Blogging Bayport Alameda

January 29, 2013

Use the facilities

Filed under: Alameda, School — Tags: , , — Lauren Do @ 6:09 am

Tonight at the School Board meeting there will be an important discussion about the future of facilities in the Alameda Unified School District.   Of course, I imagine one School Board member will insist that, given the current state of declared impasse by the teacher’s union, will insist that no discussion occur until such time that the contract impasse is resolved.     More on contract-y number-y things tomorrow.

Why is this an important discussion to get involved it?  Well, one it will be sort of the precursor to one of the bond type parcel tax-ly things.  And it — hopefully — will decide the fate of the Historic Alameda High School, so yeah, it’s kind of a big deal.   Of course, School Board member Mike McMahon has already been on the ball and sent out a survey asking folks what they think of some basic school capacity type issues that will be at the heart of the discussion, take it here to help add your input and better inform the conversation.  Hopefully Mike McMahon will eventually share the results of the survey.

Here are two super important slides with some of the questions to be answered moving forward:



The hot button issues will, of course, be around the use for the Historic Alameda High School and how much money to put into the building depending on the decided use for the building. Of course the other big issues will be around whether or not to consolidate the two high schools and have one traditional mega high school to serve all of the Island or keep the current structure. Also given the declining enrollment at Wood Middle School and the creation of alternative Middle School options whether it makes sense keep Wood Middle School open. Perhaps what is needed is a larger Middle School campus more centralized to provide an option for students that don’t want to go the charter or alternative Middle School route.

Oh in other facilities related issues, remember when I mentioned the bit of back and forth between School Board member Trish Spencer and the Superintendent over the size of her office at the Historic Alameda High School vs her office at the new Challenger site?   Well I finally got the square footage numbers and they are, drum roll please….

Office in Historic Alameda High School = 518 square feet.

Challenger office = 365 square feet.

I received those numbers from the School District, so if you don’t trust those then I suppose you can go measure yourself.   The 518 square feet seems about right from the time I went down there to snap photos, I haven’t seen the Challenger offices yet…one day…so I haven’t seen it for myself.



  1. Here are initial results from the survey through yesterday aftenoon. Take the results with a grain of salt as the responses are from an email I sent out. Therefore the respondents are NOT representative of population of Alameda.

    Comment by Mike McMahon (@MikeMcMahonAUSD) — January 29, 2013 @ 6:58 am

  2. a super high school wouldn’t be bad, at least the athletics would be good. if you rehab the historic building, alameda high’s campus should be big enough to fit the ~4000 kids. what would be good would to then have it tracked (but legally not really) into different paths (AP track, CSU track, JC track, Trade school track, etc.).

    the boon to park street businesses would be great too.

    Comment by E — January 29, 2013 @ 10:22 am

  3. E. It might help Park st., but the costs would be to high and the campus to small. no football field, no baseball field, no track. Encinal at least has a campus and facilities for its present needs. I probably disagree with most of my friends
    on this issue, but I’m just fine with two High schools.

    Comment by John P.(L) — January 29, 2013 @ 11:34 am

  4. Some time back, we talked about consolidation of the two high schools, out on BFI when it was being developed. Major, major opposition from the athletic boosters. One lady in an Alameda HS “Athletic Supporter” jacket told the school board that it could not be done as it meant that “There will be only one quarterback!” Imagine that!
    Another idea was to make one high school with two campuses – have the first two years at one school and the next two years at the other. That went down in flames, too.
    The old Alameda HS building is sacred to many and even if it is unusable it will be preserved in perpetuity. I am pretty sure about that.

    Comment by Kate Quick,. — January 29, 2013 @ 3:36 pm

  5. Kate, the only consolidation plan that I believe could have ever worked was when we had a chance to get control of the College of Alameda site. It was large enough and had everything needed. It was centrally located with good transportation available. It could have been one high school for Alameda.

    Comment by John P.(L) — January 29, 2013 @ 3:55 pm

  6. The central portion of the historic high school was supposed to have been retrofitted way back when when the effort was made to save it from demolition. Could that portion of the building be retained and the side sections demolished or altered in some way? A lot of people worked long and hard to make sure the theater was preserved. Is it an all or nothing proposition? I think it’s pretty clear that Alamedans love that building. With all the money that’s been put into the theater, it would be quite a slap in the face for it to be torn down.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — January 29, 2013 @ 4:41 pm

  7. Here is an updated reacp of the Facilities Survey. There ended up being over 200 responses. With the typical disclaimer that the survey is not representative since the participants opted into the survey, the results do show strong feelings about the Historic Alameda High School site, tempered with a realization there is a limit to how much money should be spent to make the building reusable. Decide for yourself on what it all means here:

    Comment by Mike McMahon (@MikeMcMahonAUSD) — February 9, 2013 @ 9:34 am

  8. thank you Mike. No good deed goes unpunished, eh?. It’s nearly impossible to do a survey which is as nuanced as we’d like without huge time investment, or maybe a paid consultant. One can go along with this survey being somewhat simplistic out of necessity and except it for what it is, in order to get a general lay of the land, or pick it apart for what is not which of course some could not resist. The text responses are enough to make one’s head explode. I empathize with many many comments as valid, but mostly if taken out of context of economic reality. If wishes were fishes. Disappointingly that reality may be that Alameda is in a tough spot of having far too many infrastructure needs to be able to solve them adequately even with passage of a substantial bond, which in turn may be the last straw on the tax front. It’s true that compared to a district like Albany, our facilities seem particularly dowdy. Second guessing past decisions that got us here is sort of futile, even the recent one about district offices. It’s not news we are between the proverbial rock and hard place. The historic high school building just compounds system wide problem of declining infrastructure.

    I wasn’t able to strip and paste from the document but the best comment may have been the extremely short one asking decisions be driven by practical concerns and not emotion. I’d like to be as positive as possible, but it’s hard. There were a couple posts by NEA parents complaining about their facilities. Really? Not to go off topic on a diatribe about charters, but these people want their cake ( choice) and to get to eat it in an ideal environment too. Do they have any idea of the greater context of charters within the district at large? I’ll resist an extended attack about elitism, but it’s fairly easy to see that the test scores these charters tout are influenced by an unlevel playing field ( self selecting student populations, district at large having wider responsibilities to educate broader populations etc., etc. etc.). On facilities, and so called “alternatives” and “choice” alike, it would be great to be able to parse how to best serve the most while harming the least.

    Despite all the criticisms which are thrown at administration, BOE, or where ever, deserved or not, I do not envy the decision makers, because it feels like lose/lose when it comes to satisfying the disparate array of sentiment in the survey.

    Comment by M.I. — February 9, 2013 @ 3:32 pm

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