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Despite criticism, Mountain View Whisman school board approves $1.2M home loan for superintendent

Original post made on Jul 6, 2020

Mountain View Whisman School District Superintendent Ayinde Rudolph will get a $1.2 million low-interest loan from the school district to purchase a house in the area, despite opposition from over 1,000 people who signed a petition.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, July 6, 2020, 1:42 PM

Comments (65)

Posted by Support MV
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jul 6, 2020 at 2:15 pm

Yes some parents were upset about the loan, but many others who mostly remained silent are in support. Everyone knows how expensive housing is now in our community. If we are to attract and retain quality leadership, we need to support their efforts to set down roots in the community. A home loan for someone at Superintendent Rudolph's level is not unusual in high cost areas. People can debate various school district decisions but overall the leadership recently has been at a higher level than in years past, including the incredibly difficult work to adapt to the coronavirus pandemic. Also, would this be the right time for a change in leadership with all the disruption of ongoing plans that entails? Of course no one is perfect, but sometimes it seems like people just want to get upset and complain, when perhaps they could focus their efforts in more productive ways.

Posted by District observer
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jul 6, 2020 at 2:29 pm

I would not have a problem with a loan for a superintendent who was doing a good job - Rudolph is not. He is a bully who leads by fear and retaliation. Many of his employees are scared of him. That's not a leader who deserves such a large perk that other lesser paid employees are not offered. Props to Gutierrez for at least listening to his constituents unlike the others.

Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 6, 2020 at 2:29 pm

MVWSD Reserves -$1.2 M either in County Pool or (now) a Superintendent private mortgage

The Reserves of the MVWSD are now almost completely in unallocated General Fund deposits held by the County Treasurer.

Web Link

How much does the MVWSD loose by holding a private mortgage rather than a “pooled” investment? It is almost a wash, very little difference! If you study the Santa Clara County fiscal report above, you will see that the county pool fund is yielding about 1.8% (and falling from 2.22% in July 2019).

Although a mortgage is not a liquid asset like the County pool - it will turn over when the current Superintendent leaves. You might (as I do) think of it as ‘the very last extra reserve asset’ of the MVWSD, if there should be a dire drawdown of the +$20 M Reserves that now exist.

Two of the former Trustees of the MVWSD, who hired Superintendent Rudolph, (Nelson and Chiang) think that with ‘teacher subsidized rental apartment housing’ now under contract, this type of housing assistance for the Chief is not crazy (either fiscally or recruitment/retention wise). In our opinion this is important for ‘the top administrator’ if we wish to recruit nationally, or even from other areas of California!

Further (if you must!):
County Pool investments are not “insured”. In San Mateo County several school districts lost combined millions, Reserves and school Bond money, by the misadventures and mismanagement of the San Mateo County Treasurer (in the Great Recession investment bank failures). In my opinion, a well written mortgage instrument is no more risky than local County Pools have proven to be over the last quarter century.

Posted by Community Stakeholder
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 6, 2020 at 2:34 pm

Well, since we are keeping up with the "Palo Alto" numbers for the Superintendent's compensation, then MVWSD MUST pay the teachers Palo Alto equivalent salaries, especially when you are asking them to take their life in their hands to come back to work!!! Anything less than adjusting the salary schedule to reflect Palo Alto's teacher salaries, is unacceptable, based on the board's current logic in this situation.

Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 6, 2020 at 2:43 pm

The Brown Act ignorance of the Bd. Members is 'astounding'. First, I had to warn of (my) pending legal action if this public contract issue was not disclosed in writing in the meeting Agenda materials (last Monday morning). Second, contract negotiation "may" be in Closed Session, not must. And after the last negotiating session (when the contracts appear to have been finalized, but not "acted" upon) Wilson, the Bd. President could have announced the results of the negotiations after the Closed Session.

If this reminds you of some California Police Dept. "transparency" practices, or some Federal Gov. cabinet agency current practices ... YOU KNOW how to change! (U need to Vote)

Posted by Sloane P.
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 6, 2020 at 2:56 pm

I don't get this. Why can't the superintendent get a loan with a salary like that? Interest rates are extremely low so what's the sweetheart deal he's getting? You'd think at a time like this someone who styles himself as a voice for equity would think twice about putting his hand out to the district.

Posted by Community Minded
a resident of another community
on Jul 6, 2020 at 3:11 pm

Good job, MVWSD Board! With the high cost of housing here, this housing loan is a reasonable use of funds to make possible retaining the administrator you want, to secure capable, long-term leadership for the district. It’s very disruptive to learning for children, and expensive in its own way, for district leadership to change over every few years, as happened before.

Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 6, 2020 at 3:33 pm

Superintendents are different. The past MVLA one did not thing these type of 'special benefits' should be given to the Chief, if not available to all others. He was willing to rent (and stayed 5 years). PAUSD has generally offered similar 'special benefits". When I talked to Dr. Skelly/ former PAUSD/ interim MVWSD / current Superintendent of San Mateo Union High School District, he expressed that this 'was important'. (He had one from PAUSD and did not get one when he moved)

The City of MV does do this, for instance for the current City Clerk (I think), who replaced one who had lived in this [high priced] area for decades.

@"Why can't": if a Super has $280K income then 5X that (assuming 20% down saved) is a $1.4 M home. Max. ? $1.2M + $1.4M would be $2.6M for a family. Not totally unreasonable - Blakely & Wison's residences are over this (Zillow estimates) and Conley's is close (as is my own single family home in Cuesta Park area).

Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 6, 2020 at 3:39 pm

Error, my. Wheeler not Wilson.

Wilson owns a small condo and Gutierrez is a long-time renter (as are many residents). Wheeler's home is estimated near $3 M (plus or minus and depends on the month!)

