Blogging Bayport Alameda

January 28, 2015

Round 2

Filed under: Alameda, School — Lauren Do @ 6:08 am

As reported out in the first post about the School Board appointment process, there are 10 finalists that made their way through to Round 2.

Those finalists are:

  1. Sean Cahill
  2. Anne DeBardeleben
  3. Helen (Suzy) Forrester
  4. Jane Garrison Grimaldi
  5. Steve Good
  6. Philip Hu
  7. Blanche Kim
  8. Tom Lynch
  9. David Peterson
  10. Sherice Youngblood

At one point, two of the School Board members: Solana Henneberry and Barbara Kahn wanted to just take the top three finalists aka the people who received a majority of yes votes (more than three) to the final rounds rather than take anybody that received two or more votes.  While I don’t disagree with the logic behind that desire, three would be a much more manageable number, since they had announced earlier that they would be taking the larger number they should (and did) stick to the larger number.   Looking at how the votes were cast makes for interesting analysis as to who might emerge as THE finalist:



As I mentioned in the comments section, only three candidates received three or more votes.

Helen Forrester received the votes of Solana Henneberry, Gary Lym, and Niel Tam.

Jane Grimaldi received the votes of Barbara Kahn, Solana Henneberry, and Niel Tam

And only one person received all four votes: Philip Hu.

Naturally, it’s not hard to view Philip Hu as a front runner along with the other two candidates.

If you notice, Niel Tam was the only School Board member to cast all of his allotted 10 votes, which is why I would probably discount any candidate who edged their way to Round 2 but without a vote from Niel Tam.  If Niel Tam, who was less selective with his votes, didn’t vote for a candidate in Round 1  the chances of him casting a vote for that person in Round 2 is slim.  So I would further narrow the list to:

  1. Sean Cahill
  2. Anne DeBardeleben
  3. Helen (Suzy) Forrester
  4. Jane Garrison Grimaldi
  5. Steve Good
  6. Philip Hu
  7. Sherice Youngblood

Similarly, I would eliminate anyone who moved through without either Solana Henneberry’s or Barbara Kahn’s vote.  While I’m not suggesting that they are voting in lock step, but they overlapped on three candidates and both only cast five votes a piece.  So I would further whittle down the possible top candidate list to:

  1. Anne DeBardeleben
  2. Helen (Suzy) Forrester
  3. Jane Garrison Grimaldi
  4. Philip Hu

So the only person that survives by getting a vote from Niel Tam and either Solana Henneberry or Barbara Kahn is Anne DeBardeleben and of course the candidates that received three or more votes.

Honestly, I don’t think the School Board could go wrong with any of these candidates.  In fact, it probably couldn’t go wrong with any of the top 10 finalists either.  Although I have to say that I became slightly less impressed by Steve Good not after watching his statements because I thought those were really solid, but rather from a posting on Alameda Peeps by his wife regarding the upcoming meetings about the High Schools.   Essentially his spouse was going on and on about how her husband is “against” the consolidation and will do everything in his power to keep it from happening.


My biggest problem with this position and maybe it’s just an overexcited spouse projecting her own beliefs on to her husband but the issue of the high school options have not yet been fully considered yet because the meetings have not happened yet.   To prematurely announce that one is going to be “against” something and do everything in their power to prevent it without having heard all the options does not make for good policy making.

Hopefully, this question will come up during the finalists meeting on February 3rd.  And the first high school options meeting is schedule for this Thursday.  I was happy to see one of the other candidates Anne DeBardeleben weigh in and point out that these are information gathering meetings and that nothing had yet to be decided yet.



  1. Lauren, thanks for analyzing our four school board members’ votes on the 10 finalists. This is a slower and more awkward winnowing process, but I have confidence that the school board will choose well. With the workload ahead for the school board and the district, I’m really glad that so many smart, qualified, and experienced candidates have stepped forward. Thanks to all of them for investing in Alameda and our kids.

    Comment by Jon Spangler — January 28, 2015 @ 7:17 am

  2. It looks like this may end up OK. If it turns out that the school board can’t appoint someone for some reason such as a 2-2 deadlock, it will also be OK to have a special election. People wouldn’t like the cost of that, but in the big picture it would be a manageable expense and if that’s where this went, at least the process would clearly be fair. In the unlikely event that this does end up being resolved though a special election, one hopes they’d chose to do a less expensive vote by mail election rather than a traditional polling place election.

