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If the Oakland school district had $1.46 billion…

By Katy Murphy
Wednesday, January 4th, 2012 at 2:19 pm in budget, buildings, School board news.

Project list

This evening, after the Oakland school board picks a president and vice president for 2012 (6 p.m.), it moves onto its facilities master plan. The special study session — no vote on the plan tonight — is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. at 1025 Second Ave.

The presentation posted on the agenda (links below) covers enrollment and demographic trends, facts about the number, age and size of district buildings, and a list of projects that might be undertaken if OUSD had the money.

If OUSD tackled every project on that list it would cost an estimated $1.46 billion, not including change orders and cost overruns. (The figure is listed on one slide as $1,460 million, which — though probably standard for these kinds of reports — sounds a little like someone saying they’re five-foot-twelve.)

It includes: $145 million in projects from the 2005 master plan that never materialized, such as upgrades to fire alarms; $333 million in seismic safety improvements; $457 million in modernization projects; $53 million in solar and energy efficiency; $300 million to replace portable buildings and $172.5 million for community kitchens, health care centers and other “site optimization” projects.

As most of the Measure B funds have been allocated or spent, this project prioritization appears to be in preparation for another bond measure campaign, which the board discussed last fall (election date and amount TBD).

You can find links to the relevant documents here and the projects list below. Come 6 p.m., you’ll find a link to a live video stream of the meeting here – and something called “eComment,” which I hadn’t noticed before.

What’s your take on the facilities master plan?

[You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.]

  • livegreen

    An initial observation, if I’m reading slide 12 of the powerpoint correctly, is that OUSD’s population has actually INCREASED this year?

    Though by only a little over 2,000 students, it is the first time on the charts that show an increase, and it puts OUSD population just above ’06-’07 levels (’08-’09 for non-charter, traditional schools).

  • livegreen

    Why are more Middle Schools not included on the list? This is OUSD’s big drop-off point. Having newer, more modern middle school campuses & science/computer labs would greatly help maintain enrollment & OUSD funding.

    Maybe some of this is in with portable replacement, but for the most part that is a lump some that doesn’t specify replacement with what?…

  • Katy Murphy

    You’re right — that is what the slide says.

    Strange, because the enrollment data on the California Department of Ed’s site show a total enrollment (charter plus non-charter) in 2010-11 of 46,584. (The 2011-12 enrollment data is not yet posted.) The slide on the PowerPoint shows it as 44,847 for that same year.

    At the bottom of the slide you’ll see that the data source is listed as CBEDS, and the DataQuest site uses CALPADS, the new system. Maybe that explains the discrepancy.

    If you’re curious about these different data reporting systems, the state department of education explains them (and what their acronyms stand for) here: http://www.cde.ca.gov/ds/dc/cb/

  • Nextset

    You know, we already know that tons of money cannot change the racial gap in schools. It’s been tried in the infamous Kansas City Experiment:

    http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa-298.html

    So to the extent the educrats justify spending money – which we don’t have – on education in the name of seeking racial parity or equality – they’re full of it.

    You just get newer, maybe nicer, failing schools.

    Money is not the problem with education in Oakland. It never has been.

    As far as just having some shiny real estate – OUSD could just as easily use some of the empty office and retail buildings leftover from fleeing businesses. Move into those and run classrooms and offices for internet schools.

    I don’t see taxpayers voting more money for OUSD.

    Brave New World.

  • livegreen

    There are multiple purposes for this. Better facilities for learning is one. Earthquake safety for kids is another. Retention of families fleeing OUSD (of all backgrounds) is another. Better school facilities makes a lot of sense in so many ways…

  • Catherine

    Katy and Livegreen:

    In a previos report by Katy it was shown that 25% of all fifth graders leave OUSD public schools. That is remarkable in and of itself but in the same report 40% of all OUSD students who test “advanced” on the CSTs leave OUSD schools. I bring this up because no where in the documentation did I find Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) as a stakeholder and although the district continues to take state money for GATE identified students they have dismantled the GATE department.

    I cannot see retaining the 25% of outgoing fifth grade students nor the 40% of students testing advanced if they are not even stakeholders in the discussion of how facilities can be used to meet students’ needs. Tony and the Board may decide to continue to ignore the needs of a segment of students, but then it should not surprise the residents of Oakland that Charter schools, other districts and private schools will take the students and educate them. In the same way I do not understand how we can continue to project increasing enrollment when the district has specifically chosen to ignore the needs of over 6,000 students (GATE identified and not yet identified students).