Posted by Fed up with the MVWSD board
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jul 6, 2020 at 3:43 pm

@Community Minded

It's a lot more disruptive when principals change every few years, which has been the norm with this board and superintendent.

Posted by B Rose
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jul 6, 2020 at 4:02 pm

I really can't believe this. So many people here in Mountain View are struggling to make ends meet and the Whisman School District board members are giving him a 1.2 million dollar loan for a home!! Shoot, maybe residents in Mountain View should start running for these jobs, as well as in the City Council. It truly amazes me. It is no wonder there are so many homes up for sale and families moving out of the State. Mountain View is getting too big for its britches!

Posted by Jenny
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jul 6, 2020 at 4:05 pm

Please don't read this article and think that Jose Gutierrez was truly listening to the public. He acknowledged that he agreed with the other board members on providing a loan, and he only voted no because he knew there were enough votes to pass without his. This is a naked grab for sympathy from the public he claims to be representing, but it seems much more like an attempt to curry favor with residents before his campaign this fall.

Posted by MVWSD
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jul 6, 2020 at 5:14 pm

The school district took 5 weeks to get distance learning going when COVID struck. Other districts across the state and country took a much less time. Private schools went distance learning within a matter of days. The elected school board claims how great of a job both they and the superintendent are doing. There were 1000 people who signed a petition urging them to vote NO (within 24 hours of knowing this item would be on the agenda) and the board still voted YES. Does the school board realize less than 5000 people voted on measure M in the last election? There are already 1000 people who likely will vote them out this fall. By offering a $1.2m loan to a single employee, they are putting themselves in a difficult position for future budget discussions. How do you think it's going to go over when they tell the teachers union they can't afford to pay teachers more? How do you think the parents will feel when they say we can't afford to install proper air purification in your child's classroom? I wouldn't be surprised if the superintendent refuses the loan and goes to a bank/credit union like the rest of the population so that he can take the higher moral ground. Btw, Jose Gutierrez NO vote was just spineless and a safe vote. He didn't even have the decency to vote what he believes (which he stated right after making the vote). This guy is not someone you want in city council this fall representing you. The board meeting is posted to the public on the districts webpage if you would like to listen to it and form your own opinion.

Posted by We feel your pain
a resident of another community
on Jul 6, 2020 at 5:14 pm

I’m feeling a little better now about our district’s musical superintendents, which began when the then superintendent both falsified/forged loan documents for a school remodel and embezzled half a million for his own home remodel.

Posted by Mainini
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jul 6, 2020 at 5:19 pm

Thank you for covering this topic, Kevin. This article is well written and a fair assessment of what occurred regarding this issue. My takeaway is that the Board of Trustees handled this item with poor governance. Based on their decision to vote without proper public outreach or vetting, the Board made an assumption that community members don’t need to have a say regarding a $1.2m home loan coming out of our public fund reserves (which they are comfortable replenishing with bond funds). Their decision reckless during this pandemic. I have a lot of opinions on this matter- but most important is that there should be MORE resources allocated to support our teachers and school staff during this pandemic. If they want to think outside the box about something- I prefer that they focus on that. I was really surprised to learn that there were many people who cared about this item and actually took action to sign the petition. The first comment on this thread stated that many people who were silent supported this decision. I think that statement is dangerous and probably a similar justification that some County jurisdictions use when carrying out voter suppression tactics.

Posted by Philip Shortz
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 6, 2020 at 5:26 pm

I think this is disgraceful My father Guy Richard shortz was the whisman school board president back in 1990 for 5 years his salary was like $60 a meeting and the schools were in such bad shape he put our own home as collateral so he could get a loan to spent on advertising a proposition which increased district income from homeowners which eventually had Crittenden middle School rebuilt and the gymnasium built My point is as he was dedicated to the children even put his own money and our families house at risk because he saw a vision of a better future for the children and the wisdom school district. He was a true leader unfortunately he died of brain cancer in 1997 resigning from the school board if you don't believe me go inside the Crittenden gymnasium there's a plaque on the wall with his name on it.

Posted by Driverless Education Board
a resident of The Crossings
on Jul 6, 2020 at 5:59 pm

To be this tone deaf in this political climate is truly amazing. That this board thought they could write a $1.2M check without any community input goes against representation for taxation. Whether you like the guy or not, the cold hard facts are that he's not going to be around too terribly long. Interest rates are currently low, so why does the Board need to tie up this capital? The Supe can get his own loan or better yet, rent, like the rest of his constituents. He should be working so hard that he doesn't have time to be hosting garden parties and sprucing up his manor. We have so many issues to deal with here in this District and this guy is off on Zillow, doing some VR open house tours, and now got 50 real estate agents spamming him. Uh, how about a little more energy into the fall school re-opening. Is he done with that? Feeling pretty good about himself so he's off picking paint colors, vanity fixtures, and landscaping designs?

Posted by SP Phil
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jul 6, 2020 at 6:03 pm

I think the decision to allocate $1.2 million loan is a sound one, for the reasons explained in the article and further explained in comments.

What concerns me is the fact that Jose Gutierrez said he supported the $1.2 home loan but nevertheless he cast a "symbolic no" vote against the contract, to symbolize his response to the concerns of petition-signers.

I don't believe in "symbolic votes"--the options are Yes and No, and to vote in a way you disagree with is a contradition of the responsibility of elected officials.

Vote Yes or No and be willing to stand by your vote.

Posted by Keeping it Real Folks
a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on Jul 6, 2020 at 6:13 pm

@Driverless Education Board- First of all, everyone has the right to keep their homes nice, comfy, and updated - whether rented or not. I DO agree with you that the MVWSD Board's behavior and method of handling this large ticket item was counter to the role they have taken on as elected officials. Either they don't know Brown Act and their responsibilities to the public, or they do -- and they chose to wiggle around both to get this vote through without uncomfortable discussions with the public.

