City Council Victory
BREAKING NEWS: WASHINGTON COMMUNITY WINS MAJOR VICTORY
SAN JOSE CITY COUNCIL VOTES AGAINST ROCKETSHIP TAMIEN
In major win for the Washington community, Rocketship was unable to garner sufficient votes to approve the Rocketship Tamien project. In a 5-5-1 vote, Councilmembers Rocha, Campos, Chu, and Kalra voted against the troubled project, while Mayor Reed, Vice Mayor Nguyen, Councilmembers Herrera, and Constant sided with the charter applicant, with Liccardo abstaining. Xavier Campos and Donald Rocha lead the charge, moving the issue from a conversation on parent choice to a conversation on the actual issue at hand: land use. They argued that putting a Rocketship school on the publicly owned Tamien site was a poor fit for the community. Ash Kalra and Kansen Chu followed with concerns about traffic and density, with 600 kids crammed into a tiny 1.4 acre site. In a surprise move Councilmember Pierluigi Oliverio voted against the project, noting that Judge Bondonno had instructed Rocketship to go back to the local school district for zoning approval instead of bypassing the local authority and going straight to the county. Councilman Oliverio argued on the basis of public policy, stating that he would only support the project after gaining approval by San Jose Unified.
Both the Superintendent of San Jose Unified, Vincent Matthews, and our board President, Pam Foley spoke on behalf of the community, expressing a need for a middle school and the poor fit of the proposed Rocketship Tamien site. Trustee Foley stated that education decisions should be made by the local school board, not by the City Council.
While Rocketship failed to achieve the 6 votes they needed to move forward with the project, the Washington community also failed to garner the 6 votes needed to outright kill the proposal. A fluid public conversation followed with a motion to defer added and then removed by Councilman Oliverio. In the end, the motion to defer passed without opposition, and the issue was deferred for an unspecified amount of time, most likely until August 2014. Oliverio stated that his support depended on gaining San Jose Unified’s approval. San Jose Unified is currently involved in litigation against Rocketship.
Hundreds of Washington supporters gathered in the City Hall Council Chambers wearing green shirts in opposition to the project. Dozens of parents, students, and community members spoke on the issue. About 30 supporters used their 1 minute public comment to present a PowerPoint presentation providing a powerful narrative on the issues with the Rocketship Tamien proposal.
We were proud of the presentations of both the Rocketship supporters and Washington supporters. A respectful, but passionate debate on the future of our community brought us to a sensible conclusion. We want to reach out and thank the Rocketship parents and students for their presentations, and look forward to healing the community wounds that this passionate debate has brought upon us.