  • Livegreen

    My understanding is that “Advanced” is not the same as “GATE”. That is, GATE is a more narrow subsection of Advanced and therefor does not serve much (if not most) of that population. (Just because parents believe their kids will get into such a program does not mean they will). But I do agree with you, OUSD needs to pay more attention to it’s Advanced students.

    The trick is they need to do that while also addressing other populations. The big challenge anybody at OUSD has…

    I believe OUSD understands that. An example is the last round of Bond Funding has gone mostly to schools in the Hills and the Flatlands. This is helping to retain hills families while spreading equity to poorer schools. It’s the schools in the middle (lower hills, “in between” or slope schools – the most diverse in the City) that have been left in the cold.

    As this conversation applies to Facilities, it’s now time to spread the Bond money to both the “in between” schools and Middle Schools to help continue to increase retention.

    In addition, that is, to the other important reasons I mtd in my previous post…

  • OUSDMom

    Livegreen – where can you see which schools are getting the bond money you mentioned? My child goes to a “Hills School,” and I was under the impression that we didn’t get any significant amount of “extra” money.

  • Makeitgoaway

    The solution is so simple and the example is across the Bay. Create an academic magnet middle school to draw that 25% who now leave in 5th grade where it will be safe to be smart. Then create a “Lowell” type HS instead of the one- size fits all current models.

  • OUSD Parent

    Why doesn’t OUSD create a middle and high school campus for the higher achieving students? Makeitgoaway has a point. I’ve read other’s posts advocating for the same thing, but the idea is met with strong resistance. Why is this?

  • J.R.

    OUSD Parent,
    When you have a system set up where a perceived lack ,fairness,equity & justice are the primary focus(entitlement over performance)you will inevitably have lowest common denominator mentality and mediocrity(at best)as a result.

  • Catherine

    I think in Oakland there is an incorrect thought that there are no or few gifted students in flatland schools and that there is only a small portion of students who perform advanced on academic tests in flatland schools.

    While I agree that the gifted and the students who score advanced on not necessarily the same set of students, I believe that in many cases there is a subset of advanced learners in the gifted students and in some cases gifted students may not score as highly as they could, particularly in science and writing, because there is not a focus in those areas particularly at the elementary level. That is why many parents who have the means to make a choice, do so out of the district. For K – 5 parents see little taught in the area of writing and sciences.

    Equity is not the same as fair. When I hear Tony and the Board speak, I hear that all students should be offered exactly the same opportunities no matter which school they attend and no matter how they behave in the classroom and how much outside homework and studying they are willing to do. This is where I think the equity argument gets off track. A teacher can create writing assignments with analysis in photosynthesis (an elementary school concept) and many gifted and highly motivated students will write an essay and deeply understand the concept, whether they are in a flatlands or hills school. The majority of students will do the bare minimum or nothing at all. It is not equitable to hold back those students who are willing to work hard or who understand the material deeply. Yet, it appears that Mr. Smith and the Board think that it is not equitable to allow students who are willing and able to work and understand material to soar far beyond those who are not willing to do the work. I think this is where our district is failing to be equitable.

    In a job, hard workers and talented workers are rewarded more than those who are late or who do not complete work satisfactorily.

    This issue is more than about money. Equity says that if I have self-discipline, determination, hard work and desire to learn then I should be given an opportunity to do so. If I sit in class and text, send notes to my friends or refuse to work I should not be given the same opportunity because I am not extending the same effort.

    In Oakland we will not have educational opportunity commensurate with work ethic because the superintendent and board do not believe that standard is equitable.

  • J.R.

    OUSD mom,
    As an example of the LCD mindset, I was going to post the link to a public comment portion of a school board meeting. I was unable to because the videos are not being put on the website(I wonder why). The clip I was concerned about was Ben Visnick’s statement that the funds that are raised by parent groups in the hills schools should be confiscated and dispersed throughout the district. Mr.Visnick maintains that this district is underfunded, but the truth is this district has a much larger budget than similarly sized districts(per ADA). Mr.Visnick thinks taxes are not high enough, and they should be raised. People who have tax money funneled to them have an unrealistic and simplistic view of budgets in general(they don’t understand the concept of revenue shortfall, it’s so easy to spend other people’s money). People who go out in the world and actually offer goods and services in the free market(whether success or failure) understand this.

