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LASD candidates face off in their first forum


Photo By: Traci Newell/Town Crier
Photo Traci Newell/Town Crier Los Altos School District Board of Trustees candidates, from left, Pablo Luther, Steve Taglio, Amanda Burke-Aaronson and Vladimir Ivanovic discussed school-related challenges at a Sept. 17 forum.

Working within the constraints of a minute-long response format, candidates for the Los Altos School District’s Nov. 6 board election faced off last week to address the district’s ongoing challenges.

Four candidates, including incumbent Steve Taglio, are running for two open seats on the board.

Some of the discussion centered on the district’s educational philosophy – is it better to have a duplicate program at each school in the district, or should the schools differentiate so that the district might offer more options?

“One-model-fits-all is the option that fits the lowest common denominator,” said candidate Vladimir Ivanovic, whose young children attend Gardner Bullis School. “If we have magnet programs or schools, we should be able to raise the education level of our district.”

Magnet schools are public schools with specialized courses or curricula. “Magnet” refers to how the schools draw students from across the normal school-area boundaries.

Amanda Burke-Aaronson, whose children attend Bullis Charter School, mentioned magnet schools as part of a possible solution for the ongoing competition for use of district facilities. She added that she objects to the district’s current same-program-at-every-school model.

“I personally don’t agree with that model, but this isn’t about me,” she said. “We need to find out what the community wants. If the community wants choice options, that is where we need to go.”

Pablo Luther, whose children attended the district when they were young, said that although the district currently offers many enrichment programs, it should continue adding to its programming.

“We aren’t at the level where we can add it all, but we can head toward that direction,” he said. “I think there is still room for improvement.”

Steven Taglio, an appointed incumbent seeking to serve another term, said the district isn’t stuck with its current program choices.

“I disagree with the premise of the question,” he said. “The view that we are stagnant is incorrect. Anyone who thinks that isn’t paying attention to the district and needs to show up and see what is really happening in the district.”

The topic of campaign finances also came up at the Sept. 17 forum, sponsored by the League of Women Voters and held at Mountain View High. Ivanovic, Luther and Taglio said that as of now, they are financing their own campaigns. Burke-Aaronson said she has donors but declined to name them, saying it is their decision whether or not they would like to be identified.

In their closing remarks, the candidates explained why they are running.

“I got involved to help maintain the program we have but help evolve it as well,” Taglio said.

“We are so much bigger than the current climate of our district and our community,” Burke-Aaronson said. “I want to see us getting beyond the negativity and really healing so that we can focus on the education.”

“I see what is happening, and it is not something that should be happening in Los Altos,” Luther said. “I want to focus on the kids.”

“I am willing to ask questions and challenge authority, and I am also willing to listen,” Ivanovic said. “The lack of community involvement has continued to aggravate the situation.”

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