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School district gets $200,000 language boost

Original post made on Jun 15, 2007

Palo Alto Unified School District can expect to receive $201,418 in federal money to help increase foreign language instruction, U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spelling announced today.

Read the full story here Web Link

Comments (66)

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Posted by windfall
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jun 15, 2007 at 1:48 pm

Of course, MI is cost-neutral so it doesn't require any of this funding.


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Posted by yet another parent
a resident of Escondido School
on Jun 15, 2007 at 2:01 pm

Right, the arguments all along were that MI is cost-neutral and FLES is unaffordable. Will this federal grant help make FLES (or some other innovative language program for ALL K-5 students) a reality?

Who gets to decide how the money is used?


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Posted by Tulley
a resident of El Carmelo School
on Jun 15, 2007 at 2:04 pm

Well, now it looks like the district will have funding so that those who do not win the MI and SI lotteries will get some foreign language instruction. Hopefully the FLES task force is up and running and will be inspired by this inflow if money for the lottery losers.


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Posted by Midtown Mom
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 15, 2007 at 2:11 pm

We know from Barb Mitchell that immersion programs don't need extra funding, she has said in her editorial that immersion "needs no extra teachers or district funds. The small operating budget for translated instructional materials, library books and program planning is funded with voluntary parent donations."

Therefore, this grant money must go to the 99% of PAUSD students left out of immersion programs, so that they too can benefit from language instruction.


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Posted by eric
a resident of Mountain View
on Jun 15, 2007 at 2:32 pm

The Federal Government is give fat grants to affluent Basic Aid districts that cant manage the money they have? What a joke!!


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Posted by you bunch of ingrates...
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Jun 15, 2007 at 3:10 pm

Not a surprise award - the application was filed last year with the help of MI supporters, who found out about the grant, encouraged the district to apply, and supplied some information for the documentation.

And now some of you insist that MI shouldn't get any of this money for language instruction, targeted for programs that will teach "Arabic, Chinese, Russian, Hindi and Farsi" because "MI is supposed to be 'cost-neutral'..." You really believe the government would fork out over $200K to a Basic Aid district if not for MI? The fact that the PAUSD is looking into broadening language instruction to include a language that will be mandatory on the global level (think security, people, not just economic) makes that kind of money available.

The spitefulness here is astounding - get past the hate and be glad PAUSD has additional funds for language instruction.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 15, 2007 at 3:40 pm

Whereas MI we have been told is cost neutral and SI already funded, it makes sense to use the windfall for languages for all, whether it be FLES, secondary language programs or perhaps giving MI and SI some additional help with materials, etc. The fact that these materials were going to be paid for with bake sales means that the bake sales can be used for other things which perhaps could help Ohlone with the extra kids it will house, like playground equipment or noon yard duty personnel.


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Posted by tired of bickering
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 15, 2007 at 4:03 pm

Dear "you bunch of ingrates"

I'm delighted that PA has received this money to fund foreign language - why is it spiteful to want it to be used to benefit the 5000 or so PA elementary students who are not in a current or proposed Immersion program.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 15, 2007 at 4:04 pm

You bunch,

I should be grateful to a program overcrowding my kid's school for what reason, again?

$200K won't even pay for the portables.


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Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 15, 2007 at 4:05 pm

The article says, "Palo Alto school board member Mandy Lowell said the grant was most likely not a result of the board's recent decision to implement Mandarin immersion at Ohlone school or study how to expand language in elementary schools."

Government grants don't get awarded based on anything except what is in the application, the rules of the program, and the circumstances of the program. What has been going on here is irrelevant.

Also, since the grant is for promoting language study, I wouldn't think an MI program already pushed through by parents who have demonstrated they would stop at nothing to get language instruction for a few of their kids would meet the purpose of the grant. Clearly, the purpose of this grant is to promote language instruction where it otherwise would not be happening without the grant.

I'm glad if MI supporters helped in applying -- Then they really are giving something back to the district as a whole. Obviously MI won't need the money because it's supposed to be cost neutral; it represents a great opportunity to perhaps offer other fluency programs in the rest of the schools.

