May 18, 2006

School Board Reviews Options for Facilities Bond

The San Leandro School Board began its May 16, 2006, meeting with all members of the board present.

The first item of business was to present Certificates of Commendation to recipients of the Mid-Alameda County Special Education Local Plan Area (MAC SELPA) "Excellence in Special Education Award" to the following teachers:

Meredith Miller, Speech and Language Teacher, Monroe Elementary
Nuna Mingo, Resource Specialist Teacher, Madison Elementary
Sara Mireles, Resource Specialist Teacher, Roosevelt Elementary
Sarah Wood, Special Day Class Teacher, Madison Elementary

During the public comment period, three people spoke: one a teacher that spoke about racial discrimination he had experienced, a parent complaining about the way she and her child have been treated by school staff, and a parent complaining about the letter sent out by the school on April 28, 2006, concerning possible student absences for the "Day Without an Immigrant" protest on May 1.

The bulk of the meeting's four hours were for the fifth facilities workshop, in which the options for reducing overcrowding at the high school were reviewed with a PowerPoint presentation entitled "Planning for Potential Facility Bond."

The options were presented as follows:

Option 1: Build a ninth-grade academy on the current site of San Leandro High School (SLHS) adjacent to current classrooms and the gym at an estimated cost of $25 million.

Option 1A: Build a ninth-grade academy on the current site of SLHS adjacent to the football field at an estimated cost of $31 million.

Option 2: Build a ninth-grade academy on another site near San Leandro High School. Site options discussed included the current adult school office location, a 2.68-acre property a few blocks from SLHS and on the field of McKinley Elementary. The estimated cost of this option is $36 million.

Option 3: In conjuction with either Option 1A or 2, a 450-seat performing arts center and auxiliary gym would be constructed adjacent to existing classrooms and the gym at an estimated cost of $58 million.

Option 3A: In conjuction with either Option 2, a 450-seat performing arts center and new Industrial Arts facility would be combined, replacing the existing Industrial Arts facility. An auxiliary gym would built adjacent to the existing gym. This option relies on the ability to use the adjacent PG&E property for parking. The estimated cost of this option is $64 million.

Option 3B: In conjunction with Option 1A, it would include the performing arts center and auxiliary gym, but not a new Industrial Arts facility. The estimated cost of this option is $53 million.

Option 3C: In conjunction with Option 1A, it would include a combined performing arts center and Industrial Arts facility and auxiliary gym. The estimated cost of this option is $59 million.

Option 4: Build a new building at John Muir Middle School and use it for an Opportunity Program where students most at risk of failure would received personalized instruction. The estimated cost of this option is $3 million.

Also under consideration are a renovation of Burrell Field and a multi-purpose room at Jefferson Elementary.

Some board members felt that presenting all of these options at upcoming community meetings, including those that were opposed by the board, would not be helpful to the process. Other board members thought that all options should be presented at the upcoming community meetings. In the end, the Board voted to remove the McKinley Elementary site from consideration.

The first community meeting will be held at the San Leandro High School gym on Wednesday, May 31, 2006 at 6:30pm.

With the exception of two items, all consent items on the agenda were approved unanimously by the Board.

Board members Cassidy and Cutter voted against the approval of the Administrative Panel's recommendation for expulsion for student E51-05-06 in a 5 to 2 vote.

On resolution #06-24, which would certify that Board Member Ray Davis was absent from the April 25, 2006 Board meeting due to hardship, Morgan Mack-Rose spoke against the approval of the resolution noting Davis' absence from previous board meetings. David defended himself, stating that he had a job that sometimes obligated him to miss School Board meetings. In fact, the date of the April 25, 2006, board meeting was scheduled with the Board's knowledge that Davis would be unable to attend, as it was not a regularly-scheduled Board meeting. The Board discussed the possibility of defining what exactly was meant by "hardship" and also whether to note that the meeting was a "special" meeting that was in addition to the regularly scheduled meetings. The Board voted 6 to 1 to approve the resolution with Cassidy dissenting. According to Board policies, Board members receive $240 per month for their service, which is cut by 50% if a Board member misses a meeting.

The decision on approval of the Board's regular meeting schedule was entertaining as Board member Heystek emphasized the need to meet on the first and third Tuesday's of the month and to deviate from the schedule as little as possible. Cassidy requested that the Board reschedule its November 7 meeting, since that would be the day of the election and Board members were likely to be working to support the bond measure. Heystek responded that he felt Cassidy was "jinxing the election." With a few exceptions, the Board approved the revised calendar in a 6 to 1 vote with Cassidy dissenting.

The last item concerned the creation of the San Leandro Community Alliance for Education, an advisory committee that is intended to give more of the community input to the school administration through Superintendent Christine Lim. Board member Perry stressed that the the alliance would be completely advisory and would not be a second school board. She asked Superintendent Lim for more information about how much it would cost in resources and staff time. She was especially concerned by a handout provided by Heidi Finberg that included a draft of an invitation list of more than 40 local organizations and groups, an invitation letter, an application, and an agenda.

Board members Richards stated that something like the alliance was "overdue in our community" and Cassidy recommended that it go forward. Richards, along with Perry and Davis, also expressed a desire to have the purpose and scope of the alliance defined more clearly. Ms. Finberg noted to the Board that her handout was based on a second-hand account of an earlier meeting, she apologized for any confusion, and stated of the San Leandro Chamber of Commerce (of which she is CEO), "we want to be partners" with the schools.

In the end, the Board voted unanimously to table discussion of the alliance until the June 20, 2006, School Board meeting, in which Superintendent Lim promised to provide additional information.

Posted by Mike Katz-Lacabe at May 18, 2006 8:32 PM | TrackBack
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