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New group slams LASD board performance

Original post made on Jun 6, 2014

A new nonprofit group, critical of Los Altos School District leadership and spending, ran ads in the Voice and Los Altos Town Crier last week highlighting the amount of parcel taxes that LASD taxpayers pay — about $790 each year. The group, which calls itself Each Student Counts, says it will elevate the dialog about contentious school issues, but Los Altos board trustees and finance committee members question the group's motives, saying the ads are factually inaccurate and lack context.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, June 6, 2014, 12:00 AM

Comments (59)

Posted by Reader
a resident of another community
on Jun 6, 2014 at 4:44 am

The non-expiring LASD Parcel tax as increased in amount in 2002 calls for a reauthorization vote every 4 years but this has not happened since 2006. I'd say this qualifies as a deception. Here's the 2006 reauthorization measure; 2006 Ballot Measure

The text of the 2006 ballot measure is as follows - "Without changing the existing amount of the Los Altos School District's current parcel tax, and to allow the District to spend the money raised to fulfill the voter-approved purposes, including to hire and retain teachers, maintain small class sizes and protect junior high electives, shall the District's annual appropriations limit be extended for a period of four years beginning July 1, 2007, in the amount of the funds raised by this tax?"

The 2002 ballot measure began: ""To hire, train, retain teachers, provide competitive teacher salaries, fund school libraries, purchase textbooks, preserve science classes/modern labs, maintain neighborhood schools and small class size, protect junior high electives like music, foreign language, computer classes, and balance the educational program, shall Los Altos School District increase its existing parcel tax and annual appropriations limit by $333/parcel beginning July 1, 2003, with independent citizens' oversight of expenditures and exemptions for parcels owned/occupied by persons 65 years/older?

In accordance with the State law, the voters shall have the opportunity to authorize district expenditures of revenue generated by this special tax every four years." and then some other verbage immaterial to this point.

Yep, deception.

Posted by Kenyon is the problem
a resident of another community
on Jun 6, 2014 at 6:50 am

Hopefully this will spur the trustees to fire Kenyon. He is the legacy behind the BCS dispute and poor fiscal management.

Posted by Reader is incorrect
a resident of another community
on Jun 6, 2014 at 7:43 am

@Reader- you are reading the law incorrectly.

From the 2002 Smart Voter Guide
Shall the Los Altos School District be authorized to adjust its existing special tax and the Gann Appropriations Limit by the amount of revenue generated by that special tax?
Meaning of Voting Yes/No
A YES vote of this measure means:
A "yes" vote is a vote to authorize a qualified special tax on parcels within the Los Altos School District and to increase the district's present appropriations limit for four years.
A NO vote of this measure means:
A "no" vote is a vote not to authorize such a qualified special tax and not to authorize the spending limit increase.
Impartial Analysis from the County Counsel
California law permits the Los Altos School District to levy a special tax on each parcel of land within the district if the tax is approved by two-thirds of the voters voting in an election.
The Board of Trustees proposed to levy a special tax on each parcel within the district. An exemption is available for a person 65 years of older who owns and occupies as a principal residence a parcel and applies to the district for an exemption in accordance with guidelines established by the district.

The owners of each parcel would pay $597 per year for each parcel in the district. The proceeds of the tax would be used to maintain reduced class size, support small neighborhood schools, hire and retain high quality teachers, keep libraries open, provide student educational materials, and preserve the district's academic program.

The tax would appear as a separate item on each property tax bill and would be levied and collected at the same time and in the same manner as the general tax levy. Upon recording of the resolution confirming the special tax, such tax would be a lien upon the real property affected thereby.

This measure also requires voter approval to increase the spending limits of the district. The California Constitution Article XIIIB, Section 4, restricts government spending by limiting the amount of money which a district may appropriate (spend) in any fiscal year. The Constitution also allows voters of a district to change the appropriations limit, but for no more than four years at a time. Such a change requires approval by a majority of the votes cast by voters in an election.

A "yes" vote is a vote to authorize a qualified special tax on parcels within the Los Altos School District and to increase the district's present appropriations limit for four years.

A "no" vote is a vote not to authorize such a qualified special tax and not to authorize the spending limit increase.

Ann Miller Ravel, County Counsel

Posted by Almond School Parent
a resident of another community
on Jun 6, 2014 at 8:07 am

"We're just putting out the facts as accurately as possible" is a quote worthy of Karl Rove. Thank you to the Mountain View Voice for calling attention to the fact that Each Student Counts is swiftboating the Los Altos School District.

Posted by Reader
a resident of another community
on Jun 6, 2014 at 9:01 am

Reader is correct. You are quoting from the ballot analysis. The wording of the official measure does include the words:

"In accordance with the State law, the voters shall have the opportunity to authorize district expenditures of revenue generated by this special tax every four years." and then some other verbage immaterial to this point."

The vote which approved the forever bond promised that these reauthorizations would occur every 4 years. Plain and simple.

