Supporting “class­room size re­duc­tion re­duc­tion,” mov­ing some of the money the State of California al­lo­cates for Classroom Size Reduction us­ing a new flex­i­bil­ity in the pro­gram to sup­port fill­ing in the huge struc­tural deficit in the WCCUSD bud­get, is not a pleas­ant task or a great way to make friends, but it’s some­thing that must be done or at least con­sid­ered to the very end of the bud­get process. I’ll fol­low up with some more about this, but here’s a let­ter I sent to the agenda-set­ting com­mit­tee for the WCCUSD School Board. Yes, I know it’s Good Friday, but I wanted to get it in in time:

Subject: Request for Agenda Item: Class Size Changes in K-3
Date: Fri, 10 Apr 2009 12:12:00 -0700
From: Charles Cowens 
To: Audrey Miles ,  Antonio Medrano , "Harter, Bruce" 
CC: Linda Grundhoffer 1lindag@comcast.net>,  "Gamba, Sheri" 

As an action agenda item at your next Board meeting, I hope you will
consider again the issue of increasing target class sizes in the K-3
grades as a cost savings measure. I also ask that you consider publicly
confirming one way or another as soon as the decision is made whether or
not this will be on the agenda.

BACKGROUND

1. Changes in the State Classroom Size Reduction (CSR) reimbursement
program have made it possible to achieve significant net savings in a
whole continuum of scenarios up to staffing to the legal maximum for
grades K-3.

2. The potential savings far exceed the amount set aside in previous
parcel tax designations for supporting CSR ($1.9 million stipulated as
the foregone savings from staffing to maximum, given the old CSR
program's rules and actual staff salaries).

3. WCCUSD has a $25 million structural deficit.

4. The Board has already passed a PKS for eliminating positions in K-3
that when combined with projected attrition could allow the elimination
of around 95(?) FTE of K-3 teachers.

5. At the last meeting of the Board, 4 scenarios were presented within
the constraints of the PKS and projections for attrition.

6. 4 out of 5 Board members supported some proposal to increase class
sizes in grades K-3, but no one proposal had a majority.

7. There was no motion made or discussed to reject any attempt to use
the new CSR flexibility out of hand.

8. No alternative source of funding that didn't require contract
collective bargaining was proposed at the meeting.

9. Deadlines are approaching for the next interim budget report and
confirming notices associated with the PKS.

10. While using the new program rules for CSR reimbursement for net
savings is not yet a public explicit budget "check list item" like
school closures, completely foregoing this new flexibility to help
reduce the structural deficit can only increase the chances that WCCUSD
will eventually lose local control.

Charles Cowens
Classroom Size Reduction Reduction
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