Measure J Would Improve Oakland

Today’s election isn’t only about choosing Barack Obama or Mitt Romney.

Today, Oakland residents have a chance to help students get a better education. If voters say yes to Measure J, Fremont High School will be rebuilt over the next three years, and other campuses in Oakland will also be improved.

Measure J is a $475 million bond proposal from the Oakland Unified School District. The bond measure, if passed, would give Fremont up to $100 million to remodel the school, build a new football field and track, and replace decaying portables. Oakland homeowner taxes would increase between $30 and $60 per year for six years depending on the location and the property value.

We, the Green & Gold staff members, think that voters should approve the increase in taxes in order to help rebuild Oakland’s future. Measure J not only will help Oakland in the future, it also will help students right away, especially those with classes in the B portables.

The B portables on Fremont’s campus were supposed to be temporary back when they were brought onto campus in the 1970s, according to Michael Jackson, the Media Academy Director who has been teaching here for 26 years. Some estimate that the portables may be at least 45 years old.

These “temporary” structures are infested with rodents, mold, termites and mildew, creating a serious health issue. Students and teachers with classes in the portables are at risk for asthma, allergies and other health problems.

They are so bad that the Oakland Tribune even came to interview students and staff in the portables last month to show an example of how the school district has classrooms that can trigger asthma. This shows that an outside organization recognizes the horrible learning and working conditions at Fremont.

The Williams Case, a lawsuit settlement addressing unequal and unsafe schools for low-income students in California, requires that school districts provide healthy classrooms that are “free of vermin, mold and mildew” for students and teachers to be in for multiple hours of the day.

The B portable classrooms appear to violate that requirement.

Measure J would pay for those portables to be torn down and be replaced with permanent classrooms that are healthy for students and equipped for 21st Century learning.

The bond measure also would help us get a 100-yard football field what would bring the community together.
Our current field is not even considered a “real field” because it is only 90 yards. The only sport that is allowed to be played on the field is soccer.

With Measure J, the Fremont football team would finally be able to play real home games and have real homecomings instead of travelling 2.5 miles to Curt Flood Field at Coolidge Avenue and School Street.

Students who don’t have transportation to get to Curt Flood Field would be able to support the team. That would be a great way to build school spirit that has been challenged for so long.

Measure J would also modernize electrical systems to handle technology. But for Measure J to be passed, 55 percent of voters need to say “yes” to it.

Although many Oakland residents may say that taxes are already too high, these taxes will greatly improve our community and the economic impact would actually be positive for taxpayers.

The higher taxes will help Oakland’s economy because more students will be attracted to the new building and will actually want to come to Fremont and participate in sports and other activities.

Students who are in a newly built school will be less likely to get sick because there should be no rodents, and it will be a healthier learning environment for both students and teachers.

A new building will also improve attendance because students will come to class and want to learn in an up-to-date classroom. With a newly rebuilt school, students will have better attendance. With better attendance, the school gets more money.

With that extra attendance money coming into the school, taxpayers will be less likely to be asked again for money.
Also, if teenagers are learning in a new school, they will be less likely to cause damage to the outside community, which happens a lot when students are cutting class.

Those of us on the Green & Gold staff won’t be around to enjoy the new facility as students. However, many of us have younger siblings who will benefit from having a safe and comfortable learning environment.

We need everyone who is eligible to vote — teachers, parents, siblings and students — to get to the polls and vote “yes” on Measure J.