Posted by On Transparency
a resident of another community
on Jun 6, 2014 at 9:01 am

"Each Student Counts says one of its goals is to promote fiscal responsibility and transparency in the Los Altos School District." LASD is fairly transparent - the many laws regulating LASD require transparency, and in many cases LASD goes beyond than the law to ensure transparency (ie by listing names of major donors to LAEF). I would actually like to see much more transparency on the part of BCS. LASD is open about its administrative costs, donations, and finances. What are BCS administrative costs in total, and what is the breakdown? (ie what is administrative compensation, how much is spent on marketing and lawyers? Where do the major BCS donations come from? Because BCS also receives tax dollars and is housed in facilities provided by LASD, these are important questions for Each Student Counts to answer before the public can feel comfortable about the fiscal responsibility and transparency of BCS.

Posted by A PAC by any other name...
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jun 6, 2014 at 9:10 am

Each Student Counts seems to have been formed for the primary purpose of getting Martha McClatchie elected to the LASD Board of Trustees in November by making false claims of financial mismanagement by the current board members. McClatchie is a BCS parent and co-treasurer of the BCS Foundation that raises and manages the outside money the carter relies on for all of it's "enhanced" programs. BCS would like nothing more than to place one of their own insiders on the LASD board (while still retaining their un-elected, un-accountable leadership structure). Because of it's legal structure, Each Student Counts can raise massive amounts of money, including from pro-charter organizations outside of Los Altos / Mountain View, and spend it on baseless attack ads trying to influence our local elections. I hope local voters won't be deceived.

Posted by Just Look
a resident of another community
on Jun 6, 2014 at 9:41 am

The tax returns for all 9 of of the district's PTA's are very interesting as well. All non profits have to make their IRS Form 990's available, and there can be no mystery. The questions you have about BCS are silly though, because it doesn't get taxpayer funding for any more than 1/2 the amount LASD saves by not having to educate those children. It's a complete wash. LASD cooks the books as to what is and is not administrative overhead. So LASD revealed that Dave Cortright was funding some of their legal expenses? They reveal who the donor is for Gardner Bullis classroom domino movements? LASD spends money on lawsuits rather than just putting more portables at Blach? Who knows how much they are spending and how much is covered by donations.

Posted by Look Again...
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jun 6, 2014 at 9:51 am

LASD "cooks the books"??? 14 straight years of awards for financial transparency and effective reporting would say different. You may not agree with how LASD approaches the BCS issue, but trying to paint the district as financially incompetent or unethical is pathetic.

Posted by Coverage
a resident of The Crossings
on Jun 6, 2014 at 10:34 am

I wonder why the Voice made no mention of the Huttlinger group in the story. This group raised $50,000 in 2012 and devoted much of it to influencing the election by contributing support to candidates. That's a lot of money. The Huttlingers are mostly Los Altos people who want to keep their school sites underutilized to help their property values. They have a big axe to grind. Lost in their concerns is creating a school for the 600 kids who ALREADY live North of El Camino in Mountain View. From what I can see, the district has no serious intention of creating a school for this area. True, it would be expensive. But LASD sold off a school that once served the area, back in the 80's. It was in Los Altos, near the Mormon Church on E. Portola. It was called the Portola Elementary School. Many of its students came from Mountain View. Now it is 50 large Los ALtos homes built in the 1980's.

Where's the concern for Mountain View? Why should the HAE PAC have control of the district elections? Shouldn't this at-large system for electing all 5 trustees be replaced by one where the NEC area gets some representation? It's a large chunk of the property values that yield revenues for the school district.... and there are forecasts by the LASD growth task force that the population in school from this area will yield 1/2 of their anticipated growth... this means the area will have 1200 kids by their calculations.

Why are these kids now spread across 3 different schools, where one of them is over 2 miles from their homes? Why is no school transportation provided as is done in MVWSD and PAUSD in such situations?

It does seem to me that this school board could use some slamming. They deserve some criticism.

Posted by Observation
a resident of another community
on Jun 6, 2014 at 10:40 am

In the graphs provided by Joe Seither with no citing of his mystery source, he shows that the federal revenue for MVWSD and CUSD is greater than it is for LASD. He doesn't refer to that in his narrative. He observes how they both have a smaller property tax revenue per student than does LASD, and so LASD contributes even more from LASD's parcel taxes to pump the advantage still more. But why does LASD get so little Federal funding?

Could this be related to LASD having so very few low income students? I understand that Mountain View has nearly 50% low income students. Do they cost more to educate? Does the federal money cover the added cost? Is it fair to even include the federal money on the chart if this is what it is for? Surely with hardly any low income students, LASD doesn't need federal help. Even Palo Alto gets more federal money per student than LASD.

Posted by Christine
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 6, 2014 at 11:30 am

Joe Seither and Hutt Alliance members are the unofficial voice for the LASD Board. They love having him and members including Elena Shea say what they can't say in public. Go Joe! Kudos for the MV Voice for printing such a ridiculous story that is based on Joe's biased opinions.

Posted by Not Fooled
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jun 6, 2014 at 12:38 pm

Sounds like the strategy will be for Bullis cronies to begin to slam the board in an effort to unseat them and get their own Bullis people on the board, who can then take direction from the UNELECTED leaders of Bullis.
I'm VERY glad this has been exposed and I will now be more careful how I view these types of new group's "Findings".