To "you bunch of ingrates" -- that's a pretty spiteful message complaining about others' spitefulness. If you want to "get past the hate", it begins at home. I frankly haven't seen so much "hate" as different perspectives and valid criticism. Just because someone doesn't agree with you, and adamantly so, does not make them "hateful." Like I said, it begins at home...


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Posted by windfall
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jun 15, 2007 at 4:17 pm

Dear "you bunch of ingrates..",

Can't you see these posts are dripping with sarcasm?

No-one believes MI will be cost-neutral and it wouldn't surprise me if the PAUSD incumbents blew the whole $200,000 on MI before the current board members are voted out. Well, either MI or on their "fact finding" trip to China!


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Posted by Language lover
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jun 15, 2007 at 10:44 pm

Before we all go spending this windfall in our dreams, better to find out what the requirements of the grant are. Is it limited to Mandarin? Is it K-12? How the money is to be spent may already be pre-determined, so let's hope there's lots of flexibility.


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Posted by yet another parent
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jun 16, 2007 at 6:17 am

Good: two positive, constructive steps forward.

What's next?


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 16, 2007 at 9:25 am

The funds maybe for for languages critical to "national security and commerce". Examples: Arabic, Chinese, Farsi, Japanese, Korean, Russian or Urdu.

anyway, the sarcasm and pettiness in the above reactions to getting the funds is simply unbelievable.




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Posted by Shan Phillips
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 16, 2007 at 10:08 am

You Bunch of Ingrates-

While I agree that the tone of you post could use a little polishing, I share your frustration.

This is a great achievement for our district. Yet most of the comments focused on how to deny MI getting any of the funding. Lets acknowledge the role of MI supporter's in securing these funds and get more information about what the funds can or can't be used for before we start allocating of the money.


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Posted by Shan Phillips
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 16, 2007 at 10:11 am

Ohlone Par:

Your comment about this money not even covering the cost of portables is totally irrelevant. As enrollment grows, we need more space in this district to house our students, and must incur the associated costs, regardless of whether the students are in Mandarin immersion or some other program.


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Posted by tired of bickering
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 16, 2007 at 10:43 am

Shan -

The comments regarding keep the grant out of the hands of MI are mainly because no one truly believes it will be cost neutral.

Many don't believe we would be "teaching these kids anyway" since it is my understanding that a number of the parents interested in having their child participate in the MI program would otherwise have their children in a private school, hence over crowding our schools further. But it is certainly their right to send their kids to PA schools.

Not to target just MI, this could also be true of any choice program in PA - there are private alternative to each style.


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Posted by Do Something Positive
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 16, 2007 at 1:02 pm

Bickering,
You argue that all alternative programs should be disallowed in PAUSD. If you want to do that, you should change the state ed code, which allows for alternative schools and programs. You are bickering against people who choose what the law provides, so instead of bickering with parents in PAUSD, why not go bicker with state lawmakers to get the laws you prefer?


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 16, 2007 at 2:08 pm

Hello Shan,

We wouldn't need as many portables at Ohlone if we could be flexible about the overcrowding and continue to send kids where there's space available. We could, in fact, probably hold off a couple of years until it was feasible to open Garland, instead of putting six portables at Ohlone within the next three years.

If you expanded Ohlone's own strand, you could put three portables at Ohlone and then put three other portables where there are the highest enrollment demands. Much more efficient.

Then there's the program admin position, that should take over have the funding right there.

Cost neutrality is a joke here simply because of the space issue. Though the joke's expanded when you think about the curriculum development issue. And, of course, the influx from private-school parents like yourself. Not, frankly, that you're not entitled to have your kids go to our public schools, but it's not going to save the district money.

Personally, I think the true cost of MI will be disguised because no one in power wants transparency.




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Posted by tired of bickering
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 16, 2007 at 2:08 pm

Do something -

No where did I say that choice programs shouldn't be allowed - I think they add to our district.

I said that there are private schools with similar programs to our choice schools. Parents may choose not to put their child in private school if there is a comparable public alternative. This adds to our enrollment. Not a criticism, they have every right to send their child to a public school. Just a comment that many of the kids participating in MI would not be attending PAUSD schools otherwise because they would be in a private school. Takes some of the "cost neutral" out of the equation.


