Board of Education Meeting, March 3

At this meeting, the board voted on the certification of the Second Interim Report, a report that lays out how the district will meet its financial obligation for the next three years. This report affects adult education, because it includes the plan to take another million dollars from adult education this year in order to meet the district’s obligations.  This was not a vote to adopt the budget which takes the million dollars away, which will come later.  I am pretty sure the board voted a qualified certification of the report, as the district recommended (it had to be a qualified certification, because the district can’t be sure it will be able to meet its financial obligations for the fiscal years 2011-2010 and 2012-2013).  I was not able to hear the vote, however, and so would appreciate hearing from anyone who did.

Also, in closed session, the board voted to reassign all of the adult school administrators except the director.  The principal and two vice principal positions were on a list of about 50 administrators to be reassigned, and the reassignments were approved as a package.  Adult education supporters did not know this was going to happen until after the meeting took place, so none of us spoke to the issue. 

So what does this mean?  It means the people in the  adult education principal and vice principal positions could be assigned to other duties within the district, including duties as classroom teachers.  As I understand it, this vote is similar to the vote to pink slip a certain number of teachers. It doesn’t mean every one of those teachers will be laid off. Some will be hired back.  But the district has put itself in a position to lay off all of those teachers if necessary.

To put this in perspective, the district tried to lay off both the adult education vice principals last year, but they are both still working this year. 

There were about 100 supporters of adult education at this meeting — not nearly as many as were at the last meeting, but a good showing.  In addition to the many students and teachers who spoke, Solomon Belette of Catholic Charities and Maria Alegria of Faithworks spoke on behalf of adult education.  Maria Alegria also had a letter from Mayor Janet Abelson of El Cerrito, requesting that the Older Adult and Adults with Disabilities programs be maintained and explaining that there would be tragic consequences if we abandoned the students in those programs.  Maria was not allowed to read the letter to the board because she had already spoken on her own behalf, although she had entered a request to speak in Mayor Abelson’s name.  However, she had sent the letter to the board previously, so they had seen it.

Supporters of adult education spoke to agenda item F3, the certification of the Interim Report.  During the Board Comment portion of the meeting that followed the public comment, board member Tony Thurmond asked Associate Superintendant Sheri Gamba what programs would be affected if the district took another million dollars away from the adult school.  Ms. Gamba stated, as she has before, that it will be up to the adult school administration to make the cuts.  She also said that the certification of the report was not about adult education, that essentially this was a procedural matter.  Mr. Thurmond said that the board had a right to examine the assumptions underlying the report.

While Ms. Gamba and Mr. Thurmond were having this discussion, someone from Ms. Gamba’s office came to talk to some of the adult school teachers.  She explained that the report was more like a suggestion, that this was really just a procedural matter. She said the vote on the budget would take place at either the next meeting, on March 24 or possibly the first meeting in April.  She said that Ms. Gamba would be happy to meet with teachers any time to explain the process.

During the public comment period, Charley Cowens, WCCUSD parent and Community Budget Advisory Committee chair observed that adult education has to come to almost every board meeting because we are never officially on the agenda, and suggested that adult education be made an agenda item at a future meeting.

As part of the consent calendar, the board recognized administration, teachers and students of the West Contra Costa Adult School for their efforts and accomplishments, in honor of California Adult Education Week, March 8-12, 2010.

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2 Responses

  1. Since we were unable to hear the letter from El Cerrito Mayor Janet Abelson at the March 3 Board of Education meeting, it would be a welcome addition to this blog.

  2. Outstanding and informative report and I truly appreciate your efforts. Good information is arising. An excellent suggestion to have us included as a regular agenda item. Thank God Tony Thurmond is asking pointed questions which support us, our right to exist and the essential nature of our programs to the well-being of our community.

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