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Monday, October 3, 2011

City/School District Bogus "Co-Location" Narrative

Measure J "Co-Location" Controversy-
 Voters Kept In The Dark:
Anna Yates School To Be Abandoned All Along

A recently released recording of government officials at an Emeryville City/Schools meeting in 2010 has revealed a stark counter narrative to what the same officials are now lockstep claiming is immutable; namely that Emeryville's elementary school must be abandoned.  As these Emeryville officials at City Hall and at the School District heat up what they call "community engagement", the shopping around of the voter approved $400 million Center of Community Life school bond, they have presented to residents a consensus among themselves that the popular Anna Yates Elementary School must be abandoned and the children moved to the proposed new school on San Pablo Avenue.  The July 2010 recording however reveals that these same leaders planned a strategy before the November Measure J school bond vote where the public could be tricked into thinking that there could be a real public debate about the fate of Anna Yates school if they were to vote for  Measure J. 

The Walking Dead: Anna Yates School  
Anna Yates Elementary School:
Taxpayers just last year spent
$9 million  to upgrade the facilities.
The one K-12 school idea, or "co-location" is now a fait accompli; locked in, if the politicians are to be believed, but before the citizens school bond November 2010 vote, they told voters that a YES vote on the bond would not mean that co-location is a sure thing.  Anna Yates school could remain open even if Measure J passed, they assured voters; its fate would be decided by the community in the "design phase" after passage of the Measure.  

Even though School Board member Josh Simon now parrots the narrative of his colleagues that co-location is necessary, at the 2010 meeting he joined his colleagues in the idea of allowing Anna Yates to continue on as an elementary school by stating, "Frankly, whether that safe quality education is in one site or several sites, we'll still be looking at that in the design phase, but it's going to cost $95 million [before financing and not including city money] regardless of how many sites."  Later in the meeting, a disturbing duplicity was revealed by the council members and school board members attending the meeting as they openly discussed how voters could be deceived by the Measure J bond language to hide their real motivations; to abandon Anna Yates Elementary School and force co-location of both Emeryville schools onto one San Pablo Avenue site; their real agenda.

Hidden Agenda
Mr Simon told his City/Schools Committee colleagues at the July 2010 meeting, "When we get to the actual language of the bond, the bond language doesn't actually refer to co-location of the school, although it's a goal of the School Board and it's mentioned in the resolution, the actual legislation that will be going to the voters does not mention it.  What it does include is some principles of community engagement, so that we are building into the actual legislation a community engagement process that will be voted on by the voters and that we will be, as a school board, held accountable to by our bond counsel.  We will not be able to get the financing without proceeding with this process."

Former Superintendent of the Schools, John Sugiyama concurred with Mr Simon that, when writing the bond language for the voter's perusal, it would be important to keep the co-location agenda hidden.  He told attendees, " Exhibit A1, which is the statutorily required bond project list. I think that it's, the comment I would make about this list, and again this list was developed by bond counsel with staff input, that the key here is to be specific enough to meet the intentions of the law but also at the same time to provide the flexibility so it doesn't lock the district into a specific action. So, a good example was, the co-location issue is not mentioned here anywhere in the resolution or in the project list, while that is a Board goal, that will be work that will be undertaken and studied in the context of the design process. So, we believe, the staff believes, that the bond project list, as it is currently worded, is reasonably clear enough so that the voter will know what the bond dollars will be expended for, but also provides the ability for community engagement and involvement to help in defining in more specific terms what the nature of that expenditure will look like."

The statements made at the July 2010 City/Schools meeting by Mr Sugiyama and Mr Simon are a part of the public record and should now enable any citizens that might want to save Anna Yates Elementary School, to put to rest any co-location insistence on the part of the politicians.  City and School District continue to solicit community input for what its worth, at the design sessions for the Center of Community Life.  


  1. I'm not sure how this is a hidden agenda since moving the Elementary School to the ECCL has been a part of the project since it's inception 12 years ago.
    If people feel duped, I'd say it's their own fault for either not paying attention, or forgetting this little detail of the project.

  2. "...Been a part of the project for 12 years"...and yet, there are the inconvenient statements by Mr Simon and Mr Sugiyama out there in the aether, vexing those who would allow a real community debate about the fate of Anna Yates.

  3. I totally agree with Anonymous at 8:11. This shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. In the very early days of the project Tony Smith was a big proponent of integrating all school at one site as a way to save money and provide flexibility to a very small school district whose student population can vary wildly over time. It makes a lot of sense to me.

  4. Watch for a future Tattler story on co-location... Contrary to what the powers that be in Emeryville categorically assert, as it turns out there is not consensus among educators on the wisdom this controversial idea. In fact, the majority breaks toward smaller, discrete schools segregated by the children's age...the traditional model.

  5. Is this how stuff is pushed through without real stake-holder engagement in Emeryville?

    We have community design meetings that were SUPPOSED to be the forum in which the decision would be made whether to keep Anna Yates where it is, or co-locate it with the high school - but at those community design meetings, ONLY co-location is shown? Is that "steering" the result while presenting the illusion of true community involvement?

    I can see no reason for the ECCL except as an edifice, with a plaque in front, to the egos of the City Council Members.

    The ECCL is not even a "practical" option, now that there is no hope of acquiring the AC Transit yard next door to provide adequate campus and recreational space.

    Keep in mind that 12 years ago, when this project was floated, a much larger facility was envisioned, encompassing the existing secondary campus but also the AC Transit yard.

    The impacts on the neighborhoods over there are going to be HUGE if you put K-12 over there, with similar drop-off and pick-up times. And at an estimated $75k per parking spot (Brian Carver's estimate) there won't even be enough parking for staff from both schools, the adult rec center, and the library.

    It makes far more sense to keep Anna Yates where it is, plus we won't we wasting the $8-9 million we just spent on updating Anna Yates.

  6. These slimy people like Josh Simon and his girlfriend Nora Davis sure are generous with the public's dime.
    City taxpayers just shelled out MILLIONS to rehab Anna Yates....but the fix is in, the public's school will be sold to Pulte, Madison Park or Rich Robbins/Wareham for $1 and converted into condos in exchange for $50,000 in campaign contributions. Sad. At least LaCoste had the brains to wheedle a DeLorean out of his 'financial backers.' Simon and Davis sell themselves off cheap, like a streetwalker in front of the California Hotel. Sad.