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Roseland Review - March 2017 - Duane Dewitt


Roseland Review - Duane Dewitt



by Duane De Witt

Roseland Deserves the Best!

Don’t plan for us, without us!” said Ian DeJong, a consultant on housing homeless people who spoke to the Sonoma County Homeless Collective at the end of January. This applies to Roseland also because one of the largest illegal encampments of homeless people in all of Sonoma County is behind the new Roseland Community Center and Library at Roseland Village Shopping Center. Residents of Roseland have been asking about this encampment since it was placed there in November of 2015 over 16 months ago. It has grown from “about” 22 people to many more with cars, tents, and recreation vehicles now outside surrounding a “fenced in” area of tents the county helps to support with services. At a meeting of the Southwest Santa Rosa Area Health Action Chapter on Wed. Feb. 15, at 9:30 am held in the Community Action Partnership offices, a county employee discussed the encampment saying the county was actively looking to relocate the homeless people elsewhere.

There may be an opportunity for Roseland residents to discuss their concerns at a Homeless Talk being convened at 10 am Saturday March 10 at Roseland Community Center and Library at Roseland Village Shopping Center 779 Sebastopol Road. Call the Coalition for Citywide Conversations at 707-546-5771 for more specific information. More community meetings will be coming in the future about the future of the Sebastopol Rd. corridor as the county approved a contract on Feb 21 for evaluations of Brownfield sites plaguing the area. The contract is a “Professional Services Agreement with Stantec Consulting Services, Inc. for an amount not to exceed $316,000, for services associated to coordinating Phase I and Phase II environmental assessments.” There will also be, “A community outreach and education program for area residents and business owners, and required reporting activities and related services, using funding secured from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).” 

With the small amount of funding set aside for community engagement within this process local community member may be able to be more empowered than they have been in the past. Many community members attending the Santa Rosa city presentations about the proposed annexation of the last Roseland County Island want more dialogs with city staff. A series of six meetings have been scheduled with four already held. The last two scheduled for Thursday March 2 at 6-8pm at Cook Middle School located at 2480 Sebastopol Rd. and Saturday March 4 at 1-3 pm at Roseland Creek Elementary School, 1683 Burbank Ave. Roseland School district is proposing to put a new Middle School on this site so it would be a good time for visitors to look at how the school will fill the green space on the campus with the new school buildings.

Back on Feb. 15 the “rebranded” Roseland Public Schools held a special Roseland School District Board of Trustees meeting at 4 pm in the new District Offices building on Burbank Ave. It was to discuss a report the district commissioned to explore the feasibility of building another elementary school in the district. Titled, Demographic Analysis, Enrollment Projections & Facility Capacity Study, by Jack Schreder & Associates of Sacramento, the report contained some sobering facts. According to the report the district’s three elementary schools have 1769 students with the largest campus the new Roseland Creek School at eleven acres having the fewest students at 514 students. Sheppard School has seven and a half acres with the most students at 629. The flagship Roseland School campus is also the oldest having eight and a half acres and 626 students there. Plans are under way to put in a “pre-school” and take up even more of the last remaining open space from the children’s play areas. The two older campuses have a number of portable buildings on site already lowering the amount of play field space for the children.

The reported stated, “Roseland Public Schools experienced rapid enrollment growth over the last decade, with total District enrollment increasing by 54.4% since 2006.” It went on to highlight, “Much of this growth has occurred during a period of overall decreased population of the District’s resident school age population.” Of particular interest to Roseland Review is the California “State Site Size Requirements” for “Elementary Schools with 600 students is an acreage of 10.6 acres.” Further the report cites state requirements, “The site size must be adequate to provide sufficient are for physical education (playgrounds, athletic fields) buildings and parking.” Roseland school sites are growing overcrowded so the district is searching for more sites now. Roseland school children deserve the best, especially now, as the report points out the total enrollment for the district with middle school and high school students included is 2,841 this year.

Of this number 46.3 % of the students are from outside of the Roseland Public School District boundary, “Currently, there are 1,315 such students.” With a reported population of 12,198 in the school district (which doesn’t reach to the southern boundary of Roseland but takes in the West Gate area north of Highway 12), the district has over a 90% Latino student population. Some Roseland residents pointed out to Roseland Review this may be the most segregated school district in the county. This will be researched further as well as how to get the best possible permanent public library branch built for Roseland.