Letters to the Editor
We have lived in Alameda nearly all our lives and, as young people, attended Alameda’s elementary, middle and high schools. We both went off to college outside the Bay Area and came back to live our lives, establish our careers and raise our children here in Alameda. We have spent many years as integral participants in the growth, development and progress of our community and of our schools.
At this time, we believe we are at a huge turning point or crossroads for our schools and educational opportunities. It is difficult for a young family to purchase or rent a home and raise their children in our community. It is difficult to cross the divide for the haves and the have-nots here in Alameda. It comes down to money. There are not enough funds to keep up our small neighborhood schools that we all value. There are not enough funds to maintain our veteran teachers and to hire new well-qualified teachers. We cannot compete with the salaries from outlying districts.
What are we to do now? Shall we close down Encinal High School and consolidate it with Alameda High School? Shall we close Wood Middle School and have the main middle school at the west end of Alameda be the former Encinal High? Shall we sell off Lum Elementary School property to home builders? Shall we sell off Thompson Field for new homes and have an all sports complex at the former Encinal High field? And, should we as an entire community, pass an ongoing parcel tax that will fund competitive teacher salaries?
There is much to discuss, as there is simply not a quick fix. Reasonable and lively dialogue regarding our schools needs to happen. Negative and hurtful suggestions such as one that was written by a Bay Farm Elementary School parent recently regarding boundaries are not helpful (“Merging high schools is a bad idea,” July 26).
While we sincerely appreciate the formation of the consolidation committee that Alameda Unified School District has formed to meet from September to January of this year, we truly believe that there is so much more to consider, ponder and figure out. We must create a plan that will carry our schools to mid-century.
There is no quick fix for the district’s complex financial dilemmas. A master plan is a must. We implore our Superintendent, Sean McPhetridge, and his extremely able staff, and the Board of Education to begin the formation of this process.
Let’s be thoughtful, forward thinking and, as a community, begin to develop a timely and long-term plan for the children of Alameda, for tomorrow and for the next two decades.
In response to Steven Gu’s letter (“Merging high schools is a bad idea,” July 26) I would suggest that the principal job of Alameda Unified School District (AUSD) should be to make sure that all Alameda high school students have the opportunity to receive a top-ranked education.
There is something fundamentally antidemocratic about any proposal for some students to receive a top-notch public education opportunity, based on residential address and ability to pay a surcharge. Our country has a tarnished, destructive history of such Jim Crow public education policies. We must not revert to such wrong-headed policies that have had lasting, negative impacts on our communities.
The question of merging high schools is an entirely different matter, and requires community review and thoughtful input. In the meantime, I believe that I am not alone in offering a strong voice in support for AUSD’s ongoing work to ensure that all students, not just some, receive a first-class education.
Welcome to Alameda, Shawn Smith! I enjoyed reading your enthusiastic, uplifting, positive view of our city (“Wonderful Alameda,” Aug. 2) and I totally agree with you.
Your family is a welcome asset to Alameda. Welcome, friend, to wonderful Alameda.