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The Voice's editorial endorsement: Mountain View Whisman district board

Original post made on Oct 3, 2014

The Voice editorial board recommends supporting incumbent Ellen Wheeler and challenger Greg Coladonato for the Mountain View Whisman School District's board of trustees.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, October 3, 2014, 1:48 PM

Comments (35)

Posted by New Trustees Needed!
a resident of another community
on Oct 3, 2014 at 2:40 pm

Re-election of any incumbent will result in more of the same, and nothing else.

Vote for Phil and Ellen if you are 100% satisfied with Superintendent Goldman and how the district is run.

Vote for Hafsa and Greg if you think that MVWSD is ready for new ideas, new perspectives, and no more rubber stamp approval of whatever the Superintendent says.


Posted by Flabbergasted MV Resident
a resident of Waverly Park
on Oct 3, 2014 at 2:54 pm

It seems strange that a local community vehicle such as the MV Voice should express such strong support for specific candidates. Shouldn't reporting be unbiased or at least attempt to be? The MV Voice should present the facts and not opinions for respective candidates.

I URGE you to think twice about supporting any candidate that is supported by such journalism.


Posted by Please tell the whole truth!
a resident of Waverly Park
on Oct 3, 2014 at 4:46 pm

I recalled reading a blog Mr. Coladonato wrote on the MV Voice's website:

Web Link

From this, I surmise he has 3 school-age children. In the last 2 events where I heard Mr. Coladonato speak for his candidacy, he only talked about having 2 kids attending the MVWSD. Base on my reading, he should have 3 children in the district by now.

Here are my questions:

(1) Where does your 3rd child go to school, Mr. Coladonato? You omission tells me he/she goes to a school outside of our district. Why? Why not send all of your children to a school in the district in which you are running for a Board position? Why not tell the truth? How can we trust you to be transparent if elected if you are not transparent now?

(2) Mr. Coladonato is behind the push to open a Slater neighborhood school, yet he sends his children to PACT, which is not his current neighborhood school. Why say one thing and do another?


MV Voice, I read this paper to get information on local news to make informed decisions. Please tell us the whole truth, not what the candidates wants us to read. I can get that information from their websites.


Posted by Proud colleague
a resident of Whisman Station
on Oct 3, 2014 at 5:18 pm

Of course the Voice makes endorsements on its editorial page. Everyone knows that the editorial page is not about reporting news but reporting opinions. The innuendo suggested above is just that. Please tell the whole truth fails to tell the truth about the situation and makes baseless charges.

I am a colleague of Mr Coladonatos. He is clearly the sharpest candidate with the best academic credentials and is willing to get involved and solve problems. For once the Voice gets it right.


Posted by Please tell the whole truth!
a resident of Waverly Park
on Oct 3, 2014 at 5:36 pm

Proud colleague, how is what I wrote baseless? You can read the website I included where he wrote about his 3 kids. I was at the 2 meetings where he spoke about himself and his TWO kids at MVWSD. TWO kids. I wouldn't have question it if I hadn't remembered reading his blogs. Were you at either meetings? He may have a valid reason for sending his 3rd child elsewhere, but why not say so? Omissions make the recipients question everything else.

He is one of the supporters behind reopening Slater to have a neighborhood school, yet his kids go to PACT. How is that baseless?

He may be sharp as many politicians are, but it doesn't mean he's telling the whole truth, as most politicians don't.


Posted by Whole truth
a resident of Willowgate
on Oct 3, 2014 at 6:21 pm

His third child attends a Santa Clara County charter middle school in Sunnyvale. Why he won't mention it is beyond me. It makes him appear disingenuous.


Posted by nothing but the Truth?
a resident of another community
on Oct 3, 2014 at 7:59 pm

And the superintendent of a very local high school district (a public high school district) sent his kids to an expensive, very good, private high school. So what? I worked with parents in Palo Alto who - sent their kids (teenaged out of control) to a strict private school.

Oh goody, goodly, goody, lets start a Charter Public School Vs Regular Public School fight. Just like Los Altos. Just like ex MVWSD Trustee Rose Fillicetti (sp?) loves to do against every possible charter school petition in the entire Santa Clara County. Why does that former MVWSD Trustee, who I think lives out side Santa Clara County, still feel she has to stoke the Public Charter School Vs Regular Public School fight?

Or, is @please tell the whole truth! that anti-public-charter-school politico? That would be interesting- moved back into the Huff neighborhood?

