Schools

Election 2018: Meet the candidates for the LASD Board of Trustees

Three seats are open on the Los Altos School District Board of Trustees in the Nov. 6 election. Trustee Sangeeth Peruri has opted not to run again, but incumbents Vladimir Ivanovic and Bryan Johnson are seeking re-election. 

Vladimir Ivanovic (incumbent)

Q: Why are you running for the board?

I’m running for re-election because I want to extend and broaden the truly excellent work our board and our staff has already done. I am proud that we have:

• Passed a $150 million bond measure to improve our facilities.

• Renewed a parcel tax to support our excellent teaching and curriculum.

• Nearly acquired a 10th site in cooperation with the city of Mountain View at a greatly reduced cost.

• Rewarded our teachers with a well-deserved pay raise.

• Focused on 21st-century learning: creativity, communication, critical thinking and cooperation.

Q: What would you do as a trustee to facilitate a strong relationship between the district and Bullis Charter School?

I have reached out to the Bullis Charter School leadership seeking ways to increase cooperation. I have asked the Bullis Charter School board to present its plans to our board so that we could take their plans into consideration. It is well to remember that a trustee must consider the welfare of all Los Altos School District students, no matter where they go to school.

Q: How would you attract and retain great teachers to the district, given the high cost of living in the area?

We are fortunate that many teachers and principals specifically want to work in the Los Altos School District because of our great working environment. Our salaries are competitive and we offer many opportunities for professional development. We also support the day-to-day work of teachers with instructional coaches and weekly collaboration time.

We are acutely aware that housing costs are high, and we are engaged in a multi-pronged effort to offer more affordable housing. We are partnering with a low-cost mortgage provider, a registry for mother-in-law units and the county for low-cost apartments.

Q: What’s an issue that you think the board should prioritize, and how would you go about trying to solve it?

The district’s fiscal sustainability must be a priority. Since some sort of recession is inevitable, we need to understand how we will be affected, and then plan on how to respond. Our stakeholders should not be surprised when a recession hits and we are forced to react. In fact, they should not only understand our response but support our response.

Bryan Johnson (incumbent)

Q: Why are you running for the board?

In my two years of board service so far, I have worked to increase communication and transparency between the board and the broader community, and to help build a new campus in the rapidly growing north end of the district. My goals for another term are to:

• See the 10th-campus acquisition, design and construction process through to completion.

• Create a new long-term facilities agreement with Bullis Charter School.

• Strengthen our schools’ financial position and develop robust contingency plans in the event of an economic downturn.

Q: What would you do as a trustee to facilitate a strong relationship between the district and Bullis Charter School?

I have been working with Bullis CharterSchool board members for the last year in pursuit of an agreement that would provide the facilities they need without negatively impacting students in district schools. I intend to continue that effort, and look forward to working collaboratively with the charter school and the broader community to develop a new long-term facilities agreement.

Q: How would you attract and retain great teachers to the district, given the high cost of living in the area?

First, we need to make sure our salaries remain competitive and that we offer as much help with housing costs as we can, including by participating in Supervisor Joe Simitian’s initiative in Palo Alto. Beyond that, we need to ensure that the Los Altos School District is a great place to work, by funding access to professional development, providing time for our teachers to collaborate and giving them the flexibility, tools and support they need to deliver the best education to our kids.

Q: What’s an issue that you think the board should prioritize, and how would you go about trying to solve it?

We are working hard on a number of pressing issues, from facilities to special education to mental health services and support for our at-risk populations. But one issue that has not seen the same focus is the size of the district reserve fund, which is way too small, especially for this point in an extended economic and housing market boom. We need to structure the next few years of spending to build up those reserves, and we need contingency plans in place to minimize the classroom impact of a financial crisis or recession.

VAishali Sirkay

Q: Why are you running for the board?

I am running for the Los Altos School District Board of Trustees because we need a community builder as we move forward over the next four years, with whatever decisions we undertake. In order for our school district to be successful, we will need the support of our greater Los Altos community. I believe in preserving and enhancing our strong academic program for all of our children, supporting our teachers and addressing enrollment growth in a way that is inclusive and takes into account the long-term needs of our entire community.

