California's Education Crisis Made Manifest in Redwood City

If you want to know exactly what the effects of the California state budget crises in general, and the failure of Measure E specifically, will be for the individual students and families of Redwood City, scroll down. I hope this report might make a few more people less apathetic. At the very least it will crack open the non-hardened heart.

The notes below are a compilation of my live twitter feed from last night's Redwood City School District board meeting, the public portion of which lasted from 7 PM until 11:30 PM (at which point the board members went into closed session). The school board was asked to make some really hard choices, and few people in the audience would have traded places with them. I for one felt reassured in seeing the smart, alert, knowledgeable, and empathetic board members in action.

Frustrated enough to take action? Good. Here's what my friend Ep had to say:
I'd like to encourage anyone who knows anyone who lives in any of the 44 [California] state districts with a Republican senator or Assembly member to phone, email, or write them with the message that we can't fix the budget crisis on the backs of our children. You can get a list of representatives and districts at: http://www.cagop. org/about/ .

You can also direct your thoughts to our Governor at:
http://www.gov. ca.gov/interact.

76. Live-tweeting the Redwood City School District school board meeting: stay tuned!

75. Budget discussion tabled for tonight; Measure E failure & state budget fluctuations means no stable figures available; discussion premature.

74. Passionate plea from single working mom to keep Preschool for All open; otherwise she has no options for working next year.

73. Preschool for All was a state-level cut; district still has Child Development Centers that might help.

72. Jack Hickey is speaking out of both sides of his mouth to an audibly cool & skeptical room. Railing against tenure, which is a state issue.

71. Standing ovation, teacher praise, & flowers for Alisa M. & Shelly M., Measure E Ass-kickers.

70. Since so many 5/19 measures failed, we have to make serious cuts in order to maintain reserve; we have to cut $1M for evry $1B in state cuts

69. Budget presentation (not discussion): 08-09: cuts for ed were $3 million; we used our reserve instead of cutting

68. Budgets are based on previous year's income, but we do have some Federal Stimulus funds, including special ed; projected 08-09 cuts: $10.7M.

67. Discussed cuts for parts of the following: IB program, library aides, custodians, class size reduction, all very complicated.

66. Increasing class size could help reduce expenditures & increase revenue.

65. Anticipate 51 fewer classrooms in 09-10

64. Title II funds can only be used for staff or professional development.

63. Special Ed is a categorical cost, indirect. Now that we have IDEA funding, it will help somewhat (unclear on exact funding/$ stream shifts).

62. Outdoor Ed is another potential area for cuts; not looking good (i.e. NO at this point.)

61. IDEA is very strict about its funds being used for special ed programming and not to address district deficit.

60. Governor has said that there could be more Education cuts between now & June 30th.

59. Board member SM: When you have to cut $6.5 million dollars, there's no good place to cut.

58. Rumor, which budgeteer thinks might have merit: that special ed transportation $ cut by 65 percent.

57. Parcel tax failure means we're losing PE teachers, library aides, middle school teachers, though music program funded for one year more.

56. Post-E cuts might be able to be moderated on a school site, per-student basis.

55. Class size: could we lower class size a bit more to offset cuts? It's complicated, penalties for exceeding class size.

54. General fund is about $65 million, that's where $10M/15 percent cuts will come from. Separate from federal funds/title funds.

53. Questions from audience: teacher at Fair Oaks, RWC native, worried about losing extra-curricular actvities for kids in disadvantaged areas.

52. teacher: Please let Fair Oaks keep title I funds; school & activities are only inspiration/leisure some of his students ever get.

51. Board wants to keep class size reductions from affecting schools like Fair Oaks. Board will do their best to help keep art/after sch prgrms.

50. Higher class size might help us break even at schools like Fair Oaks but budgeting is so raw & unfinished that can't be stated officially.

49. Jack Hickey thinks it would behoove state to remove class size restrictions. Can we rent empty portables? Look at the rosy side (*hooting*). [SR: I would note that Mr. Hickey was respectful, and some of his ideas may have had merit. But he has done so much to undermine funding for our school district -- specifically in his instrumental role in helping to defeat the last two parcel tax efforts -- that few in the room were willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. I'll bet the devil has good manners, too.]

48. We need to focus on not cutting from areas that touch every student - uh, touching in a positive way.'

47. Teacher says we need to do everything we can to keep class sizes reduced; for many dropouts, last succesful moment was in 4th grade.

46. Financial committee wants additional stimulus funds to go to school sites to increase per-student discretionary funding.

45. Argument against reduction: if class sizes are reduced, can't expand them again/hire teachers again if federal money comes thru in fall.