Posted by Kenyon is the problem
a resident of Gemello
on Jun 6, 2014 at 12:43 pm

As the Assistant Superintendent, Randy Kenyon has been cited by the Court of Appeals for misleading the court -- changing definitions, mysteriously and knowingly filing court documents that undercounted acreage and square footage (footnote 22 in Cal Appellate court decision, 10/27/11).

Why does he still have a job? Anyone else would have been fired for such actions. The reason? Who knows? Ask the LASD Trustees.

Posted by Kudos to MV Whisman
a resident of The Crossings
on Jun 6, 2014 at 12:49 pm

What I take away from this is that MV Whisman is doing an amazing job educating its students on less money than LASD. I think everyone would agree that the student population of MV Whisman is more challenging due to higher concentration of ELL students and other factors. Yet, on way less money, MV Whisman is doing a tremendous job.

It is particularly striking that over 20% of 8th graders in MV Whisman take geometry in 8th grade yet only 0.04% of LASD students. How fortunate for the MV students that share high school with LASD students -- what a tremendous benefit. Go MV!

Posted by Bias King
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jun 6, 2014 at 2:05 pm

The article fails to mention that Joe Seither is a founding member of the Huttlinger Alliance PAC in Los Altos. This group has a highly biased agenda with the LASD Board. They want to control who gets elected to the board. They served as a hidden source aggregator of campaign contributions in the last School Board election. They have stated their intent to do the same in this next election.

KEEP your eye on the money. Watch the Huttlinger Alliance. They are the real story. MV Folks especially should be aware of their actions, along with Los Altos Hills residents. These guys are devious, because they know that the 2/3 of Los Altos which is in LASD is barely a majority, maybe 55% of the LASD territory.

Posted by BullisIsBully
a resident of another community
on Jun 6, 2014 at 2:30 pm

Of course this is another maneuvering of BCS to steal taxpayer funds and use it to privately school their children. Shame!

Posted by Bullis
a resident of another community
on Jun 6, 2014 at 2:44 pm

Bullis mainly steals students from LASD. Last year they stole 580 students and next year they will steal a total of around 680 students, from LASD. This takes away jobs for CTA members in instructing the students who depart to attend Bullis. Hence all the poltical posturing and the funding of the Huttlinger folks with state teacher union money.

Follow the money.

LASD obviously has plenty because they made a deal to hire 10 more FTE teachers next year, so as to convert all 20 Kindergarten positions from half time to full time. They had to use up some of the extra money that would have gone to educating the students who attend Bullis.

Posted by Award Winner
a resident of another community
on Jun 6, 2014 at 2:50 pm

Hey, it costs $975 to apply for the Meritorious Budget Award. Who pays for this? Are the LASD Taxpayers footing the bill? Apparently it's not so hard to win this award. It's a moneymaker for the Association of School Budget Officials.

What a crock!

Posted by Other Award
a resident of another community
on Jun 6, 2014 at 3:18 pm

What a bargain. The Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting Program only costs $505 for an agency the size of LASD, assuming their CFO is a member of the association. Otherwise it is $1010. Such a deal. Do the taxpayers pay for this award too? See Web Link

Posted by Please, children
a resident of another community
on Jun 6, 2014 at 3:19 pm

God help us, the BCS v. LASD bickering starts yet again, heavy with the name-calling and argument-by-assertion so familiar now to the vast majority of us residents NOT party to the dispute, but who see these endless exchanges, and wonder again who are the children, who the adults.

Posted by Objections
a resident of another community
on Jun 6, 2014 at 3:59 pm

This is the Huttlinger Alliance Political Action committee versus the citizens and other residents of LASD. It has nothing to do with Bullis or LASD as a set of schools. HAE calls the shots and the trustees of LASD do the dance. Then there's a little fast and loose with with the financial planning for LASD, I'll admit that. But the prolong of resolution is caused by the legal team at HAE who are funding LASD's aggression trying to fight state laws in the courts.

Posted by I Object!
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jun 6, 2014 at 4:23 pm

@Objections is clearly certifiable. "HAE calls the shots and the Trustees of LASD do the dance." How exactly does a small local advocacy organization like the HAE wield such power? They don't have the money of the BCS foundation (or this new Each Student Counts joke of an organization), they don't have a high priced law firm like BCS's Procopio, and they don't have a $300K/yr PR agency on retainer. Unless they have wildly incriminating photos of board members, how do they supposedly exert such massive influence? Short answer is: They don't. HAE is one voice in the community, along with many, many others who also fully support our district schools. The BoT listens to their constituents, and does what they were elected to do: Preserve our outstanding neighborhood schools, and protect them from the clear and present threat posed by BCS.

