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Three candidates vie for two seats on Mountain View-Los Altos high school board

Within the Mountain View-Los Altos High School District, one challenger and two incumbents will face off for two board seats up for election in November.

Laura Teksler, a civically involved parent and environmental commissioner in Los Altos, will be running to unseat either 24-year board member Phil Faillace or Sanjay Dave, who is completing his first term on the board.

Laura Teksler

Teksler has been involved in a number of local school and community organizations that have provided her with experience to run for the school board, she said. She has been involved in the parent-teacher associations where her children attended school in Los Altos – at Almond Elementary School, Egan Middle School and Los Altos High School. She is currently executive vice president of the Los Altos High School PTSA and a board member of the Mountain View Los Altos High School Foundation.

Laura Teksler. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

As parent to a senior at Los Altos High School and someone whose friends are also parents in the community, she said she feels close to what's happening on campus and has insights into what's happening for students.

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She is also currently co-chair of the Los Altos Community Foundation, where she has been involved with grant-making work, and vice chair of the Los Altos Environmental Commission. She holds a bachelor's degree in environmental science from University of California at Berkeley, according to an online bio, and has worked with local environmental nonprofit efforts, including serving on the board of Acterra and volunteering with GreenTown Los Altos, a fiscal project of the Los Altos Community Foundation. She has also volunteered in the Los Altos School District and on a bond oversight advisory board there and has insights into how budgets work, and is interested in helping the district figure out how to emerge from the economic downturn, she said.

Teksler says she understands the role of a board member and would prioritize "asking the questions that drive the district in the right strategic direction" if elected to the high school board.

She said she'd be interested in figuring out new ways to communicate with residents. Being responsive to community input can be difficult under the Brown Act, but she said she favored more discussions and open forums to get help disseminating information to families.

"Families are confused and they have so many questions," she said.

The district should work toward assisting students who need additional help and support a return to campus as soon as possible, she said. "We have to really focus on students who need extra support and ensure that they're successful."

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Sanjay Dave

Sanjay Dave said he's running for a second term for many of the same reasons he ran the first time four years ago – he's enthusiastic about wanting to create the best educational opportunities for all students.

Sanjay Dave. Courtesy Sanjay Dave.

He also hopes to use some of the knowledge he's picked up in his first term, like how to run a meeting, how to negotiate with the teachers association, and the mechanics of how the board works.

In his first term, he's worked with city and district leaders to explore the possibility of a third high school. In June, the Mountain View City Council passed a strategy to shape funding and possible locations for a new school as the city expands.

He said he also focused on initiatives like expanding the Middle College program, shifting to a later start to the school day and expanding the district's AVID program, which offers in-school academic support to prepare students for college.

Now, the district is facing new challenges as it adapts to long-term distance learning amidst a global pandemic. Looking to the new year, he said, keeping kids engaged in school will be a priority, and then figuring out how to reopen schools, especially for small cohorts who most need in-person learning.

Dave holds a bachelor's degree in electrical and computer engineering from the University of Colorado, Boulder and a master's degree in biochemical engineering from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. He has worked in the semiconductor field for more than 30 years and is a director of engineering at TSMC, a semiconductor manufacturing company, according to his online bio. He is also a longtime member of the Mountain View Rotary Club and a volunteer and former board member at Hope's Corner. He has also served on the board of the Los Altos Community Foundation and on a scholarship committee for the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.

Phil Faillace

Phil Faillace was first elected to the board in 1996. Under other conditions, he said, he might have considered taking a break. But with the current challenges facing the district as it adapts to the new constraints of the coronavirus pandemic, he said, he feels he needs to stay on the board and put his experience and know-how with the district to use.

Phil Faillace. Courtesy Phil Faillace.

"This is not the time for me to abandon the district I love," he said. "I'm hoping the voters give me a chance to stay on."

His main concern, he said, is making distance learning work before going back to in-person learning under mitigated circumstances.

Normally, with the district, he said, big projects require a lot of planning time – like an airplane, heavier loads need a longer runway. For instance, he said, the board has been working for years now on a project to install stadium lights at the district's football fields. From the first meeting in 2018 to now, the district had time to negotiate with stakeholders and figure out how to get everyone most of what they want.

But with the pandemic, the district had no runway and was forced into distance learning suddenly, he said.

"It's a big challenge," he said. "I don't know anybody who's getting it right."

What "getting it right" would look like to him, he explained, would be a learning system where students are engaged, active, enthusiastic and feel like they belong.

In recent deliberations over how to offer online learning, he said, he would have preferred to see more minutes of live video or "synchronous" learning required, as well as a greater number of required instructional minutes.

One of his goals is to figure out how to continue to educate children at the same high level that was offered before distance learning began, he said. Figuring out how to support students who are school avoiders is also critical, he said.

Faillace is the board chair at CHAC, the Community Health Awareness Council. He served for 13 years on the board of the Los Altos School District and was a founder of the Los Altos Educational Foundation. He holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Princeton University, a master's degree in mathematics from Stanford and a Ph.D. in mathematical logic from Oxford University. He has worked teaching math at Stanford, as a consultant at Intel, at his own company offering technical and management expertise in computer science and as an expert witness in intellectual property disputes, according to an online bio.

