Tue01272015

Schools

MVLA revisits prospect of ninth-grade PE exemptions

MVLA revisits prospect of ninth-grade PE exemptions


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District Board of Trustees is scheduled to vote on a proposal to exempt ninth-grade student-athletes from taking PE. Students take part in a physical education class at Mount...

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Community

Midnight Express offers late-night rides from SF

Midnight Express offers late-night rides from SF


From Midnight Express Instagram
A group of millennial-aged Santas celebrating a night on the town prepare for a safe ride from San Francisco to their South Bay homes, courtesy of Cory Althoff’s new Midnight Express shuttle.

It’s no understatemen...

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Comment

More open than ever: Editorial

One of the Los Altos City Council’s objectives for 2015 is implementing an open-government policy. The title of the policy may be somewhat misleading, because it’s not as if the city has had a closed-government policy. But the new proposal goes beyon...

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Business

Cassidy Turley, DTZ plan to combine

Cassidy Turley, DTZ plan to combine


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Cassidy Turley, which has offices at 339 S. San Antonio Road, is combining with DTZ following its recent acquisition.

Commercial real estate services companies DTZ and Cassidy Turley have joined forces to operate as a sin...

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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

JUDY HOFFMANN

JUDY HOFFMANN

Judy Hoffmann passed away unexpectedly October 17, 2014 in New York City. It was only fitting Judy would be traveling and enjoying special adventures in so many different places until the very end.

Judy has lived since 1969 in Los Altos with her h...

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Travel

Cuban photographer slated to appear at Foothill

Cuban photographer slated to appear at Foothill


Courtesy of Raúl Cañibano
Cuban photographer Raúl Cañibano is set to appear at Foothill College tonight. His work – including the image “Series: Guajira’s Land, Viñales, 2007,” right – is on display at the KCI Gallery t...

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Stepping Out

TheatreWorks launches '2 Pianos' in Mtn. View

TheatreWorks launches '2 Pianos' in Mtn. View


Suellen Fitzsimmons/Special to the Town Crier
Christopher Tocco stars in TheatreWorks’ “2 Pianos 4 Hands,” which opened last week.

TheatreWorks’ production of “2 Pianos 4 Hands” is scheduled to run through Feb. 15 at the Mountain View Center fo...

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Spiritual Life

Start something great by ringing in the new year with prayer

There is a tradition, which I’m told originates in the Midwest, that calls for people to pray in the new year. A few years ago, I was invited to a friend’s house and a number of people stayed up until midnight (approximately two hours pa...

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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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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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