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News

Campaign finance reports show lots of loans, few outliers

Campaign finance reports show lots of loans, few outliers


Ellie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
Campaign yard signs are just one expenditure for candidates during election season.

Election finance filings are in, and Los Altos appears to be hosting a few financially lopsided races.

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Schools

Three Los Altos schools earn National Blue Ribbon designation

Three Los Altos schools earn National Blue Ribbon designation


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Bullis Charter School students wear their school spirit clothing to greet their mascot Oct. 3 in celebration of being named a National Blue Ribbon School.

Blach Intermediate, Egan Junior High and Bullis Charter schools ea...

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Community

Sports

Spartans run wild(cat) on Eagles

Spartans run wild(cat) on Eagles


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mountain View High running back Austin Johnson goes for a big gain after evading Los Altos High defensive tackle Phil Alameda in Friday’s game. Johnson scored two touchdowns for the Spartans.

After unveiling its wildc...

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Comment

Logan, McClatchie, Peruri for LASD board: Editorial

This is a crucial time for the Los Altos School District. Its leadership faces the challenge of balancing enrollment growth versus maintaining the small, neighborhood schools that make it a very popular district to attend. The district must also adap...

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Special Sections

City's minimum-wage hike earns mixed reviews: Raise to $10.30 an hour meets with approval – and concern

City's minimum-wage hike earns mixed reviews: Raise to $10.30 an hour meets with approval – and concern


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Tandava Waldon, left, manager of East West Bookstore on Castro Street in Mountain View, works with a customer. Waldon said the recently approved minimum-wage hike will have little impact on his business. “It’s not such a...

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Business

Delay Social Security? An easy way to decide

One of the most heatedly debated questions regarding Social Security is when to start.

You have the option of initiating benefits as early as age 62 or as late as age 70. The longer you wait, the larger the monthly payment you will receive over your...

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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

SUZANNE MONICA DIMM SPECHT

SUZANNE MONICA DIMM SPECHT

Suzanne Monica Dimm Specht passed Tuesday, Sept. 9th at the age of 84. Sue was born on April 21, 1930 in Portland, Oregon. After graduating from the University of Oregon in with a degree in Music, Sue taught in a little town called Clatskanie, Oreg...

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Travel

Los Altos resident's visit to North Korea proves enlightening

Los Altos resident's visit to North Korea proves enlightening


Courtesy of Sally Brew
North Korea is home to many monuments honoring its “Dear Leaders,” left.

In August, I traveled for 11 days with MIR Corp. to North Korea, a fascinating country that is almost completely cut off from the rest of the world. ...

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Stepping Out

'Trovatore' takes the stage in Palo Alto

'Trovatore' takes the stage in Palo Alto


Courtesy of José Luis Moscovich
West Bay Opera’s production of “Il Trovatore” is slated to open Friday night in Palo Alto and run through Oct. 26.

West Bay Opera’s production of “Il Trovatore” (“The Troubadour”) is scheduled to open this weekend...

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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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LASD and charter school continue letter exchange


Moore

While there has been a pause in face-to-face meetings between Bullis Charter School and Los Altos School District officials over facilities and resources, the parties continue to communicate via letters.

Last week the letter exchange began with Ken Moore, chairman of the Bullis Charter School Board of Directors, documenting what the charter school wants – and doesn’t want – in relation to a potential bond measure.

“Bullis Charter School does not seek to be the major beneficiary of a new school bond, and we would not support a bond positioned that way,” Moore’s letter stated. “Our only ask is that public resources (e.g., school facilities, school bond proceeds, parcel taxes and the Basic Aid benefit) be shared fairly and equally among residents attending Bullis Charter School and residents attending other public schools in the district.”

District trustees discussed Moore’s letter at their Oct. 14 board meeting, with a few of them labeling the missive a “manifesto” that is not helpful in reaching a long-term solution.

Earlier in the month, the district sent the charter school a draft agreement based on discussions conducted at their meetings addressing short- and long-term challenges.

“This letter does not address anything that was in the proposal,” said Doug Smith, district board president. “It just adds more to the (wish) list. This is just a letter – and we are floating an actual agreement we could make real progress with.”

Trustee Mark Goines said he floated a proposal a few years ago similar to what the charter school requested in its recent letter, but he was informed by counsel that it was not legal.

“What is asked for in this letter, I don’t think it is legal,” Goines said. “Counsel told me that you need to go to the voters to get their permission (for parcel-tax sharing) – state law doesn’t agree to (property-tax growth revenue sharing). Some voter could stop you dead. Dealing with manifestos is not going to help us heal as a community.”

District’s response

The district responded via letter to Bullis Charter School officials last week, requesting a response to its proposal and offering to schedule a face-to-face meeting to discuss long-term solutions.

“We are hopeful that Bullis Charter School will be available for future meetings, and might come prepared with a redline document or at least a willingness to discuss the terms necessary to passing a bond,” Smith’s letter stated.

In addition to asking for a response to the draft agreement, the district asked for a response to the district’s data requests at the meetings on short-term matters.

After discussing moving toward a solution that addresses short- and long-term concerns, the district’s letter included a word of warning to the charter school, outlining how the charter school is breaching its Facilities Use Agreement with the district by:

• Allowing more students to attend classes on the Blach Intermediate and Egan Junior High campuses than agreed upon.

• Not adhering to the sharing schedule for physical education facilities on the Blach campus.

• Starting school outside the times outlined in the agreement.

• Permitting K-3 students to use Blach facilities.

“Bullis Charter School’s continued violations of the terms of this agreement are making it increasingly difficult to believe that your teams are negotiating in good faith,” the letter stated. “By violating the agreement, Bullis Charter School opens itself, its board of directors, its chartering authority and its parents to legal exposure.”

Charter school parent input

Charter school parents showed up en masse at the Oct. 14 district board meeting to compel the district to allow their younger students to use the track and grassy areas at Blach when Blach students are not using the space.

“I watch my son play tag football on the asphalt, when behind me the fields are empty for a half an hour,” said Heidi Mitchell, mother of a Bullis Charter School fourth-grader. “I don’t understand why my student is being crammed while these viable outside areas are empty. My son wants to know why he can’t play on that field. It doesn’t matter what grade he is in, all children deserve a place to play.”

Eight other parents spoke on the same topic, asking district officials to allow their children to use field space when it’s empty.

Trustees responded that they understood the parents’ concerns, but the Facilities Use Agreement follows the law. They explained that they addressed some of the concerns in their proposal, to which the charter school has yet to respond.

“I need to have a partner to talk to, and I don’t have that,” Trustee Steve Taglio said of the Bullis Charter School board’s lack of response. “I have individual parents showing up with demands, and I don’t have a board that is consistent. I need to have someone who is demonstrating that they want to talk.”

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