Tomorrow night’s agenda carries several items that will draw a fair amount of attention and public comment:
- First and foremost, the Superintendent is asking the Board to approve layoff notices for 128 FTE of paraprofessionals (12 FTE of T10 security guards would experience reduced work hours), 428 FTE of teachers and 163 FTE of administrators (from assistant superintendents down to site managers). Certain areas will be spared layoffs, including math, science, special education and bilingual education.
- Second, a resolution authored by Commissioners Kim and Fewer calling for a pilot of a new Ethnic Studies course to be put into place at five high schools (two sections per school, 10 sections total). I haven’t seen the analysis that was to be presented at tonight’s Budget Committee meeting, but a preliminary analysis distributed to the Board last month said the pilot would cost upwards of $300,000. At that time, the Academics and Professional Development department said they were still working on getting the course qualified to meet our new A-G graduation requirements. I’m getting lots of calls and emails urging me to support the resolution, but the course has to meet A-G in order for me to even consider supporting a $300,000 pilot; the larger issue is whether this course is a “nice to have” or a “must have” in a year when we’re looking at big class size increases and massive layoffs. I don’t really dispute that the course could be a good addition to our overall offerings — but I’m not sure I want to make further cuts over and above what we’re already considering in order to add this new expenditure. We’ll see.
Anyway, there should be some fireworks around both of those action items. Less controversial and long overdue (in my opinion) is a consulting contract for the Urban Special Education Leadership Collaborative to conduct a full review of our special education programs and services. This is an independent and well-respected group that has done great work in other districts and I’m very glad we are finally getting this review going.