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New group slams LASD board performance

Original post made on Jun 9, 2014

A new nonprofit group, critical of Los Altos School District leadership and spending, ran ads last week highlighting the amount of parcel taxes that LASD taxpayers pay.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, June 9, 2014, 10:22 AM

Comments (15)

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Posted by No skin in the game
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Jun 9, 2014 at 2:26 pm

Look at the original membership of this new group. New name, same people, same noise.

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Posted by Margaret
a resident of Willowgate
on Jun 9, 2014 at 2:35 pm

I am so glad that we live in Mountain View. I am very happy with MVWSD and so are my two kids.

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Posted by grandparent
a resident of another community
on Jun 9, 2014 at 2:46 pm

One needs to realize that LASD is an elementary district and should not compare the Palo Alto Unified which runs two big high schools. The costs go way up for secondary education. we also do not get the state aid that some other districts get. LASD has been struggling to bring a good education with less money for a long time. The scores are great and we should all support this district.
Resident since 1964.

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Posted by Ads
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Jun 9, 2014 at 2:47 pm

The ad in the Voice also dances around the truth when comparing LASD with MVWSD in offering foreign languages to K-6.

LASD may not offer language in 6th because middle school starts in 7th grade. MVWSD offers language in 6th grade, but because they start middle school in 6th grade. Further, Crittenden (one of two MVWSD middle schools) was not offering foreign language at one point...don't know if they are now. LASD offers 2 electives in middle school, so students can take both music and language; MVWSD offers 1 elective, so students need to choose. It also may be the case (someone closer can verify) that LASD offers several languages; MVWSD offers only Spanish.

I'm guessing more LASD students than MVWSD start high school taking the 2nd year of language.

So, when factoring ALL of this in, for the ad to give LASD a "fail" as compared with a "pass" for MVWSD on K-6 languages is very misleading.

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Posted by End property taxes
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jun 9, 2014 at 2:53 pm

Properties should be taxed once and that is when the property is brought. The State and Feds collect enough money from all of us to pay for all the school needs, the problem is waste and no oversight.

Our govnor doesn't care about the school or the roads, otherwise he would divert a lot of the High speed rail money or the Water project he has plans for, to the schools. But we all know the priorities of big govt and that is waste and fraud.

Property taxes on corporations is one thing, but homeowners should be left out of this additional Tax Burden on it's citizens.

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Posted by Ads
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Jun 9, 2014 at 2:55 pm

Just to clarify, my prior post is only to point out an inaccuracy in the ads...not to suggest MVWSD is coming up short.

Also, it's my understanding that LASD will begin offering 8th grade geometry...if so, that part of the ad is also inaccurate.

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Posted by Re-run
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 9, 2014 at 3:47 pm

This was originally posted on June 6th and has over 50 (mostly inane)comments. Why the re-post Voice?

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a resident of Waverly Park
on Jun 9, 2014 at 4:58 pm

I guessed it was due to someone from Bullis Charter School. And I was right!

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Posted by LASD Resident
a resident of another community
on Jun 9, 2014 at 10:54 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.

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Posted by De-Roode-inator
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 9, 2014 at 11:18 pm

Geez... Here we go again. Roode posting a response here to a comment from the duplicate article from 6/6. Get a life dude. You were boring enough the first time...

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Posted by E.O.Huttlinger
a resident of another community
on Jun 10, 2014 at 1:29 am

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

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Posted by More from Joe
a resident of another community
on Jun 10, 2014 at 1:33 am

To see how positive and non-divisive the Huttlingers are, take a look at this: Web Link or their flag lady here: Web Link

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Posted by Wrong Info
a resident of another community
on Jun 11, 2014 at 3:53 am

@Ads: In all 3 of the other communities, besides Jr High starting in grade 6 as middle school (one item in the ads), for 2nd Language instruction, they all offer at least one choice program to teach a 2nd language in all of Elementary School. Palo Alto has 2 very popular language programs, one for Mandarin and one for Spanish. Cupertino has a school with the program that was the first in the state to do 2-way language immersion between native speakers of Mandarin and of English. MVWSD also has a 2-way immersion program like others in the state, between Spanish Native speakers and English native speakers. No option of any sort for language in K-5 is offered in any LASD school during regular class time as part of district-funded curriculum, as at the 3 cited nearby districts.

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Posted by TF
a resident of another community
on Jun 11, 2014 at 8:07 pm

David Roode, where's this week's ad from Each? Or have you finally caught on that no one in this town is taking your organization seriously? Filled with so many factually incorrect statements and demonstrating the stereotypical bitterness that we would all like to see come to an end, you and Rob Fagen's organization are a joke. The BCS charter school board has refused to even support you.

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Posted by EACH Misleads Again!
a resident of another community
on Jun 15, 2014 at 10:45 am

Here's the next misleading add by EACH: Web Link

I would ask their board members, Rob Fagen, David Roode, and Jill Jene if they have ever did their homework behind this ad. Did they once talk with any LASD staff or parents involved in the district finances, attend any committee or board meeting to discuss finances and facilities? 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 spend on Phase 1 of facility modifications throughout the district schools. A majority of this bond went to classroom modernization. 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 spend 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.

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

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