FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Superintendent Pasquale Scuderi
Board President Heather Little
February 15, 2023 - Alameda, California - At the February 14th public meeting, the Board of Education made the difficult decision to approve a proposal to phase out the middle grades (6-8) programming at Bay Farm School, a K-8 program on Bay Farm Island. This process will begin in August of 2023, when a sixth grade class will not be enrolled at the school.
Current 8th graders in the program will finish the year at Bay Farm, and 6th and 7th graders will be given the opportunity to complete their middle school years at the Bay Farm campus during the 2023-2024 and 2024-2025 school years. The district decided to phase out the program, rather than ending it completely, in order to provide stability for the middle schoolers currently enrolled there.
This decision is emblematic of the pressures California school districts continue to face given the persistent underfunding and the ongoing declines in enrollment occurring locally and across the state.
Since its inception more than 10 years ago, Bay Farm School’s middle grades program has had difficulty enrolling students in numbers that would maintain its enrollment and has experienced serious attrition in grades 7 and 8, when significant numbers of students choose to leave Bay Farm to attend one of our other public middle schools. This has resulted in lower class sizes relative to elementary and middle school classes across the district, which raises significant questions of equity.
The low enrollment in Bay Farm School’s middle grades, combined with declining middle school enrollment across the district, and a pressing need to address other critical district-wide programming needs, pushed forward the hard decision to reduce the total number of middle school options available in AUSD.
Revenue saved from phasing out the middle grades at Bay Farm School will be redirected to programs that benefit more students and families across the district, including:
- Full day kindergarten
- Adding specialist staffing to elementary schools so struggling students can receive extra help without missing grade-level instruction
- Maintaining and possibly expanding counselor staffing at AUSD’s middle and high schools
“These are tough decisions, and we know this can be hard for affected families to process,” says Superintendent Pasquale Scuderi. “But ultimately we need to distribute our limited revenue in ways that support more students more equitably, and that allow us, especially, to help students who historically have faced barriers to opportunity and access.”
“As a parent I know too well the feelings that come with the potential, and at times real, loss of programming, staff, and services,” says Board President Heather Little. “As a board member, I also know that such losses are most often the result of a budget that has never been and will never be, unless significant funding reform happens, large enough to honor the system we are aiming to serve. Such budget shortfalls lead districts to make hard and sometimes unpopular decisions. But this was an issue that we could not afford to continue kicking down the road, not if we want to ensure we have a functioning district that best serves all our students, with teachers who are fairly and well-compensated, and with core programming and structures in place that will help address the historical and current inequities that exist within and throughout our district.”
AUSD’s team is committed to supporting the roughly 50 families who were intending to enroll in the 6th grade program at Bay Farm next August at the district’s three other middle school options in Alameda. The district will be sending them more information shortly to help them learn about other middle school options in Alameda and help support their students in making a transition.
More information on the context for phasing out the program is available in AUSD’s FAQs About Bay Farm’s 6-8 Program.