  • Steven Weinberg

    OUSD Parent,
    If you want to understand why many people object to a middle school for higher achieving students, imagine if such a school existed in Oakland and your child either did not qualify for admission or could not attend because of transportation problems. What effect would that situation have on your child? What effect would it have on the school he or she would be attending?
    This being said, there is a real problem that OUSD needs to be addressing. In looking at the STAR scores on the California State Department of Education there is a drop of 500 Oakland students scoring Advanced in English between 5th and 6th grade out of an 800 student drop in total enrollment. The 500 advanced student drop is composed of 90 whites, 90 blacks, 100 Hispanics, and 160 Asians. 303 of the drop are non-economically disadvantaged and 220 are economically disadvantaged.

  • livegreen

    OUSD Mom, Re. Hills schools getting a lot of bond money (w/the same for a lot of Flatland schools): sources of info include the Facilities Newsletters (found under a by department search on the OUSD website, or a google), looking at Facilities Committee agenda, etc.

    The next Bond measure proposal (at least at this stage) appears more diverse in it’s allocation. Which gives hope that OUSD is learning.

    Of course not all Hills schools got bond money. It tends to be the schools with the highest neighborhood attendance and greatest advocacy. It also emphasized student & family retention, not an unwise goal.

  • Catherine

    Nextset:

    There are students of color who achieve at high levels, who work hard and meet with teachers when they don’t quite understand a concept and who do homework with a high degree of motivation and excellence. I think the problem is when we have disruptive students in the same class or have parents and grandparents who make excuses and school personnel who accept excuses rather than keeping students after school to complete homework and make up for the time they disrupt the classroom.

    I wonder if we should have a double school day as a way to reduce the number of facilities and to increase the “beauty” of the facilities that all students attend. What if students who were not prepared to work in the morning attended school from 3 PM to 8:30 PM and have dinner instead of lunch at the school. The class size would be smaller, students would not be on the streets after school and in the evening, we would have maximum use of the buildings and students who need extra services, such as speech therapy, psychotherapy and additional tutoring could receive those services without interfering with their standard learning time. Crossover elective courses could be offered at the middle and high schools during the period of time in the middle – say from 1 PM to 5 PM so that the equity of the course offerings would have integrity.

    This would also help have the money we need for language classes (other than just Spanish), money could be restored for vocational education classes, and students could work with credentialed teachers for longer periods of time each day if they need to do so. There are students who are simply not able to work independently and other students who actually learn as much or more working independently as they do in a classroom with students who require multiple repititions to learn material that is taught in class.

    We need to begin to think out of the box. We also have a very diverse population of learners than in other parts of the bay area. We need to make better use of the money we do have instead of constantly asking for more money to do the same thing in the same way.

  • another interested parent

    Exactly which hills schools are hoarding the bond money, Livegreen? Chabot and Montclair are receiving some of it because they had portables that were from the 1940s and were hazardous and Montclair, at least, was very overcrowded for its old facilities. Okay, that’s 2 schools. There are plenty of other hills schools that have gotten nothing. It is so frustrating to keep hearing that the hills schools are taking resources away from the rest of OUSD. I apologize if I am misreading what you are saying, but that’s how it sounds to me. We are one big school district working together and we should act like it and the district should act like it too. Including recognizing that it has some very smart, gifted kids across the school district in all schools that it should be encouraging and supporting. The district seems to believe that gifted kids will be just fine without support. Yes, that’s probably truer than not, but it certainly doesn’t mean that those kids are reaching their potential as students and as people. Indeed, as others have pointed out, many of those families with gifted kids choose to exit the district in one way or another in order to find the support and encouragement that their kids could put to good use.

  • J.R.

    Catherine,
    “In a job, hard workers and talented workers are rewarded more than those who are late or who do not complete work satisfactorily.

    This issue is more than about money. Equity says that if I have self-discipline, determination, hard work and desire to learn then I should be given an opportunity to do so. If I sit in class and text, send notes to my friends or refuse to work I should not be given the same opportunity because I am not extending the same effort”.

    You are correct Catherine, this is the difference between success and failure or prosperity(effort) vs. poverty(idleness).It is past time to stop labeling people by the color of their skin and what % ethnicity in certain schools, and take notice of those children who put forth effort and ability. Give the kids who are demonstrating the willingness to learn the resources necessary to do so.

  • livegreen

    I didn’t use the words “hoarding” OR “taking resources away from the rest of OUSD”.
    Don’t make what I said worse than it is, or something that it isn’t.

    Reread my statements above. They are quite balanced and are factually based.

  • livegreen

    Also, I’m not saying that Hills schools shouldn’t get new facilities. THey should, & (as I clearly stated above) -not all hills schools got bond money; -it emphasized student & family retention; -flatland schools also got facilities bond money.

    &, importantly, slope & “in between” schools got left out of the mix.