44. Office clerks are critical; can't be cut any more than already have been.

43. Custodian cuts: we may have fewer classrooms but we won't have fewer kids, and kids are messy messy messy.

42. The testimonials of every single parent/teacher/staff member tonight would break your heart, especially re: the role of the middle school counselor

41. GATE coordinator making the case for her pull-out program. Stating that she considers her kids special needs & that its a matter of equity.

40. Pres of GATE parent club: GATE coordinator is 1 staff; certain school has whole staff; do we really want to cut 1 person affecting 250 kids?

39. Teacher at Redwood High: don't cut sex ed! 130 HS students got preg this yr; one specifically b/c missed sex ed & did not know about sperm.!

38. No one has yet demonized special ed; hope we get thru the night this way (testimonials still). Lots of comments re: pgms that DN benefit all

37. Parent: our highest priority should be teachers & materials.

36. Office coordinators: we are already working overtime w/o extra pay to get our work done. Don't know how we'd get our work done w/more cuts.

35. Adelante staff: we need large # of kinder classes to maintain # of kids in upper grades.

34. Parents: please spread the word about the hard work & hard choices that are happening here tonight; we need to fight community apathy!

33. re: Accusations of choosing administration over kids: but we have 27 administrators for over 1,000 RCSD staff.

32. board member SM: we have been thinking long & hard about these cuts; we have kids in the district & they are affected too.

31. Board member: there's not one thing on the cuts list that the board would choose to cut if there was any other option. Not one. All very sad

30. Board & audience want to hear more about cutting outdoor ed, gate pullout, & the international baccalaureate program.

29. Measure E: now that it has failed & budget cuts are real & severe (state too), maybe people will realize that such initiatives are critical.

28. Communications Director position brought in more than $1 million last year by increasing attendance; board has checked & verified figure.

27. board: Please try to stay focused on what's best for all of our students, & not get divisive/combative over special interests/programs.

26. Outdoor ed: may not be able to fund, but if class size rises, then music for minors pgm will have less $, outdoor ed might be saved.

25. District costs per yr for outdoor ed: $60K. Also some scholarships from SMCOE & Tim Griffith Foundation.

24. GATE pullout called special ed equivalent again. In principle I agree, but my GATE kid would be ok w/o prgm; my Special Ed kid would not!

23. Keep in mind that budget is still fluid and not final.

22. Like many cuts, custodial cuts based on formula (square footage, etc.).

21. Need to be mindful of how many custodians we can cut before clean (or not) classrooms becomes a health & safety issue & affects attendance.

20. One board member mentioned that we should find a way to access our very restricted reserves.

19. IB program at Selby Lane, loss for that school, esp. in terms of investment in training, but serves low number of students at a high cost.

18. Board member: wants Outdoor Ed kept b/c serves every single kid in the district at low cost. So many kids have never been out of city!

17. Outdoor ed is back in the please don't cut column!

16. Do you know anyone/any leads for grants for outdoor ed? RCEF will help you follow through!

15. Followup/open meeting with board will be at McKinley auditorium Tuesday 6/16 at 7 PM. (I believe)

14. Summer school $: might be reallocated to school sites. Means cancelling already scheduled summer classes/teachers. Doesn't affect ESY.

13. Wed, Jun 10, 2009 10:23 PM

12. Cutting summer school would affect more than 1,000 kids.

11. Summer school just got axed.

10. Again, NOT ESY.

9. Letter was already sent out letting parents know summer school might be cut. Board absolutey hated to make this cut.

8. Many impassioned pleas to align both RCSD calendars with the high school calendars, especially re: spring break.

7. No one here envies the school board's job at this moment in time.

6. School board approves but can't change school year calendar. At this point no resources 4 calendar fight. Have 2 approve or reject entirety.

5. In future board would like to see school calendars aligned, esp Spring Break. And let's have one calendar FFS!

4. Not everyone voted yes to approve school calendars. But I believe it passed.

3. Teacher meeting hours per year were reduced to 33 from 35 via teacher-sponsored mediation.

2. Anyone who lives in California, please write your state senator to support Simitian's bill to reduce voter approval for $ measures to 55%.

1. All done board meeting!


  1. Jack Ass Hickey has some serious balls showing up at this meeting.

    Reading that Outdoor Ed could be gone made my stomach turn.

  2. also:

  3. Anonymous4:10 AM

    Your state is what, 50 days away from complete and total collapse?

    DUMP IB!!!!


  4. We should be ashamed as a city for allowing the situation to come to this, I can't believe Measure E didn't pass. I don't have kids and don't plan to have kids, but absolutely believe that educating children is an important and SHARED responsibility of the entire community.


Respectful disagreement encouraged.