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June 14, 2018Alameda, California – At its public meeting on June 12, the Board of Education approved a salary increase and one-time stipend for members of the Alameda Education Association for the 2017-18 school year, the final year of its current contract. The AEA represents teachers, nurses, counselors, and speech and language pathologists.


The salary increase of .5% will be retroactive to July 1, 2017.  The one-time stipend of 1% will be based on the 2017-18 salary. Members of CSEA 27 (which represents office/technical workers and paraprofessionals) and CSEA 860 (which represents custodial, maintenance, and food service workers in the district) received the same .5% increase a year ago; they will receive the 1% one-time payment this summer.


This year, AUSD and AEA have also been negotiating a new contract for the AEA that would begin in the 2018-19 school year.  In April, the Board of Education approved $2.7 million in cuts to free up funds to improve employee salaries. The two teams have not yet come to an agreement on the salary provisions of that contract.


“I am grateful that this part of negotiations has been settled,” said Superintendent Sean McPhetridge. “The pay increase for this expiring contract is small, but I believe both the Board of Education and the District have made it clear this year that they are serious about providing greater increases going forward. As such, I look forward to the new contract being settled soon, too.”


Adds Board President Gray Harris, “I’m really happy we could come to an agreement, and I look forward to us continuing to work together on our future contract negotiations.”



Posted by: Susan Davis, District Staff, Alameda Unified School District
Published: 6/14/18

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Dear Families and Colleagues,


Every school year has its own rhythm – the highlights, the low points, and the themes that come up again and again over the course of nine months. I’d like to take this last letter of the 2017-18 school year to summarize what has been wonderful, what has been challenging, and what we will continue to do work on as move on to summer and then our next school year.


First, I’d like to congratulate both our graduating seniors and our many students who are promoting from one grade level (be it preschool, elementary school, or middle school) to the next. These passages can be exciting, scary, exhilarating, and a little sad. I send my very best to all of our students and families in this week of great transitions. (You can see news about the Class of 2018 here.)


Second, there are so many great things happening at all our schools that it is difficult to describe it all. But let me start by reminding our community that several of our schools won big awards this year. Lincoln Middle School and ASTI, for instance, won Green Ribbon Awards in recognition of their programs supporting environmental literacy. That brings our total number of green schools in the district to three (Bay Farm School was our first.) These environmental programs are near and dear to my heart, and I thank students and staff for their work both qualifying and applying for these designations. The standard is quite high, and we hope all our schools continue in their Go Green efforts.


This year, three AUSD schools were also named to a statewide Honor Roll, which is maintained by the Educational Results Partnership and the Campaign for Business and Education Excellence. Those three schools are ASTI, Lincoln Middle School, and Wood Middle School. I am so proud of the work that our schools have done to achieve these honors.  We are also proud that Bay Farm School and Earhart Elementary were named California Distinguished Schools this year. Again it is difficult to honor and recognize all the great things happening in AUSD schools. We are proud of all of them.


Anti-Bias and School Safety Progress


Of course there were challenges, too, and one of the major challenges here this past year was an uptick in the reports of hate speech incidents. This uptick mirrors Bay Area and national trends. And while both the national and local increases are disturbing, I am gratified to report that we have taken a number of steps to make AUSD a more accepting and inclusive community. Those steps



include working with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) on anti-bias training, setting up a new Jewish Education Round Table and new Asian Pacific American Round Table, and passing resolutions that recognize May as Jewish American Heritage Month and Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.


A number of our schools have also set up committees devoted to inclusion and equity, and three (Alameda High, Otis Elementary, and ASTI) achieved “No Place for Hate” status from the ADL this spring.  This is challenging and humbling work, and we look forward to further partnering with Facing History and Ourselves next year to provide further anti-bias training for our staff.


Across the country, school shootings have been a horrific theme this year. We are proud of the leadership taken by our students, who organized walkouts, voter registration drives, rallies, vigils, forums, and letter writing campaigns in response to the tragic shootings in Florida, Texas, and other states. These students are helping to bring about the change that so many of us want to see in the world, and we are deeply inspired by and grateful for their passion, leadership, and courage in the face of these heartbreaking incidents.


From an administrative side, please know that we are continuing to work on Measure I projects that make our schools physically safer – including with fences, state-of-the-art locks, and reconfigured entry areas to make it easier to monitor visitors. We also continue to partner with local agencies on developing and practicing response protocols for possible incidents in our own schools. And we are striving to create schools that are more emotionally safe – including by assessing and supporting our students’ mental health, implementing more intervention services for them, and working to build healthier school climates across the district.


Budget Changes and Funding Advocacy


Funding was also a theme this year. This winter, the Board of Education directed staff to review budget priorities in light of the fact that despite recent raises AUSD employees are still among the lowest paid public school district employees in the county. The district initiated a series of community meetings and communications to discuss ways of finding revenue to improve AUSD salaries.  In April, the Board approved $2.7 million in cuts to programs in order to improve employee salaries. So far, the Alameda Education Association has not accepted our offer based on these proposed raises, but we sincerely hope to work and come to agreement with the teachers union in the coming months.


As I hope all in our community know, funding is not just an issue for AUSD. We have been working with districts across the country and California to pressure the state government to provide more

funding for public education so that we can afford to improve salaries and expand educational programs.  This spring, for instance, the Board of Education passed resolutions supporting: AB 2808 (which would increase funding to public education to the national average); AB 2954 (which would allow school districts to structure parcel taxes more flexibly); and the California Schools and Local Communities Funding Act (which seeks to close some loopholes in Proposition 13 so as to generate more public funding for schools and other purposes). Two weeks ago, I also joined superintendents from across the county in writing a letter urging the next governor of the state to match public education funding to the state’s considerable economic power.


This legislative advocacy and collective action are crucial to improving public education in this state, because AUSD is not experiencing budget problems in a vacuum. Instead, our budget problems are part of a systemic underfunding of public schools that is causing financial problems for districts all up and down the state. Only by working together can we enact change. We thank those who join us in our rallying cry for fair and full funding for AUSD and all California schools.


All of this work requires long-term planning, which is hard for families, I know, because your students are in our public schools now. But as you recharge over the summer and enjoy your time with your children, I hope you will keep an eye out for ways to join a growing movement to improve our public school funding and programs. California is a magnificent state; our students deserve a magnificent education.


While we take pride in all the great things happening in our schools, we also know we need to continue wrestling with issues so we can continuously improve. We thank our families, staff, and partnering stakeholders for sustaining dialogue and making collaborative efforts so we continue our progress.




Sean McPhetridge, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools



Posted by: Susan Davis, District Staff, Alameda Unified School District
Published: 6/6/18

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The Campaign for Business and Education Excellence (CBEE) and the Educational Results Partnership (ERP) have named three AUSD schools to the “2017-2018 Honor Roll Schools.” The designation honors schools that have demonstrated consistently high levels of student academic achievement, improvement in achievement over time, and a reduction in achievement gaps.

High schools that receive Honor Roll recognition have also demonstrated a high level of college and career readiness in students.

The organizations designated Wood Middle School as a “Star School,” due to its high performance, progress on closing the achievement gap, and numbers of low-income students. The organizations designated the Alameda Science and Technology Institute (ASTI) and Lincoln Middle School "as Scholar Schools,” meaning they are high-performing schools that have relatively fewer numbers of low-income students.

Each school will receive a full-sized banner to announce their designation.

Background on the Honor Roll Program

CBEE is a professional organization is comprised of business leaders committed to improving public education in California. ERP is a non-profit organization that applies data science to help improve student outcomes and career readiness throughout the educational system. Together, the organizations named 1798 schools to their Honor Roll this year. (California has about 10,470 public schools and about 1,250 charter schools.)

The organizations have identified several success factors in its Honor Roll schools, according to a press release, including:


  • Clear, specific learning objectives aligned to college and career readiness
  • Evidence-based instructional practices
  • Establishing a system-wide mission of college and career readiness for all students
  • Investing in human capital
  • Maintaining data and assessment systems to monitor school and student performance
  • Deploying resources and guidance to support schools’ efforts to prepare all students for college and career

“We appreciate the recognition of the forward-thinking policies and hard work of staff and students at these schools,” said Superintendent Sean McPhetridge. “This designation puts these schools among the top performers across the state.”

