Measure's opponents playing dirty politics

Measure H is a critically important local measure to repair and renovate our 40-year-old Piedmont High School theater.

I am deeply dismayed by the recent advertisements and fliers from certain opponents of Measure H. School Board Vice President Andrea Swenson is being quoted in the opponent's political campaign communications and made to appear an opponent of the measure. She is not. She has asked for her quote and name to be removed from the opposition material. As of May 15, this had not been done.

Whenever anyone has asked to use my name for any reason, they have asked my permission. Any citizen of Piedmont would expect the same.

As a former elected official and long-standing member of our community, I find it sad that the opposition is playing dirty politics to defeat Measure H. We don't need mean-spirited campaigns in Piedmont. As a community, we deserve better.

Sue Smegal

former member, Piedmont Unified School District Board of Education Piedmont

Measure H -- facts versus falsehoods

Opponents of Measure H have made the following untruthful comparisons between total costs and construction costs for Measure H and other school theater projects. While people may have differing opinions regarding Measure H, deliberate dissemination of false information is dishonest. Here are the truthful facts:


Advertisement

False claim: The total cost for San Leandro Performing Arts Center was $14 million.

Facts: The San Leandro Citizens Budget Oversight Committee report from 2012 reported the total cost was more than $22.3 million for fiscal year 2010-2011. The total cost for our Piedmont Measure H is $14.5 million.

False claim: The total cost for St. Helena High School Theatre was $694 per square foot.

Facts: St. Helena Unified School District documents show the total cost of the project is $840 a square foot and construction costs range from $575 to $600 a square foot. Measure H construction costs are $553 a square foot.

False claim: The total cost of Palo Alto Performing Arts Center is $696 a square foot.

Facts: The construction costs for the Palo Alto project are approximately $658 a square foot compared to $553 a square foot for Measure H. The total costs for the Palo Alto Performing Arts Center are at least $840 a square foot.

Measure H is a thoughtful renovation of a valued community asset that will provide handicapped accessibility (required by law), safety improvements; better mechanical, electrical and utility systems; replacement of aging restrooms and increased classroom space.

Measure H is supported by current and former Piedmont school board members, teachers, every parent organization and the Piedmont Educational Foundation.

The high school theater is a place where we come together as a community. Measure H will renovate and restore the high school theater so it will be safe, accessible and will support great educational programs.

Support Measure H. Vote "yes" on Tuesday.

For more information on Measure H, visit:www.helpschooltheater.org

Mark Menke

Piedmont

Just usual naysayers oppose renovation

As parents of children who are in middle and high school or are graduates of the Piedmont schools, we were the lucky beneficiaries of a cohort of community members who worked tirelessly to bring us Witter Field, the result of a bond measure from mid-1990s.

While we struggled with our toddlers and elementary age kids, car seats and sippy cups, we were understandably not focused on improving inadequate athletic fields at the high school. Later, when our children reached high school age and we cheered on their teams from the stands, we appreciated that Witter Field wasn't always beautiful, functional, hosting many sports, athletes and fans alike.

For those now benefiting from the new and retrofitted elementary schools, there was a time when those schools were unsafe and rundown -- and an army of volunteers worked tirelessly to pass Measure E, so that future generations wouldn't be at risk. However, at the time, the Measure E seismic safety bond was lambasted by many of the same critics of today's Measure H, the bond to repair the high school theater.

Many of us working on Measure H have children who will be long-gone from high school by the time this project is completed. We believe in making sure that future generations of Piedmonters have a theater that is safe, accessible and supports great educational programs. Measure H meets those needs at the right price. Remember, the administration that managed the seismic bond and projects on time and on budget is the same one that will manage Measure H.

Make no mistake, the cost of waiting with the hope of devising a better plan is prohibitive: years to regroup, plan, rebuild community trust and account for construction cost increases (5 percent compounded annually) and a likely rise in interest rates. Not least important would be persuading new, younger parents why a theater would benefit their family in the future.

If you believe in making the schools better for the kids of today and tomorrow, Measure H will deliver a safe, accessible and up-to-date theater ready and waiting for your son or daughter whether it's for a cappella, dance, jazz band, orchestra, musical theater, comedy, drama or bird calling. Please vote "yes" on H.

