Los Altos, CA, October 13, 2014 –– LosAltosPoltico.com endorses the re-election of Tamara Logan and the election of Martha McClatchie and John Swan to the Los Altos School District Board of Trustees. We encourage the entire LASD community to cast votes for Logan, McClatchie and Swan on their mail-in ballots or at the polls November 4th.
Lalahpolitico has analyzed the candidates’ views on public education as expressed in the public record. Lalahpolitico has become deeply familiar with the current trustees’ past management shortcomings, the incomplete planning for future facilities, the ongoing challenges of teacher development and the challenges of curriculum modernization facing the district. Lalahpolitico believes that Logan, McClatchie and Swan have the best backgrounds, the best leadership skills and the best temperaments 1) to be attentive financial stewards of the Measure N bond funds and 2) to lead our great school district to be even better 3) while allowing the public charter school to thrive as well.
Should the choice facing the voters be cast in stark “zero-sum game” terms as suggested by the Huttlinger Alliance for Education? Is it just three candidates who will steadfastly support and use their volunteer energy to support the CTA’s mission of undermining our district’s only “choice” program, the charter school vs. two candidates who will use their volunteer energy to deliver more reasonably equivalent treatment across ALL students? Lalahpolitico worries about constituencies who are being systematically shortchanged.
Here are some of the community “factions” who have drawn the “short stick” from the LASD trustees over the past decade: North of El Camino was rudely redistricted in 2007, cleaving that “community” into three subgroups sent to three different locations; the town of Los Altos Hills was torn apart by the closing of Bullis Purrissima and is still divided; Egan Jr. High has born the brunt of district growth and school traffic concentrated around the charter on Egan; elementary schools like Springer have “just ok” facilities, while Gardner-Bullis gets gold-plate everything and while Covington luxuriates on its 15 acres; and finally, the charter students are the only “community faction” housed 100% in portables.
Some of the candidates will actually lead and will try to ameliorate these REAL inequality issues. Other candidates will quickly “go along” with the powers-that-be and say and do as they are told. Two of the candidates – Peruri and Ivanovich – currently have children at schools which have drawn the “long sticks.”
(+) Tamara Logan YES
Lalah endorsed! CTA Union Endorsed! Town Crier Endorsed!
Tamara Logan has earned re-election in the LASD election 2014. Even though she has “carried water” for the anti-charter ideologues in the past, Lalahpoltico believes she was instrumental in “talking down” the pugnacious trustee Doug Smith, reaching the compromises necessary to craft the June 2014 five-year agreement with the charter school during mediation. [For example…the Logan-Smith negotiating team dropped their insistence that the charter implement “affirmative action” admissions for ELL, low income, and special needs in its random admissions lottery. In exchange, the charter agreed to phase out its 25% preference for kinder admissions from the old Bullis-Purrissima attendance area and agreed to improve instructions on its website about how to apply for charter admission.]
When Logan assumed the board presidency this summer of 2014, she started to make remarks that showed more balance, sympathy, and a willingness to compromise. By the way, Ms. Logan does support the “one new site” approach to dealing with enrollment growth— “because that’s all we can afford…and if land can be acquired.” She has stated at summer board meetings that bond money would very likely be used for a site for the charter. At the Oct. 8 Candidates Forum, she said her preference for the “one site” was that it be used accommodate the charter students.
She is the only board member to publicly APOLOGIZE for the unfortunate, and ill-conceived closing of the Bullis-Purrisima School in 2003. However, she has never taken up the suggestion issued by BCS board members Peter Evans and Francis LaPoll, to also say, “ I want your school to thrive.” Evan and LaPoll have publicly said they want LASD schools to thrive. Lalahpolitico will not put weight on Logan’s omission.
HER PAST: She was a Loyola parent with two youngsters in 2002-3 when the LASD board was deciding which LASD school to close. The 1998 bond money was being misspent. Covington administration facilities construction got number 1 priority — even though that was not on the bond project list — and the project was mismanaged. And with the 2000 local recession — due to the Web Van bubble bursting(!) — state revenue contracted dramatically for our district’s operational budget. Randy Kenyon suggested that to meet a $200,000 a year operating budget shortfall, a school campus needed to be closed. Rather than having LAEF try to scrounge up $200K that year, the community went down the path of which school would be closed. The story is that Loyola – Logan’s school – had a board member who managed to change the “target for closure” from Loyola to Bullis-Purissima. The latter school had no rep on the board at that time.
