Letters to the editor: April 19, 2019

Readers weigh in on Bullis-Egan proposal, school district funding and Caltrain

Sharing is the solution

At the April 8 Los Altos School District board meeting, families expressed their outrage with the proposal to relocate Egan ("Parents rally against moving Egan to Mountain View," April 12). The community believes, and I agree, that the proposed Bullis Charter School/LASD agreement is not in the best interests of our children. We all want peace, but not at any cost. We must find a better solution.

I request the LASD and BCS boards work together to implement a groundbreaking district/charter collaboration that benefits all students. I propose:

Joint collaboration to improve programs:

•Share gyms, labs and specialized teaching spaces.

•Jointly hire specialized staff for electives.

•Collaborate on staff training.

•Joint after-school programs.

•Share day care facilities.

•LASD offers access to programs serving special education and low-income students.

Facilities sharing to accommodate 900-1,200 BCS students:

•Two collocated schools at Mountain View site to help serve 800+ neighborhood students.

•300-400 students K-5 for LASD.

•300-400 students K-5 for BCS.

•600-800 BCS students share Egan and/or Blach with LASD.

•All neighborhood schools preserved.

•Dramatic increase in facilities and field space for BCS.

Benefits both LASD and BCS families:

•Facilities certainty.

•State-of-the-art neighborhood schools in Mountain View.

•Learn from each other's innovative programs.

Benefits the entire community:

•Reduced and dispersed traffic.

•End lawsuits and divisiveness.

•Allows community to heal and move forward together.

•Efficient use of taxpayer funds.

We can implement a win-win solution without painful loss to any single community group. We must urge the BCS and LASD boards to consider collaborative alternatives to relocating Egan.

Sangeeth Peruri, former LASD board trustee and president

District merger

In regards to Los Altos and Mountain View Whisman school districts' budget woes, there's a solution that has worked well in the past. It is alluded to in Mountain View Whisman's very name: district merger.

In July 2010, the Voice covered the county's grand jury report that (stated) unifying MVWSD, LASD, and the Mountain View-Los Altos High School District as one K-12 district would annually save $10 million.

The only way to truly stabilize funding, pay K-8 teachers more, and most importantly, streamline and synchronize support systems for students would be a K-12 unified school district combining Mountain View and Los Altos, similar to Palo Alto Unified School District. On the local level, not much would change everyone would still go to their local neighborhood school. On the Bullis LASD-Egan issue, a unified K-12 MVLA would also change the character of Bullis by broadening its diversity. A unified K-12 MVLA would open up many more powerful possibilities regarding the future of schools in North El Camino.

District offices in the past did not support it because it would mean some district administrators and board trustees would lose their positions, but voters today should take the 2010 grand jury report as a serious proposition.

Christopher Chiang, former MVWSD board trustee

Caltrain bike cars

Unless Caltrain's new seven-car electric car design includes 84 bikes per train with seats in view of bikes to limit station dwell time, the current Joint Powers Board will be ignoring the recommendation of their 2015 JPB predecessors, who mandated to staff that a ratio of eight seats to each bike space be preserved on trains in the interest of both carbon-neutral transportation and minimizing taxpayer subsidies for more costly means of accessing Caltrain stations.

Bicyclists are currently being bumped from trains with 77 bike spaces available on the average train. Bike-share companies do not serve all of the corridor and Caltrain will lose cycling passengers to automobiles. Please think of the climate and the environment that we leave for the next generation and provide 84 bikes per train with seats in view of bikes to maintain the commitment that the 2015 JPB made to support cleaner transportation choices.

Scott Yarbrough

San Francisco

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18 people like this
Posted by Dory
a resident of another community
on Apr 19, 2019 at 3:18 pm

Sigh. Funny that Mr. Peruri has forgotten that the Loyola parents had a meltdown a few months ago when LASD suggested sharing BCS 3rd site at Loyola. They didn't even want to share the playground let alone any other kind of teaching space or anything! LASD parents don't want to share any of their school sites or resources with the bad guys. That is why we are in this mess of transferring Egan population half a mile down the road. Sharing is not caring for LASD parents unless it is not my kid's school. Mr. Peruri is only interested in purchasing the 95 million + 10th site and will come up with any preposterous idea to validate the purchase. It is comical that Mr. Peruri did not even suggest Covington as a sharing situation, being the largest school site in the district and already land that is owned by the district. Oops! His kids go to school there. It can be another school's problem. Poorly written letter.

15 people like this
Posted by Conflict much?
a resident of The Crossings
on Apr 19, 2019 at 5:21 pm

Peruri also owns the property at 554 San Antonio; very close to the proposed 10th site.