For more information, please visit http://www.helpschooltheater.org.

Dane Copeland

Hilary Cooper

Mary Ireland

Piedmont

Theater proposal right one right now

As an architect and one active with the school facilities programs and the chair of the Citizens Oversight Committee for the seismic upgrades to our schools, including the new construction of Havens, I fully support Measure H and the plan to renovate the existing theater building.

Why renovate instead of tearing it down? Two reasons, the first and foremost of which is expense. On our narrow and challenging hillside terrain, a rebuild is not the simple fix that some believe. Judging from other similar projects in the Bay Area, starting from scratch here in Piedmont would cost more than $20 million.

Second, the current facility, while in need of significant modernization, is worth preserving. Designed in 1975 by Reid and Tarics, who were chosen for their award-winning midcentury work integrating Arts and Crafts timber elements and tall windows, the Piedmont high school theater was built to last. All three architects whose proposals we reviewed last year, pitched designs that preserved the existing building and these elements. No one advocated tearing the building down. Mark Becker, designer of the new Havens, and Andy Ball, who was the CEO of Webcor when Havens was rebuilt -- both believe in preserving the current facility.

The main complaint I have heard about the design is the loss of some seats. However, fewer seats are appropriate for the size of the high school and the performances, only a handful of which regularly sell out. In those cases, the solution is to host additional performances -- not make this a bigger, more costly project than it needs to be. If the house is packed -- the energy of the audience helps the performers, and it is all more exciting.

So let's renovate and enhance the theater, and make the best use of our resources. Vote "yes" on H to renovate the Alan Harvey Theater.

Grier Graff

Piedmont

City educators back theater plan fully

As educators of the performing arts at Piedmont and Millennium high schools, we are writing to let parents and the community know that we wholeheartedly support the current plans to renovate the Alan Harvey Theater. The a cappella, acting, band, orchestra and dance programs were part of the theater committee that met throughout last year to discuss educational and performance needs to be addressed in any new plan. After much thoughtful discussion about balancing optimum use of existing resources, space and cost, we reviewed and enthusiastically approved the one put forth by Measure H.

We understand that the plans for the new theater keep the current footprint of the theater intact, allowing the same amount of performing space, while improving public areas, work areas, sound and lighting, storage, and space for sets, costumes, and props. In order to be ADA-compliant, the new theater must incorporate access for everyone, and in doing so will require the current seating capacity to be somewhat reduced.

However, we do not see this as a stumbling block to moving forward with renovations. For those productions such as the PHS musical, PHS Bird Calling, or the a cappella revue, we may add an additional performance as needed. Also, in keeping with current practice, assemblies at PHS will still be held in separate seatings.

The new plan for the theater not only meets performance needs of students and community, but also meets our educational needs through classroom space, technical equipment, and accessibility. We encourage you, along with every member of the Performing Arts Team, to give your full support to Measure H.

Kim Taylor

acting teacher

Joe Piazza

a cappella teacher

Amy Moorhead

dance teacher

Cathy DeVos

orchestra teacher

Andria Mullan

band teacher

Jan D'Annunzio

music assistant Piedmont

Vote Reed for chief of county's schools

I attended a meeting at the Oakland City Hall in which four of the candidates for Alameda County Superintendent of schools were interviewed. I was very impressed with Ursula Reed. She did not sound like a politician, as did the others. Her main focus was on educational opportunities for all children and young adults.

I am very concerned regarding the incomplete information in Doug Oakley's May 9 article in the Montclarion. Ms. Reed has more than 25 years as a professional educator, having taught and been a vice principal and principal from elementary grades through adult school. She served as director of human resources in Oakland and Hayward school districts and a director in labor relations in the Oakland school district.

She was the coordinator of the Oakland Truancy Center, co-chair of the Pupil Disciplinary Hearing Panel and is a speech and language specialist. She has a professional clear administrative services credential from Cal State Hayward, in addition to a B.S. and an M.A. She is an educator with a wide experience and the knowledge and determination needed to handle the financial challenges and needs of 18 local school districts including their alternative educational programs. Ursula Reed has twice been elected and serves on the San Leandro City Council. She is superbly qualified to be the next Alameda County superintendent of education.

Lolita Morelli

Oakland