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Posted by Pretzel Logic
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 16, 2007 at 3:48 pm

Bickering,

I heard this type of (il)logical statement from Mandy Lowell as well. The real key is to lower the quality of PA schools as a whole and that will solve the overcrowding problem. How's that for sarcasm?!

OhlonePar,
The portables are coming to Ohlone regardless, because there are only so many sites that have room for more. I didn't hear you speak at the BOE meeting where the reopening of Garland was discussed. I only saw parents from Fairmeadow who were very clear that they don't care that it will cost the district more money to reopen Garland, as long as more students aren't placed at their school.

The proposal of MI in PAUSD figured into the grant application being approved. I agree with Shan that folks should read the grant before they spend the money on anything and for those who are skeptical over cost neutrality, well that problem's more than covered for now, so you can be sarcastic or see it for what it is "a windfall". The money wasn't granted to pay for elementary Spanish for grade schoolers, but if the grant money can be used for something that is enumerated in the grant and that the district would need to pay for otherwise, then that frees up district money to use for discretionary programs.

Don't worry, be happy or continue to grouse if that suits you better! At least some of us can see this as a good thing.


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Posted by tired of bickering
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 16, 2007 at 4:05 pm

Pretzel Logic

Why would I want to lower the quality of the schools in PA? That is truly pretzel logic. We don't want to get rid of students, but we want flexibility in planning where they go.

My point was if there is a public alternative to a private school - some parents will move their kids. For example, if we could open an all girls public school in PAUSD, I'm sure that some Palo Alto parents would take their daughters out of Girls Middle School and Castileja. I know many parents who choose one or the other SOLELY because they were all girl schools. That applies to all kinds of other choice schools as well. I'm not saying it is bad or good, just saying it is.

Please stop trying to turn comments into arguments.


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Posted by Pretzel logic
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 16, 2007 at 5:21 pm

Bickering,
I agree this is pretzel logic! Did you read the nore about sarcasm?

My statement was absurd as I believe was your's. I understand your point that more children in the district schools means that the tax dollars are spread further, but should I purposely try to send children in the district to private school by not offering choices, so that my child has more dollars spent on him and more space at his school?

It definately would help the overcrowding that we already have if we had fewer students, whether it's from "getting rid" of existing students by offering less choice and "sending them private" or by making PA a less attractive community to live in/move into because we've dumbed down our offerings as a whole. I don't see the difference in the two positions, they're both equally ridiculous and irrelevant.

If someone lives in PA and is PAYING GOOD MONEY TO DO SO, they have as much right to send their children to public school as you do (as you've pointed out), so if they want to create a program that accomodates their needs and it's approved by the BOE then who am I to grouse if my child's school is a little more crowded and has it's resources spread a little more thinly and what's the point about discussing this "cause" of non-cost neutrality.

If you don't expect a rebuttal (you may personally read it as an argument) to your posts, then perhaps you shouldn't post on a public forum.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 16, 2007 at 5:31 pm

Back to the original point.

The Feds granted money on the basis of a grant request.

The grant request specifically states that by accepting the money, the funds are to be used as stated in the grant.

If these funds were granted through the original grant request, which was for money for an MI program of k-12 ( instead of a grant for a k-5 program as the Board has been told would be created), then if the district accepts the grant, it must spend it on the proposed MI program in the grant proposal from a year ago.

As many said at the time..the elephant's trunk is in the room, here we go! We now are going to have a $200,000 grant for a program for a few kids, while no grant was requested for language for all.

And that is how such a program takes away from the all.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 16, 2007 at 5:36 pm

Back to the original point.

The Feds granted money on the basis of a grant request.

If I recall correctly, the original grant web site specifically stated that by accepting the grant money, the funds are to be used as stated in the grant.

If these funds were granted through the original grant request, which was for money for an MI program of k-12 ( instead of for a k-5 program as the Board has been told would be requested), then if the district accepts the grant, it must spend it on the proposed MI program in the grant proposal from a year ago.