    Comment by Election Aftermath — January 28, 2015 @ 7:35 am

  3. without RCV a special election, a special election might not be any more definitive than a deadlock. the other ten could also throw their hats back in to the ring.

    Comment by MI — January 28, 2015 @ 7:59 am

  4. To avoid a deadlock, the School Board probably should rely on some sort of ranked voting rather than straight votes that might result in a deadlock. But they should probably make that decision prior to the vote so that there’s no gamesmanship in a second RCV vote.

    Comment by Lauren Do — January 28, 2015 @ 8:19 am

  5. Re Good

    “Essentially his spouse was going on and on about how her husband is “against” the consolidation and will do everything in his power to keep it from happening.”

    That may be because “next year they will attend Encinal and Alameda High School.” (from his Q&A)

    I still say on paper he looks like he’s among the top three picks.

    Comment by jack — January 28, 2015 @ 10:57 am

  6. Steve Good’s “problem”, so to speak, is that he is a charter guy, even though he says he is not a charter guy. He will never, ever, ever get the vote of one of the Board members. He’ll have to hold on to Gary Lym and Niel Tam’s support and win over Solana Henneberry. Gary Lym already stated that he was not as judicious with his picks because of the “up to 10” option, it’s not 100% clear if he was a 100% backer of Steve Good.

    Based on the votes and who voted for him, he has an uphill climb unless he is Niel Tam and/or Gary Lym’s number one pick AND they decide to rank vote AND Niel Tam and Gary Lym work some strategy into their rankings.

    Comment by Lauren Do — January 28, 2015 @ 11:08 am

  7. To avoid a complete clusterf**k, the school board should probably familiarize itself with the provisions of the Brown Act about secret ballots and serial communications.

    Comment by Oh the Irony! — January 28, 2015 @ 12:12 pm

  8. 7. oooh good point. The members themselves didn’t chose this transparent ballot method, that was up to McPhetridge and the legal council, wasn’t it?. What is your take on how the ballot itself lends to possible serial violation and what they have to avoid? If it’s in a meeting they have any discussion they like, correct? Multiple private emails was the most obvious way to commit serial violation, but it is something I think can be done without nefarious intent.

    Comment by MI — January 28, 2015 @ 3:05 pm

  9. I was at the BOE meeting last night and the process to elect the board member was the last item on the agenda. I am sure they had the agenda item on there because the board knew they could not discuss the process as a group outside the board. The agenda item was presented by the board’s legal counsel, Chad Pimental. Long story short the Board did come to an agreement on the process they will use next Tuesday night. If people are interested they can view the recording of the meeting on the District website. I will say it was not a contentious issue and they came to an agreement quite quickly. So now we wait for next Tuesday’s meeting.

    Comment by Sarah O — January 28, 2015 @ 7:30 pm

  10. Hello Steve Good here—I appreciate the civility of the discussion on this site even with divergent opinions. I want to offer further information about issues that were mentioned regarding my candidacy. First, I too want to say that there really is an excellent pool of candidates to fill the vacant seat.

    Alameda High Issue:

    I appreciate that our posting on Alameda Peeps about the closing of Encinal without full public discourse and complete knowledge of the plan appears premature without additional information. It’s a question that all candidates have been asked by The Alamedan and our responses will be posted this weekend.

    School closer and moving schools is an area I have experience with, and have spoken to many Alameda families about his issues. The idea of closing schools is always a very emotional and passionate discussion, and is never a decision board members like to make. I understand the strong desire (and need) to restore historic Alameda High and the efficiencies that are gained by combining the schools; however, closing another west end school is another step towards disenfranchising a part of Alameda that seems to receive less attention than the rest of Alameda.

    Even if the large, new school was broken into smaller learning communities, it’s not the same as a local, neighborhood school that provides a choice for families in Alameda. A 4,000 student campus, regardless of how structured its programs are, doesn’t meet many our families’ needs and desire for smaller, more accessible schools.

    Closing schools brings down property values in the surrounding neighborhoods and leads to blight. Additionally, closing Encinal will almost guarantee charter developers to propose a high school to serve that side of the Island. We should continue the driving of innovation at Encinal, not looking to close it.