A full list of the Honor Roll schools and districts, as well as an explanation of the selection methodology, can be found on the CBEE’s website

Posted by: Susan Davis, District Staff, Alameda Unified School District
Published: 6/6/18

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This is the last week of school and the week in which we get to celebrate the many accomplishments of our graduating seniors! Whether they’ve been with us since kindergarten or arrived while still in high school, we’re enormously proud of their hard work and success. And we’re enormously grateful to the teachers, families, and community members who have supported these young scholars through their years here in our school district.


Of course, it is both exciting and poignant to say goodbye as these young people set off on the next stage of their life journey. A number of our seniors are enlisting in the U.S. Armed Forces, including the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard. We thank them for their willingness to serve.  Some will be taking either part-time or full-time jobs. Many are continuing in the state’s higher education system, including all nine University of California campuses, 11 California State University campuses, and ten community colleges.


In addition, our seniors will be going to a wide range of other four-year colleges both near and far, small and large, private and public. Those institutions include:


List of colleges to which 2018 graduates are going.


Fifty-one seniors graduated from Island High School (the district’s continuation high school) this year, including three that received their diplomas via the Alameda Adult School. Those students, too, are heading off to jobs and colleges as they lay the groundwork for the rest of their adult lives. 

 “Whether they’re heading off to college in a distant state or staying here in Alameda to begin a job or go to community college, these young adults are at a poignant turning point in their lives,” said Superintendent Sean McPhetridge. "Whatever they choose to do in this next stage of their lives, we hope they know we support them, we appreciate them, and we wish them every success in reaching their goals and embodying their dreams.”

Awards and Scholarships
A number of seniors received full scholarships to the colleges of their choice, including Calder Hartigan (AHS), who is receiving full tuition for the Webb Institute, and Nathan Moore (AHS), who received a full scholarship to UC Berkeley through the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corp. At ASTI, Joey Gong received a full scholarship to UC Berkeley, and Wen Yu received a full scholarship to Harvard University.

Four AUSD students also received full-tuition scholarships from the Posse Foundation: Tanan  Buyannemekh and Jacob Marshall of AHS, who will attend Boston University and Lehigh University, respectively, and William Liu and Kendall O’Farrell of EHS,  who are also attending Boston University and Lehigh University, respectively. Two AUSD students  —  Ashley Auduong (AHS) and Armen Phelps (EHS)  —  also received Fiat Lux Scholarships from UC Berkeley.

Community members (including alumni and the estates of alumni) also provide scholarships each year to our graduating seniors. Those scholarships are listed on the following page.


Several of our graduates will be playing sports in college. At Alameda High School, those graduates include Annika Crvarich (USC, rowing); Bella Bramell-Vick (University of San Diego, softball); Bryan Woo (Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, baseball); James Lang (Tabor College, football); and Elizabeth Scholtes (Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, golf). Scholar-athletes at Encinal High School include Sandeep Mahl (SF State University, baseball) and Christine Warren (Corban University, softball). We’re also excited to report that EHS’s Osiris Johnson has been drafted by the Miami Marlins baseball team!

It is impossible to mention all the wonderful things that our graduating seniors have done or are going to do. But it’s important to note, too, that some of our graduating seniors have struggled in their time in AUSD. Whether it’s due to issues at home, issues at school, learning differences, or other challenges, we know that for many students earning a high school degree was not easy. We also want to celebrate these students’ accomplishments and all that it took to get to the graduation stage, and we wish all of our graduates happy, productive, and engaged futures. We are proud of them all.


List of local scholarship
More scholarships for the class of 2018


Posted by: Susan Davis, District Staff, Alameda Unified School District
Published: 6/5/18

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Applications for a new Committee to Consider High School Consolidation are now available on the AUSD website.


The committee, which is being convened at the request of the Board of Education, will analyze the viability, desirability, and effects of combining Alameda High School and Encinal High School into one comprehensive high school. 


The idea of merging the two schools has been raised several times in the past. This spring, community members, athletic directors, and teachers asked for a new review of the concept for two reasons. First, it would allow AUSD to provide a more comprehensive high school education to all AUSD students (because one school could provide more course offerings more equitably to more students). Second, the money saved by combining the schools could go towards improving AUSD employee salaries, which despite recent raises have long been less than the county average.


The Board has asked that a report laying out several possible scenarios for a new configuration of schools be presented next February.


The district is looking for community members who represent the ethnic and racial composition of Alameda and who are teachers, parents, business people, students, administrators, renters, and property owners. Committee members must also be available to attend six to eight meetings between September 2018 and January 2019.  


More details on the process are available in this presentation from the May 22, 2018 Board of Education meeting.


The application is available here. The deadline for submitting applications is 5 pm on June 14, 2018.  You can send your application to Susan Davis by email (sdavis@alamedaunified.org) or mail (AUSD, 2060 Challenger Drive, Alameda, CA, 94501).


Posted by: Rob van Herk, District Admin, Alameda Unified School District
Published: 5/23/18

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May 23, 2018Alameda, California – Twenty-one superintendents from across Alameda County joined Alameda County Superintendent L. Karen Monroe in sending a letter yesterday to all six California gubernatorial candidates. The letter, which was addressed to “Our Next Governor,” predicts a “fiscal crisis” in school districts across the state if funding for public schools is not increased and calls for education funding to match the state’s economic power.


The letter acknowledges that state funding increased this year,  but it also notes that escalating costs for employee pensions and unfunded mandates are forcing districts into deficit spending, closing schools, and laying off teachers.


“The children of California deserve better,” the letter begins. “They deserve better than underfunded schools, stretched resources, eliminated programs, and a lack of essential services. They deserve great schools to match the fast-changing, dynamic world in which they will attempt to find their place.”


Currently California ranks 46th in the nation for per pupil spending, 48th in students per staff member, and 49th in students per counselors.


“California is the 6th largest economy in the world,” says AUSD Superintendent Sean McPhetridge, who worked with other county leaders to craft the letter. “We cannot continue to be ranked nearly last in all measures of school funding and quality across our nation. It’s time to match our economic power with sufficient education funding. If legislators continue to fail to fund schools adequately, the economic future of California families is at risk. We must do better by families, students, and staff, but we rely upon our legislators to make it right.”


The letter was delivered to the campaigns of Travis Allen, Gavin Newsom, Delaine Eastin, Antonio Villaraigosa, John Chiang, and John Cox yesterday.


“As the superintendents and educators who proudly represent the diverse, vibrant communities of Alameda County, we come directly to you as a candidate for the highest  office in our state, demanding change to  the troubling  narrative of funding inadequacy and to  make public education in our state the top priority,” the superintendents write in their letter. 

“We want you to take responsibility with us for educating the children of California, and we will  not wait quietly for that to happen,” the letter concludes. “We will band together, and we will rally our communities to join us to speak up and speak out. We will support a new governor who shows leadership, one who seeks partnership. And we will loudly oppose anyone who is not willing to make the children of this state their highest priority.”


The full letter is available here.

Posted by: Susan Davis, District Staff, Alameda Unified School District
Published: 5/23/18

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May 17, 2018




Gail Payne, Senior Transportation Coordinator




Island High School celebrated the start of a free bus pass pilot program for its 120 students in partnership with the City of Alameda and paid for by the City’s Measure B and BB monies. The celebration included a special assembly with presentations from Mayor Trish Herrera Spencer, City Councilmember Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft, and Alameda Unified School District Superintendent Sean McPhetridge.


“The students are very pleased, excited and grateful,” said Ben Washofsky, principal of Island High School. "he free bus passes will make a difference in school attendance.”


The free AC Transit bus pass program began last month and will last until July 2019. The City prioritized this pilot after 64 percent of community survey respondents “Strongly Agreed” or “Agreed” that Alameda should make it easier for students to walk, bike, or take transit to and from school. In response, the Transportation Choices Plan addresses the need to improve transportation for youth and to make it easier to ride the bus.


Island High School is AUSD’s continuation high school, with 60 percent of the student body qualifying for free or reduced priced school lunches. The City initiated efforts at this school to best support these high school students’ opportunities to succeed. Island High School draws from students throughout Alameda, so they are more apt to need and use the AC Transit bus system. The free bus passes allow Island High School students to have unlimited local rides within the East Bay on AC Transit buses.


The City has requested that the Alameda County Transportation Commission’s Student Transit Pass Program include Island High School if the program expands in July 2019. The purpose of the countywide program is to make it easier for students to travel to/from school and school-related programs, jobs, and other activities. Results from the countywide program show that participating students take transit more often and have easier access to school, increased school attendance, and increased participation in afterschool jobs or non-school-based afterschool activities.



