Part of the Bay Area News Group

HUSD meeting, March 9

By Eric Kurhi
Thursday, March 10th, 2011 at 11:59 am in Hayward, Schools.

I’m working on a bunch of stuff today but wanted to provide a spot for comments on last night’s meeting.

Faith Ringgold supporters turned out in force after learning that their school is one of the things that is being looked at as a possible cut. It wasn’t on the agenda, but apparently the FITAG financial panel discussed it the night before.

Budget update: Positive variance of nearly $2.8 million that was found since the first interim report means that as long as the state passes tax extensions that provide school funding, HUSD will have a qualified certification. It’s not positive because a structural deficit still exists that will whittle the district back into the red by the end of FY13.

There was an odd reconvening of the closed session on personnel matters when Trustee Heredia wanted clarification on a reelection of certain teachers. Closed sessions can’t be just called on a whim — they need to be noticed just like any meeting. But I spoke with the board president and she said it was a continuance of an item that had been noticed, so technically wasn’t a violation of the Brown Act, just kind of weird.

I understand that Trustee Armas did not recuse himself from the item involving administrative staff furloughs/workday reductions, a concern that was bubbling in the comment section. There was an explanation of why it wasn’t a conflict of interest by Donna Becnel, but I had left the meeting by then. I have a request out for a recap of said explanation, will let you know.

UPDATE: Becnel said “If the spouse is part of a larger group that is affected by a decision, then it is fine for him to vote. It is the difference between of a group of positions vs. an individual employee.” She said that if Armas’ spouse was in line for an individual promotion, he would “absolutely be conflicted out.”

Ok, I gotta run, hope this is enough to chew on for now!

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  • Sherry Blair

    For anyone wanting to contact the people who stood up for Faith Ringgold, here is the email address of the principal who will forward your messages. To me, no matter how young they are, they are the leaders in good citizenship. How much better our schools would be if all of us participated like them.

    RCANLAS@husd.k12.ca.u

  • Sherry Blair

    Thanks a lot Eric. Who is Donna Bechnel?

    I can’t say I understand what the structural deficit is. Is that something that can be fixed?

    I didn’t have time earlier, but I wanted to say how impressed I am by Ann Terrasas. Her heart centered view is so important, especially to women and children. It takes a real act of courage to get up and call on us to love one another over and over in the face of so many closed minds. I can only hope people can learn to listen with their hearts.

  • John W. Kyle

    All:

    One wonders if Mr. Kurhi’s expalanation of the requirements for a trustee’s need to recuse himself, or herself from a vote will satisfy Ms. Booth.

    Some conflict bewteen those two may have occurred when Booth was on City’s Personnel Coommission and Armas was either an ass’t City Mgr or after he eventuated to the City Manager’s position…. anyone knowledgeable on the subject ought to assist Ms. Booth in cessation of the animus she exhibits toward Armas. That kind of stuff does not ease the interogation each faces on judgment day!

  • http://None Kathi Booth

    To all,
    I have no animus towards Mr. Armas, I would post the very same opinions of any board member, whom I believe has a moral obligation to avoid any perception of conflict. Whenever I see what I believe are actions or instances of inaction that need to have attention drawn to them, I will continue to do so, regardless of who the Trustee may be…it is has never been a matter of animus, as much as some who post on this blog may want to paint it otherwise.

    I watched last night’s meeting and would like to offer this with regard to the calling of an adjournment to closed session…That may happen, in particular if it involves an item that appeared for that evening’s closed session agenda, HOWEVER, THE PROPER WAY TO ADJOURN WOULD BE TO REFER TO THE GOVERNMENT OR EDUCATION CODE THAT WAS ASSIGNED TO THE ORIGINAL ITEM; OR TO CITE THE GOVERNMENT CODE THAT ALLOWS EXCEPTIONS. IT IS REQUIRED PROCEDURE PRIOR TO LEAVING THE DIAS.

    It simply amazes me that the Community that makes up the Faith Ringgold Alternative School, students,teachers, alumni, parents, friends, extended family are facing “extinction” once again. Their philosophy, passion and fortitude should be admired and I wish it could be cloned and provided to the greater HUSD community. Just imagine what wonders might be worked!

  • Michael Moore

    It was heart rending to hear the teachers, students and parents all talking about what a great place Faith Ringgold is. I am sure that any sentient human would agreed that this is a noble experiment going back to the early Seventies.

