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Archive for November, 2008

Alameda’s new Nea charter school approved

The Alameda Unified School District board voted last night 3-1, with board president Bill Schaff out of town and Janet Gibson dissenting, to approve the Nea Community Learning Center charter. The school’s facilitators have requested space to house the new school at Longfellow Education Center. The Island has details.

Posted on Wednesday, November 26th, 2008
Under: California, charter schools, Island Life, school board, Schools | 1 Comment »

Alameda school board to vote on Nea charter tonight

Ten days ago I attended a two-hour workshop sponsored by the Alameda Unified School District on the finer parts of the laws governing charter schools. I learned a good deal about charter law, but by far the biggest takeway from the panel discussion, which included Chuck Cadman of School Consulting, Inc., Carlene Naylor, the associate superintendent for the Alameda County Office of Education and Carolina Monroy of the California Teachers Association, is that the key to a successful charter, however it’s organized, is cooperation between charter and district. Monroy:

The reason we have some really good charters is because they’re working in a very complementary manner with the school district. There’s give and take. There’s discussions of the financial aspects. There’s constant ongoing communication…

When I’ve see they haven’t been really successful is this mindset that’s competitive, that we’re doing what the district can’t…that’s really very harmful all around.

As those of you who followed the first application for charter from Nea last year may have noted, there seems to be some negative history between the district and the Nea organizers, many of whom are affiliated with the Alameda Community Learning Center. So whatever the school board decides tonight on Nea’s second application, my hope is that district administrators and charter administrators will work hard to work together.

Posted on Tuesday, November 25th, 2008
Under: California, charter schools, school board, Schools | No Comments »

For Alameda: Economic news from around the state

Los Angeles Times: Foreclosures, delinquencies skyrocketing among ‘prime’ borrowers

Los Angeles Times: Shopping malls are running on empty

The Sacramento Bee: Demand for social services rises as funding falls

The Sacramento Bee: 3 California budget practices fall short. More Dan Walters.

The Mercury News: State legislators call off Sunday session as budget impasse deepens

And even more state budget crisis news.

Posted on Monday, November 24th, 2008
Under: California, Prop. 13, Prop. 98 | 2 Comments »

Alameda: Taking a look at prejudice and stereotypes

The column I write for the Alameda Journal is up online now. This week it’s about some of the old stereotypes and prejudices that still impact our town.

Posted on Friday, November 21st, 2008
Under: Island Life, Print columns, Schools | 17 Comments »

New superintendent for Alameda schools

After a weekend of closed door interviews and another closed session today, Alameda’s school board has offered a contract to a new superintendent. Kirsten M. Vital currently works for the Oakland Unified School District where she has served as the community accountability chief since early 2006. She has also worked for the Los Angeles Unified School District as the Director of Instruction and Health and Human Services as well as co-principal of Santa Monica High School. Vital earned a bachelor’s from Northeastern and a master’s in eduction from Whittier College. Here’s slice of the press release from the district this afternoon:

The Alameda Unified School District and the members of the Alameda Unified School Board are pleased to announce that they have offered a contract to serve as Superintendent of the Alameda Unified School District to Ms. Kirsten Vital…

The school district conducted an extensive search and was pleased to find the best person for the job right here in the Bay Area…

“We couldn’t be happier with the choice of Ms. Vital,” said School Board president William Schaff. “In her previous and current positions she has been extensively involved in all aspects of running a school district,” said Schaff.

“As our district moves forward in these difficult economic times, I am confident that Ms. Vital will bring the experience, energy, and hands on approach the district needs,” he said. “She understands and will actively work to involve every member of our community in the future success of our schools. She truly understands our motto of excellence and equity for all children,” added Schaff.

You can read all the whole press release here.

Posted on Thursday, November 20th, 2008
Under: school board, Schools | 18 Comments »

Alameda City Council approves sale of AP&T’s telecom business to Comcast

Last night, past midnight, Alameda’s City Council approved the sale of the money-losing telecom part of Alameda Power & Telecom. Michele Ellson had a write up in last week’s Alameda Journal. Some history:

The city embarked on its cable business a decade ago, after voters gave approval. The city originally planned a $10 million investment in the system and up to $20.5 million in financing. Ultimately, the costs grew to include $44 million transferred from AP&T’s electric operation and a total of $39.3 million in bonds.

The sale of the money-losing venture had been greeted with relief by many in the city:

City Auditor Kevin Kearney called the deal a “miracle.” In February, the Public Utilities Board directed AP&T staff to look at three options for the future of its telecommunications line, including refinancing its existing bonds and providing the same services, refinancing and adding a voice service, or selling the system.

Mark Northcross, a consultant hired by the utility to help examine those options, said the cable business doesn’t make enough funds to refinance the bonds without putting up money from its electric business or the city’s General Fund as a guarantee. And he said adding a voice component could cost the city, which is facing its own budget crisis, an additional $2 million. “Selling the system now eliminates further financial risk for AP&T and the city,” Northcross said.

My understanding is that those with alamedanet.net email addresses will have 18 months to transfer them over. Current customers should expect info about changes to their cable packages and rates in the mail Look for more discussion of the deal at Lauren Do’s blog here and here.

Posted on Wednesday, November 19th, 2008
Under: Alameda Power & Telecom, City Council, Island Life | 1 Comment »

Like Alameda, Concord is planning for post-Navy development

I ran across this story today about development plans for the former Concord Naval Weapons Station. This from the news report:

The “clustered villages” concept calls for 28,900 people, 12,300 housing units, 26,500 jobs and about 3,200 acres of parkland and open space. That’s 64 percent of the base’s 5,028 inland acres, which is the part slated for development.

There’s a bit more detail here, and the Contra Costa Times—one of the parent publications of this blog—has a whole page devoted to the former Navy facility in Concord. You can read up about development at Alameda’s former base on Lauren Do‘s blog and, too, on Michele Ellson’s The Island.

Posted on Tuesday, November 18th, 2008
Under: Alameda Point, Development, Island Life, Off-Island Life, Transportation | 7 Comments »

Hey, Alameda: Budget crisis news from around the state

Perhaps you’ve been distracted by the failing of major banking institutions/insurance companies/car companies, to notice that California’s budget is looking to be $28 billion short in the next 18 months. What might the impact be around the state? Here’s some headlines:

By capping enrollment in the state college systems, the community college system may become even more impacted. And more cuts to K-12 schools seem inevitable. Look for cuts to social services, to city services, and parks.

Posted on Tuesday, November 18th, 2008
Under: California, Prop. 13 | 2 Comments »

Anti-gay group NOT coming to Alameda

The latest word from the Westboro Baptist Church, an anti-gay group based in Kansas, is that they will not be protesting in Alameda tomorrow night. According to their web site, they will be protesting at Barack Obama’s grandmother’s funeral in Hawaii instead. There is a pro-gay rights protest, planned in concert with protests nationwide, Saturday morning, 10:30 a.m. at Alameda City Hall.

Posted on Thursday, November 13th, 2008
Under: Events, gay rights., Island Life | 5 Comments »

Alameda Power & Telecom moving toward sale of troubled telecom

As has been in the news lately, Alameda Power & Telecom is working on the sale of its debt-ridden telecom business. Apparently there has been an offer from Comcast. Some details here and here. More info, I’m sure, will be forthcoming. Ahh, Michele Ellson has the scoop.

Posted on Thursday, November 13th, 2008
Under: Alameda Power & Telecom, City Council, Events | 5 Comments »