Skip To Main Content

AUSD News Page

News and Features

Pasquale Scuderi
Susan Davis

 

Dear Families,

Thank you all for the wide-ranging contributions that have positioned us to open schools for students this week. I hope you and your families were able to refresh to some extent over the summer as we return to the rhythms of the school year. 

Our recent experiences, along with the evolving perspectives of public health, confirm that we now have the ability, and are on course, to consistently and responsibly manage the impact of COVID-19 in schools despite its lingering presence. 

This means an increasing share of our time and energy can be returned to creating or refining learning experiences and opportunity structures for students. Experiences and opportunities that engage, enrich, empower, and, hopefully, stimulate curiosity, imagination, and a genuine appreciation for learning. 

I look forward to conversations, dialogue, the sharing of ideas, and ultimately thoughtful actions and change. 

I look forward to a collective and adaptive pursuit of the district’s broader strategic goals (shared more widely over the next several weeks). 

These goals are in my view appropriately fundamental, and simply serve as a more calibrated foundation; one upon which the imagination and creativity of our educators, and the support of our families, can bring vital color, contour, and ultimately meaning to the student experience in general. 

I look forward to honest reflections about where we as a school district can all do better, and at the same time, to celebrating and expanding on the things we already do well as a result of our educators’ hard work and our community’s ongoing involvement. 

This is obviously easier said than done, but the unbelievable adaptations and efforts you all have made over the previous three years leave me confident that we can make progress together for students.

Put simply, my hope for this school year is that we can all approach the challenge of creating, facilitating, or supporting thoughtful learning experiences for our students together. 

Thank you all so much for being here, and the very best of luck over the coming year. 

Sincerely,

 

Pasquale Scuderi

Superintendent

Girl doing homework on bed
Susan Davis

The new homework policy ushers in an approach to homework that is more mindful of students' needs for more balanced lives as well as more consistency across classrooms and schools.

 
This year, AUSD is introducing a new Homework Policy for grades K-12. The policy, which has been under development since 2017, is a result of stakeholder concern about the quantity of total homework and consistency across classrooms and school sites. 
 
The new guidelines are reflected in an updated Administrative Regulation (AR), which details how Board Policies should be implemented.
 
A more balanced approach

The AR sets out the District’s and Board’s foundational values about homework, which include:
 

  • Parents/guardians and teachers shall be mindful of the need for students to live balanced lives  
  • Homework shall have a positive impact on learning, achievement, student attitude, self-esteem, and healthy development of the whole student. 
  • No assignment shall be made which is punitive in nature. 
  • Loss of recess shall not be a consequence for lack of homework completion. 
  • Homework assigned should be appropriate to the student’s age and developmental level with regard to length of assignment and time available for completion. 
  • Accommodations or modifications specified in IEP/504 plans shall take precedence over any of the requirements/guidance stated in this policy.

They go on to define:

  • The purpose and types of homework
  • The maximum amount of homework time allowed
  • Weekend and holiday assignment policies
  • The need for training for teachers on designing and grading relevant homework assignments and grading
  • Student, teacher, and parent/guardian roles and responsibilities in regards to homework assignments

 
The policy also requires teachers to notify students and families of homework expectations at the start of the year and sites to develop and regularly review a school-site homework plan.
 
“Board Policies and AR’s can sound technical,” says Superintendent Pasquale Scuderi, “but our hope is that this new approach will support our educators in developing more meaningful homework assignments, with more consistency across sites and classrooms and a deeper focus on student learning, well-being, and achievement.”
 
A five-year project

The Homework Workgroup was convened in 2017, and the first draft policy was presented to the Board in June 2018. In 2018-19, the Homework Workgroup solicited more stakeholder input and, based on that input, revised the draft. The Board approved the new Board Policy and Administrative Regulation (6154), as well as a template for site homework policies, (E6154) on June 26, 2019.
 
The approved policies were piloted in 2019-20, but full implementation was interrupted  when schools moved into remote/distance learning in March 2020.  Over the last eight months, staff and site administrators have continued to review and revise the policy and AR; last week staff also reviewed the new policy with site administrators. 
 
“A homework policy can take a long time to develop, as it requires deep research into the kinds of homework that are most beneficial for students, consistent stakeholder engagement, and nuanced implementation strategies” says Dr. Vernon Walton, AUSD Director of Secondary Education. “We’re looking forward to seeing  more pedagogically sound and compassionate homework practices rolled out this year.” 

