Search The Tattler

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Guest Column: Art Hoff

The Tattler introduces guest columnist, Arthur Hoff.  
A longtime Emeryville resident, business and community leader, Art Hoff is a former president of the School District Advisory Board of Trustees and he now sits on the Planning Commission.
Mr Hoff has long concerned himself with the success of the schools in Emeryville and he has been a major philanthropist to the school district, generously giving both his time and money for the betterment of our schools.
A respected business leader in commercial real estate,  Mr Hoff weighs in on the alarming recent downgrade of Emeryville's bond capacity and its deleterious effect on the planned School/Recreation & Community Center rebuild project known as the Emeryville Center of Community Life:
   .                .                .                .


“ECCL is not a building; it is a concept” 
School Board member Josh Simon 

A year ago when Proposition J was being considered, it was decided to seek the maximum bonding capacity available to the School District: $95,000,000.  Because of the limitation imposed by assessed valuation constraints, many believed that the maximum actual bonds that would be saleable were $40,000,000.  The reason being that the debt service could not exceed $60 per $100,000 assessed valuation.  In order to sell the balance of the bonds, the Emeryville assessed valuation would have to increase at an annual rate of 7% for 7 to 10 years or almost double.

Nevertheless the School Board went ahead with planning the project based on the $95,000,000.  We are now told that the $40,000,000 is that maximum we can expect in the foreseeable future.  Considering the sluggish economy, we are in for a long period frugal living.  Emeryville assessed valuation declined 6% this year yet the School Board seems to be on the verge of going forward with the maximum program and finishing it if and when funds become available.  Which means we may end up with a partially built school of only 800 students instead of the desired goal of 1,200. 

Perhaps there is a better way.  To quote Don Rumsfeld “you fight the war with the army you have”.  We should not make the same mistake again.
Several suggestions: 
  1.  Maintain Anna Yates Elementary as a local neighborhood school. 
  2.  Reactivate the Middle School utilizing the Doyle/Hollis Park. 
  3.  With City help build a Recreation Center and Theater together with a remodeled high school at the present cite.  And maybe we can get by with one gym. 

With this program we should reach the 1,200 goal in short order. 
I do not believe there is substantial evidence that a K/12 configuration is the best school structure.

Arthur Hoff, former President EUSD.

Editors Note: The Tattler story on the crash of the school bonds can be read HERE.

1 comment:

  1. Mr. Hoff,

    One of my major concerns on co-location is that there has not been significant parent buy-in at Anna Yates. I am worried that Anna Yates will be much less attractive to parents if it is moved (co-located) to Emery Secondary.

    How do you recommend we involve parents in this very important decision?

    The workshops on design already take as a "given" that co-location is mandated by the terms of the bonds, when, as I read Measure J, it isn't.

    What should we do?