News

District ups K-3 classes to 28 students

The School Board reluctantly voted tonight to increase class sizes to 28 students in kindergarten through third grade, and to 30 for ninth-grade English and math classes for the 2010-11 school year.

This will result in 97 fewer elementary school teachers for a savings of $4 million; increasing the high school classes will save another $1 million. The San Ramon Valley Unified School District is facing a $30 million deficit.

In August the board approved K-3 and the high school math and English classes to go from 20 to 22 students for the school year 2009-10, for a savings of $700,000.

"We've already exercised 22:1, and we recommend the board look at 28:1 in K-3 and 30:1 at the high school level," said Assistant Superintendent Christine Williams. "Looking at this now doesn't mean we can't pull back later on. This would be the cautious route to take."

She noted that teachers who face being laid off must be notified by March 15.

"I don't think we have a choice," said Trustee Paul Gardner. "We have to keep this district financially solvent. Keep in mind the cuts the state is doing. We want to have as much control as we can. Our resources are getting fewer and fewer."

Trustee Bill Clarkson emphasized that the school board did not cut the budget, the State of California cut the budget.

"It's a bitter, bitter pill to swallow," he said about increasing class sizes.

"I'm reluctantly supporting this resolution," said Trustee Greg Marvel. "I don't want to see bright young teachers be told they won't have jobs."

He pointed out that although this School District is trying to educate students for the 21st century, in fact it pays less for education today than the state of New York paid in 1978, some 30 years ago.

"And there is no guarantee that the cut isn't going to be even bigger," he said. "Their well is dry."

"I hope with the concessions we've asked the union for, it will trigger a series of actions," he added. "We have to disrupt the lives of hundreds of teachers. If we don't do it, the state will appoint someone who will."

Trustee Ken Mintz pointed out that when he was on the school board in 1996, it approved the class size reduction to 20.

"It's atrocious that we have to take this step 14 years later," he said. "We're heading in absolutely the opposite direction. My hope is if this action has to go forward, it is short-lived."

Board President Rachel Hurd simply said, "Ditto" to the others' comments and declared it was a "reluctant unanimous vote."

No one in the audience spoke to the issue. District spokesman Terry Koehne said before the meeting that everyone seemed to understand it was a necessary step.

Williams said in her report that she hopes much of the staff reduction will be reached through teacher retirements and the release of temporary teachers.

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Kathy
a resident of Danville
on Feb 10, 2010 at 7:17 am

Frustrating. A jump from 20(22)to 28 in the elementary classrooms is quite significant. I hope the district considers adding classroom aids to help manage the kids and facilitate learning.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by S,O.S
a resident of Danville
on Feb 10, 2010 at 7:47 am

NO MORE AIDES! They are not credentialed teachers. Yes, the jump in numbers is frustrating-but it can be done. The teachers need to focus on what they do have, not what they don't have. I know this is not ideal-but as long as Prop 13 stays in place-the class size #s will go to 35 in K-3. And I, am a teacher and a parent.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Rick Pshaw
a resident of Danville
on Feb 10, 2010 at 7:59 am

Prop 13 saved California from going into the tank. Every time there's a problem of not getting enough money to waste - teachers are especially vociferous about this - Prop 13 is trotted out as the problem.

Prop 13 was passed in 1978! Is this some sort of surprise? Haven't you learned to live with it yet?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Gunslinger
a resident of Danville
on Feb 10, 2010 at 8:02 am

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God almighty, we're free at last!

Or at least getting there.

Problem: Tax slavery

Solution: Tax revolt


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Susan
a resident of Danville
on Feb 10, 2010 at 8:16 am

Please save the younger teachers....they are the future of education. They are fresh, vibrant, with lots of incredible new ideas. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE!!!!!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Rick Pshaw
a resident of Danville
on Feb 10, 2010 at 8:43 am

Paraphrasing Susan's message:

Get rid of the old teachers - - they are stale, worn-out, and have no new ideas.

While we're at it, let's get rid of all the old medical doctors for the same reasons. How about dentists?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by rothschild
a resident of Danville
on Feb 10, 2010 at 11:55 am

Cutting the # of teachers - huh?

How many administrators and other "overhead" positions were cut? How many cutbacks were done to the teachers union's gold plated pension system?

