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About this blog: I am a native of Alameda County, grew up in Pleasanton and currently live in the house I grew up in that is more than 100 years old. I spent 39 years in the daily newspaper business and wrote a column for more than 25 years in add...  (More)

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Wise move to cancel meeting

Uploaded: Apr 26, 2012
So much for the annual meeting between the City Council and the School Board.
The scheduled meeting this week was abruptly cancelled when the schools superintendent Parvin Ahmadi realized that the district had failed to post the agenda publically as required by the state's Brown Act that mandates open meetings.
The cancellation—it will be rescheduled at a later time—certainly was inconvenient for any people planning to attend (it was late afternoon before the Monday evening meeting was postponed).
But, it is welcome to see that public officials are taking the open meetings act seriously. Too many public officials regard the Brown Act as an inconvenience, instead of a necessary law to ensure that the public has the opportunity to attend and comment on actions of their elected officials.
Congrats to the superintendent for cancelling and here's hoping it gets rescheduled soon so the school board and the council can compare notes.
That's important because the city's recent court-mandated expansion of sites for affordable housing likely will bring new children into the school system.
The school district has contracted with demographers for years to predict enrollment. That's anything but an exact science.
Pleasanton's predictors missed the number of elementary school children in the Ruby Hill Country Club by a large margin. However, by the time the district was seriously thinking about building another elementary school on Vineyard Avenue, the student population bubble had passed through and it wasn't needed.
The same goes for the middle school site at the Ponderosa development on Busch Avenue that has morphed from a school site to a successful gated community for active adults 55 and older.
The challenge for the demographers and the school trustees and senior staff who will evaluate their findings is to have an accurate crystal ball to the future.
Take the Dougherty Valley in San Ramon as an example. The plan for that community that at completion will double the population of the city of San Ramon was studied thoroughly by the cities of Danville and San Ramon as well as the San Ramon Valley school district.
The developers committed to building the schools—a wise move that saved them a bundle of dollars by doing it to school district standards with private sector management and labor.
Yet these best projections missed because they did not capture the influx of Asian buyers (Asian students are more than 70 percent of the population in Dougherty Valley schools) and they also missed the reality of multiple families living in the same house that substantially increased the number of students.
Those trends drove the student population far beyond what had been anticipated so the area now needs another elementary school. Shapell Homes, the remaining home builder, has agreed to donate the land so the school district can add an elementary school. That's a critical decision to ensure that the company can continue to sell homes in the desirable area.
The lesson of the Dougherty Valley is that the best plans can be shifted substantially by trends that cannot be foreseen.
The collaboration between the school and city leadership in Pleasanton is critical to share and evaluate information as the community continues to evolve.

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