Sat08022014

News

"Brown is the new green," says local water district


Lina Broydo/Special to the Town Crier
Are downtown Los Altos flower pots getting too much water? The Santa Clara Valley Water District plans to hire “water cops” to discourage overwatering.

The Santa Clara Valley Water District is spending nearl...

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Schools

Foothill camps prepare local students for STEM careers

Foothill camps prepare local students for STEM careers


Photos Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Middle school students make robotic hands using 3-D printers during a STEM Summer Camp at Foothill College.

From designing roller coasters to developing biodegradable plastics, high school students received an i...

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Community

Local entrepreneur opens home to Afghan and Rwandan women

Local entrepreneur opens home to Afghan and Rwandan women


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Businesswomen Joan Mazimhaka of Rwanda, third from left, and Fakhria Ibrahimi of Afghanistan, in orange, traveled to the U.S. with a 26-woman delegation through the Peace Through Business program.

Employees scoop ice ...

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Comment

Moving on: The Rockey Road

Just over a month ago, we decided to put our house on the market. My husband and I had been tossing around the idea of moving back to the area where we grew up, which is only approximately 40 minutes from here. Of course, Los Altos is a great place t...

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Special Sections

Long live the lawn: Los Altos native offers drought-resistant strategies

Long live the lawn: Los Altos native offers drought-resistant strategies


Bill Steiner’s grass is green, left, even amid the drought. He followed Max Todd’s water and maintainence instructions after having his lawn aerated, Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier

Green lawns are not necessarily on the endangered list during the d...

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Business

Halo heads to Los Altos: Blow-dry bar founder opens new First Street location Monday

Halo heads to Los Altos: Blow-dry bar founder opens new First Street location Monday


ElLie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
Armed with blow dryers, Halo founder Rosemary Camposano, left, and store manager Nikki Thomas prepare for the blow-dry bar’s grand opening on First Street Monday.

A blow-dry bar is set to open downtown Monday, and i...

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Books

"Frozen in Time" chronicles harrowing WWII rescue attempts


Many readers can’t resist a true-life adventure story, especially those that shine a spotlight on people who exhibit supreme courage in the face of adversity and end up surviving – or not – against the odds.

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People

DR. ALFRED HUGHES

Long time Los Altos resident, Dr. Alfred Hughes, died May 1st after a long illness. Dr. Hughes was born in 1927 in Maspeth, NY. He served in the US Army from 1945-6, attended Brooklyn Polytechnic University, then graduated from Reed College in Portla...

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Travel

Travel Tidbit: Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers spa getaway

Travel Tidbit: Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers spa getaway


Courtesy of Ritz-Carlton
The Ritz-Carlton in Lake Tahoe offers fall getaway packages that include spa treatments and yoga classes.

Fall in North Lake Tahoe boasts crisp mornings and opportunities to spend quality time in the mountains. Specially ...

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Stepping Out

'Wizard' winds down at Bus Barn

'Wizard' winds down at Bus Barn


Town Crier file photo
Local actors rehearse a scene from “The Wizard of Oz.”

Los Altos Youth Theatre and Los Altos Stage Company’s collaborative production of “The Wizard of Oz” is slated to close Sunday at Bus Barn Theater, 97 Hillview Ave.

T...

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Spiritual Life

Stanford University appoints new dean for religious life

Stanford University appoints new dean for religious life


Shaw

Stanford University named the Very Rev. Dr. Jane Shaw, dean of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, its new dean for religious life.

Provost John Etchemendy announced Shaw’s appointment July 21, adding that she also will join the faculty in...

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Magazine

Festival features fun for everyone

Festival features fun for everyone


TOWN CRIER FILE PHOTO
The Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival boasts more than 375 craft and arts booths.

This weekend’s 35th annual Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival promises to be jam-packed with fun activities for just about everyone. The eve...

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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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