Posted by Code
a resident of another community
on Jun 6, 2014 at 5:24 pm

"Neighborhood School" is code for "no school for Mountain View along El Camino Real". It's code for "force LAH kids to choose private school due to lack of schools there and political unwelcomeness". There are not neighborhood schools in LASD any more than in MVWSD. Every single school has many kids who live far away and are forced there by the complicated attendance boundaries. There's a lot of segregation of economic means. Oak, Loyola and Gardner Bullis all have consistently higher family incomes for attendees than do the other elementary schools. The parents are made to feel shamed if they don't contribute bigtime to the PTA and the LAEF. It's a private emphasis on a public school system. Shame shame shame on HAE and all that goes with it. Shame on them for accepting special interest money and raising tens of thousands of dollars. They don't need to rig these school board races to win big. They least they could do is have some variation in the opinions of board members. No one from LAH. No one from NEC Mountain View. The heck with them. We want to keep safe our neighborhood parks--in Los Altos, on large little used school sites each with room for 2 schools of the same small school size they allegedly prize.

Posted by Specifics
a resident of another community
on Jun 6, 2014 at 5:33 pm

To get specific, Santa Rita school sites on 11.5 acres about 1/4 mile from El Camino Real on the Los Altos side. It is currently home to 550 K-6 students of which around 200 come from Mountain View. The other 400 MV kids in the El Camino area attend Egan Jr High, Almond or Covington. So the 70 or so who go to Egan don't have too far to travel. That's good.

So why not open 2 schools on the Santa Rita site, even temporarily? Have one for the nearby neighborhood as the myth says applies to all. That would be about 350 kids, K-6 (or 300 K-5). Then serve ALL the other MV kids from the San Antonio Center neighborhood at SR too. That would be a 530 student school (450 K-5), along side the 350 student one for nearby neighbors. Have different start times to manage traffic. Run a bus to the MV area. Pick up as many kids as need a shared ride.

It would work. That site is plenty big for 2 schools, one 350 and one 530 or so. Why hasn't it been tried, at least temporarily? Because the nearby neighbors think the school is their private property and they don't want to share.

What's wrong with this picture? Why does the school district keep talking about taking Matt Pear's land through the courts? How much would this cost. Quite a lot. Unworkable, and undesirable.

Posted by Tom S
a resident of another community
on Jun 6, 2014 at 5:44 pm

These comments are meaningless when hidden behind aliases, especially making false and misleading accusations about how our schools are run. Use your real name, otherwise be ignored.

Posted by your real name
a resident of Bailey Park
on Jun 6, 2014 at 6:26 pm

...well, be ignored by Tom S. at least...that's still pretty harsh so, ya know, you've been warned.

Posted by Just Wondering
a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Jun 7, 2014 at 7:26 am

i wonder why LAEF must fund all of the classes that actually teach things besides the basics?

I wonder why LASD parents have to spend so much money on after school classes?

I wonder are LASD schools excellent or is it just the kids that are excellent?

Posted by Exhausted
a resident of another community
on Jun 7, 2014 at 8:18 am

Would the LASD and the BCS get a room already?

Posted by You people are crazed...
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jun 7, 2014 at 8:55 am

Some of the anti-LASD venom on this board has moved far beyond legitimate disagreements about policy, and squarely into the land of lunacy. For the most part, LASD families simply value the high quality education their children get, and the strong sense of community that grows up around each of the neighborhood schools (yes, I said "neighborhood" you anti-LASD loons, it's not just about how many kids can walk to school). And that sense of community is a hugely valuable part of the overall education experience -- setting a positive tone for students that can shape their perspective on education for the rest of their lives.

BCS aggressive policies pose a threat to the quality of LASD schools and the school communities. It doesn't have to be this way -- BCS aggressive litigation strategy, and ever increasing propaganda machine (now even more frightening with this Each Student Counts thing) has driven us here. Clearly there are some here who feel deep, personal, and seemingly irrational hatred towards our local schools. I suggest they look in the mirror for the root cause. It's not flawless, but for many of us, LASD was the reason we moved here, and we haven't been disappointed.

Posted by And one more thing...
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jun 7, 2014 at 9:10 am

If people feel that there are opportunities for improvement in LASD (and there clearly are), and would like to see things like 8th grade geometry (starting next year btw), or K-6 foreign language, or opening an NEC school, or whatever, then you should build a coalition of like-minded parents and work to affect positive change. This can take the form of petitions to the BoT, proposed pilot programs, running for the school board, etc. -- all *positive* steps to help continually improve our schools. And, it actually works without creating division in the community, or destabilizing the entire district!

The right answer is NOT to form a charter and create a decade of conflict, or launch massively expensive lawsuits, or execute nasty smear campaigns on BoT candidates. And it's most certainly not forming some PAC, funded by God knows what outside interests, to launch attack ads denigrating our schools and the leaders who serve the public.

Posted by Roode at it Again
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 7, 2014 at 9:30 am

Anyone else notice it's the same person posting continuously, having conversation by himself. Continuing the farce that his 'organization' represents.

Bcs parents should be embarrased.