HER EDUCATION EXPERIENCE: When she was energized by the threat that her school, Loyola, could be closed in 2002 due to the financial crisis, she became active. She worked for the PTA, became active in the PTA Legislative Committee ( Lalah thinks they ask the State for more money, promote bills and administrative code changes to curb competiton and promote the health of the CTA), as well as the CACF Finance Committee which some people “perceive” as kicking the tires and then rubber stamping LASD Business Manager Randy Kenyon’s reports.
HER FINANCIAL PREPARATION: Logan was a math major in Kentucky and earned a Master’s in Mathematics from Stanford. As she says, there is nothing wrong with her logic. She went on to become a programmer for Cisco. Just because it is easy for someone who is a math major or programmer to learn accounting, it doesn’t mean that they HAVE LEARNED any accounting. The problem is that accounting is it is not just logic. The devil is in the tedious mountains of details, in the definitions, classifications, in the accounting report footnotes, in the reclassifications from time to time. Accounting and managerial accounting is hard work – 99% perspiration, 1% inspiration. Logan relys on Randy Kenyon’s “award-winning” reports and the conclusions Kenyon draws from them.
Lalahpolitico endorses and urges you to vote for Tamara. Her incumbent experience is well-worth retaining!
(+) Martha McClatchie YES
Lalah Endorsed, Town Crier Endorsed!
As the only candidate who currently is a parent with grade-school age kids who have attended both LASD and the Charter, McClatchie can see “things from both sides now.” She has been a very active volunteer in both the Oak PTA and at the charter as well as with service organizations like Kiwanas and Reading Partners at Castro School. She was a driving force behind the parent and community “healing” meetings organized with local churches in 2011. When in August 2013 the LASD trustees wanted to force the charter to agree to exclude younger students from the Blach Center for Innovation by contriving a teacher lock-out, Martha organized a protest to publicize LASD’s heavy-handed harassment.
Like all the candidates she supports Measure N the $150M bond. Like Tamara Logan, she is accepting of the “one site is all we can afford” path. However, Martha’s personal preference is the new campus be used to accommodate the North of El Camino Community first. Lalahpolitico endorses and urges you to vote for Martha.
HER PAST: Earning a degree in Business Administration from Boston University, she had a career in corporate accounting and finance for 17 years. For the past 12 years she has been a mom and a very active volunteer at schools and in the community, including directing summer camp for at-risk youth. She helps seniors with their personal taxes as AARP tax aide site councilor. Her children attended Oak Elementary and are now at Bullis Charter School
HER EDUCATIONAL EXPERIENCE: She was Oak school PTA Treasurer and Financial Secretary 2007-2010. More recently she was Treasurer of the BCS Foundation. She participated in LASD Educational Blueprint and BCS long-term strategy sessions.
HER FINANCIAL EXPERIENCE: McClathie lived and breathed practical corporate accounting, auditing and finance for 17 years. She took a startup to 1000 employees as Director of Finance. This is not just theoretical, this is practical. In Lalahpolitico’s opinion she is better equipped to pick apart LASD operational accounting reports and bond funding and spending reports than the candidates with math majors or stock price forecasting experience.
(+) John Swan YES
John Swan has managed $100 million budgets for GE, has lead a real estate development firm focused on small town revival, and has volunteered on numerous corporate and non-profit boards. A founder of Los Altos Hills Public Education Committee and of Bullis Charter School, John Swan says he has had more kid years in the local public schools than with the charter. At 63 years of age, he projects a genial, down-home, appealing but no-nonsense leadership style. He advocates for community harmony, STEM and early foreign language instruction in the curriculum. Definitely an adult in charge!
Lalahpolitico is impressed with the column writing Swan did with the Town Crier this summer after the announcement of the 5-year agreement. He and the Crier were trying to orchestrate productive community dialog, a common sense approach to facilities tradeoffs. He warned online participants that if you wanted make anti-charter comments or revisit the district’s past mistakes, as online moderator he would kick you off the online comments. At GE he regularly had to negotiate business agreements with fierce competitors – “failure to reach an agreement would get you fired.” Lalahpolitico thinks that with his financial operating experience, he will be a good steward of the funds from Measure N, which he supports of course. Thus, I endorse John Swan and urge you to cast a vote for Swan.