    Charter Schools:
    There are limited resources in our city and district, and we have large financial challenges ahead with both facilities and programs costs – losing more students and facilities to new charters would have a serious impact on the district’s ability to meet these challenges. I don’t support the development of new charter schools in Alameda.

    The charters schools I operate were founded by the San Francisco Sheriff’s Dept in partnership with the City and School District to meet a need that SFUSD couldn’t—to serve county jail inmates. In fact, SFUSD is a partner that contracts with us to provide special education to inmates. For our community programs, one of our major goals is to provide credit recovery for minors that have dropped out of school so they can return to the district and graduate. In a recent meeting I had with Senator Leno and Union President Dennis Kelly, they both stated that “All charter schools are not created equal” and that our program is exceptional and an exception.

    That said, Alameda has a couple charter schools that were started with the support of AUSD and are embraced by their student and parent communities. We are fortunate to have these choices and excellent charters in Alameda.

    However, now isn’t the time to be opening new schools while we are relying on bond and parcel taxes to fund our current school needs.

    Comment by Steve Good — January 29, 2015 @ 9:49 am

  11. Hi all, I just wanted to clarify that no plan has been made (or proposed) to close Encinal High School. The community meetings were set up in response to community members’ requests last spring for a public discussion of whether AUSD should modernize EHS and AHS (separately) or merge them onto a new campus. The sole purpose of these meetings is to share data and gather community feedback. The first meeting is tonight, at 7 pm in the Wood Middle School multi-purpose room. You can find details on all the meetings, as well as supporting materials, on our website: Thanks!

    Comment by Susan Davis (Community Affairs, AUSD) — January 29, 2015 @ 11:31 am

  12. 6. Mr. Good in 10 pretty much confirms my assessment of him in previous comment, regarding charters, if people choose to believe him. I did when he said during his three minutes at special meeting “I am not the charter guy”. In same comment I think I expressed pretty similar ideas about maintaining two high schools, so I’m thrilled that somebody with real expertise reiterated what is more or less gut instinct on my part. I support Barbara Kahn taking the lead in push back against proliferation of charters in Alameda and the existing charters getting what can seem like preferential treatment at the expense of real public system, but I thought I understood a difference in the charters Good administers and he seems to confirm that. Barbara Kahn, I hope you are reading this. The sort of charter Steve Good administers is in my opinion the sort of school for which charters were innovated and serves at risk populations, where as NEA for example is more or less a boutique charter which mostly caters to upwardly mobile parents concerned about “choice”.

    Comment by MI — January 29, 2015 @ 12:21 pm

  13. MI, Barbara Kahn is not pushing back against the proliferation of charters in Alameda. Rather, she’s on a personal vendetta against Academy of Alameda because it rains on her family’s personal goals for middle schools on the west end – and as she demonstrated in this week’s meeting, she’s quite prepared to throw Haight School, staff, parents, and students under the bus to help meet those goals. If you do some digging, I think you will find the Kahns were very much for AoA before they were suddenly against it…

    Comment by A-la-median — January 29, 2015 @ 1:04 pm

  14. 13. Barbara voted against putting AofA at Chipman, but from my direct communication with her ( prior to the vote) my impression is that she would not have voted for putting it at Haight either, because she is done pandering to charter constituents. Do I need to watch the tape to get some comment which would contradict that notion?

    I know Sylvia was a principal mover and shaker in establishing the Academy, and perhaps had some expectations thwarted, but I don’t want to get in to that. She is not on BOE, it’s her mom. Sounds like you may have vendetta against Kahns??

    Barbara shocked and disappointed a lot of people by holding ballot for bond measure hostage over seemingly unrelated personal trust issue with Vital. That was an awkward moment when Barbara may have shown bad judgement, but I think I understood what she thought she was doing or trying to do, and I can only fault her so much, cause hey, I didn’t trust Vital either! But I totally believe Barbara Kahn ran for office to fill what she felt was a void and not for personal reasons.

    Comment by MI — January 29, 2015 @ 2:09 pm

  15. Steve – thanks for your thoughtful remarks. In the past, some have suggested that keeping open two high schools has perpetuated inequality. As an example, the District funnels the majority of people of color, ELD students and special education students to Encinal, and has very few teachers of color to teach the diverse student population throughout Alameda schools. How have you handled these global issues with your charters and what would you do in Alameda? .

