Oh, the noise, noise, noise, noise!

Dallas Lane is not a Skyline High School student, or a teacher for that matter. But she is certainly abreast of the high school’s internal communications. In fact, she can’t escape them.

Lane and her husband live close to Skyline, work from home, and they say they hear every single word blasted from the school’s frequently utilized PA system.

“I’ve heard it early in the morning, at 7 — Beep! And then an announcement,” Lane said at a neighborhood association meeting tonight. “Somebody’s got their hand on that little button,” she added. “It’s too loud, and it’s used excessively.”

Skyline’s new principal, Al Sye, seemed to listen carefully to the neighbors’ complaints and suggestions about truancy, graffiti, track and field lights (more on that to come) and noise pollution. Someone suggested disabling a few of the speakers that project most directly into the neighborhood, or to do away with PA announcements except for emergencies — which Sye said he’d consider.

“It’s not impossible,” Sye said.

Several neighbors also talked about a popular destination for kids who are cutting class — the intersection of Fernhoff and Bacon roads, near Merritt College. But whenever they’ve tried to report the truants, they said, they’ve had a tough time finding anyone who is interested and willing to take action.

One woman said she recently called the “truancy hotline” number posted in her neighborhood newspaper, but that she was told (quite rudely, apparently) to call the police. Others said the main number at Skyline sometimes just rings and rings.

There’s a reason for that, explained Vinnie Bly, a new assistant principal at the high school who also came to the meeting. “We inherited a school with no voice mail system.”

That’s not the only deficiency they inherited. Sye told the neighbors that when he was the principal of a large high school in Oak Park, Ill., he had 26 security officers for 2,800 students. Now, with 2,100 kids at Skyline, he has five. How’s that for a statistic?

image from Kevin’s site at flickr.com/creativecommons

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • Skyline teacher

    Not to seem unsympathetic, but did somebody ask these folks if the school was here when they moved into the neighborhood? It’s been here since 1960.

    It’s a closed campus and the number of wandering truants and garbage is much smaller than that near “open campuses” around town. Most kids who sneak out drive straight to fast food rather than hang out on dull yet pretty Skyline Blvd.

    A VERY few neighbors are already keeping Skyline from using lights most nights for student sports that keep kids out of trouble. How much should this handful of people, who obviously have the money to live pretty much anywhere they want, get to dominate decisions about a campus that serves thousands every day?

  • skyline parent

    I know that Skyline has far fewer opportunities to have any sports activities because of a select few neighbors who have complained about the lights and then forced an arrangement on OUSD regarding time limits. Although my children do not participate in sports, I was very unhappy to hear that students are being forced to run track events in the dark. I think that when it comes to the lights, people in the neighborhood (where I also live) can look the other direction if the lights bother them. I believe the real purpose of the complaint is to limit activities at the school rather than being disturbed in their homes. I would say shame on those who are so opposed to everything about the school. Most of the students there care about learning and their futures. I would not want to be included in the group that badmouths local schools or students.

    I do have sympathy about the PA system though and agree that it should be limited to later hours (8a.m.-8p.m.?). Unfortunately, the system is so outdated that most students can’t hear the announcements anyway. I would prefer that announcements be printed and distributed to teachers to read aloud.

    I concur with the Skyline teacher that truant students head away from the school rather than sticking to the neighborhood. Reality/history say that some high school students will skip school, whether they live in Oakland, Berkeley, Orinda or Danville.

  • Skyline Teacher

    If you give teachers the announcements, guaranteed most will not read them to class.

  • Skyline teacher

    One more point: Scheduled school announcements for students are only given at 10:20 a.m. The other announcements are to find/alert people on campus — custodians, teachers, students who parents are looking for, etc.

