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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.

Posted on Wednesday, May 20th, 2009
Under: California, charter schools, Island Life, Parcel tax, Prop. 13, Real Estate, school board, Schools, the economy | 1 Comment »

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.

Posted on Friday, March 13th, 2009
Under: Island Life, Prop. 13, Schools | No Comments »

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.

Posted on Friday, March 13th, 2009
Under: Island Life, Prop. 13, Schools, the economy | No Comments »

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.

Posted on Thursday, February 19th, 2009
Under: Prop. 13, Schools, the economy | 1 Comment »

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.

Posted on Tuesday, February 17th, 2009
Under: Alameda firefighters, California, Prop. 13, the economy | No Comments »

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.

Posted on Wednesday, January 21st, 2009
Under: California, Island Life, Prop. 13, Prop. 98, Schools, the economy | 3 Comments »

Alameda City Council report: cuts in firefighter staffing levels

There has been much talk in Alameda of late about staffing changes in the fire department. Firefighters have been leafletting and also developed this site. There’s also a Facebook group, “Save Alameda Firehouses!”

At last night’s City Council meeting, staff presented a report to council about emergency response time in Alameda and the cost of maintaining current service levels. Most city departments have cut their budgets by eight percent this year; the police and fire departments have been asked to cut their budgets by four percent. In keeping with this target, and Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, January 7th, 2009
Under: Alameda firefighters, Island Life, Prop. 13, the economy | 1 Comment »

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.

Posted on Friday, December 19th, 2008
Under: California, Schools, the economy | No Comments »

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.

Posted on Thursday, December 18th, 2008
Under: California, Off-Island Life, Prop. 13, Prop. 98, Schools, the economy | No Comments »

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.

Posted on Thursday, December 4th, 2008
Under: California, Prop. 13, Prop. 98, Schools, the economy | No Comments »