Posted by: Susan Davis, District Staff, Alameda Unified School District
Published: 5/18/18

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As you visit our schools this month, you may see two beautiful new banners honoring Jewish American Heritage Month and Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. The banners are a joint project of the City of Alameda and two of AUSD’s Equity Round Tables.


The Jewish American Heritage Month banner was developed by the Jewish Education Round Table, which was formed earlier this year. The banner features Elie Wiesel, Alexandra (“Aly”) Rose Raisman, Albert Einstein, Bella Abzug, Levi Strauss, Rashida Leah Jones, Steven Spielberg, and Ruth Bader Ginsberg. 


The Asian Pacific American Heritage Month banner was developed by the Asian Pacific American Round Table and features Dwayne Johnson, Mindy Kaling, Chloe Kim, Fred Korematsu, Patsy Mink, Lea Salonga, Eugene Huu-Chau “Gene” Trinh, and Gene Luen Yang.


Biographies for the people featured on both banners can be found below.


“I’m grateful to the City of Alameda and our round tables for working on these banners,” says Superintendent Sean McPhetridge. “It is so important to highlight the contributions and leadership of our Jewish and Asian Pacific American brothers and sisters, not only to provide role models to our students but also to raise the awareness of all of our community members.”


The banners will remain up at our sites until the end of May.


Eliezer "Elie" Wiesel

Born in Romania, Elie Wiesel was a writer, professor, political activist, Nobel Peace Prize recipient, and Holocaust survivor. He authored dozens of books including Night, which is read in Alameda schools and is based on his experiences in concentration camps. Wiesel helped establish the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. and was a strong defender of human rights during his lifetime.


Alexandra (“Aly”) Rose Raisman

Raisman  is an American gymnast and two-time Olympian. She was a member and captain of both the 2012 and 2016 U.S. Women's Olympic Gymnastics teams, which won team gold. In 2016 Raisman also won the individual all-around silver medal and floor silver medal. In 2012 Raisman was the most decorated American gymnast with gold medals in the team and floor competitions as well as a bronze medal on the balance beam.


Albert Einstein

Born in Germany, Einstein was a theoretical physicist who developed the theory of relativity. He is famous for his mas-energy equivalence, commonly referred to as E=MC squared and also known as the "world's most famous equation." Einstein received the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics. He settled in the United States after Hitler came to power in 1933 and became an American citizen in 1940.


Bella Savitzky Abzug

Bella Abzug, also referred to by her nickname "Battling Bella,” was a lawyer, U.S. Representative, social activist, and leader of the Women’s Movement. In 1970, her first campaign slogan was, “This woman’s place is in the House – the House of Representatives.” She co-founded the National Women’s Political Caucus in 1971. She went on to lead the National Advisory Commission for Women.


Levi Strauss

At 18, Levi Strauss traveled to the United States to join his brothers who had a wholesale dry goods business in New York City. As a businessman, in 1853 Strauss went on to found the first company to manufacture blue jeans, Levi Strauss & Co., in San Francisco. 


Rashida Leah Jones

Rashida Jones is an American actress, producer, singer, and writer. She is well known for playing Ann Perkins on the comedy series Parks and Recreation. She also appeared as Karen Filippelli on the comedy series The Office, was also on the drama series Boston Public, and has appearrf in a number of films. Currently, she stars as the lead title role in the comedy series Angie Tribeca. Rashida Jones attended Harvard and gave the commencement speech there in 2016. 


Steven Allan Spielberg

Steven Spielberg has been a filmmaker for more than 40 years and is the highest-grossing director in history. Spielberg co-founded DreamWorks Studios. He won the Academy Award for Best Director for Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan, and was nominated five other times. Three films, Jaws, E.T., and Jurassic Park, broke box office records


Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Born Joan Ruth Bader to Russian Jewish immigrants in New York and often referred to as “RBG,” Ruth Bader Ginsburg is an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Upon her appointment on August 10, 1993, she became only the second female justice to be confirmed. Ginsburg earned her bachelor's degree at Cornell and studied law at Harvard before transferring to Columbia where she graduated first in her class.



Dwayne Johnson

A Samoan and African American film actor and former professional wrestler, Johnson was born in Hayward, California in 1972. He is famous for his roles in movies including Moana, Jumanji, and the Fast and Furious series. He was second-highest paid actor in Hollywood in 2017.


Mindy Kaling

This Indian American actor, writer, producer, and director is currently producing and starring in The Mindy Project. She is also known for her work on The Office as a producer, writer, and actor and as the voice for Sadness in Inside Out. She has written two memoirs. Her most recent Why not Me? came out as #1 on the New York Times’ best seller list. In 2012, Mindy was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world.


Chloe Kim

A Korean American gold medalist in the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Snowboard Halfpipe contest, Kim, at 17, became the first female snowboarder to land back-to-back 1080s (three spins in the air followed by another three spins on the opposite side). This California native is also the only athlete in X Games history to earn three gold medals before the age of 16.  


Fred Korematsu

This Japanese American civil rights activist objected to the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.  He was born in Oakland and attended Castlemont High School in that city. In 1942, at the age of 23, he refused to go to the government’s internment camps. He appealed his case all the way to the Supreme Court, which ruled against him in 1944. His case was reopened and his conviction cleared in 1983. Fred received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1997. In 2010, California passed the Fred Korematsu Day bill, making January 30 the first day in the US named after an Asian American.


Patsy Mink

Born in Hawaii in 1927, Mink was the first Japanese American woman to practice law in Hawaii and the first woman of color elected to Congress. She began her political career serving on the Hawaii senate in 1956. Without support from the Democratic Party leadership, she ran a grass roots campaign in 1964 and was elected to the U.S. House. She served for 12 years. She was elected

again from 1990 until her death in 2002. She is recognized as a key figure in passing the Title IX legislation that brought academic and athletic equity to American educational institutions.  


Lea Salonga

This Filipino American actress and singer is best known for her performance as Eponine in Les Miserables on Broadway and as Mulan and Jasmine in the Disney movies Mulan and Aladdin. Salonga won a Tony for Best Actress in a Musical for her starring role in Ms. Saigon on Broadway in 1991. 


 Eugene Huu-Chau "Gene" Trinh

After earning a Ph.D. in applied physics at Yale, Trinh began his career as a senior research scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at NASA. In 1992, he became the first Vietnamese American astronaut in space when he flew aboard NASA Space Shuttle mission STS-50 in 1992. As an astronaut, he spent 13 days, 19 hours, and 30 minutes in space.  


Gene Luen Yang

The Chinese American comic book writer of Avatar: The Last Airbender, American Born Chinese, and Boxers and Saints. Born in the Bay Area, his career began when he self-published his own comics while he taught high school computer science in Oakland.  Gene earned a MacArthur Genius award in 2016 for “confirming comics’ place as an important creative and imaginative force within literature, art and education.” In 2016 he appointed as National Ambassador to Young People's Literature.  

Posted by: Susan Davis, District Staff, Alameda Unified School District
Published: 5/18/18

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Wednesday was the official Teacher Appreciation Day. But if you missed that opportunity to thank your child’s teacher, remember that this whole week is designated as Teacher Appreciation Week! Looking for ways to appreciate your students’ teachers in a big way? Here are some ideas:


