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News

Council hosts study session on downtown parking garage

Council hosts study session on downtown parking garage


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Los Altos City Council continues to explore options to address parking constraints in the downtown triangle.

The Los Altos City Council last week held the first of two study sessions to discuss the potential construct...

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Schools

LAHS Science and Technology Week features medical examiner

LAHS Science and Technology Week features medical examiner


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
A Los Altos High School student learns how to use robotic surgical equipment at the school’s Science and Technology Week event last year. Students can also attend hands-on presentations at this year’s event, w...

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Community

Ahoy, matey: Pirate Manor ramps up Halloween display

Ahoy, matey: Pirate Manor ramps up Halloween display


Town Crier File Photo
Pirate Manor is once again scheduled to arrive in the front yard of Dane and Jill Glasgow’s home on Manor Way in Los Altos, just in time for Halloween.

Although not the Walking Dead, pirate skeletons have been brought to li...

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Sports

Lancers rule the pool against Spartans

Lancers rule the pool against Spartans


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
St. Francis High’s Eric Reitmeir launches the ball over Mountain View High driver David Niehaus (2) and goalie Kenny Tang. The host Lancers won Friday’s non-league game 9-3.

There wasn’t a lot on the line Friday when ...

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Comment

Reeder, Fung for El Camino HCD: Editorial

The good news for the El Camino Healthcare District (formerly the El Camino Hospital District, for those still getting used to the new name) is that there is a contested election Nov. 4 for the district’s board of directors. Three candidates are runn...

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Special Sections

Plant-based diet offers benefits

Plant-based diet offers benefits


Photo by Ramya Krishna
Los Altos resident Nandini Krishna prepares a meat-free dish According to author Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr., M.D., a plant-based diet can help prevent cancer.

Shirley Okita of Los Altos has found that adhering to a mostly plant...

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Business

New shop offers haute couture for girls

New shop offers haute couture for girls


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Girls @ Los Altos at 239 State St. offers clothing lines such as Nellystella as well as toys and other items for girls.

Cecilia Chen opened The Girls @ Los Altos as a tribute to the party dress. Whether it’s for...

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Books

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mimi Sommers, who works at a Los Altos dentist’s office, recently wrote a children’s book.

A local dental hygienist recently published a book that aims to ease parents and children during a sometimes anxious e...

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People

BARBARA DARLING MERIDETH

1946-2014

Born in Palo Alto, raised in Los Altos, retired in southern Oregon. Survived by Peter James Merideth, sons Matthew, Jacob and John Merideth, the loves of her life.

She was a housewife who took great pride in her home, her surroundings and...

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Travel

Falling leaves: Four places in California to see autumn colors

Falling leaves: Four places in California to see autumn colors


Courtesy of Castello di Amorosa
Castello di Amorosa in Calistoga, above, boasts a beautiful setting for viewing fall’s colors – and sampling the vineyard’s wines.

Yes, Virginia, there is fall in California.

The colors pop out in...

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Stepping Out

'Sleepy Hollow' awakens at Bus Barn

'Sleepy Hollow' awakens at Bus Barn



Los Altos Youth Theatre’s production of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” a musical based on Washington Irving’s classic story, is set to run through Nov. 2 at Bus Barn Theater. The cast comprises 27 young actors, directed by Cindy Powell. Courtesy o...

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Spiritual Life

Magazine

Local events add color to autumn calendar

Local events add color to autumn calendar


Van Houtte/town crier Visitors make their way through the Children’s Alley.

As Los Altos’ signature Chinese Pistache trees exchange their summer green for vibrant hues of yellow, orange and red in the fall, an abundance of local events also ad...

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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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