    The truth is that the school is still short 56 points from the median API of 808. 756 is 7% below the line. The hard work, partnership, low class size and grant funds, dedicated parent group, dedicated teachers and administrators and others in the community have not yielded the minimum acceptable results.

    This is exactly what is wrong with HUSD. The minimum median of API is just not yet achieved. The flight to schools and districts that can probide this is certainly something that parents are chosing.

    The Trustees need to stand fast and make their decisions to close and combine the demonstrated failures in order to do their best to promote the best possible results for children. Faith Ringgold is one of those failures, based on their results.

    While the everyone has the right spirit, the thing that is missing is meeting the middle of the expectations. The school continues to fail. If you keep doing what you have done and that failed, then change it. Do it differently. In the case of Faith Ringgold, this has failed. It is hard to hear, but it is factual.

  • http://None Kathi Booth

    Mr. Moore,
    As an alumni family, I can tell you that Faith Ringgold (charquin)is populated with students who, if placed withing the regular school community would be scoring far lower, thus bringing the results of the school down. Faith Ringgold (charquin) students, by and large, are those that would be ignored or seen as non-motivated, under-achieving students if judged by regular classroom standards.

    I speak from knowledge and experience, because once my grandson had to leave the Charquin Program to attend school in Milpitas, his entire academic life slid rapidly down hill. Were it not for the extra help and support that we were able to give him he would have dropped out of school. He is now attending community college, pulling straight A’s and becoming reaquainted with “loving to learn”, stretching his intellect, not needing to “be one of the in crowd”, enjoying the intellectual stimulation. The funny thing is, he remarked last year, that it was like finding the old self he had left behind at Charquin.

    Faith Ringgtold students excell, they become community centered, they become politically involved, they give back 10 fold, they are leaders, movers and shakers. Despite what the “numbers” may show…they are by and large positive and successful young men and women.

  • Justwatching

    Mr. Kurhi

    Can you explain just what Positive Variance was found for HUSD. Was this an accounting error?

  • K Rocchio

    FITAG did discuss Faith Ringgold, among many other items, on Tuesday night. I have to tell you, none of the proposed reductions will be easy to cut. Many of the items being considered will have a huge impact on a significant student population in HUSD. We must be fiscally responsible and our budget must reflect the needs of all of our students. Programs and services must support these needs and be cost effective.
    While the FR community made a strong showing on Wednesday, you will find the parents of athletes, diabetics and students with special needs to be just as passionate. The argument would sound the same … a student has found something to connect with that keeps them healthy, engaged and interested in learning. This was heard over and over again when music was on the line. I heard the FR parents saying that their students don’t fit the “mold” that it takes to attend the other schools in the District. I would like to know who does this fit? Seriously, what parent would choose to put their child in an overcrowded classroom, give up music, slash science, cut athletics, eliminate counseling services? NONE! We all want what works for our children and I commend the FR parents for voicing their needs.
    I know that FR qualifies for the QEIA $$. Unfortunately, if you go to the grocery store and fill your cart with $100 worth of groceries, and go to pay with a $25 coupon, you still need to have the other $75. This is the problem all of our programs are facing. We are looking long and hard at the options available, including raising revenue. If there are any ideas out there that would cut expenses or increase revenue, now is the time to share those thoughts! Think outside the box, be creative! I urge everyone to continue to speak out on the items that matter most to you. Offer suggestions and lend your voice during this difficult time. Just feeling strongly and remaining silent will not shield us from these looming cuts.

  • K Rocchio

    Justwatching – The info I have shows the main sources of the $2.8M comes from: Revenue Limit Increases (including reimbursements from Charters) of $669,458 and Other State Review Increases (mainly mandated cost reimbursement) of $1,231,039 and then the Decrease in Certificated and Classified Positions.

    Hope that helps.

  • Eric Kurhi

    Working on story right now, JW. Basically, at the December first interim report Interim Assistant Supt. Sandra Lepley said they’d scrutinize and “scrub” the budget, looking for overestimates. They expected to find $1.5M or more, ended up finding $2.3M between certificated and classified salaries. Like Kelly said, other increases were from charter reimbursements and other state revenue increases. That adds up to more than the $2.8M total, but they had to subtract $1.4M for an increase in cost of books and supplies.