  • Write a thank you note: Not an email, not a text, but a real letter that expresses what you most appreciate about the educator who has been working with your child this whole year.
  • Encourage your student to write a note: Handwritten thank you notes aren’t as common as they used to be, but they’re still an elegant means of expressing gratitude. And thank you notes aren’t just for those young students who are still learning to write and spell, by the way. A heartfelt letter from a middle or high schooler can have a big impact on a teacher. 
  • Send supplies: No matter what time of year it is, teachers appreciate basic supplies like dry erase markers, push pins, tape, scissors, hand wipes, and books for their classroom libraries.
  • Donate to a teacher’s pet cause: Does he volunteer with a local animal rescue group? Is she an avid hiker? Did your teacher recently lose a beloved parent to cancer or volunteer with a group that helps immigrants? Consider donating to a non-profit organization in your teacher’s name.
  • Gift a gift card – and be creative! Coffee is always appreciated, but consider, too, a gift card to a flower shop, restaurant, movie theater, crafts store, book or gift shop, sporting goods store, or special bakery. Any place that a teacher could go and feel a little pampered!
  • Give the gift of time – May gets to be a wee bit hectic for teachers. Consider offering your teacher a couple of hours of volunteer time – either during the school day or on the weekend.  They may need help creating end-of-the-year folders for student work, for instance, or tidying up their supply closets, sorting books, making copies, or preparing their rooms for the summer.
  • Fill a basket with a few of your teacher’s favorite things – whether it’s baking supplies, music, a craft (such as knitting or woodworking), gardening tools, picnic supplies, or DVDs and books related to a trip he or she is taking this summer.  
  • Curate a play list In the old days we made CDs as thank you presents (and before that we made cassettes!). Now you can use services like Spotify to curate a list of just about any kind of music – from show tunes to ancient Mayan music and from American folk to the most abstract jazz. Hint: Foreign language teachers might enjoy a compilation of songs in the language they teach; teachers who include reading periods in their days might appreciate quiet background music.
  • Decorate a teacher’s door It’s crazy simple but can also be a wonderful surprise. Let the students write “I love my teacher because….” messages on post-its or butcher block paper. Or tape up gift cards, word art, or inspirational images of what summer will bring! (Pinterest has hundreds of ideas for teacher door art, if you need inspiration.)
  • Treat your teacher to…  Sweet treats can be great. But something practical can be even better this time of year – like a pot of homemade soup or stew, a jar of your best made-from-scratch tomato sauce or pesto, or a basket of healthy muffins that your teacher can share with staff. Think about food that will lighten your teacher’s load a little this busy time of year!


Some of these projects take time, of course, which brings us to our final point. There’s no need to limit yourself to one day or one week in thanking a teacher. It can happen any time of year!


Posted by: Susan Davis, District Staff, Alameda Unified School District
Published: 5/10/18

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Issued By:    


Sean McPhetridge, Superintendent (510) 337-7060 and

Gray Harris, President, Board of Education (510) 337-7187



Alameda — May 9, 2018 — At the Board of Education meeting last night, Alameda Unified School District (AUSD) staff announced the district’s 2018 Teacher of the Year: Mary Otieku, an 18-year veteran of AUSD.


Otieku, who received both her BA in psychology and her teacher credential from Saint Mary’s College in Moraga, currently teaches a 4/5 combo at Bay Farm School. Prior to that, she worked as a 3rd grade teacher at Lum Elementary School for three years and  at Paden Elementary for ten years. She has also served as a math coach in the district and a coach for new teachers.


“Teaching is in my blood,” Otieku says. “My grandmother was a teacher, my grandfather was a geology professor at Stanford and UCLA, and my mother was an elementary school teacher.  It is what I am meant to be doing.”


Passion as a driving force

Recommendation letters submitted in support of Otieku’s nomination cited her use of differentiated instruction, books from different cultures and mixed-race authors, classroom meetings, gratitude cards, respect for students, and clear and consistent communication with parents.


“From the flexible seating options that allow students to choose furniture that works best for them at a given time to the classroom meetings in which she keeps a notebook of student suggestions, she constantly communicates that she values the students’ opinions and that they can make a difference,” Bay Farm School parent Lina Hannigan wrote in a recommendation letter.


A teacher who was mentored by Otieku when she worked as a coach for beginner teachers praised her mentoring skills. “Mary’s approach to dig deep and really get to know her students, even in a large class of 32 fifth graders, exemplified what I wanted to be and how I had interpreted the role of a teacher,” said Lily Bianchi, who now teaches third grade at Paden Elementary School. “Children connected with her openness and felt safe to take risks in the classroom environment. She is the very embodiment of what happens when a teacher spontaneously makes passion the driving force of how to engage children.”


When asked what advice she would give a new teacher today, Otieku said, “‘Learn and collaborate with others.’  Teaching can be very isolating and overwhelming, but if you work with your team, it can be immensely collaborative and much more manageable.” 


The power of empathy and compassion

Parents also emphasized Ms. Otieku’s lessons on the importance of respect and kindness. “When my daughter corrected me in my usage of the word ‘easy,’ saying ‘What might be easy for one person, Mommy, isn’t necessarily easy for everyone,’ I knew that she was learning some unique and powerful lessons about differences, respect, inclusivity, and kindness,” Hannigan wrote. “It fills me with pride and hope to know these kinds of conversations are happening among peers with Mrs. Otieku’s leadership in her dynamic classroom.”


Wrote Jennifer Williams, a parent at the school and also an AUSD Board Member, “My daughter is learning the power of empathy and compassion this year, lessons that will shape who she is and the adult she will become. As the world we live in becomes more complex, teaching children to be kind and to be an ally to other members of their community will help them be successful citizens in the long run.”


Nominees for AUSD Teacher of the Year come from parents, students, staff, and the community. After being invited to submit materials (including a resume and letters of support), a selection committee observes nominees in the classroom and then interviews them. Next fall, Otieku will compete to become Alameda County Teacher of the Year.


“I am honored and humbled to be chosen as Teacher of the Year,” Otieku said. “All teachers deserve recognition for their hard work and dedication to our kids.  It is the hardest job there is.”

Said Superintendent Sean McPhetridge, “AUSD has been lucky to have Mary Otieku teaching Alameda students all these year, and we are thankful for her exemplary model to children and adults alike.”


The other finalists this year were Tyra Cable (Lincoln Middle School), Rebecca Baumgartner (Lincoln Middle School), and Pauline Stahl (Encinal Jr. & Sr. High School).


“I am proud of all of Alameda’s teachers for their dedication to the students in our community,” said Board President Gray Harris. “It is a pleasure to honor these four educators for their outstanding work. We are lucky to have inspiring teachers like Mrs. Otieku whose passion energizes students every day.”

Posted by: Susan Davis, District Staff, Alameda Unified School District
Published: 5/9/18

Audience: Homepage and Homepage

At its annual “Salute to Education” event on April 27, the Alameda Education Foundation (AEF) honored more than three dozen noteworthy staff members, volunteers, and programs in public schools across the island.


AEF offers a wide range of programs that support public schools in Alameda, including Adopt-a-Classroom (which provides $500 donation to nominated classroom teachers), enrichment classes and camps, College Prep Academies, the Equipped 4 Success backpack drive, robotics programs, Art Across the Island, and middle school sports. The event last Friday night was its 35th Salute to Education.


“It was a wonderful event because it honored the amazing staff and volunteers we have in this community,” said Superintendent Sean McPhetridge. “Every year at this event I am reminded and inspired yet again by not only the innovative work showcased but also the incredible support shown by our local education foundation. Thank you, staff. Thank you, volunteers. And thank you, Alameda Education Foundation.”


This year’s honorees are listed below.


Alameda Unified School District

Program: Jewish Education Round Table

Volunteer: Alicia Cernitz-Schwartz


 AUSD Elementary Schools


Amelia Earhart Elementary School

Program/Leader: Music to Support Science (Susan Lee)

Volunteers: Rachil Tam and Stella Bourgoin


Bay Farm School

Program/Leader: Bring Your Own Device (Roxanne Clement)

Volunteer: Spencer Tse


Edison Elementary School

Program/Leader: Change Makers (Ryan La Londe)

Volunteer: Angela Tamblin


Franklin Elementary School

Program/Leader: Blended Learning (Barry Arbreton, Darlene Norman, Marianne Dilworth, Debamitra Guha)

Volunteer: Nancy Walker


Henry Haight Elementary School

Program/Leader: Positive Recess Supports (Rochelle Kealohi, Kara McClymont, Brian Deshay, Willie Stewart, Terasita Sangab, Eddi Garrett, Mary Sullivan, Heather Demarest, Melissa Saunders)

Volunteer: Jen Bullock


Maya Lin School

Program/Leader: Title 1 Literacy Intervention (Betsy Weiss)

Volunteer: Joyce Cheng


Otis Elementary School

Program: Otis Elementary PTA

Volunteer: Beth Aney


Paden Elementary School

Program/Leader: Maker’s Space (Erin Head, Ali Bower)

Volunteer: Pam Arneson


Ruby Bridges Elementary School

Program/Leader: Star Time (Kristin Furuichi-Fong)

Volunteer: Karen Bane


AUSD Secondary Schools


Alameda High School

Program/Leader: Teal Tech Volunteer Program (Nancy Read)

Volunteers: Ann Krainer and Tom Lynch



Program/Leader: The ASTI Initiative (Ken Der)

Volunteer: Georzann Chaco


Encinal Junior & Senior High School

Program/Leader: Political and Proud (Lily Conable, Anisya Lustig-Ellison, Sarah Skiff

