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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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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