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LWV League of Women Voters of California Education Fund
Alameda County, CA November 6, 2012 Election
Smart Voter

Niel Tam
Answers Questions

Candidate for
Board Member; Alameda Unified School District


The questions were prepared by the League of Women Voters of Alameda and asked of all candidates for this office.
Read the answers from all candidates (who have responded).

Questions & Answers

1. (Most pressing problem) What is the single most pressing problem facing the Alameda Unified School District in the next 24 months and how would you work with your elected colleagues to solve it?

The single most pressing problem facing the Alameda Unified School District in the next 24 months is keeping a balanced budget. In the 2009-10 school year Governor Brown reduced our revenue by $1,421 per student. The school district receives its revenue based on the number of students enrolled in our schools. The state reduced this revenue from $6,367 to $4,946 per student.

The severity of the State deficits led to the school districts implementing furlough days, reducing the number of school days and doing massive lay offs. It was a difficult few years. Yet Alameda Unified School District forged ahead and we were able to have a balance budget this school year by being fiscally conservative and built up a reserve.

On January 5, 2012 Governor Brown reported that he will eliminate the $9.2 Billion 2012-13 budget deficit through a combination of cutting programs and passing of Proposition 30. The state legislature passed the state budget on the assumption that Proposition 30 passes. If Proposition 30 passes, the budget for the school districts maintains flat funding. We will receive the same amount as the previous year. But the state will not pay for Special Education transportation cost. AUSD must pay $218,620 from its budget.

If Proposition 30 does not pass, the Budget contains midyear trigger cuts, including $4.8 billion in education reductions which will be the equivalent of taking 3 weeks of instruction out of the school year. The trigger cuts will also result in $370 in reduction per student resulting in the school districts receiving $4,874. This means that AUSD must make $3 million in cuts for the 2013-2014 school year and $6 million in cuts for the 2014-2015 school year.

I will continue to work with my elected colleagues in monitoring our district budget, being fiscally conservative and building up our reserves.

2. (Community input) What process would you recommend the School Board use for the community to provide advice for the district's consideration in decisionmaking and how would you make it evident that the district considers the advice?

In 2009/2010 AUSD saw its revenues reduced by $1,421 per student. The 2010/2011 proposed Governor's budget had revealed no meaningful restoration of public education funding, and this looks to be the trend for years to come. The severity of the deficits, uneven enrollment and the need for more choice in this district led to the creation of the Master Plan. The district must do more with less, reducing its fixed costs while ensuring effective services, high quality programs and still have fiscal integrity. This plan relies on the community to lobby for and successfully pass a new replacement parcel tax. In the spring of 2009 the school board commissioned the superintendent to develop a blueprint for the district's decision making on finances, shiffing programs and facilities over the next five school years. 8 community workshops hosted by the board and the superintendent, 29 smaller meetings by community facilitators, 30 school-site meetings and two community surveys as well as a teacher survey were held to create this Master Plan. Two scenarios were created. Plan A if the parcel tax passes, and Plan B if the voters rejected it. Measure A did pass and now we are implementing the stated goals in the Master Plan.

We will continue to have community meetings to review and to give the district feedback on the progress of the goals in the Master Plan. We also created the Measure A Oversight Committee. The Measure A Oversight Committee meetings are open to the public. A report will be presented to the public.

3. (School District City Cooperation) How might the School District work more effectively with the City?

A school board member and the superintendent from the Alameda Unified School District meet regularly with the staff from the City of Alameda. We find these meetings to be effective.

Responses to questions asked of each candidate are reproduced as submitted to the League.  Candidates' responses are presented as submitted. Direct references to opponents are not permitted.

Read the answers from all candidates (who have responded).

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Created from information supplied by the candidate: October 6, 2012 16:32
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