Headshot Melissa Sackett
Susan Davis

AUSD welcomes two new secondary assistant principals to this year.

 

We’re pleased to introduce two new site administrators to the AUSD community this year: Robert Picciotto and Melissa Sackett.

Mr. Picciotto will serve as the new Assistant Principal at Wood Middle School. He most

Headshot of Robert Picciotta

recently worked as a principal at John Muir Middle School in San Leandro Unified School District. Before that, he was the vice principal at John Muir, a teacher on special assignment at San Lorenzo Unified School District, and a middle school middle and high school English and world languages teacher.

He received his Bachelor’s degree  in comparative literature from Brown University, and both a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership from CSU East Bay and a Master’s Degree in Secondary Education from SF State University. He is fluent in Spanish, Italian, and French.

Headshot Melissa Sackett

Ms. Sackett will serve as the new Assistant Principal at Encinal Jr. & Sr. High School. She most recently worked as a vice principal at Hart Middle School in Pleasanton. Before that, she was the Head Counselor and chair of the Academic Counseling Department at Alhambra High School/Martinez Junior High School.  

She received her Bachelor’s degree  in counseling from Evergreen State College, her Master’s degree in counseling psychology from Saint Martin’s University, and her Administrative Services Credential from CSU East Bay. 

We welcome them both to our district!

A young girl having her mask adjusted by an adult man
Susan Davis

AUSD's protocols for this coming school year continue to align with guidance from state and county public health agencies.

“” 

Over the summer, the California Department of Public Health and the Alameda County Public Health Department changed their protocols for COVID-19. The changes reflect a move towards:

  • Aligning protocols for public schools to that of the general public; and
  • Treating COVID-19 like other transmissible diseases

To remain in alignment with public health experts' guidelines, some of AUSD’s protocols for positive student cases are also changing.

A summary of these changes is below. For more details, please see our COVID-19 Protocols page.

Masking

Face masks continue to be strongly recommended but not mandated for indoor K-12 learning environments. 

Testing

School-based testing

Both the California Department of Public Health and the Alameda County Public Health Department now recommend that school districts use rapid tests rather than PCR tests this year. As such, AUSD will:

  • Provide rapid, at-home, antigen tests home for students and staff exposed to a positive case in the classroom. This will take the place of having National Labs staff come to each classroom
  • Discontinue regular testing of students in grades K-6, as public health agencies now consider asymptomatic testing the lowest priority.

Free PCR Testing
National Labs will continue to provide free PCR testing for students, staff, and community members at Alameda High School (Monday - Friday, 3 pm - 6 pm).

Later this month, National Labs will also provide drive-through PCR testing in the parking lot of Lum Elementary School, Monday through Saturday, 9 am - 5 pm

Positive Cases
Students who test positive still need to stay home and take a COVID-19 test on Day 5. 

  • If they test negative, they can return to school on Day 6. 
  • If they test positive, they can stay in isolation until Day 10 or test again between Day 6 and Day 10 to see if they are negative. 

Exposure to Positive Casess
Elementary schools:

  • Principals will notify families and staff of the exposure.
  • Rapid tests and instructions will be sent home with students  
  • Exposed students should also mask for ten days

Secondary schools 

  • Principals will send schoolwide notifications about positive cases once or twice a week
  • Rapid tests will be available in the school offices

Symptomatic students

  • Symptomatic students should still stay home and not return until the symptoms have subsided and the student tests negative.

Staff Cases

In general AUSD's protocols for staff cases and exposures remains the same as it was last year.   

Vaccinations

AUSD continues to encourage families, students, and staff to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and to get boosters if they are eligible. AUSD has organized a number of vaccination clinics during the pandemic and plans to continue to provide vaccination opportunities this coming year. 

Photo of EHS 900 Building
Susan Davis

Measure B, a $298 million facilities bond that will fund much-needed repairs and upgrades to AUSD schools, was approved by 56.33% of Alameda voters who participated in the June 7 primary, final results show.