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Three candidates vie for two seats on Mountain View-Los Altos high school board

by / Mountain View Voice

Uploaded: Fri, Aug 14, 2020, 1:54 pm

Within the Mountain View-Los Altos High School District, one challenger and two incumbents will face off for two board seats up for election in November.

Laura Teksler, a civically involved parent and environmental commissioner in Los Altos, will be running to unseat either 24-year board member Phil Faillace or Sanjay Dave, who is completing his first term on the board.

Laura Teksler

Teksler has been involved in a number of local school and community organizations that have provided her with experience to run for the school board, she said. She has been involved in the parent-teacher associations where her children attended school in Los Altos – at Almond Elementary School, Egan Middle School and Los Altos High School. She is currently executive vice president of the Los Altos High School PTSA and a board member of the Mountain View Los Altos High School Foundation.

As parent to a senior at Los Altos High School and someone whose friends are also parents in the community, she said she feels close to what's happening on campus and has insights into what's happening for students.

She is also currently co-chair of the Los Altos Community Foundation, where she has been involved with grant-making work, and vice chair of the Los Altos Environmental Commission. She holds a bachelor's degree in environmental science from University of California at Berkeley, according to an online bio, and has worked with local environmental nonprofit efforts, including serving on the board of Acterra and volunteering with GreenTown Los Altos, a fiscal project of the Los Altos Community Foundation. She has also volunteered in the Los Altos School District and on a bond oversight advisory board there and has insights into how budgets work, and is interested in helping the district figure out how to emerge from the economic downturn, she said.

Teksler says she understands the role of a board member and would prioritize "asking the questions that drive the district in the right strategic direction" if elected to the high school board.

She said she'd be interested in figuring out new ways to communicate with residents. Being responsive to community input can be difficult under the Brown Act, but she said she favored more discussions and open forums to get help disseminating information to families.

"Families are confused and they have so many questions," she said.

The district should work toward assisting students who need additional help and support a return to campus as soon as possible, she said. "We have to really focus on students who need extra support and ensure that they're successful."

Sanjay Dave

Sanjay Dave said he's running for a second term for many of the same reasons he ran the first time four years ago – he's enthusiastic about wanting to create the best educational opportunities for all students.

He also hopes to use some of the knowledge he's picked up in his first term, like how to run a meeting, how to negotiate with the teachers association, and the mechanics of how the board works.

In his first term, he's worked with city and district leaders to explore the possibility of a third high school. In June, the Mountain View City Council passed a strategy to shape funding and possible locations for a new school as the city expands.

He said he also focused on initiatives like expanding the Middle College program, shifting to a later start to the school day and expanding the district's AVID program, which offers in-school academic support to prepare students for college.

Now, the district is facing new challenges as it adapts to long-term distance learning amidst a global pandemic. Looking to the new year, he said, keeping kids engaged in school will be a priority, and then figuring out how to reopen schools, especially for small cohorts who most need in-person learning.

Dave holds a bachelor's degree in electrical and computer engineering from the University of Colorado, Boulder and a master's degree in biochemical engineering from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. He has worked in the semiconductor field for more than 30 years and is a director of engineering at TSMC, a semiconductor manufacturing company, according to his online bio. He is also a longtime member of the Mountain View Rotary Club and a volunteer and former board member at Hope's Corner. He has also served on the board of the Los Altos Community Foundation and on a scholarship committee for the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.

Phil Faillace

Phil Faillace was first elected to the board in 1996. Under other conditions, he said, he might have considered taking a break. But with the current challenges facing the district as it adapts to the new constraints of the coronavirus pandemic, he said, he feels he needs to stay on the board and put his experience and know-how with the district to use.

"This is not the time for me to abandon the district I love," he said. "I'm hoping the voters give me a chance to stay on."

His main concern, he said, is making distance learning work before going back to in-person learning under mitigated circumstances.

Normally, with the district, he said, big projects require a lot of planning time – like an airplane, heavier loads need a longer runway. For instance, he said, the board has been working for years now on a project to install stadium lights at the district's football fields. From the first meeting in 2018 to now, the district had time to negotiate with stakeholders and figure out how to get everyone most of what they want.

But with the pandemic, the district had no runway and was forced into distance learning suddenly, he said.

"It's a big challenge," he said. "I don't know anybody who's getting it right."

What "getting it right" would look like to him, he explained, would be a learning system where students are engaged, active, enthusiastic and feel like they belong.

In recent deliberations over how to offer online learning, he said, he would have preferred to see more minutes of live video or "synchronous" learning required, as well as a greater number of required instructional minutes.

One of his goals is to figure out how to continue to educate children at the same high level that was offered before distance learning began, he said. Figuring out how to support students who are school avoiders is also critical, he said.

