Thu09182014

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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Facilities meetings cover short-term conflicts

Subsets of the Bullis Charter School and Los Altos School District boards met twice last week, tentatively forging a collaborative relationship to address outstanding facilities conflicts.

The boards broke their discussions into two parts: short-term and long-term issues. Last week’s meetings focused on Bullis Charter School officials’ short-term concerns regarding the district’s Facilities Use Agreement (FUA).

The district and the charter school haggled over terms of the FUA, which charter school officials ultimately signed at the eleventh hour to ensure access to their shared site at Blach Intermediate School ahead of the new school year. The FUA imposes grade-level restrictions on the charter school’s Blach campus and sets capacity limits for both Blach and the charter school’s Egan Junior High School site.

Charter school board members John Phelps and Joe Hurd represented Bullis Charter School at the meetings, and Los Altos School District Trustees Mark Goines and Steve Taglio represented the district. The Los Altos Community Foundation sponsored professional mediator Geoff Ball, and Los Altos Mayor Jarrett Fishpaw hosted the meetings, held Tuesday and Thursday in the Los Altos City Council Chambers.

Collaboration and compromise

A good deal of discussion centered on what it means to collaborate and compromise.

“We are looking for some support for the burden we have taken on,” Phelps said. “We have taken quite a burden by splitting up our program. We are looking for a little bit of cooperation.”

Taglio said he is concerned about how the charter school’s requests might affect the community at large.

“It’s the ripple effect,” he said. “I’m worried about the rest of the community. You’re 12 percent of school-aged children – that comes down to less than 5 percent of the community we service. It’s the families that live there, it’s those issues as well.”

Taglio said compromise must come from both sides.

“We are the only school in this town that is on two campuses four miles apart,” Hurd said in response. “It’s a little difficult for me to say I need to compromise more. I’m not saying this is the only compromise (the charter school) community can make, but that is a pretty big one.”

Phelps said he hopes the district will address the charter school’s concerns.

“We are now bumped up against some quite minor constraints,” he said. “I think we can solve these minor constraints without further compromising the Bullis Charter School program.”

Hammering out the details

Goines said the district board needs to understand the specifics of Bullis’ program on the Blach campus before trustees vote on the charter school’s proposed changes to the FUA.

Charter school officials presented additional data points for the district trustees to take back to their board. They said enrollment on the Blach campus would never exceed 175 students, and multigrade groupings would rotate on the campus. Officials emphasized that each charter school student would have only one drop-off and one pickup at the Blach campus per day.

Charter school representatives reported their grade-level caps at Blach: fewer than 90 K-3 students on campus at one time, fewer than 150 fourth- through sixth-graders and fewer than 100 seventh- and eighth-graders.

The K-6 students would begin their school day at 8:45 a.m. and end either at 2:30 p.m. or 3:30 p.m. Junior-highers would start at 8 a.m. and end at 3:30 p.m.

District trustees asked for clarification on how the charter school planned to use the shared space with so many grade levels on the Blach campus. The charter school outlined how it would need rainy-day access for all 175 students in either the gym or multipurpose room as well as access to the home economics room for fourth- through eighth-graders.

Regarding outdoor space, charter school officials asked for fourth- and fifth-grade access to the outdoor shared facilities. In an attempt to assuage the district’s concerns about their ability to provide a safe play space for K-3 students, charter school officials asked for space in front of the adjoined Stepping Stones Preschool to build a play structure for younger students – at the charter school’s expense. Bullis Charter School representatives also requested access to the sloped grass space on the street side of the track for the younger students’ play area.

Moving forward

Goines said the district would review the charter school’s proposed amendments to the FUA, particularly as they relate to California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) mandates. The district, he added, must ensure that the charter school’s requested changes do not affect the latest addendum to the CEQA study on the Blach and Egan campuses.

Charter school board members urged the district trustees to reach a decision on their requests by their next board meeting, scheduled Monday. Goines called the timeline “optimistic,” suggesting instead that a decision by their Sept. 23 board meeting – after the upcoming long-term facilities discussions – would be more realistic.

Los Altos Hills City Councilman John Radford warned district trustees that if they don’t approve the charter school’s requests before the long-term meetings, then there won’t be much to discuss. The town of Los Altos Hills is scheduled to host the long-term facilities meetings this week.

“If we are in our chambers on Sept. 12 and there is no agreement, I can’t see long-term discussions going much of anywhere,” Radford said. “Mayor (Gary) Waldeck and I might not see the point of doing it. There is nothing tonight that should stop you from accommodating Bullis Charter School if you want a bond passed. We’ve got to get onto bigger stuff. This can be solved and should be solved.”

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