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Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Seismic Safety Conundrum

Seismic Safety: The School District Can't Have It Both Ways

Implicit in all the hyperbolic Measure J campaign rhetoric emanating from the school district about the need to seismically upgrade Emeryville's schools is the jarring fact that the schools must therefore now be unsafe.

In their zeal to push voters into supporting Measure J, the school district has been sowing fear of earthquake catastrophe for the existing schools in city-wide campaign mailings. Of course pushing the fear button cuts both ways and the school district must acknowledge this tactic comes at a price. By constantly barraging residents with what amounts to warnings of earthquake calamity, the district is sending the unintended message to parents that the existing schools are unsafe and their children's lives are at risk.
To keep citizens from drawing this rational conclusion, schools Superintendent John Sugiyama has been speaking to people at Measure J events around town. He has attempted to reassure parents their children are safe in the existing schools, "I don't want parents to get the impression the schools are unsafe" he has said.
But the Measure J committee and school district can't have it both ways. Either the existing schools are safe and all the campaign talk is overheated histrionic bloviating or we truly do need to replace the schools; in which case alternative accommodations must be made now to keep the children safe until the schools can be rebuilt.

Since the school district is complicit in the ubiquitous seismic safety mailings, we'd like to know just when exactly, did our schools become unsafe?

Since the State of California has not issued any warning or notice of unsafe buildings at the school district as they would were it true, we can assume all the campaign talk is just so much hot air.

We feel its irresponsible for the school district to engage in this kind of politicking. We say the people of Emeryville should vote on rebuilding the schools or not, on its own merits without the government trying to scare them. This is not proper ground for any government agency to tread. We call on the Measure J committee and the district to veer away from this tactic.


  1. That's reasonable. The schools are safe but they could be a lot safer.

  2. It's not reasonable, these people are trying to use fear to pass the bond. The school district should come out and say the schools are safe. Strengthening them should be a minor benefit of the measure, not the main point like they're say it is.

  3. The Tattler has a point: We should listen to the State of California on this and not the politicians. All this kind of politics does is lower the credibility of the school board and city hall.

  4. I would like to see a new school and center for Emeryville and the communities surrounding it. The design for the school, last time I saw it, was wonderful. Our children and families deserve the best. In general throughout the nation, the facilities that house our children, teachers, and administrators are grim. A beautiful environment sends this message: we care about you, and we care about you having a wonderful experience as you learn. I would like to see the corporations that "live" here with us support this new project. The cost is untenable for many, help from the corporations would send a message that the whole community cares. I am asking that the corporations of Emeryville support this project up front and take on a substantial part of the cost. When I look at the quarterly profits of these giants, I am outraged. I ask that the corporations of Emeryville be socially responsible and support the new center financially.


  5. Since this is an opinion story, let me say this; It's unfortunate you (above posting) are posting anonymously.

    I agree that a run down school sends a message to kids that the society doesn't care about them or their education. I agree, the high school needs a remodel, if for no other reason than to send the opposite message.

    However, $383 million is too much for our town. I would support a $45 million high school remodel, the maximum amount a general obligation bond will support.

    If we want to support education, an expensive new building isn't very efficient. A better way is to shrink class sizes and pay teachers more to attract the best and the brightest to the profession...expensive in the short run but the best way forward if we don't want to give up on public education I believe.

    Oh, and I have a child in the Emery school district.

  6. by the way folks: if you are 65 or older and emeryville is your principal place of residence and you submitted an application to be exempt from the school parcel tax (measure a passed three years ago,) be sure to carefully check your property tax statement. mine came on oct. 12 and on oct. 16 i received a letter from the consulting firm administering the revenue, nbs in temecula, that the tax statement was in error. sure enough, the parcel tax still appeared. some of you might have already paid your taxes early. please pass this information on to your neighbors in their "golden years."
    was this an oversight or deliberate?

  7. Hello, I am a former student of the Emery Secondary School, and i must say that you guys have a much greater issue than "earthquake safe" buildings. I've observed over the past 3 years, the REAL harm comes from within the school. I have witnessed the open harassment of students for being outly gay at ESS from Teachers, Staff, and Students. The Dean of students, Mr. M,and the Principle Ms. Allen, made it a suitable environment for students and staff to harass these students on a DAILY basis. It got to the point that i was told that the sexual debasing comments should be taken as a compliments. Students were suspended constantly for standing up and defending the rights of other students. Personally, I was so offended by what was alloed to happen at ESS that I did not get to finish my year because it was so unsafe for me to be there. My work was affected EXTREMELY due to the high volume of stress that i got from being friends with the gays at emery. I recalled that while attending, my friend, the only OUT gay male at the school was told to check into a mental instutuion by the adminstration. At this point my emotions were on edge. I was followed and watched by teachers constantly and I was even followed into the bathroom by a teacher. Being that their has been alot of suicides occuring as a result of teasing homosexuals, i am affraid for the younger gender and other homosexuals at ess. It should be a safe environment for all colors, ages, and sexual orentations, and it is Definately not a place for kids to grow.

  8. I am an employee of ESS, and please know, that not all of us are that way, or support the situation. The problem at ESS is the lack of real leadership. There is no real leadership at any of the school sites. At the same time, we can't control all of the students and staffs behavior. A lot of those students are DEEPLY religious which makes them COMPLETELY intolerable of gays, that's something that no one, but themselves can change, sadly, the same thing affects a good deal of the staff. They are really good at preaching tolerance, but horrible at practicing it.

    The pay at the school is also so bad, its VERY hard to attract good people, the good people generally don't last very long.

    Brian is right, the school is safe enough, earthquake or not, the odds of there being a serious incident relating to an earthquake there are miniscule. If you really want to improve the school, you need to increase staff pay, across the board, not JUST the teachers, and increase the budget for educational materials. The library at ESS, has not had a budget for 3 years. The technology departments budget has been slashed to the point where it can't afford replacement parts for computers. $600-700 dollar computers go unused because they can't afford to replace the mouse.
    Fixing those those problems will help the kids more than a new building.

  9. Oh yeah, and Brian, if I were you, I would take your kid out of EUSD ASAP. I see all kinds of crazy crap, but yesterday, I watched an Elementary School teacher teach the kids to spell Turf, T-U-R-F-F.

    An EUSD Employee