I am not naive. I have no doubt that "someone" called the Feds, told them that if the "1/2" point lost was because there wasn't an actual program yet, we now have an actual program approved and would they reconsider?

As many said at the time..if the grant were approved, the elephant's trunk would be in the room, so here we go! We now are going to have a $200,000 grant for a program for a few kids, while no grant was requested for any kind of FLES for all.

Wow..I am so impressed with how this has all worked out!

And that is how such a program takes away from the all.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 16, 2007 at 5:37 pm

Sorry, didn't know I had submitted the first one above before editing into the second version.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 16, 2007 at 5:39 pm

What happened to our verification code so that we didn't accidentally submit before we were done?


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Posted by Get it right
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 16, 2007 at 7:24 pm

"And that is how such a program takes away from the all."

Yes, if by "takes away" you mean gives $200,000.


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Posted by Get it right
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 16, 2007 at 7:26 pm

Ohloneparent,

One the one hand, you claim MI is costing the district because portables will come to Ohlone. On the other, you want want to expand Ohlone with .... wait for it ... portables. Your comments are, to say the least, contradictory.

Like cost, this is yet another hyped-up non-issue. As has been pointed out, the district is growing and that is why portables are needed. This has nothing to do with MI.

Okay, the silliest argument against MI--so far--is that parents who would otherwise send their kids to private school are somehow an additional cost. In a way, sure. But then one could say the same of parents who want their kids to learn English, science, or math. On this logic, all the kids in the PAUSD system are an additional cost and should be booted.






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Posted by pa mom
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 16, 2007 at 11:00 pm

So, I'm confused, did MI just get a grant and give it to PAUSD, or did the people in the district apply with some initial help from some MI supporters? It's great if the MI peope actually did something for the district (thought since they didn't have a program at the time, it seems a stretch to say they were doing it for anyone but themselves).

Give credt where credit is due, but please don't start exaggerating, it's only going to cause more division.


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Posted by 94303
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 16, 2007 at 11:04 pm

I feel grateful that we are getting the grant and it seems MI did some positive work. Maybe we shall focus on keeping this grant coming to our kids every year.

Since this is a surprise, I wonder if PAUSD can modify the current lottery system to benefit more kids rather than just a few. That should be in tone with the grant's guideline.


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Posted by A.J.
a resident of Green Acres
on Jun 16, 2007 at 11:11 pm

What is the grant for? Is it for k-12 language development? That's thrilling if it is! Is it a one-year grant or a multi-year renewable grant?!!

How about using the money that had been set aside to study the charter issue next year, and use it to study how we could most efficiently bring language to all of our school sites? Many of the cost saving argument for MI are equally applicable, such as finding bilingual teachers already working at each school. (Paying for additional time is much cheaper than hiring a new teacher with benefits and overhead.)

Then the grant money could go pretty far in realizing the goal of bringing language ed to our district, especially if it is renewable -- does anyone know?


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Posted by 94303
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 16, 2007 at 11:21 pm

A.J.,
It's a 3-year grant per the above report. We shall encourage those who did the due dilligent to elaborate.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 16, 2007 at 11:38 pm

Get it Right,

Ohlone was approved for three portables by the AAAG, a single strand of MI requires six. Twice as many. Twice as expensive. Also, Charles seems to want a program coordinator for MI. Something that wouldn't be required with a half-strand expansion.

It's elementary arithmatic.

As for the silliest argument--it's simply the case that the loudest supporters of MI have kids at the International School. I think it's kind of funny myself.


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Posted by resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 17, 2007 at 6:48 am

to get it right and 94303:

If the grant is being granted on the basis of the grant application, "we" are not getting the grant, MI is getting the grant for the MI program, not for language for all.

So, the only ones who will be grateful are the kids who get into MI.

In the meantime, as said from the beginning, the time that went into creating a grant application for a small percent of kids could have gone into a grant application for all the kids. In a world of limited resources, that was time "taken away" from all the kids, and now there is this result, an even more expanded program than approved by our Board. Again, for a few, not all.


