Letters to the Editor

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For those whose heads were left spinning by the enthusiasm with which the school board majority (Spencer opposed) gave away $4.6 million in cash for $1.95 million in return, here is some context.
City officials know that voters would never approve a tax increase to subsidize a property developer, such as Tim Lewis Communities, which, in addition to the Crown Beach property, has interests in and around the soon-to-be-former Alameda Unifed School District tidelands parcels. Voters, however, can routinely be counted on to approve parcels taxes and tax bond measures “for the children!”
 Knowing this, officials routinely and repeatedly bleed the school district dry through mechanisms like redevelopment, infrastructure financing districts, land swaps and other dumb deals, like we have seen in the past two weeks.
In Alameda, docile, compliant, school boards and administrators have repeatedly ignored their fiduciary and other duties to taxpayers, parents and students, and readily co-operated in these grand bargains. In 1991, the school district signed a deal with the City of Alameda that ultimately produced the $4.6 million for low-income housing that the district just gave away, because it’s not in the business of building low-income housing. 
(Back in 2008, when I publicized this, and a second, smaller, fund, hardly anybody — not even school district officials — knew about this money. Then-Superintendent Ardella Dailey angrily told me that the district had no obligation to track those funds that were explicitly set aside for the school district.)
In 2000, the school district signed another land-swap deal that gave away Mastick School, ostensibly, in return for the 17 acres of tidelands trust parcels that the district now insists is worthless, and can’t possibly be appraised for value. (I understand that San Francisco State University is now calling AUSD Chief Business Officer Dr. Robert Clark, asking him to return some of the letters after his name.)
That agreement also called for the school district to receive rental revenue from the tidelands parcels. The district now insists it is not, and never was in the business of managing property like this. If the property is worthless to the district, and the district was never in the business of managing the property, why on earth did they sign the agreement?
Now, in the middle of a facilities master plan process, the district is trading away cash and property for a pittance in return. Very odd decisions indeed by a school district that is coming begging to voters again later this year.
I encourage Alameda voters to reject this model of subsidizing private development corporations under the guise of paying for schools by voting against any tax measure that AUSD puts on the ballot this year or next.

— David Howard


When big companies move to a new city, they often talk about how they want to give back to the community. VF Outdoor puts its money where its mouth is.
VF Outdoor relocated its headquarters for its Action Sports brands (Jansport, The North Face and Timberland, among others) to Alameda less than two years ago. Last October, the company received a rebate from Alameda Municipal Power for its highly energy-efficient building. VF Outdoor immediately chose to give back to the community.
The Alameda Education Foundation (AEF) was extremely fortunate to serve as the conduit for this generosity, and we have made sure to put the funds to good use impacting thousands of K-12 public school students across Alameda. 
AEF used VF’s $50,000 donation to adopt 30 classroom teachers through our Adopt A Classroom program. These included elementary school physical-education teachers and middle and high school music, technology and science teachers. This impacts approximately 9,000 students.
The donation also helps support AEF’s middle-school sports program that serves more than 550 sixth- to eighth-grade student-athletes; and to enable us to sponsor a one-on-one sophomore academic counseling program at the three Alameda high schools, which will help close to 700 students with high school course selection and post-graduation planning.
As I write this letter, I am just informed that VF has committed 200 backpacks for the community wide Equipped 4 Success school supply drive that AEF coordinates.
Alameda is a community that values community involvement and support for its schools. I’d say VF Outdoor certainly fits right in. Welcome to Alameda, VF Outdoor!

— Bill Sonneman, President, Alameda Education Foundation


We are writing this letter to express our dismay about a situation that exists in our town. We love children and have devoted much of our lives and work to developing them to become future leaders. We are homeowners and voters in Alameda and active participants in civic affairs. 
We are dedicated teachers and have taught every grade from preschool through high school. We have also worked in several corporations as programmers and managers. We have supervised student teachers and employees. We are members and officers of Zeta Phi chapter of the International Women Educator’s Honor Society, Delta Kappa Gamma.
It has come to our attention that one of our very fine new teachers was “non re-elected” and asked to resign. This means that she must leave our school district and cannot teach here. What a loss to our children and community. 
It doesn’t make sense, for this teacher is well regarded by parents, loved by her students, admired by many of her colleagues and greatly appreciated by the volunteer assistants who work with her in her classroom. She has also received excellent reviews from her principal and supervisor.
However, this same principal has “non re-elected” 11 other teachers in the last three years. Many parents have reported transferring their children to a different school because they didn’t want their child to be in a school with that principal making those decisions. 
There are many procedures set up to evaluate teachers, to discharge or rehire them. What practices do we have in place in our district to evaluate principals and to achieve fairness and justice for all?

— Fern Kruger and Joanne Robinson