Among some of the recent social media misrepresentations about Larry’s voting record, are these, recently posted on NextDoor from board member Ann Crosbie:
FUSD IS building two schools. We have one going up in the Warm Springs Innovation district right now and one will be built near Parkmont (to help deal with our most overcrowded elementary) on a piece of property provided to FUSD by the city. Trustee Sweeney voted not to accept this property. We were going to start plans on a much needed middle school in the American Attendance Area because Thornton will soon have MORE students than ANY of our high schools! When there are more than 2400 students good luck getting on the freeway at Thornton in the AM. Mr. Sweeney also voted against building this new school. We have now missed the window for getting in line for matching funds from Sacramento for our schools.
A quick and completely impressive response from an American Attendance Area resident:
Your statement against Trustee Sweeney is completely misleading. Builders pushed to put 10.6 million dollars down for designs on a school for which there were no funds. Why? Even with the matching funds, there was a projected deficit of 100 million dollars to build. Voters would be asked to pass yet another bond to cover the costs. Parents went to the school board and asked you to make Thornton students a priority. We asked you to put available funds into Thornton (already at 150 students over maximum capacity at the time of this discussions). Sweeney motioned to designate any future construction on the Horse property for the American School district. Ann Crosbie voted against the motion. Here is the video link for the 9/27/2017 school board meeting: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/108344187 Look at around 1:22 into the meeting if you don’t want to watch it all. Don’t take my word or Ann Crosbie’s word – watch the video and make your own informed decisions.
My detailed response to these misleading claims from Ms. Crosbie:
The comments made by Ms. Crosbie are inaccurate at best and are certainly misleading. I would like to defend these accusations with the truth. For details, please continue to read It saddens me to know that Ms. Crosbie has intentionally chosen to mis-characterize my actions and votes regarding these two properties.
Let us first examine the Williamson property which was conveyed to the district by the city earlier this year. I was part of the negotiation team that worked with the city to work on all of the details. All went fine and the legal documents were drawn up in advance of a vote. Within 48 hours of the board’s scheduled vote, the city changed the terms of the agreement and added a stipulation that the students generated from the new downtown developments would go to designated elementary schools as part of the agreement.
As a bit of background, for years the city has approved developments without any regard for where the students generated from these developments would go to school. As we know, we are running out of classrooms and need to build more schools. For example, we have thousands and thousands of new residences that have been approved and we do not have enough classrooms to house these students as these developments become occupied. It has been a successful practice for the board to work with developers who want a certain elementary school designation, to negotiate a mitigation to house the extra students. Patterson Elementary is an example, as are others. The value of the negotiated mitigation for the 500 units at Patterson Ranch was over 8 million dollars, and that paid for the additionally needed classrooms.
When the city made their last-minute, never before discussed during negotiations, demand to designate a school for the downtown development, they were, in essence, negotiating for the developers against the school district! The district could have reached an agreement valued between 4 to 8 million dollars or more if we had the opportunity to work with the developer. Those funds would go to help build the Williamson school. The cost for the Williamson school will be about $50,000,000 and the district has no dollars dedicated to the project. These mitigation dollars are critically needed to help fund the new school!
This was such a distressing change in negotiations that the entire board and superintendent appeared before the city council to ask to have this demand deleted from the agreement. In my 16 years on the board, this last-minute demand from the city as well as the entire board appearing in person had never happened. Ann, who was the board president, read a statement requesting the city to drop that demand and all would be good to go. The city refused help the school district!
The board had voted in open session on February 14, 2018 to approve the agreement as negotiated without any demand from the city to add the designated school clause. On February 27, the city council had informed the board of the new demand and the board appeared at the February 27 city council meeting to ask the designation be removed. The following day, February 28, was a school board meeting. The agenda is set by the board president and the item was then listed in closed session, not open to the public. I did vote to not accept this last-minute proposal by the city as it would eliminate the opportunity for the school district to negotiate with the developer(s) for those additional millions of dollars to help build the new, much needed elementary school. President Crosbie voted to accept this last minute condition, in closed session, and essentially approved the city negotiating for the developer against the school district. Talk about a lack of leadership!
I firmly believe if the public had more time to consider the proposal, they would have demanded the city not include this last minute amendment. I voted against the agreement because I wanted time to work with the public to find a solution and try to attract these much needed millions of dollars for our students. Why would we turn our back on 4 to 8 million dollars (or more?) for our students? Don’t you agree?
With regard to the ‘horse property’ and Ms. Crosbie’s comment that I voted against the building of a new middle school on this property:
Nothing could be further from the truth! There was no money available to build fund the proposed school! This discussion was held in open session and Ms. Crosbie was in favor of spending $10.6 million dollars on a design of a school that could not be built for many many years! And if we ever did get close to construction, so many years would have passed that we would probably need a new design! Ms. Crosbie wanted to spend 10.6 million dollars on a design for a middle school that has zero dollars budgeted for construction!
To put this in additional perspective, through the $650,000,000 Bond, the voters have authorized the conversion of our five junior high (grades 7 and 8) to middle schools (grades 6, 7 and 8). As of today, we have not completed the construction of the first middle school and have reduced the overall bond contingency fund from an original $208,000,000 to just a relatively few million dollars. (That is another story for which I would be happy to share details) Our focus has to be on the construction projects we currently have in the queue. When the majority of the board did not want to support this $10,600,000 design expense, there was a discussion to make sure the $10.6 million dollars stayed in the American Attendance area to address overcrowding that Ms. Crosbie correctly recognized. It would probably be dedicated to the Thornton conversion as these projects always have escalation and other costs. This could assist Thornton to be reconstructed in a manner much like Horner. The majority of the board voted to support this motion. Ms. Crosbie did not support this. It appears Ms. Crosbie was fine spending over 10 million dollars on a design of a school that has no funding and will need a redesign but Ms. Crosbie was not in favor of using those same funds to help rebuild Thornton Junior High!
In both of these cases, I am positive I represented the majority of Fremont Voters to make sure we use our dollars wisely and leverage every opportunity to make sure we are prudent caretakers of the public’s trust. After all, this is what we are elected to do.