Local property owner John Beery (who is suing the Alameda Unified School District over Measure H, the school parcel tax passed last June) is in the news with another lawsuit. This one against the City of Alameda over a lease dispute on a west end property. Michele Ellson of The Island has a report.

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Fall upon me: Alameda real estate update

Local agent Pacita Dimacali made this observation on a recent blog post, My heart truly bleeds for…

NEWSFLASH…[T]here are 131 homes actively offered for sale in my island city of Alameda, CA. Of these, 22 are short sales, and 7 are bank-owned. All in all, 29 homes or 22% of total. And more are coming up.

For a different sort of take on local real estate, there’s Knife Catchers, which has been tracking, with seeming glee, many properties in Alameda. And 94501 Real Estate has a recent update on February sales.

When you’re up with insomnia (or a baby) and tired of Facebook, you can always track the slide of local home values on Zillow.

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Alameda School Board approves capacity-increasing plan for east-side elementary schools

The Alameda Unified School Board voted just moments ago to approve the district’s plan for accommodating increased enrollment at several East End schools.

The approved plan includes moving Edison Elementary School’s computer lab into its library to make more classroom space, and adding two portables to the Otis Elementary School campus. Otis will likely have 100 kindergarten students next fall, and Edison will likely have 80. Other highlights: a kindergarten class with be added at Bay Farm, and some students in the Franklin attendance zone will likely be diverted to other schools. You can read the whole approved plan here. Blogger Lauren Do has a bit about the plan. So does Michele Ellson of The Island.

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Orinda passes $502 permanent parcel tax

While many here in Alameda like to blame fiscal mismanagement, administrator pay, unions, or you name if for the financial challenges facing the Alameda Unified School District, other communities are stepping up and funding their schools as the dollars provided by the State of California continue to fall short of what a community actually requires to provide a meaningful education for a community’s schools. Orinda’s parcel tax passed with 70 percent of the voters saying yes.

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AUSD school board report

I was otherwise occupied, but The Island‘s own Michele Ellson sat through last night’s school board meeting and issued this detailed report. Of the hot topics on the table were a growing population of East End kindergarten students hoping for spots in their neighborhood schools, teacher contracts, and, tabled until April, the curriculum that the district has put together to help students learn to respect and act respectfully toward all students.

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Hello, Alameda. Finally a state budget

I made a bet with a friend that there’d be a state budget passed by Tuesday midnight. Then we pushed the bet, double or nothing, to noon the next day. And then we just sort of stopped with the betting and started waiting and seeing.

Finally, though, a deal has been made. A 12-cents a gallon gas tax is out, an agreement that legislators won’t be paid when there’s no budget is in—as is a proposal to expand the state lottery and borrow against expected revenue. Details here. I had to do a double-take/triple-blink though when I saw that the deal—reached when one more vote in favor was negotiated with Republican Sen. Abel Maldonado—includes placing a constitutional amendment to change how primaries held in California on the ballot. What a world we live in when a annual budget negotiation includes a promise of constitutional rejiggering?

Huffington Post Blogger Byron Williams, in a post titled, “While California Slept,” has this to say about the sorry state of California’s budget and budget process:

For decades, the California electorate has been buying the overvalued fools gold of direct democracy. We actually believed, based on our votes, we could make better-informed decisions via the initiative process than the individuals we sent to represent us in Sacramento.

And this:

Californians passed the most draconian term limits initiative in the country. It robbed legislators of institutional memory, placed disincentives for members of the opposite party to crossover and make a deal, and its insidious underlying purpose was to get rid of a single individual–former California Speaker Willie Brown.

And this:

The passing of Proposition 13, while still popular, carries that little 2/3-vote requirement to raise revenues, hence the tyranny of the minority. Proposition 98, though perhaps on paper a worthy cause, ties the Legislature’s hands in term of what resources are actually available in the budget.

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For Alameda: still no state budget

With many California employees taking one or two mandatory unpaid furlough days a month and the governor threatening to send layoff notices to the 20,000 state employees with the least seniority, there’s still no budget deal in Sacramento. The no-taxes Republican minority continues to block the Democratic majority.

And lest you think Alameda is alone in its plight to keep the city budget numbers lining up. There’s this: Ventura workers taking pay cuts to save jobs.