Posted by David and Rob Cowardly Deceive
a resident of another community
on Jun 7, 2014 at 9:46 am

Well said comment from "You People Are Crazed". The people behind EACH aren't here to solve any conflicts. Their actions are cowardly hiding behind their PAC putting out inflammatory false statements that is deceiving none of the smart people in our towns. David Roode and Rob Fagen have never participated in any LASD public or parent community group where they really could have offered constructive input. They are simply cowards with a biased agenda to mislead the public.

Posted by Kumon Thanks LASD
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jun 7, 2014 at 11:43 am

We love all the business for our tutorial assistance. Thanks for the help!

Posted by LASD Resident
a resident of another community
on Jun 7, 2014 at 12:32 pm

It's interesting that Joe Seither is not identified as a founding Board Member of the Huttlinger Alliance for Education and also as the President of the Los Altos Educational Foundation. This makes me think that he's the one that contacted this reported and fed him this table that got published.

I hope the reporter will consider the deception involved in failing to provide this background on the part of Joe Seither. Also, everyone else should as well.....

The Huttlinger Alliance is a very dangerous group. We should not be happy about having dark money involved in local elections, even just $50,000 or less. It's not a good thing.

Posted by LASD Resident
a resident of another community
on Jun 7, 2014 at 12:42 pm

In speaking about the deception on the part of Joe Seither leaving out his background, I meant to say it looks like he contacted the reporter, not reported. Sorry for the typo. Anyway, it's almost certain the report wouldn't have left this out of the story had he know these other affiliations and biases on the part of Joe Seither. That was my point. He didn't find Joe--Joe found him. Joe may have even motivated the entire story. I hope I am not getting the reporter in trouble. It's just an example of the forces of the dark money and the political games that it appears to me this Each Student Counts is trying to counteract with facts. They have a lot of facts on their web site Web Link That's another thing left out of the story. The discussion makes it thinks like the ad was the entire body of information put forth by the group.

Posted by Joe Seither
a resident of another community
on Jun 7, 2014 at 2:44 pm

I've learned so much new information about myself and the Huttlinger Alliance! Seriously now, the author of this article contacted me - and was informed in advance of my various affiliations: LAEF, HAE, CACF. I assume all my volunteerism and familiarity with district finances is why he sought my POV. Also grounded in many years of communicating with the greater LASD community is my hope and belief that this campaign will be seen for what it is. We know after a decade of exactly this sort of anti-LASD agitation, if it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.

Posted by Ronnie
a resident of another community
on Jun 7, 2014 at 3:25 pm

I find And One More Things comments very interesting. Here they are:

"if people feel that there are opportunities for improvement in LASD (and there clearly are), and would like to see things like 8th grade geometry (starting next year btw), or K-6 foreign language, or opening an NEC school, or whatever, then you should build a coalition of like-minded parents and work to affect positive change. This can take the form of petitions to the BoT, proposed pilot programs, running for the school board, etc. -- all *positive* steps to help continually improve our schools. And, it actually works without creating division in the community, or destabilizing the entire district! "

One More Thing must be new to the district, anyone who has been around here for awhile knows that groups of parents tried and failed to get the district to create a language program, a PACT program and a STEM Program. The answer was a big fat NO.

The way that things really get done is by having a Trustee personally working for your best interests. Consider:

Special Day Classes were all at Covington. That made sense as there were special classrooms there for those programs AND there was quite a bit of room. As a result Covington had a bit lower test scores than the other Los Altos Schools. Some in the Covington Community didn't like this - they pulled strings and magically the grades that had testing. 2-6 were moved to Springer. K- 1 doesn't have testing so K-1 stayed at Covington.

In the school attendance boundary redraw some crazy things happened - part to the problem was that suddenly LASD had two schools that it needed to fill - Gardner and Covington - kids were moved around like tiles - With kids from Mountain View getting moved all around. Mr. Goines kept his own neighborhood from being moved.

Building new buildings at Gardner. That's a super interesting one considering all schools are supposed to be funded equally.

Special STEM programs - sure all schools have a new STEM teacher - but Covington and Gardner have been getting most of the goodies.

Then their is the case of all day kinder - many parents DID :NOT WANT IT but it is being forced on everyone. I believe that Mr. Goines has a daughter that is some how involved in this program.

Principal assignments ask parents at Almond about that one.

Posted by MV Mom
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jun 7, 2014 at 8:51 pm

I don't send my own kids to BCS but I know people that do and I don't think that they are out to get anyone. They really like their school and don't want to close anyone schools down. I am so tired of all the negative talk about BCS. I love Oak, but LASD is far from perfect, we all know that, in fact many of the same people that complain about BCS also complain about Oak and Blach they just don't post it here or on other forums. I have heard so crazy things from BOTH sides. I have also heard so valid points from both sides. I think that BCS is an overall positive force, not a negative one but notice that I am not posting under my actual name, I am to afraid of the negative feedback.

