School District Called To The Mat
The Emery school board and the city council changed an earlier vote and unanimously granted $200,000 for consulting contractors to assist in a "change of culture" to implement programs associated with the Center of Community Life. The money request was rebuffed vigorously at a contentious January meeting wherein city councilwoman Ruth Atkin admonished the School District for "going down the wrong direction".
The January request for $200,000 to pay the consultants, the National Equity Project and Partners In School Innovation, jarred council member Ruth Atkin; "If we still need culture change after 10 years, we're going down the wrong direction, we're not being effective" she said adding, "This sounds like the School District has seriously backslid." Ms Atkin's colleagues chimed in expressing concern about the direction of the District. Ms Atkin noted the money request seemed to represent a disturbing drift in District policy, "The scale has swung to 'process' from academic achievement" she lamented.
Before a shovelful of dirt has been taken, the $200,000 ultimately approved at the February City/Schools meeting will be added to the $2 million of Measure J bond money already spent on the Center of Community Life, a school/community center project to be built on San Pablo Avenue.
Emeryville voters passed Measure J in November 2010 to authorize $95 million in bonds to build the Center of Community Life but crashing assessed valuation in Emeryville has dropped the bonding capacity to $40 million. District officials note $8 million was recently added by the federal government in the form of a low interest loan. The city's defunct Redevelopment Agency was to kick in an extra $25 million but those funds may now not be available, leaving just $48 million to build a project originally slated to cost $120 million.