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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Letter To School Board & Emeryville Community

The following letter has been mailed to all Emeryville households:

An Open Letter to the Emery Unified School District Board of Trustees and the Emeryville Community:

Since 1886, ten years before Emeryville incorporated as a city, there has been a school located on 41st Street at the current site of Anna Yates Elementary. This jewel of the Emery Unified School District has just been renovated at a cost of 8 million dollars and the Elementary students should remain in their present location and not be moved to the Secondary School site on San Pablo Avenue as part of the Emeryville Center of Community Life (“ECCL”). This would not only maintain an elementary school with a smaller scale more attractive to parents, it would also make available funds to properly complete the ECCL campus.

The ECCL campus, as presently proposed, is not financially feasible or sustainable. Having been able to issue only $48 million of $95 million in bonds, the School Board will build part of the school without adequate assurances that the additional funds will be available in a reasonable time frame. No detailed budget has ever been prepared and presented to the public for either the construction or the operation of the ECCL campus.

The fiscally responsible thing to do is build new only what we really need and can afford: a new high school, while utilizing as many of the existing facilities as possible. The people of Emeryville will spend decades repaying the $95 million in bonds and for the District to adopt a plan that spends all the money on just one of our three school sites is irresponsible. We deserve to know how all of these sites will be used, maintained, and operated over the long term. Such a comprehensive plan could still include the community- facing services envisioned, such as a public library, recreation facilities, and space for other community services, but the District's insistence on combining all the grades, K-12, on one site is a mistake.

We call on the Board of Trustees to adopt a new vision for our District that leaves the Elementary students in place and that clearly details both construction and operational budgets for all the school sites.

  • Richard Ambro Ph.D., Residents' United for a Livable          Emeryville (“RULE”) member 
  • April Atencio, RULE member 
  • Lei Bass, President, Anna Yates Parent Teacher Organization 
  • Steve Bass, PTO member
  • Brian W. Carver, Former Chair Measure J Citizens' Oversight Committee & parent 
  • Brian Donahue, parent of Anna Yates student, RULE member 
  • Scott Donahue, 35-year Emeryville resident 
  • Ronald Henry, parent of Anna Yates students, PTO member
  • Art Hoff, former President Emery Unified School District Board of Trustees 
  • Marcia Parham, Former President Anna Yates PTO 
  • Tracy Schroth, RULE member 
  • Joan Strasser Ph.D., RULE member

All affiliations are provided for identification purposes only and do not reflect the endorsement of any organization.

Please add your name to this letter by signing online at: 

or contact us via regular mail at: 
Save Anna Yates Elementary 
4333 Holden St. #51 Emeryville, CA 94608 
or at (510) 654-0166 or (510) 717-1281

We hope to present this letter at the District Board Meeting on June 11, 2012, 6:00 p.m. at the ESS Theater.

To receive more information and future updates via e-mail, please join our mailing list at:


  1. Too little, too late.
    Where were you 10 years ago when they started floating this plan?
    Removing the students from the Anna Yates sites has ALWAYS been part of the deal, since the outset. Now, less then a year from breaking ground, you start crying about the loss of Anna Yates?

    You really think they are going to alter their plan thats been in place for 10 years because of last minute outcry by a fringe group?

    Live in reality man.

  2. What's telling about the ten years you refer to is the fact that there is still a huge amount of ignorance among parents and residents about the closing of Anna Yates Elementary School as part of the Center of Community Life plan. This is what we find: people are surprised to learn that the Elementary school will be closed and the children sent over to the San Pablo site with the high school kids.
    Make no mistake about the level of ignorance on this...if the School District truly wanted the stakeholders understand that Anna Yates will be closed, there wouldn't be so much ignorance.
    No, the District wants the's a calculation. They were worried people wouldn't vote for Measure J if they understood it meant closing the elementary school.

    Realize also, this letter going out to the people of Emeryville has the power to correct the ignorance and therefore it has the power to change the dynamic. Your certainty may be misplaced.

  3. The first commenter ignores that several parents and signatories of that letter have been trying to get the School District to reconsider the closing of Anna Yates since before the passage of Measure J. The Board doesn't listen to or refuses to hear this concern and so I'm not surprised they've resorted to taking the concern to the public directly.

    Your "ten" years figure is bogus. Up until a few weeks ago the ECCL conceptual design was not finalized, so until that very recent Board vote there was still reason for this group to hope that the Board could be reasoned with.

    Finally, that's no "fringe" group. That's a core group of involved community members and if you go watch the signatures adding up at their petition, it looks to me like a larger group of involved knowledgeable people than I've ever seen speak in favor of closing Anna Yates.

  4. 1982 people voted in support of Measure J 701 voted against it. That's a total of 2683 people. Until you get at least 1235 (46%) people to sign your petition, that is the number of votes it would have taken for Measure J to fail, you are a vocal minority upset that you didn't get your way. You have all of 29 names on your petition, I don't care if the president of the United States signs your petition one persons name is no better than any other persons name.

    Get some more people behind your view, instead of the same tiny tired group that shows up at every meeting making a big stink, because they didn't get what they want.

    1. I'm not sure why you're assuming those signing the letter also voted against Measure J. In fact, I happen to know, of those signers that I know so far, most were and are pro-Measure J and pro Center of Community Life.
      There is no language in Measure J that mentions a Kindergarten-12th grade single campus so I think the only assumption you can make is that these signers are against closing Anna Yates Elementary and they're concerned about the operating budget for the Center of Community Life. You are free to spin this anyway you want to try to discredit people's concerns about the policy surrounding the Center of Community Life but that does not take away any legitimacy of these citizens legitimate desires about their school district's public policy.

      Who ever you are, please don't run for School Board (or city council for that matter).

    2. I don't know what measure J that person was voting for in 1982 but the one I SUPPORT and voted for on November 2, 2010 is the one that we are discussing here. My name is on the petition and I signed it not because I am against ECCL, or even the K-12 concept, I'm not, but because I am concerned about the operating budget. I was a member of the COC and during that time I did not ever see a detailed budget for this ambitious multimillion dollar project. Roy actually presented a budget to the COC last year but in the same breath told us to ignore it because it was wrong. Rest assured though, from what I have seen of the financials,they have/are spending millions of Measure J dollars on a gaggle of consultants to come up with a detailed budget to present. We may see it by summer. The money we are spending on consultants concerns me.

      A year ago we were told that the project was completely funded but over the last year we have seen the money available to fund this project cut nearly in half. The state has recently rejected the $21 mil the project was supposed to receive from the redevelopment agency, the property values in Emeryville declined due to the economy and so the project gets a little more than 50% of the money projected to come from Measure J. And let's not even get started on the declining student enrollment in the district resulting in less money from the State. The money we thought we'd have is just not there.

      We need a new high school. We HAVE the money to build a pretty awesome high school. I think we could also use some of the funds to put into Anna Yates and build out Ralph Hawley for the community services and community center. In fact when Josh Simon discussed his vision for the project with me 10 years ago, that was the plan. It morphed into something incredible, ambitious, and pretty awesome..then George Bush drove the Country into a ditch, the economy suffered and we are left to work within our means. That's the reality.

      Ronald Henry

    3. Dear anonymous- now that I am awake I see that you meant 701 + 1982 = 2683 people. Got it. Sorry for the misinterpretation. That's what I get for reading and responding at 11:00 at night.