Is Ellen Wheeler a supporter of County School Board Member Grace Ma - from Palo Alto? Ma is known as an extremely dependable supporter of BCS and almost all charter school petitions. Maybe Wheeler and Coladanado are in a conspiracy to start a charter school - which Grace Ma would vote for? (that Must Be It) What yah think?


Posted by Whole truth
a resident of Willowgate
on Oct 3, 2014 at 8:08 pm

It is not about charter vs. public school it is about Coladonato's failing to mention his third child when he talks to groups of parents about his candidacy. I am personally not anti-charter school in the least but I think a school board candidate who is making transparency a major part of his platform should be actually transparent about his education choices for his children! He made the choice for the charter school, he must have reasons, he should stand behind that choice, not omit that child completely from his speeches.


Posted by nothing but the truth?
a resident of another community
on Oct 3, 2014 at 8:24 pm

Is the neighborhood school for Waverly Park Huff School? Is Huff school easily walkable from Waverly Park? Or does it depend on where you are, and how close to Los Altos? Was the other candidate (not endorsed) from Waverly Park? I think another (non-endorsed) candidate was from Monta Loma. Is that right? Or mixed up? What is The Whole Truth? Is that IT?
Have I hd too many beers? Should I 'ave a few more'? Just The Truth! TGIF (or is that GmA3q?)


Posted by MVWSD Parent
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 4, 2014 at 12:13 am

I was thinking about Greg today, and disingenuous was the first word that came to mind. I'd be curious if any Stevenson parents are supporting him. He's earned himself quite the reputation there. And not in a good way.


Posted by Interested observer
a resident of another community
on Oct 4, 2014 at 12:24 am

So glad that the Mountain View Voice has endorsed Ellen Wheeler's candidacy. She is the best candidate with near perfect attendance at all Board meetings. She comes to all those meetings well prepared and brings her excellent analytical problem solving skills to issues the District must address.


Posted by WhismanFamily
a resident of Whisman Station
on Oct 4, 2014 at 1:17 am

Greg has been a driving force behind the discussions to re-open a neighborhood school in the Whisman area. My wife and I recently moved here and our son will go to K next year. I'm glad to see someone pushing for a neighborhood school that is within walking distance for my family.

I've attended the school board meetings and I must say the current board looks completely disfunctional - the meetings I went to had a packed house full of parents and their kids, and while everyone was doing their best to keep their kids quiet and comfortable so that they could stay to express their support for the new school - the board members argued and bickered and sniped at each other. Completely amazing to see a room full of kids, and all of them more well-behaved than these board members.


Posted by Flabbergasted MV Resident
a resident of Waverly Park
on Oct 4, 2014 at 8:46 am

Interesting, it's not marked "Editorial" as in other editorial comments. Just an "Endorsement" in News. [Editor's note: A valid point. We will make the distinction more clear in the future.]

In any case, let's vote for candidates who have skin in the game (would put their own kids in our district schools) and who are not complacent with status quo.

Don't put your vote on "good attendance". What we need is continous improvement and good education for all students.


Posted by Really flabbergasted
a resident of Whisman Station
on Oct 4, 2014 at 10:26 am

So how much skin does Ellen wheeler have in the game. Does one have to currently have kids in the school system to truly represent the district ?


Posted by MVWSD Parent
a resident of Waverly Park
on Oct 4, 2014 at 10:46 am

The Board is supposed to represent the community. Which part of the community is most affected by our schools but the parents who send their children to the district's schools? Therefore, YES, members of the Board should have children attending the district, otherwise they are so out of touch of what's really going on in the schools and the only voice they hear are from the district's office, who have their own agendas.

As it stands, NONE of the current Board members have children attending MVWSD. Two of the incumbents running don't have children in the district. One current candidate sends one of his children to a school outside of the district and won't talk about it when presenting himself as a candidate?!


Posted by Robert
a resident of Slater
on Oct 4, 2014 at 10:56 am

Robert is a registered user.

It seems to me that if one wishes to make an omelette, eggs must be broken, and now we are hearing from those disgruntled broken eggs who would prefer the status quo over needed changes. How trivial it sounds to question how many of Mr. Coladonato's children attend district schools. Perhaps, he is running for the board to improve the district's schools so then all of his children can attend. Anytime one articulates change, others are upset. The district is facing many challenges and some require a fresh approach, necessitating change.


Posted by MVWSD Parent
a resident of Waverly Park
on Oct 4, 2014 at 11:17 am

No one is questioning change. What has been questioned is why Mr. Coladonato omit facts when he speaks about being transparent. Why is asking for the truth trivial?

Ms. Wheeler hasn't had a child attending the MVWSD in at least 5 years. A lot has changed in 5 years, including the Superintendent.


