Ruby Bridges Elementary Fifth Graders are coming home from Science Camp today so I wanted to spend a little time to say, “thank you!” to all the many many many community members who opened up their hearts and wallets to help send these Fifth Graders to camp.
For those looking to get a glimpse of the joy that you have sponsored, check out Ruby Bridges PTA’s Facebook page here where photos are being uploaded and includes the requisite banana slug on nose photos.
This video is totally worth watching. Let me set the scene for you. It’s late at the City Council meeting, around 10:00 p.m. at this point. The City Council has just finished a huge agenda item about the budget. There’s still one agenda item up next about Other Post Retirement Benefits and the creation of a combination irrevocable trust program to help the OPEB liabilities that we all know are an issue if the funding is not set aside now. More information at the link if you’re interested.
Now, remembers that the seriousness of OPEB liabilities is something that Trish Spencer specifically called out as being important. Probably because her advisers at the time told her that they were important, here’s her response to question on what she would do about the issue. I’ll note that much like all issues Trish Spencer tends to define what the issue is by literally giving a definition but often fails to have any idea of what to do to actually solve the actual problem, the OPEB issue is no different. She did however, indicate that it is important:
For clarification, OPEB stands for other post employment benefits and are primarily health care benefits (other than pensions) that U.S. state and local governments provide to their retired employees. This must be addressed and a priority. As my service on the school board has demonstrated, I welcome public involvement and scrutiny of issues, especially serious issues like this. There needs to be complete transparency of the numbers and projections. This is a complex issue and will require serious consideration of funding priorities to start to move Alameda in the right direction on this significant issue.
As the spouse of a ferry rider who often hears about the dreaded “slow boat” the news about the new ferry boat will come with much celebration for our family’s ferry commuter.
From SF Gate:
The Hydrus, which can carry 400 passengers and 50 bikes, will go into service on the run between San Francisco, Oakland and Alameda in early April. The boat cost $15.1 million, and can clip along at 27 knots, or just over 30 miles an hour.
The Water Emergency Transportation Authority, the public agency that operates the ferry service between nine bay terminals, has shown a 74 percent increase in ferry passengers since 2012, and now carries 2.7 million customers a year. The expansion is costing a pretty penny — $465 million in capital expenses, including new terminal and maintenance facilities, and $175 million for new vessel construction.
“This boat is going to be the workhorse of the bay,” said Keith Stahnke, the authority’s operations manager. “This boat will make 15 round trips a day, about 65 mooring events where we tie up the boat and let it go. That’s a lot of work for the boat and the crew,” he said.
Lots on the City Council agenda tonight, the chances that they actually get to the Council Referrals tonight? Slim to none. So let’s quickly run through those. Two Council Referrals are on generally the same topic Bird-safe buildings. Referral 1 (Vella and Oddie) and Referral 2 (Spencer). First is seeking an ordinance, second is seeking standards. Both appear to want to do the same thing, should be relatively easy unless people are specifically looking for credit then…
Last Council Referral is from Trish Spencer too who wants to purchase a strip of land in Harbor Bay to “complete” the Shoreline park. So here’s the kinda awkward thing, this is the strip of land where the one hotel was trying to get built. There is value in the land, enough value to actually build a commercial business it’s unclear if the current owners are at all interested in selling at whatever the City is willing to pay. If Trish Spencer is suggesting the land be eminent domain-ed. Or if the City is willing to pay market rate for the land. This looks like a big pile to step in, hopefully the other Council members will wisely circle around the pile even though “yay parks” is a popular thing these days.
But like I said, lots of other things on the agenda, so unless Council extends the meeting these Referral items might get pushed. First item of interest, quarterly sales tax report, in order of generating areas it’s (1) Harbor Bay Business Park, (2) South Shore, and (3) Alameda Landing, this period did not include the holiday shopping period only 7/2016 – 9/2016.
Okay folks, more on the School District. I know I typically don’t give the school side of the City government this much attention, but I think discussions about the schools will start to ramp up given that the District and the unions are both heading to the bargaining table and the items that have been opened are work day and salary (on the teachers’ side) and class size (on the district side).