 
Facilities bond will fund crucial upgrades and repairs
 for AUSD campuses


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Issued By:   
Superintendent Pasquale Scuderi (510) 337-7060 and
Board President Jennifer Williams (510) 337-7187           
 
Alameda, California - July 6, 2022 -  Measure B, a $298 million facilities bond that will fund much-needed repairs and upgrades to AUSD schools, was approved by 56.33% of Alameda voters who participated in the June 7 primary, final results show.

The bond measure needed 55% of the votes to pass. Some early tallies showed the measure trailing, but as the Alameda County Registrar of Voters continued to count and release results over the last several weeks, the measure has pulled ahead. The Registrar of Voters is expected to certify the results tomorrow, July 7.

The revenue will be used to fund basic upgrades, including:
 

  • Modernizing classrooms and science labs at the Lincoln and Wood Middle Schools
  • Building new gymnasiums at Lincoln, Wood, and Encinal Jr. & Sr. High School
  • Upgrading athletic facilities at Alameda High School and Encinal Jr. & Sr. High School, including fields, tracks, and the Emma Hood Pool.
  • Replacing the main classroom building at Otis Elementary School 
  • Improving both Kofman Auditorium and the Little Theater at Alameda High School, as well as performance spaces at Encinal
  • Modernizing classrooms in the Industrial Building and West Wing at Alameda High School
  • Replacing out-of-date plumbing to save water and improve water quality, and outdated heating/cooling systems for energy efficiency and safe air quality
  • Making essential upgrades to earthquake safety and school security 

Background: 2014 Facilities Master Plan
In 2014, AUSD released a comprehensive Facilities Master Plan. Based on comprehensive professional assessments of AUSD’s facilities, as well as extensive stakeholder engagement, the plan detailed more than $590 million in repairs and upgrades needed across the school district.

The Measure I bond, which was passed in 2014, funded $179.5 million of those upgrades including an award-winning restoration of Historic Alameda High School; a radical transformation of the Encinal Jr. & Sr. High School campus; technology and infrastructure upgrades at elementary campuses; security fencing at many schools; new, more secure school offices at Edison Elementary, Love Elementary, and Maya Lin School; a music room at Lincoln Middle School; and a new classroom building for Bay Farm School, construction of which begins this summer.  

Many more upgrades, repairs, and modernizations identified in the Facilities Master Plan were not able to be completed under Measure I, however. In 2021, after meeting with school principals and communities, AUSD staff and the district architects began developing a list of priorities for Phase II of the Facilities Program. These projects will focus primarily on AUSD’s middle schools.

Modern Classrooms, Updated Infrastructure
“Research shows that the  environments in which our students learn greatly influence their experiences and outcomes,” says Superintendent Pasquale Scuderi. “The 2014 Measure I bond program made it possible for us to provide modern classrooms at our high schools and updated infrastructure at our elementary schools. I am incredibly excited to see how Measure B will now allow us to transform our middle schools, athletic facilities, and performance spaces, too.”

The  full list of projects, as well as more background on AUSD’s Facilities Master Plan, is included in this January 25 presentation to the Board of Education.
 
“We are deeply grateful to the Alameda community for approving this measure,” says Board President Jennifer Williams. “The state currently  provides no funding for facilities for school districts, which means districts have to turn to their local communities to fund even basic repairs and upgrades, never mind constructing new buildings. AUSD students and staff deserve safe, modern, effective learning environments. Our community’s continued support enables us to provide that.”
 
 Alameda Unified School District (AUSD) serves about 9000 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@alamedaunified.org.
 

two girls reading
Susan Davis

Carnegie Learning is aligned with common core standards, centers best practice math instruction, and provides translations.

At its public meeting on June 14, 2022, the Board of Education approved the adoption of a new math curriculum for AUSD middle schools.

The curriculum, “Carnegie Learning,” will be implemented this coming school year.

Two year process

AUSD’s curriculum adoption committee, which was comprised of AUSD teachers, administrators, and staff, began the selection process in 2020-21. That year, the committee developed selection criteria and evaluation rubrics, reviewed eight popular curricula (including having five publishers present to the committee), and selected four to pilot in 2021-22.

