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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School district ups property-tax growth projections


Courtesy of LASD
The Los Altos School District hiked its property-tax growth projection for 2013-2014, exceeding expectations calculated in June (blue line) by nearly 4 percent.

Projections for property-tax growth, the Los Altos School District’s major revenue source, are rising, district officials said at a board meeting earlier this month.

Reporting numbers from the 2012-2013 district budget, Randy Kenyon, assistant superintendent for business services, said the property-tax projections for the current school year stand at 8.7 percent, a significant jump from the 5 percent growth rate estimated in June.

Kenyon said property-tax growth is based primarily on housing turnover, which boosts the assessed value of the property.

The average assessed value of local homes is $1.18 million, with 55 percent of parcels assessed lower than the average. Eighteen percent of the parcels in the district are assessed at less than $200,000. Seven years ago, 26 percent of homes were assessed at less than $200,000, and 60 percent were assessed at less than the $834,000 average.

With the growth larger than predicted and the district’s current reserve fund 5 percent higher than its target level, the district may have funds to add to its educational offerings.

“Property-tax growth is a foreseeable ongoing revenue source for funding items with an ongoing cost,” Kenyon said.

Kenyon used graphs at the Sept. 9 board meeting to illustrate the costs of restoring certain programs. The numbers showed that programs with ongoing costs become extremely difficult for the district to carry – for example, adding $500,000 a year for facilities projects.

“Ongoing commitments without assurance of ongoing revenue leads to a financial death spiral,” he said.

Kenyon said property-tax growth and projections are important moving forward, but many “moving parts” are key to determining the future of the budget.

With the unexpected revenue, Superintendent Jeff Baier asked trustees to consider the possibility of rolling out full-day kindergarten across the district. The district currently offers full-day kindergarten only at Gardner Bullis School.

Introducing a full-day program throughout district would be a one-time cost of $450,000 for additional facilities and an ongoing cost of $230,000 per year for additional staff.

“The decision on full-day kindergarten is one that as a district we need to make soon if the intent is to install it next year,” Baier said. “We begin (promoting our program at) preschools in early November.”

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