Fri10242014

Stakeholders in schools’ debate must come to the table: Other Voices

The election is past. The opportunity for a fresh start is here. Let’s turn the corner on divisiveness and welcome peace into our community for the holidays and beyond.

We invite everyone to stand beside us in calling for a new tone in the schools’ debate between the Los Altos School District and Bullis Charter School. We need a commitment from all of the stakeholders – from the board level on down to the parents – to civil discourse, community values, respect for school choice and honest effort toward brokering a long-term solution. We believe that we have what it takes as a community to solve this, and that we need to commit ourselves to getting this done.

It is not good for any of us, regardless of affiliation, to let this issue fracture our community any longer. It’s true, Los Altos schools are among the best public schools in the state. But so, too, is the charter school. Let’s accept that we have a wealth of excellent public options and move on to find a solution that respects the desire for choice in our district, and the rights of all public-school children for equal facilities.

Our community cannot afford to be pulled apart any longer; it’s time for all of the stakeholders in the schools’ debate to come to the table and agree – and stick – to a solution. That means that the two boards, the leaders of the various school and community groups, the school communities and the population at large will need to compromise – it is the only way. Let us stop the online nastiness and face each other with respect and understanding. Let us remember that we are all neighbors and members of a shared community above all.

We know it will not be easy. It will require compromise from both sides. It may require the passage of a difficult bond measure. But we have to accept the reality of the situation we are in, and get this done for the well-being of our community. This is especially important for the children who are suffering while the adults fight. We hear stories of children trying to work this out for themselves, accusing each other of trying to take one another’s schools away. It’s time to move forward, out of the quagmire, for the long-term health and well-being of our children.

As public officials, we are confident that there is enough to go around. The glass is half full, if we can only see it that way. How many communities have one of the top-performing districts and the No. 1 charter school in the same town? With the bright minds and resources we have at our disposal, we can solve this. Things may not stay exactly the way they are today, but we believe the emotional costs of not having a solution are far too high for our community to bear.

Please join us in demanding that both sides come back to the mediation table, with no pre-existing conditions, to try to work this out.

Los Altos City Councilman David Casas and Los Altos Hills City Councilman John Radford have been at opposite ends of the charter school debate.

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