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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Planning Commission Joins Sacramento: 'New School Is Too Small'

Emery School District Fights Back:
We Don't Care About California Standards
"These Are OUR Standards"

Emeryville's Planning Commission deliberated Monday night about the Center of Community Life on San Pablo Avenue and the new school to be built there.  Their findings were unanimous: the site is too small to fit everything the School District wants to cram in there.
Although the findings were part of a study session and not legally binding, the Planning Commission now joins with the State of California in its admonition about the $64 million new Emeryville school, that it doesn't meet minimum standards for size in both outdoor area and built out space.
School District officials attending the meeting acknowledged the new school will not meet State minimum standards for space but they bristled at the idea that the Emery Unified School District has no standards for the children.  The District has its own standards they insisted, "This [school] is what WE are doing, these are OUR standards" said District Architect Roy Miller.  He went on to claim the State lacks the authority to stop Emery from building the school the way it sees fit, regardless of any space standards ensconced in Sacramento.

Schools Superintendent
Debbra Lindo told the
Commissioners, regarding 

the school project, "There has 
been a tremendous amount 
of community input."
The Planning Commissioners each took their turns commenting about the site but Commissioner Buzz Cardoza seemed to sum it up the best for his colleagues, "There's no getting around it, we're squeezing too much on one piece of land" he said.  Commissioner John Scheuerman agreed about the cramped space and added, "Emeryville deserves better".  In the end, every single commissioner made the lack of space their primary stated concern about the proposed school and community center.

After the commissioners read a letter from a parent about the mistake of closing Anna Yates Elementary School and moving it over to the Center of Community Life site,  Commissioner Cardoza commented, "A 6 through 12 grade school would fit [the site]" but not a Kindergarten through 12th grade facility as is planned.

Roy Miller rose to inform the commissioners that urban schools with their tight confinements commonly don't meet the State minimum standards for space.  He attempted to mollify the commissioner's concerns by downplaying the space issue for the $64 million new Emeryville school; space mandates are "regularly modified" he said.  No commissioner made a claim of satisfaction in response to Mr Miller's appeasing words.
Commission Chair, Vanessa Kuemmerle, asked for a comparison with other neighboring schools but Mr Miller said he didn't have that information at hand.

The School District officials packed up their gear at the end of the meeting, vowing to return at a later date when the Planning Commission is scheduled to make its binding vote on the project.


  1. An extensive laboratory experiment known as "The Behavioral Sink" has shown that overcrowding leads to abnormal stress and social disfunction. But we already knew that. Let's not subject our elementary school children to it. They're fine at Anna Yates.

  2. As always, follow the money. Who stands to benefit from a smaller site? Certainly not the students, staff or teachers.