Friday, June 7, 2013

Criticality of upcoming elections...

I've been feeling really good the past few months, which have meant that I haven't made any posts :)  Given the 5 year peace agreement between LASD and BCS, I was cautiously hopeful that my "posting days" may be over - and no, I'm not Joan Strong.

But now, with the upcoming elections, my peace has been interrupted, and my "concern antennae" have been piqued.  I've attempted to send "Letters to the Editor" of the Town Crier, but to date, nothing has been printed.  Hopefully, I will be able to get the word out before the election, so that the vast majority of the Los Altos voters who are not as aware of the details, are more informed voters.

Concern #1:
So, we are coming up to the election period for 3 LASD board seats, and I think that it is very important that the electorate is educated about the candidates. While parents of school-age children are probably aware, a majority of the voters in Los Altos do not fall into this category. With that being said, there are 5 candidates for three positions:
- Vladimir Ivanovich - current Gardner Bullis parent
- Tammy Logan - incumbent and former Loyola parent
- Martha McClatchie - current Bullis Charter School parent
- Sangeeth Peruri - current Covington parent
- John Swan - former Bullis Charter School founding family

I believe that it is important that all voters are aware of this, given the past 10 years of litigation by Bullis Charter School against LASD. I believe that Martha and John could be great members of the Bullis Charter board, but unfortunately the public does not have any say or vote in the BCS board's composition.  Fortunately, we do for the public LASD schools, so please make your voice heard by voting.

Concern #2:
The upcoming vote for Measure N, which I loosely describe as a $150 million bond with the intended purpose of providing a 10th site for the 10 schools for which LASD is responsible for facilities as well as a prioritized upgrading of the facilities across the district, many of which are quite outdated despite the wealth in the area, and the great results of the schools.  

LASD currently has seven elementary schools and two middle schools, but for the past 10 years has also been forced by the courts to house a charter school (BCS) chartered by Santa Clara County.  LASD has done the best that they can to house them, and have now provided facilities at both middle schools, which have more space than any of the elementary schools (for bigger kids).  Despite the fact the BCS is not chartered by LASD and LASD has only one configuration which has worked for ALL of their schools (K-6  elementary and 7-8 middle), Santa Clara and the courts have allowed BCS to create a different configuration (K-8) and fight for facilities to which no other K-6 kids in LASD have access.

There is still some serious doubt as to whether or not Measure N will pass, and the most common reason for voting 'No' has been called out as "I don't want to pay for a shiny new school for the charter.  Can't they just pay for their own, like many other charters do".

But, unfortunately, I believe that this is a classic example of "cutting off our noses to spite our faces".  The little detail that many voters are missing is the the current configuration of splitting BCS across the two middle schools isn't working.  You know, that old idea that we like to call "sharing".  So, LASD may be forced to hand over an existing elementary school site to BCS if they are not able to find/buy a new one.

Let me make this perfectly clear - BCS will probably be getting their own site within the next 5 years, whether we pass the bond, or not.  The difference will be, if we don't pass the bond, the remaining 8 LASD schools (those that do not lose their site to BCS) will most likely all be affected - i.e. 
6th graders moving up to middle school for Logistical/Space reasons, despite the fact that the district has specifically avoided this over the years for educational reasons
fitting 7 elementary schools' worth of kids into 6 schools - aka, many kids will be reshuffled for logistical reasons, not educational reasons

In conclusion, regarding Concern #1, I see no reason why a school that has been suing LASD for the past 10 years should have representation on the board, and many reasons why they should not.  Unfortunately, you'll notice very little information (signage, marketing, etc) which will educate the non school-age public as to Mrs McClatchie's and Mr Swan's affiliation with BCS, so I can only hope that the Los Altos voters make an informed decision.  And, regarding Measure N, the answer to "I don't want to support the charter" is NOT to not vote for the bond.  With the bond, all LASD schools AND BCS will benefit.  Without the bond, only BCS will likely benefit, and the other schools will suffer.
Please be an informed voter.

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