Posted by @mainini
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 6, 2020 at 6:15 pm


You say: "The first comment on this thread stated that many people who were silent supported this decision. I think that statement is dangerous and probably a similar justification that some County jurisdictions use when carrying out voter suppression tactics."

How DARE you accuse other parents that!! This makes me so mad. Just like you, every other votes has a right to an opinion and comment. YOU certainly have a lot of opinions. And for you to say that for another parent to say there is a "silent majority" who doesn't agree with "is dangerous and is voter suppression" is insulting and bullying to the rest of the 9,000 folks who DID NOT sign your petition. (10,000 parents in the district).

The info in your petition was ONE SIDED. And people signed it before they got more info from the other side at the board meeting. If you had listed both pros and cons AND both sides AND full info on your petition, then you would have gotten *much fewer* votes. People would have the full context, rationale to make up their minds. The way you and your co-sponsor who wrote it (who has many an experience in petitions who ruin it for all others), anyone could have signed it without knowing the full info and rationale. You didn't even wait until the board meeting to get all the info - you just charged ahead with your mind made up.

[Portion removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]

Posted by Long time parent
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 6, 2020 at 6:19 pm

I agree with the poster that T. Guiteriez should have stuck true to his guts and voted YES since that was the right thing to do. He got bullied by the petitioners and the screaming Karens.

Posted by Mtv
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Jul 6, 2020 at 6:36 pm

The person above who called mainini a karen is just being rude and inflammatory.

Not really sure how offering up a voluntary petition to delay a vote on a surprise $1.2m loan is a Karen move. It even dilutes the meaning of what a real Karen is. A Karen is not someone who thinks $1.2m should be spent on teachers vs a single employee of the district.

It’s inspiring when people get involved in a democracy and yet you spend your time trolling online.

Posted by A district parent
a resident of Gemello
on Jul 6, 2020 at 7:05 pm

This was the right choice. We don’t need a revolving chair for this important role. It was fiscally prudent and shows that the current supe is planning to stay, which should be helpful in future difficult conversations with staff and teachers. Thank you to the school board for voting in the best interest of our children and not getting swept up by the emotion of some outspoken parents.

Posted by @Mainini and @MTv
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 6, 2020 at 7:24 pm

Rude and inflammatory? You want to see rude and inflammatory?!? All, please read the comments on the the nasty and negative comments MVWSD open community Facebook page. Its the most rude, inflammatory, half-baked, one-sided misinformation, outright lies, twisting of facts, close-minded thinking and just good 'ol making s--t up that has come to characterize the populist movement nowadays. Just read it and see for yourself. Also some F-words sprinkled in there as well for fun. Not rude at all. Heck, Trump supporters are "involved in democracy" too and we know how that turned out.

So glad that our elected board did the right thing and thought about ALL the constituents and did their duty to carry out the duty to the best of their ability after looking at data and info that they had. That is their job. Not to kowtow to a bunch of bullies on petitions and Facebook. One of the trustees also said that there were some "very nasty comments" that had racial undertones. Now who's rude and inflammatory?!? In the middle of liberal silicon valley in the middle of BLM movement! It makes me sick to my stomach. Our children are watching.

Posted by Short Sighted
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jul 6, 2020 at 7:30 pm

This action by the board does not bode well for the relationship with the teacher's union and other support staff. MVWSD has progressively become top heavy with disproportionately high salaries and consultant fees for job coaching in the district office.

Teachers spend their own money on basic supplies for their classrooms, get paid very little, and are going to be frontline workers come this school year. They should be getting hazard pay. They should be supported with additional support staff like nurses and counselors. This is what the reserve money should be used for.

Teachers' unions across the state and country are considering work action to be taken. Teachers are considering early retirement or leaving the profession. Teachers (and ultimately students) is where the money should be going.

All the people saying that this loan is about supporting educators haven't been paying attention. They are just assuaging their own guilt for their personal privilege with this pseudo progressiveness. This includes the board members.

Posted by Standing Ovation
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 6, 2020 at 7:58 pm

"The 4-1 decision was deeply criticized by parents and district residents, who slammed the decision as an inappropriate use of taxpayer funds that were meant to pay for student services." This seems to be a common headline for this superintendent, district and board over the years. And here they go again. Let's just sink money into a home loan in the middle of a national economic crisis. Brilliant. Sheer genius.

The Board Member comments are insane.

Board president Wilson says she strongly believes in Dr. Rudolph's leadership, and this really commits him to our community. The problem is everyone know he is arrogant, rude and bully behind closed doors. He has chased away numerous quality administrator and teachers and left the district with a reputation of a place to avoid. Clearly Wilson needs to reconcile with what commitment really is and means. The ones that were driven away weren't here for money and home loans, so spare us your nonsense.

"We are very pleased that Ayinde has stated many times to us that he wants to stay in our district for a long time," Wheeler said. "His experience in these extraordinarily complex times is highly valuable to the success of our school district. If he left, it would be very difficult find someone who could show the skill set Ayinde has developed over the years." Wheeler is off her rocker. It almost sounds as if she's been blackmailed. She should seriously just step down. She's presided over years of turmoil and chaos in the district. She is very much part of the reason it is difficult to find someone. Furthermore, Ayinde brought bare minimum experience to the job. He was a never a superintendent before coming to MV. He led one-school district back East. As far as how Rudolph has done in these extraordinary and complex times, just reference other articles on his tenure and the balance is hardly a sign of success or brilliance. If anything it's been one of chaos and failure.