  • Justwatching

    Thanks KR and EK for that info.

    Thats really the problem when a new Budget Advisory Group/FITAG is assembled only when there is a budget crisis. Just to learn how to look over all the General Fund Budget accounts in the HUSD budget documents is a monumental task and then to understand governmental accounting to realize that all dollars are encumbered to specific account and sometimes an account gets set up with encumbered dollars with anticipation that invoices will come in to off set those dollars.
    One really should make sure they not the amount encumbered and the account balance YTD and if no invoices have been processed against that account by March or April of the current fiscal year then this is the account one needs ask for more detailed info.

  • AP Polk

    Hi Just Watching
    Keep asking questions. What’s the term? Fuzzy Math??? They are not finding money, they are taking money from programs that do not have any oversight or audit requirements. Excel Spreadsheets gives the board only what they want the board to see. If you ask to see the actual budget, you will be told it’s to complicated to understand. With all the advances in technology, ask how old the district’s accounting system is and why won’t they upgrade? Answer, it’s easier to misappropriate funds with the old system. The forming of committees is just a front to give the appearance of transparency.

  • qodrn

    The real point of FR is that some grammer school students can’t for one reason or another handle a large school situation. The district needs to serve these students. One school is not asking too much. Same with year round schools. The district may not need four of these; I am sure some parents attend because the local school is year round while some students or families need these programs.

    Cutting sports, art, music these can be done outside of school, incorporated into other subjects. Think about the skill set necessary to work at a small company versus a large one. Different.

    Think about students who lose too much over a long summer. This can’t be fixed except by a shorter break.

    Just my thoughts.

  • http://None Kathi Booth

    Qodrn,
    You have the point exactly, about Faith Ringgold. I believe the program can be saved by making it a “school within a school” something HUSD is always talking about. When the Project School was a separate school it was housed on the Tennyson High site. It was well received by the high school students and worked very well. That could easily happen again, that is if alternatives for children really matter.

    AP,
    Finding money, when they say there is none, has happened for forever in HUSD. Of course it’s just a matter of juggling the books..or in many cases in the past, it was money that was squirreled away in program costs, etc. This is exactly why the union has always said that their budget figures and the district’s don’t match, thus claiming there is more money than anyone is being told about.

  • Sherry Blair

    I remember so many times when parents were told there wasn’t money and then the district came up with so much when it wanted to do something. Once before it was a million dollars they “found.”

    You know, we live in the age of computers. Aren’t we supposed to be educators? The budget could be online and transparent in a form an educated person can understand, question and offer suggestions.

    Also, there is no reason why books cannot be read online now. Not only would it save a whole lot of money, but students would not need to ruin their backs carrying them in backpacks. Also, it should be part of every IEP for students who are too disabled to carry.

  • Lucy’s Mom

    I am not surprised they were “able to find money”. I wish Ms. Lepley could scrutinize other funds (Title I, Title III, YEP, and the newest Americorps to name a few). Transparency will provide fiscal solvency!

  • John W. Kyle

    All;

    The Recent publication upon the Opinion Page of Daily Review of an article entitled ”Getting Tough with Parents of truants will solve the issue.” That lead into the story, was none of my doing even though I had written the article. Which is not the point of this submission.

    The point of this submission is that the article pointed out, in not too subtle a manner, that the problem with API scores is tied to truancy and in daisy chain fashion, the truancy problem is tied to the fact that ‘low income housing’ is super abundant in Hayward as well as Oakland. All the while, we see in eastern Alameda County communities of Dublin, Livermore and Pleasanton low income housing is scarce. In Pleasanton it is virtually non-existent and the proof of that matter is found in the Marvch 17, 2010 article published by the SF Chronicle which recited the verdict handed down by a superior court judge in San Francisco.

    So why pick on low income folk as being the scape goat for all of our truancy problems? The article attempts to explain a major cause of that fact.

    Well, I have assembled quite a bit of statistical data for your perusal; a copy of the article as well as supporting statistical data is yours for the asking…. Send me a self addressed envelope and I’ll pay the postage to enable you to understand our problem which in reality is not HUSD’s problem. It is our problem and the reality is that a political solution is needed. We do not have a money problem so much as we have a political problem!