Ultimately the committee chose Carnegie Learning because it:

 

  • Is fully aligned with common core content and practice standards, as well as AUSD’s Strategic Plan 

  • Centers effective math teaching practices including discourse-centered lessons based on meaningful tasks, multiple representations, and purposeful questions to develop students’ reasoning and communication skills 

  • Includes a robust portfolio of student supports 

  • Provides tools for teachers to plan and deliver lessons, create and grade assignments and assessments, track student progress 

  • Uses standards-aligned assessments and platform to provide information for differentiation, small group instruction, standards focused grading 

  • Includes software that allows for individualized instruction and practice

  • Meets the needs of students receiving special education services

  • Provides  text to speech, full Spanish translation and pages designed to work seamlessly with Google Translate Chrome Plug-in to provide access in more than 25 languages 

AUSD’s middle school math curriculum was last updated more than five years ago. To learn how to use the new curriculum effectively, eachers will participate  professional development through Carnigie Learning  beginning this summer and will have ongoing training as they implement it.

“We are excited to introduce this new curriculum in the 2022-23 school year, as it provides so many innovative supports for teachers and students alike. Middle school math is a crucial bridge to high school mathematics, and we want to be sure all of our students have access to the most meaningful and robust program available.”

election results
Susan Davis

As of June 22, 2022, Measure B, the $298 facilities bond  on the June 7 primary ballot, appears to have been approved.

 As of this morning, Measure B, a $298 million facilities bond that will fund much-needed repairs and upgrades to AUSD schools, continues to trend strongly toward approval.

The majority of the ballots cast by Alameda voters on June 7 have been counted, and currently 56.34% of those ballots were yes votes.needed repairs and upgrades to AUSD schools, continues to trend strongly toward approval. The majority of the ballots cast by Alameda voters on June 7 have been counted, and currently 56.34% of those ballots were yes votes.

While a comparatively small number of ballots have yet to be counted, we are cautiously optimistic that Measure B will maintain the required threshold of 55% approval and that it will be certified by the Alameda County Registrar of Voters no later than July 7.

More detailed information will be provided in the comng days as the election results move toward formal certification.

In the meantime, we would like to extend our deepest gratitude to the community who, in the absence of any significant state funding for upgrades and repairs to school facilities, appears to have stepped in with a major contribution to the educational experiences of  Alameda's students.

Jennifer Williams, President, Board of Education

Pasquale Scuderi, Superintendent of Schools

Mother and son at graduation
Susan Davis

More than 700 seniors from AUSD’s four high schools crossed graduation stages this week and are now off to the next stages of their college and career journeys.

 

More than 700 seniors from AUSD’s four high schools crossed graduation stages this week in an annual rite of passage that drew laughter, tears, shouts, and cheers from all in attendance.

Principals from Alameda High School, Encinal Jr. & Sr. High School, ASTI, and Island High School spoke of the tremendous challenge posed by COVID-19  over the last 2.5 years - including remote learning, hybrid learning, and instructional and social time lost to illness. But they also praised the students’ persistence, resilience, and flexibility and reminded them of the importance of finding themselves, expressing themselves, taking care of themselves, and using their talents and visions to help others.

Student leaders spoke of the many challenges facing our country and world at this time - including climate change, war, gun violence, domestic terrorism, racism, and mental health issues - and exhorted their peers to resist complacency, stay connected to each other, and rely on their community as they find their way in a troubled world. They also expressed heartfelt gratitude to their families, friends, teachers, and coaches.

In his remarks to the graduates, Superintendent Scuderi emphasized the importance of dreaming big and not being limited by the limited perspective of others. “As James Baldwin once wrote, Those who say it can't be done are usually interrupted by others doing it,’” the superintendent said.

This year's seniors are headed off to a wide range of colleges and universities, including UCs, CSUs, and community colleges; public universities in other states (including the Universities of Washington, Alabama, Oregon, Western Oregon, Hawaii, Texas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Wisconsin); and private colleges (including Champlain College, Carleton College, Harvard University, Pepperdine University, American University, Brandeis University, Colgate University, Pratt Institute, Rutgers University, and Xavier University of Louisiana). One student is heading off to the US Military Academy at West Point; another has enrolledin the US Coast Guard Academy.

Several students are moving out of the country to pursue higher education (including at University College Dublin, Trinity College Dublin, University of Dundee, and University of Victoria). Still others are enrolling at trade and other specialty schools, such as Paris Beauty School, CO Center for the Blind, American Musical & Dramatic Academy (LA), Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and Culinary Institute of America.

We’re pulling together a slide show of photos from the high school graduations (as well as our middle school promotions) and will have it ready to share next week!