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Posted by resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 17, 2007 at 6:53 am

To put it another way..I got excited about all the windfall "block grants" of money we got this year for PE and the Arts etc because the windfall benefits every kid. This does not excite me.

It would excite me if it were a grant to roll out a plan that would assure ALL 6th graders started a Foreign language in year one of the plan, with summer immersion programs available to all, then in year two all 5th graders and a summer immersion program open to all who want it, then all 4th graders etc. THAT would be exciting to me.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 17, 2007 at 7:42 am

PS - I am sorry, your belief that private "overhead" is EVER more than "government" overhead is cute. Govt has no incentive whatsoever to keep overhead low. Anything that tries to compare overhead as you have stated is either lying in the interest of an ideological cause, or is naively completely ignoring the true "overhead" costs of govt programs. Why do you think that whenever a govt program "contracts out" to private companies, costs go down? Why do "nationalized" companies lose money?

If you have read this somewhere, it is by a wolf in sheep's clothing.

Read some basic economics books for the lay person..Thomas Sowell comes to mind.


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Posted by Get It Right
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 17, 2007 at 7:58 am

Ohlone,

"Ohlone was approved for three portables by the AAAG, a single strand of MI requires six."

No, MI requires three. Half as many. You've counted your portables before they've hatched.

Funny? No, sad that anyone would argue for making the district inhospitable to some kids so that our costs go down. On your logic, we should kill English classes so that more kids would go private. Sad to see such negative, selfish trends!

Resident,

Well, we don't know, at this stage, exactly where the money goes. The point is adding money to the district doesn't "take away from the all," as you say. It adds to the all.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 17, 2007 at 9:16 am

To Get it Right: you are right,we don't know where the money will end up. We only know where it SHOULD end up if it follows the fed rules for accepting grant funds.

if it doesn't end up supporting the goals of the grant request, then it is fraud.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 17, 2007 at 9:17 am

To Get it Right: No, accepting the money doesn't take away from the all..the process of obtaining it did, funneling energies and now funds to the few, not the all.


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Posted by Correction
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 17, 2007 at 11:02 am

To Get it Right:
A single strand of MI for a three year pilot at a tradional elementary school with one classroom per grade would indeed require three portables, as you say. But MI has been placed at Ohlone, which combines two grades into one classroom, therefore the pilot will require FOUR portables: two classrooms of K-1, two of 2-3.

A single MI strand for K-6 at Ohlone would require six portables, as correctly stated by OhlonePar. Since there is as yet no plan as to where the program could go after three years, it's not unreasonable to assume it will continue to absorb more and more playing field space at Ohlone.


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Posted by tired of bickering
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 17, 2007 at 11:11 am

Not quite sure why, but it seems like whenever anyone brings up the fact that kids from the International School (or other private schools) will leave there and go to the MI program in PAUSD, it is interpreted to mean that we want to make the PA schools less successful. Facts are simple, if a program brings more students to a basic aid district - it is not cost neutral. This is not an argument against MI or any other choice program, just a statement of facts.

Every student who leaves a private school and goes to a PAUSD school costs $11,970 (2005-2006 spending). It is every residents right to send their child to a PAUSD school - but in a Basic Aid district, it is not cost neutral to take your child from a private to public school.

I don't want to make our schools less successful - to the contrary. But I would like people to admit that any new program, especially one which increases enrollment, costs money.


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Posted by Numbers Game
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 17, 2007 at 12:03 pm

Everyone who says a new student into PAUSD (if taken out of private school, or moves into the district) "costs" $12K, doesn't understand the origins of that number.

Lets get the basic arithmetic right.

To use round numbers, the whole PAUSD budget is $120M (or $120000K), for about 10K students. That divides out to be approximately $1200, on the AVERAGE, that is spent per student (elementary, middle, and high school). The revenue is generated from state and federal money, and a large part is property taxes.

But the $12K is what DIVIDES OUT to each student, not what is "paid out" per student.

Since we are basic aid, the $120M is constant, and not dependent on the number of students in the district. Thus, if we add 20 more MI kids, or 120 more MI kids, that small blip is nothing when divided into the $120M pot. In fact, those 120 more MI kids are hardly a blip on the district's funding stream. And those kids will pay into PiE, PTA, and property taxes, as all other PAUSD kids will do.

