Wed10222014

News

Council hosts study session on downtown parking garage

Council hosts study session on downtown parking garage


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Los Altos City Council continues to explore options to address parking constraints in the downtown triangle.

The Los Altos City Council last week held the first of two study sessions to discuss the potential construct...

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Schools

LAHS Science and Technology Week features medical examiner

LAHS Science and Technology Week features medical examiner


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
A Los Altos High School student learns how to use robotic surgical equipment at the school’s Science and Technology Week event last year. Students can also attend hands-on presentations at this year’s event, w...

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Community

Ahoy, matey: Pirate Manor ramps up Halloween display

Ahoy, matey: Pirate Manor ramps up Halloween display


Town Crier File Photo
Pirate Manor is once again scheduled to arrive in the front yard of Dane and Jill Glasgow’s home on Manor Way in Los Altos, just in time for Halloween.

Although not the Walking Dead, pirate skeletons have been brought to li...

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Sports

Lancers rule the pool against Spartans

Lancers rule the pool against Spartans


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
St. Francis High’s Eric Reitmeir launches the ball over Mountain View High driver David Niehaus (2) and goalie Kenny Tang. The host Lancers won Friday’s non-league game 9-3.

There wasn’t a lot on the line Friday when ...

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Comment

Reeder, Fung for El Camino HCD: Editorial

The good news for the El Camino Healthcare District (formerly the El Camino Hospital District, for those still getting used to the new name) is that there is a contested election Nov. 4 for the district’s board of directors. Three candidates are runn...

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Special Sections

Plant-based diet offers benefits

Plant-based diet offers benefits


Photo by Ramya Krishna
Los Altos resident Nandini Krishna prepares a meat-free dish According to author Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr., M.D., a plant-based diet can help prevent cancer.

Shirley Okita of Los Altos has found that adhering to a mostly plant...

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Business

New shop offers haute couture for girls

New shop offers haute couture for girls


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Girls @ Los Altos at 239 State St. offers clothing lines such as Nellystella as well as toys and other items for girls.

Cecilia Chen opened The Girls @ Los Altos as a tribute to the party dress. Whether it’s for...

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Books

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mimi Sommers, who works at a Los Altos dentist’s office, recently wrote a children’s book.

A local dental hygienist recently published a book that aims to ease parents and children during a sometimes anxious e...

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People

BARBARA DARLING MERIDETH

1946-2014

Born in Palo Alto, raised in Los Altos, retired in southern Oregon. Survived by Peter James Merideth, sons Matthew, Jacob and John Merideth, the loves of her life.

She was a housewife who took great pride in her home, her surroundings and...

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Travel

Falling leaves: Four places in California to see autumn colors

Falling leaves: Four places in California to see autumn colors


Courtesy of Castello di Amorosa
Castello di Amorosa in Calistoga, above, boasts a beautiful setting for viewing fall’s colors – and sampling the vineyard’s wines.

Yes, Virginia, there is fall in California.

The colors pop out in...

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Stepping Out

'Sleepy Hollow' awakens at Bus Barn

'Sleepy Hollow' awakens at Bus Barn



Los Altos Youth Theatre’s production of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” a musical based on Washington Irving’s classic story, is set to run through Nov. 2 at Bus Barn Theater. The cast comprises 27 young actors, directed by Cindy Powell. Courtesy o...

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Spiritual Life

Magazine

Local events add color to autumn calendar

Local events add color to autumn calendar


Van Houtte/town crier Visitors make their way through the Children’s Alley.

As Los Altos’ signature Chinese Pistache trees exchange their summer green for vibrant hues of yellow, orange and red in the fall, an abundance of local events also ad...

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Bullis Charter School: Mission-focused accountability: Other Voices

To better understand accountability at Bullis Charter School, one must understand its organization and oversight. Organized as a nonprofit, K-8 public school, Bullis Charter School is overseen by federal, state and county authorities, a board of directors and local parents who have exercised their choice in public education.

Bullis Charter School is a nonprofit organized under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Such nonprofits locally include the Second Harvest Food Bank and the Los Altos Community Foundation. These nonprofits perform “public benefit purposes” and are mission driven.

The founders of Bullis Charter School researched nonprofit and charter school governance models, finding that appointed boards are best practices for mission-driven entities. Appointed boards allow nonprofits to stay focused on the mission even through membership changes. When there is a vacancy, a nominating committee finds candidates with the needed complementary skills. An election process followed by a board vote ensures continuity of the Bullis Charter School mission. The mission states:

“Bullis Charter School offers a collaborative, experiential learning environment that emphasizes individual student achievement and inspires children, faculty and staff to reach beyond themselves to achieve full potential. Using a global perspective to teach about the interconnectedness of communities and their environments, the Bullis Charter School program nurtures mutual respect, civic responsibility, and a lifelong love of learning.”

Dedication to this mission has kept the school focused on its students and innovative programs, and contributes to the school’s position as the highest-performing public charter school in California today. Bullis Charter School has also reached the top 10 of all public schools in California.

Appointed boards are the norm at nonprofits and most independent charter schools. Many nonprofits, including Bullis Charter School, receive public funds. There is a big difference, however, between receiving taxpayer monies and having the power to levy a tax, issue a bond, exercise eminent domain or otherwise seize private property from citizens. These powers belong to school districts but not to nonprofits or charter schools. The power to tax is the primary distinction between elected and appointed boards.

All public schools, including Bullis Charter School, must meet federal and state accountability requirements such as API and AYP testing. It is held further accountable through its chartering agency, the Santa Clara County Office of Education. It conducts oversight and monitoring of Bullis Charter School, including (1) monthly financial monitoring; (2) regular site visits; (3) independent annual financial audits; and (4) detailed review of all aspects of the school every five years.

SCCOE, with an elected board, is independent of the charter school administrations that it oversees. This independence produces unbiased oversight.

Bullis Charter School is also accountable to its families, who decide each year that it will best serve the needs of their children. As a public charter school without a captive attendance area, Bullis Charter School only exists if there is demand for it. The current demand exceeds available spots by 6:1, thus requiring a random public lottery in some grades.

Bullis Charter School’s highly effective, mission-driven, nonprofit governance model is rooted in best practices of the nonprofit sector.

Understanding the school’s governance is crucial to understanding its place as a valuable asset in the community. This, in turn, is crucial to civil dialogue, mutual respect and the healing that this community deserves.

Los Altos resident John Phelps is a member of the Bullis Charter School Board of Directors.

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