Posted by Interested Observer
a resident of another community
on Oct 4, 2014 at 2:30 pm

Although Ellen Wheeler doesn't currently have a child in the MVWSD, she is by far the most knowledgeable Board Member due to her ongoing interest and commitment to continuous learning. She is active in the PTA on the local and state level, the LWV on the local and state levels, attends many workshops put on by Ed Source and other educational organizations re: budgeting, etc. You might question why this makes her a stronger candidate - she keeps herself up to date re: curriculum and instruction and how to govern effectively as a School Board Member. She is thus able to bring broader perspectives to discussions and problem solving. She is open to ideas.

It's interesting to me that some of the above comments describe the current Board as dysfunctional when it certainly was not so in the not so distant past. You might wonder what has happened? When you have an elected member who refuses to observe protocol and procedure, disagreements do occur. Does that mean the Board is dysfunctional - I'd say no. I'd say the Board is trying its best to deal with one member whose primary goal appears to want to be disruptive just to be disruptive and appears to not have the best interests of the children, schools , district or community as the primary goal. When you join the MVWSD Board, you are one of a five member team - not the center of attention. As a team, a Board should strive to make the best decision given all the factors at play. That doesn't mean there will always be agreement but members should strive to reach consensus. That is effective governing.


Posted by Really Flabbergasted
a resident of Whisman Station
on Oct 4, 2014 at 4:27 pm

Maybe a little transparency from MVWSD parent. You don't like Mr. Coladonato. You cares what your personal reason is. It makes little sense given that the board currently doesn't have any members with kids in school. What matters is how you perform your job. In Santa Clara a trustee is banned from the school his child attends. Maybe not having kids in the school you represent provides a more unbiased approach.

For example, when choosing to close Slater, some board members had a conflict over choosing the schools their kids were enrolled in.


Posted by Not Worthy
a resident of Rex Manor
on Oct 4, 2014 at 6:24 pm

Disingenuous, is also a word that comes to my mind regarding this candidate. Mr Coladonto's failure to win an office at the state level, just weeks prior to running for the school board of trustees ,does leave the impression that Mr. Coladonto is interested in holding ANY public office- instead of displaying a genuin interest in serving at the local school level.

I'd rather puy my trust into another candidate, who is focused on serving ALL Mountain View families, instead of Mr. Calodomto, who seemingly chose to run as a school board member as a second choice with his last-minute submission.

Being a board member of the MVWSD should not be used as a stepping stone opportunity for another, higher, public position.

It's an opportunity to actually listen to Mountain View families and clean up the current disfuntionality, made apparent in the last several board meetings.


Posted by New Trustees Needed!
a resident of another community
on Oct 4, 2014 at 10:44 pm

Interested Observer says: " Although Ellen Wheeler doesn't currently have a child in the MVWSD, she is by far the most knowledgeable Board Member due to her ongoing interest and commitment to continuous learning. She is active in the PTA on the local and state level, the LWV on the local and state levels, attends many workshops put on by Ed Source and other educational organizations re: budgeting, etc. You might question why this makes her a stronger candidate - she keeps herself up to date re: curriculum and instruction and how to govern effectively as a School Board Member. She is thus able to bring broader perspectives to discussions and problem solving. She is open to ideas."

Everything you said about Ellen may be true. The fact remains that she will go along with whatever the Superintendent and district office wants.

Greg Coladonato may have aspirations to be a career politician. He may have a child who attends school outside the district. But he will question the status quo and push for needed changes, such as the re-opening of Whisman school. You won't get that from Ellen or Phil.

And then there's Hafsa! She's been a PTA president and is very involved in the school community. Let's see what she brings to the board!

It's really simple!

incumbent = more of the same, goes along with whatever the Superintendent says

challenger = new perspectives, new ideas, probably more concerned with what is best for students, parents, teachers instead of what is best for district office


Posted by Interested Observer
a resident of another community
on Oct 5, 2014 at 1:03 am

To: New Trustee Needed

Re: your statement: "Everything you said about Ellen may be true. The fact remains that she will go along with whatever the Superintendent and district office wants. "

Simply not true - Ellen makes up her own mind!! She analyzes situations/issues throughly and carefully and then makes a determination of what she thinks is in the best interest of ALL the students, district and community.


Posted by MVSWD Pareant
a resident of Waverly Park
on Oct 5, 2014 at 11:14 am

"Maybe a little transparency from MVWSD parent."

Really Flabbergasted, I'm not running for office. My point regarding Mr. Coladonato is simply that he says one thing and does another. Don't attack the messenger for speaking up.