Posted by YOU people ARE crazed
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jun 7, 2014 at 9:11 pm

@You people are crazed, it's amazing how the LASD faithful like you say it's that BCS has aggressive litigation and aggressive propaganda. BCS has no propaganda other opponents here on line CLAIMING that BCS has propaganda. If BCS had propaganda do you really think there would be so many bad messages going on out "there". There is nothing like the word of mouth in all of the PTAs spreading all the misconceptions that they are more than happy to gossip about during meetings and rumor monger to the detriment of the entire community. There are MANY unhappy folks bringing all of their nasty personal baggage to this nasty flame war. Joe Seither is just one more of those folks. As for the litigation, I seriously believe if any one of the schools in LASD had a site that looked like the BCS site for even half a year those school parents would quickly unite and sue the district. Joe Seither, the Hutt Alliance, and the LASD board want this mess to drag on forever. They fuel the flames with articles like this. They fuel the flames with PTA rah-rah gossip sessions bad mouthing BCS. You all know it. You all will help rationalize and defend these choices until all of your kids are out of school and then you won't care. Not very neighborly of you. But then you don't care as you feel you defend some neighborly truth that DOESN'T truly exist. BCS and LASD we are all neighbors. Let's elect some folks who want to work together instead of BLOG badness into the situation.

Posted by We've Tried
a resident of another community
on Jun 7, 2014 at 11:32 pm

@ And one more thing: Haven't you heard? LASD parents HAVE united to request geometry, foreign language, a school north of El Camino. The trustees' answer? No. Not on your life. No Way. Many of us rebuffed parents are now at BCS, and very very happy.

@ Ronnie: yes you are right about all-day kinder being forced on those who don't want it. Mark Goines' daughter is a kindergarten teacher at GB.

I'm glad for Each Student Counts. The trustees' disregard for its families needs to be exposed.

Posted by One day maybe
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jun 8, 2014 at 6:58 am

Disgusted by BSC and its dogs of war. They need to accept an equal amount of ESL and special needs kids as the rest of the district schools. A separate entrance lottery for just those students would ensure it, but they won't do that, because they are elitist. They sure as hell still want equal funding, but when it comes time to accept the same percentage of ESL and special needs kids as the other schools, you'll hear the excuses come out. It clearly just a mask for their twisted logic. Their goal is clear: a public school where they can keep those "undesirables" out and I would have no issue if they did it all on their own dime, but if they want to share the districts funds, they should pull equal weight in educating all our kids. When ESL/SN student percentages @ Bullis are on par with the rest of the public schools, then we'll begin to talk about fairness in other areas..

Posted by Christopher Chiang
a resident of North Whisman
on Jun 8, 2014 at 9:12 am

I wish more people would drown out all this negativity with more positive reports of what happens at both these institutions. I don't follow the school politics in Los Altos, and I would nothing to say if the ad was about that.

But the ad claimed LASD was weak on instruction, and I do object to that. As a teacher, I have spent a great deal of time observing classroom innovations by educators and students in both communities.

At LASD one only has to look as far as their nation leading work in computer science, where very 6th grader is introduced to code (leading to the 2nd annual showcase that happened last month). Find out more at Web Link and Web Link

At BSC, one can start with their design thinking (makers) program, one of the first public school to do this, or their intersession courses which allow students to deep dive topics (like engineering or even sewing) beyond the traditional subjects. Find out more at Web Link and Web Link

Clearly both institutions are doing something very right when they have both retained and supported world-leading teachers. Some of the very best (with no hint of hyperbole) educators I know are in these two communities. I'm not alone in saying this, attend any national STEM or EdTech event and ask them what they think of LASD and Bullis. They too speak of both their praises with no clue to all this negative adult drama.

As an outsider, I can’t help but wonder if the existence of both institutions has influenced each other to become so creative. I will assure you though that -both- have something to learn and offer each other.

And in the big picture, both are doing things that will inspire changes in education beyond the children on Los Altos/Mountain View. I wish someone did an ad about that.

Posted by LASD Resident
a resident of another community
on Jun 8, 2014 at 1:04 pm

@Christopher Chiang

You are right. Clearly BCS (assuming you mean Bullis Charter School) started off from a base of LASD and so it benefits from LASD's culture and values. Similarly, in developing its program since 2004, it has added innovative curriculum continually, and LASD has observed what BCS has done and emulated it. Bullis has team teaching and is responsive to individual learning rates of the child, allowing some kids to not be held back and allowing other to obtain extra help where needed. LASD has emulated that by developing its differentiated instruction model. Coding is another example where Bullis started it first and in fact starts in very early grades. Bullis has had STEM classes and specialized teachers from early on. LASD added a STEM teacher at each school this year. More of this back and forth would have occurred had the LASD trustees not been so antagonistic to the IDEA of having an experimental program within the district (but operated as a charter school which costs the district nothing extra, in fact, costs less).

Another factor here is that the entire district is composed of above average kids. The ability to succeed at educating them is facilitated by their aptitudes and family support systems going in. The parents are prepared to invest an inordinate amount in the education of their children. Numerous local tutoring companies are kept in business by LASD parents investing in one on one and small group tutoring programs for their children. The income level overall across LASD is tremendously high. No one to speak of in California is working at providing expanded educational programs for well off children, but that is what occurs both with Bullis and with LASD as a whole. There is a lot that can be learned by teachers working with well supported kids. Eventually this translates to opportunities for other kids too, maybe even sooner rather than later. There are after all 200 or so low income kids spread all across LASD's 5200 public school students (9 traditional schools and Bullis's 2 site split) and its 2000 private school students. One of the reason LASD's per student income reaches $12,000 is that 2000 students attend private schools, which is an above average number for the size of the population.

