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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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Use agreement remains sticking point: Charter school, district haggling continues via email


Courtesy of BCS
Bullis Charter School families and staff work to prepare the Blach campus over the weekend.

After a week of email communications between the Los Altos School District and Bullis Charter School, face-to-face contact may finally be on the horizon.

In the latest back-and-forth emails between the two parties, the district suggested meeting Tuesdays and Thursdays, beginning next week, to discuss short- and long-term facilities issues. Charter school officials agreed to the meetings, and added that Los Altos Mayor Jarrett Fishpaw would host and arrange a venue and an impartial facilitator for the discussions. Their Monday response also included a signed copy of the district Facilities Use Agreement (FUA).

Charter school officials had invited the district board of trustees to its Monday board meeting to discuss the major concerns over the FUA, but district officials declined due to scheduling conflicts.

The FUA includes limits on the number of charter school students who may attend the school’s campuses on the Egan Junior High and Blach Intermediate schools properties and on the grade levels at the new Blach facilities. The district’s facilities offer, finalized in April, included the terms.

FUA and lockout status

Bullis Charter School officials received keys to the Blach campus at the district’s Aug. 12 board meeting – along with a warning.

“Now that the district has delivered the keys, I would expect Bullis Charter School will realize it needs to sign the use agreement before entering the facilities, but the district will watch and see what Bullis Charter School does and act accordingly,” said Doug Smith, district board president, at the time.

Smith warned charter school officials of “legal consequences” if charter school administrators fail to sign the FUA.

A letter from the district accompanied the keys, cautioning that if the charter school unlocks the Blach site without signing the FUA, the district will decide whether that action indicates that the charter school agrees to the terms of the FUA or is in breach of the agreement. Smith said the district will be “closely monitoring” the situation.

The following day, charter school officials issued a press release stating that they intended to access their facilities at Blach.

“Our teachers need to get their classrooms ready for the upcoming school year,” said Ken Moore, charter school board chairman. “We disagree with select elements of the FUA and have repeatedly tried to discuss it in good faith with the district. It’s clear that the district plans to use the unsigned FUA as its basis for finding us in violation of its imposed restrictions. It’s evident that the district intends to take us to court simply for daring to serve all our enrolled students and implementing our teacher-designed educational program.”

Moore added that charter school representatives were “saddened by the district’s increasingly hostile and incredulous behavior.”

Charter school families and teachers met at the Blach campus over the weekend to ready the campus for the school year, which opens this week.

Terms of agreement

Charter school officials sent an email to their district counterparts Aug. 14, providing further details regarding the number of students they plan to house at each campus.

An attached letter explained that Bullis Charter School would agree to terms that it would not exceed a student count on either site of more than 20 percent above its in-district projections last fall – 175 students at Blach and 563 at Egan. It would also commit to limit periodic gatherings of its entire student body to at most eight times per month at the Egan site.

The charter school’s letter acknowledged its “full indemnification for (K-3 students’) safety” at the Blach campus.

“Our community is closely watching how the Los Altos School District resolves this matter,” the letter stated. “As trustees over public facilities, you are the elected leaders with a duty to be impartial. Instead of fighting Bullis Charter School, lay the groundwork for productive collaboration and sharing of best practices.”

District response

The district responded to the charter school’s letter via email Friday afternoon.

“Although we are interested in learning more, it is important for you to realize that we spent considerable time and utilized an extensive, publicly driven process to prepare the final offer and the attendant facilities use agreement and crafted it with that input in mind,” the attached letter stated. “This process is not easy to replicate in just a few days’ time or to modify without feedback from our community and a thorough evaluation of the potential impacts.”

The district claimed that a judge certified its 2013-2014 final offer earlier this year after the charter school brought the case to court.

“We understand that you want to run the program you have the way you have designed it, but it is perhaps equally important for you to innovate in a way that meets your goals and also fits into the constraints of the final offer, the court’s ruling validating that final offer and the interests of the broader Los Altos community,” the letter continued.

The charter school board released a rebuttal to the district’s interpretation of the facts in its original letter last week, claiming that a judge denied the charter school’s motion against the district’s split-campus offer but did not address the other issues such as site capacity limits or grade-level restrictions.

“However, given that the status quo is that our final offer was deemed fully compliant with Prop. 39, we would need compelling reasons to grant any exceptions as well as additional time to ensure that the district complies with the California Environmental Quality Act before approving a facilities use agreement that permits more students/buildings than allowed under the final offer,” the district’s Friday letter stated.

The letter proposed that a subset of the two boards attend the suggested twice-weekly meetings, because convening meetings with nine charter school board members and five district trustees would likely create “challenging situations” and raise scheduling conflicts. The district suggested two representatives from each board attend the meetings.

Charter school officials responded positively to the district’s call for meetings next week. Their response made it clear, however, that they want to address short-term issues regarding the enrollment caps and grade restrictions before they tackle long-range plans.

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