Posted by Parent
a resident of Rex Manor
on Oct 5, 2014 at 1:20 pm

Dear "MVWSD Parent" you are correct. Greg upset parents at Stevenson.

He was asked to resign his vice chair position of Stevenson's foundation after he failed to act in the school's best interest.

He thought it just fine to suggest the MVWSD board move the school without seeking ANY comment or support from the school community.

Sad, that he saw no conflict of interest in his efforts to create a school for his neighborhood while holding the vice chair position on Stevenson's foundation.

He refused to acknowledge the conflict of interest or apologize for proposing the school be moved to HIS OWN neighborhood.

Now I fear his poor judgment skills may soon be available for us all to suffer under- should he be elected to serve at the district level.

I know these comments are going to open up a huge can of worms.

Greg seems like he has so much potential for Mountain View. He's got a great background, he presents well and be seems so capable. He has a dedicated following from his neighborhood - especially with his efforts to re-open a neighborhood school.

But residents should ask questions of him. And they should know that he's burned the trust of many for for his poor judgement and failing to recognize his wrongs at Stevenson this past year. The school community still deserves an apology.


Posted by Christopher Chiang
a resident of North Bayshore
on Oct 5, 2014 at 4:35 pm

@Parent, while I am not endorsing Mr. Coladonato or any other candidate for MVWSD, it is useful to be clear that it was I who initially explored the idea of Stevenson relocating on Whisman.

I truly believe that creativity requires a measure of risk and willingness to explore all options. When the Whisman community shared their desires for a neighborhood school, I began studying various solutions.

Each of the Whisman sites bring in $800,000 in revenue (Whisman-German/Yew & Slater-Google preschool). The loss of any lease not only places a sizable strain on our budget which is being pressed with: salary, pension, and instructional reform demands, it also displaces an existing community of children leasing with our district.

Other the Whisman-German/Yew site, quarks in the state ed code only allows all other properties to be leased to preschools. Parents of Stevenson are aware their school site needs major upgrades to be an adequate elementary school. They may or may not be aware that they also draw many highly engaged parent applicants for the adjacent Theuerkauf elementary. The initial appeal to me (not the board or district) of moving Stevenson (PACT) would be that it would allow Stevenson to be leased as a preschool as-is (no construction needed) to cover the opening of a brand new Whisman/PACT campus.

As I would with any issue of such impact, I then consulted with parent leaders and educators from Stevenson, whom all opposed the idea. This idea was then dropped. This is not an active idea at this moment (See May 1 Board Docs Web Link). Yet if parents are angry that such idea was even considered, then that anger should be with me, and not Mr. Coladonato regarding this matter.

Christopher Chiang
Mountain View Whisman School Board Trustee
Email: [email protected]

The views expressed herein are my own and do not necessarily represent the views of the Mountain View Whisman School District or the school board.


Posted by Ewww
a resident of Gemello
on Oct 5, 2014 at 6:00 pm

What kind of candidate doesn't list his endorsements? There is one in particular: Greg Coladonato. His website Web Link has some nice information, including position papers or questionnaire responses. Curiously, there are no listed endorsements. I will infer that that is because he doesn't want us to know that some of his supporters are quite controversial, like Steven Nelson, our censored MVWhisman trustee.

I don't think I want two Stephen Nelson's on the board, and therefore, Greg does not earn my vote.


Posted by Really flabbergasted
a resident of Whisman Station
on Oct 5, 2014 at 6:15 pm

Really ewwww.

" I will infer that that is because he doesn't want us to know that some of his supporters are quite controversial, like Steven Nelson, our censored MVWhisman trustee."

That's a silly statement. Some candidates don't list endorsements because that do t believe in them. I would be concerned if the endorsement list included special interest groups.

If you don't like Greg, don't vote for home, but stop the innuendo and silly objections .


Posted by Parent
a resident of Rex Manor
on Oct 5, 2014 at 6:38 pm

@Christopher Chiang

I appreciate your explanation and details provided above. I agree, it's important to consider all options for the district and my objections noted are not about the idea of relocating schools or re-opening campuses where neighborhood schools are needed. I fully support the democratic process and will continue to support an open dialog with all options for consideration.

My note above may need some clarification as my objection was that members of the Stevenson foundation have an obligation to represent the school's best interest, just as any PTA president. I personally feel that Greg should have recused himself from the specific obligations to Stevenson PRIOR to his presentations to the MVWSD.