The cuts are a political ploy


 +   Like this comment
Posted by D. Mullan
a resident of Greenbrook Elementary School
on Feb 10, 2010 at 12:49 pm

I was a parent who lobbied last year for Measure C which was SUPPOSED To keep class size the same and keep those property tax dollars in our school district. WHAT HAPPENED!! We're being taxed and for what? As a parent and a taxpayer we have to find a way to save our education system!! Too many cuts are already costing our children EVERYTHING. Enough about the teachers what about the kids!! Think of what they're loosing. They're not gaining anything. They've had all kinds of programs cut, which they need to be creative, nurtured and educated. They are our future. Had I known about the meeting I would have stood up and shouted my disagreement at the decision.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by klat_wols
a resident of Blackhawk
on Feb 10, 2010 at 12:59 pm

How about reducing the school year by few days, maybe corporate sponsorship of technology, science, music programs...need creative ideas in these tough, uncertain times.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Joe
a resident of San Ramon
on Feb 10, 2010 at 3:10 pm

Have you looked at reducing or eliminating other programs such as the district's continuation high school? Consolating the continuation high school program with the independent program would save the district a lot of money.

Acalances School District recently voted to eliminate its continuation program. They will save over a million dollars next year by sending their continuation students to the existing independent program.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jim MacKenzie
a resident of Alamo
on Feb 10, 2010 at 3:27 pm

Of course Proposition 13 has been the problem since its passage and the seemingly irreversible decline in California education began. On a personal level when it passed in 1978 my property taxes were cut in half and I was laid off from my teaching position in San Francisco-----great trade-off!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Rick Pshaw
a resident of Danville
on Feb 10, 2010 at 4:02 pm

Proposition 13 IS NOT the problem. It was passed in 1978, over 30 years ago. Don't you think that's enough time to adjust the education funding dynamic to reality?

The "irreversible decline in California education" in 1978 coincided nicely with the beginning of the influx of more and more illegals into California. What could be more obvious?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by MJ
a resident of Danville
on Feb 10, 2010 at 8:49 pm

Danville kids have it made - they will survive in a classroom that has a few more kids in it. God help these kids when they get out in the real world after having being coddled their entire lives in the fantasyland that is this city.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by concerned teacher
a resident of Danville
on Feb 11, 2010 at 7:38 am

Rachel Hurd said "Ditto"? Really? That's what our austere School Board member had to say about cutting my colleagues jobs? That's insulting from the Board President. We expect more leadership than that when we are giving up so much, and are being asked to potentially give up more in the form of benefit caps, furlough days, etc. on top of raising class sizes.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Just a parent~
a resident of San Ramon
on Feb 11, 2010 at 8:12 am

I can't disagree with MJ. The kids today ARE coddled and, unfortunately, do NOT have the respect for authority of years ago. (Or, was it fear back then?--doesn't matter--it worked!)

Let's start by teaching kids to respect their teachers and elders! The children need to be taught this at home, as well as in school. This will put the teachers back in charge in the classroom and the teachers can then handle a larger class size.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Marie
a resident of Danville
on Feb 12, 2010 at 11:52 am

You got it "Just a Parent"! Too many Danville kids are raised by parents with their noses in the clouds. Many kids do not respect adults and therefore adults can not control those kids. Danville parents need to go back to the "old school" ways of discipline! A little punishment goes a long way. If a child does or says something wrong, make them fix it, don't just ignore it or pay people off to make the problem go away, they will never learn.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Gunslinger
a resident of Danville
on Feb 12, 2010 at 12:13 pm

I completely agree. I think MJ could've worded it better, but the general theme of bringing discipline back to the classroom is right on point


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Derek
a resident of Danville
on Feb 12, 2010 at 12:28 pm

Hey Arnold-
I've got a partial solution - and a question: When are you going to kill off the utterly bogus, disgraceful "heavy SUV" California tax deduction/loophole? Why should some wanker driving his Hummer (Hummer is French for "I'm under-endowed and must compensate in other ways") get a break? If anything, these four wheeled behemoths should face a vastly higher tax, not a break that is total b.s. in 95% of cases. How much would that save each year?
Oh, and if I've offended any of you Escalade, Expedition, Denali, Navigator, or Bummer drivers, go suck on your tailpipe for a while. I promise your anger will fade into hazy euphoria very quickly.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by ME
a resident of San Ramon
on Feb 12, 2010 at 2:31 pm

