At Tuesday evening’s School Board Meeting (1/10), several cost-saving proposals for the district were discussed. The district is receiving less money due to lower enrollment and loss of federal one-time funds, as well as a reprioritization of funding programs to meet its mission and vision. Among the proposals was the recommendation to phase out funding for “Innovative Programs” in three schools. The current proposal brought to the January 10 Board meeting is to gradually reduce the funding for Earhart’s (innovative) science program. The slide below (full presentation here) illustrates the recommended timing of the reduction:
- 23-24 school year: no changes
- 24-25 school year: 1/3 of funding would be eliminated
- 25-26 school year: 2/3 of funding would be eliminated
Earhart’s science program is a true asset to our school, and the PTA is proud to provide nearly $5,000 in annual funding for supplies. It is a fully inclusive program with all students, including Special Education Classes, participating in hands-on lessons about the physical world around them. It should go without saying that the PTA believes that ALL Alameda elementary schools should have a science program and that we would prefer not to be the outlier for having a program. However, the fact remains that this budget cut would be a huge loss to our school, and the reality of a science program in all elementary schools would become that much more out of reach.
For perspective, the potential shortfall of $86,000 is over 75% of our PTA’s current programmatic funding budget—a significant cost to absorb. At next week’s general PTA meeting, Mr. Huxley will review the proposal in more detail, and as a group, we can discuss the possible impact of this defunding.
The school board will vote at their January 24th meeting on whether to adopt this recommendation. If you and your students value our science program at Earhart, I respectfully urge you to advocate for the Board against this reduction in funding. Here are a couple of ways to do so:
1. Attend the January 24th meeting and make a public comment. All School Board meetings are currently being held via Zoom (details here), during which the Board President or Senior Executive Assistant will announce the opportunities for public comment on items under the Board’s jurisdiction and agenda items. Any participant who wishes to make public comments should have their full name displayed, use the “raise your hand” functionality, and wait to be called upon. Each commenter will have 2 minutes to make their statement.
2. Or send a public comment in advance of the meeting. If you cannot join the meeting via Zoom, public comments can be submitted to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Public comments must be received by noon on the day before the meeting so they can be distributed to the Board of Education Trustees before the meeting.
As an added level of outreach, you can also contact the School Board members directly.
President, Heather Little: email@example.com, 510-337-7187
Vice President, Megan Sweet, Ed. D: firstname.lastname@example.org, 510-337-7187
Clerk, Gary Lym: email@example.com, 510-337-7187
Trustee, Ryan LaLonde: firstname.lastname@example.org 510-337-7187
Past President/Board Trustee: email@example.com, 510-337-7187
What to Say?
Whether it be during the school board meeting or via email beforehand, be sure to introduce yourself and state your connection to Earhart. Beyond that, I encourage you to share your personal connections and support of our science program, but if you need some starting points, here are some questions to reflect on:
- In what positive ways have you seen the science program affect your student?
- Why is it important that your student continues to participate in our science program?
- If you have been able to volunteer in a science class, what was a positive impression?
- Do you notice your student relating what they’ve learned in science to everyday life?
- What do you think your student would lose if this program were eliminated?
- How do you think eliminating this program will affect our school’s culture?
Remember, if you choose to speak at the school board meeting, your time is limited to 2 minutes. Prepare your statement ahead of time to ensure your 2 minutes are spent wisely. I sincerely hope you will join me in supporting our science program and encourage your friends to do the same. You are welcome to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or concerns.
Earhart PTA President