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(Op-Ed) Voting for a Candidate Who Puts 'Kids First'

Mike Melendez shares why his vote goes to Alameda Unified School District school board candidate Trish Spencer.

By Mike Melendez

The Alameda Unified School District's mission statement is simple: “AUSD will effectively use our limited resources to ensure that every student succeeds.” 

The statement recognizes that AUSD does not have unlimited funds to meet the objective for student success.  No matter what the issue, the AUSD School Board should answer a threshold question before proceeding:   “Will the Board’s action help ensure student success?”

If the answer is “no,” the analysis ends, and the Board should take no action.  If the answer is “yes,” the Board must then take into account available finances and how funding any action will affect the bigger picture.

During the Measure A campaign, AUSD outlined the parade of horribles that would ensue if the measure were defeated.  By a razor-thin margin, the measure passed, and Alameda parcel owners are now paying a significant yearly tax for Alameda schools.  Alamedans voted for the measure because we were told that it was necessary to AUSD’s mission.  The electorate’s expectation was that the School Board would be prudent and frugal stewards of our money. 

But after Measure A passed, the Board, by a 3-2 vote, entered into a six-year, $550,000-per-year lease to house the District offices in Marina Village.  This, despite AUSD having sufficient available alternative space that would have required no rent.  

The purported reason given for why the available AUSD space would not work was that the 100 or so District office employees need to be in one place.  If one can suspend reality and assume that this purported reason somehow fits AUSD’s mission to ensure student success, the question remains whether this was a prudent expenditure –especially when weighed against other student needs. 

The key component to this reason seems to be that the District employees need to be able to communicate.  Seemingly, creative solutions for that problem were available. 

For example, one modern technological advance, the telephone, allows people to speak to one another from remote locations.  That should have been sufficient to address the problem. 

But even if were not, and the employees truly needed to share “face time,” AUSD could have purchased each employee an iPad for $500 or less, and they could have Skyped each other as necessary. 

Although a $50,000 expenditure to buy each employee an iPad still would have been improvident, it certainly beats spending $550,000 per year on an unnecessary lease. 

AUSD needs to do the best job it can with the resources we have at a level that is sustainable.  Of the incumbents seeking re-election, only Trish Spencer voted against the Marina Village lease. 

During her first term, Trish has shown that she understands AUSD’s mission to advance student success and that she takes seriously spending money that has been entrusted to her by the voters. 

Trish has the fortitude to vote against measures that do not fit AUSD’s mission and therefore are unnecessary, even when she is in the minority.  Her campaign slogan, “Kids First,” reflects the focus for her public service.  Quite simply, Trish gets it.  She has my vote.

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Jon Spangler November 05, 2012 at 11:05 PM
Jackie Falletti, With Trish Spencer's support, Measure E--which almost passed, obtaining a 65.62 percent YES vote, only one percent shy of the needed 2/3 majority--probably would have passed. She was irresponsible in opposing it--and it can falrly be said that her opposition caused Measure E's defeat in 2010, which caused a number of problems for AUSD. Ironically, Trish Spencer--who helped cause these problems with her opposition in 2010--is now campaigning as someone who can "fix" the same problems she helped create. I don't think Alameda schools and students can stand another 4 years of "help" like that..
joel November 05, 2012 at 11:45 PM
Vote for Trish Spencer why? She questionned why the AUSD throwing away school fund to lease a facility , when they have plenty of space , actually in excess , they could have use these facilites just like all major corporation do . There was no need for them to lease these offices . Some believe that Measure E would have been the solution , this is the typical arrogance of an adminisdtration trying to satisfy their ego at tax payer expenses .
Cybelle November 06, 2012 at 02:20 AM
Enough about Measure E!! Looking back I am glad that it didn't pass (and I voted for it and supported it). I think A turned out to be a much better parcel tax because there was much more community input. They spent more time working on A so that we could have a parcel tax that the majority of the people of Alameda could support.
Jon Spangler November 06, 2012 at 04:21 AM
Cybelle, If Trish Spencer had been logically consistent and coherent in her votes on Measure E OR on the Lesson 9 anti-bullying curriculum I might be able to support her. But her stances on both issues were inconsistent with her stated goals and her campaign ads. And that degree of inconsistency with her own record I can't take... I never have any trouble understanding the reasoning put forth by any other public official in Alameda--even those with whom I never agree. But I cannot bring myself to support a candidate whose actions I find incomprehensible....
Peter Hui March 13, 2013 at 06:37 PM
I have a better idea. I think none of them should be given any more time in politics. Give the space to someone else new. I had enough of them already. Wasting resources, not giving teachers a fair contract, pitting Alameda citizens against each other(west vs east side, measure a&e) and enough of new taxes.

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