Community briefs | May 3, 2019 | Mountain View Voice | Mountain View Online |

Mountain View Voice

News - May 3, 2019

Community briefs

Budget officer departs MVWSD

The Mountain View Whisman School District Board of Trustees voted to part ways with its chief business officer, Robert Clark, cutting him a check equal to six months' pay as part of the severance agreement.

The unanimous vote, announced out of closed session at the April 25 school board meeting, ended the contract between the district and Clark the same day. Reading from a statement, board president Tamara Wilson said the district and the governing board "sincerely thank Dr. Clark for his service and wish him well in the future."

Clark was hired as the district's assistant superintendent by former interim Superintendent Kevin Skelly to oversee the budget and construction projects at a time when both were a hotbed of activity. The state had recently enacted a new school funding formula and property taxes were reaching new heights, providing a major influx of cash.

At the same time, the district was deep into the planning and construction of several school facilities projects using Measure G funding, and there was intense debate about whether there was enough money to build a new school in the city's Whisman neighborhood. During Clark's tenure, the board ultimately decided to borrow an additional $40 million to build a new school, which would be paid off largely through revenue from leasing district property to Google and a private school.

District documents show that Clark had requested a leave of absence from Jan. 28 through April 19 this year, which fell within the protections of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). In his absence, Ron Wheelehan was appointed interim CBO to oversee Clark's duties at the district office.

Board members did not disclose in open session when they sought to terminate the agreement, but did disclose Clark would receive six months' pay — or about $103,000 — as part of the termination. The contract states that the district is obligated to pay Clark for the remainder of his contract or six months' pay, whichever is smaller, if his contract is unilaterally terminated without cause. The term of the contract was set to end on June 30, 2020.

—Kevin Forestieri

Mountain View teacher faces 'Jeopardy'

Typically Trevor Crowell asks the questions, but on Tuesday, May 7, he will attempt to answer them as a contestant on TV game show "Jeopardy" in the Teachers Tournament.

Crowell, a Palo Alto High School Spanish teacher and Mountain View resident, graduated from University of California at San Diego and moved to the Bay Area.

A longtime fan of the show, he completed the online "Jeopardy" test for fun, and was surprised to learn that he passed and was invited to participate an in-person audition last July. He is one of 15 teachers selected for the tournament, who are competing for $100,000 in prize money.

In order to prepare, Crowell studied the subjects he doesn't teach, like geography, history, literature, and the arts. The trick, Crowell said, is to treat the game like a test, using logic and pattern recognition to identify answers.

The Palo Alto High School community is excited to see him on screen, though many of his students didn't know what "Jeopardy" was until he told them he would appear on the show, Crowell said.

Crowell said that his main goal heading into the competition was "not throw up on Alex Trebek." The show airs Tuesday at 7 p.m. on ABC.

—Ray Levy-Uyeda

County offers mental health help by phone

Santa Clara County residents suffering mental health emergencies can now call for direct help through the Mobile Crisis Response Team, the county announced Monday.

Residents could previously only reach in-person mental support services through 911 or law enforcement dispatch. Police would then respond to the scene accompanied by mental health professionals.

The change allows residents to directly contact licensed therapists and clinicians who will assess their situation and determine if they should send a team to the location. The team can then decide if a law enforcement presence is necessary.

Maury Kendall, spokesman for the county's public health department, said the team launched in January 2018 and used to be only accessible by law enforcement. The Behavioral Health Services Department will still operate its suicide and substance abuse hotline numbers, but clinicians and the response team will also be able to dispatch intervention experts.

Health professionals will offer crisis screening, intervention, de-escalation services and referrals to other community resources. The team can be reached at 800-704-0900 by dialing "2," and will be available Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Anyone who needs help outside those hours can call the same number, and a clinician will connect the caller to appropriate services.

County health officials said callers can access more than 200 languages through a language service phone line at 800-704-0900, and interpretation services are available in Spanish, Vietnamese and other languages.

The Behavioral Health Services Department will coordinate the team's response between law enforcement, crisis hotlines, community and family members.

—Palo Alto Weekly staff

TheatreWorks to receive Tony Award

TheatreWorks Silicon Valley will receive the Regional Theatre Tony Award for 2019, founder and Artistic Director Robert Kelley announced last week.

"I can think of no better way to begin our 50th anniversary season than with this highest honor, a testament to the passion and imaginative spirit of many," Kelley stated in an announcement online and sent to supporters.

The Regional Theatre Tony Award is given annually to a non-Broadway theater company and is based on recommendations from the American Theatre Critics Association. It carries with it a $25,000 grant.

The honor comes at an especially poignant moment for Kelley, who will step down as artistic director at the end of the 2019-2020 season, his 50th year since founding the company in 1970.

TheatreWorks, he noted in a recent interview, has long been dedicated to fostering diversity and nontraditional casting and nurturing emerging talent and work.

The award ceremony will be broadcast live from New York City on CBS at 8 p.m. Sunday, June 9.

—Karla Kane

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