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Is PIE going to work in a CHOICE program District?

Original post made by Angry Parent, Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Oct 11, 2006

Here's a question about how PiE works for our schools. I thought PiE was set up for equitable distribution of funds across the district on a standard dollar per student - so far so good, seems fair... so in the example of the proceeds for the B&W ball, I assume they divide the proceeds (ie $10,800), by the # of students (ie 10,800) and will give a flat dollar per student times the number of students at each school... (ie $1 x 400 students = $400 for school#1)

But what happens with Choice programs? If you have Alternative programs that get hefty private funding (either through direct parent contributions, Grants, Private donations from special interest organizations, etc.) which bumps their per student spending well over average district per pupil spending to start with, and I presume they also share in the PTA efforts at that schools, do they ALSO get a share of the PIE funds? How is that equitable education?

So we've got specialty programs that get better private incremental funding, plus PTA support, then they get smaller class sizes, AND they also get their 'fair share' of PIE?

Is there financial reporting on each our existing Choice programs going on? Where can I see this? How does this work? For example, do we know how much incremental per student funding Hoover, Ohlone and Spanish Immersion have? And sources for those funds? And what they're being used for?

Why is this a fair funding model? I think once a program decides its going to be an alternative program, then it needs to drop out of the PIE funding food chain? Or needs to be held to basic district funding sources if it wants to get PIE funding. One or the other, but it shouldn't get to be both ways?

I don't feel like contributing to PIE until I understand how this works. Exactly.

Is ANYONE going to demand some policy statements from PIE and from the DISTRICT on this funding issue BEFORE we jump into MORE CHOICE PROGRAMS? What a mess.

Comments (10)

Posted by Kathy
a resident of Gunn High School
on Oct 11, 2006 at 8:20 pm

Did something happen with MI last night at the Board meeting? Was any further information released about the program and its status in the district to prompt these posts right now?

At the current Choice elementary schools, Hoover and Ohlone, I do not believe that there is any private fundraising effort. Both have been strong supporters of PiE and have stepped back, I believe, from PTA fundraising. Neither has any other private fundraising effort.

Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 11, 2006 at 9:00 pm

How much more funding per student do spanish immersion or the proposed mandarin immersion programs need to operate?

I believe that Hoover and Ohlone are funded the same as every other elementary school.

Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 11, 2006 at 10:36 pm

Is there any public reporting on the costs and total funding of the choice programs? Where?

Do you feel comfortable 'believing' and guessing how this works, or should we know for sure?

And what happens in the case of a new program that does do a lot of private fund raising to cover its incremental costs? What will the PIE policy be in that case?

Has this been determined? Do you think it should be before we go any further down this path?

The FLAP Grant request suggested a program for the elementary component alone that would have run at about $3000 per student per year incremental cost. I find it hard to believe that would ever really fly - its outragous... But stranger things have happened.

But do we have any rules in place to cover this type of scenario?

Posted by Wolf
a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 12, 2006 at 11:55 pm

As far as I know Hoover and Ohlone get the same ongoing funding like everyone else. So does Spanish Immersion. As to Mandarin Immersion, they will need some extra startup costs, which I believe the parents indicated they are willing to raise not to burden the distruct. After that, MI will convert to regular funding like any other program.

I think it is reasonable to have extra short term startup costs for a new program, otherwise we will never try anything new. Using this as an argument against MI seems petty and narrow minded. Yes, your neighbor grass is greener. Always.

Posted by Angry Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 13, 2006 at 11:21 am

Well, we could go down a laundry list, but I'll just take one example. They will require a Mandarin Program director, ongoing. And that's not an employee they have today. That's new cost to the district ongoing, not just in start up phase. And I mean there is a LAUNDRY list of ongoing incremental costs.

Our current choice programs find it easy to say they're cost neutral because no one is being held to account publicly for their full cost picture. Some might call it petty and narrow minded - but some might call it fiscally responsible to ask the question. If they're cost neutral they should have no problem publishing a detailed financial statement.

In this case, its not my neighbors grass I'm worried about, its my tax payer dollar.

Posted by Curious
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 13, 2006 at 2:20 pm

I asked this on the boundary site, but....Does anyone know if Mandarin Immersion got the grant funding they applied for, that was to help defray the costs of the program?

Posted by Wolfe
a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 13, 2006 at 2:55 pm

To the Angry Parent:

I cannot speak to whether MI will need a "program director" or not since I simply don't know enough about the subject, but it is one of the considerations that BOE and admin will need to consider.

I do want to speak, however, to your "cost neutrality" argument. Is a child who takes music education "cost neutral" vs. one who does not? What about the robotics team? AP classes? One who takes many credits in HS versus one who takes the bare minimum of credits? Etc., etc. Not even touching on Special Ed here.

The "cost neutrality" arguments applies to *environmental* issues, not to *educational* issues! In other words, we don't want one kid study in a palatial classroom while another is in an unheated one with a leaking roof; we do not want one to have access to labs and computers while the other will not (if he needs or wants them). If, however, some kids feel they want study music or theatre, we should provide them with it even if it may cost a bit more. An argument can be made that it should be the same for Spanish or Mandarin immersion; or not. Argue it on that basis, and not on the *educational* "cost neutrality" please!

Posted by Angry Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 13, 2006 at 6:39 pm


Wow, that's an amazing comparison...Because we offer AP classes, we should offer an elementary language academy. I would suggest we cancel AP class offerings across the board, and see what kind of community uproar we get. AP classes aren't a luxury in our district, they're a basic inalienable expectation - a clear community mandate. AP level is an extension of (advanced level of) the basic curriculum. That's like saying we should offer only one level of math or else we're treating kids to a luxury? Invalid reasoning to compare AP to a new elementary school language academy.

ALL elementary students are offered, and required, to take the music classes K-5. I imagine they have to get exceptions to be excused from it. (Far from lottery to get the privilege of taking music.)

Robotics team - a club. I'd be thrilled if PAUSD wants to offer Chinese classes as an afterschool club.

-OR- Music, Robotics and AP Math are electives, and all students are offered electives at the MS and HS level.

Special Ed - mandated by law.

And for the grand finale - an attempt to change the rules of the game - cost neutral refers to the facilities, but not educational content? Wow - stellar. And wrong.

The district has a policy for standard equitable per pupil spending -that covers both facilities, overhead and educational content, and that's the fair way to do it.

If they want to set up new rules then we need a board policy stating that they're changing the funding rules. Independent of one specialty (luxury) program, the rules of the game change for everyone.

Posted by Jocelyn
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Oct 13, 2006 at 11:23 pm

I don't think this type of posting is good for our community or helpful to making informed decisions. The starting post is an opinion that is masked as questions about PiE. The thread contains messages that mix facts, speculation and generalized accusations, which result in an inflammatory mix. In addition, the anonymous nature of the writings are disturbing.

Posted by anon
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 15, 2006 at 3:40 pm

I believe special ed funding is not only mandated by law, but the money comes from above (state, federal), so this is hardly comparable to Choice programs in this particular district.

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