You said it: Advocating for the future

You said it: Advocating for the future

Marilyn Schumacher

I love the real estate agent's broker's tour in our town of Alameda. Besides seeing property, it's often a good time to talk about issues in the town.

This time we were talking about our two high schools. There's a lot of work do be done on both of them: $10 million at Alameda High for seismic repairs, and $2.5 million at Encinal High just for the pools.

I've now attended two school board meetings, facilitated by a professional, held for the specific purpose to have the community have their say about Alameda High School. Many have wanted to see the building saved. Some want to keep the high school. Some want to save the Kofman Auditorium (it has been seismically strengthened).

The Alameda Unified School District is completely separate from the law of our (is)land about not tearing down historical landmarks. It is an option.

I'm thinking about the future kids of this town, most of whom may not be born yet. We've been told that we need to provide schools for the 21st century. I think that is too late. We are already two decades into the 21st century. I think we should be talking about the 22nd century.

I think we should build a completely new high school, for ALL of our high school kids, at our closed based, now known as Alameda Point, formerly known as Alameda Naval Air Station. I understand there are 12 acres to be had by the school district at the Point. Sell Thompson Field (a ridiculous place to have a type of stadium ... so far from the school). Install new pools at the new site for all students. There is economy of scale here.

Here is a link to what some folks are doing in Chicago, right now, at a public charter school, adding one grade per year until they are fully a K-12 school. If you don't like to read, then skip it and just scroll down to the artist's vision. Check it out:

I'm proposing a re-purposing of the Alameda High building. Keep the facade! Put it up for sale and let developers put in condos or townhomes, with commercial on the ground level and parking in the back. It is downtown! A perfect location.

You don't even need a car to live at the site. Take a bus to the ferries, across to Oakland and San Francisco, and further (in the near future). Most everybody could walk to most everything. Call it Alameda High! Just create housing full-time, instead of students coming and going to class.

One of the cute arguments involves the 4,000 members of the Alameda High School Alum page on Facebook! We can't take the school away from them. Really? Why not? Maybe they come to a reunion every 10 years, not even held at the high school. Maybe they visit their parents when they come to town. Maybe they live right here in Alameda or close by ... maybe a long way away. But if they don't pay taxes here they don't have a say! Every one of us does have memories (good and bad) of high school, and the memories run deeper than a re-purposed building.

One of the facts of life on Alameda has been what I call "the education imbalance." East End vs. West End. This is starting to disappear NOW because parents and children are choosing schools that are out of "their neighborhood" due to various magnet and charter school offerings. How about the local (but mostly unknown high school), the Alameda Science and Technology Institute (at College of Alameda)? These kids graduate from high school with two years of college!

Do we need to come up with transportation? Yes, I think we can.

And if more kids can come into Alameda because of the schools we have ... that will put us on the map for taking care of business in our home town.

I've watched voters vote bonds down, and give parcel tax monies for years. We can't do any more fixes on these buildings! Fixes will never fix the buildings.

We need to think more about the future. It is here now. Grab the land at Alameda Point. Build on it for those who need it. It's our future.


Jon Spangler's picture
Submitted by Jon Spangler on Mon, Apr 29, 2013

How do you suggest that the cash-strapped AUSD and property owners, and taxpayers of Alameda PAY for your proposal, Marilyn?

I do not see any income sources likely to be approved by voters or otherwise become available for a new high school campus--or for retrofitting the AHS and Encinal campuses, either, for that matter...

Submitted by nowwhat on Mon, Apr 29, 2013

*I'm thinking about the future kids of this town, most of whom may not be born yet.*

First I will point out that ALL of the future kids of this town have not yet been born.

One high school: cheat every kid out of small classrooms, a sense of community, and choices of Alameda schools that are a good match for them. It doesnt matter what other school districts are doing. We are AUSD in Alameda, California and we need to do what is best for our students.

One high school campus (if it happens) built on a site that is currently on the Superfund list is, thankfully, not going to happen soon. What a relief.