Letters to the Editor: Put the school bond on the ballot

Letters to the Editor: Put the school bond on the ballot

Letters to the Editor

On Tuesday night, Alameda’s Board of Education has one final opportunity to vote to place a bond measure on the November ballot that, if passed, would generate nearly $180 million in funding to upgrade Alameda’s schools. As detailed in the most recent language, the money would be used for such core needs as “improving earthquake safety,” “improving heating, cooling, plumbing, and electrical systems,” and “replacing leaky roofs.” It also seeks to address an inescapable space issue, as 1,000 additional students are expected to squeeze into Alameda’s schools over the next 10 years; currently there is no space to accommodate this growth. The bond measure was formulated through a months-long process of engagement between a team of architects, administrators, and parents and teachers at every school across the district.

As a parent of two children at Otis Elementary, the choice of whether to support this bond is a no-brainer. At Otis, some of the programs that parents cherish are already threatened for lack of space, and the problem is only projected to get worse in coming years. At other facilities, such as Lum, aged heating systems are creating uncomfortable conditions; at Alameda’s largest high school, decades-old structural issues pose a threat to students’ safety.

Still, while every public school in Alameda would receive much-needed funding, the future of this bond is sadly uncertain, as two of the board’s five members are blocking the measure from going forward. For Trish Spencer, casting a “no” vote has simply become a reflex. But for Barbara Kahn, a lifelong schools advocate, the opposition is more surprising. Ms. Kahn told me personally that she “wants a bond” and admitted that the schools’ condition is “shameful,” but that her opposition has to do more with politics and asserting board control.

As this Tuesday’s meeting is the last chance to put the bond on the ballot, I would urge Ms. Kahn to join her three colleagues and vote to put the bond on the ballot, while working with the administration to build a more collaborative working relationship. The future of our schools is far too important to stake over politics and personal grudges. The thousands of students enrolled across our district (not to mention the hundreds of teachers and staff members) deserve safe, modern classrooms, and our entire community deserves the benefits – such as increased property values and higher standards of living – that go along with having high-quality schools.

Chuck Kapelke