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City, School District, to Pursue Interim City Manager’s Ideas to Find Money for Schools

At a joint meeting on Saturday morning, Alameda City Council and the Alameda Unified School District (AUSD) Board of Trustees both agreed to pursue two separate recommendations from Interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant that would provide operational funding for AUSD schools, and stopgap funding to keep the Woodstock Child Development Center (WCDC) programs running at least until the end of the year.

Roughly half a dozen parents, some with children in tow, turned out for the 9:00 a.m. meeting, several of whom addressed the Council and Trustees and spoke of the importance to them of the before-school child care programs currently provided by WCDC, but at risk due to Sacramento budget cuts. For many West-end Alameda parents who must start work at 8:00 a.m., the WCDC programs are the only before-school child care option they have; AUSD supervision at the public schools doesn’t begin until 8:10 a.m.

Interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant recommended that the City investigate a re-allocation of Community Development Block Grants to provide stopgap funding to keep the programs alive until the end of December. It will take a week or so for the City and the School District to investigate and work out the details, and there is a 30-day notice period before a public hearing that would effect the re-allocation. The topic is on tomorrow’s AUSD Board of Trustees meeting agenda as well.

Officials also gave the go-ahead to Ms. Gallant to pursue her proposal to convert to AUSD operational “green dollars” roughly $3 million of redevelopment property tax dollars originally set-aside for low-income housing for School District employees. At Saturday’s meeting, the District conceded that none of their employees would qualify for the low-income housing the money was intended to provide, because they make too much money.

In 2008, Action Alameda News uncovered the existence of the low-cost housing fund, known as the District Housing Fund, and a parallel fund, the District Capital Outlay Fund. Just over $1 million in the District Capital Outlay Fund was transferred from City of Alameda accounts to District accounts in late 2008. The two pots of money are funded with local property tax dollars through the City of Alameda Community Improvement Commission’s (CIC) Business and Waterfront Improvement Project, a redevelopment project area under state law that allows the capture of incremental property tax dollars to subsidize development. A 1991 agreement between AUSD and the CIC set up the two funds.

Both elected bodies gave direction to the Interim City Manager and AUSD Superintendent to ensure that under both proposals, the money transferred to AUSD would not cause a corresponding offset in funds provided to the District by the State of California.

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