Board of Education candidate Tom Lynch

Board of Education candidate Tom Lynch

Alameda Elections '12
Tom Lynch

Tom Lynch

Parent, Businessman, PTA Council President

Relevant experience
30 years of Sales and Business Development in the Technology Industry; State and Local Government experience selling complex IT solutions in the Healthcare, Transportation, Financials Markets; Managed $200m State and Local Business; Completed the California Senate Committee on Legislative and Lobbyist Ethics Course; Current Alameda Council PTA President; Executive Board Member of Peralta PTA District; Alameda Prop 38 spokesperson; 5 years fundraising for the Alameda Boys & Girls Club; A 5th and 8th Grader in the AUSD school system.

If elected, what would be your top three priorities?
1. Bring equity of education and equal access of resources to all students in Alameda
2. Repair the rift between the Alameda teachers and AUSD administration
3. Provide fiducial oversight of AUSD revenue, operating and capital expenses
4. Work to improve the educational outcome of Alameda’s children
5. Promote and encourage parental involvement in the schools

What would you do to encourage harmony between the school board, school district administrators and teachers?
This is an area that I would work tirelessly with the other members of the Board so that we can repair the discord between AUSD administration and AEA/Teachers. We have the 2nd lowest teacher pay across the County of Alameda and a plan needs to put in place to solve this. The following are the five action items I would implement on day 1 of my board membership.

1. Implement a plan to achieve pay parity with the average teachers’ pay across Alameda County. This is about a 4% pay raise for teachers.
2. Work with AEA and AUSD to establish teacher evaluation teams of Principals and AUSD administration. There would be evaluations teams at every site and at the District level. Teachers should be able to provide feedback on site administrators and District administrators. This goes hand in hand with teacher evaluations by administrators.
3. Ensure collective bargaining between AUSD and AEA is held behind closed doors. No public laundering of issues.
4. Moratorium on bonuses across AUSD until our teachers and CSEA receive bonuses/pay raises.
5. Provide parity between teacher’s health care benefits and the Superintendent.

The district recently released a facilities report that outlined $92 million in needed facility fixes. How would you address these needs?
Our schools are in critical need of upgrading. We will need to pass a bond tax to repair our schools and lower site operational costs. This is something I have been advocating for the last 5 years. But first we’ll need to restore our communities’ trust that the District is spending capital money wisely. Unfortunately, trust has been broken lately.

Here are two examples of capital improvements/expenditures that would not have been approved if I was on the board:

1) The installation of $1M of new windows in the Adult School. We knew the building wasn’t earthquake proof to begin with. After installation, there were large holes left in the building next to where the windows were installed. Don’t waste our money installing windows in a building that needed to be closed.
2) We should of used existing space for AUSD administration vs signing a $3.3M+ lease for new space. I would immediately ask for a plan to move our administrative staff into existing school space. Every municipal lease I have negotiated must include an option to cancel the lease for ‘non appropriations of funds’ on a yearly basis. I would work to cancel this lease next year. It is important to note that many businesses in the private sector are moving to distributed offices. Technology allows us to collaborate over distance. This is an area that AUSD can provide leadership to our future graduates since they likely will be working in distributed offices.

I would make sure that any capital improvement program addresses the upgrade of our athletic facilities.

Finally, I would ask AUSD staff to come up with a comprehensive plan that addresses moving our buildings to sustainable resources and renewable energy to lower or ongoing cost of maintenance.

Do you believe Alameda’s schools are underfunded? If so, where would you find the revenue to address this problem? And if not, what do you believe the district’s priorities should be and how would you shift funds in order to address them?
Yes, education is underfunded throughout the State of California. And unfortunately, AUSD is underfunded compared to most every other School District in Alameda County.

I’m a big proponent that funding for schools should be “sufficient, rational, and sustainable.” Unfortunately, this definition of educational funding does not exit at this time.

At the State level, I would advocate through our State representatives the adoption of the Governor’s “Student Weighted Formula” that would provide a much more rational distribution of educational funds throughout the State. If it was adopted today, it would raise the “revenue limit” dollars our District receives by about $1,000/student, essentially equalizing us with other Alameda County school Districts.