And wow. Just wow. According to Conley, "If we do not offer an employer-assisted housing benefit to future superintendents, we will only get people who are independently wealthy," Conley said. "They will not understand the needs of our students or the concerns of our teachers and staff." So try that kind of logic and calculus at any company in SV. You'll be laughed out the door. No wonder we're hitting rock bottom. I guess the notion that some people work hard and earn their way along is just anathema to Conley. Let's just break down societal values along with the schools.

And Gutierrez, well he is the biggest joke of all. He agrees with the loan, but casts a symbolic vote against. What a joke of a politician. At least we can all be grateful that he just destroyed any chance of getting elected to city council with such a foolish ploy.

Lastly comparisons to other districts is a joke. Palo Alto is a unified district with 19 schools. MV has half that amount. And oh yeah, Palo Alto learned their lesson about home loans.

Posted by Bill
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jul 6, 2020 at 7:59 pm

This is a really bad idea. We need to get money for teachers and help them. This guy simply does not deserve special treatment. I am very sorry to say this but this is an example of why we do not trust local governments to do the right thing for the people like teachers that need more pay for their work in our neighborhood. I want better teachers and not overpaid admins with special financial benefits.

Posted by Gary
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jul 6, 2020 at 8:08 pm

Three of 5 school board members have their terms expire this year. Candidates are needed. The deadline for filing is early August. Board members - like city councilmembers and maybe an occasional reporter should learn a little about what the Brown Act requires. Hiding the proposed contract from the public - the plan announced by the original agenda - would have violated the Brown Act. Why? Because the public is entitled to see non-privileged materials given to the board and needs to see the precise proposed action to comment on it before the contract amendment is approved. The proposed contract amendment presented with the agenda materials (following the complaint by Steve Nelson) called for the loan on a specific house with the purchase agreement attached as an exhibit. But no purchase agreement was ever attached. The comment made at the meeting was that no house had yet been selected by the Superintendent. The motion to approve the contract amendment made no sense without the purchase agreement. The token or symbolic "no" vote by trustee Jose Gutierrez was just plain silly. Superintendents commonly demand more and more ever year like NFL quarterbacks. Maybe some candidates will propose to add a large boat to the superintendent's compensation package next spring. Living in the county will not be necessary with schools operating remotely. The Superintendent could call in from his favorite lake.

Posted by Long time parent
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 6, 2020 at 8:20 pm

With data do you say that teachers don't like him? Under him the teacher retention rate has impressively gone up every year. Yea, nothing says teachers don't like the leadership like teachers staying on in the district greater in numbers than ever before. I love the logic.

Under him, they have subsidized housing, greater pay increases, landed program to help with buying first house. And schools are not like SV companies - you don't want elitist leaders who are independently wealthy with spouses who are raked it in with startups going public ( the petitioners).

The superintendant leads a district that employees 500+ people. If the district was an SV company, then he would be making not only a bigger salary, but have a car allowance, multiple perks, not to mention a ton of bonuses, free food and stock options. We gotta invest in our education and value our teachers, principals and yes, superintendants. Put our money where our mouth is. I'm glad our teachers got great raises and subsidized housing, etc., and our supe is being supported since he is not married to some startup techie who hit it big or a well-paid google employee and two high-income households, and that teachers are looking to stay on in our district longer as the numbers prove. Some of these same naysayers opposed the teacher raises or more money for schools!! Go figure.

Posted by Long time parent
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 6, 2020 at 8:36 pm

Posters above says:

"No wonder we're hitting rock bottom."

"everyone know he is arrogant, rude and bully behind closed doors."

"left the district with a reputation of a place to avoid"

So I guess that must be why we have rising test scores, rising teacher retention rates and rising enrollment. Lol. Love the logic.

Posted by Great job
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 6, 2020 at 8:42 pm

Is this the same superintendent we had during the construction and opening of Vargas School? Usually being good at setting up new schools is one thing we would expect from a superintendent and school district. Because of a failure to project manage, the new school did not have a PG&E hookup at the start of the year. Most district parents (outside of those at Vargas) and the public don't know that this whole fiasco wasn't resolved until the week school was letting out for December break. Everyone knows the incompetence of PG&E and a good administrator would have kept this in mind during the *years* they had for construction. As far as I know that meant an expensive gas generator had to be run (paid for out of reserves) and the school had no refrigeration and no use of the second floor.
To compound the issues with the opening of the school, the superintendent's personal pick (someone they had worked with at Charlotte-Mecklenburg) hired to be principal resigned before the school year started. Good times.

That's just one example of the stellar performance of this superintendent and really the school board. Please remember this come election time.

Posted by CFrink
a resident of Willowgate
on Jul 6, 2020 at 10:24 pm

This message board never disappoints. Nice job MVWSD Board listening to the voices who wanted to speak and then doing the work you were elected to do. Forward.

Posted by Member
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 6, 2020 at 11:10 pm

Oh the irony of the privileged saying that only the independently wealthy would be Superintendent? Yes well only the especially privileged would think nothing of a $1.2M loan when people are losing their jobs and 30% of students in this district qualify for free or reduced price lunch. Probably that number will go up.

Most of the students in the district live in rentals, even those whose parents are tech workers. Most of these people (if any?) aren't getting their housing subsidized by their employers. MVWSD board members stop projecting your privilege and affluence onto others.

I guess Mountain View is getting more rarefied, because it used to be half the students getting free and reduced priced lunch. Maybe the demographic shift tracks with the rising test scores.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 6, 2020 at 11:39 pm

I like Jose Gutierrez's thinking here. Next time he and his colleagues are on the ballot, I'll make a point of voting against them--just to show this is not a sham process, this is democracy.

