MVLA welcomes new associate superintendent, postpones Facilities Master Plan vote two weeks

The Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District Board of Trustees unanimously approved the hiring of Leyla Benson as associate superintendent for personnel at its Jan. 8 meeting. Benson will begin in her new role Monday.

As associate superintendent, Benson will administer personnel responsibilities including the recruitment, selection, hiring and orientation of all new staff, and will ensure that the district conforms to its policies, relevant laws, contracts and agreements. She also will advise Superintendent Jeff Harding, district administrators, managers, principals and assistant principals on personnel-related matters.

Benson comes to MVLA from the Mount Diablo Unified School District in Concord, where she served as executive director of human resources for four years. Her duties included acting as lead negotiator with bargaining units, leading the hiring of hundreds of new teachers and staff, and handling all HR matters for more than 5,000 district, hourly and substitute employees. She also oversaw a team of 16 personnel staff members.

Earlier in her career, Benson was a principal at several East Bay high schools and an English teacher at Pittsburg High School. Before she found her path in education, she worked in public relations and television news for several years.

Benson graduated cum laude from St. Mary’s College, where she also earned her teaching and administrative services credentials.

“We recruit only the finest staff to MVLA, so we wasted no time in seeking a top-notch candidate for our highest-level personnel position,” Harding said. “We found her in Leyla Benson, a tested educational leader with strong diplomatic skills and boundless energy.”

Benson said she felt “very lucky” to join the district when she appeared at the Jan. 8 board meeting with her family. Her daughters attend Almond School in Los Altos.

Facilities Master Plan

The board of trustees intended to vote on the Facilities Master Plan Jan. 8 but delayed the vote for two weeks to allow more time to examine budget and construction options and review questions asked by those who spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting.

Seven speakers questioned the Facilities Master Plan, primarily addressing the enrollment disparity between Los Altos and Mountain View high schools. In response, Harding said the district currently has a one-way (Los Altos to Mountain View) transfer policy to correct the disparity in student populations.

“We will eventually have equal numbers of students at the two schools,” he said.

In addition to the parity issue, Lisa Whitfield, co-president of the Los Altos High Instrumental Music Boosters, raised objections to the design of the school’s music room.

“The way the space functions, independent of the actual space, also matters,” she said. “I would just like (the music room designers) to come and see what works and what doesn’t work for us.”

Whitfield urged the board to reconsider the Facilities Master Plan.

“Let’s do what’s right, not what’s easy,” she said.

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