Joint meeting brings city, schools closer together

City Council, school board share issues, accomplishments

The Pleasanton City Council and school board congratulated the city's two high school "We the People" teams Monday for attaining the top positions in the statewide competition last month.

The Amador Valley High School team took first place comprehensive high school with Foothill High finishing second. Both teams won the highly competitive program in their districts at the local and regional contests.

Members of both teams filled the school board meeting room to receive handshakes of congratulations during a special joint meeting of the council and school board. Each group also posed for photographs after being given certificates of honor.

The Amador team now moves on to the We the People finals in Washington, D.C. next month, the 13th time Amador Valley has represented California in the We the People national competition. The school's team won the nationals in 1995.

Councilwoman Cheryl Cook-Kallio, who coaches the We the People team at Irvington High School in Fremont, where she teaches, praised both teams for their hard work and hours of preparation required to successfully compete in the national program.

The We the People celebration came at the start of a two-hour joint meeting of the two Pleasanton government agencies. The two groups meet at least twice a year to discuss issues of mutual interest.

As a unified district, all of the city of Pleasanton is also in the Pleasanton school district, which also includes Castlewood and Happy Valley, which are not part of the city. The northeast corner of Ruby Hill, about 15%, while a part of Pleasanton, is actually in the Livermore school district. By agreement, school; children who live there attend Pleasanton schools although taxes on those properties goes to the Livermore district.

As part of Monday's discussion, Becky Hopkins, Pleasanton's manager of Youth and Teen Services, reported on the 2014 Youth in Government Day" program held last month. She said 49 students representing Amador Valley, Foothill, Village and Horizon high schools spent the day "shadowing" professionals in various city and school district departments, from the city manager and school superintendent's office to the Operations Services Center where water quality is continuously tested and street signs are prepared.

During an afternoon program, the students worked in six-member groups to evaluate what they had seen and also to consider how teenagers might be better served in Pleasanton. Since a long-planned Youth Center has yet to be seriously considered here, the groups recommended renovating and expanding the Amador recreation center behind the Dolores Bengtson Aquatic Center for use as a facility for teenagers.

Hopkins said some of the carry-away messages she had from teens in the Government Day program included:

"I learned that people in service should be passionate about what they are doing. You should be in it for the right reasons."

"I will take this lesson with me and use it to guide me to creating my path in whatever career I choose."

"It would be nice to have an internship or student teaching job for a school."

Council and school board members also heard reports from City Manager Nelson Fialho and School Superintendent Parvin Ahmadi.

Fialho and Planning Director Brian Dolan reviewed recent decisions by the City Council with regard to high density housing. Fialho said the city was required by both a court order and state housing authorities to provide more high density housing for very low, low, and moderate income groups, so-called workforce housing, to accommodate those in the city's burgeoning workforce who want to live here but can't find affordable housing.

As a result, the council, on the recommendations of task forces and the city Planning Commission, rezoned 70 acres of available land for high density housing. Some projects on those acres are now underway while the rest are likely to remain undeveloped for years to come.

Dolan said a task force is evaluating development possibilities for the city's east side, which includes about 400 acres of undeveloped land east of Valley Avenue and north of Stanley Boulevard and the Union Pacific Railroad tracks. That planning effort could take another year or more, and then will be reviewed by committees and commissions before going to the City Council for consideration.

In any event, Dolan said, development after July 1 will be subject to a new Growth Management ordinance limiting annual construction to no more than 238 units a year.

The council and school board also heard an update by Davis Demographics & Planning, a consulting group, on the school district's 10-year enrollment projections. As reported earlier to the school board, the consulting firm indicated the district will need to open an additional elementary school, the city's 10th, by 2020.

Although the school district owns a school site on Vineyard Avenue, purchased years ago with the intent of building Neal Elementary School to serve Ruby Hill and newer developments in the vicinity, the school was never built.

The demographer's report indicates that there may be a greater need now for an elementary school in or near the Hacienda Business Park, where high density housing projects are planned.

Ahmadi said the district has hired a property broker to look at possible available sites in Hacienda for a school.

School board member Christ Grant thanked Mayor Jerry Thorne and members of the City Council for setting up the joint meeting.

