Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Autoism and Land Use at the School Board; Debate Needs to be Connected with Our Salem

Last night the School Board voted to approve a plan for redrawing school boundaries.

Mostly it seems like it is regarded as a problem in allocating kids: Are we directing the right number and mixture to the right schools? Do we need more bussing? (And the associated bond question: Are we allocating the right proportion of bond monies to each school? See stories at Salem Reporter, the SJ for more.)

Our system of compulsory autoism is not fair via Twitter
We may not give enough attention to the underlying issues in land use and transportation. These are out of the School District's purview, but they are important "fundamentals" underlying the problem and any solution. We need to ensure the debate there is not siloed, and informs our thinking as we look at the new Comprehensive Plan, the "Our Salem" process.

Front page earlier this week:
"Salem-Keizer 'not ready' to integrate"

Land use and affordable housing is central via Twitter

Resource hoarding remains an issue via Twitter
West Salem has a shiny new HS,
does it need a shiny new bridge also?
At the Legislature, supporting an end to the exclusionary ban on missing middle housing will help make a better mix of housing available at different price points so that neighborhoods themselves will embody greater diversity and schools organically diversify. We should also want to distribute social housing in more equitable patterns so that it is not so clustered at particular schools. And we should want to build a better transportation system that serves people who cannot or do not want to own, maintain, and drive a car. (There's obviously a whole lot more to say, and we'll be coming back to the topic often!)

Richmond Addition, May 22nd, 1911
(See notes on 1920s deed restrictions for more
Note "new school" + "building restrictions")


Anonymous said...

Think we struggle to implement this law

ORS 195.115 Reducing barriers for pedestrian and bicycle access to schools.
City and county governing bodies shall work with school district personnel to identify barriers and hazards to children walking or bicycling to and from school. The cities, counties and districts may develop a plan for the funding of improvements designed to reduce the barriers and hazards identified.

Jeff Schumacher said...

I don't necessarily agree that land use and transportation is outside of the school district's purview. The school certainly should have a voice in the process, and by its actions it signals its priorities to the city. And those priorities sure seem to be a small handful of giant high schools which many kids drive to which are poorly situated for kids that could walk/bike instead. Rather than conform to the community's implicit bias towards this autoism the school district should be applying pressure against it by catering to kids that walk/bike/bus to school.

Susann Kaltwasser said...

First, this overcrowding at McKay High School and the large capacity unfilled at Sprague High School is not something that should be a surprise to the School Board, unless they are not being told the truth. Over 25 years ago, the Salem-Keizer School District was required by a new State law that required 'rapidly growing' school districts to create a 20-year plan that was coordinated with local governments on location and preservation of land for new school.

I was engaged in some aspects of that study, then tried to monitor it at the second round a few years later.

In those studies it was projected where future homes would be built and where new schools would be needed. It was determined that 3 new schools would be needed in East Salem area because McKay HS and both Stephens and Houck would reach capacity within 5 to 10 years. They identified some vacant land for the schools, but for the stated reason that they thought revealing them would cause the price to go up, only a few insiders knew the exact location. But after I talked to Facilities staff, I was pretty sure I knew the location of the lots. Since then an elementary school has been built on one of those lots.

When one of the largest parcels came up for sale a few years ago, (over 100 acres-- enough for a middle school high school complex,)I spoke to District staff and they said, 'we looked at that, but the Board has not set aside any funds to buy land on speculation.' So, now that land has been sold to a developer who is planning to build high density multifamily apartments and over 800 row houses on 2000 sq ft lots. This next to where the schools are already over capacity and there are no plans (other than at McKay) to add space.

This is nothing other than problems created by choice by the School District. When you see a problem coming 20 years in advance and do not take actions there must be an underlying reason. I could speculate, but won't.

As to the comment above about the fact that the School District should have a role in land use planning, they do already. Or at least they are given a chance by the City. With every residential development the School Disctict is asked for their comments. Every time they do an analysis of how many children are expected to live in that development and what the impact will mean to the schools in that area. It is based on a formula...a form letter is issued..and at the end of this letter, even when the conclusion that the development will adversely impact the local school(s), the District says something like....and we will meet the needs of any child who comes to our schools. Aa a result, in the decision-making process, the District comment is essentially disregarded.

Some years ago, I asked both the City and the School District why 24-J did not exercise their legal right to enact the 'first right of refusal.'. This means that they City with the help of the District can create an overlay on a parcel of land where they want to build a future school. Then when the land comes up for sale, the seller has to ask the District if they want to buy it at fair market price. Only if they refuse can the sale go to the general public. The response I got was not memorable, but they never did it. I know other cities have done this. Beaverton being the most notable.

Perhaps this lack of cooperation is due to that rather poor relationship between the City and the School District. I've noticed that there seems to be a poor relationship between the City and the County. And a poor working relationship between the City and Cherriots. And.... I think I see a pattern!