    Another way to obtain or read a copy, especially for you ‘nom de plume types’ is to seek a reading of the last two letters mailed by myself to HUSD Board of Trustees. That mailing was done deliberately so to provide you ‘nom de plume’ types with some basic facts on the cause of truancy and why it is that we on the west side of the hills are stuck with an ADA problem not experienced in eastern portion of the County, Pleasanton particularly, enjoys a higher ratio of ADA money on a per student basis than is the case in Hayward or Oakland.

    Present yourself to the Secretary in the office of the Supt and ask for a read of the public record as it pertains to the lst two letters addressed to the Board of Trustees. You can actually obtain a copy if you offer a small donation top cover the expense of copy paper and ink’

    So if you disagree with what you read then think of it this way, write a good slam on this here blog. If you have Kathy’s phone number or address, ask her to help you write it. on the other hand, if as a result of your reading effort, you begin to see the light, then be more supportive of trustees and HEA as well… start a letter writing campaign to the Offices of the State School Superintendent and others whom you might think of as being potentially helpful in seeking a political solution to the basic problem of ADA money loss.

    If we are unable to cure truancy the think of ways to spread the problem out a bit more equitably!

    Kathy, please do not get choked up emotionally over this possible solution. Perhaps you can write an intelligent alternative or at least a rebuttal to that which I wrote and saw published on March 3, 2011 in Daily Review

  • http://None Kathi Booth

    Mr. Kyle,
    Please get off my case…there really has to be more to life than constantly trying to find ways to attack me or my postings. Find someone new to spew your hate speak on…I really am tired of it. What I choose to comment on absolutely does not have to agree with or support the ideas you put forth. I have tried desperately to avoid calling into question what you post for quite some time now. Please stop.

  • http://None Kathi Booth

    I am sorry, I need to clarify my last statement. I have responded to Mr. Kyle when he has made a deliberate swipe at my character or posted other hateful/hurtful words concerning me. I have tried desperately not to comment on his ideas or suggestions regarding how to improve the state of HUSD for many months now.

  • John W. Kyle

    mS. bOOTH

    i DO NOT NEED TO FIND WAYS TO RESPOND TO YOUR DIATRIBE. yOU TRIP OVER YOUR OWN FAULTS SO OFTEN AND SO BADLY THAT THERE IS NO WAY OUT BUT TO PUBLICLY RESPOND I9N THE MEDIA OF YOUR CHOICE.

    i HAVE NOT GONE OUT OF MY WAY TO ‘SWIPE’ AT YOUR CHARACYTER…… YOUR SINGLE BUGGEST FAUL6T IS TO ATTACK WHEN THER IS NO NEED….

    IS SELF REFELECTION BEYOND YOUR ABILITY AND NEED? GIVEN YOUR EARLIER REMARKS ABOUT THE IDENTITY IOF YOUR Pastor as well as the fact that this is lent….. try examing your own faults!

  • http://None Kathi Booth

    Mr. Kyle
    STOP PLEASE. I HAVE NOT SUBMITTED A DIATRIBE ON YOU OR YOURS. I HAVE TRIED TO KEEP MY POSTINGS RELEVANT TO WHAT I BELIEVE IS IMPORTANT, WITHOUT CRITICIZING YOUR POSTINGS OR THEIR CONTENT. I HAVE ATTEMPTED TO NOT BRING UP ANY PAST POSTINGS OR COMMENTS FROM YOU, EXCEPT IN THE CASE OF YOUR STATING THERE MUST BE SOME HIDDEN ANIMUS FROM ME TOWARDS MR. ARMAS AND WHAT ASSOCIATIONS I MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE HAD WITH HIM DURING MY SERVICE TO THE CITY ON THE PERSONNEL COMMISSION. IN THAT CASE I SUGGESTED THAT IF YOU WERE THAT CURIOUS YOU SHOULD CONTACT MR. ARMAS AND ASK HIM IF HE BELIEVED YOUR SUSPICIONS WERE TRUE. PLEASE MR. KYLE COULD YOU LIMIT YOUR COMMENTARY TO THOSE ISSUES THAT ARE IMPORTANT TO YOU WITHOUT REFERENCE TO ME? I DON’T THINK THAT IS TOO MUCH TO ASK OF YOU. THANK YOU FOR TAKING THE TIME TO READ THIS POSTING.

  • John W. Kyle

    bOOTH;

    pass !