Measure J "Co-Location" Controversy-
Voters Kept In The Dark:
Anna Yates School To Be Abandoned All Along
A recently released recording of government officials at an Emeryville City/Schools meeting in 2010 has revealed a stark counter narrative to what the same officials are now lockstep claiming is immutable; namely that Emeryville's elementary school must be abandoned. As these Emeryville officials at City Hall and at the School District heat up what they call "community engagement", the shopping around of the voter approved $400 million Center of Community Life school bond, they have presented to residents a consensus among themselves that the popular Anna Yates Elementary School must be abandoned and the children moved to the proposed new school on San Pablo Avenue. The July 2010 recording however reveals that these same leaders planned a strategy before the November Measure J school bond vote where the public could be tricked into thinking that there could be a real public debate about the fate of Anna Yates school if they were to vote for Measure J.
The Walking Dead: Anna Yates School
|Anna Yates Elementary School: |
Taxpayers just last year spent
$9 million to upgrade the facilities.
Even though School Board member Josh Simon now parrots the narrative of his colleagues that co-location is necessary, at the 2010 meeting he joined his colleagues in the idea of allowing Anna Yates to continue on as an elementary school by stating, "Frankly, whether that safe quality education is in one site or several sites, we'll still be looking at that in the design phase, but it's going to cost $95 million [before financing and not including city money] regardless of how many sites." Later in the meeting, a disturbing duplicity was revealed by the council members and school board members attending the meeting as they openly discussed how voters could be deceived by the Measure J bond language to hide their real motivations; to abandon Anna Yates Elementary School and force co-location of both Emeryville schools onto one San Pablo Avenue site; their real agenda.
Mr Simon told his City/Schools Committee colleagues at the July 2010 meeting, "When we get to the actual language of the bond, the bond language doesn't actually refer to co-location of the school, although it's a goal of the School Board and it's mentioned in the resolution, the actual legislation that will be going to the voters does not mention it. What it does include is some principles of community engagement, so that we are building into the actual legislation a community engagement process that will be voted on by the voters and that we will be, as a school board, held accountable to by our bond counsel. We will not be able to get the financing without proceeding with this process."
Former Superintendent of the Schools, John Sugiyama concurred with Mr Simon that, when writing the bond language for the voter's perusal, it would be important to keep the co-location agenda hidden. He told attendees, " Exhibit A1, which is the statutorily required bond project list. I think that it's, the comment I would make about this list, and again this list was developed by bond counsel with staff input, that the key here is to be specific enough to meet the intentions of the law but also at the same time to provide the flexibility so it doesn't lock the district into a specific action. So, a good example was, the co-location issue is not mentioned here anywhere in the resolution or in the project list, while that is a Board goal, that will be work that will be undertaken and studied in the context of the design process. So, we believe, the staff believes, that the bond project list, as it is currently worded, is reasonably clear enough so that the voter will know what the bond dollars will be expended for, but also provides the ability for community engagement and involvement to help in defining in more specific terms what the nature of that expenditure will look like."
The statements made at the July 2010 City/Schools meeting by Mr Sugiyama and Mr Simon are a part of the public record and should now enable any citizens that might want to save Anna Yates Elementary School, to put to rest any co-location insistence on the part of the politicians. City and School District continue to solicit community input for what its worth, at the design sessions for the Center of Community Life.