HIS PAST: Swan grew up on a farm in Pennysylvania, but attended San Jose State University, completing a BA in physics and a MS in Mechanical Engineering. Later he earned an MBA from Santa Clara University. Although he is a math/science/engineering kind of person, he actually became a business operations manager at GE with the responsibility to oversee 100 million dollar budgets and later in real estate development.
HIS EDUCATIONAL EXPERIENCE: Swan was a member of the 2012 Superintendent’s Enrollment Growth Task Force EGTF, a member selected by the City of Los Altos Hills. When Bullis-Purrisima was closed, he was a founder of the Los Altos Hill’ Public Education Committee (now chaired by Heather Rose), and later was a founder of Bullis Charter School. More recently he has served on the board of West Valley College Foundation during the period where the college was spending its bond money and is on the board of the SJSU Foundation. Talk about dedication to STEM: for decades Swan has been on the board of the Intel International Engineering and Science Fair Board, helping thousands of students access Silicon Valley resources. Yet he thinks adding foreign language to the LASD elementary program in the younger grades is the most important change to make in the District’s curriculum.[Logan opposes adding foreign language, because with the current union work rules, that would require a longer instructional day, and require salary increases. Swan supports Marshall Tuck for California Superintendent – Tuck’s mission is to reform some of the Education Code, namely some of the union “work rules’ which impede innovation and teacher development in our California schools. Outgoing LASD trustee Mark Goines recently expressed disappointment with the District’s new 2014 contract with the union: He said he was ok with the 6% pay increase, but there “should have been a concession for a somewhat longer instructional day in exchange.” Lalahpolitico: Say 15 minutes?]
HIS FINANCIAL EXPERIENCE: Like some of the other candidates, Swan’s college degrees are in math/science/engineering. However, unlike the candidates who became code engineers or hedge-fund “engineers,” he actually became a business operations manager at GE with the responsibility to manage 100 million dollar budgets. In Lalahpolitico’s opinion, because of his long financial operating experience, he is better equipped to pick apart LASD operational accounting reports and bond funding and spending reports than the candidates with programming careers, investing careers or stock price forecasting experience.
http://lannonline.org/newsletter/article-archive/7-city-government/879-howtowinfriends Swan’s LASD task force article… http://www.losaltosonline.com/news/sections/comment/257-other-voices/47223-a-common-sense-approach-to-education-other-voices Swan’s “other voices” column for the Los Altos Town Crier
Vladamir Ivanovich NO
CTA union endorsed!
In 2012 Lalahpolitico was enthusiastic about Ivanovich, a software engineer by trade, when he ran for the LASD board. He is a resident of Old Los Altos (like our outgoing trustee Doug Smith), and his children attend the District’s plush, elitist Bullis-Gardener elementary in Los Altos Hills. Back in 2012 Ivanovich was expressing some skepticism about the District’s financial reporting, about how the CACF members like him often received reports that changed significantly from month-to-month for unexplained reasons.
Back in 2012, he was also open to more new ideas about how good schools could be configured; as a child, he attended at public k-8 in Manhattan, NYC. Unfortunately, the powers-that-be persuaded Ivanovich to drop out of the 2012 race. [Similarly, Tamara Logan dropped out of her first run in 2005 waiting till 2009 for her “approved” run.] In 2012, the powers-that-be already had lined up Steve Taglio (fake incumbent) and Pablo Luther (CACF “graduate”) for the two open board positions. Ivanovich was told that his running was just going to confuse and split the pro-union vote and wind up helping the “charter” candidate Amanda Burke-Aaronson, who was endorsed by the Crier. [At LASD like at many school district boards, the current board essentially appoints board member replacements.]
In the two years since his aborted 2012 run, Ivanovich has attended virtually all Los Altos School District school board meetings. He has earned his tentative appointment to the board by the current board. He has “learned” to focus on getting in line with the current board’s strategy and messages, and just let staff (Randy Kenyon) handle the numbers. My sources tell me Ivanovich (version 2014) seems ill-prepared when discussing the district’s finances now, even though he has been chair of the CACF.
