Board refuses to consider student demands; walkout planned


Jamie Bikales

Seniors Riley Wilson (left) and Michael Ioffe refuse to leave the podium until the board holds another public meeting to discuss a November bond.

Lincoln students filled several rows at tonight’s PPS board meeting, waving signs and banners, and two seniors refused to leave the podium until their demands, for the board to hold one more meeting to hear public comment on a November school bond, were met.

Instead, the board chair decided to re-vote on whether to delay the bond to May without holding another public meeting. That vote passed 4-3.

As a result, Lincoln students walked out of the meeting and plan to stage a student strike, waling out of first period classes tomorrow at 9am. According to senior Michael Ioffe, the plan is to form a “caution tape” around the school to illustrate the urgency of the rebuild. Students will not return to classes until the board holds another public meeting, which will have to take place before Thursday’s deadline to place measures on the November ballot.

After seniors Ioffe and ASB co-president Michael Ioffe refused to leave at the end of their student comment period, board members at first intended to move to another room, but then decided to allow other public comment to continue using another microphone.

Several members of the public declined to testify in a show of support for the students. Board members decided to discuss the issue, and members Julie Esparza-Brown, Paul Anthony and Mike Rosen expressed support for a November bond. Amy Kohnstamm, Pam Knowles and board chair Tom Koehler maintained their desire for a May bond.

After a proposal on construction funding was presented by architect Stuart Emmons, board member Steve Buel, who had previously supported a May bond because he did not believe consturction costs could be properly calulated in time, seemed to be interested in changing his vote.

Then, Koehler called for a vote not on the public meeting that Lincoln students wanted, but to decide once again whether to delay the bond to May.

“I’m very disappointed because I don’t think they are listening,” said Ioffe. “It’s common sense to get public comment, and [holding] this [meeting] was the opportunity to rebuild trust,” referring to the argument of the board members that the district needs to rebuild trust before it goes to the ballot.

Lincoln principal Peyton Chapman refused to comment on her support of a student strike.

All parties seemed to agree that the student activism was incredible. “You showed why you are a school of champions, you acted with respect and intelligence, not going out and tearing stuff up,” PPS security director George Weatheroy told Lincoln students after they left the meeting.

The Cardinal Times will have live coverage of the walkout.

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