Alamada Schools Celebrating Parcel-Tax Vote

The Alameda Education Foundation, a fund-raising group for special school programs and resources, is thanking the community for its passage of Measure A on March 8.

“By over a two-to-one margin, you showed your support for continued quality education in Alameda,” AEF said in a statement. “The fact that current economic conditions made this a difficult choice for many indicates our community’s willingness to sacrifice to ensure that Alameda students have the educational resources, programs and conditions they need for success.”

The Alameda Education Foundation says it especially wants to thank members of the business community that supported Measure A, which enjoyed more business support that the failed Measure E last year. “You, like us, realize that thriving schools are necessary for a strong community and a promising future for all of us,” AEF explained.

AEF also praised the Alameda SOS campaign committee for its “exceptional job of galvanizing the community to pass Measure A.”

According to the Alameda Country Registrar of Voters, the majority of Alamedans participated in the Measure A vote: 21,180 votes were counted, representing 50.9% of the Island’s 41,609 registered voters.

Some 14,200 ballots were sent in by mail, and about 7,000 ballots were filled out on election day at polling sites across town.

The “yes” votes totalled 14,342 — or 67.8% — and the “no” votes numbered 6,806, or 32.2%. The parcel-tax measure needed 66.6% or more votes to pass.


Alameda Polls Open for Measure A Vote

Today is the day to vote in Alameda’s special election over Measure A, a new parcel tax that aims to support the Island school district.

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, March 8.

There are very heated arguments about the measure, as has been the case recently with other parcel-tax proposals.

The League of Women Voters of Alameda had to cancel its February 3 forum on the measure, as controversies arose over the format and content of the public discussion.

The league has posted the pros and cons it gathered Measure A online, though.

Each and every vote counts, since the Measure A parcel tax needs to pass with 66.6% or more of the votes.

Last summer’s Measure E votes were: 14, 415, or 65.62%, yes; 7,551, or 34.38%, no.

Today’s parcel tax vote should be another close one.


Another Alameda Robo-Call & School-Board Forums

The Washington, D.C.-based calls (from the 202 area code) came to this blogger on Wednesday and Thursday night.

One question was, “If the elections were held today, who would you vote for as Alameda’s next mayor: Marie Gilmore, Doug DeHaan, Frank Matarrese, Tony Daysog or another candidate?

Another question: “If the elections were held today, who would be your first choice for City Council? Beverly Johnson, Lena Tam, Rob Bonta, Jean Sweeney or another candidate?

And “who would be your second choice for council?….”

(The pronounciation of Matarrese was a bit awkward, so I don’t think he’s paying for the calls.)

The survey also probed how certain my political decisions were — very certain? somewhat certain?

Can voters still be swayed? There’s still a month to go before November 2!

The Alameda political scene has become very frustrating, to say the least. Politicians who promise to (and have shown an ability to) focus more on the fundamentals of city leadership and management should carry more votes than their opponents.

Those who have gotten dragged into the infighting — or appear to be siding more with political interests than with constituents — are not likely to prevail.

There’s also a lot of talk around the Island, of course, about the schools. And the Alameda School Board will have a big impact on how the fiscal constraints will be addressed — and how possible school closures and new parcel tax proposals will be handled.

Two slots will be filled, and the candidates are Mike McMahon, Sheri Palmer, Clay Pollard, James Pruitt, Marjorie “Margie” Sherratt and Rand Wroble.

Forums to meet the school board candidates are taking place on October 5 at Earhart Elementary School (hosted by the Bay Farm, Earhart & Lincoln PTAs) and on October 6 at Washington Elementary School (hosted by the Franklin & Washington PTAs).

The League of Women Voters is also doing a school-board candidate’s forum on at 7:30 p.m. on October 11 at Temple Israel on Bay Farm Island.

Another event is set for 6:30 p.m. on October 19 at the Alameda High School Little Theater on Central Avenue. It has been organized by the Alameda PTA Council and Alameda Education Foundation.

To view information on the candidates go to the website run by the League of Women Voters, which also includes other useful election information.

For those who want to submit questions for the candidates to answer at the October 19 event, go to the website of the Alameda Education Foundation, or AEF.


Alameda’s Pro-E Team Vows to Keep Up School Support

The election results for Measure E aren’t yet official, but here’s how they stand:

Yes – 14, 415, 65.62%

No – 7,551, 34.38%

With 66.6% needed, the Pro-Measure E effort appears to be falling ever so short.

