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Dublin School Board Trustees Reject Proposed Zeiss Location for a Future Second High School Site at Emotional Public Meeting

May 24, 2017

DUBLIN, CA–It was a tumultuous scene in the Dublin High School Sports Complex on Tuesday evening. The room was packed with citizens that wanted their voices to be heard during a specially convened Board of Trustees meeting. The session was moved away from the Dublin Unified School District office to Dublin High School in anticipation of a large crowd. It ended up being a smart move with over 500 members of the community in attendance.

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The primary agenda item was to determine if the District should move forward on the option to vest an interest in a business office complex located at the intersection of Hacienda Drive and Gleason Drive. Zeiss Carl Opthalmic Systems is the current tenant and they plan to vacate in 2020. But how did the District arrive at this decision point?

The subject of a second comprehensive high school site has floated throughout this town for many years. The concept was debated during the period of initial development in Dublin Ranch and beyond. In subsequent years, parcel taxes and bond measures have successfully passed. However, the wording of these measures was intentionally expansive in order to maintain the greatest level of latitude for expenditures. But the one constant was that the bond funds could only be used for technology and/or capital improvements – not for salaries or human capital.

The historic model for building suburban schools in California resembled a three-legged stool. The revenue streams would include builder/developer fees, funds from Sacramento and local dollars. But this equation became crippled four years ago as Gov. Jerry Brown pulled the State of California out of the business of funding and building public schools. Mathematically, this made it close to impossible for new capital construction. Cities were then left to rely upon local bond measures that could only be exercised through fairly strict calendar schedules.

Thus, a conundrum exists for Dublin. An environment with seemingly uncontrolled housing development supported by the city that was coupled with somewhat limited foresight by the school district in how to properly house these students. There are so many ways to look at this entire issue. But, the district was hampered by inaccurate projections from their original demographer. The forecasts were routinely wrong and added to a cumulative effect that resulted in setting the planning process in a negative fashion. But from any setting, much of this now simply does not matter.

The Dublin School Board was initially presented with nine potential options/sites for a second high school site in June 2016. In the spring, critereon was established to evaluate these sites in the desire to whittle the list down to viable options. In March, a shorter list of site options was established. That included four separate sites. Ultimately, all of this analysis led to an agendized item on a special Board of Trustees meeting. The District accurately projected that there would be expanded interest in this topic which prompted the venue change to Sports Complex Structure.

81 public speaker slips were submitted – an unprecedented number for “regular” meetings. Under conventional circumstances, speakers are normally granted a three minute period for comments. However, after a debate, the board decided to limit statements to 1.5 minutes in order to successfully conclude the public comment period at 10:30 PM. One by one, the overwhelming sentiment by the public was a rejection of the Zeiss site as the location for the second high school site. Three primary reasons were cited:

  • Safety: Many parent cited the proximity to the Santa Rita Prison Site and the fact that there is a historical record of inmates escaping over the course of several years.
  • The size of the Zeiss site was cited as being insufficient – a potential location of about 13 acres vs. the existing location of DHS which encompasses over 40 acres.
  • Finally, an overwhelming sentiment expressed by the public was questioning why there was such an urgency to decide upon this issue on that night.

Many citizens were trying to balance the desire for a second high school against the sudden urgency for a final decision.

The public discourse straddled the line between passion and civility. Despite the repeated pleas from the Trustees to respect the process and to know cheer/jeer, many in the audience chose to ignore these instructions. This simply led to many unnecessary delays and demands for order from the crowd. Complicating matters was the presence of local television media which seemed to embolden some in the audience to just shout out their own positions. Rather than to encourage verbal statements, Board Trustee Megan Rouse suggested that attendees simply utilize a “visual wave” to demonstrate one’s support of a statement. Unfortunately, many of those in attendance chose to ignore those instructions and articulated their own positions.

Rather than to provide quotations from each member, we will attempt to characterize the position from each Trustee to assist in understanding how the final vote came to be. It is a strictly subjective account, but one that is intended to provide the atmosphere of the room.

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Trustee Joe Giannini: As it relates to funds from Measure H, Mr. Giannini stated that he is clearly concerned not only about the second high school, but he is equally committed to ensuring that the current and future students of our K-8 population are protected from the energies of added housing growth.