And the volume level of Ivanovich’s anti-charter rhetoric is set way high now; he can rattle off the District bible articles of faith – “the charter takes District money, has sued us mercilessly, it cherry-picks students, doesn’t admit disadvantaged or handicapped students, etc.” He’s gotten so good at it, Lalahpolitco thinks Vlad Ivanovich could be a good Doug Smith replacement, continuing Doug’s relentless anti-charter zeal and patter. [BTW while a trustee, Doug Smith has been writing a divisive blog that propagates negative perceptions of the charter. Contrast Smith’s inappropriate blog with a the blog of San Carlos School District trustee, Seth Rosenblatt, who tries to create harmony as that district spends bond money and reconfigures campuses and attendance areas. http://lasdobserver.blogspot.com/2014/04/truth-in-courts.html Outgoing trustee Doug Smith’s blog. Inappropriate for a trustee.
* Re: the Smith April 13, 2014 blog, Ken Moore phoned me in February 2012 asking me to remove a photo of him from my website. Moore expressed kidnapping fears. So who is a truth-teller? http://www.rosenblatt.org San Carlos School District board trustee’s blog. Appropriate for a trustee
Sangeeth Peruri NO
CTA union endorsed! Town Crier Endorsed!
With an Ivy League degree and “enough” success in a career of Silicon Valley investing, Peruri was able to recently retire at about 40. He has used his time to pursue a new passion for improving California k-12 education. At the state level his is supporting reformer Marshall Tuck for State Superintendent of Education. Lalahpolitico does too! Locally Peruri has pitched in at his kids’ school – the unusually expansive 15-acre Covington Elementary – by creating some innovative fund-raising software for that PTA. Earlier this year he joined the CACF (finance) and apparently this spring came to the attention of outgoing trustee Mark Goines – who is also a private investor. In any case, Peruri suddenly started attending LASD board meetings, joining Vladmir Ivanovich in the front row of the “audience,” and Peruri started making public comments as a Covington parent at board meetings. It appeared to Lalahpolitico from social cues at these meetings that Mr. Goines could be mentoring Peruri as his replacement.
Peruri was apparently a quick study at adopting most of the District’s approved messages. However, he deviates somewhat. At the Oct. 8 candidates forum he did not adhere to the “one site is all we can afford” mantra, but instead argued that with creative financing and broad public cooperation, it was possible to obtain two sites with the $150M bond. [Lalahpolitico: I find this far-fetched given the $300 million facilities “wish list” and $7M an acre land prices.] Philosophically, Peruri accepts charters, unlike Ivanovich who wants the charter to become, not just “authorized and supervised” by the District instead of by the “County,” but actually to become a District magnet school. [FYI folks, that means CANCEL the charter program with its longer instructional day and its partial freedoms from some of the innovation crushing Education Code.]
At the Sept. 25 Rotary candidates Forum, Peruri’s answer to the question, “What do you think of moving 6th grade to the junior high school. Good idea? Bad idea?” was unsatisfactory. He replied that he was studying it, didn’t know yet, and was asking the residents he was meeting while walking door to door on his campaign for their opinion. Getting some input and listening to uninformed constituents is a good thing, but endless rounds of “public engagement” have been used by the trustees as a tool for procrastination and for PR spin. Lalahpolitico doesn’t recommend a trustee who will just go-along with some engineered consensus like a school of fish. Far too many board votes have been unanimous. Peruri is being marketed to voters as an innovator, but actually he won’t rock the boat at all.
Peruri’s historical entanglement with an insider-trading case was of some concern to me. But other key factors for Lalahpolitico were 1) his lack of experience with operational accounting and with corporate or non-profit boards 2) and his “go-along” temperament. I cannot endorse Peruri for LASD at this time. Let some water flow under the bridge. I thank him for his support of Marshall Tuck and of state level education reform and encourage him to put more of his time there and with the district’s advisory committees.
The Town Crier, in failing to report Peruri’s entanglement with the Whitman insider trading case, has now apparently decided to double down on their bet for Peruri by endorsing him today.