LASD board moves forward with five-year plan

The Los Altos School District Board of Trustees affirmed the efficacy of the district’s five-year agreement with Bullis Charter School at last week’s board meeting, an accord now entering its fourth year.

After a decade of contentious – and expensive – battling over facilities, the agreement put a five-year hold on litigation and laid out how facilities would be split between the charter school and district schools. It also called for both parties to meet at the beginning of the fourth year to develop a successor to the existing agreement.

“I think we’ve all benefited from the stability,” said Trustee Steve Taglio, who noted that trustees have been in informal contact with members of the Bullis Charter School Board of Directors.

After discussion, trustees agreed with board president Sangeeth Peruri’s recommendation that they send a letter to Bullis Charter School stating their intent to open negotiations. Superintendent Jeff Baier assured trustees that the letter would be sent by the end of the week.

Baier also requested that trustees contribute topics to broach at the Nov. 16 meeting of the City-Schools Subcommittee, which includes members of the Los Altos City Council.

Science and art updates

The agreement with Bullis wasn’t the only five-year plan on the agenda. Karen Wilson, the district’s STEM coordinator, updated trustees on the district’s shift to Next Generation Science Standards.

The district has embarked on the implementation phase of the standards, adopted by the state in 2013. The new standards align with Common Core goals, teach science as well as engineering practices and focus less on rote memorization and more on building knowledge over time.

Trustees had some questions about the changes. While Trustee Vladmir Ivanovic wondered whether the Next Generation Science Standards were asking too much of students, he was pleased that Wilson is working with local high school districts to ensure that the new standards and language are consistent as students advance to higher grades.

Kimberly Dickerson presented an update on the Los Altos Art Docents. In addition to integrating the art lessons they teach with the district’s social studies curriculum, the group is beginning to collaborate with the district’s STEM program. The art docents are currently working on their own five-year plan to better align their lessons with changing educational standards.

Other updates

• Katherine Stephens, Los Altos Educational Foundation president, introduced the organization’s new executive director, Heather MacDonald.

• Assistant Superintendent Randy Kenyon provided a solar panel update. The district plans to install solar shade structures at each of its campuses, with construction set to begin the week of Oct 23.

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