AUSD Notes: Alameda board to vote on ending classes at Bay Farm Middle

Many Alameda Journal readers have no doubt heard that the Alameda Unified School District is considering phasing out the Bay Farm Middle School program. The reasons for this are fairly complex, but we at the district wanted to present a high-level view of the factors under consideration in this week’s column.

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First, we want to acknowledge that such proposals can be very difficult for stakeholders — whether they’re families with students enrolled in the program or employees staffing those programs. We know and respect the fact that families and staff get attached to their schools.

The AUSD though, like districts across the state continues to grapple with erratic and insufficient funding from the state government and continued opportunity and outcome gaps between and among certain groups of students. As such, the AUSD is analyzing which programs might be ineffective or inefficient and looking for ways to reallocate and stabilize funding so as to better support all students and staff, including those who traditionally have been underserved.

In exchange for ending small or ineffective programs, we are proposing adding or expanding programs and staff that support all students. Evidence-based programs we’d like to expand include more middle and high school counselors, a longer school day for all kindergartners, more collaboration time for teachers and the continued pursuit of better funding for ongoing salary and benefits for educators districtwide so that we can attract and retain the best staff across our schools.

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What does this have to do with Bay Farm Middle School? Over the last seven years, enrollment there has steadily declined. This is reflected in the school’s sixth-grade enrollment (which is not filling to capacity) and the number of students who leave after their sixth- or seventh-grade year.

This has led to average class sizes that hover around 23:1 as compared to our average middle school class size of 30 to 32 at other sites. This, in turn, makes the program

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