The cause for the work day opening might be the full day Kindergarten program which began at the beginning of the school year. There’s been a lot of mixed feelings from the opening of the full day kindergarten, I imagine most parents like it but the overall sense from teachers is that the day might be a wee bit too long for the students, particularly at the beginning of the year.
Salary was a gimme opener because it’s always been a source of contention in this district with the oft quoted factoid that AUSD teachers are either among the lowest or are the lowest compensated teachers in Alameda County if you include benefits in the total compensation mix. Ruby Bridges has lost several talented teachers precisely because of compensation alone, so it’s not as though this is a new thing.
The class size opener for the District is an interesting one it may be discussion about class size overages and what to do if a school has one or two extra students over what would be considered a “full” class.
At the School Board meeting on Tuesday a lot of people took advantage of the larger crowd to speak on a variety of different issues. There were a lot of issues on the agenda that night, but one of the more notable items was a short report out from the Closed Session which related to Community Learning Center School aka Nea and ACLC.
Apparently the Board approved on a 3 to 1 vote to begin litigation against CLCS. Weird right? This evidently has to do with the CLCS Board voting to remove a member of the Board that was appointed by the School District.
To understand the backstory of what happened, here are two emails, unedited that I was given permission to post:
File this one under: never give up!
On Tuesday night, even with a really well qualified field of candidates to go head to head against, Anne McKereghan was appointed to fill Solana Henneberry’s seat on the School Board.
Anne McKereghan came in just short in the 2016 election, a swing vote from the 2nd 2015 appointment, was a ranked choice away from appointment 1st 2015 appointment.
Last week’s City Council saw a Referral item to reform, very minimally, the Call for Review process. The argument from City Councilmember Marilyn Ezzy-Ashcraft was that these reviews are very costly for the initial applicant. If citizens were to appeal the matter they’d have to expend money to do so which would put “skin in the game” so to speak, but when a City Councilmember calls an item for review there is no cost which could leads to calls for review that seem arbitrary but for the fact that they’ve recently been almost all initiated by Mayor Trish Spencer.
The reformation was just to have two City Councilmembers agree to call something for review, which makes a lot of sense because when people are unhappy with a decision by the Planning Board or other boards and commissions they tend to complain to ALL the members of the City Council and not just to one individual. Trish Spencer balked at the two person suggestion because she wouldn’t know who to approach on the City Council to partner with her. Of course the idea is not necessarily for a City Councilmember to try to convince another City Councilmember that a call for review has merit but for the City Councilmember to judge independently based on the citizen complaints that a decision might be ripe for a call for review.
Since we’ll be on the subject of the School District for a while, here’s something that I think is really important and it was only mentioned by one of the candidates for the School Board position as being critical for AUSD: teacher retention.
But mostly we always look at teacher retention from a salary and compensation perspective, but salary and compensation is only one of the issues facing teachers in Alameda and the Bay Area in general. Finding housing that is affordable is becoming an increasing concern and if our teachers are unable to secure housing then it won’t matter how much we are able to pay. Yesterday, City Lab had a piece on this precise issue, highlights:
Finding and keeping an affordable place to live can be an all-consuming chore in Silicon Valley. Some of the area’s teachers, administrators, and teachers have to live two hours from school to find housing that fits their budget. Some combine two families into one apartment. Others move in with relatives. “They drive here when it’s really early and (there’s) little traffic. They sleep in their car for a few hours and then they start work,” San Mateo Union High School District Superintendent Kevin Skelly says of some teachers who live more than 60 miles away. Other staff members are technically homeless. “We have teachers who are couchsurfing,” he says. “It’s brutal.”
Tomorrow night should be a doozy of a meeting at the School Board. There are nine applications for Solana Hennberry’s seat. Only one person who ran for school board in the last election has applied.
Here’s sort of a brief nutshell of each of the candidates with their full applications attached. The question that I found most important was the question of equity vs. equality. Because, as a District, we’re not doing that very well despite the lip service given to equity, but that’s another post for another day.
The applications in no particular order. All in all this is a strong batch of candidates.