    The new school bond measure works to remedy that and actually includes some slope & in between schools. Though still not in the same #”s a the flatlands or hills…

  • livegreen

    Don’t forget Montera.

    But I agree, the Flatlands have received most of the money.

    Anyway what’s important is that all schools have safe buildings, and good academic facilities. No matter where they’re located.

  • another interested parent

    Livegreen, I know that you’ve stated in past posts and discussions about this issue where you are finding the info that you are basing your opinion on. But would you mind telling me again exactly where? I looked at the Facilities newsletter that you refernenced in post 15, but could only find one from fall 2010 which gave no specifics and only cursory descriptions of small projects including things like lighting and exterior/interior painting. Seemed mostly to focus on the new facility to be built across from OUSD hq. That newsletter seemed to be mostly a PR puff piece. I also found something called a 8-year master plan for facilities, but it seems to be a list only of priorities or ideal projects and not of actual expenditures and doesn’t seem to support your view with regard to “hills” schools– although admittedly it is hard to figure out the plan and what exactly it means. And in typical fashion, the document doesn’t tell when it was drafted. I appreciate and respect your advocacy for schools that seem to have been forgotten in OUSD’s bond measure funding. But could you please point me to the specific docs that you are viewing as support?

  • another interested parent

    I absolutely agree with your point in post 21, livegreen — what’s important is that all buildings be safe and supportive of academics.

  • livegreen

    BTW, I accept that Montclair and Chabot got new structures and portable replacements for valid reasons. If they do have Full Enrollment, they might ask if OUSD diverted 10% of their RBB to flatland schools…

  • OUSD Parent

    As a parent I can’t help but wish that there were better options for the more advanced students. That’s all. When I read that health centers are going into schools and small academies were opened not that long ago (now they’re being closed or consolidated) when our local middle school has new security cameras but no full time librarian, I can’t help but be annoyed. I have two kids. One is designated GATE and very advanced and the other is not. I can tell you that in the long run it’s my GATE kid that I’m more concerned about. He’s the one that is more likely to become disconnected from the learning process. My other kid will do just fine. I wish the district had more to offer the advanced kids. Not to the exclusion of other kids. But they should have their needs met as well. So when I read Katy’s story about OUSD’s $1.46 billion wish list and don’t see anything to help an entire segment of kids that leave the district, I am disappointed. If the district can’t deliver for everyone it shouldn’t judge those who choose to leave.

  • another interested parent

    Yep, livegreen, I get your point. And, yes, those two schools do indeed have full enrollment — in fact, more than full enrollment.

  • livegreen

    OUSD Parent, Just for insight, please explain why only a GATE program suffices for advanced students? If it mostly they’re not challenged & bored? Or other factors?

    Also, isn’t it up to individual school’s to decide on whether to fund GATE or not?

  • OUSD Parent

    Livegreen. I’m not an expert in this. I didn’t realize that I implied that “only a GATE program suffices for advanced students.” All I know, and it’s just my opinion – as I stated I am not an education expert at all – there are kids who are advanced/GATE/hardworking and able and wanting to do more who are consistently not having their needs met. That’s all.

  • AC Mom

    I am in agreement with OUSD parent and Catherine’s comments about supporting learners that are capable of more accelerated work.

    My next statement is that this request for funds seems ill timed. As was reported on this blog, OUSD has indicated that there are too many schools. Does this study address that issue at all? Are we going to be funding improvements at sites that may ultimately closed?

  • Catherine

    For those who ask how a GATE program or a conscientious teacher / school promote higher learning for capable students I will explain what I know from the position of a credentialed teacher, parent of GATE identified students who have left OUSD because their needs were not met in Elementary or Middle school and from the perspective of a parent whose students needs are met in a public school outside of OUSD that honors and supports all learners.

    In Oakland many schools have students who are not scoring well on the California State Tests (CST) in English Language Arts and Mathematics. Because the school, principal and teachers are in danger of losing their jobs because of test scores and gaps between students who may qualify for free or reduced price lunch and students of color, the emphasis is to teach the subjects that will be tested. GATE students tend to be students who ask many, many questions and are not content with multiple choice tests because they often recognize and question the “what if” of the test questions. For most gifted students they possess 50% – 80% of the grade level knowledge that will be taught in elementary and middle school because we tend to “loop” information. For example students study about volcanos in second grade and the rock cycle in fourth grade and volcanos again in sixth grade in a more in depth way than in second grade. Gifted and highly motivated kids who question why volcanos exist learn about the rocks created and the vocabulary that is taught in fourth and sixth grades. There is little work to be done in those grades IF science is taught.