Q: What would you do as a trustee to facilitate a strong relationship between the district and Bullis Charter School?

We can all agree that we want what is in the best interest of our children, which extends outside the classroom. To move forward together, I would take a two-pronged approach, focusing on both the work of the two boards and building community among the families. I would work closely with the charter school board to come to an agreement on facilities, and I would encourage all of our families to undertake joint community benefit projects that focus on our overall community and not our individual schools. I have experience bringing diverse groups together in a collaborative way, and would enjoy working on such projects.

Q: How would you attract and retain great teachers to the district, given the high cost of living in the area?

Finding stable, affordable housing solutions for our teachers is a high priority for me. It is becoming harder for teachers to justify the long commutes and/or the poor housing options available to them. I fully support Supervisor Joe Simitian’s teacher housing proposal. As a private citizen, I have been working with supportteacherhousing.org and Bay Area Forward to find immediate, creative solutions that our teachers can take advantage of. Solving this problem requires working across jurisdictions, which I have experience in doing. I will work with our local city governments, the county and public/private community organizations to find ways we can collectively address this issue.

Q: What’s an issue that you think the board should prioritize, and how would you go about trying to solve it?

Our board should prioritize finding long-term solutions to enrollment growth in our district. I will address enrollment growth in a way that is inclusive and focuses on the current and future needs of our community. Any school on the 10th site will need to consider the communities that are served by that school. Having served as Los Altos Mountain View PTA Council executive vice president and president, and from serving on the Citizens Advisory Committee on Finance, I understand the finances of the district, the magnitude of the economic and educational impact of our PTAs and the need to serve our wonderfully diverse communities.

Ying Liu

Q: Why are you running for the board?

I deeply care about the quality of public education in our school district and believe I have a unique set of skills and perspectives to bring to the board:

• My professional experience at Apple and community experience at nonprofit organizations can help the district focus on long-term fiscal accountability, operational efficiency and conflict resolution.

• I want to effectively represent the voices of taxpayers, immigrants, newcomers, parents of young children, residents in different pockets of the communities that haven’t been broadly represented in the past.

• I want to show my children that happiness doesn’t result from what we get, but from what we give.

Q: What would you do as a trustee to facilitate a strong relationship between the district and Bullis Charter School?

I will do three things:

• Since I have met with the board members and administrators from both sides, I want to have more frequent meetings and listen to their challenges and ideas.

• I will invite both sides of boards and administrators to the same meeting when there is a common interest.

• I will work with PTAs, teachers associations and parents to organize meetings and social activities across all schools. These activities can be best-practice sharing forums on different subjects by grade, international fair, STEM night and makers fair so the parents, teachers and kids can meet and talk.

Q: How would you attract and retain great teachers to the district, given the high cost of living in the area?

First, I will make sure the district provides competitive compensation packages to attract highly qualified teachers.

Second, I will look at all possibilities to reduce the commute time and stress for the teachers, whether it means a partnership with city government or a corporation or it means low-cost rentals.

Third, I would like to work with administrators and teachers associations to develop individual development goals and plans for teachers. I will actively seek partnerships and opportunities for the teachers to upgrade their skills and acquire new technologies.

Q: What’s an issue that you think the board should prioritize, and how would you go about trying to solve it?

I am certain that the 10th-site issue is a hot topic. However, I consider safety is the No. 1 priority for our schools. I will request an assessment of all buildings, facilities and walking or bike routes to identify safety gaps, including the impact of natural disasters. I will prioritize the use of public funds to benefit all schools, such as upgrading facilities to the latest standards, installing a monitoring system to prevent fire hazards and improving road safety so that parents can rest their minds.

Schools »

Schools
Read More

Sports »

sports
Read More

People »

people
Read More

Special Sections »

Special Sections
Read More

Photos of Los Altos

photoshelter
Browse and buy photos