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June 1, 2010 > Hayward Unified School District meeting report

Hayward Unified School District meeting report

By Robin Michel

The regular meeting held on May 26 of the Hayward Unified School District (HUSD) Board of Education was interrupted promptly at 9 p.m. to move into a Special Board Meeting to discuss and adopt Resolution 0910-5, Recommendation to Eliminate Certain Child Development Teacher and Classified Positions for the 2010-2011 School Year. Many parents in the audience were caught completely off-guard having downloaded the board meeting agenda that morning.

At the beginning of the regular meeting, Board President Paul Frumkin apologized and explained the necessity to call this special meeting on short notice and still be in compliance with the Brown Act and California Education Code. Referencing Board bylaws, Board Member Luis Reynoso questioned the appropriateness of calling it a "Special Meeting" when in fact, he believed it was an "Emergency Meeting." He questioned the necessity of having any additional meeting at all. According to the Bylaws, emergency meetings can only be called during a work stoppage or a "crippling disaster" that impacts health and safety, or both.

Representatives of the district's collective bargaining units in the audience verified that they had been notified in writing more than the 24-hour notification required for special meetings in the Brown Act.

In response to Reynoso, Frumkin spoke of the Governor's May Revise, which calls for the elimination of CalWORKS (welfare to work program) and related child care. Simply put, the District is in jeopardy of losing funding to operate their child care programs and had been advised - as all operators of state funded child care programs - to prepare for the dismantling of such programs.

Reynoso again questioned the need to have the Special Meeting, saying, "Why worry people... when what we are talking about is an 'IF'?"

This question would once again be raised-many times-during the Special Board meeting, which unfortunately interrupted a presentation by Lety Salinas, Executive Director of Academic Affairs, on the School Improvement Grant and interventions taking place at three schools identified by the state as persistently low achieving schools. (Salinas was given an opportunity to finish her presentation after the Special Board meeting to a dwindling audience).

After Kathryn Benson, Director of Classified Human Resources, presented a recommendation to adopt the resolution, Reynoso asked again, "So why are we taking this action now?"

Benson cited California Education Code, which has specific provisions requiring 45 days notification. She also noted that the child development teachers fell under the same notification. According to the board materials, if the resolution was adopted, 48.2 full time equivalent (FTE) staff would receive pink slips. This action is deemed necessary in order to return the budget to a positive certification.

Benson called upon the District's fiscal advisor Maureen Evans to help address Reynoso's concerns. "The information in the May Revise is the best information we have," she emphasized repeatedly. "If the budget does not contain the funding for child care, you will not have money to pay staff and the district needs to be positioned [for the state cuts]."

Board Member Jesus Armas asked about the impact, saying "What happens to Helen Turner?"

Helen Turner Children's Center provides child care and preschool programs. HUSD provides all day child care for children, age three to seven, at multiple sites. Benson replied that state preschool is not at risk, but under further questioning stated that general child care programs at Helen Turner would not be available.

"Then the impact to families is significant," said Armas. "Let's not sugar coat this. The impacts to families are devastating."

Benson agreed and stated that the district has four school age child care programs and a half day preschool program, with child care making it a full day program. "The district's funding would be reduced by as much as 85 percent," she added. Although the Governor's proposal did not cut preschool funding, child care supports the program.

In answer to questions from the Board on how the district is informing parents, staff said that they are developing a transition plan for children enrolled in the program, and preparing a list of options to give to parents. "Should CalWORKS and child care be eliminated," said President Frumpkin, "there may not be any options left." He recommended that the Board prepare a letter to representatives about the impacts on education.

Several speakers gave moving and passionate remarks during public comment on the agenda item. Jeff Bellaire, President, AEOTE, Classified Employees Union, asked for a translator so that the viewing audience at home as well as those in the audience with headsets could hear his comments. "It is important to mobilize now," he said, urging everyone to communicate across the state about the importance of ending the cuts to education.

"I am worried that as quickly as we are moving on this, we will lose the ability to bring it back quickly," said Angela Thomas, SEIU. She urged the Board to develop a thoughtful restoration plan.

Armas said that while he didn't think the Board had any choice but to accept the recommendation, he wanted the Board to engage in advocacy on behalf of children, families and staff affected. "Let's invite our representatives to come here and address what they are doing... let's put faces before them."

The Board approved the motion with two elements added: advocacy at the state level, and using the 45 days to address and develop a restoration plan.

After the special board meeting, the child development staff members gathered outside the city council chambers to console and commiserate with one another. Concern for their own livelihood was matched by concern for the children and parents in their programs. "As parents, we want our children to have a better life than we did," a grandmother attending the meeting with her daughter and granddaughter said, shaking her head sadly. "But, it isn't that way. Our children are in for a rough time of it. What are parents going to do?"

The eyes of one young district employee in the child development program filled with tears, wondering how staff could make the recommendation to eliminate their positions after sounding so sympathetic in a meeting held the day before.

"She is sympathetic," a more experienced employee said. "And she told us at the meeting that she would have to make this recommendation. It is not the district doing this; it is the state."

Action taken in Closed Session included the following appointments for the 2010-2011 school year:

Fernando Yanez, Principal, Longwood Elementary School
Kennelyn Ceralde, Principal, East Avenue School
Robert Harrison, Assistant Principal, location to be determined
Sandra Lepley, Interim Assistant Superintendent of Business Services

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