Sat12202014

News

Council seeks more options for community center

Council seeks more options for community center


Town Crier File Photo
The Los Altos City Council approved an appropriation to examine options for a new community center to replace the aging Hillview facility.

The Los Altos City Council last week voted narrowly in favor of examining further opti...

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Schools

Local schools participate in  national Hour of Code activities

Local schools participate in national Hour of Code activities


Ellie Van HOutte/Town Crier
Himan Shu Raj, a volunteer from Microsoft, advises Los Altos High ninth-graders, from left, Serhat Suzer, Jamie Bennett and Chris Yang as they participate in the school’s Hour of Code Showcase.

Local schools participa...

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Community

Take a dive into the holiday archive

Take a dive into the holiday archive

Town Crier staff made a quick cruise back through the newspaper's archives to find some late-December reading as inspiration for eating, drinking, decorating and more:

Beloved holiday books build the spirit of the season and staff at Los Altos’ Li...

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Sports

Pinewood poised for another title run

Pinewood poised for another title run


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Pinewood’s girls basketball team is receiving contributions from several new players, including freshman Stella Kailahi, above.

Complacency shouldn’t be a problem for the defending Division V state champion Pinewood S...

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Comment

Letters to the Editor

Ticket motorists for U-turns on Main Street

As I was walking downtown on Main Street recently, something came to me out of the blue. The town of Los Altos is missing out on a huge revenue stream. I realized that if all the cars – there were th...

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Special Sections

Looking Ahead

Looking Ahead


s in line to be mayor of Mountain View in 2015.

Mountain View anticipates the following changes in 2015:

• Beginning Jan. 1, Mountain View City Councilmembers will receive a raise to $1,000 per month as a result of the passage of Measure A in...

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Business

Your 2015 stock market game plan

It’s been a maddening month because of oil and gas, especially in stocks and bonds. Then, consumer spending pushed stocks higher Thursday, easing investors’ jitters about the global economy and prompting them to consider how to invest in ...

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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

SANGEETA SACHDEVA

SANGEETA SACHDEVA

Sangeeta Sachdeva, 55, wife of Subhash Sachdeva and mother to Natasha and Tanya, died at 8:54pm, Sunday, December 7, 2014 from respiratory failure.

Sangeeta was born on October 18, 1959 in Delhi, India. She was born to Moti Sagar and Raj Kapoor an...

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Travel

South Tahoe renovations enhance off-mountain seasonal fun

As any enthusiast knows well, there is more to the enjoyment of winter sports than skiing or snowboarding.

While many winter resorts make minor upgrades each season, the off-mountain attractions and amenities can be as enticing as the activities on ...

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Stepping Out

Aurora Singers to emit 'Musical Glow' Friday

Aurora Singers to emit 'Musical Glow' Friday


courtesy of Aurora Singers
The Aurora Singers are scheduled to perform a seasonal concert Friday night in Palo Alto.

The Aurora Singers’ “Winter’s Musical Glow” holiday concert is set for 7 p.m. Friday at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Pal...

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Spiritual Life

Enter the superhero: Finding the God who loves you

In my life-coaching practice, I see a lot of pain. Much of it stems from fear and guilt, often expressed as low self-esteem, anxiety, a lack of forgiveness both for oneself and others, anger – and so on.

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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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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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