Posted by Will the Real Slim Shady...
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jul 7, 2020 at 9:05 am

@@Mainini, it's sad to see someone attack 1000+ signers who are:

1. Not stupid enough to just sign something
2. Questioning the Board's adherence to guidelines for transparency regarding public funds

Of course, that would assume you actually read the objections and not just the headlines. But it’s normal these days to get inflamed by a headline and attack, isn’t it?

The point was that none of the information was made available to the public prior to the meeting, but the item was up for vote. Isn't it the Board's responsibility to discuss any cost/benefit analysis, pros and cons, and address and anticipate public questions before voting? But it's easier for you to delegate that to members of the public since the Board didn't do it.

From your yelling tone of “HOW DARE YOU” you are embodying the definition of the demeaning term you used to attack Mainini. Are you screaming because 1000+ supporters of transparency and accountability exercised their right to request clarification before the vote on a $1.2M budget item?

So now, will the real Slim Shady please stand up?

Posted by Standing Ovation
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 7, 2020 at 9:40 am

Very telling that while other school boards around us, like in Los Altos and Palo Alto are holding 1-2 board meeting a week with hundreds of parents attending on line, Mountain View holds 1-2 a month to give raises and home loans.

Raises and home loans during a global pandemic and economic crisis!! They are complete morons.

Why aren't they meeting feverishly to plan for the many contingencies that will be upon us this coming school year?!? It's already been reported that Mountain View was caught flat footed and has performed dismally in delivering instruction during the first months of the pandemic, all while the board has been pushing through several rounds of raises. And I'm sorry but neither school district personnel or Board Members are qualified to speak on how they are assured or can assure the public that there will be little to no economic impact or fiscal crisis related to all this or the raises and loans they have suddenly found the energy to dole out.

Posted by Time to Go Rudolph
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jul 7, 2020 at 9:50 am

As Will the Real Slim Shady talks about above, there are several points:

!) This was pushed through at a meeting in July when a lot of community members are not tuned in.
2) The first version of the agenda that was created and published on the webpage by the superintendent's office didn't have any attachment of the contract or the amendment, which is a violation of the Brown Act.
3) Many people probably didn't see that because the agenda was not distributed through the email list that is for that purpose.
4) After it was pointed out that this was a violation, the agenda was revised with the attachments included and that is when it was sent to the email group.

These all point to a poor job by the superintendent, which is what a lot of people are concerned about. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to not do your job and still get rewarded with a big, fat perk like this? That's not the norm at my place of employment for sure.

Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 7, 2020 at 12:27 pm

Hey poster above - love your revisionist history. Actually, NO it was NOT just "supporters of transparency and accountability exercised their right to request clarification before the vote".

In summary the petition said (verbatim):
We demand that you vote “No” on this First Amendment language that gives a $1.2 million home loan, a fringe benefit to the Superintendent. This loan does not benefit students or staff in this global crisis. Please represent us appropriately and exercise your responsibility to the public by voting against this loan.
Mainini Cabute
Prem Andrzejek

That is why 90% of parents did NOT sign it. We don't want these two and other likes these two running their schools via populist petitions (done it before) and running their superintendent out of town during a global crisis.

Posted by Parenting in Pandemic
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 7, 2020 at 2:14 pm

I love the fundamental attribution error of someone who *knows* why 90% of parents didn't sign the petition. Are you sure about that number?

The vote was right before a 4 day long weekend (for some), there wasn't a long run up to the vote, many parents didn't know about the petition, and we're in the middle of a SIP order that the county and state can't agree on. It's funny how the "yes" side seems to not get how privileged they are to be to able to even know about such petitions in the first place and have these discussions, which are mostly the same 10 people posting on 2 Facebook groups, while being aghast that the ignorant uninformed plebs post on MV Voice. If we're so uninformed, why aren't the board, the school district, and all the yes people enlightening us with their higher knowledge and superior reasoning. If you're reasons are good, I'm sure you can convince us.

While we're at it hey district parents and school district, why don't you stop assuming that only parents care and that notices of action only have to be sent to parents of students. I'm pretty sure the majority of property tax paying people within the district don't have children in MVWSD schools. And many of the parents in the schools don't even understand how the school district is funded. BTW it's a Basic Aid district. You can "Google" that.

The school board acts like it's totally abnormal for them to discuss employee contracts with the public. Well maybe that's a mistake that should be rectified.

I'm sorry a true democracy is so messy for you.

Posted by Question
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 7, 2020 at 2:35 pm

Does anyone know how many public employees in the city of Mountain View get low interest loans using public funds to buy houses in the city. Is this common?

Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 7, 2020 at 4:42 pm

Local Gov backed loan: City Clerk got one (I think this was a new position to get one)

The issue of transparency is a real problem with Rudolph and Bd. President Wilson (as it was when Wheeler was Bd. President). I complained of the Brown Act violation on the Monday morning before the meeting - so that the Bd. would have time to correct (72 hr before the evening Thursday meeting.). The fact that they (the Super and the President) chose to keep this negotiation topic secret (it "may" be disclosed in Open Session) ... IMO this is par for the course. The fact that the first posting of their July 2 Regular Meeting was in clear violation of Brown? (CFrink - what say U to that?)

Peace and Love

Posted by Gary
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jul 7, 2020 at 5:45 pm

The petition did something. It got board-member and city council candidate Jose Gutierrez to say he was on BOTH SIDES. He was for the contract amendment but voted "no" with no effect on the outcome so he could say he voted "no" to opponents. Now that is a politician - of a sort. Donald Trump would have done the very same thing!

