Mon09152014

News

New nonprofit aims to elevate schools dialogue

Local residents have launched a nonprofit organization that vows to promote strong leadership, fiscal responsibility and transparency in the Los Altos School District.

Comprising parents and other voting residents in the district, Each Student Counts defines itself as a 501(c)(4) organization – a nonprofit, tax-exempt group formed to promote social welfare causes or local associations. The designation is typically given to civic leagues and political action committees.

“Each Student Counts is here to bring the focus of education back to our children,” said Rob Fagen, president of the organization. “We advocate building the best public educational system for all the children living within the district, a system that celebrates and serves everyone’s needs.”

Fagen, a Bullis Charter School parent, said he wants the group to “elevate the conversation” by making it more fact and data driven.

One of the ways the organization hopes to achieve that, according to Fagan, is through its website. The site features a “Did You Know” page that reports the number of enrolled Bullis Charter School students from each district attendance boundary. The website credits the charter school with acting as an agent to absorb district growth over the past several years.

“We want to provoke conversations,” Fagen said. “We aren’t elected members of any school board, we are just voters from all sides that are coming together to try and help spur the community toward a better dialogue.”

The officers of Each Student Counts include parents and community members from Los Altos, Los Altos Hills and Mountain View. Officers include Fagen, David Roode (vice president) and Jill Jene (secretary).

The Each Student Counts Advisory Board will facilitate gathering community input and feedback to inform the group’s efforts, Fagen said. He said the advisory board has one permanent member and several informal advisers. The Each Student Counts board will appoint members of the advisory board.

Fagen described Each Student Counts as a community outreach organization – not an advocacy group. He added that the group is not looking to influence the upcoming election.

“We want to be that conscience in the community,” he said. “We want to offer objective information about what is going on and spur that conversation in a civil manner. We want to make sure we are doing the best for kids.”

The organization’s website states that Each Student Counts aims to advocate for restoring balance, respect and cost effectiveness to the school district, bring strong leadership to the public trust and support fiscal responsibility.

But some of the goals stated online differ from what Fagen told the Town Crier.

“In the coming weeks and months, we will be sharing information and providing specifics about failed leadership and fiscal irresponsibility on the part of the Los Altos School District Trustees,” the website states. “Then, it’s up to you to engage with them and guide them toward satisfying you, the public. We would like to help discover positive alternatives for improvement.”

Moving forward, Fagen said the organization will reach out to the community through newspapers and its website.

“Each Student Counts will focus on informing and educating the voting public about issues that affect all of our children’s education,” the organization’s press release stated. “We want to foster open, honest and civil debate when the community discusses this crucial community resource. To that end, we are committed to a balanced, fact-based approach to the issues.”

For more information, visit eachstudentcounts.org.

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