Emeryville citizens upset over the planned closing of Anna Yates Elementary School say their repeated attempts to engage school district officials have fallen on deaf ears.
The group of citizens has received no response to its May 23 request to be placed on the agenda of the next School Board meeting (Monday) June 11. The group is opposed to the Board’s plan to eventually close Anna Yates and combine both elementary and high school students on the campus of the Emeryville Center of Community Life (ECCL). While the construction of ECCL is expected to take years, the new school buildings are slated for completion in 2013-14. Construction will begin soon on the site of the existing high school, which will be torn down this summer.
The citizens’ group is also asking the Board of Trustees for construction and operating budgets for all city school sites.
Thought of by many parents and residents as the jewel of the Emeryville School District, Anna Yates recently underwent an $8 million renovation. But under the elaborate plans for the Emeryville Center of Communty Life, both Anna Yates’ and Emery High students will share a campus, along with recreational and other city/community services. However, it now appears that with the loss of redevelopment funds, there will not enough money to pay for the community services portion of the project.
Brian Carver, a parent who is organizing residents opposed to closing Anna Yates, sent an email to School Superintendent Debbra Lindo and the School Board on May 23 requesting to be put on the June 11 agenda. After getting no response, he followed up with another email yesterday. Still no response.
Carver’s emails come after he and other concerned citizens sent a letter to Lindo and the Board in mid-May, urging them to leave Anna Yates students where they are, and to provide the public with more information about the city schools’ construction and operating budgets.
The letter, below, is signed by 12 residents, but Carver said more residents have asked to be added to the list. Carver, an attorney and professor at UC Berkeley’s School of Information, is married to Emeryville City Council Member Jac Asher. They have two children in the Emeryville public schools. Former Chair of the Measure J Citizens Oversight Committee, Carver decided not to seek a second term on the committee, having “lost faith” in the ECCL project and in the School Board’s management of it.
Here is the letter that was sent to Lindo and the Board:
Superintendent Lindo and Board of Trustees:
Since 1886, ten years before Emeryville incorporated as a city, there has been a school located on 41st Street at the current site of Anna Yates
Elementary. This jewel of the Emery Unified School District has just been renovated at a cost of 8 million dollars and the Elementary students should remain in their present location and not be moved to the Secondary School site on San Pablo Avenue as part of the Emeryville Center of Community Life (“ECCL”). This would not only maintain an elementary school with a smaller scale more attractive to parents, it would also make available funds to properly complete the ECCL campus.
The ECCL campus, as presently proposed, is not financially feasible or sustainable. Having been able to issue only $48 million of $95 million in
bonds, the School Board will build part of the school without adequate assurances that the additional funds will be available in a reasonable time
frame. No detailed budget has ever been prepared and presented to the public for either the construction or the operation of the ECCL campus.
The fiscally responsible thing to do is build new only what we really need and can afford: a new high school, while utilizing as many of the existing
facilities as possible. The people of Emeryville will spend decades repaying the $95 million in bonds and for the District to adopt a plan that spends all the money on just one of our three school sites is irresponsible. We deserve to know how all of these sites will be used, maintained, and operated over the long term. Such a comprehensive plan could still include the community-facing services envisioned, such as a public library, recreation facilities, and space for other community services, but the District’s insistence on combining all the grades, K-12, on one site is a mistake.
We call on the Board of Trustees to adopt a new vision for our District that leaves the Elementary students in place and that clearly details both
construction and operational budgets for all the school sites.
- Richard Ambro Ph.D., Residents’ United for a Livable Emeryville (“RULE”) member
- April Atencio, RULE member
- Lei Bass, President, Anna Yates Parent Teacher Organization
- Steve Bass, PTO member
- Brian W. Carver, Former Chair Measure J Citizens’ Oversight Committee & parent
- Brian Donahue, parent of Anna Yates student, RULE member
- Scott Donahue, 35-year Emeryville resident
- Ronald Henry, parent of Anna Yates students, PTO member
- Art Hoff, former President Emery Unified School District Board of Trustees
- Marcia Parham, Former President Anna Yates PTO
- Tracy Schroth, RULE member
- Joan Strasser Ph.D., RULE member