    In the vast majority of elementary classrooms science is taught fewer than two hours per month. In the vast majority of classrooms writing is not taught, nor is it peer corrected, nor teacher corrected and it is not tested in the sense that the testing will cause a school to close or lose a principal or teachers. In the elementary and middle schools of which I am familiar, have taught, have had students (my own sons or students I tutor) attend, fewer than 20% of the teachers at any given school teach the writing process and fewer than 5% of the teachers teach writing from multiple perspectives. Something which GATE students often spend a great deal of time reflecting. In the story Island of the Blue Dolphins – an award winning novel that often accompanies fourth grade history, students read the book and give details. What GATE students do is think about the story from the perspective of the girl left on the island, her dog, the fishermen who negotiate with the village, and the priests at the mission. But they are told to report the facts, just the facts.

    For many students what is taught is mind numbing. And students are trained for nine years (kindergarten through eighth grade) to avoid asking questions, avoid thinking or working too hard, avoid distraction that could lead to inquiry because it is disruptive to the routine and teachers do not have lesson plans that incorporate this difference in thought processes.

    What is not taught in OUSD schools in elementary and middle schools but is part of what the State considers needed for an adequate education is writing, drama, technology, oral presentation, drawing, sculpting, painting, foreign language, science, geography, history, social studies, dance, and P.E.

    When people on this list say, well the money is gone that’s why it is not taught, keep in mind that all multiple subject credentialed teachers are required to know, pass exams and teach all of these subjects and they do in other districts and they don’t in Oakland in the vast majority of the classrooms. Why?

  • livegreen

    Catherine, OUSD k-8 doesn’t teach writing, history & PE?

    Speaking just of k-5 our son is taught writing, geography, science, P.E., painting & music theory (this will be bumped up to music & drama in 3-5).

    In after school enrichment he rotates between more science, lego (early engineering), drawing, foreign language, more painting.

    The 4-5 Grade teachers continue geography, history, and science.

    They might not be taught at your school, but obviously your experience is not universal & can’t be applied to all OUSD. & I know other schools where even more enrichment activities are available than ours.

    As to “reflecting” I’m having a hard time believing that only GATE programs allow for this. Sounds like some schools & teachers do, while others don’t. In which case maybe some teachers need to step it up, and be challenged when they don’t.

  • livegreen

    OUSD Parent, I’m only asking to understand more about GATE.

    Re. funding GATE, my understanding is it’s up to individual schools whether to fund a GATE program or not, especially w/Results Based Budgeting (RBB). Not district-wide.

    AC Mom, I agree with supporting students that are capably of more accelerated work too. I’m just not sure GATE is the only way to do that.

    Good question about the sights. However this is a “Plan” and the list is a “Proposed Future Projects”, which can both be adjusted if necessary. Plus there are a ton of very old portables still at many schools (much like Another Interested Parent referred to in #17 for Chabot & Monclair).

    For those & seismic safety they leave some open ends as they make determinations along the way…

  • Monica Yu

    AC Mom, I share your concern that we could be wasting money upgrading schools that could be closed. I noticed that this plan includes 8 million each for King Estates, which closed last year, and Maxwell Park, set to close at the end of this year. As a community member, I would really like to see a more comprehensive plan from district staff that includes reasoning for site improvements in the context of the overall stategic plan. It feels haphazard to me, and we just don’t have millions to waste on not getting it right!

  • another interested parent

    Wow, Livegreen, your son gets all of that in his OUSD elementary school? And it is all taught by accredited OUSD teachers (painting, music, drama, foreign language, drawing, engineering, etc.)? And all of this is funded by OUSD? Consider yourself extraordinarily lucky. And I really doubt that most schools are like yours. My kids attend a “hills” school and have only core classes with once a week art and music that are paid for by the PTA. There are a few after school enrichment classes, but again those are not OUSD or school-funded.

    As for GATE, it is my understanding that each school receives a very small amount of funding for each child that qualifies. it is up to the school to decide how that “pot” of money is used. the amount received is so small that it is almost insignificant and it seems that many principals choose to use it for professional development or in other similar ways. There used to be a GATE office and coordinator, but I bet that is significantly diminished. And it always seemed to me that the coordinators focus was not on elementary school. At least that’s the way it seemed from the few GATE forums that I attended a couple of years ago.

  • Zinnia

    That pot of GATE money per student no longer exists. There still is a GATE coordinator.

  • Jim Mordecai

    Zinnia:

    The pot of GATE money has always been a small pot. Since the following was posted a year ago, you may be correct about GATE funding no longer existing. But, I hope that you or the readers are no confusing Bill Gates money with GATE funding from the state.

