Fri10242014

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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LASD, BCS communications stall as facilities deadline approaches


Photo By:
Logan

As the April 1 deadline for the final 2013-2014 facilities offer to Bullis Charter School approaches, communications have stalled over the differing visions of charter school and Los Altos School District officials.

The charter school and the school district annually engage in negotiations over facilities the district is required to allocate to Bullis Charter School under state Proposition 39 education law.

Last week, charter school officials responded to the district’s request for a 90-day pause in legal action over facilities with a counteroffer to suspend litigation for the 21-day period before the April 1 deadline.

District Board of Trustees President Doug Smith said he was disappointed with the charter school’s counterproposal, as it was framed as “meetings that would only address the Bullis Charter School concerns but not confront the larger issues Los Altos School District wanted to discuss.”

Smith said trustees called for the 90-day pause in litigation to explore options for a 2013-2014 facilities agreement and other longer-term solutions without fear of statements made in meetings being used against them in court.

“I am saddened and disappointed that Bullis Charter School has failed to take up our genuine offer to set aside the litigation and work on creative solutions,” Smith said in a March 22 letter to charter school board Chairman Ken Moore.

Reaction to charter vision

District trustees reacted to the charter school’s response to their preliminary offer at a March 11 board meeting. Smith referred to Bullis Charter School’s vision of facilities as “not a starting point” in possible discussions over next year’s offer.

The charter school, currently located on the campus of Egan Junior High School, requested substantially more space and buildings next year at Blach Intermediate School, with a plan to expand enrollment and divide its student population between the two campuses.

“The proposed configuration from Bullis Charter School is very specifically set up as a K-8 on two campuses,” Smith said. “I don’t think that is a constructive use of the district’s limited resources.”

Smith said he still favors the district’s offer of housing kindergartners through fifth-graders on the Egan campus and sixth- through eighth-graders at Blach.

According to Smith, the charter school’s request for 10 classroom portables for 200 students, presuming a student-teacher ratio of 20:1, at Blach is “outrageous,” as district classrooms don’t “enjoy” that low a ratio, “especially the junior high students.”

Proposition 39 requires that the district provide Bullis Charter School with “reasonably equivalent facilities.”

Charter school officials based their offer partly on Gardner Bullis School facilities when it reopened in 2008 – with a much smaller student population than it currently serves.

“There is a big difference (between Gardner Bullis facilities and the charter school’s current facilities request),” Smith said. “When one is allocated bond funds, facilities are built that need to stand for 30 years. The Proposition 39 process looks at what the loading is today. It is not consistent to go and say, ‘Hey, I want that.’”

District Trustee Tammy Logan agreed, responding that the charter school’s proposal was a “dream,” “something we can’t afford” and something that “isn’t fair to district students.”

Despite their negative reactions to the charter school’s proposal, district trustees agreed that they could possibly tweak the preliminary offer by providing a lunch servery and reviewing the blacktop, parking-space and facility-sharing allocation at Blach.

Problems with messaging

District trustees took issue with Bullis Charter School’s recent messaging campaign in the community.

In today’s Town Crier as well the Feb. 13 issue, the charter school ran a full-page advertisement with the word “Compromise” prominently featured. Mailers with the same message were sent to homes in Los Altos earlier this month.

District Trustee Mark Goines sparred with John Phelps, charter school board member, during the public comment portion of the March 11 meeting.

Goines challenged the “compromise” message and noted how it conflicts with the charter school’s legal paperwork, which claims that the charter school would still prefer to be housed at Covington School.

Goines emphasized that while Bullis Charter School has not yet formally accepted the district’s offer of a split campus, officials are messaging the offer as “compromise.”

“I can’t (accept a split campus) until we reach an agreement,” Phelps said.

Goines said he continues to be disappointed with how charter school officials are presenting the matter, pointing to their “divergent redirect.”

Enrollment projections

Bullis Charter School parents attended the meeting to support the charter school’s facilities vision and to urge the district to amend its counterprojection of enrollment.

The charter school originally projected 615 in-district students for next year, and the school district countered with a projection of 572 students – a 43-student difference.

Moore sent a letter to district trustees March 11, reaffirming the charter school’s 615-student enrollment projection and providing an update now that the admissions deadline has passed.

Moore’s letter states: “624 students have already reserved spots to attend Bullis Charter School next year, of whom 95 percent reside within the Los Altos School District.”

District trustees said Moore’s letter failed to provide information they would need to adjust their projection, and added that they are still waiting for specific data they requested in November.

Smith said he filed a California Public Records Act asking for information on district students who apply for charter school admission versus the number who ultimately attend.

“We need to fully understand in the past years how many (district students) have enrolled and have not attended,” Goines said.

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