So, don't play with numbers without understanding where they come from.


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Posted by PA resident
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 17, 2007 at 12:19 pm

Numbers game - if you are going to try to prove someone wrong, you might have a bit more credibility if you did your math right.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 17, 2007 at 12:30 pm

To Numbers game: Aside from your erroneous math,

Any program that "draws" new students to the district force more pieces of pie to be cut out of the same pie. That is another way to look at it. Doesn't mean we don't want good programs, we just have to remember that increasing enrollment means less spent per kid, because of the bizarre funding structure we have.

By the way, if PAUSD were a business, and had to report its total budget per year, it would have to report about 187 million. This includes facilities etc. So, in fact, we spend, what, about $17,000 per year per student, if we were to do our budgets in a complete and full way. The OPERATING budget is about 120 million.


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Posted by Al
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 17, 2007 at 1:11 pm

If 100 MI or SI or DI or CI kids were to form a charter school, and PAUSD funded each kid at $12,000, that would also be a mere 1% blip on the resource radar screen. If all four choice programs were to go that route, it would be only 4% of the budget. It would be a small price to pay to allow serious choice, without taking over neghborhood schools.


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Posted by Numbers Game
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 17, 2007 at 5:06 pm

Sorry, Al,

Converting SI and MI to a charter school would not only move those 360 students (two strands of SI and one strand of MI) into different financial status (that's at least $5.6K PAID out per student), including oversight and separate costs (special ed is additional, facilities costs are additional, just to name two biggies).

The charter school(s) could also increase their enrollments (PAUSD would have no control on the size limit) to be two full 3 - 4 strand schools, adding non-PAUSD kids. Those kids would also be paid out $5.6K per student from PAUSD's coffers.

Sorry about that missing 0 earlier.

$120M / 10K students ~= $12K/student


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Posted by Get it right
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 17, 2007 at 6:12 pm

Tired,

"But I would like people to admit that any new program, especially one which increases enrollment, costs money."

True, but only in the sense that having, say, math taught in elementary costs money.

So this view of how to save money would lead us to close the district. Great thinking!


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Posted by Al
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 17, 2007 at 6:29 pm

Numbers,

You say PAUSD could create open spots in neighborhood schools by paying out $5.6k per student, right? That would be $560k for 100 slots. If you want to go the the, say, 500 student figure, that would be $2.8M, which would be 2.3% of the current operational budjet. In other words, all choice kids could go to a charter school at a cost of less than %3 of the PAUSD budget.

I believe you are wrong when you say that non-district kids are also supported (by PAUSD) at $5.6k per kid. That money would come from their own districts.

Just imagine: We could offer choice charters to those who want them, we could get back our neighborhood schools, fewer kids per classroom, this eternal argument could be put to sleep, and there would be happy faces all around. All for less than %3 of the budget. I'd call that a bargain.


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Posted by tired of bickering
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 17, 2007 at 7:00 pm

Dear Get it right

Are you on this forum just to argue?

Did I ever say I want to save our district $$? All I said was we have a fixed amount of $$ as a Basic Aid District. More students = less money per student. Anything which brings in more students mean less per student. Do I want people to stop moving to PA, no. Do I want them to realize we have a finite amount of money - yes. Is that so hard to understand?

To start an argument, you mention teaching math. Do you think PAUSD could stop teaching math and still be an accredited district? No.

If we stopped teaching music, art, spanish, latin, home ec, etc. we would still be an accredited CA school district - although with a much poorer curriculum.


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Posted by Numbers Game
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 17, 2007 at 10:36 pm

Al,

Remember, paying out $5.6K per student (or less, if you think the other districts are going to cover very much) is still a PAY OUT from PAUSD. There is not a consequential savings for PAUSD. PAUSD expenses would largely remain the same. We don't close classrooms around the district or lay off teachers around the district. We just have empty classrooms that we pay for and more teachers on special assignments. If you try to organize and consolidate the empty classrooms, you end up closing a school. See how popular you are with that lottery - which school to close.