Trustee Dan Cherrier: Our opinion is that Mr. Cherrier was remained steadfast on what the future high school would look like – up to including an excess of 2,000 students or more. He would prefer that this secondary high school site represents a vision that is closer to the existing DHS site.

President Megan Rouse: The residing board President has maintained that a second high school site could arise as a potentially “out of the box” solution to what high schools might resemble in the next ten years. Additionally, almost all of the existing land options have been exhausted and it may be time to move forward in order to deliver a solution on the school calendar that provides workable solutions.

Vice President Amy Miller: As a former board President, she was attempting to view this item with a 360’ lens. While sympathetic to the desires of the economics of what the board was facing, Ms. Miller made a sudden shift to reject the Zeiss option while stating that “I wouldn’t send my kids to that school.”

Trustee Dan Cunningham: Dan has been the one consistently performing trustee that has spoken in favor of a limited second high school site. In addition, the atmosphere of the public session at the Dublin High Sports Complex quickly devolved into a relatively negative space, he attempted to restore a level of civility to the proceedings. [EDITOR’S NOTE: As correctly pointed out in the comments, near the end of the meeting Mr. Cunningham did tell an audience member to “Sit down and shut up” during a heated exchange. The author of this article was not present when that happened, having had to leave before the end of the meeting for personal reasons. Mr. Cunningham also threatened, twice, to have the room cleared. In the opinion of the editor there was uncivil behavior both by some Board members and by a small number of audience members during the course of an otherwise passionate but orderly meeting.]

At the end of this fairly long night that was also live-streamed on social media, a decision came forward. After a period of discussion, a moment of decision moved to the front of the room. In a 3-2 vote, the DUSD Board of Trustees declined to approve the agendized action to approve a move forward on the proposed Zeiss site for a second Dublin High School site. This decision now leaves the Board to research their next options.

12 Comments
  1. Mark permalink
    May 25, 2017 8:03 am

    When you say Cunningham was trying to restore order- are you referring to his comment Sit down and shut up. I’m sorry, in my universe that is far from being civil and clearly shows his contempt for the audience. In short Mr. Cunningham was a bully, dismissive of the audience’s passion and acted in line with his unbending view that there should be no second comprehensive HS in Dublin and the heck to all who disagree.

    • May 25, 2017 9:55 am

      From the Editor – your point is fair. I’ve added a note with that detail; in fairness, the author of this article had to leave, for personal reasons, prior to that exchange with Mr. Cunningham.

  2. johnachan permalink
    May 25, 2017 8:58 am

    “Trustee Dan Cunningham: Dan … attempted to restore a level of civility to the proceedings.”
    Yes, by shouting out “shut up” to the audience. While I understand his frustration, he needs to practice manners befitting an elected trustee!

    • May 25, 2017 9:54 am

      From the Editor – your point is fair. I’ve added a note with that detail; in fairness, the author of this article had to leave, for personal reasons, prior to that exchange with Mr. Cunningham.

      • johnachan permalink
        May 29, 2017 8:57 am

        Btw, thanks for writing the blog. I’m sorry to read about the attacks on what you wrote.

        I’m sure many forget, or don’t know that the article is a blog. While passions are running high, we must still remember to act civil, especially from behind the keyboard. I certainly need to remember this as well.

  3. Chuck permalink
    May 25, 2017 9:27 am

    This article completely violates basic journalistic rules. Journalism 101: report in unbiased opinion and view point. Journalism 102: presents facts, data, with examples. And many more!
    First off, the writer conveniently blames delays on ‘uncivil’ behavior of the audience. The delay really came from prolonged Terra presentation that served no purpose whatsoever. The audience was waiting to speak for 1.5 to 2 hours all the while the presentation went on and on about how expensive and impossible it is to get land in Dublin, yet there are landowners, business owners, even city council members in the audience who know this is not true.
    That presentation was causing major delay in the much needed discussion. It’s an unfortunate agenda event. It should have been stopped early because the data is grossly inaccurate.
    One can easily see how Scott Sheldon (Terra) has ties to some DUSD trustee members.
    Secondly, Dan Cunningham was rude and uncivil. Do you really think it is OK for a public official to tell citizens to “sit down and shut up!”? (oh yes, there are youtube videos for this). OneDublin article didn’t mention this at all, and rather it mentioned Mr. Cunningham was trying to restore a level of civility. Wow!!! From this alone it is very obvious this article (and OneDublin) is completely biased towards certain DUSD board members.
    Additionally, Mr. Cunningham almost violated someone’s 1st amendment rights by threatening to remove the person if it weren’t because Mr. Giannini intervening (and probably educating) Mr. Cunningham. It sends me chills to the bone to think what could happen if Mr. Cunningham is given more power. He is far from fit to run for public servant office.
    If OneDublin is serious about unbiased reporting and be a good journalist for Dublin citizens, it should really start investigating into Terra connection to DUSD board of trustee members, especially Ms. Rouse and Mr. Cunningham. DUSD has also wasted a lot of money and resources for questionable 3rd party services, and those also should be investigated if OneDublin wants to be seriously considered as a good and solid unbiased source of information.