    Comment by Breathless — January 29, 2015 @ 2:15 pm

  16. 14. Perhaps you should share Kahn’s off-the-record communications with the Haight folks. I’m sure they’d love to reconcile her private reasoning with what they saw on the record in this week’s meeting. And don’t let us stop you from getting into Sylvia’s history with AoA, we’re all ears…

    Comment by A-la-median — January 29, 2015 @ 2:45 pm

  17. In response to 15.

    Thank you for the question. Having equitable schools on both sides of the Island is a social justice issue, and addressing how to create equitable learning communities and opportunities is really easier said than done. I suspect the demographics of Encinal are a function of the neighborhood demographics and the attendance areas boundaries. One thing I’ve seen in San Francisco, when the district wants to close an underperforming school (which leads to under enrollment) to create a more diverse and equitable learning opportunities, the community that the school reside in, sees this action as not an attempt to improve opportunities for students, rather it is seen as creating greater inequities.

    My daughter wants to go Encinal, and as we are a multi-ethnic family, we support her decision and see the diversity of the school as an opportunity that will enhance her school experience. I am a strong advocate of attracting teachers of color because this too improves our schools. However, this is a challenge many districts and schools face. There needs to be a solid recruitment and outreach plan to attract a diverse staff—and then pay them enough so they do move to another district after a few years.

    Turning the reputation (whether earned or not), of a school around is real challenge—which starts with the school leadership—and from what I’ve seen and heard, the principal at Encinal is outstanding. Having the right school leader partnering with the district, teachers, students and community to drive innovation and to create a culture of inclusion and support, will go far to eliminate the perceived inequity. And, will provide an attractive alternative school for families to choose from. This is already beginning to happen, that’s why my daughter is selecting Encinal over Alameda where her brother will attend.

    There are more direct actions the district could take to address an inequitable situation too; however, redrawing attendance areas or a weighted student enrollment process seem premature and overreaching at this point.

    Comment by Steve Good — January 29, 2015 @ 3:40 pm

  18. 16. kind of stupid comments. what is to share about Sylvia ? You made the innuendo about “digging” after all. As to off the record comments, I did share and it was what I said, end to pandering, period. If that doesn’t reconcile with what Haight folks heard, then perhaps you could supply me with some information which as I asked, either that or knock it off with the snarky BS. I’m not invested in a personal relationship with the Kahns, just trying to speak truthfully about what I see.

    Comment by MI — January 29, 2015 @ 5:20 pm

  19. 15. “the District funnels the majority of people of color, ELD students and special education students to Encinal”. can you substantiate that with some statistics. Not saying I know that to be wrong, but as Steve has commented he suspects “he demographics of Encinal are a function of the neighborhood demographics and the attendance areas boundaries.” Knowing who he is and what his expertise is, I’ll go with that assessment for the moment over anonymous hearsay. My wife taught twelve years in the district at both high schools ( three at Encinal and nine at Alameda High), including language learners and AVID at Alameda High, and unless I missed something, her anecdotal information didn’t seem to support what you suggest.

    If people feel they need the “protection” afforded by anonymity that is fine, but down side is it tends to undermine accountability, like incentives to get story straight.

    Comment by MI — January 29, 2015 @ 5:32 pm

  20. RE: 17 My original assumption about closing Encinal and having 1 large campus at Alameda High was incorrect. The option of one school would require building a new campus altogether, most likely at the base. For even more reason than before I am not in favor of this option. This would change the complexion entirely of our community and move all high school students to the far end of the city. There is something great about seeing kids around town at lunch, and afterschool, not to mention the additional cost and the additional bond required to pay for a new campus.

    Comment by steve good — January 29, 2015 @ 8:37 pm

  21. Details on the process to be used at the February 3 special meeting to select a new board member are on our website ( Hard copies of this document will also be available at the meeting. As a reminder, that meeting will start at 6 pm, and the address is 500 Pacific Ave. And yes, public comments are welcome!

    Comment by Susan Davis (Community Affairs, AUSD) — January 30, 2015 @ 4:13 pm

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