In response to the concerned teacher who questions Rachel Hurd's remark. Were you at the meeting? I was, the quote in the Express was out of context and unfortunate. She was the last board member to speak, all of them spoke to how badly they felt about making the increase and in the spirit of not being repetitive she said "Ditto." It was because she agreed with what all the others said, wishing they weren't in the position of having to make a decision that they can't really avoid in light of the $30million deficit the district is facing over the next two years.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Fran
a resident of Danville
on Feb 13, 2010 at 2:02 pm

My oldest son was one of the first students in elementary school to benefit from the class size reduction for K-3... to 20 students. Any parent who has spent significant time working in the classroom experienced the incredible difference it made for the students. It was particularly helpful for students that struggled in reading and math. This will be a real challenge for teachers managing such a large group of young students who require more attention during their initial school years.

Working in the private industry for many years, I've had employees in management positions complain about supervising more than 10 adults. Now imagine a teacher having to manage a classroom full of 28 (ages 5 through 9 years old) students. I would challenge all of you to spend time in the classrooms and see how you could manage. We need to get our priorities straight!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Gunslinger
a resident of Danville
on Feb 13, 2010 at 4:19 pm

Blah, blah, blah, priorities, blah, blah. Stop talking past us about priorities. I could say you education overdevelopers don't have your priorities straight. What about our crumbling infrastructure? Is it more important for my child to be in a small class, or not dead from a piece of cement falling on his head, or killed in a car accident because the POS roads, such as the freeway in Alamo, who's being punished for not incorporating, caused his car to swerve. Kids were learning and doing more out of school in the fifties, when there were 50 kids in a class, but the kids shut their mouths and listened. Unlike these punks today, especially the ones we ship in from the ghetto

Our kids will do fine, because this town raises it's kids right


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Reader
a resident of Walnut Creek
on Feb 13, 2010 at 8:17 pm

Rick, you don't have kids. What the F are you talking about? And you weren't alive in the 50's. I don't believe there was ever a time when 50 kids attended a class with only one teacher supervising. If you are going to post a comment, why don't you post something relevant and real? You continue to be full a racist lies.

Dear Dolores, Please discontinue Rick aka gunslinger from making racist, prejudice posts that are unsubstantiated and offensive to this community.

Thank you


 +   Like this comment
Posted by American
a resident of Danville
on Feb 13, 2010 at 9:18 pm

I may not agree with Gunslinger on his posts, or anyone else for that matter, but I will defend his right to post his opinions...Reader, I am more troubled by your attempts to quash the first amendment, than anything Gunslinger has to say...Why is it that so many liberals, like Reader, only agree with free speech, if they agree with the content of the speech? Post on, Gunslinger!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Bainter the Painter
a resident of Danville
on Feb 14, 2010 at 3:57 am

The schools need new paint. But no one cares what the painter thinks. That's ok.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jimbo
a resident of Walnut Creek
on Feb 14, 2010 at 9:21 pm

I had a nun teacher in 5th grade Catholic school, in the '50s, that had 57 students and no aides. The nun proudly referred to her monster class as her 57 Heinz Varieties. While the nun may have thought it cute, I have bad memories of how much of the class was left behind because the teacher just didn't have adequate time or resources. Fifty students was the norm. It's very unfortunate that we are expanding class sizes due to budget constraints. I just hope that we never get to the Heinz 57 Varieties class size!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Steven Minchen
a resident of Danville
on Feb 15, 2010 at 9:09 am

I think before the district starts to cut teaching jobs and education they should look at the cost of management. Why not cut the jobs and positions that are not hands on? Cutting a childs education should be a last resort. There are better ways to cut cost that dont harm a child. If we fail to educate our kids, who will be there in the future to run the country? Who will take care of our society as we age and depend on others? Short sighted management.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by East Side Neighbor
a resident of Alamo
on Feb 15, 2010 at 4:51 pm

I agree that gunslinger should be allowed to post his biased, ignorant and totally inappropriate remarks. The First Amendment indeed protects all forms of speech - even the ridiculous.

It's a shame the we do not have an amendment requiring a minimum degree of civility or concern for one's fellow citizens. Perhaps the "Golden Rule" would be a good place to start.


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