  • Jesse Dutton-Kenny

    Skyline Teacher is correct. The only time I ever hear the PA is for the daily 3rd period announcements (a time when many neighbors are at work), which I have found EXTREMELY helpful this year, or when there is some type of emergency/important notice. Teachers failed to adequately read the announcements my first 3 years at Skyline, and I find this new system extremely helpful (as it is the ONLY place where seniors find out information on scholarships, college meetings, etc.). I sincerely hope Mr. Sye does not take these complaints into consideration so much as to do away with the only source of information regarding the school for many students.

  • John

    I distinctly recall announcements being “adequately read” in ‘home room’ with sparingly few campus PA broadcasts. I do recall a general announcement regarding the 1968 assassination of Martin Luther King.

    Although Skyline HS has been a neighbor in the Skyline hood since 1960, the behaviors of this neighbor have dramatically changed forty-eight years. It should also be observed that times are different now. It’s no longer fashionable or a political necessity for Oakland’s leaders and public institutions to regard the concerns or needs of people “who obviously have the money to live pretty much anywhere they want.”

    So why live in Oakland when you could live elsewhere and be insulted (& assaulted), annoyed, and inconvenienced for a fraction of what it costs to live next door to a typical Oakland high school.

  • Skyline teacher

    John, on what basis are you making this sweeping claim that “the behaviors of this neighbor have dramatically changed forty-eight years.”


  • Sharon

    John, apparently a former OUSD special ed teacher, seems to have gotten fed up with Oakland, OUSD, and the OTA some time ago, but for some reason still likes to bash those entities and advise readers to move over the hill to Orinda and beyond.

  • John

    Sharon! Your reading comprehension skills are commendable. It’s obvious you didn’t require my kind of expertise during your early school days. However, I think it’s a bit unfair to accuse me of bashing my old stomping grounds when I am merely giving back to the community. As for my move “over the hill,” and likewise recommendation for others, it could hardly be said I’m a voice crying in the wilderness:

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/12/06/INCE14H2F3.DTL [Article quote: “The steady increase in crime since 2006 has raised residents’ concern about personal safety and security to the level where that now vies with the city’s underperforming school system as a legitimate reason to move out of Oakland.”]

    Skyline Teacher: The “evidence” is overwhelming, so overwhelming that I’m overwhelmed by the naivety of your request for evidence. But then it could well be that my comparisons of Skyline then and now are a bit extreme. For example, consider the two Skyline students arrested earlier this year on suspicion of armed robbery. I remember this big fat Skyline kid stealing my cinnamon roll four decades ago. When I confronted him he retaliated by wrapping his big fat arms around me and squeezing hard, so you could say I was the victim of armed robbery by a Skyline student forty years plus ago.

    Oh yeah, the two arrested Skyline High School armed robbers reportedly told police that another Skyline student had secured their revolver for them in his locker. During the 60’s I knew this kid who kept firecrackers in his Skyline locker. Whether it’s a revolver or firecrackers it’s still illegal! In fact, given the fire danger in the Oakland hills one might argue that the possession of firecrackers could adversely impact many more lives than a revolver.

    When I attended Skyline the school didn’t “maintain a full-time force of school police officers who use cameras and foot patrols to monitor activities such as vandalism, drugs, alcohol…” Neither, as reported now, do I recall any “race-related violence” at Skyline. Although I recall a serious dispute breaking out over the practice course for a cross country ‘race.’ Oh! I also once remember seeing a police car parked in front of the administration building so I guess there were also cops on campus when I was there as well.

    Anyway Skyline Teacher thanks for throwing down the gauntlet and demanding “evidence” for my low elevation claim regarding Oakland’s highest elevation Oakland high school. It gave me the kick in the butt I needed to re-visit and re-think my (above) post and conclude that Skyline really hasn’t changed that much has it. Hmmm

    Forget all the crap in the above first paragraphs, I’m starting to think I made a mistake in ever leaving my home town – the only place I ever called home for fifty-six years. Perhaps I should pack sandwiches and borrow my friend’s big vehicle to return for a brief visit? I could enjoy lunch in the Humvee with the bullet proof windows rolled up.