Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

Please join me in supporting the three LASD Board of Trustees candidates who’ve dedicated themselves to serving the whole LASD community, and who will continue to pursue a balanced resolution of our long-term facilities capacity issue:

  • Bryan Johnson
  • Vladimir Ivanovic
  • Vaishali ‘Shali’ Sirkay

Please say NO to this year’s Bullis Charter School candidate, Ying Liu.

Today, as was true in the past and will be in the future, there is simply no seat on the LASD Board of Trustees for an antagonistic BCS proxy. This is especially true now that BCS has asked LASD to hand over Egan Junior High for its exclusive use. 

BCS leadership is out of step with the views of BCS parents I know, and now they’re ginning up confrontation after five years of relatively peaceful detente. BCS leadership takes positions and actions that contradict what the LASD community has said consistently it values and is willing to support:

  • No closure of any LASD neighborhood schools
  • An end to the antagonism between the district and charter school
  • Adding new school facilities to address long-term enrollment growth
  • A durable solution to the costly annual charter facilities allocation battle

LASD voters approved a $150 million facilities bond to develop new school facilities, and BCS is poised to be the beneficiary of impending development of a new state-of-the-art campus for all 900 BCS students on one site.

When BCS was founded, it touted the value of a small school education but has since chosen to grow aggressively, resulting in annual conflicts and even litigation over facilities.

Screen Shot 2018-11-05 at 3.47.30 PM

Last week, BCS announced a dramatic, entirely voluntary expansion of enrollment to more than 1,100 students in an attempt to derail the hard-won and generous accommodation of a brand new campus, because it’s not in their preferred location. What’s more, they’re willing to displace Egan Junior High to get what they want. 

Continue reading

Tanya is BCS, Bryan is LASD

OMG, look at the time—we gotta dig into these elections—and not a minute too soon, because it may be only mid-October, but it’s already election day for most voters. (Huh?)

After being active in the last couple of election cycles, I’ve been largely on the sidelines this year. In past LASD races, I closely tracked the candidacy of BCS-backed Amanda Aaronson (2012) and Martha McClatchie (2014), so I’m somewhat familiar with how BCS packages candidates for Board of Trustees races, and they’ve stepped up their game.

You can read some of my old election coverage here, here, here and here.

I’ve checked out the candidates running for the open two-year seat on the LASD Board of Trustees. I have a definite point of view, and I’ve been asked to weigh in on the race (“You’ve been awfully quiet lately, are you OK?!”), so here it is:

Between Bryan Johnson and Tanya Raschke, I support Johnson, hands down. We should all support the whole-community-minded candidate who is a dedicated “doer” with the right motivations and relationships, and enough time to invest in this big job.

And it is a big job.

Herewith, I aim to persuade you to vote for Bryan Johnson and then share what you learn with your friends and neighbors in your community. BTW, roughly three-quarters of voters in the Los Altos School District are registered “permanent vote-by-mail,” and ballots are starting to arrive in mailboxes, so most of your friends and neighbors can vote now — yes, it’s already election day!

Time’s a-wastin’ — let’s get crackin’!

Continue reading

Point made

3/17 UPDATE: This column was published in the Wed., Feb. 17 edition of the Town Crier.

Disclaimer: This is not a BCS-related blog post per se, though it is schools-related

The Los Altos Town Crier is published (and delivered by mail) weekly on Wednesday, and the new edition is usually available the prior Tuesday afternoon. The Town Crier solicits submissions of up to 500 words from local residents for its “Other Voices” column, and I submitted the sentiments below last Thursday for tomorrow’s Feb. 10, 2016 edition:

After 8 years, progress toward civic center redevelopment is endangered and progress toward relieving elementary school crowding is stalled. I attended the Jan. 28 meeting of the City-Schools Ad Hoc Public Lands Committee, which discusses how public lands can best be used. I liked much of what I heard from the committee and from members of the public who came to share their thoughts about proposals. I’m grateful that the city and school district are meeting to discuss land use, and I want to elaborate on comments I shared that night. In 2012, the relationship between the City and LASD had deteriorated, due largely to tension between personalities on both sides. I (and others) campaigned for current Council members and Trustees, with a goal of electing people who could rebuild the relationship between the city and the district. All the candidates we interviewed in 2012, including Bruins, Pepper, Satterlee, Luther and Taglio assured us that they shared our goal of rebuilding this relationship. In the years since that election, I’ve lobbied them in person and in this newspaper to fulfill this promise, but progress toward improved partnership has been painfully slow. At the Jan. 28 meeting, I realized that lack of clarity about community priorities may be the root of the problem. Our civic leaders slog through a constant stream of petitions from niche interest groups, but they have not taken the obvious step of conducting a large scale survey of community attitudes about land use and development. I believe political courage and faster progress can come from a clear mandate from the community. I may be a passionate activist supporter of the apricot orchard at the civic center and for city swimming pools at Egan and Blach, but my priorities may be out of step with the majority of our community. When the City of Los Altos purchased Hillview School from the Los Altos School District more than forty years ago, it faced a similar dilemma: should Hillview be developed for recreational or residential purposes? According to a Town Crier article from that time, niche groups were petitioning the city for soccer fields, baseball fields and tennis courts, while raising bond funding for redevelopment seemed unlikely. Maybe some things haven’t changed much since, but what was really different then is that the City hired a firm to conduct a professional survey of community attitudes about Hillview use. We’ve seen how niche interests can distort local public policy, so today’s civic leaders should arm themselves with data on which to base decisions that affect the entire community. We’re not in a completely data free zone, since two referenda have been held in the past fifteen months: the Measure N School Facilities Bond election and the Measure A Civic Center Redevelopment Bond election. 70% of our community voted for new schools while 70% of the community voted against the last civic center proposal. A proper survey of community priorities will cut through the noise and illuminate the path forward.

As it’s Tuesday afternoon, I picked up the new TC and read this Other Voices column:

Continue reading

Why not Martha? Her ideology.

My objection to Martha McClatchie’s candidacy for LASD Trustee is based on my personal experience with her. I’m certainly not accusing Martha of being a bad person. To the contrary, she’s a tireless volunteer for causes she supports, which is admirable.

I know for a fact that Martha has performed many great services for children in her community, but this does not necessarily qualify her for the LASD Trustee role she seeks.

Martha has lots of passion and amplitude, but passion and amplitude can be either an asset or a liability.

I think Martha is ideologically poorly suited to be an LASD Trustee, and some of her projects and tactics over the past few years raise questions about her judgement. Because of choices she has made, Martha’s passion has become a liability, and the truth about her choices and allegiances are obscured from voters in this election.

Continue reading