Representatives from schools which would be directly impacted if the proposed High-Speed Rail line would run alongside the San Bernardino Freeway voiced their concerns and opposition at the Alhambra Unified School District’s school board meeting Tuesday night.
A representative of the California High Speed Rail Authority, Genoveva Arellano gave a presentation to the Board as well, stating her intent was to “tell what it is and what it isn’t” since there had been such strong and vocal opposition to the project at a community meeting last month. Several audience members in attendance were not very receptive to the information presented to the Board, expressing their disagreement with audible sighs, groans and comments about lying and not telling the real story.
Board President Robert Gin received a hearty applause from audience members when he said, “Alhambra can’t afford to lose any school property,” referencing the impact the project could have to Fremont Elementary School or Mark Keppel High School. He also noted that there would be health implications to students, noting that many already have asthma. The comment that really roused the audience was when he spoke of driving to San Diego in an hour and forty minutes time and again when his daughter attended college there, noting the proposed time of one hour and twenty minutes on the high speed rail wasn’t all that much different.
Superintendent Donna Perez pressed the CHRSA representative to assure the Board that the proposed rail line would not directly impact any school property in Alhambra. Arellano did so, noting that three of the four “corridors” have been deemed “unacceptable” by the residents of Alhambra and that unless there is a school in the center portion of the 10 Freeway, no school property would be affected.
Also covered in the meeting was a pilot program that will be implemented next month called SafeKidZone. Dr. Laurel Bear, director of student services in the Gateway to Success Program stated that Alhambra Unified School District was selected as a participant because of the close ties with the Alhambra Police Department.
Students participating in SafeKidZone will receive a limited use cell phone which will enable them to be in direct and instant contact via a “panic button” with preselected adult contacts through access to a 24 hour, 7 day a week call center should they find themselves in a situation where they may require special assistance. Each phone’s GPS capability will also enable 911 response should that be necessary.
The initial pilot program allows for 100 to 200 student participants, who will be referred through the AUSD Gateway Program or school administrators.