Posted by Long time parent
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 7, 2020 at 5:53 pm

That Steve Nelson signs off with "peace and love" is quite the hoot. And I love that he caused so much destruction and chaos and still continues to fancy himself as the arbiter of good governance. Swell. For some of parents who may not know much about him, Below is a primer.

That this board is functional and can work together is a good thing. That it can work with the District is a good thing. That they all can work together to get teacher raises, housing, help with mortgages and highest teacher retention rates, higher scores, is a GOOD thing!

Do you all really want to go back to the way things were 6-7 years ago?!? Prior to Rudolph, there were 6 supes in 12 years. Check out some of these headline if you are feeling nostalgic for the good old days.

** Trustee’s resignation focuses on board misbehavior Web Link
June 17, 2015 - School board President Chris Chiang’s decision to resign and work to recall a fellow trustee has thrown the Mountain View-Whisman School District community into a maelstorm. "...he said trustee Steven Nelson “insulted and harassed district staff, teachers and members of the public....”

** Superintendent resigns
Board OKs $227K pay-out for Craig Goldman after Dec. 31 departure
Web Link
"The board has been criticized for the dysfunctional and, at times, hostile relations between board member Steven Nelson and district staff, as well as his fellow trustees, leading the board to censure Nelson late last year. Tensions between Nelson and Goldman ran particularly high at times. (BTW - Chris Chiang was on the board and even the president of the board around this time - wow, impressive leadership, Chris.)
The district also recently emerged from a polarizing battle with its teachers union over salaries, and Goldman was criticized for his role in contract negotiations that led to widespread support for teachers from parents and students who packed district meetings this fall.
The resignation agreement includes a lump sum payment equivalent to 12 months' salary by no later than the end of January, as well as medical benefits for one year...The lump sum payment, according to Goldman's 2014-15 annual salary, will be $227,027"

Good times. Keep it up, Steve-O!

Not to mention the other one, Chris Chiang who is all over social media giving his awesome unsolicited advice on a near daily basis. You both are off the board, people elected new representation, maybe finally time to let go??

PS, Steve and Chris - did either you or Chris Chiang OK the $227K payout for Goldman? If so, why don't you guys be "transparent" and finally tell us what the quarter of a million dollars of our tax dollars was for?? Then maybe you both can talk about transparency and good governance. :-)

Posted by Just think of Super-Intending Money Grub During Zoom Schooling
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 7, 2020 at 7:24 pm

Count from 1.2 million backwards to zero when you, as a parent, are exhausted homeschooling your kid, because Rudolph's leadership and vision has left your child done for the day after 2 hours of Zoom education this fall. While you're struggling to juggle a career and provide educational support for your children at home because the District bungled some Hybrid Return to School program and our esteemed teacher's union put hand brakes on what our teachers can or can not do in this new world order for pedagogical best practices, just think of Rudolph the Red Nosed Money Grub. While your kid is in school recess on your iPad, rest assured that Rudolph will be having the Board over to his new backyard for afternoon cocktails - BYOB!

Posted by Such lovely parents
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 7, 2020 at 7:36 pm

Wow, @just think...

Such zen positivity and sound reasoning skills. I wish we had more parents like you in this in our district to anonymously make fun of, name call and disrespect our teachers and hardworking district and school staff. Maybe to run project cornerstone. You must be a really great role model to your kids.

No wonder we ended up with Mr. Trump running this place.

a fan

Posted by But a Pittance
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 7, 2020 at 7:53 pm

$227K is chump change to this board and supe. It's standard in California for school districts to have to payout superintendents, so much so that California passed legislation to cap these severance payouts to 12mos from 18mo of salary. That was in 2015.

I'm pretty sure if you look at any year, you'll find outside consultant fees total well in excess of that.

In 2019 MVWSD paid the CBO $200K salary plus $95K to keep the interim CBO, because they made the Stevenson principal Rebecca Westover CBO.
How much did the Rudolph's coaching cost this district? No really, not a rhetorical question.
How much did they pay for the gas generator at Vargas? Guessing $35K times 5 months = $175K.

The Teach to One cost almost $500K. Web Link

$227K is but a Pittance.

Posted by Gary
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jul 7, 2020 at 8:25 pm

In defense of the Superintendent, his position might be the most vulnerable in the district. The next board of trustees might send him packing. For good cause, he will receive no severance. As to not having a purchase contract for a house yet, this is a bad time to buy. In a few months, owners around here might well begin to panic as the virus remains and the economy cannot "re-open." Better to wait. That $1.2 million might just be the only mortgage.

Posted by Old School
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Jul 7, 2020 at 9:08 pm

Let me get this straight, we don’t know if kids will return to school and teachers union is okay with shut down. Yet this District is okay giving a million dollar loan!?!!?
Please explain why this is okay!!

Posted by @But a Pittance
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 7, 2020 at 9:48 pm

[Portion removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]

It says...
"The good news is that the district won't be on the hook for the full $478,000 in fees for Teach to One. Following a closed session meeting Tuesday, Feb. 28, the board voted 4-1, with Greg Coladonato opposed, to finally approve a contract with Teach to One that shaved the total bill down to $149,000."

Not exactly the $500,000 you state above, is it?

*Perfect* example of why [Portion removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]
parents should not be dictating district policy.

Glad you think $227K is but a pittance.

Posted by @@But a Pittance
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 7, 2020 at 10:05 pm

And you have no problem with the part where district administrators have no problem implementing such a program without the approval of the board?

Regardless of if they paid that amount, the key takeaway is the cavalier way the administrators and the board seem to think it's no big deal to spend the public money.

If you have all the answers, how much has the district had to spend on coaching the superintendent over the past 5-6 years?

Posted by In Fun News!
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jul 7, 2020 at 10:14 pm

Numbers to look up and think about for fun!

