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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Center Of Community Life In Fiscal Bind

Breaking News-
Center Of Community Life School Project In Dire Straights
Bonds Crash, Project In Jeopardy

Emery School District officials announced Wednesday evening that bond funding for the Center of Community Life, school/community center, has been slashed some 50% due to Emeryville's sliding assessed property valuation, the metric upon which bonds are issued. At the State mandated Citizens Oversight Committee for the project, district officials told shocked committee members last night that the publicly funded $120 million project has now been reduced to a $65 million project.  After the portion of city redevelopment money is taken out, the picture is even more bleak; the actual school building portion of the project has been reduced from $95 million down to $40 million.

School District officials tried to contain the exasperation rising from the attendees at the meeting by announcing the project is still going to be built, but at a significantly reduced scale.  The Superintendent of the schools, Debbra Lindo indicated the controversial "co-location" idea, the abandonment of Anna Yates Elementary School in favor of one large school campus, is still on track regardless of the bleak news.

Officials told committee members that this new bond funding reality was based on keeping the $60 per $100,000 valuation ration promised to voters.  They indicated more money could be raised but at the expense of the ratio and that would raise the overall financing cost to taxpayers, already at the upper limit of what is generally considered acceptable.

City and school district officials poo-pooed concerns from the community and experts about the effect the sliding property valuation would have on the bond funding for months prior to the Measure J school bond vote last November.  Bond analysts, the Oakland Tribune and even the Tattler raised warning flags but they were swept aside by officials in the run-up to the election.  A rosy picture about assessed valuation was presented to the people of Emeryville to sell the Measure regardless of the warnings, now raising the questions of who knew what when.      

The District has already spent some two million dollars on the project.

The Tattler will present an expanded edition to this story in the days ahead as more facts are uncovered.


  1. "The Superintendent of the schools, Debbra Lindo indicated the controversial "co-location" idea, the abandonment of Anna Yates Elementary School in favor of one large school campus, is still on track regardless of the bleak news."

    I don't get it. I would think they should let the misguided co-location idea drop, and just build one wing of the proposed new facility (the other wing was going to have been Anna Yates).

    Then in later years they can revisit building the second wing - see if we want to put other community activities there, like the senior center, or whether putting Anna Yates there is still what we want (I don't want it, ever).

    If funds have been cut in half, they should concentrate on re-building Emery Secondary, which is in MUCH worse shape than Anna Yates (Anna Yates seems fine to me, as a parent with one, and soon two, kids there), and save a lot of money that way. We just spent over $8 million to refurbish Anna Yates. Why do we keep insisting on wasting that money?

    Who's the big advocate for co-location anyway? Hayin Kim? Because she wrote a school paper on it? Of the academics who consider "k-12" campuses, most come out against it. I don't need 11th and 12th graders teaching my 7 year old to smoke pot in the school bathrooms, which is what is going on at Emery Secondary, according to my daughter who attends there.

    Anyway the parents in the room when I suggested keeping Anna Yates where it is, seemed to think that was the best idea.

  2. This whole bond measure, and ECCL concept has been an excercise in the risks of grandiosity, group-think, and blindness to risk because of it's "creative" appeal and "vision". Good for all those involved for thinking big and outside of the box (seriously, i do think this is important), but how about considering this within the context of our economy, our population, our lack of family-friendly housing, and the unlikely possibility that their will ever be another source of bond or parcel tax funding for our school district again in my kid's time, or even the next 20 years. The people that have been involved in this project are so attached to the concept and theory of a craddle to grave center that can "benefit" from economies of scale (all big buzz words), or from what the national attention this experiment garners (read: good for the resume) that they themselves have fallen victim to irrationality. With just the right consultants, pitch, pamphlets and "language", this thing was sold to Emeryville residents the same way a risky adjustable rate mortgage was sold to people with finite resources hoping to be part of the American dream. Meanwhile, who's really benefiting from this right now? Yep, the paid consultants, architects, liasons. This is job security for a small bunch. Sound familiar? perpetuate a bad idea, because it continues to line the pockets of a few. Forgive me for being cynical, but this is happening all over the place. I, for one, a home owner, resident, parent, voted NO on this damn thing (one of the residents who will actually have to pay for it). And again, because people can't stop throwing good money after bad, co-location is still on the table - absolutely amazing to me - bad for the kids, bad for the pocketbooks, bad for the Triangle neighborhood. I just WISH there was a way to redirect this thing - away from the falls! ECCL folks, people have been warning you about this for a while. I sure hope you stop dismissing the dissent/dissenters / voice of reason as crazy or uninformed residents.

  3. Thank you, Brian; you made my day. This idiotic, pioneering concept, should have been doomed from day one. Our Community has already spent huge time and money, for development of a fantasy, and I am pleased that it is headed straight down the drain.
    Measure J was sneaked in, and everyone of sound mind knows it.
    Bravo to Gov. Brown for cutting funds. Hopefully, that will kill the Deal.

  4. i agree 110% with what anonymous stated at 11:11 a.m. may i remind readers that measure j states: "the best estimate of the tax ..required to be levied is...$60.00 per $100,000 of assessed valuation in fiscal year 2011-2012." this is only an ESTIMATE. it was not promised.

    who were the school district officials who made this announcement?

    somebody please tell me before december 1 how this affects my property tax payment which includes the assessment for measure j.

  5. Several years ago, in the midst of an open house for prospective Emery High parents, a recent Emery High student was shot and killed after participating in an evening basketball game on campus, apparently a target of drug violence. Our leaders, who have grand plans, are underestimating the risks of co-locating Anna Yates kids with the high school.

  6. To the October 24th commentor-
    Thanks for this comment. It really sickens one to consider your point. One wonders if the Power Elite pushing co-location will acknowledge this.

  7. It appears that in the ECCL plan, $25 million is to build a high school that has 210 underperforming students. Is this fisically responsible?
    Further, the ECCL site is so small the athletic faicities will not include a running track,an esssential item for school and general public use.

    Time to leave Anna Yates alone and build a modest high school.

    Art Hoff