"We've had decades of collaboration between the city and school district with very good results," Grant said. "With a park next to every school, resource officers protecting our schools and students and joint use facilities, I believe we have saved millions of dollars together."

"If there are other cities and school district looking at how to work together, they should look at Pleasanton," he added.

Pleasanton Weekly staff.


Like this comment
Posted by William Tell
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 19, 2014 at 9:17 am

Did Ms. Amadhi and the board follow this up with a closed session regarding which one of their political enemies they will falsely accuse and fire next?

Like this comment
Posted by Wheels wobbling
a resident of Downtown
on Mar 19, 2014 at 10:07 am

Since this was a glorifed presser, I assume they didn't also discuss 'challenges', such as the disappearance of 20:1 class size in K-3 and Gr 9 math and English, traits that truly sustainable high-achieving school districts have been able to maintain in spite of state budget cuts.

Not so PUSD; here, the PUSD management begs and pleads for parents to partially fill the gap and then treats getting back to 25:1 in a single grade as some grand accomplishment.

Like this comment
Posted by Sweet like syrup
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 19, 2014 at 10:45 am

It sounds like the usual content-free Kumbaya meeting where no real issues are discussed, they all pretend to make "goo goo" eyes at each other, and pretend they like each other.

Then they adjourn and talk among themselves how each is the most incompetent public agency ever formed in the universe.

Like this comment
Posted by pleasantonwasnice40yearsago
a resident of Del Prado
on Mar 19, 2014 at 11:40 am

It would have been nice if they would have spent their time working on solving some of the problems the school district faces instead of a propaganda party about how wonderful They all are.

Like this comment
Posted by local
a resident of Birdland
on Mar 19, 2014 at 5:39 pm

These joint meetings are always just for show. Neither agency asks any meaningful questions and each side congratulates the other on the work they have done.

The real work occurs at the Joint School Board/City Liaison committee meetings. Those meetings are open to the public but they do not publicize it. Depending on who the representatives to the committee are for the school and city, they can address real problems or they just handle fluff. Years ago this committee worked on the financials and the up and coming building so the district can plan. Recently the school district does not ask real questions of the city. It is a shame. The school district used to plan ahead while now they just react.

Like this comment
Posted by Sweel like syrup
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 19, 2014 at 11:52 pm

PUSD has such a great reputation these days, doesn't it?

Like the last 15 years, no developer will ever help the morally bankrupt school district build any school after what it did by charging Signature's President and Chief Executive Officer Jim Ghielmetti and the company's Executive Vice President Jim McKeehan with "Fraud" and "Deceit" over the PUSD Neal school fiasco.

And Stubbs & Leone? They're 'ba-a-a-aack.'

Like this comment
Posted by Stop the ProGrowth Mayor and Council
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 20, 2014 at 9:27 am

There is no more room in our schools. If you are reading this you need to go to the Pleasanton City's Community Workshop on March 24th at the Operations Service Center at 6:30pm. The address is 3333 Busch Road (the Operations Center across from the dump).

This is a casual meeting to talk about rezoning for MORE houses!!! Yikes, MORE HOUSES including a land on Stanely Blvd. called the Irby-Kaplan-Zia property. OMG this is crazy. This is in addition to the whole East Pleasanton project of up to 2000 MORE houses.

Just a reminder, the City of Pleasanton already has more than 1200 units zoned and some approved for high density housing - yes apartments ALL OVER TOWN!

Why would we ever consider MORE houses? Come and tell these folks what you think. That is the only way they will listen, from the voters. You can bet the land owners are begging them for more houses, these people need to hear from you and me. Show up and be heard.

Like this comment
Posted by Curious
a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Mar 21, 2014 at 12:20 pm

Wheels Wobbling, you say that "truly sustainable high-achieving school districts have been able to maintain" "20:1 class size in K-3 and Gr 9 math and English" "in spite of state budget cuts." You go on to imply that they were able to do so without supplemental local funding.

Could you please identify a specific high-achieving school district in California that has been able to maintain these class sizes without a parcel tax and without supplemental parent funding? I'm truly interested to know who they are so I could understand how this was done.

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Ridgeview Commons

on Jun 4, 2017 at 5:33 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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