Some quick hits (and one longer one) from last night’s Acalanes Union High School District governing board meeting:
The board was the latest to honor Blake Marggraff and Matthew Feddersen, the two Acalanes High School seniors who took the top prize at the Intel International Science & Engineering Fair in May. The board also recognized Acalanes High School librarian Karen Findlay, the district’s educator of the year.
Trustees received a report on how technology is being and can be used in the classroom, all from a slick-looking Apple iPad plugged into the board room’s AV system. The Acalanes school board, which gives members laptops with which to look at meeting documents, is easily the most technologically-saavy agency in Lamorinda.
A community member gave a presentation on the stress teens face while attending high-performing schools, and urged the board to do something to address the issue. Board members said they shared his concerns, but some worried budget woes could make tackling the problem difficult.
Speaking of the budget …
At least Christopher Learned no longer has former Superintendent John Stockton around to introduce him as “Dr. Doom.” Learned, the associate superintendent for business services, gave the board a presentation about the district’s budget following the release of Gov. Jerry Brown’s revised state budget last May. The new budget now promises more money for schools thanks to an unforeseen uptick in revenue, but Learned told me Thursday all that will do is swap out “deferred money” — funds promised to schools but held over until the next year — with real money, resulting in a flat budget for 2011-12. The good news, he said, is that because of the extra cash, cuts to schools may not be as large should Brown’s tax extension measures either fail to make it to the ballot or get rejected.
Learned showed the board two budget scenarios. The first assumes a flat budget (taxes pass), and results in a $1.7 million year-end surplus. The second assumes a roughly $1.8 million cut (taxes fail), leaving the district with a deficit of $112,587. That’s not that big of a deal for the coming school year, Learned said. But it could become problematic in years ahead. The budget for 2011-12 includes about $1 million in federal grant money as well as $1 million less expenses due to employee furloughs. The grant money won’t be there in the following years, and neither will the furloughs, meaning beginning in 2012-13 the district could have a $2 million hole blown through its budget.
So Learned doesn’t have to play Dr. Doom until then.