Tue09162014

News

Council approves directional signs for Los Altos' Woodland Plaza

Council approves directional signs for Los Altos' Woodland Plaza


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Los Altos City Council last week approved the installation of two new directional signs on Foothill Expressway pointing motorists to the Woodland Plaza Shopping District.

The Los Altos City Council voted unanimou...

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Schools

New head of curriculum’s ideologies align with LASD

New head of curriculum’s ideologies align with LASD


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Edsel Clark, new Los Altos School District assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, above, facilitates a junior high mathematics curriculum meeting last week.

Edsel Clark, Ed.D., new assistant superintend...

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Community

Closing reception caps Foothill photo show on rural China

Closing reception caps Foothill photo show on rural China


From IncredibleTravelPhotos.com
Jacque Kae’s “Mischievous” is one of the many photographs on display at Foothill College this month.

Photographs of the land and culture of Huangshan and Zhangjiajie, China, are on exhibit through Sept. 26 at t...

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Sports

Spartans shine in opener

Spartans shine in opener


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mountain View High’s Frank Kapp snares a touchdown pass from quarterback Owen Mountford in Friday’s win.

Leading by a point at halftime, the Mountain View High football team outscored visiting Del Mar 20-0 the rest of...

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Comment

A look ahead to the Nov. 4 election: Editorial

Election season is upon us. In Los Altos, we have three major local races ahead – two seats on the Los Altos City Council, and three seats each on the Los Altos School District and Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District boards of tr...

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Special Sections

Renovation complete,  Villa Siena looks to future

Renovation complete, Villa Siena looks to future


Above and Below Photos Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier; Left Photo Courtesy of Villa Siena
Villa Siena in Mountain View recently underwent a $35 million face-lift. The five-year project expanded their senior living community’s space and ability to serv...

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Business

Transitioning from postage to pets

Transitioning from postage to pets


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
A new Pet Food Express store is scheduled to open at the Blossom Valley Shopping Center this month.

A site that previously existed to meet postal service needs will soon have an entirely different purpose – serving pe...

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Books

‘The Humans’ transcends alien genre to glean human insights

‘The Humans’ transcends alien genre to glean human insights


A good story about aliens is always great fun to read – after all, it’s only by attempting to understand the human race from another perspective that we can see ourselves more objectively.

But readers who might be tempted to dismiss ye...

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People

JEANNE PACKARD

After suffering a stroke in May, Jeanne Packard died August 10, 2014 at age 83. She was born in 1931 in Berlin, Germany, the only child of Emily Channel and Frank Howe Packard of Chicago, IL. Jeanne is survived by 5 great grandchildren. She was a lon...

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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

'Trailer Park' opens in Los Altos

'Trailer Park' opens in Los Altos


Courtesy of Los
The cast of Los Altos Stage Company’s “The Great American Trailer Park Musical” includes, from left, Mylissa Malley as Lin, Vanessa Alvarez as Betty, and Christina Bolognini as Pickles. Altos Stage Company

Los Altos Stage Company...

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Spiritual Life

9/11 survivor Michael Hingson finds purpose

Imagine walking down 78 flights of stairs – 1,463 individual steps. You are in imminent danger as you walk, unsure whether you can make it out of the building before it collapses or explodes. Struggling for each breath, you smell the heavy sten...

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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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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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