Volunteer: The Band Boosters


Island High School

Program/Leader: College and Career Exploration (Lupe Santoyo, Ty Cobb, Jamie Crane)

Volunteer: Layne Vann


Lincoln Middle School

Program/Leader: Cafeteria Conservation (Maria Darnell)

Volunteer: Zoe Banchieri


Wood Middle School

Program/Leader: Music and Art Programs (Anselmo Reis and Lindsey Shepard)

Volunteer: Nuala Creedon and Peri Drake


Charter Schools


Academy of Alameda Elementary School

Program/Leader: Run Like a Girl (Kathryn Rizzo, Shanel Hudson, Deanna Haurie)

Volunteer: Louie McFarland


Academy of Alameda Middle School

Program/Leader: Physical Education (Ashley Black, James Sampson, Giliat Ghebray)

Volunteer: Claudia Page


Alameda Community Learning Center

Program/Leader: Leadership (Molly Fenn)

Volunteer: Anthony Steuer


Nea Community Learning Center

Program/Leader: Rock Band (Cliff Rawls)

Volunteer: Amy Fong



Posted by: Susan Davis, District Staff, Alameda Unified School District
Published: 5/4/18

Audience: Homepage and Homepage


Alameda, Calif. — May 4, 2018 — Superior Court Judge Ioana Petrou has approved a stipulated judgment agreed to by the parties in a lawsuit that challenged the Alameda Unified School District’s (AUSD) Measure B1 parcel tax. The stipulated judgment preserves all of the approximately $12,000,000 in revenue that Measure B1 projects to generate for the district.


The tax, which is an extension of Measure A and goes into effect on July 1 of this year, was passed by 74.2% of Alameda voters in November 2016. Like Measure A, it will support a wide range of programs, including small class sizes, neighborhood schools, high school athletics, technology, and elementary music, PE, and media centers.


Under state law, parcel taxes need to be applied uniformly to all parcels of taxable property. Measure B1 taxes all parcels at a rate of $0.32 per building square foot up to a cap of $7999. The plaintiffs in the B1 lawsuit — Nelco, Inc., Santa Clara Investors II, and Edward Hirshberg — filed a lawsuit in December 2016 claiming that the parcel tax structure was not “uniform” because of the cap and because parcels without buildings would pay no tax. 


The plaintiffs had argued a similar lack of uniformity in a lawsuit filed against Measure A soon after it was passed in 2011. AUSD won that case at the trial court level. Because Measure A was found valid, Judge Petrou found that Measure B1, which has a nearly identical structure, was also valid as an extension of Measure A. In order to bring Measure B1 into full alignment with Measure A, the stipulated judgment also requires that Measure B1 incorporate the $299 tax on unimproved parcels provided for by Measure A.


In 2008, the plaintiffs filed suit against AUSD’s Measure H lawsuit, also on grounds that its structure was not uniform.  The district won that lawsuit at the trial court but lost at


the appellate court. The state Supreme Court refused to hear the case, and in 2015 the district issued Measure H refunds to those property owners who applied for them consistent with applicable law.


“I am relieved and heartened that Measure B1 has been found to be valid by Judge Petrou,” said Superintendent Sean McPhetridge.  “In the course of our budget analyses this spring, the fact that the state simply doesn’t give us enough money to both provide high quality programs and retain and attract high quality employees has become abundantly clear to us. As such, AUSD remains highly dependent on its parcel taxes.  I remain deeply grateful to the members of this island community for the consistent and generous support they give to the community’s schools.”






Posted by: Susan Davis, District Staff, Alameda Unified School District
Published: 5/4/18

Audience: Homepage and Homepage

In negotiation sessions last week, two bargaining units signed tentative agreements with Alameda Unified School District (AUSD).


The agreements are with California State Employees Association Chapter 27 (CSEA 27), which represents office/technical workers and paraprofessionals, and CSEA 860, which represents custodial, maintenance, and food service workers in the district.


Under the terms of the tentative agreement (TA), members of both unions will receive the same salary increase as the Alameda Education Association (which represents teachers, nurses, counselors, and speech and language pathologists). AUSD is in negotiations with the AEA this spring.


The contract with CSEA 27 also clarified the process by which paraprofessionals are transferred from one school to another and increased opportunities for professional growth.


Both CSEA contracts are for three years and will go through June 30, 2021.


The next step is for the two unions and the Board of Education to vote on whether or not to ratify the agreements.


“We are always gratified when our labor partners and district bargaining team can come to an agreement,” says Superintendent Sean McPhetridge. “We know negotiators on both sides of the table work hard to find common ground so that our employees can continue to thrive and grow in our organization.” 


Posted by: Susan Davis, District Staff, Alameda Unified School District
Published: 4/25/18

Audience: Homepage and Homepage


picture of crane at HAHSFrom the outside, it’s hard to know exactly what’s going on at Historic Alameda High School (HAHS) right now. Parts of the building are boarded up with plywood. Other parts are currently missing windows. On any given day, there are trucks, bulldozers, loaders, excavators - even giant cranes - parked at the site. And there is, of course, the brown fence encircling the whole complex.


What with the noise, the piles of dirt, and the holes in the historic building’s façade, it can be easy to forget what’s happening on the inside. But incredible things are indeed happening. Here’s our behind-the-scenes look at the transformation taking place.



The 100,000-square-foot historic high school building, which was constructed in 1924, is a registered Historical Landmark that is being retrofitted and restored with funds from the 2014 Measure I Facilities Bond. Quattrocchi Kwok Architects did the design work; Lathrop Construction is the contractor.


When completed, the renovated building will include: historic interior and exterior restoration;  45 state-of-the-art classrooms and 10 new science labs; new instructional technology; seismic retrofitting; updated structural, mechanical, and electrical systems; new landscaping and seating areas along Central Avenue; an outdoor learning space; and, yes, removal of the brown seismic perimeter fence.


AUSD’s Board of Education approved the plans for HAHS on March 28, 2016. The groundbreaking ceremony took place on April 10, 2017. An inspector with the Division of the State Architect (DSA) has said that this project is the biggest and most complicated rehabilitation project the division has overseen in its 50-year history.


Seismic Retrofit

The District Office moved out of HAHS in 2013, due to reports by seismic experts that showed a significant risk of collapse in the event of an earthquake.  The risk is due to two factors: sandy soils that can liquefy during an earthquake and structural issues with the HAHS buildings.


To stabilize (or “densify”) the soil, engineers injected grout into it at 6000 different spots on the site. They also drilled helical piles, which look like corkscrews, 30 feet into the ground to anchor the buildings to more stable soil.


Interior steel braceTo shore up the buildings, workers took off the roof and used a crane to place enormous steel braces along the walls on all three floors. These are creating a “building within a building” that will be able to withstand a strong earthquake. Steel piers are also now supplementing many of the original concrete columns in the building. Those columns were built to withstand 1000 pounds per square inch of force; the current standard is 3000 pounds per square inch. Many columns had begun to crumble from age.


To date, more than 700 tons of degraded concrete have been removed from the foundations and floors, to be replaced with concrete that is up to modern-day codes and meets DSA requirements.


“Expansion joists” will be placed between the buildings so that they can move with the force of an earthquake but not crash into each other. In order to insert these, the concrete between the buildings had to be removed. This required a 52-inch circular saw that was so heavy it had to be put on a vertical track bolted to the building to move up and down.


Once the masonry finish was removed from the exterior buildings, workers also discovered about twice as many cracks in the exterior as expected. These, too, need to repaired so the walls don’t crumble in the event of an earthquake.



One blackboard still has Spanish verbs on it. One wall is still decorated with sky and navy blue stars. But HAHS classrooms are mostly unrecognizable at this point. The floors and walls have all been removed in order to build newer, bigger classrooms. At the same time, workers are installing new electrical and fire sprinkler systems, as well as the infrastructure needed for more modern instructional technology.


Classrooms framedMany of the facility’s 250 historic windows are currently being repaired; in fact, one whole room has been designated as a window workshop. As per an agreement with the Alameda Historical

Society, the windows need to retain their wooden sills and sashes. But the concrete around the windows also has to be restored due to degradation from wind, rain, and sunlight over the years.


The project is scheduled to be completed in December 2019 and is currently on track. Once it is complete, the brown seismic fence that surrounds the building will also be removed.windows in workshop


“For decades, Alameda citizens have looked upon Historic Alameda High School and wondered how it could be restored to its former glory and returned to student use,” says Superintendent Sean McPhetridge. “Soon the citizens of Alameda and their children will be able to enjoy the building again, and AUSD will be able to offer 21st-century learning environments within that beautiful neoclassical building.”


