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News

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Gregory Helfrich

Santa Clara Sheriff’s detectives have arrested a Los Altos Hills man they suspect repeatedly molested a child decades ago.

Detectives arrested Gregory Helfrich, 54, on a warrant at his Old Page Mill Road home April 27 and...

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Schools

Local AAUW gives gift of science to junior high students

Local AAUW gives gift of science to junior high students


Courtesy of Jessica Harell
Blach Intermediate School seventh-grader Paris Harrell, who loves science and animals, recently received a scholarship from the local branch of the AAUW to attend Tech Trek camp.

It’s not every day that a junior hig...

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Community

At 98, former language teacher remains a lifelong learner

At 98, former language teacher remains a lifelong learner


Federici

Longtime Los Altos resident Mario Federici, who turned 98 Feb. 24, is a man of many languages. He shared his knowledge with thousands of students during his long career as a teacher.

Federici was born and raised in Italy, where he stud...

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Comment

Attend an event, get involved, have fun: Editorial

You don’t have to run for city council to get involved in the community. Sometimes it can be as simple as attending a Los Altos event. You’ll have plenty of opportunities, as the May and June calendars are bustling with activity.

The Dow...

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Special Sections

Racing around Monterey

Racing around Monterey


Gary Anderson/Special to the Town Crier
The easy handling of the VW Golf R, above, makes for an ideal ride along the Big Sur coast.

 

When automotive journalists are asked to list their favorite places in the world to drive, Monterey alway...

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Business

'Steampunk' eatery toasts local libations

'Steampunk' eatery toasts local libations


Courtesy of Eureka
Eureka, a new restaurant in downtown Mountain View, highlights local craft beer and whiskeys on a menu of food spanning from sea to farm.

Craft beer and fancy whiskeys headline the menu at Eureka, the new restaurant that opene...

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People

Stepping Out

PA Players seek escape in 'Into the Woods'

PA Players seek escape in 'Into the Woods'


Courtesy of Palo Alto Players
The Baker’s Wife, left, and Cinderella’s erstwhile Prince stand out in the Palo Alto Players production of “Into the Woods.”

Little Red Riding Hood sets forth at the outset of “Into the...

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Spiritual Life

Los Altos United Methodist Church service salutes Heifer International

Los Altos United Methodist Church service salutes Heifer International


Courtesy of Los ALtos United Methodist Church
Hidden Villa will bring some of its farm animals to Los Altos United Methodist Church Sunday to support the nonprofit Heifer International.

Los Altos United Methodist Church is scheduled to salute th...

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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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