Los Altos Hills resident John Swan, 63, is one of five candidates in the Nov. 4 election to fill three open seats on the Los Altos School District Board of Trustees. Swan, a business development executive, served as a member of the district’s Superintendent’s 2013 Task Force on Growth. He also serves on the West Valley-Mission College Foundation and the Community Technology Alliance boards. He has engineering, physics and business degrees from San Jose State and Santa Clara universities, respectively.
Q: Why are you running?
Swan: For our children and to build harmony in our community. We have a bright future, but that bright future requires community collaboration, a fresh outlook with innovative ideas grounded by strong financial management and transparency. I am proud of the wide spectrum of courses available to our children through the district, Bullis Charter School and private schools.
Our children are not the same, and one size does not fit all for educating them. Los Altos School District schools provide a wonderful experience, but we must do more – early exposure to foreign language in K-6 and specialized teachers for math, science, art and music – things that aren’t necessarily reflected in higher test scores but that in today’s world should be a vital part of every child’s education.
Q: What are three goals you would promote as a trustee?
Swan: My three goals are: (1) build bridges to resolve long-standing conflicts; (2) institute meaningful financial oversight with accountability, transparency and a long-term view; and (3) tap Silicon Valley’s resources to ensure that our children have a world-class education – early, experiential exposure to foreign language, science, math, art and music.
Q: What makes you stand out from the rest of the candidates?
Swan: My career is characterized by the core values of (1) championing public-private partnerships, (2) innovation and entrepreneurship and (3) fiscal responsibility.
I want our community to leverage off Silicon Valley’s fantastic resources to create the best curriculum possible to go beyond test scores. We need to equip our children with the tools to be critical thinkers, to draw connections across disciplines and to work in cross-functional teams. Let’s augment the education code and develop a locally controlled set of courses that prepares our kids to be hired by the companies and organizations that are located in the innovation capital of the world.
Q: What do you think of the recent Los Altos School District/Bullis Charter School agreement?
Swan: It is an excellent step in the right direction and long overdue. I view it as a legal “cease fire” agreement. We needed a fresh start and it is critical we come up with a true peace accord where we collaborate and cooperate for the betterment of our children and community. The next four years will be critical to the success of rebuilding our community.
Q: Discuss your role as a Bullis Charter School founding family.
Swan: We felt that Bullis Charter School was the best choice for our daughters at the time. We have more kid-years in the Los Altos School District than at the charter school, so I feel that I can be an impartial arbitrator. I want to see all of our children benefit from outstanding programs.
Q: What are your thoughts on the Los Altos School District’s bond on the Nov. 4 ballot?
Swan: I’m all for investing in strong schools. As a trustee, I will be seeking recommendations from the community to help prioritize our spending and to form a solid long-term plan for the best interests of our kids.
The Palo Alto Unified School District and the Cupertino Union School District follow a very community-informed process to build consensus. If we ask taxpayers to increase taxes, they should understand exactly how and where their money will be spent.
Q: Anything else you’d like to add?
Swan: Silicon Valley would not exist today as we know it if it were not for President John F. Kennedy’s bold challenge to the country in 1961 to go to the moon by the end of the decade. We need a bold goal for our community as it relates to public education. I am asking the community to help me define our “shoot-for-the-moon” goal for public education.
For more information, visit johnswanforlasd.com.