Bickering,

If you're really tired of bickering, just stop. You made your point, and it's not a great point. Just obvious and pessimistic. You talk about school programs costing money. Duh. More kids cost more money double duh. What *IS* your point?


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Posted by Let's play...
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 18, 2007 at 11:33 am

Numbers Game,

"If you try to organize and consolidate the empty classrooms, you end up closing a school. "

No, you don't close a school, you consolidate kids and close classrooms. This reduces the over-crowding in schools and that is how you save the money. If charter helps alleviate the over-crowding problem then where is your issue with that?

This whole "moving kids around" happens every year where children from the north cluster are overflowed into other schools. They overflow them to fill up classrooms not to create a lot of empty/half-empty classrooms. Having a charter school would only help the current situation in neighborhood schools.


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Posted by Al
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 18, 2007 at 12:13 pm

Numbers,

I purposely left out the efficiencies that are gained by charters. I simply said that by spending about 3% more, we could have a good situation. Neighborhood schools could be back, and safe; choice parents could have what they want; charter incubators could tell all of us what works and what does not; the BoE could avoid the strong-armed tactics of the choice crowd, etc.

Efficiencies are icing on the cake. They are probably real, but I don't count them until they hatch.

The main thing stopping charters is the teachers union and the fearful current power structure.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 18, 2007 at 12:51 pm

And a growing concern with Charter schools' unintended negative consequences that nobody dreamed would happen like unintended segregation, and cutting out the poorer who can not drive their kids to schools across town or counties.

I still like the idea of Charters..but I think the laws governing Charter schools need to be tweaked.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 18, 2007 at 1:09 pm

It isn't segregation between parents who can and can't afford to drive kids across town, its if two parents are working one needs to be able to take time off at the right time of day to pick up kids from one side of town and take them to after school care. This happens to neighbors of mine because they were unable to get their kids into the after school program at school.


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Posted by yet another parent
a resident of Escondido School
on Jun 18, 2007 at 1:25 pm

Numbers Game,
"If you try to organize and consolidate the empty classrooms, you end up closing a school."

If you're truly into numbers, please check the ones in the AAAG report Web Link. Page 66 shows that by 2011 there will be 7 schools -- Duveneck, Hays, El Carmelo, Fairmeadow, Palo Verde, Briones & Escondido -- with attendance over their current capacity. This doesn't include Ohlone, Hoover, SI, SDC enrollments or VTP students attending those programs -- or MI, now.

Page 34 shows the enrollment for 2006-2007. Already 3 schools -- Duveneck, Hays, Escondido -- are above the Board's policy of a maximum school size of 450 students.

I don't think closing a school is a problem we'll face in the near future. We're not headed for the empty classrooms you describe; rather, we'd be either maintaining or reclaiming playground space where portables sit. If we use your 100 slots figure, we'd still be in the hole by 42 seats. There's a projected shortage of 142 seats by 2011. Again, this doesn't include Hoover, Ohlone, SI, MI, SDC, or VTP students.

Suppose we use your 500 slots figure. That frees up 25 portables, assuming all classrooms were EXACTLY filled, which isn't likely. So maybe 19 portables are freed up, if you allow 1 extra portable per grade. If I'm interpreting the data accurately (?) there are currently 27 portables in use – see page 10 of Web Link.

So the net effect of 500 students going to charter schools is keeping 12 (not 13) elementary schools with approximately 2-8 portables total.

Please, before people go attaching emotional motives to my analysis, I'm not arguing in favor of anything. I'm just reporting a bunch of numbers, and I might not even be interpreting them accurately. If someone has more accurate information, I'd love to hear it.


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Posted by yet another parent
a resident of Escondido School
on Jun 18, 2007 at 1:32 pm

On closer inspection, that "27 portables" figure doesn't make sense. For example, the chart states Escondido has 0 portables, yet there are at least 4 portables currently. I can't make much sense of this page. Web Link page 10. Anyone?


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Posted by Al
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 18, 2007 at 2:38 pm

"And a growing concern with Charter schools' unintended negative consequences that nobody dreamed would happen like unintended segregation, and cutting out the poorer who can not drive their kids to schools across town or counties."

