Fri05062016

News

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Gregory Helfrich

Santa Clara Sheriff’s detectives have arrested a Los Altos Hills man they suspect repeatedly molested a child decades ago.

Detectives arrested Gregory Helfrich, 54, on a warrant at his Old Page Mill Road home April 27 and...

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Schools

Local AAUW gives gift of science to junior high students

Local AAUW gives gift of science to junior high students


Courtesy of Jessica Harell
Blach Intermediate School seventh-grader Paris Harrell, who loves science and animals, recently received a scholarship from the local branch of the AAUW to attend Tech Trek camp.

It’s not every day that a junior hig...

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Community

At 98, former language teacher remains a lifelong learner

At 98, former language teacher remains a lifelong learner


Federici

Longtime Los Altos resident Mario Federici, who turned 98 Feb. 24, is a man of many languages. He shared his knowledge with thousands of students during his long career as a teacher.

Federici was born and raised in Italy, where he stud...

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Comment

Attend an event, get involved, have fun: Editorial

You don’t have to run for city council to get involved in the community. Sometimes it can be as simple as attending a Los Altos event. You’ll have plenty of opportunities, as the May and June calendars are bustling with activity.

The Dow...

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Special Sections

Racing around Monterey

Racing around Monterey


Gary Anderson/Special to the Town Crier
The easy handling of the VW Golf R, above, makes for an ideal ride along the Big Sur coast.

 

When automotive journalists are asked to list their favorite places in the world to drive, Monterey alway...

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Business

'Steampunk' eatery toasts local libations

'Steampunk' eatery toasts local libations


Courtesy of Eureka
Eureka, a new restaurant in downtown Mountain View, highlights local craft beer and whiskeys on a menu of food spanning from sea to farm.

Craft beer and fancy whiskeys headline the menu at Eureka, the new restaurant that opene...

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People

Stepping Out

PA Players seek escape in 'Into the Woods'

PA Players seek escape in 'Into the Woods'


Courtesy of Palo Alto Players
The Baker’s Wife, left, and Cinderella’s erstwhile Prince stand out in the Palo Alto Players production of “Into the Woods.”

Little Red Riding Hood sets forth at the outset of “Into the...

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Spiritual Life

Los Altos United Methodist Church service salutes Heifer International

Los Altos United Methodist Church service salutes Heifer International


Courtesy of Los ALtos United Methodist Church
Hidden Villa will bring some of its farm animals to Los Altos United Methodist Church Sunday to support the nonprofit Heifer International.

Los Altos United Methodist Church is scheduled to salute th...

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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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