Part of being on the school's foundation includes an obligation to avoid conflicts of interest (as well as any perceived conflicts of interest). I believe making a recommendation to change the school's location and it's enrollment policies is a direct conflict of interest, as either of those changes would have unfairly benefited Greg's neighborhood and severely effected the school and it's community.

I believe Greg is welcome to advocate for any ideas he sees fit to share with the community - including the need to reopen or create a neighborhood school.

But he cannot advocate freely, I believe, while holding the vice chair position at Stevenson.

It is his lack of judgement to not recuse himself prior to offering recommendations to the MVWSD board - as well as his unwillingness to recognize the conflict of interest - to which I object.

He did not demonstrate transparency, nor good judgement in this example and unfortunately, that shortcoming may have a long-lasting effect. I will be supporting other candidates for the board this election cycle as Greg has not demonstrated he is worthy of my trust.

With all due respect,
Parent.


Posted by Ewww
a resident of Gemello
on Oct 5, 2014 at 8:17 pm

@Really

It's not innuendo. Steven Nelson is a strong supporter and ideological ally. Don't believe me? Ask either one of them directly. I cannot condone that endorsement. Greg is wise not to list it, but he can't hide it.

The biggest difference between Greg and Steven is that Greg has slightly more decorum skills than Steven. But they think alike. And quite frankly, that scares the heck out of me.

I also think that @Parent has a sound argument about the conflict-of-interest.


Posted by New Trustees Needed!
a resident of another community
on Oct 5, 2014 at 9:39 pm

@Interested Observer, please provide some examples of when Ellen disagreed with the district office. I could be wrong, but my observation is she goes along with whatever the superintendent says.

Stevenson parents have their own foundation? And do they also receive money from MVEF?

In the meantime, amid all this controversy about Greg, I hope Hafsa Mirza will get your votes.


Posted by Really Flabbergasted
a resident of Whisman Station
on Oct 5, 2014 at 9:46 pm

You have no evidence to support your allegation and are just making it up.


Posted by Marcin Romaszewicz
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 6, 2014 at 9:26 am

You accuse Greg of being disingenuous and of shady associations with people you don't like, but you're all being disingenuous in making stuff up and then assuming that's the truth.

I know Greg personally, and I know that his motivations are good. I've got a child who will go to MVWSD when he's old enough, and it makes me happy to know that Greg is willing to put in the time to improve education in the school district. Honestly, I don't know how he's got the stomach for local politics, since politics on the local level seem to drag out so much bile. If you guys knew him, you'd understand that good education is very important to him, and he's doing this for the right reasons. He lives in the Whisman area so a school there is a big issue for him, but that doesn't mean he's going to sacrifice other schools for that, so please, don't even bother implying that.

If you have questions for Greg, email him, he's responsive. His contact info is here (Web Link). Just ask him about endorsements, schools, whatever. He's a huge proponent of open government, films every meeting he attends and posts it to youtube, and wants to open up the decision making in MVWSD like that as well. He's got my full support, and I'd encourage others to visit his site and read about why he's running.


Posted by Angel
a resident of Gemello
on Oct 6, 2014 at 1:25 pm

Angel is a registered user.

I'm interested in knowing if Steven Nelson is supporting Greg (and in what capacity).

They both comment on Townsquare frequently, so here is the chance to respond! If Greg isn't accepting endorsements, then clearly this is a softball...both will deny it.

@Marcin...you wrote:
you know Greg personally (a testimonial!!)
that Greg is willing to put in the time to improve the school district (aren't all candidates willing to do that?)
that Greg is doing this for the right reasons (I'm happy he's not doing it for the wrong reasons!)
a good education is important to Greg (I'm sure that's true for EVERYONE)
that we should email Greg.

I am asking Greg to reply right here on Townsquare:
Greg, do you ideologically align with Trustee Steven Nelson? Do you ever take council with him? Has he walked a precinct with or for you? Has he contributed money to your campaign (even if it's below the reporting threshold)? Have you ever walked a precinct for him (when he was running 2 years ago)? Did you send him money during his campaign? Do you think the board was right in censuring him? If not, why not?
Thank you in advance for responding to everybody at the same time.


Posted by Angel
a resident of Gemello
on Oct 7, 2014 at 11:45 pm

Angel is a registered user.

Greg? Your silence is telling.


Posted by Angel
a resident of Gemello
on Oct 16, 2014 at 8:30 am

Angel is a registered user.

Confirmed: Greg supported Steven Nelson. Steven Nelson is supporting Greg.
We missed a chance to run a recall against Nelson this election cycle. If you want to see what it looks like to have a "tea party" like school board, elect Greg. He, along with Steve will muck up things something fierce. I fear for our children's education.


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