Voters sent in 22,029 ballots, representing 52.88% of all registered Alameda voters.

The results are quite telling: The very-close-to-a-super-majority of voters supports the Measure E school parcel tax, even with its defects and despite major economic hardship.

What the 47.12%, or 19,659 residents, believe about this important issue… we may never know. Certainly, their voices could have really made a difference for either side.

As the photo above (of a child near Broadway and Blanding) illustrates, groups pushing for the schools and more financial resources for them will try to re-group in the interest of furthering the educational goals of the community.


New faces in school district

At the July 14 special meeting under consent items the following personnel appointments were approved:
School Trustee Mike McMahon reports these recent appointments at Alameda schools:
Lincoln Middle School Principal: Nicole Williams Browning from San Lorenzo, vice principal SLZ high school
Jonathan Osler, Vice Principal, Encinal High School
Tracy Allegroti, Dean of Students, Encinal High School
Rob Siltanen, Director of Adult and Alternative Education, Charter School Monitoring and ROP Liasion.
The appointments were announced at a special school board meeting July 14.

Update from the school district superintendent

Thanks to school trustee Mike McMahon for sending along this letter from the school district superintendent about the issues the district is facing.  With the state’s sad financial dive, note the section about whether or not schools can survive solely on state funding.

McMahon also has an outstanding Web site that includes a number of resources for parents in addition to regular updates about the Alameda Unified School District.


A legal challenge to Measure H?

Hello. So the buzz out there, both in reality and in blogland, is that this group, Alamedans for Fair Taxation, has raised some money to challenge Measure H, the school parcel tax that passed with over two thirds of the vote (parcel taxes in California don’t just require a simple majority, they require two of every three peoples’ support). I left messages before I went on vacation over Alamedan’s for Fair Taxation’s main office number, and I left another today. I’m looking forward to finding out who is in this group, how much they’ve raised, and by what legal standard they hope to challenge Measure H. Stay tuned.


What’s next for Alameda public schools?

In the past couple weeks, the Alameda Unified School District, has lost its CFO, Luz Cazares, and Superintendent Ardella Dailey has announced she will be retiring at the end of the calendar year. In this week’s “Life on the Island,” the column I write for the Alameda Journal, I talk about these changes and, too, upcoming openings on the school board (we could potentially have four new school district trustees come 2009). As I touched on in my column, I have never liked the phrase, ‘close the achievement gap.’ In the educational utopia of my imagination, I would like to see a school system that works to boost achievement for all students, no matter if they come to school exceptional in one way or another, struggling with basics, or, as is often the case, struggling in some areas and exceptional in others.

Past “Life on the Island” columns
July 8, 2008: Alameda Journal”Getting an education in civics
July 1, 2008: Soaking up life on the Bay
June 24, 2008: Alamedans get back to basics to save environment
June 17, 2008: Fear can limit the joys of childhood
June 10, 2008: Never underestimate the power of one
June 3, 2008: Paying the price to have good schools
May 27, 2008: A civil rights issue in our time
May 20, 2008: What’s cooking in the hot weather?
May 12, 2008: When a man needs a cave
May 5, 2008: Enjoying that small-town feel
April 28, 2008: Support of tax teaches lesson
April 21, 2008: New garage can be a good habit
April 14, 2008: When the earth shakes, duck
April 7, 2008: Snails, ants, lice and light brown apple moths


Alameda’s school sports funding woes in Sports Illustrated

Sometimes I get to thinking that it’s only California, with its huge public school population and its wacky system for taxing property (that’s Prop. 13) and its unequal funding formulas that’s kept schools struggling to operate. But this article in Sports Illustrated—which mentions Alameda’s plight several times—highlights how school sports programs across the country are facing cuts.


Alameda’s Measure H: Now with two-thirds of vote

To repeat, the vote count now puts Measure H, the school parcel tax, well into passing territory—by 105 votes. Superblogger Lauren Do has a roundup of the latest news coverage over at Blogging Bayport. And I am looking forward to walking over to the school yard and smiling and high-fiving with some of the the parents who worked so hard to pass this tax. Because four million dollars a year for four years will, no matter what the naysayers say (and say it they do), make a big difference for the students of our district as well as for our town as a whole.