    Jim Mordecai

    This is a Q&A from the state CDE webpage:

    GATE Frequently Asked Questions
    Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) FAQs.

    ——————————————————————————–
    The questions below have been grouped under the following headings:
    Identification
    Service Delivery
    Funding

    ——————————————————————————–

    Identification
    Must we use more than one test or measure for identifying GATE students?

    Education Code (EC) Section 52202 (Outside Source) states “one or more.” GATE identification should not be based on just one factor. Achievement, intelligence quotient (IQ), ability, and other test scores; motivation; parent/guardian, student, and teacher recommendations; classroom observations; and portfolio assessment are some of the possible factors a district may use to identify GATE students.

    Must we identify and serve students in kindergarten and primary grades?

    State law, Assembly Bill (AB) 2313, requires districts to serve students in all grades. It is not necessary to identify kindergarten and primary students formally, although some districts may choose to do so. Districts are required to provide teachers with the means to recognize gifted children and use the strategies and resources to meet their educational needs. This can be done even if formal identification does not take place until later.

    Should we continue to reexamine students for eligibility as they get older?

    The district should continue to periodically examine student eligibility for the GATE program. A student who does not meet the district’s criteria for eligibility in the second grade may very well be eligible later in elementary school. Eligibility for GATE programs should be reexamined between elementary and middle school, and between middle and high school. However, once certified as a gifted student, a student may not be decertified even though the student’s need for specific services may change. At all levels, children who can be successful in advanced courses should be encouraged to take them regardless of whether they are identified as gifted and talented.

    Are we required to test or serve private school students?

    No.

    Must a district governing board consider or identify as gifted and talented a pupil who transfers from a district where the student was previously identified as gifted and talented?

    Yes. EC Section 52202 states that the governing board shall also consider identifying as gifted or talented, any student who has transferred from a district in which he or she was identified as a GATE student.
    Service Delivery
    If we are a school-based coordinated program (SBCP), are we exempt from all provisions of the EC related to gifted and talented education?

    No. Certain requirements in the EC are requirements of the district related to identification, the determination of funding amounts, and responsibility to ensure that funds are spent according to the district-approved plan. Those requirements are unchanged, even though a school or schools within the district become school-based coordinated programs. If GATE is included in the SBCP, the school should base the program on EC Section 52853, which outlines the responsibilities of the school under the SBCP act. Note that the school site plan must specify “instructional and auxiliary services to meet the special needs of . . . gifted and talented pupils,” as well as a staff development plan, ongoing evaluation, and a budget.

    Do you recommend any particular service delivery model?

    AB 2313 requires that services for gifted and talented students be planned and organized as integrated differentiated learning experiences within the regular school day. The following three service delivery models are named in the law and are appropriate for most districts: special day classes, part-time grouping, and cluster grouping. Title 5, Chapter 4 of the California Code of Regulations provides the following definitions:

    (Section 3840a) special-day classes: A class totaling a minimum school day that is composed of pupils identified as gifted and talented, is especially designed to meet the specific academic needs of gifted and talented pupils for enriched and advanced instruction and is appropriately differentiated from other classes in the same subjects at the school, and is taught by a teacher who has specific preparation, experience, personal attributes and competencies in the teaching of gifted children.
    (Section 3840b) part-time grouping: Classes or seminars that are organized to provide advanced or enriched subject matter for part of the school day. These classes are composed of gifted and talented pupils.
    (Section 3840d) cluster grouping: Pupils are grouped within a regular classroom setting and receive appropriately differentiated curriculum from the regular classroom teacher.
    All of these models allow for the participation, when appropriate, of high ability students who are not formally identified as gifted and talented. Small districts will need to be creative in meeting the intent of the law when numbers of students prohibit the adoption of any of these models. Two approaches that have been successful in small school or district settings are mixed-age grouping and individual learning plans that address specific adaptations in one or more of the core areas to meet a student’s needs.

    How does this approach to gifted education relate to standards-based education?

    Standards-based education is a solid foundation on which to build appropriate instruction for all students, including gifted and talented students. Standards-based education requires educators to have clear content and performance objectives for their students. Both the Mathematics Framework for California Public Schools and the Reading/Language Arts Framework for California Public Schools discuss the need for teachers to assess students in order to know what must be learned and to design instruction to move them forward. Both of these documents apply this principle to all students, including advanced and gifted students, even if it means working between grade levels. Key to accomplishing this for all students is differentiation of the core curriculum to meet various student needs.

    We are a small, rural district and receive a small amount in GATE funds. How can we design a program which meets the program standards and regulations?

