I want to thank the Record Gazette for this weeks front page article about the Beaumont Unified School Board not taking an official stance on the Gateway Warehouse project. It was well presented and a fairly complete record of the Board's "study session". With out the RG's reporting, many of us, myself included, would not have had any idea what happened without seeking out the pod cast. The "study session" was scheduled before the Board's closed session, not at the usual time for items with so much public interest. One as cynical as I might wonder was there a strategy? After learning their decision and listening to their "study session" it is clear why this took place when many of us were still on our way home from work.
I, along with a number of others, have been asking our local elected officials to take a stance against a warehouse that will lead to hundreds of big rig trucks using Cherry Valley Blvd every day. Once again we heard from elected officials that "there's a lot of mis-information out there" and "It's too early to take a stand" and the meme of the day, "we need to find out what the committee thinks". Let me boil it down to one single fact that no one has disputed. A warehouse with more than 400 truck bays will lead to at least hundreds of new truck trips to the Cherry Valley Blvd interchange and on Cherry Valley Blvd.
I have seen pretty good evidence the number of daily truck trips is closer to a thousand a day, a number some will dispute, but let's at least agree hundreds are likely. If not, then why would the developer build 428 bays. If there are going to be less than a couple hundred trips, counting each way in and out, then the warehouse could be scaled down to a hundred bays. Now consider there will be some negative impact on the air and noise pollution, again I'm not arguing any outrageous levels, I'm just saying some.
Now, take 12 minutes and listen to the "study session". http://youtu.be/oe3j-49450Y
Did you listen? Did you hear any studying going on? Did you hear how this project isn't going to effect the daily operations of the school district?
You know what I heard? Duck and cover. I heard a new creative meme for not taking an official stance, "Let's each take our own personal position."
I heard that Board Member Wane Hackney learned in the study session for the first time that there was an application process to follow to be on Marion Ashley's We'll Find A Way Gateway Committee. I learned Mr. Hackney was contacted out of the blue and asked to be on the committee. And, this is the best of all, Mr. Hackney claims it wasn't because he is a school board member, it was because he was a concerned community member. And, because he is just a concerned community member, he won't be acting as a school board member...but...he will be reporting back to the school board what he learns. Huh?
This duck and cover is exactly what Ashley was providing for our local elected officials and it has become the common strategy. The fact that our School Board Members believe they can get away with this is incredulous.
Over the last six plus years, our school board has asked Beaumont families to make sacrifice after sacrifice to help them with their "daily operations" and now, when we ask them to stand for the health and safety of our kids, they have the nerve to tell us it doesn't impact the daily operations of BUSD.
I've watched our class sizes grow.
I've watched teaching and counseling staff positions be eliminated.
I've watched the district use our best and brightest students to qualify for GATE funds. Funds that are added to the general fund instead of paying for the programs these kids need and deserve.
I've watched them build a $15,000,000 district office that impacts the "daily operation" of our families while we navigate the traffic nightmare to drop off and pick up our children at Brookside. A bad situation the district office relocation made worse and one they refuse to seriously address.
I've watched the district eliminate busing and hand over the responsibility to our city's transportation department. They changed the school start times to make the district's daily operations run smoothly while upsetting many of our daily operations as we schedule drop-off times to coincide with our getting to work on time.
I've watched the district fail to offer a middle school program comparable to our neighbors which results in many of us taking our kids out of the district.
I could go on much longer but I think you understand my point.
Now, when we ask them to take a symbolic position to stand up for the health and safety of our kids, they tell us that it doesn't impact the "daily operations" of the district. They not only don't have the courage to take a position as an elected school board, they don't have the courage to do it to our face. They schedule a study session where nothing was studied - other than how to duck and cover - at a time when most of us are working or just picking kids up from after school programs. They can't even put it on the agenda as a discussion item allowing direct public comment.
After all the sacrifices our families have been asked to make, I've reached my limit. With the exception of Janelle Poulter, the only board member arguing for a resolution against Gateway, the Beaumont School board abandoned our kids!
Maybe once our kindergartners start having increased respiratory issues and miss school because they are sick therefor reducing the district's ADA (money they receive from the state based on attendance), they'll realize how a warehouse can effect their daily operations. Once there is a major truck accident on Cherry Valley and kids aren't able to make it to school and it effects their ADA they might recognize their failure to protect our kids.
As a final thought. In the last 20-30 years, when have our public school administrators ever feel they didn't belong meddling in our families' lives when it didn't effect their daily operations?
Yeah, I'm mad!