August 2, 2006

Joint City Council and School Board Meeting

On July 31, 2006, the San Leandro City Council held a joint meeting with the Board of the San Leandro Unified School District.

After welcomes from Mayor Shelia Young and Board President Pauline Cutter, City Engineer Ken Joseph summarized two joint use projects: the Bancroft Middle School Sports Field and the Cherry Grove Park Well. Construction of the new field is expected to occur during the spring and summer of 2007 and construction of the well is expected to be completed in October 2006.

Superintendent Christine Lim summarized the process by which the bond measure received community input, the different projects considered, and the total amount of the bond and the projects it will fund.

After Lim's presentation, Council Member Surlene Grant asked about the size of the proposed arts education center (26,600 square feet) and expressed concern about isolating freshman from the high school campus. She noted that there had been problems with students cutting class to go to the Starbucks at Palma Plaza and said that a three-story building would be imposing on the half-block.

Council Member Starosciak noted that she was on the School Board when the 1997 bond measure was passed and observed that the assessed value [of property in San Leandro] had doubled in the nearly 10 years since then. After noting that she supports "this bond 100%," Starosciak expressed concern about 20 years into the future and cited demographics projecting 120,000 residents in San Leandro in 20 years. She noted that while the freshman campus will relieve overcrowding at the high school, it won't relieve traffic and pollution in the area. She suggested that the Board consider a second high school and suggested the Kaiser site, Kelloggs site, Scott, or even the Marina. Assistant Superintendent Glaster responded that they had consider sites for a second high school but none were big enough or they were contaminated. He also noted that they work with the City on demographics, which showed a relatively stable student population for the next 20 years. If 120,000 residents were reached, developer fees would help fund a new school.

Trustee Stephen Cassidy noted that now is not the time to call for a new high school the day before the Board is set to vote on the bond. He noted that San Leandro has the lowest funding per student in Alameda County and is ont of the lowest in the Bay Area.

During public comments, Morgan Mack-Rose noted that she was the parent of two kids that would graduate from San Leandro High School in 2019. She encouraged the City to work with the School District to help fund the extra $5 million needed to increase the planned arts education center from a 450-seat theater to a 650-seat theater. She also said that she would support the bond on foot and knocking on doors and encouraged all council members to support the bond.

Republican candidate for State Senate Lou Filipovich said that the city is already paying on a bond and then starting saying things that were hard to decipher.

Mike Katz echoed Morgan Mack-Rose's comments and said that it was imperative that the City Council unite to support the bond. He also noted that many older residents speak with great affection about how good San Leandro schools used to be and this bond can be an opportunity to move the schools back in that direction. Katz also urged non-parents to invest schools because better schools will mean increased equity for all homeowners and property owners.

Jeni Engler said that while she was focused on the benefits of an arts education center, she would like to see the City and School District cooperate on maintenance of the theater and the grounds since she has been impressed with the City's maintenance abilities.

Posted by Mike Katz-Lacabe at August 2, 2006 1:30 AM | TrackBack
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