Mon12222014

News

Council seeks more options for community center

Council seeks more options for community center


Town Crier File Photo
The Los Altos City Council approved an appropriation to examine options for a new community center to replace the aging Hillview facility.

The Los Altos City Council last week voted narrowly in favor of examining further opti...

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Schools

Local schools participate in  national Hour of Code activities

Local schools participate in national Hour of Code activities


Ellie Van HOutte/Town Crier
Himan Shu Raj, a volunteer from Microsoft, advises Los Altos High ninth-graders, from left, Serhat Suzer, Jamie Bennett and Chris Yang as they participate in the school’s Hour of Code Showcase.

Local schools participa...

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Community

Take a dive into the holiday archive

Take a dive into the holiday archive

Town Crier staff made a quick cruise back through the newspaper's archives to find some late-December reading as inspiration for eating, drinking, decorating and more:

Beloved holiday books build the spirit of the season and staff at Los Altos’ Li...

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Sports

Pinewood poised for another title run

Pinewood poised for another title run


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Pinewood’s girls basketball team is receiving contributions from several new players, including freshman Stella Kailahi, above.

Complacency shouldn’t be a problem for the defending Division V state champion Pinewood S...

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Comment

Letters to the Editor

Ticket motorists for U-turns on Main Street

As I was walking downtown on Main Street recently, something came to me out of the blue. The town of Los Altos is missing out on a huge revenue stream. I realized that if all the cars – there were th...

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Special Sections

Looking Ahead

Looking Ahead


s in line to be mayor of Mountain View in 2015.

Mountain View anticipates the following changes in 2015:

• Beginning Jan. 1, Mountain View City Councilmembers will receive a raise to $1,000 per month as a result of the passage of Measure A in...

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Business

Your 2015 stock market game plan

It’s been a maddening month because of oil and gas, especially in stocks and bonds. Then, consumer spending pushed stocks higher Thursday, easing investors’ jitters about the global economy and prompting them to consider how to invest in ...

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Books

Gawande's

Gawande's "Being Mortal" proves an important book on aging


Books about death and dying are usually not on my list of “must reads.”

I couldn’t resist, however, the best-selling “Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End” (Metropolitan Books, 2014) by Atul Gawande.

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People

SANGEETA SACHDEVA

SANGEETA SACHDEVA

Sangeeta Sachdeva, 55, wife of Subhash Sachdeva and mother to Natasha and Tanya, died at 8:54pm, Sunday, December 7, 2014 from respiratory failure.

Sangeeta was born on October 18, 1959 in Delhi, India. She was born to Moti Sagar and Raj Kapoor an...

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Travel

South Tahoe renovations enhance off-mountain seasonal fun

As any enthusiast knows well, there is more to the enjoyment of winter sports than skiing or snowboarding.

While many winter resorts make minor upgrades each season, the off-mountain attractions and amenities can be as enticing as the activities on ...

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Stepping Out

Aurora Singers to emit 'Musical Glow' Friday

Aurora Singers to emit 'Musical Glow' Friday


courtesy of Aurora Singers
The Aurora Singers are scheduled to perform a seasonal concert Friday night in Palo Alto.

The Aurora Singers’ “Winter’s Musical Glow” holiday concert is set for 7 p.m. Friday at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Pal...

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Spiritual Life

Enter the superhero: Finding the God who loves you

In my life-coaching practice, I see a lot of pain. Much of it stems from fear and guilt, often expressed as low self-esteem, anxiety, a lack of forgiveness both for oneself and others, anger – and so on.

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Magazine

Christmas At Our House home tour celebrates 26 years

Christmas At Our House home tour celebrates 26 years


Courtesy of Christopher Stark
Homes on the St. Francis High School Women’s Club’s Christmas at Our House Holiday Home Tour showcase a variety of architectural styles.

The days grow short on sunshine but long on nostalgia as the holidays approach...

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Transitional kindergarten faces possible closing

The Los Altos School District's transitional kindergarten program may be among those on the choppingblock as officials face cuts to balance their 2001-2002 budget.

The program at Loyola School, created to ease students who may not be ready for the normal kindergarten curriculum into the system, will likely be recommended for elimination, said Superintendent Marge Gratiot.

"We are proceeding with the assumption that we will not have transitional kindergarten (next year)," said Gratiot, who will recommend cuts to the district's budget review committee. Committee recommendations then go to the board of trustees for approval.

The possible cut does not sit well with parents of the 15 students currently in the program.

"I think it's given (my son) Cole a lot of confidence," said parent Sandra Limbach. "It's also taught him a lot of stuff I don't even remember learning in kindergarten."

She said instructor Jenni Taylor has created an atmosphere that allows students to learn about such subjects as ecology, social awareness and manners. Gratiot said Taylor would likely be moved to a kindergarten class if the district cancels the program.

Gratiot said she doesn't see the class as a top priority, because parents have the option of keeping their children in preschool for an extra year, or holding them back in the traditional kindergarten class. If transitional kindergarten were kept, she said another much-needed class would face the budget ax.

"It's not a reflection of the value of the program," Gratiot said.

However, Limbach and other traditional kindergarten parents said the program should be kept because it fills the middle ground between preschool and traditional kindergarten.

Some parents don't want to pay the costs of another year at preschool. Others worry about putting their children in a traditional kindergarten class before they are ready. Doing so might adversely affect their children's self-esteem, parents said.

Furthermore, "preschool is a play environment," Limbach said. "Transitional kindergarten is more structured and educational."

Two parents of current TK children used the public forum of the March 5 LASD Board of Trustees Meeting to advocate retention of the program.

Janice Palomo said, "The district might save money now cutting the transitional kindergarten; but it will spend that and more for special education, aides, etc., as time goes on."

"What can I do to save the program?" said Beth Hopwood. "It is worth it to me ... parents would pay."

In a letter to the editor, parents Amanda and Denis Brotzel said an extra year of regular kindergarten could hurt these students throughout their primary school years.

"It may mean (teachers) have to increase their class size and possibly have children amongst the class that are not really ready to be there," the Brotzels wrote.

"Of even more concern is that larger classes with perhaps more than 20 children in a classroom will reduce the attention that can be given to each child and therefore the overall quality of education. And, of course, this will have a knock-on effect through the higher grades."

But Gratiot summed up transitional kindergarten this way: "This is truly an extra program - we can educate the children without it."

The district is forced to make cuts because of the significant pay increases it gave teachers last year. Officials are increasing pay a total of 12 percent over this year and next, but Gratiot indicated district teachers had been underpaid.

"Their salaries are comparable to other school districts," as a result of the new contract, Gratiot said.

While the district expects the amount of state money to increase, state funding typically covers only 60 percent of the budget, Gratiot said. The district must handle the remainder. Meanwhile, salaries account for 85 percent of the budget. On top of the salary increase, the district stands to lose $400,000 in lease revenues from tenants at Covington as it moves to reopen the school. The district needs about $3 million to balance the budget for next year, but about $1 million of that can be made up through staffing adjustments, said Randy Kenyon, associate superintendent in charge of business services.

Changes could mean bumping up class sizes at the kindergarten level to 24 students, which would cost the district half of its class-size state funding - from $900 to $450 per child. However, officials said the balance would still be larger than complying with the 20-student maximum under class-size criteria.

Gratiot said the budget review committee would make recommendations for cuts to the board of trustees in April.

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