Thank you to everyone who came to tonight's school board meeting, and an extra thank-you to everyone who spoke about the need for CSR and who asked the board for a future agenda item at the June 18 board meeting to discuss CSR funding possibilities in light of the proposed state budget.
For those who are interested, here is the text of my public comment (I had to cut out a few things when I spoke at tonight's meeting because Board President Jeff Bowser said that speakers would be limited to 2 minutes, and I had timed my comment at just under 3 minutes):
Trustees, Superintendent Ahmadi, and Cabinet, thank you for your commitment to education and to ensuring that Pleasanton students are central in all fiscal decisions.
First, a brief update of the CSR pledge campaign: We have more than $42,000 for 2nd grade, almost $7,000 for kindergarten, and close to $5,000 for 3rd grade. In addition, more than 180 families, teachers, and concerned community members are listed as CSR supporters on our website.
These numbers communicate the high value and priority that our community places on elementary CSR. I know that each of you understands the importance of smaller class sizes, and I urge you to act on this knowledge and provide equitable opportunities for all students by fully restoring elementary CSR in the coming school year.
I would like to request that the Trustees add a future agenda item to the June 18 meeting to discuss funding priorities—including CSR—in light of the new state budget. I understand that until the state budget is finalized, you cannot make decisions to further restore CSR. So I understand that you most likely cannot vote to bring back elementary CSR on June 18.
However, I hope you will discuss and clarify your funding priorities on June 18 so that actions can be made once the new state budget is received.
For example, the current district budget puts $2.9 million in reserves to restore 20:1 K-3 class sizes in 2014-15. This money has been set aside under the assumption that state CSR funds can no longer be repurposed for other district needs. The new state budget may change this assumption. If this happens, will you still restore 20:1 class sizes in 2014-15, or will you instead move very slowly towards the governor’s new target class size of 24:1 in 2020—7 years away?
Please, if the new state budget makes it possible, please consider restoring at least 2nd grade CSR for this coming school year.
A second-grade teacher told me that the entering class of second graders will be the only students in the district who experienced 1st grade with class sizes of 30. I know that each of you understands how critical the early education years are to children. Please, if at all possible, consider smaller class sizes for this group of children. If you make them wait until 2020, it will be too late.
The Albany school board is also meeting tonight. Their sole agenda is to have a "board meeting on budget priorities with the community," and they have published a packet of priorities, divided by school level, for community discussion.
Please consider sponsoring that kind of dialogue here in Pleasanton. The new state budget will offer many new opportunities to exercise local control and make funding decisions. As parents and community members, we would like to participate in the process as you determine the new education funding priorities for our district.