“This is a dynamic and exciting time in Alameda,” he continues, “and AUSD is grateful to Alamedans for passing the bond and investing in the future generations who will benefit.”

Posted by: Susan Davis, District Staff, Alameda Unified School District
Published: 4/13/18

Audience: Homepage and Homepage

The California Department of Education (CDE) has selected both Earhart Elementary School and Bay Farm School as 2018 "Distinguished Schools.”


The award recognizes schools that have made exceptional gains in meeting the state’s academic and performance standards as described on the new California School Dashboard. Those standards include test scores in English Language Arts, Mathematics, and Science, as well as suspension rates and English Learner progress.  (Information on the performance of all AUSD schools on these indicators is available on the AUSD Dashboard page.)


This year, only 287 schools from across the state received the award.


“These schools implement outstanding educational programs and practices that help California students realize their potential and put them on the path to achieve their dreams,”  State Secretary of Education Tom Torlakson said. “Every day at these schools, teachers, administrators, and classified employees, working with parents, apply their dedication, creativity, and talents toward providing a great education for all their students.”


Between 2015 and 2017, the Distinguished Schools program was replaced by the Gold Ribbon Schools program as the state transitioned to its new assessment and accountability system.


Model Practices


As part of the Distinguished School process, applicant schools need to describe a “Model Program/Practice” that they believe has contributed to their success.


  • Bay Farm School described its implementation of Positive Behavior Intervention Systems (PBIS), which is part of a district initiative to improve school climates by establishing shared expectations and rewards for good and safe behavior.  Bay Farm also cited its Coordination of Services Team (COST), through which school staff collaborate to support students who may be struggling, especially those who are new or who receive special education services.
  • Earhart Elementary School described its Music with Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math M(STEM) innovative program. The program includes instruction and professional development provided by a dedicated science teacher and weekly hands-on learning in the school’s two science laboratories, as well as music instruction.


“Bay Farm and Earhart students, staff, and families should be proud of this well-earned and well-deserved distinction,” Superintendent Sean McPhetridge said. “We all should be grateful and proud of the efforts evidenced in the Distinguished Schools application process this year, and we look forward to ongoing efforts at these schools to continue in excellent service to their students.”








Posted by: Susan Davis, District Staff, Alameda Unified School District
Published: 4/13/18

Audience: Homepage and Homepage

At its public meeting on April 10, AUSD’s Board of Education approved a set of budget changes designed to improve employee salaries. The decisions came after an exhaustive review of the district’s budget and programs that took place over the course of five Board of Education meetings since mid-February.


AUSD’s salaries for all employees have long lagged behind those of neighboring districts and are currently among the lowest in Alameda County.  In January, the Board directed staff to provide information on why the salaries are low, how AUSD’s budget compares to that of neighboring districts, and how the district’s budget could be adjusted to help improve employee salaries.


Low Salaries

Over the course of the five meetings, staff presented data on a wide range of budget items, including the costs of full day kindergarten, innovative programs, staffing, teachers on special assignment (teachers who do district work outside of the classroom), special education, cuts that District Office has already made to its staff and programs, and the parcel tax program.   


Staff found a number of reasons why AUSD’s salaries are low, including:


  • AUSD’s class sizes are lower than the county average
  • Many AUSD classes are not filled to the contractual limit
  • AUSD’s special education costs are higher than the county average

The budget exploration also found that AUSD’s administrative costs are lower than the county average and that AUSD spends less of its overall budget on administrator salaries than surrounding districts.


“We have had a full and robust set of presentations about how resources and funds are now allocated in this district,” Superintendent Sean McPhetridge said at the meeting. “As a result, we are farther along in our ability to start discussing why these decisions have been made, as well as how the Board is committed to making new arrangements to take care of the district as a whole and to take care of the collective interests of people who work here and the families we serve.”


All of the presentations to the Board of Education, as well as FAQs on the budget realignment process and links to other resources, can be found on the AUSD Budget Talks page.


Approved Budget Changes

At the April 10 meeting, staff presented the Board with a list of ways to potentially shift funds to employee salaries. After discussing the list, the Board asked staff to implement the following changes for the 2018-19 and 2019-20 budget:



Implementation Year & Estimated Savings




Full Day Kindergarten



Innovative Programs



Bay Farm Innovative Funding



Earhart Innovative: Some staff and additional technology



Maya Lin Innovative: Part-time literacy coach, counselor, and Spanish teacher



Maya Lin Innovative: 25:1 ratio in grades 4 & 5



Encinal Innovative: Additional supplies & technology



Teachers on Special Assignment



TSA ELD/Literacy Coaches (6)



TSA Math Coaches (4)



TSA Bay Science  (part-time)



TSA Teacher Induction (1)






Change LMS/WMS 7-period day to 6-period day; fill classes to contractual limit (33:1)



Fill high school classes to contractual limit (35:1 except at Island High)



District Office



Reduce services; eliminate discretionary IT funds; cancel software programs



Change funding source of some DO positions



Reduce school site discretionary funds 25%



Optimize use of LCFF supplemental funds




“Some schools that have received more over recent years in staffing and other arrangements will potentially get less in the coming years,” Superintendent Sean McPhetridge said. “People have heard me say that everyone is going to have to get ready for some austerity measures and some changed conditions if we are to move toward where we need to go with regard to fair salaries of employees in AUSD.”


Long-term changes

During the meeting, both community members and board members called for long-term plans to identify the community’s educational values and then find creative ways to implement them while developing a salary schedule that can both retain and attract excellent employees. Ideas include merging Alameda and Encinal High Schools, combining elementary schools, and leveraging grants, partnerships, and other alternative funding sources.


In a separate agenda item, the Board decided not to place a parcel tax on the November 2018 ballot to raise funds for employee salaries, citing both a lack of support in the community and the need to right-size the budget via structural changes first.


“I want to acknowledge this as being a difficult process,” McPhetridge said, “and I want to praise the Board, public, and AUSD staff for the advocacy and inquiry they have shown throughout this process. This work is not easy, and in some ways it really is just beginning.”




Posted by: Susan Davis, District Staff, Alameda Unified School District
Published: 4/13/18

Audience: Homepage and Homepage



The Alameda County Office of Education (ACOE) named Cindy Zecher, the office manager at Lincoln Middle School, a Classified Employee of the Year this week.


ACOE named honorees in six categories: Child Nutrition; Maintenance, Operations, and Grounds; Office and Technical; Para-Educator and Instructional Assistance; and Support Services and Security.  Honorees now move on to be considered by the California Department of Education as State Classified Employees of the Year.


Ms. Zecher, who serves as the president of CSEA 27 and has worked for AUSD for 32 years, won in the Office and Technical category. Her nomination commended her as being indispensable to her school site for her leadership and institutional knowledge, as well as her strong relationships with students.


“It is certainly an honor to be recognized for something I love doing - working with middle schoolers,” said Zecher, who attended Lincoln Middle School and has worked there for 22 years. “A few years ago when I was the CSEA Area C Director, I was fortunate to participate in reading the Classified School Employee of the Year (CSEY) nomination forms.  Never in a million years would I have ever thought I would be in the position of having someone at the state level reading a nomination form for me.”


“Many of our classified members are deserving of this recognition,” she continued. “ I’m very fortunate to work with a amazing team here at Lincoln Middle School, especially Amy Kesner along with the other 6th grade CORE teachers, Julie Kemp along with the office staff, and Principal Michael Hans, who took the time to write the nomination forms to move my name forward.  Thank you!”


Superintendent McPhetridge congratulated Zecher during the April 10 Board of Education meeting, saying: “We’re very proud of Cindy, We thank her for her dedication to the students, staff, and families at Lincoln Middle School over the years, and we appreciate her for her service as the president of the CSEA 27 bargaining group.”


Posted by: Susan Davis, District Staff, Alameda Unified School District
Published: 4/13/18

Audience: Homepage and Homepage


An eighth grader from Lincoln Middle School will be one of two students representing Alameda County in the State Junior High Spelling Bee later this spring.


Hazel Purins, 13, came in 5th at the island’s Alameda Spelling Bee on February 3. She went on to take second place at the ninth annual Alameda County Junior High Spelling Bee on March 10.  More than 50 students, hailing from 10 Alameda County school districts, competed in that event. 


