Page One


Thursday June 07, 2001


I am writing in response to a letter that appeared in the daily planet dated June 5, 2001 entitled “County School Board should support its Superintendent” from three locally elected members representing the Berkeley Community. 

As a 10-year member of the Alameda County Board of Education, I was disappointed by the lack of understanding by the three locally elected officials: Terry Doran and John Selawsky of the School Board and Derryl Moore of the Peralta Community College District relative to the budget development process of the County Board of Education. 

Prior to submitting the letter, neither person approached and/or called me to discuss the issues currently facing the County Office of Education. Those who know me as a long time resident/activist of the South Berkeley Community, know that I can be easily be reached. 

In fact, the Daily Planet publishes on a regular basis how the citizens of the community can get in touch with its locally elected officials. I was not contacted by any of these officials to have a “sit down” and discuss the issues facing the County Office of Education and how the County Board, under State law, has responsibility for adopting an annual budget. 

Let me take this opportunity to advise the people of Berkeley what the Issues are. This is clearly an issue around policy implementation of the budget and its expenditures consistent with County Board adopted policy. My concerns are and continue to be, how do we balance the services provided to school districts and meet the needs of students that are the most “at risk”, kids served by the County Office of Education directly. 

Those kids, for the most part, are kids of color. It is the Board's policy that the number one priority for funding in the county is to meet their needs. The issues between the Board and the Superintendent are philosophical differences on how best to expend County resources. 

It is not about personalizing the process; it not about politics.  

Let's talk about the implementation of the budget over the last two years under the stewardship of Superintendent Jordan. The facts are: 

1. To date the county superintendent has failed to produce a balanced budget. 

2. As documented by the most recent fiscal audit, the County Board's reserves are the at its lowest point in years. 

3. There have been expenditures of state lottery funds without County Board approval as directed by Board policy. 

4. There was a failure to submit to the state an evaluation of the juvenile court schools as mandated by the state. 

But more importantly, Superintendent Sheila Jordan has proposed a FY 2001/02 budget that projects a deficit in access of $1.1 million predicated on a 10 percent salary increase to all employees. In order to pay for this increase, Ms. Jordan is proposing to pay for it by eliminating substantially reducing student programs, eliminating the entire student program reserves along with staff reductions in student programs/services.  

I along with other members of the County Board find it unacceptable to “balance the deficit of the County Office on the backs on the students that are the most at-risk kids in Alameda County.” 

It is the board's position that Ms. Jordan reduce management/administrative positions projected to cost roughly $5.8 million or 20 percent of the total FY 2001/02 projected budget. It should be fully understood that one out of every four employees in the County Office of Education under the management of the County Superintendent Jordan is a director, manager or administrator. 

It is the position of the board that this ratio of total employees (66 out Of 259) is excessive and threatens the “future solvency” of the County Office of Education. 

In the words of Spike Lee, Doran, Selawsky and Moore have been “bamboozled.” But don't feel bad you are not alone. 

Jerome Wiggins,  

Trustee Area One, Alameda County Board of Education