On Tuesday night the School Board used up what was supposed to be a Board retreat, the Board instead decided to have another discussion about the Prop 39 offer to ACLC. And I have to give a big “thank you!” to Donna Eyestone who recorded and tweeted out details of the meeting for those of us unable to make it out.
The public comment was pretty much similar the only difference was that this time around there were actually folks there to hold the Board to the vote they made to approval the Junior Jets program. The common thread among the Junior Jets boosters on Tuesday night was, “why are we here?”
Kevin Gorham, one of the lead administrators for the Junior Jets program as well as Vice Principal of Encinal High School and a history teacher to boot had this to say:
I cannot in good faith begin this discussion without emphasizing that I’m extremely upset we are meeting here tonight to defend our Junior Jet program that was approved by this Board a year ago. I’m disappointed that I have to defend the Junior Jets program due to some decision makers who prefer to make the decision of the day depending on who’s in the room. This behavior is purely political and does not put kids first.
Of course ACLC also had their supporters out and some were puzzled as to why the Encinal community felt like they needed to come out. Well, to the ACLC parent who asked what was said to the Encinal community that brought them out on Tuesday night to defend their program and create such a “battle,” it’s quite simple. They were told that they program should be (1) reduced to only a sixth grade program for the first year or (2) suspended until further notice or (3) moved to a different site. And for those wondering why the Encinal community felt under attack: almost the whole of Trish Spencer’s first set of comments was an attack on the Junior Jets program.
Her first volley was against the formation of the the grades, she kept insisting that unless it was 60-60-60 that was not what she voted for. Then it was that she was unsure if the Junior Jets program had met its conditional deadlines because she had not seen a copy of anything. Of course this pronouncement was made after one of the public speakers had rattled off a huge list of what the staff had been working on for the Junior Jets program.
But in the end probably the most confusing part of one of the arguments proffered. Trish Spencer decided to attempt the old standby East-West divide and claim that if the proposal was to stick ACLC on Lincoln, the issue would have never flown. Let’s put aside the fact that there is no room in Lincoln anywhere. Let’s put aside the fact that Lincoln is terribly over crowded and apparently even has two story portables (TWO STORY PORTABLES) to house all the kids that go there. Let’s put aside the fact that Lincoln is not some idyllic wonderland of a school and that this stand alone 6 -8 middle school program, while the preference of many parents is not the be all end all.
Even if Lincoln was some great ideal of perfection, I’m not sure how Trish Spencer — and Board member Barbara Kahn whose concern has always been about the inequities between the East and West Ends of town — believes that crowding more portables and more kids on to the Encinal campus would make it any better for the kids at Encinal High. I mean, really. Because losing the blacktop and any bit of open space in order to accommodate ACLC at Encinal will somehow bring equity to the West End? Seriously? Some one help me understand how that will bring the West End something awesome.
Interesting tidbit, ACLC was offered at Encinal High School rooms that were more than 900 sq ft in space and the District Staff pointed out that students at other Alameda schools weren’t in 900 sq ft spaces.