18 people like this
Posted by Fergie
a resident of The Crossings
on Apr 19, 2019 at 9:59 pm

Peruri is also employed by LASD to manage their real estate transactions. Somehow he forgot to disclose that detail. Of course he is gung ho for this purchase and assumes the readers of his letter are a bunch of idiots.

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Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 20, 2019 at 11:10 am

Steven Nelson is a registered user.

Mr. Peruri's conflicts of interest. ? Really that bad? If he is an employee of LASD he needs to have filed a Form 500 on those conflicts of financial interests. If he is 'a hired consultant' I don't think he does. Hiring an ex-Board member? Happens, even in MVWSD but this would surely be, It Seems To Me, A GROSS EXAMPLE OF IT.

Thank you people, for bring these things up. (I hope the press can verify and mention their findings on this, 'cause it isn't well know in Mountain View)

OLD PUBLIC OFFICE HOLDERS like myself, Chiang and Peruri (school boards) and former MV Councilman Seigel often like to throw our thoughts out there. We have, in the past, thrown our hats in the ring, for public elections that we have won! So - please do not expect us to just go away, as long as we live this community.

@Dorthy and others - yes, it does seem odd, that after a years-long negotiation, after Peruri left office, he now comes up with the GRAND compromise. Good ideas -in a 'political vacuum' - but Dorthy's simple observations of the 'troops on the ground' make it clear that this would be like General MacArthur winning a ground war in Korea, against the entire Chinese People's Liberation Army. ("six-party talks" ha ha)

I think Chris Chiang's analysis of the MVWSD-LASD-MVLA district consolidation misses much political reality. What I also thought made sense (in 1980-90s when I moved here) mades no sense to me today - I DO NOT WANT THE RICH PEOPLE OF LA controlling my local schools. Not till DISTRICT Elections come to MVLA and we see how they work. The financing (Bonds etc.) can be worked out, as they were in the MVSD + WSD merger. But that was elementary + elementary and the ECONOMIC WEALTH disparity (reflects back to POLITICAL STRENGTH independent of resident #s) was not very great.

I don't think the elementary -to- High School District Teacher significant salary disparity is a trivial financial problem. It is ENORMOUS and would sink any Unified district under Chris' simple plan. A plan I think, so simple that it's "simplistic" and would not work if you Budget Wonked it out. {points out a good difference in a Progressive like myself - who is a Fiscal Prude and a Suburban Liberal Democrat like I consider Chris. IMO you got to make the finance work, 1st, not as a TBD}

SN is a former MVWSD Trustee
( Chris, I think a Grand Jury Report on a MVWSD-LASD-MVLA merger was more recent than 2010 :)

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Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 20, 2019 at 11:51 am

Steven Nelson is a registered user.

Mr. Chiang was right on the Civil Grand Jury Report date for consolidations! 2010
Web Link

13 people like this
Posted by Why 10th Site?
a resident of another community
on Apr 23, 2019 at 12:14 am

Why 10th Site? is a registered user.

We just finished hearing that Egan really doesn't want the 10th site. We heard that moving Egan to 10th site would destroy the Egan community. People will go to private school, apply to BCS, move out of town, anything but send their child to the 10th site. So, who in their right mind would think BCS would want it? What a ridiculous self-serving piece.

9 people like this
Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on Apr 24, 2019 at 11:48 am

LongResident is a registered user.

I am highly skeptical of the idea that anyone will move out of LASD to avoid sending their child to the brand new Egan on California Avenue. Don't they like Santa Rita, Covington, or Almond? All 3 of these schools depend on enrollment from kids who cross El Camino Real each day to go to Elementary School. Enrollment living in Los Altos is on the decline. More kids are going to move in on the other side of El Camino Real. People who argue that a new school is not needed are overlooking this fact. The district has been talking about this for 6 years now, before the potential for growth was immediate. They overlooked the fact that 600 kids come to LASD from the area now and another 100 come to the charter school from the area.

The district has completely messed up in presenting this compromise. It's a 4 legged compromise. (a) It provides some new facilities for the growth North of El Camino Real, which started 25 years ago and stabilized for a while 10 years ago. There are 5000 new apartments coming over there. You think there won't be any new kids? The other 2 legs of the compromise ainclude (b) getting Egan a completely planned site, similar to what Blach has had all along. Blach is beautiful compared to Egan which is a motley assembly of run down buildings and a couple good ones. Then, almost as an afterthought, this compromise (c) gives the left overs to the charter school in 5-6 years and allows them to pay to make it usable for themselves. Finally (d) the plan identifies 2.8 acres of land which might be used for teacher housing in the future if that can be worked out with the city and funded.