That condition already describes the current choice school system in Palo Alto. I don't know that it is a huge issue, because people make their own choices according to what they want, but if it is, then re-introduce bus service.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 20, 2007 at 5:09 pm

Get it Right,

No, you're wrong. Three portables will meet the needs of a half strand, not a full strand (20 students in each grade.) The plans are to start with two K/1 classes in Fall 2008. This will be supplemented by a single 2 class the following year.

Presto, three cubicles and nowhere near a complete strand.




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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 20, 2007 at 5:23 pm

Al,

Just a reminder--the district *can't* convert the current choice schools into charters unless parents and faculties both agree. And that's not going to happen because you'd basically be voting in a budget cut.

Which isn't to say I entirely disagree with your point. I think choice programs shouldn't be introduced when there's an overcrowding problem. But that's different than closing choice programs that have been in place for 30 years.

I've given some thought to Nancy's arguments--fact is we have the sites and buildings to deal with the overcrowding--Greendell, Garland, and Fremont Hills could all be converted to public schools. Heck, I bet there'd even be a way to get the underused Ventura site back from the city.

But the board wasted months on the MI issue--which it should have tabled until the overcrowding issue was dealt with instead having PACE fund a study, which made them feel entitled to their pet program.

The debate should have been on what school to reopen and when and how to fund it.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 20, 2007 at 5:31 pm

The board indicated last night that 3 out of 5 were not in favor of re-opening a 13th school. I know there was a reporter from the Weekly there and I am looking forward to reading her report.


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Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 20, 2007 at 8:56 pm

The debate on the costs rage on because of the extremely poor data and financial analysis we've seen from the district on this issue. From the one sided feasibility study, all the way to the second report on the cost of choice vs charter. We should have had some experts willing and able to share complete and unbiased information on this, we never got either.

But the new news now is the grant, and that grant is ill gotten gains. The grant application describes an MI program so rich in investment, that it was even well over and above the original full blown proposal from PACE. The MI program we have isn't what its been purported to be in that application,

Plus, PAUSD is not investing ~anything~ of its own in the program itself but is expected per the grant rules to be matching the investment. As has been said many time the teachers are not associated to MI as they would have been teachers for these kids anyway. Any incrementals are being funded by private parties, not the district.

The program that's been approved is a mere sliver of the program described in the grant, in terms of staffing, technology, development resources, parent education and more. The district can not accept this grant because the government didn't give the grant to our existing MI program. It gave the grant to a figment of someone's over active imagination and the board did not commit this community to that program.

Thank PACE for helping the district get this grant??? Using these tactics? No thanks. I think we should reprimanding the district and their helpers for these disrespectful tactics which have probably cost us the chance to get this $200K for language programs for all kids.


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Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 20, 2007 at 8:59 pm

clarification: the teachers are not investment attributable to MI because...


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Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 20, 2007 at 9:25 pm

Here's some pretzel logic for you. "If we don't have MI we lower the quality of the schools."

No if we don't have MI we only lower the ability of about 40 kids in PAUSD to learn colors, numbers and a few nursery rhymes in Mandarin (see article on the content of MI Kinder classes in Star King school in SF) - hardly a quality problem.

If anything the diversion of students to the task of learning Mandarin will reduce the quality of ~their~ education in English, and the diversion of administration to such things as writing bogus grant applications, away from the priority business of the district, will lower the quality of education for everyone else.


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Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 20, 2007 at 9:32 pm

Pretzel - don't worry I'm happy. There is nothing written into the grant that the district would have had to pay for otherwise - because the board only approved a cost neutral program that incurs up to 10K incremental per classroom, and no more (which they pounded into the ground repeatedly on the night of the vote), and even that 10K is to funded by someone else, not the district. So at most, the grant can cover that 20K.

So the district is required to pay zero for MI. So the funding in that grant is for things the board hasn't approved anyway. I'm happy MI isn't running off with more resources than it deserves, are you?


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Posted by Palo alto mom
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 20, 2007 at 10:24 pm

And the BOE has been so consistent on doing what they say?


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