A new set of learning standards is coming to California this school year, but a group of local residents told the San Ramon Valley Unified School District Board of Education on Tuesday that they aren't happy about the changes coming to their hometowns.
"We don't need Obamacare, and we don't need Obama-curriculum," said Danville resident Anne Blake, one of about a dozen opponents of Common Core State Standards to speak to the board during the evening meeting.
Common Core -- adopted in 45 U.S. states -- aims to create similar standards for K-12 education nationwide, with emphases on critical thinking and depth of knowledge, in order to better prepare American students for college and global careers.
California adopted the new standards in August 2010, and they are set to be fully implemented across the state during the current school year.
The SRVUSD board was set to hear public comment on a proposed spending plan for about $6.2 million in new funding from the state to implement the standards locally, but the nearly two-hour discussion focused mainly on the merits of Common Core and its potential impact on the district.
"Common Core is a train wreck on its way, and our children are sitting in a school bus on the track," Alamo resident Terry Thompson said.
The discussion was lively, with crowd applause coming after Common Core critics spoke and some audience members interrupting or talking over district officials and board members about a handful of times.
Opponents raised specific concerns such as long-term costs and the possibility of learning levels actually being lowered in the district under the new standards.
Other overarching issues included whether the district could delay Common Core implementation, whether the board could adjust the standards and whether the district could opt out of Common Core altogether -- all questions for which board members and district officials had no clear answers.
The board, which was not scheduled to take any action regarding Common Core on Tuesday, asked district staff to provide answers to some of the key inquiries, including a legal analysis of the district's options regarding implementation, by its Dec. 10 meeting.
At that time, board members are tentatively set to revisit the Common Core issues and may vote on how to distribute the almost $6.2 million provided by the state to implement the new standards.
The proposed spending plan -- developed by a committee of administrators, teachers, board members and parents -- suggests using $3.2 million for professional development, $2.2 million for technology and $800,000 for instructional materials. The new funding must be applied to those three categories.
The district has already spent more than $850,000 preparing for the start of Common Core, officials said, with the expenses going to areas such as training, materials and hiring instructional coaches.
In other business during Tuesday's 3.5-hour meeting, the board appointed Daniel Hillman principal of Dougherty Valley High School, removing his interim tag.
Kim Thompson was named interim principal of Hidden Hills Elementary School in San Ramon.
The board approved initial bargaining topics for the district and the San Ramon Valley Education Association this school year. Issues proposed for discussion included salaries, health and welfare benefits, reassignment and transfer, class size and evaluation procedures.
Board members appointed Debbie M. Choy, Shelley J. Clark, Sandra Lee Lepley and Katan Patel to two-year terms on the Measure C Parcel Tax Oversight Committee.
The oversight committee's annual report on Measure C tax expenditures is now due by March 1, as opposed to Jan. 31, after the board supported changing a pair of committee rules. The revision gives committee members more time to review district financial statements, which are released in September.
Committee terms now expire by March 1 to coincide with the new reporting schedule.
Earlier in the meeting, the board received presentations about Del Amigo High School and the Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment program.