    Program design will of necessity look very different in small districts than in large districts. Many small districts have developed successful GATE programs enlisting the help of community members with expertise in particular areas; using distance learning arrangements with a college, university, or other public school; or by focusing funds on a particular area of students’ needs each year. Mixed-age grouping, mentorships, and individual learning plans may also be successful approaches to planning and organizing differentiated learning experiences within the regular school day for gifted and talented students in small schools or districts.
    Funding
    How should we estimate GATE funding?

    Per EC Section 52211 (Outside Source), principal apportionments for local educational agency (LEA) GATE programs are calculated each fiscal year through a formula that uses the prior year’s statewide average daily attendance (ADA) in kindergarten and grades 1-12, reported by all participating districts at the second principal apportionment, to determine the per pupil GATE funding for each LEA. LEAs with less than 1,500 ADA receive $2,500 or not less than the amount received in FY 1998-99. No district receives less per ADA than the amount it received in FY 1999-2000. An additional deficit factor may be applied in to align the GATE funding calculations with the available state funding.

    May we buy computers with GATE funds?

    GATE funds are to be used to meet the assessed needs of GATE students through provision of programs described in EC Section 52200 et seq. and accompanying regulations. While purchase of computers is not specifically prohibited in the law or regulations, you must justify these purchases in the written plan and the plan must be approved by the State Board of Education (SBE). It is unlikely that devoting large portions of the GATE funding to the purchase of computers will meet the program standards outlined in law and regulations.

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    Last Reviewed: Wednesday, January 05, 2011

  • Livegreen

    Thank you, AIP and Jim, for elaborating on GATE in OUSD.
    Monica, Good point on Kings Estate and Maxwell Park.

  • Catherine

    Livegreen: My guess is that your child attends either Thornhill or Cleveland Elementary School buth of which have applied for and recieved large grants to do the great work they are doing. The teachers agree to put in extra hours documenting and working to show the money is being spent appropriately and that students are making gains as a result. This is not funded by OUSD.

  • OUSD Parent

    Catherine, you are right about Thornhill. It has received grant money to implement a special music curriculum and some teachers do put in many extra hours to teach music and creative writing. So there is a strong music program at Thornhill thanks to these special funds and the teachers. But PE, art, the library, computer lab, classroom aides and any other extras are parent funded. The robust after school enrichment program is coordinated by the parents and paid for by the families of the children who enroll in the various courses.

    Is this fair? What about the schools that don’t have the parent base with the funds to front these programs? Is this really how we want to run our public schools? Can it really be called a public school when so much is funded through private donations? I don’t know, but I often ask myself these questions each year when the parents start to organize to raise money at the beginning of each school year. My husband and I are products of California public schools and I know that It didn’t used to be like this.

  • Livegreen

    It is not fair, but this is a nationwide and statewide problem. Does that mean taking away the grant or PTA money from individual programs? Anyway that is exactly why OUSD is taking money away from fully enrolled schools to give to underenrolled schools.

    So OUSD is already doing what you advocate, to level the playing field. They’re just not telling anybody…

  • OUSD Parent

    Oh. But I am not advocating that at all! I’m just stating that it is not fair and it is not equitable. It’s not fair to the schools that don’t have private resources available to them and it’s not fair to the families that fork out a boat load of additional money, on top of very high property taxes, to provide the level of education that will enable their kids to compete (hopefully) in which ever path they choose in life.

  • Catherine

    OUSD Parent and Livegreen: There is a school five miles from Thornhill that receives approximately the same amount that Thornhill spends on the library, computer lab, classroom aides and extras, except they chose to spend the money on one full time and one part time security guard, one truant officer (although I believe the position is referred to as attendance support – of which the increase in average daily attendance covers about half of the cost), iPads for the teachers, a computer repair person, after school sports and class sizes of a maximum of 22 students. The school had a card of 36 MAC laptops with a charging station. Within one year they were down to fewer than 20 because the remainder were stolen. The school chooses not to have a full time librarian and teachers choose not to pay the part of librarian.

    I think that when we talk about equity we should say that education is the job of our schools. Education includes a library BEFORE funding sports. Education includes art, science and music for all students BEFORE hiring onsite truant officers. When we have after school programs, the people who interact with students and help them with their homework should speak standard academic English rather than slang.

    It is equitable that we hold students accountable for their behavior. When we do, we should not require a security guard for the kindergarten through second grade wing of a school. The same school of which I speak has had at least three parents who have been found with stolen electronics from the school. That is not fair and not equitable either.

