Mon10202014

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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Local volunteer group to study schools conflict


A volunteer group of retired Los Altos residents is collaborating on a comprehensive study of the Bullis Charter School and Los Altos School District conflict.

The PrimeTime Project is delving into the finer points of the charter school and its relationship with the district in an effort to “lower the heat” with regard to the contentious relationship between the two parties.

The pilot program – which uses the expertise of retired Los Altos professionals to study divisive community issues – sprang to life in 2010 after receiving support from the Los Altos Community Foundation (LACF) and has since published a report reviewing the costs of city-operated versus district-operated libraries in Los Altos.

PrimeTime founder Karen Duncan told the Town Crier that the goal of the study isn’t necessarily to solve long-standing issues between the district and the charter school. Instead, she noted that the group aims to complete a fact-based analysis without bias and emotion that educates the community “so that we’re not arguing about things that can be known.”

“If people just understood how little basis there was to some of the things they’re so upset about, it might help them to calm down and turn their attention elsewhere,” Duncan said about the philosophy behind her project.

The goal, she added, is to calm the community.

“The process is to educate them as to the facts,” she said.

Examining the big picture

Duncan said her group – which comprises a handful of volunteer analysts with backgrounds in law and finance – will cover several facets of the issue in the study, such as the history and rationale behind Bullis Charter School and laws governing charter schools in the state.

Duncan added that public resources and other funding for charter schools, as well as enrollment procedures for students and disadvantaged groups, will also be studied at length.

“So we are looking at the big picture of what’s the funding and what’s the legislation, but we’re also looking at what (the district and charter school) are actually doing,” said Duncan of the study, which will include interviews with administrators and board members, as well as some parents, from Bullis Charter School and the school district.

“My biggest job is truly to be open to everybody. It’s really a tightrope, because you don’t know what people are sensitive about,” she said.

Duncan noted that all volunteers participating in the study first undergo “Joe Friday” training – named after the famed “Dragnet” television show, known for its “Just the facts, ma’am” detective. The training, she said, will include education on what she calls “The Dozen Deadly Deceivers” – which, among other things, include use of misleading statements and applying a mismatched set of facts to certain situations.

“Because we’re all trained in truth-telling, if an analyst comes back with a biased report, we’re going to know it – we’re going to spot it,” she said. “Everything has to be verified.”

One item the group won’t be examining closer, however, is the ongoing facilities dispute between the district and the charter school. Duncan called the issue “very complex, with a lot of opinions and a lot of water under the bridge.

“Why would we weigh in on this?” she asked. “We’re unpaid volunteers on a part-time basis and we’re going to go make judgments where you have law firms with whom millions of dollars have been spent weighing in on these opinions? We really have nothing to add to that at this time.”

Duncan noted that charter school and district administrators have been “very cooperative, in terms of interviews and information” to date, adding that she hopes to publish the study sometime in the spring.

“I can say that I have met a large number of educated, well-meaning people who really care about the children,” Duncan said. “I’m very optimistic that we’re going to help – our little piece of it is going to make a positive contribution.”

For more information, visit losaltoscf.org/primetime.

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