Faillace is the board chair at CHAC, the Community Health Awareness Council. He served for 13 years on the board of the Los Altos School District and was a founder of the Los Altos Educational Foundation. He holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Princeton University, a master's degree in mathematics from Stanford and a Ph.D. in mathematical logic from Oxford University. He has worked teaching math at Stanford, as a consultant at Intel, at his own company offering technical and management expertise in computer science and as an expert witness in intellectual property disputes, according to an online bio.

Comments

Strong communities and schools
Registered user
another community
on Aug 14, 2020 at 2:17 pm
Strong communities and schools, another community
Registered user
on Aug 14, 2020 at 2:17 pm
14 people like this

We absolutely need Phil Faillace on the MVLA Board. Take a look at Board videos and he’s the one asking good questions to elicit the information the Board and community need to make decisions.


Experience
Registered user
Cuernavaca
on Aug 14, 2020 at 2:36 pm
Experience, Cuernavaca
Registered user
on Aug 14, 2020 at 2:36 pm
17 people like this

Phil Faillace's experience and broad-based understanding of the district is critical right now. He's a staunch supporter of academic rigor, and is also understanding of the needs of all students (as evidenced by his committed CHAC involvement).

At one time the MVLA board was viewed as not transitioning to new board members. However, I believe the board has added a new member in each of the past 3 elections (60% turnover in the past 6 years). All boards benefit from a mix of perspective and experience. It's important that Dr. Faillace be re-elected!


Steven Nelson
Registered user
Cuesta Park
on Aug 14, 2020 at 4:09 pm
Steven Nelson, Cuesta Park
Registered user
on Aug 14, 2020 at 4:09 pm
Like this comment

Phil is a good old fellow and certainly experienced. I like his gumption when he very 'occasionally' confronts what I would call ' rather crazed' community members.

I don't mind change - in a Los Altos person representing that community on the MVLA Board. Teksler; "Being responsive to community input can be difficult under the Brown Act, but she said she favored more discussions and open forums to get help disseminating information to families." ah - Phil knows how to do that. Do it outside of the Board meetings! Set up 'trustee community office hours'. All legal & all do-it-yourself. Ms. Teksler needs a very fast study on Brown Act. Think "two way": Getting Your Information from families and community.


Go Laura!
Registered user
another community
on Aug 14, 2020 at 5:48 pm
Go Laura!, another community
Registered user
on Aug 14, 2020 at 5:48 pm
5 people like this

Laura is a great leader - she knows how to ask concise and insightful questions, how to get things done, and how to inspire others. I have seen her work on various boards for many years and have always been impressed with how smart she is and how she comes up with out of the box solutions to problems. I will be supporting her wholeheartedly!!!


Jay
Registered user
Shoreline West
on Aug 15, 2020 at 11:59 am
Jay, Shoreline West
Registered user
on Aug 15, 2020 at 11:59 am
5 people like this

So frustrating! Three great choices. Nice problem to have.


addressing systemic racism
Registered user
Willowgate
on Aug 17, 2020 at 10:17 am
addressing systemic racism, Willowgate
Registered user
on Aug 17, 2020 at 10:17 am
4 people like this

Are any of these candidates committed to addressing systemic racism in our schools? Which one of the three supports ending contracts with police departments, ending the DARE program, using the resources from that program to provide more and better mental health services for students, teaching ALL of US history - including information about redlining, mass incarceration, the war on drugs and other systems of racial inequity and injustice?


Steven Nelson
Registered user
Cuesta Park
on Aug 17, 2020 at 12:31 pm
Steven Nelson, Cuesta Park
Registered user
on Aug 17, 2020 at 12:31 pm
Like this comment

systemic racism, ah exactly what in MVLA operations?

Who is effective in a government legislative setting (not who gives the best 'talk' ) is what I find important. I do not know Laura's public legislative record - it would be Contained in the official Minutes of public educational agencies that she has formally addressed. Can someone point me to those (on her campaign website? or LEA official websites?)

To me, the answer to the FIRST QUESTION - is 1) systematic segregation and 2) systematic ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT GAP with a systematic lack of LCFF "Concentration Grant" spending on poor student/ELL 'supplementary' programs. I have found both of these in MVLA, I hope you have also noticed. (I'm a white rich retired guy like Phil). Phil came from a very poor family background himself - I know over a decade now, that he "gets" the poor kid part of that 'systemic" problem. Laura - ?

[Mr. Dave in my observation, is BETTER FOR MVWSD students. Maybe not 'the best' there could be, but at least he knows intimately some of the problems of the poor students who come from the larget elementary feeder district (MVWSD). I DO NOT THINK most of Mountain View should loose such an advocate. I DO NOT THINK MVWSD should have a 1:4 minority on the MVLA board after this election. ]


MVLA parent
Registered user
Shoreline West
on Aug 18, 2020 at 11:02 am
MVLA parent, Shoreline West
Registered user
on Aug 18, 2020 at 11:02 am
9 people like this

As a parent and a taxpayer, I value Phil Faillace tremendously. He has been the one, true parent advocate over many years. He actively listens to parents and asks the tough questions of the admin and the teachers union. The other board members can learn a lot from him. During this transition to distance learning, and back to in-person learning there are many obstacles and pitfalls, we need Mr. Faillace more than ever.


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