At the local level, there are several things I think we can do immediately to raise our District Revenues and lower costs. They are:

1) Increase our average daily attendance by 5%. This would increase our District revenue by about $3M/yr. Our District’s Average Daily Attendance is only 90% of our enrollment. This hurts the District two ways: 1) we have to staff for kids that don’t show up every day and 2) we lose approximately $6M/yr in revenue due to absenteeism. Berkeley Unified addressed this same problem and has had good results. BUSD has had a $2.5M increase in “revenue limit” dollars within one year of implementing a program to increase their average daily attendance. We need to do the same in our District.
2) Reducing our operational expenditures essentially increases our revenues also. One idea would be to move Adult education classes to the College of Alameda. Many school Districts have already transferred their Adult Education to Community Colleges. In fact, a recent study has shown that Community Colleges are much more adept at providing Adult Education than our K-12 system. I would ask AUSD staff to start a Community dialog to see if that is feasible in Alameda.

What services should Alameda’s schools provide, and what services do you believe every Alameda student is entitled to?
Not quite sure what is meant by ‘services’ in this question. For example, do services mean class courses, counseling services, health services, career counseling, job hunting, etc?

I’m a big proponent of equity in education. To me that means that every student in our School District should have equal access to the same resources that any other school in the District may have for that grade level.

There are cases where one site may have additional services, or be served by services that can be shared across sites. For example, in my answer above, I said we needed to reduce absenteeism across our school District. However, one of the biggest causes of absenteeism is poor access to health care for some of our children. I would like to see how we can partner with different health organizations to bring preventive care, like dental and asthma care, to our schools that have high absenteeism because of health problems. We did a similar program for providing health care at the Boys and Girls Club.

How do you view the challenges and/or opportunities posed by charter schools?
I understand why we have charter schools and the choice it provides our parents. In Alameda, we have some very good Charter Schools that provide clear choices for our parents and students. ACLC and Nea provide excellent school programs for parents who believe in a “Community Style” learning environment. The Academy has done well for students who want a longer school day and more structured learning.

That said, I believe these charter schools have helped encourage the District to implement the innovative schools programs. For example, the Maya Lin Magnet School is an excellent alternative program for some parents. I’m very supportive of the Junior Jets 6-12 structure for students. And the proposed K-8 program at Bay Farm will provide choice to parents who want to send their child to a K-8 school vs a traditional middle school.

Would you propose to compete with charters and private schools in order to retain students, and if so, how?
I think school District has already competes with Charter & Private Schools. The Innovative Schools Program is a good way to provide choice to our parents. Our schools do a great job of providing a diverse, quality education that rivals any private school in our area.

There is a wide disparity among PTA organizations’ ability to support their individual schools in terms of the amount of money each can raise. How would you address this disparity?
This is an issue I’m deeply involved in right now as my role of PTA Council President. This is a complicated subject that I have spent much time thinking about. At the end of the last school year, I started a committee to discuss ways we could address this problem at the Council level.

First, on a whole, I think all the PTA’s in Alameda do a good job of recognizing this issue and trying to address it. I’m really proud that all of our schools are organized as PTA’s including Nea and the Academy. It is a testament that our community believes in the PTA mission of “One child, One voice.” Clearly, some of our PTA’s could opt out and reorganize as PTO’s. That they haven’t is a clear indication that our PTA Units our committed to supporting the entire School District.

These are the current programs being done at the Council level to help with equity issues across all PTA’s:

1) Establishment of a PTA Committee to explore equity issues between PTA’s
2) A “Sister School” program where one PTA Unit will partner with another PTA Unit that would like assistance.
3) A Council Grant program that any PTA unit can apply for. Over the last two years, we have provided over $7K worth of grant monies to different PTA Units.
4) Creation of a Special Education Committee at the Council level to ensure that the Special Education needs of our community is being addressed.

I still think more can be done, and I’m hopeful that our new committee will explore PTA models that have been done in other school districts, such as the model used by the Santa Monica-Malibu PTA Council.

How would you improve the way the school district does business?
There are many areas where our District can improve how it conducts business. For example, any procurement over $5K should go out for competitive bid. This is the same threshold to which any Government procurement would have to comply.

I would also use the Superintendent’s MBO’s (management by objectives) as a tool to improve business operations. I would set clear objectives to lower operational costs, implement a plan to raise our teacher salaries, and increase student enrollment. These MBO’s should be combined with the existing MBO’s that focus on student achievements.