Additionally, the Blach Jr High has had 100 or more fewer kids than has Egan for a couple of decades now. There's room for many to simply switch over to Blach.

The ignorance of the situation by those protesting is astounding.

4 people like this
Posted by @LongResident
a resident of another community
on Apr 24, 2019 at 2:01 pm

@LongResident is a registered user.

I don't think anyone is arguing that a school is not needed in NEC. They are saying that it should be an elementary school. But, the trustees insist that it can't be because they don't have the budget for it.

There are many positive aspects to the plan. But they overlook the fact while closing an elementary school involves only 1/7 of the elementary school population, relocating Egan impacts 50% of LASD's junior high population.

Also, closing elementary school is TEMPORARY. For example, if Covington were to close in a few years, it'll only impact the students that will be attending Covington then. With Egan, it's forever - all Egan students will be going to the 10th site if this deal goes through.

Parents feel how they feel about sending their children to the 10th site. Saying that it's for the GREATER GOOD will not change how they feel.

1 person likes this
Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on Apr 24, 2019 at 2:25 pm

LongResident is a registered user.

You've obviously not been following this. Over the past two years, there has
been much discussion of an elementary school along California Street. LASD has
considered the effect of opening such a school and found assorted drawbacks.
Nevertheless, LASD convened a committee to examine how to use the new school.
The committee discussed all the uses, including using it as a local-serving
elementary school. This issue is not about the cost of that school. The issue
is that 3 schools in Los Altos would shrink to 300 or so students and such
shrinking is likely to continue. The new school though would start out at 600
and would continue to grow. So if you had been following the discussion you would
have seen LASD deliberate on this issue.

Other issues discussed include the concentration of the district's disadvantaged population in just one school. Estimates are that anywhere from 20% to 50% of the students at such a school would be low income students. The LASD population as a whole is 15% disadvantaged as defined by the state. Creating such imbalance is a real concern.

I don't know where you get the idea that just ONE ISSUE, Cost is involved. The cost would be excessive to operate a sub-300 student Covington, Almond and Santa Rita. All 3 schools are affected. That does figure in.

The idea of using the site for a Junior High was an out of the box suggestion by a Mountain View City Council member serving on the committee examining things. This was a year ago. It was in response to the overall problem, to address many factors including cost.

Another truth is that Egan is very old and in a shabby state. The students of Egan deserve better. They shoould have clean organized facilities like Blach.

Now, you're wrong about the impact of moving Egan. Only 25% of LASD's Jr High population would be affected negatively. 25% of LASD's Jr High population will live on that side of El Camino by 6 years from now. You're asking them to continue crossing El Camino Real in the future, saying for some reason that they can do that while the opposite direction of travel is unreasonable. Anyway, it's not 50%, only 25%.

3 people like this
Posted by @LongResident
a resident of another community
on Apr 24, 2019 at 2:40 pm

@LongResident is a registered user.

You clearly know a lot about this issue from a policy perspective. What I object to is your sentence "The ignorance of the situation by those protesting is astounding." People are entitled to their feelings. You are free to support Egan relocation, but to say that people are ignorant for objecting to it for their personal reasons, based on what they feel is best for their children, is just insensitive.

1 person likes this
Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on Apr 24, 2019 at 3:18 pm

LongResident is a registered user.

I meant exactly what I said. It relates not to the knee jerk opposition. It's about the suggestions made to solve the problem. Things are brought up that have already been considered. Ignorance means lack of knowledge. People should inform themselves about this if they are upset. Google "Los Altos School District 10th site". Look back in time over the results. Look at Web Link and Web Link
Notice how some meetings go back 2012. I've heard people say this is being rushed. Where were they in 2017 or last year?

5 people like this
Posted by How Will Board Vote?
a resident of another community
on Apr 24, 2019 at 7:59 pm

How Will Board Vote? is a registered user.

My guesses:

Vladimir: No
Johnson: No
Sirkay: ?
Spieser: Yes
Taglio: Yes

8 people like this
Posted by 10th site purchase
a resident of another community
on Apr 25, 2019 at 9:47 am

10th site purchase is a registered user.

Where was everyone when the district first shared they were planning to purchase the 10th site off of San Antonio? First it was the Safeway site then it moved to the Kohl's site. As a BCS parent, I shared in the concern of purchasing expensive land that we don't need. I don't recall many LASD parents expressing a concern. It is too late now since the district has basically finalized the purchase. People should have spoken up in the beginning. Now some school that serves the neighborhood has to go there since Mountain View City Council has stipulated as part of their contribution to the purchase. People in this community are reactive. We need people to be more proactive. We wouldn't be in this mess today. Those who sat by and did nothing are now speaking up. Too late.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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