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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Triangle Residents Appeal Bilingual School

Private School Slated For San Pablo Ave Appealed By Neighbors 


A small but determined group of Triangle neighborhood residents have petitioned the city council to appeal a March 27th Planning Commission decision to locate an expansion campus of Oakland's Escuela Bilingue Internacional, a private K-8 bilingual school, on San Pablo Avenue in Emeryville.
The neighbors say the school, slated to accommodate 400 children plus staff, will generate myriad negative impacts to the Triangle neighborhood such as traffic, noise and parking and these are primary reasons cited for the appeal but the greatest agitation seems to be from the project's lack of a neighborhood impact study.  The lack of a proper study will leave the decision makers and the neighbors in the dark as to possible looming problems associated with the project the appellants say.

Triangle resident and appellant Eric Gascoyne complained that the project has been rushed without a proper vetting by the neighbors, "The city pretty much rammed this through" he lamented.  Further, he says that since tuition starts at $17,000, the school is too expensive for Emeryville resident's children, "They're not really serving the community...it's a business".

The school's existing
Alcatraz Avenue campus
will remain for the time being
In a letter to the city council, the Triangle resident appellants posit that a plan submitted to the city by the school meant to ameliorate some neighbor concerns does not go far enough and they draw attention to a problem with public safety regarding a 300 foot public pathway easement between the proposed school and the residential neighborhood.
One Triangle neighbor who wished to remain anonymous, described the path as "a place waiting for somebody to get mugged.  The path has 90 degree turns with blind spots so the cops can't see down the length of it".

Mr Gascoyne noted the city's San Pablo Avenue plan mandates that the street is supposed to be for locally serving retail.  After injecting that the school is really just a non locally serving business he told the Tattler, "Any other business would be required to respect the neighbors, but you can't say anything against a school."

The school is proposed for 4550 San Pablo Avenue near 47th Street.

The council will hear the appeal of the Escuela Bilingue Internacional school at a special public hearing slated for May 19th at 6:00 at City Hall.

The Triangle residents plan a community meeting about this school on Saturday May 14th at 12:30 at the Senior Center located at 4321 Salem Street.  

7 comments:

  1. A Concerned ParentMay 12, 2011 at 9:35 AM

    I actually looked into an alternative school for my 2011-2012 kindergartener to attend next year. Unfortunately, I found out that this school was moving so close too late. I do have plans to place my son on their waiting list for the following year. In regards to the tuition...I attended private schools after being pulled out of Emery Unified in the 6th grade and I believe as a parent you should be able to make that financial investment if the school district doesnt offer the same or better quality education. I know a non-hispanic family, which is low income according to state standards, who is absolutely happy with her child's education at the current location.

    As far as traffic...I wish the City would have put as much thought into their "traffic calming" solution which has traffic backed up on Adeline St which our Anna Yates children have to cross every day.

    This makes me wonder what the REAL issue happens to be.

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  2. I live in the Triangle and I knew about this project over two months ago. It's not been "rammed through" any faster than the Permit Streamlining Act requires. This sounds like a classic case of NIMBYism to me.

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  3. Hi neighbors,
    I live in Emeryville and my son attends Escuela Bilingue Internacional (EBI). Its not an exclusive school, like this article makes it sound. EBI provides scholarships to a third of its students and serves an ethnically and financially diverse community. I believe the path-way is a requirement imposed on the property by existing city plans, not something EBI or any owner could do anything to avoid. Therefore, please know that the article is filled with many misleading and uninformed assumptions.
    EBI would make an excellent neighbor and addition to this part of San Pablo Avenue. EBI has great relationships with neighbors at its existing site. In fact one neighbor, who does not have kids in the school, made a donation to EBI because of its good works. EBI was founded by parents and continues on that foundation as a parent lead community providing a great education to students enrolled in morning and after-school language classes (programs open to all). EBI strengthens the neighborhood, not detracts. Thank you for keeping an opened mind, Evelyn J. Herrera

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  4. I am tutoring a high school student from El Salvador who has never attended school before this January. The public school he is attending is unable to help him get basic Spanish or English literacy skills or the elementary grade curriculum that he needs. Does anyone reading this bulletin have a suggestion as to where he might get primary school basics? Would EBI be able to meet his needs?
    Thank you for any helpful suggestions,
    S.G.

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  5. It is an unfair characterization of EBI to say that the school does not serve the community. The school was started 5 years ago by parents who were looking for the kind of international bilingual education that EBI offers for their children, but couldn't find it. 80 families joined in EBI's inaugural year, and five years later, the school serves 190 students from pre-kindergarten through 4th grade. The school recently received accreditation from the International Baccalaureate for its program, joining the ranks of many of the finest international schools in the world.

    As it has grown, EBI has remained true to its mission, and serves the greater Bay Area community in many ways. In addition to educating student, the school sponsors Spanish language story times for toddlers, after school Spanish classes for local students, and many other community services including the recent sponsorship of screenings of the documentary films "Road to Nowhere" and "Speaking in Tongues."

    Finally, while the cost of an EBI education is high, it is more reasonable than other independent schools in the Bay Area. Additionally, EBI has a large financial aid program, which currently supports over 30% of the student body with grants ranging from $1000 to 90% of tuition. In just 5 school years, EBI has granted over $1 million in financial aid, including almost $500,000 this year alone.

    The education corridor along San Pablo, home to Emeryville's elementary and secondary schools, is an outstanding location for EBI's new campus. I am hopeful that the City Council will allow EBI's project to proceed.

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  6. I'm confused. Why does it have to serve any community? And why are these people the "community"?

    Frankly, it's private land and the city should not be involved at all.

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    Replies
    1. It has to serve the community because it's the community that has been empowered to decide on these matters. These people are the community because they live in the geographical area of concern.

      The city, being the community's proxy, should be involved because:
      1) The Constitution provides for it.
      2) It's the government's job to protect people (as long as #1 isn't violated).

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