On April 1, 2010, the San Leandro school district dedicated a new extension to the library at San Leandro High School. In addition to enlarging the library, additional windows were added to the original structure, adding substantially more natural light to the library.
This is the beginning of an unique period in the school district's history with the 9th grade campus opening in August and the Arts Education Center set for completion in January 2011.
On a different matter, I want to offer my congratulations to the San Leandro school board, administrators and the San Leandro Teachers Association for reaching an amicable resolution of the teachers' contract. The SLTA agreed to three furlough days and other contract modifications for next school year.
As a result, students in Kindergarten through 3rd Grade will have a 28-to-1 student teacher ratio, not a 30-to-1 class size ratio that was planned for next year. Layoffs to art, music and physical education teachers have been rescinded.
Sacramento largely determines how much money our schools receive and the state has cut billions from public education since 2008. About one quarter of the East Bay school districts are on the state’s watch list for insolvency. Through sound management and a willingness of all parties to work together, the San Leandro school district has remained off of this list.
It is important that the broader community not be under the false impression that San Leandro schools have avoided the state's financial crisis. Nearly 40 teacher and counselor positions have been eliminated over two years.
With a 28-to-1 ratio next year, class sizes in Kindergarten through 3rd Grade will have increased by 40% since last school year. Classes at the middle and high schools will be at the maximum of 35 students next year. At the secondary level, the ratio of counselors to students has jumped from 330 students per counselor to 450 students per counselor. Funding for student athletics has been cut. On top of the furlough days for next year, salaries for teachers have been frozen for the past two years while their health care costs have continued to increase.
But the reduction in services and programs for San Leandro students could be far worse. This year, more than ever, we owe our teachers, support staff, administrators and school board our appreciation and gratitude for their dedication to the education and welfare of the children of San Leandro.