Check out the mortgage rate today!
What was the rate of the loan?
What's the interest rate on Measure T?

Posted by Sally
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jul 7, 2020 at 10:17 pm

This money should've gone to teachers and principals, for small loans to purchase housing. Not for someone who makes >$280K. [[Why cant he afford a regular loan? He couldve saved the 20% down-payment on a $1.4 million house by saving only 20% salary for 5 years = $280K. Why couldn't he save enough after five years with such a huge salary?]] I have a masters in science and work in the pharmaceutical industry, considered to have a great job, however I had to scrimp/save for many years to purchase my townhouse in 2001, it was built in the 70s, still has original appliances, counters etc, but i purchased it on my own! *** My daughter's principal has just resigned from her elementary school, and this loan SHOULD be used to attract a new excellent principal, one to stay for many years. ***

Posted by @@@But a Pittance
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 7, 2020 at 10:45 pm

No, the key takeaway is that posters on this board need to be *seriously* fact checked.

Sleep tight :-)

Posted by Christopher Chiang
a resident of North Bayshore
on Jul 7, 2020 at 10:45 pm

Why when we speak of concerns of the current school board, issues five years ago are brought up? Ultimately, (@Longtimeparent) you have every right to say what you wish, as Mr. Nelson and I do as well.

I stand by how I served on the board. I led the implementation of YouTube board meeting streaming and digital agendas, both have transformed public access. I responded to every public and press inquiry into the outgoing superintendent's severance with the best information I had.

As board president, I could not speak of my personal opinions at that time, so I shared what little the board would agree on, which is that the superintendent waived all claims to any potential grievances.

Not representing the board, I can share that I would still vote for that severance again. My personal opinion:
-The past superintendent was a great principal. He opened Huff and grew it into a thriving community.
-He supported the development of the principals so that every school site had leaders that were known community anchors.
-He saved far more money than the severance cost in pro-bono legal work and avoidance of excess spending on things like a new boardroom with a $200,000 audio system. Web Link

Let that sink in that the current board approved an audio setup for their board room that is the same cost as the severance for an educator who dedicated his career to leading MVWSD.

I had strong disagreements with the past superintendent over teacher compensation and would vote again for his departure, on that issue alone, but he deserved a departure worthy of his years of service, and it was a failing of my leadership to not provide the community that celebratory transition.

In my three years on the board, I was always respectful and most importantly, inclusive. I met with every group having concerns with the district, whether it be reopening Slater, school land tenants, or the teachers union to listen and learn. I never ignored those who disagreed with me or the district. If you were around back then, point out where I failed to do that job in a respectful and inclusive manner. I do not believe the current board has the same openness.

Back to the present, the current superintendent should be praised for raising teacher salaries. Spending money is not a hard thing to do, and the current superintendent was right to spend it on the teachers.

The failing is with the current board for not being a community check on the superintendent and public spending.
-Why did the current board approve a contract for management of the $259 million dollar bond in 5 minutes with no second bid or presentation from the first bidder (the second bid dropped out, but the size of this contract warranted further RFPs).
-Why did the board approve a million-dollar loan without making time for the public engagement that the public sought?

The current board never admits its mistakes. The current board does not admit they said to the public COP (borrowing on lease revenue) would be a cost-effective way to build, only to have to pay off the COPs with the new bond, costing the district thousands in wasted financial fees.

Here again the current board says its saving money, when it's taking on a million-dollar executive home loan, a practice other school districts are disinclined to do. If it was saving money, you think many more would do it.

Most boards craft compensations for their superintendent that lead by example, yet MVWSD approves 14% pay raise for the superintendent when teachers received 5%. This board changed his health care to cover all co-pays for his family, when that change was denied to teachers. And here's this loan, when the superintendent could have accessed the Landed downpayment program he brought to the teachers, yet the board crafts something different once again.

The current board won't admit that adding 13 new principals for MV's 11 school sites over the last two or so years did not create dramatically different outcomes. As outcomes improve, its because MVWSD pays its teachers more now, they can take credit for that, but not for the rotating leadership at the school sites. We've lost many good principals. The rotations instill fear in the ranks for thinking differently.

The superintendent works hard for MVWSD, and he succeeds often, he would succeed even more if the board served as a check and balance. The superintendent is not elected and does not deserve the crass way some speak of him. For the times he has experienced racism, our entire community owes him an apology and commitment to do better.

The board however is elected, and as I experience enough, should be held to public scrutiny as public officials. The current board guards itself from dissent, and as long as that's the case, I hope others continue to speak out, I will too. There are three seats open next election, filing due Aug 7, info here Web Link if you read this far, share a trust in the power of teachers to radically change life outcomes for all students, and can work with other people with a kind and open mind, you should consider serving.

Posted by long time parent
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 7, 2020 at 11:48 pm

Even though I don't agree with a lot of what you said, I do thank you Chris Chiang for your thoughtful response and the way you said it. We need more of that. You should have stayed on instead of quitting in middle of your term. :-)

I also agree with you that the supe works very hard for out students. No one is perfect, and we are never going to get someone that everyone likes all the time. It is a hard job as you can see. Let's not throw the baby out with the bath water.

As far as the very nasty, demeaning and racists comments and treatment that Rudolph has to suffer from our community, is truly heartbreaking to see in the middle of silicon valley. More people should stand up against that. I haven't seen *anyone* do it except for you and Guiterez. Sadly that says a lot about the community overall.

Posted by Do Better Mountain View
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jul 8, 2020 at 12:52 am

Sorry I think some of us missed something. What kind of racism has the superintendent experienced? Our community needs to take a hard look at ourselves and each other, and do much better. I don't know the specific details, but racism in our community is not okay, not remotely.

