New school board will decide on big issues

New school board will decide on big issues

Michele Ellson

Alameda’s Board of Education said goodbye to a pair of exiting trustees Tuesday – and got the rundown on the big business the new board will embark on next year.

Board president Margie Sherratt closed out her four-year term Tuesday night, while Trustee Mike McMahon leaves after a dozen years on the board.

“Thank you very much for giving me an opportunity to serve the community,” Sherratt said as her family and other meeting attendees looked on.

Newcomers Solana Henneberry, who attended Tuesday’s meeting, and Gary Lym bested McMahon at the polls this month, while Sherratt opted not to run for re-election. Henneberry and Lym will officially join the school board on December 9.

One major item of business the new school board will begin to address in January is the Measure I school bond, which voters approved on November 4. Board members will decide when up to $179.5 million in bonds will be issued, what projects top the priority list and whether to move forward with all of the elementary, middle and charter school projects school communities submitted.

The bond includes $89.5 million for elementary, middle and charter schools; the other $90 million is reserved for high schools.

The new board will also oversee a community discussion about the future of Alameda’s high schools and specifically, about whether Alameda should have one comprehensive high school or two. District staff will present research on large and small high schools on January 13.

Community and board meetings to discuss the future of high schools in Alameda will take place in January and February, and the board could decide whether to consolidate the Island’s high schools or keep two comprehensive schools open and operating on March 10.

Another major item of business the new board will face next year: Negotiations for a new contract with the Island’s public school teachers.

Both union and school leaders publicly released a list of contract articles they’d like to change in a new contract, though few specifics were offered. The lists include salaries, health and welfare benefits, evaluations, teaching hours and class sizes.

Negotiations on a new contract begin in January, and Alameda Education Association president Audrey Hyman said she’s hopeful a new agreement can be reached before the current one expires, in June.

“We look forward to a smooth and cooperative bargaining process as we meet at the table in January,” Hyman said Tuesday, marking a dramatic shift from the heated rhetoric and stormy relations that characterized the bargaining process for the prior contract.

One additional item of business the board will need to address: Filling the remaining years of Trustee Trish Spencer’s term when she leaves in a few weeks to start four years as Alameda’s mayor. The school board hasn’t yet discussed whether they will appoint or seek a special election to find someone to complete the final two years of Spencer’s school board term, but that discussion is coming.

Trustee Barbara Kahn expressed eagerness to move forward on facilities fixes for schools, but Chief Business Official Robert Clark said district staff would delve into more detail once new board members are seated.

“We didn’t want to do too much tonight,” Clark said. “We’re respectful of fact that this board is not next month’s board.”


Al Wright's picture
Submitted by Al Wright on Wed, Nov 19, 2014

Re: filling the remaining two years of Trustee Spencer's term when she leaves in two weeks. Has it been decided that she is leaving the school board? Has she publicly said anything about that? One would assume she would resign, but to my knowledge there is no law saying she can't hold both offices, and there is little conflict of interest. Just the occasional agreement on joint use of the pools, and swapping the odd and worthless plot of land, right? No big deal to hold both offices for Trish.

Submitted by Michele Ellson on Wed, Nov 19, 2014

Hey Al: There is actually a law that bars policymakers from holding incompatible offices. From the FPPC website:

Incompatible Offices. Gov. Code Section 1099 codifies the common law prohibition against the holding of "incompatible offices." This doctrine restricts the ability of public officials to hold two different public offices simultaneously if the offices have overlapping and conflicting public duties. For this section to apply, each position must be a “public office.” (Gov. Code Section 1099 (c).) 3

Pursuant to Section 1099, a person may not simultaneously hold two public offices if:

either of the offices exercises a supervisory, auditing, or removal power over the other office or body,

there is a significant clash of duties or loyalties between the offices, or

there are public policy considerations that make it improper.

The consequence of holding an incompatible office is that the person is “deemed to have forfeited the first office upon acceding to the second.” (Gov. Code Section 1099(b).)

Additionally, The California Constitution has provisions addressing the holding of two government positions. 4
The doctrine of incompatible offices is outside the jurisdiction of the Fair Political Practices Commission, but the Attorney General's office has issued numerous opinions on the subject which are available on the Attorney General’s web site: If you have a question about whether two public offices which you hold or seek to hold would be considered incompatible offices, contact your city attorney, county counsel, or the Attorney General's office.

Can the elected trustee of the South Bay high school district run for a seat on the Redondo Beach City Council, or does the Political Reform Act prohibit it? The Act does not prohibit him from holding two elected offices. However, he may want to check with the Attorney General's office to make sure that district trustee and council member are not "incompatible offices." (Downs Advice Letter, No. I-90-278.)

Al Wright's picture
Submitted by Al Wright on Thu, Nov 20, 2014

Thanks for this info Michele. It's still not clear to me if these are incompatible offices are not. There has been some interaction between the two bodies in the recent past with the swimming pools and the land swap. Is that enough to term these offices incompatible?