    • May 25, 2017 9:48 am

      Thanks for the comments. A couple of points – in fairness to the author of the article he had to leave (for personal reasons) prior to Dan’s comment being made. I’ll update to reflect since I was there to the end and did hear Dan tell an audience member to “Sit down and shut up.”. Note that OneDublin is a blog, not a news publication, run by parent volunteers in their spare time, not journalists. OneDublin isn’t – and wouldn’t try to be – a news publication. Journalism is a profession and we are not professional journalists.

      So my question to you, Chuck, would you be interested in doing the investigating you want someone else to do? If so, would you do so and write an opinion piece for OneDublin? Please email to editor@onedublin.org.

  4. May 25, 2017 2:11 pm

    This location apart from safety is not viable for Dublin student growth numbers.
    As stated during demographer report in march 2017, this city has no precedence which he can use to model it and it is unique.
    All demographers so far have missed the numbers in middle and high consistently.
    If one sees historical numbers only thing which comes close to modeling is the student numbers moving from grade to grade over the years. If one plots the numbers it is easier to see that what we have in elementary is what we are seeing in high in 9-10 years time period all the time from 2000. If we go with this we will have 6000 plus numbers in high in 10 years.
    The board made a decision not to build a second high in 2006 because we will never go above 2500 ever. In march 2010 Demographer said we will not have 2700 till 2035. Guess
    What we will have in the 2017-18?
    We have 6000 plus in elementary this year .
    Guess what is going to happen in 10 years
    Any short term solution of finding a smaller site
    or building 9th year academy or year around school is going to help Dublin kids on the future.
    The decision is good one.
    The board has to move forward to secure a good parcel working with the city and others and build a good school catering to that growth of our city.
    It is a great city and let the board and city make this great again.

  5. Manas L permalink
    May 25, 2017 7:33 pm

    This article seems to be more of a mouthpiece for DUSD Trustees, and definitely not expected from OneDublin. The general public (parents and children) are very concerned about the Trustees recent actions, and those are not really highlighted in this article. The public can’t fathom how this board came up with such as proposal, so irrational, and outrageous in proposing a High School next to Jails and Court? We heard people saying they submitted about 1900+ petition signatures just in 3 days, and out of 81 people who spoke, only one supported the board. If they really care about the public opinion, then their decision should have been 5-0.

    The author should present the true picture, and not give opinion. It was also very annoying to the public that, two of the longtime board members were acting as a bully, and shutting down their own colleagues. Also, the board has made a decision to stifle people’s voice and did not allow speaking for three minutes.

    The article should be factual, the numbers do not lie. Several parents raised concern to the issues that, the Trustees are more interested in building Elementary Schools than High School. This helps the Real Estate Developers sell more houses without paying their fair share of the school burden. Can’t the public see through this arrangement? These are highly educated people and run Silicon Valley companies.

    As per DUSD, currently there are 6000+ kids in Elementary Schools, and 6957+ approved houses (350 completed as of today refer Dublin City website) are being built in Dublin, but the Trustees are still in a denial. The main component of Measure-H passed was building of the Second Comprehensive High School, because this year alone the Dublin High will have strength of 2700+ and about to explode to 5500+ in 5-6 years.

    It became clear to the public that, the actual student strength of 2500+ is not communicated to the RE Consultant Mr. Sheldon, but was given a smaller strength of 1500-2000 students, so the entire analysis and conclusion are incorrect. The Consultant has been very evasive in his answers on what grounds he has rejected some of the probable sites, does not seem to have done any real feasibility analysis backed by data.

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