Posted by reader
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jul 8, 2020 at 3:14 pm

How will a $1.2 million home loan to the superintendent (during the most uncertain and unstable time in recent history) be viewed by Mountain View voters the next time MVWSD places a parcel tax or bond measure on the ballot?

Posted by Nora S.
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jul 8, 2020 at 3:31 pm

In case you missed this at the end of Chris Chiang's long post:

"There are three [school board] seats open next election, filing due Aug 7, info here [Web Link If you share a trust in the power of teachers to radically change life outcomes for all students, and can work with other people with a kind and open mind, you should consider serving."

To which I will add: if you think you can do better than the current board, please run for one of the open seats!

Posted by Please be respectful & truthful
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jul 8, 2020 at 5:35 pm

I appreciate former school board trustees being active participants on public forums. I don't always agree with them, but really that's not the point. They are very informative and speak openly about MVWSD matters, something that cannot be said for the current board and even some members of the board oversight committee.

From the beginning of this superintendent's tenure they have tried to make big changes and in doing so it has highlighted the lack of oversight and transparency of the district administrators and the school board. For that I think the superintendent has unfairly bore the brunt of criticism, but it hasn't all been unwarranted. The board also needs to be held accountable, because they are ultimately responsible.

Multiple letters have been sent to the board regarding violations of the Brown Act about this one board meeting!

This school district and board have to do better to communicate to the community (both parents of students and residents). If you've ever tried to find specific information by looking at the school district website, you will be familiar with the obfuscated design. Go look at PAUSD's website and compare. After all these years, one has to think this obfuscation is deliberate considering we're in the middle of Silicon Valley.

If parents are misinformed or the public is clueless, we can only look to those in charge of the district.

Being voted onto the school board isn't license to do whatever you want and then present it to the public afterwards. It was obvious by the letters sent out by board president Wilson that before the last board meeting, the decision was already made to approve this loan regardless of any public comment or petitions. If you wonder why the public is so disengaged in the process of local school governance, you have only the MVWSD administrators and board trustees to blame.

Posted by One Down, One to Go
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jul 10, 2020 at 2:25 pm

Ms. Ghysels is leaving to be the new superintendent in Tahoe. Now we just need Rudolph to go find a job elsewhere.

Posted by Gary
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jul 10, 2020 at 6:35 pm

Which side of Tahoe: California or Nevada? North or South? At least schools might be able to open in Tahoe - until someone from the Bay Area shows up with the coronavirus. Remote learning - plus parents and tutors - is all that will happen before November 3. Any attempt to reopen schools in August and September will backfire with the coronavirus spreading like wildfire.

Posted by CFrink
a resident of Willowgate
on Jul 13, 2020 at 8:08 pm

@ Christopher Chiang, I find much of what you wrote in your eloquent piece intellectually dishonest, red meat. It's all good but it's just not an accurate representation of policy. It's cool to push out the inflammatory numbers that get the crowd up and angry, knowing that they (and probably even you) don't know the why or the background on the policy....just that it makes you mad. You know, you did a lot of stuff when you were on the board that made people mad too. But when you explained the process (like you did with that severance) it made a lot more sense. I'm not saying you gotta agree with the Board on it's decisions. I am saying that you are often blatantly unfair to the Board despite your own history of sitting in the same seat making the same decisions that inflamed the community who knew not why you voted the way you did.

Posted by Christopher Chiang
a resident of North Bayshore
on Jul 13, 2020 at 9:39 pm

@CFrink I respect that your opinion comes from years of working to make this district a better place, and I respectfully disagree.

For three years, regular microphones, a standard classroom projector, and foldable tables covered by a nice cloth were good enough for the school board.

$200k in severance for the past long-serving superintendent by the past school board is not the same as $200k this board spent for audiovisual equipment for the board room Web Link or the $1.2 million executive loan introduced and approved in one meeting in 5 minutes, that cut off community comments, has over 1,000 signatures on a protest petition Web Link and yet no further community engagement by the board. A 14% pay raise last year along with health benefits exceeding any other MVWSD staff, topped by this year's $1.2 million home loan are unprecedented trends.

Every community member can decide for themselves if they think this board is being too carefree with the community's tax dollars and general oversight. They deserve to hear both viewpoints, yours and mine.

Mine is, this school board too frequently equates spending money as achievements, without a willingness to justify it through public scrutiny.

Posted by CFrink
a resident of Willowgate
on Jul 14, 2020 at 11:17 am

@ Christopher Chiang - I just don't recall your board devoting several meetings discussing contracts with the public. Employment contracts are typically discussed in closed sessions ahead of time because they're incredibly intricate and time consuming. I'm just unsure of why this particular contract should be treated any differently. As for the sound system, since I work in that business, I understand the pricing of these systems and the interest in going for something of this level versus getting a cheaper off the shelf version. You're welcome to your opinion on that policy as I'm sure you probably wouldn't have been cool with it even when you were on the Board. But the fact is, that you know it wasn't a 5 minute discussion and that there was ample research and justification that went into the decision before hand. That's my point. You seem to try to make it sound as if these are knee jerk decisions when you know they're far from it. Come to whatever conclusion you feel is best. But at least be honest about the amount of thought and work that go into these "5 minute" decisions.

Posted by Middle S Parent
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jul 14, 2020 at 2:29 pm


You are ever the apologist for the district!

With this irresponsible vote for a $1.2 million loan the Board risks voter approval for any future bond or parcel tax measures. The current Board has made it clear that Measure T funding gave them the financial security to pay for this boondoggle out of district reserves. Sigh, I guess that means we the public have entrusted them with too much money.

Let's hope that a new slate of candidates can be found to run for office.

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