Part of the Bay Area News Group

Tax dollars well spent?

By Katy Murphy
Wednesday, October 31st, 2007 at 11:37 am in Uncategorized.

A Tribune article in February 2004 reported that then-school board member Dan Siegel and others in the school district opposed Measure E, a renewal of the Measure B parcel tax with a rate hike. The story was written in the midst of a fiscal crisis and general upheaval, and opponents said they doubted the money would be handled properly.

Now that property owners might see a permanent renewal of that renewal after February’s election, how responsibly do you believe the money was spent? Here is a summary of how the district spent nearly $20 million in parcel tax funds during the 2006-07 school year:

Program                                                                      Expenditure

Class Size Reduction………………………………………………$4,996,032

Art………………………………………………………………………$549,635

Music…………………………………………………………………..$1,689,532

 RBB Transition………………………………………………………..$972,957

Elementary Intervention PDS…………………………………..$2,474,178

School Security Officers………………………………………..$2,282

Advanced Placement…………………………………………….$1,024,084

School Libraries…………………………………………………….$1,708,834

Advance via Individual Determination……………………..$477,987

Oratorical Festival………………………………………………….$26,013

Textbooks…………………………………………………………….$423,089

Oakland Fine Arts Summer School………………………….$61,461

Counseling……………………………………………………………$277,941

Middle School Electives…………………………………………$923,377

Teacher Health Benefits………………………………………….$2,355,159

After-School Security…………………………………………….$213,261

Mathematics Middle School…………………………………..$162,345

Pupil Disciplinary Hearing Panel………………………………$551,542

Human Resources Recruitment………………………………..$531,711

Safety…………………………………………………………………..$524,785

TOTAL………………………………………………………….$19,946,205

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  • Debora

    I see nothing in here about GATE funding. We have a serious situation in Oakland where many parents of GATE kids are choosing to move their children to out of district or private schools because their needs are not being met.

    Testing for GATE does not begin until third grade. Children who are already reading Little House on the Prairie and Harry Potter are being made to sit cross-legged on a rug and review the words cot, pot, sat, slat, etc. And in Oakland schools it’s required by the Open Court curriculum standard – - – by the way the words you just saw are second grade spelling words.

    I want to make Oakland Schools work, and I want to support them financially through tax dollars, AND I also have to get “appropriate education” for my daughter who has not been tested for GATE because she is only in second grade, but has already mastered the curriculum in reading, math and science. So, do I spend my dollars to help the students of Oakland, or do I send her for appropriate intellectual classes after school? This is the choice I am forced to make.

  • Brian Marion

    Take a look at the GATE FAQ on the CDE site.

    Here is the link: http://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/gt/gt/gate06faqs.asp

    The district is trying to meet the GATE kid’s need, not very well, but trying.

  • http://ibabuzz.com?education Steve Weinberg

    Have the Measure E tax dollars been well spent? Definitely. Class size reduction in the primary grades would have been impossible without the contribution from Measure E; the state payment for class size reduction does not cover the full cost of the program, and unless the local district supplies the balance of the funds, the district gets nothing. Without the Measure E funds that pay for some of the health benefits costs there would have been no way to avoid a teacher strike two years ago. Art, music, and libraries are all being squeezed out of the general fund budget, and Measure E helps maintain those programs. Are there other worthwhile programs (such as GATE) that are not receiving Measure E support? Of course, but we should not hold it against a successful program that it can’t meet all the district’s needs.

  • Jim Mordecai

    Measure E money is not enrichment. It is money to hold on to as many basics as possible starting with retaining experienced teachers that are committed to stay in Oakland for the long haul. Art and music are at further risk if this measure doesn’t pass. The need is greater than the current money the parcel tax provides. And, because the current parcel tax is not indexed to inflation the need will grow without the resource to support Oakland public school students.

    Nevertheless, Oaklanders have been very generous in the past and have supported its schools in the voter’s booth. I predict that those that expect success in maintaining the parcel tax will be right come February.

  • Debora

    Brian:

    Thank you for the information. Previously our school did nothing with GATE students and put the GATE money in the general fund for the school. We have a new principal and she has reviewed the information on the link you provided. It looks like she’s floating using the funds for GATE kids to be used for teacher training. She’ll run it by the SLIP (School, Library funding) committee.

    I really appreciate you adding the link.

    And to those people who think GATE is a “special program” I would like to say that every child who shows up to school ready to learn deserves to learn something new every day. They should not have to sit day after day proving and re-proving that they already know the material when they got 100% on the pretest. Just as Special Education, mainstream education, children who learn faster or more efficently deserve something new every day.