Purins missed first place at the county competition when she misspelled “condescension.” Anisha Rao, of Dublin Unified School District, was able to spell that word and so secured top spot.  As the top competitors, both Rao and Purins will now compete in the California State Spelling Bee in San Rafael on May 5. Purins is the first AUSD student to make it this far!


Adriana Argyriou, a 5th grader at Haight Elementary School, won 4th in the 10th annual Alameda County Elementary Spelling Bee. She was runner-up in the Alameda Spelling Bee in February. 


In an email to Hazel’s family, Superintendent Sean McPhetridge shared how as an elementary school student he won a spelling bee by correctly spelling ichthyology. “Competing at this level is something for which Hazel should be very proud,” he wrote. “I am personally grateful knowing that Hazel admirably represents Lincoln Middle School, AUSD, Alameda, Alameda County, and her family in this way.”






Posted by: Susan Davis, District Staff, Alameda Unified School District
Published: 3/22/18

Audience: Homepage and Homepage

Over the last year, many of my reports to the public have focused on difficult issues such as bias and bullying. And many of them have focused on Board and District Office reactions to these incidents, rather than stories focused on the good news of our amazing students or inspiring staff. But today, I'd like to focus this space entirely on the incredible achievement of the AHS Hornets men's basketball team, which heads later this evening to Sacramento to compete for the CIF Division II State Championship.


When the world is in as much turmoil as it is right now, being able to celebrate the accomplishment and spirit of a hometown public school team is remarkably healing. One reason most of us have dedicated our careers to public education is because public schools lie at the heart of their communities and are supported by a network of not only dedicated and talented volunteers, but also city agencies and local non-profit organizations. Public school districts offer a safe and constructive place for a community – literally a “common unity” – around which citizens and institutions rally. And here in Alameda, we have seen the community rally again and again, not only to fund our schools, but also to protect our students, beautify our campuses, support our teachers, enrich our programs, and, now, to send this team of talented scholar athletes to the state championship.


Thank you, Hornets volunteers, for so quickly organizing the trip and working with us to generate publicity for the game.  Thank you, Alameda Theatre, for so quickly agreeing to show the game on a big screen Friday afternoon (details below). Thank you, Alameda community members, for sharing and amplifying the great excitement we all feel about the upcoming game. And thank you, especially, Hornets coaches and scholar athletes, for bringing your “A” game, your talent, your hard work, and your team spirit this far, this season. We are all rooting for you!

Posted by: Susan Davis, District Staff, Alameda Unified School District
Published: 3/22/18

Audience: Homepage and Homepage




Sean McPhetridge (Superintendent)



Sarah Henry (City of Alameda)




This morning Lincoln families contacted Principal Michael Hans to report a disturbing Snapchat message that multiple students were forwarding. In the message there was a reference to an Instagram post suggesting that someone had made a video threatening to “shoot up” “our school” at an undisclosed location. 


AUSD staff immediately contacted the Alameda Police Department, who, out of an abundance of caution, sent several officers out to investigate and monitor the situation. Lincoln families were informed of the situation via robocall and emails; AUSD also communicated about the status of the investigation with the public on its home page and on social media.


APD investigated and learned from the reporting LMS student that the post viewed on the student’s phone was actually connected to a “Lincoln High School” in Tacoma, Washington. (You can see an article about the Tacoma school threat here.)


"We learned from our investigation that there was not a threat to Lincoln Middle School or any school in Alameda today," stated Police Chief Paul Rolleri. "Social media posts related to Lincoln High School in Tacoma, Washington were spread locally that caused many people in our community to feel uncomfortable and afraid. We take every threat to our community and our schools seriously, and through our investigation we learned that students who shared these posts did not make any threats or act in a criminal manner. At this point, APD considers the investigation closed, as there are no known threats related to the City of Alameda or its schools."


 “We appreciate the families who brought these concerns forward to Principal Hans and the Alameda Police Department,” Superintendent Sean McPhetridge said. “And while APD and AUSD certainly encourage people to report to us when they hear or see something of concern, we want to remind people that rumors on social media can cause greater disruption to our educational settings. We urge Alamedans to work with the school district and police department directly before posting on social media or contacting the press.”


“Again, we thank those who reported directly to APD and AUSD so we could all work together to keep our community and its schools safe.”


Posted by: Susan Davis, District Staff, Alameda Unified School District
Published: 2/26/18

Audience: Homepage and Homepage

As many families are aware, this year’s flu season is quite severe and in some cases is causing complications that require hospitalization. Please read the following memo to learn how to reduce your child’s risk of getting, spreading, or getting more ill from this year’s influenza.


To reduce the risks of getting the flu:

  • Get the flu vaccine if you have not already. It can still help reduce your risk of getting a severe flu this season. (Most health insurance companies cover flu vaccinations. If you do not have insurance, you can find low-cost clinics that provide flu shots here.)
  • Remind students to wash their hands frequently.
  • Remind students to avoid sharing food, drink, and utensils.

To reduce the risks of spreading the flu:


If your student is ill, please keep him/her home. AUSD’s policy is that students remain home if they have the following symptoms:

  • A fever of 100 degrees or more
  • Vomiting, diarrhea, or nausea
  • Untreated draining ears or earache
  • Severe sore throat
  • Skin rashes of unknown origin or that require a clearance from a physician to return to school

Please note: Students need to stay home for 24 hours after the symptoms subside. This helps ensure not only his/her recovery but also avoids spreading the flu to more vulnerable people, such as children who have asthma or children who live with elderly people, pregnant women, infants, or people with compromised immune systems. 


To avoid the risks of your student developing serious complications


Most children who get the flu do not need medical attention. Those who develop symptoms of serious illness, however, need prompt medical attention. Contact your doctor immediately if your child:

  • Has trouble breathing or is breathing very fast
  • Has bluish skin
  • Has a persistent high fever or has one that flares up after subsiding
  • Complains of chest pain
  • Cannot wake up
  • Appears confused or disoriented
  • Has clammy or sweaty skin
  • Has a fever and rash

Please talk to the health clerk at your school if you have more questions.


Posted by: Susan Davis, District Staff, Alameda Unified School District
Published: 2/14/18

Audience: Homepage and Homepage


Issued By:         Superintendent Sean McPhetridge (510) 337-7060 and

                          Board President Gary Lym (510) 337-7187    



Program to provide first year of college tuition free for

all AUSD graduates


Alameda, Calif. — March 15, 2017 — At the Board of Education meeting last night, College of Alameda’s President Tim Karas presented on the “Alameda Promise Initiative,” a program developed by the College of Alameda (CoA) with support from Alameda Unified School District (AUSD). The Alameda Promise provides AUSD graduates with one year of fees, a voucher for textbook purchases during that first year of enrollment, and intensive academic and counseling support to assist students with the transition to college.


Goals of the “Alameda Promise” program include the following: increasing the percentage of high school graduates in the city of Alameda entering college; strengthening students’ access to career pathways; and deepening the connection between College of Alameda and its island community.


“All graduates should have the opportunity to follow their educational dreams,” said Tim Karas, President of the College of Alameda. “Higher education should be a path to shared prosperity, not a path only available to a privileged few.”


To support AUSD high schoolers who wish to attend CoA, Alameda Promise organizers plan to: 

  • Create information and facilitate outreach on the value of community college education
  • Offer registration and financial aid workshops at AUSD school sites
  • Work with AUSD to recruit students who thought college was out of reach so more students can avail themselves of post-secondary education in their local community college

The Peralta Community College District is also implementing similar “promise” initiatives in Berkeley and Oakland. Funding for these programs comes in part from the California College Promise Innovation Grant Program established by Assembly Bill 1741.


All AUSD seniors will receive letters about the offer, as well as instructions on how to participate, in the next few weeks.


“AUSD is fortunate to have such a great partnership with College of Alameda and the Peralta Community College District,” said Superintendent Sean McPhetridge, “and we are so grateful for the 'Alameda Promise' program providing a free year of tuition and books to our graduates who may have otherwise thought college out of reach. We are also very grateful for other dual enrollment initiatives already underway in AUSD where our high school students benefit from early college experiences while still enrolled in AUSD high schools. We are very excited at this next development in our longstanding partnership, and we thank CoA and PCCD for their efforts to work with AUSD to make college accessible and affordable for all.”



