Search The Tattler

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Guest Column: Art Hoff

Save Our Elementary School

A longtime Emeryville resident, business and community leader, Art Hoff is a former Planning Commissioner and former president of the School District Advisory Board of Trustees.
Mr Hoff has long concerned himself with the success of the schools in Emeryville and he has been a major philanthropist to the school district, generously giving both his time and money for the betterment of our schools.
Mr Hoff is concerned that the decision makers adjust their planning properly and be open to new iterations as the Emeryville Center of Community Life school/community center is buffeted by large Measure J bond funding perturbations in the wake of Emeryville's skidding assessed valuation.
.             .              .              .    

Anna Yates Elementary, a jewel of a school, just renovated at a cost of $8 Million Dollars, should remain in its present location and not be re-built as part of the Emery Center for Community Life (ECCL).  This would not only provide a better elementary school, it would make available funds to properly complete the ECCL Campus.

Because of the sluggish economy, only $70 Million of the authorized $120 Million will be available for Phase I of the ECCL construction.  Estimates vary, but it could take 10 years for the additional funds to be available.

As a result ECCL will not contain a teaching theatre, a second public gym, a K-3 building and landscaping on the north and south boundaries of the complex. K-3 classes will be held at Anna Yates effectively splitting the elementary school in two.

The School Board is optimistic that they will find the additional money, but it depends on the assessed valuation of the District increasing at an annual rate of 7%.  Last year the assessment role decreased by 7%. 

When the ECCL proposal came before the Planning Commission, a majority of the commissioners thought the site was too small for all the desired uses.  Two telltale items pop up: 1) there is insufficient separation of outside play fields for the lower and upper grade students and 2) the running track which is traditionally a quarter mile oval is in the form of a trapezoid, not suitable for competitive races.

Anna Yates should be retained in its present location and the saved money used to complete the ECCL complex sooner rather than later.  Time is of the essence.  The School District’s enrollment decreased from 802 in 2006 to 718 in 2011 (10%).  And beginning next year the District will have a $1,500,000 deficit (15%) in its annual operating budget.

Art Hoff


  1. I vote for keeping Anna Yates in its current location. The one part of the school system that works, and they want to mess with it?


    Save a little money and get as many of the elementary students iPads as possible, load them up with interactive texts, and for once let's have students that are ahead of the curve, in terms of learning modalities, instead of behind it.

  2. Moving the elementary school to the ECCL has been a part of the plan since the beginning.
    You're a little late to the party, weren't you paying attention the last 10 years?

    1. The original part of the plan was also to keep all elementary grades together and was also a bone of contention for many parents who wanted a separate elementary school...

  3. A little late perhaps but not too late. That's the thing about public's supposed to be PUBLIC. In theory, changing conditions mixed with consequential public input changes a seemingly implacable system.