Fri09192014

News

Meet the Mountain View City Council candidates

Meet the Mountain View City Council candidates


Nine candidates have filed to run for three open seats on the Mountain View City Council in the Nov. 4 election – none of them incumbents. The Town Crier asked them to introduce themselves to readers in the following Q&A format. We knew the...

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Schools

LASD committee looks to rank campus improvement projects

LASD committee looks to rank campus improvement projects


Traci Newell/Town Crier
The Los Altos School District’s newly expanded Facilities Advisory Committee met for the first time last week. The 28-member committee’s first task is to prioritize campus improvement projects.

The Los Altos Scho...

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Community

Sports

New-look Lancers find their footing

New-look Lancers find their footing


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
St. Francis High’s Jenna Adams, left, and Carly Deale attempt to bump the ball Friday night. The juniors combined for 28 kills.

This year’s St. Francis High girls volleyball team faintly resembles last season’s squad ...

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Special Sections

MV Whisman teachers cite low pay

MV Whisman teachers cite low pay


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
An estimated 75 supporters of higher teacher pay turned out for the Sept. 4 Mountain View Whisman School District board meeting.

Teachers, trustees and administrators are recovering from a dramatic Mountain View Whism...

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Business

Skin rejuvenation studio joins Rancho

Skin rejuvenation studio joins Rancho


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Esthetician Marjan Kashi showcases one of the treatment rooms at her new studio, Pure Serenity Skincare at Rancho Shopping Center. Kashi provides services including microdermabrasion and various light and heat energy the...

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Books

A woman's perspective on the Greatest Generation

A woman's perspective on the Greatest Generation


During World War II, Virgilia Short Witzel, a young mother and U.S. Navy officer’s wife, grappled on the home front in Menlo Park with wartime rationing, shortages and loneliness. During the ensuing Cold War, she experienced adventure and misadventur...

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People

JERALD (JERRY) NELSON CHRISTIANSEN

JERALD (JERRY) NELSON CHRISTIANSEN

Resident of San Jose and Los Altos, California

July 21, 1931 to August 4, 2014

Born in Arimo, Idaho, to Jerald Emmett and Rebecca Henderson Nelson Christiansen. Raised in Davis and Riverside, California, with summers in Downey, Idaho, and in Loga...

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Travel

LA photographer spends a night with cranes – and moose – in Alaska

LA photographer spends a night with cranes – and moose – in Alaska


Sandy Powell/Special to the Town Crier
Los Altos resident and bird photographer Sandy Powell recently visited Homer, Alaska, to photograph Sandhill cranes, below. While there, Powell also encountered moose, left.

Los Altos resident Sandy Powell, a...

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Stepping Out

Pear puts on a pair of plays

Pear puts on a pair of plays


J. Smith/Special to the Town Crier
Dan Kapler (as Teddy) and Betsy Kruse Craig (Trish) star in Pear Avenue Theatre’s “House.”

The Pear Avenue Theatre production of two interlocking comedies by Alan Ayckbourn – “House&...

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Spiritual Life

Back to Church Sunday offers opportunity to recommit

The children in Los Altos are back to school, and I can still hear parents cheering. Summer is officially over, even if the calendar doesn’t quite think so.

Parents have attended Back to School nights to meet their children’s teachers. B...

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Magazine

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living


Courtesy of Spectrum Interior Design
In place of a more traditional fireplace, this modern living room features a linear-flame firebox that emits heat while offering a sculpturelike design element.

After traveling the world and visiting a host...

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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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