Fri05062016

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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BCS, LASD deliberate long-term objectives


Traci Newell/Town Crier
Los Altos Hills Mayor Gary Waldeck, center, addresses Los Altos School District Trustees Tammy Logan and Doug Smith, left, and Bullis Charter School board members Peter Evans and Francis La Poll (in jacket) during a meeting Thursday.

Subsets of the Los Altos School District and Bullis Charter School boards met last week to address long-term options for a new charter school site.

The two parties have been at odds for years over whether the facilities the district provides the Bullis Charter School are “reasonably equivalent” under Proposition 39, the state’s charter school law. The discussion looked to the future and the possibility of placing a bond measure before voters to fund the purchase of an additional campus for the charter school.

Board members Francis La Poll and Peter Evans represented Bullis Charter School at the meetings, and Los Altos School District Board President Doug Smith and Trustee Tammy Logan represented the district. Los Altos Hills Mayor Gary Waldeck mediated the discussion.

Outlining objectives

Waldeck opened the meeting, held Thursday at Los Altos Hills Town Hall, by requesting that the two parties name their top three objectives for the future.

Logan and Smith identified only one goal – to address community concerns in a way that will gain enough support to pass a bond that could solve the facilities issues.

“There is a vision that says the district wants to shut down Bullis Charter School,” Smith said. “That is not the goal. The goal is to peacefully coexist.”

La Poll listed the charter school’s three overarching goals:

• To serve every district child who wishes to attend Bullis Charter School, without capacity limitations or grade-level restrictions.

• To find interim solutions that would contain assurances with regard to the charter school’s short-term “project list” until a bond measure passes.

• To occupy stable, reasonably equivalent facilities.

Addressing the bond

Evans questioned whether a bond measure would solve all of the charter school’s facilities problems.

“The bond is a means to an end, but it is not an end in itself,” he said. “The challenge is to determine whether a bond will be the means to peacefully coexist.”

La Poll said Bullis Charter School would need a guarantee that if a bond passes, the charter school would benefit. He assumed that would be addressed in the language of the bond.

Smith said the two groups would collaborate on the language for a bond measure.

A large portion of the meeting was dedicated to discussing whether a bond, which could result in a new site for the charter school, would include assurance that the charter school would not seek to close another operating district school for a specified number of years.

“We will not get the support of the community if they feel there is a threat of closing another school,” Smith said.

Eventually, the charter school representatives agreed that language addressing that concern is “doable.”

The district can propose two types of bonds. A Proposition 39-type bond requires 55 percent approval for passage and could tax residents $30 per $100,000 assessed value of their property, netting approximately $150 million. The district could schedule an election in June or November of 2014. The second type requires a two-thirds vote but could stipulate an assessment rate higher than the $30 per $100,000 assessed value. Such an election could be held any Tuesday.

Smith said the district has not decided which type of bond to pursue and will conduct additional polling before making that determination.

Sites and litigation

La Poll asked if the school district would discontinue looking at sites for the charter school outside the school district’s boundaries.

“If we are going to pass a bond, we are going to have to find sites that are mutually agreeable,” Smith replied, adding that a group of charter school and district representatives are currently examining potential properties.

“None of the possible sites are clean – there is hair on all of them,” Smith said. “But there are some possibilities.”

Smith asked if everyone would agree to drop all existing litigation if a bond were to pass.

“I’m talking about the existing suits,” he said. “If we are building you a site and we have mutually selected the location, agreed on the design, all the stuff in previous years shouldn’t matter.”

“That certainly may be on the table,” La Poll responded.

Moving ahead

Waldeck suggested an agenda for the next meeting – scheduled Monday, after the Town Crier’s press deadline – that would allow each side to present in writing a draft of a resolution to support a bond that addressed the concerns already raised.

“I’ve seen a level of distrust that is like the Hatfields and McCoys,” Waldeck said. “Let’s get past that, one thing at a time.”

He added that then the group could review the resolutions and attempt to combine them into one compatible draft.

Smith suggested that they should also discuss community concerns in greater detail.

“How do we address the community concerns so that the people we will turn to (to help us pass a bond) … can support it?” Smith asked. “It’s critical to get that buy-in.”

La Poll agreed that he was troubled by the list of community concerns.

“There are just certain things we as a board will not accept if they intrude on our program,” he said.

The next meeting is scheduled 7 p.m. today at Los Altos Hills Town Hall, 26379 W. Fremont Road.

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