Alameda Unified School District (AUSD) serves more than 9600 students in Alameda, California, an island community in the San Francisco Bay Area.  For more information, please visit the AUSD website, follow @AUSDNews on Twitter, or subscribe to our email communications. Questions? Contact Susan Davis, Senior Manager, Community Affairs, at sdavis@alameda.k12.ca.us.

Posted by: Susan Davis, District Staff, Alameda Unified School District
Published: 3/15/17

Audience: Homepage and Homepage



Issued By:       Superintendent Sean McPhetridge (510) 337-7060 and

                      Board President Solana Henneberry (510) 337-7187



Alameda, Calif. — May 27, 2016 — The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History last week announced that Brian Rodriguez – a history teacher at AUSD's Alameda Science and Technology Institute (ASTI) – has been chosen as its 2016 California History Teacher of the Year.


A panel of teachers, administrators, and scholars from across the state chose Rodriguez based on his "innovative history curricula, which fosters a spirit of inquiry while emphasizing critical skills in U.S. history, Modern World History, Humanities, and Economics," the institute announced in a press release.


Rodriguez taught history at Encinal High School for 19 years before joining the ASTI faculty in 2014. He received his undergraduate degree in rhetoric from the University of California, Berkeley, a law degree from  University of Southern California, and a teaching credential from Holy Names College in Oakland. He was named AUSD's Teacher of the Year in 2008.


"I am thrilled and honored to receive this award," Rodriguez said. "My father was a poor Mexican-American kid whose life was radically changed for the better by the kindness and care of a school nurse and a teacher.  That made a tremendous difference to my family.  I have never forgotten that, and I try to fulfill that role every day for Alameda students."


Recognizing the "Crucial Importance of History Education"


The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History is a New York–based national nonprofit devoted to the teaching and learning of American history. The Institute’s programs have been recognized by awards from the White House, the National Endowment of the Humanities, and the Organization of American Historians. The History Teacher of the Year Award highlights the crucial importance of history education by honoring an exceptional American history teacher from each state, the District of Columbia, Department of Defense schools, and US Territories. A "National History Teacher of the Year" will be selected from this list of state winners and honored at a ceremony in New York City next fall.  


As part of his recognition, Mr. Rodriguez will receive a $1,000 honorarium from the institute, and ASTI's library will receive a core archive of history books and educational materials. ASTI also becomes a "Gilder Lehrman Affiliate School," which gives its teachers access to regional forums with noted historians and extensive resources to use in the classroom.


Alameda Mayor Trish Spencer nominated Mr. Rodriguez for the award. He submitted two lessons with his application: one in which students trace their family history through US history and one on the September 11, 2001 attacks. (You can read our community bulletin about that lesson here.)


"Democracy is Not Passive"


For Rodriguez, history isn't about a dusty past; it's about an engaged present and better future. "I teach my students that democracy is not passive," he says. "This year my students were inspired to be advocates for social justice.  After a lesson on the school to prison pipeline, they started a tutoring program at a local elementary school, and after learning about immigration, they made a school-wide video inviting a young Syrian refugee to our school.  Other students travelled with a Congressional delegation to South Carolina with the MLK Freedom Center and started soccer programs for the disabled.  There is no more exciting place than a vibrant history classroom."


ASTI is AUSD's Early College High School, which means students can earn college credits in addition to a high school diploma. It is supported by Measure A, a parcel tax approved by Alameda voters in 2011.


"Brian Rodriguez is an innovative teacher at an innovative high school," Superintendent Sean McPhetridge said. "Our students are so fortunate to have the opportunity to go to this school and to benefit from the experience and creativity of passionate teachers like Brian. ASTI and AUSD are lucky to benefit from his service in the classroom!"




 Alameda Unified School District serves more than 9600 students in Alameda, Calif., an island community in the San Francisco Bay Area. For more information, please visit the AUSD website, follow @AUSDNews on Twitter, or subscribe to our email communications. Questions? Contact Susan Davis, Senior Manager, Community Affairs, at sdavis@alameda.k12.ca.us.

Posted by: Susan Davis, District Staff, Alameda Unified School District
Published: 5/27/16

Audience: Homepage and Homepage

In a room filled with tears, shouts, laughter, and applause this winter, Island High School students performed poems they had written about subjects ranging from alienation, regret, and love to racism, poverty, and war.  In so doing, they gave voice to their inner lives and provided adults in the room a raw look at the power of adolescent emotions, identity, and perspectives on the world.


"I'd turn to my past if I wanted a liar," read one student in a growling voice. "I stand for my family, my world, my faith/That's all that I got." Read another, "It's complicated how life is like a puzzle and I can't fix it." And still a third: "She was now seventeen/She was disowned/Acting especially mean/In her own world she drowned."


"Developing Their Own Voice"


Island High School is the Continuation High School for the Alameda Unified School District (AUSD), which means that its programs are designed to help students who have struggled to get the credits they need to graduate —not only due to family troubles, substance abuse, and teen pregnancy, but to the many other complications life has to offer.


The annual Poetry Slam is a unit in teacher John Nolan's English 4 class for seniors. "We teach this unit to help students learn to write and analyze poems and have an opportunity to tell their stories," said Nolan, who has taught at Island High for eight years and was voted AUSD Teacher of the Year in 2012. "It's a chance for students to develop their own voice and use it."


For many students, this can be remarkably healing work. As Greg (who preferred not to use his last name) read during the slam, "I'm from a long line of people who just don't understand my plans." In an interview after the event, he explained, "The class let me write what was on my mind. I will never forget what has happened to me. This was a way to say it."


"I Can Get Away With a Lot"


Several other students also talked about the way learning to write and perform verse helped them. "I wrote about my life, stuff going on every day, stuff I've been put through," said Jeremiah Braxton, 17, who penned the "It's Complicated" poem quoted above and came to Island High School after "messing up" in 9th and 10th grade at Encinal High. "In poetry, I can get away with a lot. I can express my emotions." Braxton, who has performed as a rapper and singer in northern and southern California, said that the poetry unit helped him learn to choose words and tone to convey meaning, which will be helpful in the musical career he wants to pursue.


Samantha Castro, 18, wrote a poem about her 7-month old son, Julian.  She said she loved the poetry unit for the opportunity it gave her to explore and express her feelings. "My parents have been in and out of jail," she said. "I have seen a lot of violence. But I wanted something better for myself. It's not easy taking care of a baby, but I am doing what I have to do. I want my baby's life to be different. I want to be the best mother I can be." Castro plans on becoming a nurse or a teacher after she graduates.



Isaiah Aleman, 17, who performed the poem about faith and family quoted above, ended up at Island High School after falling behind in his credits and struggling with a number of difficult issues. This April, he said, he will have been on a more focused path for a year. "I am a different person," he said. "I've become more creative, more thoughtful. I can think more critically about what I want people to feel from my words, what I think, how I feel about other people." Though he had written poetry before, he said, the unit helped him learn about the best use of structure and vocabulary in a poem, as well as looking more deeply into the subject.


 "Good Learning, Good Teaching, and Good Students"


This year, Alameda's poet laureate, Julia Park Tracey, coached the students on their poems before their slam, by helping them with writer's block, editing, and finding their voice and narrative style. The unit, she said, "is a huge win for the kids. These aren't students whose lives revolve around student government, pep rallies, and dress-up days. They have gone through real trauma.  They are already living grown-up lives. Having the opportunity to take words from their heart and soul and then share those words can be incredibly powerful."


Some of the words from these teens' hearts and souls are as much about hope as trauma. Brittany Cox, who described the disowned teen at the start of this story, expressed a compelling optimism as she projected a peaceful close to the protagonist's life journey:


She was now seventy

Sitting in row one of the church holding her granddaughter

Knowing this was her destiny

She watches her son waiting at the altar


She was now ninety

looking around the white room at all the faces

There was no longer a fight with society

She smiles as she passes


Whether the resulting poems are angry or hopeful, filled with fear or brimming with strength, Nolan said, teaching the course annually reinforces his belief in the "deep, powerful stories" of students. "They come from such unique circumstances," he said. "It can be healing for them to process these experiences in a creative, productive way." Teaching the unit also has reinforced his belief that poetry is "flourishing" in our culture today. "I see so many artists with so many poetic skills and innovative rhymes," he said. "They're making up  poems on the fly. We are living in really poetic times."




Upcoming Board of Education Meetings



March 22, 2016

6:30 pm, City Hall


April 12, 2016

6:30 pm, City Hal



Posted by: Susan Davis, District Staff, Alameda Unified School District
Published: 3/16/16