Even though Measure G failed in June, some of the programs and positions supporters hoped to save will be at least partially preserved, but only for the current school year which begins Tuesday.
At the regular meeting last Tuesday night, the school district presented a spending proposal for money raised through the I Love Pleasanton Schools (ILPS) campaign. The proposal was been agreed upon by both foundations leading the effort: Pleasanton Partners in Education (PPIE) and Pleasanton Schools Educational Enrichment (PSEE).
The goal of ILPS was to bring in $2.8 million between June 15 and Aug. 15. Residents and businesses brought in $463,379, some of which was earmarked for particular programs. The breakdown would fully fund the elementary strings and band, meaning 10 sections of each would cost $90,000.
About $370,000 was raised to support counselors, reading specialists and class-size reduction. The board approved funding reading specialists for $201,216 (hours for staff that would equal two and a half full-time positions), which is the same level as last year with one specialist per school site. Also included was elementary counseling for $105,868 (one and a half full-time equivalent); high school counseling for $48,164 (0.6 full-time equivalent); and $15,062 for general outside counseling.
In previous board meetings prior to the summer recess, the board also voted to hold back on a payment in order to bring back counselors. Along with the ILPS money, elementary counselors will be at the same level as last year, with a counselor splitting time between two school sites to cover elementary school. The high school ratio would have been 600 students to 1 counselor, but with the financial support it will be 480:1, compared to last year's ratio of 410:1.
There may still be room to add more hours for high school counselers -- for a total of 0.8 full-time equivalent -- as the board voted in favor of using money that continues to trickle in for this purpose. District spokeswoman Myla Grasso said they would need about $16,000 to add the extra time and that could come from the general outside counseling category, although they don't want to deplete the category either.
Around $31,000 in ILPS funds were designated for class-size reduction, but Superintendent John Casey said it would require $450,000 to have that program just for one class. In making the decision to support reading specialists and counselors instead, Casey said they decided the intent behind it was for students to have more time with professionally trained staff.
There was also $2,631 earmarked for visual and performing arts. However, it was not enough to fund a position. PPIE and PSEE will collaborate with the district in order to allocate those dollars.
STAR results show mostly gains
Overall, Pleasanton students are improving and scoring above state averages according to Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) results released this week.
The areas that showed slight declines were second and sixth grade English language arts, college readiness in English for Foothill High School students, second grade math, eighth grade algebra I, and 10th and 11th grade chemistry. The scores still show these sections ranking high in proficiency.
What is of concern, however, is the achievement gap for Hispanic and black students. Managers and teachers are developing strategies to help close this gap and have addressed the issue in staff development.