Also in LASD, the PTA's at each school raise a lot of money, $500 to $1000 per child, and contribute it to what they think will benefit their kids-- Computers, reimbursing school supply expenses, beautify the grounds of the school--just about anything. They operate after school programs which use district space and charge tuition for children to participate. There is quite a bit of money spent on these educational enrichment programs for LASD students, which are convenient for all the parents because they don't need to provide transportation. It all goes into a virtually extended school day and support for the kids learning and developmental stimulation in general.

In its efforts to thwart Bullis, the LASD board has helped it to innovate. LASD made an outpost of inadequate space over at the other Jr High school, 3 miles way, and told BCS to place 100 kids over there. and leave 550 at the original site. They'd have no access to the Bullis set up at the original Jr High to host the K-8 school. It would be quite a problem. So Bullis innovated and created the Bullis Center for Innovation and rotated groups of kids through the smaller space at 3 week intervals. That was hard on the parents but GREAT for the kids. An unintended consequence of LASD's board's efforts to cause problems. What can one say?

As for the add, consider that LASD does have considerable revenue per student. Decisions are made as to how to spend this money that are debatable, but the decisions are not vetted publicly. LASD has never offered Algebra I to 7th graders with the mathematical aptitude for it, although that has become common in the state. MVWSD involves more students in this program than typical. The follow on to that is to then offer Geometry to 8th grade students. As you know, MVWSD provides this too and LASD never has. This doesn't cost much, yet LASD has chosen not to bother. Only after a great deal of effort by a group of parents did LASD start to realize this was a shortcoming. Why? How did they miss this? Simiarly, some parents in LASD have requested the typical middle school grade grouping of 6-8 for years. This is not publicly discussed and there has been no committee to analyze this. LASD does keep it as an option, but it's the perennial option with nothing done. This cause a great deal of uncertainty as to how to improve school sites because more classrooms are needed at the Jr High sites to handle this. On the other hand, the Jr High Sites are 20 are acres each and only have 550 or so students, so they are large enough to add portables or build classrooms for 6-8.

One of the thing LASD spends its extra raised funds on is reducing the size of classes in grades 7-8. Core academic classes of Science, Math, Language Arts and Social Science are reduced down to a size of 20-23 students each. Why is this valuable? The 6th grade classes are in self contained classrooms taught by one teacher per class with a size of around 27 students per class. Isn't this inconsistent? Wouldn't it make more sense to go for 6-8 all at Jr High, changing classrooms for subjects, specialized teachers and a class size of 25-27? The sheer inconsistency of it is worth discussing.

Similarly, with little public involvement, LASD decided to introduce an extended day Kindergarten program next year, 830am-2:15pm instead of the 3 hour morning/afternoon split with 1/2 day programs 2 per classroom. This means 20 1/2 time positions become 20 full time positions for teachers, or a bump of 10 FTE. With that 10 FTE, LASD could have chosen to offer a Spanish instruction program to all of its elementary students. Having found the extra budget, shouldn't all potential uses of it been raised. One trustee said once that this would help compete with Bullis, but I don't see that. The few low income kids will benefit from the extended day program, but it will have no effect on others. I say, offer a preschool program for low income 1/2 day, and that will help the low income kids even more. As you know, this is the approach taken by MVWSD, except rather than 25 low income kids in K classes, MVWSD has 250-300 low income kids coming into each year's Kindergarten classes.

Posted by And another thing...
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jun 8, 2014 at 2:13 pm

@Ronnie (Haley), @Crazed (2), and @Tried, I've been here for 15 years and you obviously haven't been paying attention lately. LASD has a highly regarded CSTEM program today, and will be launching 8th grade geometry next year. It may not have happened as fast as some wanted, but it's here, and it's available to all. That's the problem with many BCS types -- a massive sense of entitlement and selfish demand for instant gratification. Better to work patiently to build consensus within the system than pitching a fit and trying to nuke the whole thing because you don't get your way...

Posted by And Yet Another thing...
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jun 8, 2014 at 2:37 pm

Consider that the CSTEM and Geometry in LASD are directly a result of Bullis Charter School existing as competition for the district..... yet another thing.

Posted by And yet...
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jun 8, 2014 at 2:48 pm

And you can prove that how exactly? More BS BCS marketing spin...

Posted by considering
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jun 8, 2014 at 5:02 pm

Didn't BCS have these programs, some, as much as 7 years before LASD? The district first claimed they cost too much. Apparently not.

Posted by Bikes2work
a resident of The Crossings
on Jun 8, 2014 at 5:06 pm

Again, it's like Microsoft claiming they never stole any ideas from Apple.

Posted by Wanny is no Jobs...
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jun 8, 2014 at 5:32 pm

And BCS invented none of these things. Yet they'll claim to be "innovates" and take credit for any additions to the LASD program? Get real...