    The money that is available for Thornhill is about $6,500 per student. The PTA and parent funding add about another $1,000 per student. The school five miles away receives $10,400 per student from the district (state) and federal government.

    There is a moral dilemma, when goods such as library books, audio books, computers are bought and stolen or people are hired and do not show up on time or do not work a full day yet are not disciplined, how many times do the items get to be replaced, more workers hired and so on before we say, “enough!”

  • J.R.

    Good point Catherine, hopefully people will finally come to the realization that we cannot modify or fix people’s behavior, and or equalize position in life through money(taxation). People need to stand up and do for themselves, like Cosby said “among the worst kind of child abuse is having children when you cannot even take care of yourself”. We cannot fix the perceived unfairness in life, people need to do that for themselves. Personal responsibility is no longer expected from anyone, and hasn’t been for a while, it’s all about the mindset of “getting what’s mine” even if it means stealing.

  • Livegreen

    Catherine, How does a school get $10,400 in funding when others r gtg $6500?
    Is it all FRL or other?

  • AnaParent

    Catherine is absolutely right. If adults aren’t behaving responsibly, the rest is moot. I wonder if such people exist en masse at any particular school or any given demographic. In other words, there’s no way that would happen consistently at a hills school. The principal and the parents would confront the malingerers. But, more importantly, the TEACHERS would not stand for it. They usually hold each other to a more professional standard. In the flatlands you can dress like a hippie, come late, sip your latte’, yell at students, talk on your cell phone during class, and have the reasonable expectation that nobody will say anything publicly or privately. Teachers need to hold each other to basic standards, otherwise it all becomes a shell game. Same with principals.

  • AC Mom

    Livegreen:

    I concur that a GATE program will not resolve all problems; however, what I would like is differentiated instruction. The question has been posed on this blog about differentiated instruction…what it means, how is it accomplished, etc. GATE can certainly be an element of how OUSD attempts to address the needs of all of its students, but it is by no means an end all be all solution.

  • A Peach

    Yes, Catherine is right. She is describing the huge discrepancies in both core curriculum offerings (writing, art, music, PE, library, literature study, history/social studies, and science) and after school programs between hills schools and most schools in OUSD, K-12. This inequitable situation has been the case regardless of the administration or of the membership of the school board.

    The disparities exist because all levels of decision makers have little or no belief that the children of working people and of non Caucasian parents deserve a robust education. Money is allocated for everything but excellent instructiion, despite the best efforts of many talented, hard working teachers, principals, and curriculum leaders.

    To find out the truth of the statements, school visits are all that are necessary. Go to an elementary, middle and high school in a flatlands or foothills area, then visit the same level schools in the hills within the same region. Sit in on classes, look at displayed student work, ask teachers for examples of reports, essays, lab reports and websites produced by students during the first semester, specifically those that were done within the classroom. Ask random students, at any school, to name the continents, their local elected officials, a few principles enshrined in the Bill of Rights or to explain the workings of any system in their bodies or the broad aspects of healthy nutrition. The differences in what you will find will take your breath away.

    While vising campuses, one can see which schools have open libraries, accessible technology, maps, globes, math manipulatives, classroom libraries and refernce books that students can touch, or science experiments ongoing in each classroom.

    My hope is that you will see the state mandated resources and student activities in some of the schools in the less affluent areas because such wonderful places exist in OUSD. We need to move toward having such schools considered the norm rather than the exception.

    Going back to the topic of construction expenditures -parents and educators should be united in ensuring that initiatives (opening/closing schools, changing configurations, or building structures) have strengthening the education offered to all students as the only priority.

  • Catherine

    Livegreen: Google Title 1 Funding – it is federal money designed to make up the disadvantages of poor students. There are limits on how to spend the money however the way your PTA spends the money is the way the school can spend Title 1 money it is just that they will have fewer adult bodies.

    Peach is right – middle class parents and families would never stand for only reading and math with litlle or no science, social studies, art, music, drama, science fair participation, or writing. However, parents in the flatland schools rarely visit schools that have these learning opportunities and parents who have these learning opportunities rarely visit the schools who don’t have them. This is why when middle class parents look at school closures where test scores are poor, they see opportunity for students to get “more education’ and why families see the closing of a neighborhood school as a loss.

  • Livegreen

    I know what Title 1 funding is and our school gets it. FRL is the basis for Title 1 funding and that’s what I was referring to. Perhaps I did not phrase my question the right way: is there anything else that adds to this $ gap per student besides Title 1? Also are the #s available publicly for what OUSD receives per student at Title 1 schools vs. non-T1 schools?