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June 7, 2011 > Hayward Unified School District Board meeting report

Hayward Unified School District Board meeting report

It's still a hard knock life

By Robin Michel

Hard knocks, "golden handshakes," and the May Revision were just a few of the items covered at the May 25 Hayward Unified School District (HUSD) Board Meeting. Parents and friends turned out to watch students receive recognition for multiple achievements, including the Golden State Seal CAHSEE Awards, the Sackrider Scholarship recipients, and the Roxanne Salinas Awards.

A few students made public comment on the important role the Hayward Adult School is playing in their lives, including a young woman who said that she failed in a traditional classroom, adding, "this is my second chance to get a diploma," and a man who spoke of his military service and "other soldiers like me" who are turning to adult education as they try to find a new place in civilian life.

One of the biggest - and most refreshing - surprises in the formal proceedings occurred when Board Member William McGee said he was turning his time over to students from Eldridge Elementary School and tattered "orphans" from the front row seats tumbled before the dais and broke into the "It's the Hard Knock Life" routine from the musical "Annie":

It's the hard knock life for us
Instead of treated, we get tricked
Instead of kisses, we get kicked
It's the hard knock life

Members of the public broke into applause and gave the student actors a standing ovation and all board members were clearly delighted at the surprise performance. Mr. McGee thanked the students and teachers at the end of the performance, adding, "My hat's off to [Eldridge] School for incorporating the arts into education."

The arts are "the heart of education," said Board President Lisa Brunner, adding that the performance given is one clear example of "why we need to maintain these programs." She then added that another program the district wanted to maintain was the child development program, and encouraged parents to "go to the website and sign up your child for preschool. If we don't use this funding, we will lose it; and preschool prepares your child for kindergarten."

While some children are preparing to enter Hayward schools, a large number of HUSD teachers and staff are preparing to exit via acceptance of the new Supplemental Employee Retirement Plan (SERP). The Board accepted implementation of the SERP, which was approved in April. This "Golden Handshake" incentivizes employees to retire so that less experienced individuals may be hired at a lower step on the salary schedule.

One hundred and twenty-seven employees, comprised of ten management/supervisory/confidential, thirty-nine classified (Service Employees International Union (SEIU) & Association of Educational Office and Technical Employees (AEOTE) and seventy-eight credentialed (Hayward Education Association (HEA) employees. Representatives from each bargaining unit complimented the Board on their work in developing the SERP, although each spoke of the loss of institutional memory and expressed concern that some positions might not be filled, noting that departments were already stretched beyond capacity.

Sandra Lepley, Interim Assistant Superintendent of Business Services, gave a presentation on the Governor's Budget May Revision, noting that while K-12 education was spared any additional cuts, there are still many unknowns. Although tax revenues have increased, the State Budget is still dependent upon future tax extensions. Education is considered the "hot button" for voters to approve taxes, so education will continue to remain part of the "electioneering."

Ms. Lepley explained how apportionment deferrals have created cash problems for public schools, including HUSD. This is money due to us and factored into the budget, she explained. Deferrals have been used as a tool of the state to address its own deficit and have now reached an unprecedented level-almost $10 billion. In his May Revision, the Governor acknowledges the $10 billion liability owed to Local Education Agencies (LEAs), and proposed to eliminate $2.5 billion in deferrals in the 2011-12 fiscal year. Although districts will receive this money, it has already been "spent" in prior budgets built on the money promised.

One of the options considered by HUSD, to save money, was the closing of the Faith Ringgold Arts and Science Alternative School, much to the dismay of the small 136-student community. The Board unanimously voted against a recommendation to close the school in response to their own budget cuts, but has directed staff to look at relocating the school to another campus as a "small school within a school." Such a move would streamline administrative, clerical and custodial costs, with an estimated savings of $300,000, as opposed to closure, which would have saved approximately $700,000.

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