Posted by Bikes2work
a resident of The Crossings
on Jun 8, 2014 at 5:52 pm

And Jobs stole most of it from Xerox PARC. But he knew it was what people wanted. Parents want what BCS is offering. LASD just wants to coast along on their "high performing schools" mantra.

Posted by Pythagoras
a resident of Slater
on Jun 8, 2014 at 6:43 pm

I head some guy named Euclid is claiming he invented Geometry. (:

Posted by Oh the arrogance...
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jun 8, 2014 at 7:34 pm

So @Bikes, BCS is claiming that all enhancements to the LASD curriculum over the past 10 years, and going forward in perpetuity are a direct result of the "competition" provided by BCS? You realize that assertion can never be proven, yet you state it as irrefutable fact. I'm done arguing with dogmatic zealots.

Posted by Enhancements
a resident of another community
on Jun 8, 2014 at 9:22 pm

I think LASD did make some enhancements not inspired by BCS. However, they meet incredible resistance when then try to make changes. SOME of the enhancements they were able to make WERE inspired from Bullis successes at recruiting an overflow crop of interested parents to apply to Bullis. There's no doubt of this. Furthermore, the extra fundraising to cover the costs was inspired by this idea that these programs are so expensive. LAEF gave LASD $500K to cover 7 science teachers for elementary school. (Well the average cost of a teacher in LASD is $100K, so it only covered 5/7 of the expected cost.) Gardner parents raised $2 Million to shuffle around the buildings on their campus. You can't tell me they'd have gotten that past the Board without Bullis off to the side. Board policy is to carefully approve any changes to campuses, even play structures, and that did NOT happen at Gardner with this $2 Million in swapping around play areas with a 3-portable consolidated new library/computer lab.

Posted by It is over
a resident of another community
on Jun 9, 2014 at 6:31 am

See? The real issue is that they are still pouting over Gardner. This is the reason for the no-stop litigation. Spoiled children who were told "No".
That doesn't sit well with spoiled children...they are not used to having to deal with not getting their way. Anti-community pariahs, one and all.

Posted by More of the same...
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jun 9, 2014 at 6:36 am

@Enhancements claims that "there's no doubt of this" relating to the notion that BCS was the forcing function for enhancements to the LASD curriculum, yet seemingly as with all BCS supporters here, offers not a shred of proof. I guarantee you there is some "doubt of this" (speaking for myself at minimum). He/she/Roode then proceeds to claim that the GB plan for (privately funded) facility reconfiguration could have never "gotten that past the board" without BCS "off to the side" -- again with no evidence whatsoever to support the claim. Post hoc, ergo propter hoc seems to be the illogical foundation for all BCS claims of positive influence on LASD.

How can you debate with these people? Groundless accusations of "corruption" by BoT members, baseless claims that BCS is the reason for any improvement in LASD programs, etc, etc. I suppose if peace breaks out in the middle east, or a cure for cancer is discovered, BCS will take credit for that too. If BCS were to give up their charter and become a magnet program within the district, then maybe there would be opportunities to collaborate on program enhancements, etc. But as it stands now, BCS takes far more away from the LASD community than they add to it.

Posted by DavidR
a resident of another community
on Jun 9, 2014 at 12:30 pm

DavidR is a registered user.

LASD is very bureaucratic and cumbersome with a lot of venerated old traditions, partisans and vested interests (like the teachers unions). The charter school has the advantage of being smaller and more agile. That's the intent of the charter laws in the first place. See the Each Student Counts web site for more information on the stand alone ads, which aren't able to tell a complete story. Http://

Posted by DavidR
a resident of another community
on Jun 16, 2014 at 4:31 pm

DavidR is a registered user.

Here's a link to the copy for another recent ad.

Web Link

Posted by Mayer-Ct
a resident of another community
on Jun 16, 2014 at 7:38 pm

Mayer-Ct is a registered user.

Congratulations DavidRoode, you learned how to spell "Taxpayer" correctly. Proofread before investing your anonymous donor dollars in weekly ads!

Web Link

Still, did you and the other board members (Rob Fagen and Jill Jene) do your homework behind this ad. Did you once talk with any LASD staff or parents involved in the district finances, attend any committee or board meeting to discuss finances and facilities? Like the various committees here: Web Link The answer is clearly no. Instead EACH puts out an ad accusing the district of mismanagement and spend all bond money not on classrooms based on no facts, no communication, and no effort.

Fact: $95 million was overwhelmingly voter approved and spent on Phase 1 of facility modifications throughout the district schools. A majority of this bond went to classroom modernization. See here: Web Link Phase 2, which is to be completed under the new bond, will aim to reduce the number of portables among other priorities.

Fact: Bond issuance is determined by property values, and at issuance of the bonds there was enough of an increase in assessed values to allow this 20% increase up to $115 million. Again, majority was spent on classroom improvements, not board and office rooms.

Fact: Spell checkers do wonders, especially misspelled words in large red type in the middle of the ad.

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