Concerns About the LASD Enrollment Growth Task Force

Written by lalahpolitico

Lalahpolitco has been referring readers to a 2013 LANN publication — Simple Math, When 1+1 does not = 2  —  about  problems with the process and the report results of the EGTF, but that page on that website often fails to load in finite time. I want people to be able to read it.  So as we approach the 2014 Los Altos School District election for the board and Measure N,  I have heavily excerpted key points from that article here.

This LANN article expressed concerns about biased process at  EGTF meetings.

This LANN article expressed concerns about biased process at EGTF meetings.


Duncan Mac Vicar – Disagreement was stifled

Duncan MacVicar ( EGTF representative for City of Los Altos ) highlighted these issues in his report to the city May 14, 2013.

  • The task force meeting structure with the facilitator made it difficult to debate and engage in discussion on contentious issues. The cause was two fold:
    1)Significant time was spent on process
    2)Disagreement/debate was stifled, rather than giving all viewpoints equal weight and equal time
  • The task force was not allowed to discuss specific, non-public land sites. [The EGTF were not informed of these alleged existent sites.] 1) Therefore public sites like Hillview received undue consideration, while private land was largely ignored.
    2) It was difficult to apply “criteria’ to any meaningful discussion of alternatives when the specifics of a site could not be evaluated
Moderator in front of white board with lots of boxes, circles, arrows

The moderator was instructed to apply a lot of process and framework to the proceedings. Stifling?

Jon Baer – Some Suppressed Alternatives/Info

Jon Baer, the author of the LANN article and a Los Altos Planning commissioner, was an observer of virtually all the 2013 EGTF meetings. (Lalahpolitico also attended many of them. But I stopped because it turned into a “focus group” steered by LASD staff Randy Kenyon and Jeff Baier. ) Closely paraphrasing Jon Baer but with my emphasis and injections: Here follow other significant issues with the EGTF.

  • Covington/Rosita was too quickly dropped from discussion as a site for BCS.  The alternative was not throughly analyzed nor discussed in detail during EGTF meetings.
    1)There is a total of about 20 acres, which would meet the space requirement for two schools ( perhaps Covington and the charter school).
    2)If another school were built in NEC, it would take some enrollment out of Covington (and Almond).  Covington might shrink to 300.  The charter is capped at no more than 900. [ Lalahpolitico: 1200 is doable. Covington was a junior high. Rosita was a Catholic school. There were many, many students there simultaneously in the past.] 3)Having Rosita Park outdoor grass and blacktop facilities being used by a school rather than by the public during school hours seems like a better alternative than  having Hillview Recreation Center rooms unavailable to seniors and toddlers during school hours. [Anyway, Rosita used to be a school ]
  • Some NEC Covington Parents said NO to a NEC Neighborhood School. They said they didn’t like the demographics that would results. They liked commuting to Covington just fine.
    1) The EGTF just seemed to acquiesce to these few parents and did NOT debate the merits of a NEC neighborhood school.
    2) The EGTF did NOT discuss ways  to make socioeconomics the same across all LASD schools.
    3) Instead the EGTF recommended that a NEC school be a district magnet school, perhaps not even located in NEC.
MacVicar's calculations, Move 6 to juniors - 2 jr highs vs. 3 jr highs

MacVicar’s “suppressed”idea – spring 2013. Move 6th to junior highs – 2 jr highs vs. 3 jr highs. Not discussed. CLICK FOR LARGER

  • [LALAHPOLITICO: Grade Reconfigure the Junior Highs from 7,8 to 6,7,8. (Baer did not include this one in his article.) When MacVicar brought up the option in an early meeting it was “postponed” by the moderators till later. In one of the last meetings, MacVicar asked, “Hey, what happened to the junior high grade reconfiguration idea?” It was not taken up. But at the end of that meeting, I took a photo of the calculations he had brought along. There are strong pedagogical reasons to move 6th grade. It’s not just to free up some space at all the k-6 campuses by making them k-5.  And now that the board voted to provide full day kindergarten, some fifth and sixth graders are being moved into portables this year 2014-2015.]
The LASD Superintendent's task force at work on Jan. 15

The LASD Superintendent’s task force at work on Jan. 15, 2013.  Barry Groves in sweater Superintendent MVLA High, Jeff Fixler blue shirt, Jeff Baier white shirt Superintendent LASD.

LALAHPOLITICO:  Sadly, There is bias in Committee Processes

Recall that the EGTF recommended two sites in summer of 2013, that the successor “Finance”  committee recommended one site in the spring of 2014, and that the successor “Master Plan” committee is discussing only improvements to existing sites as of the fall of 2014.  So the recommendation of the EGTF for two sites  has been de facto torn up and thrown away. So why worry now that the ETGF recommendations were possibly “cooked” recommendations as alleged by LANN, Jon Baer, Duncan MacVicar and Lalahpolitico?

Actually the real worry is that the EGTF had a biased process, not biased findings.  And that the bias in process continues in all the successor committees. They all have staff framing the questions that can be asked when,  “guiding conversations” and have professional facilitators as well.

The committees are used for public relations purposes and the “advice” is not really valued.  If you look at the Measure N language you will see that the mere existence of the committees is used to suggest that there was transparency and thorough consideration of all options. Actually, many options were suppressed.

Los Altos School District election language for Measure suggests there was transparency and thorough consideration of all options. Actually, many options were suppressed.

BTW the EGTF did have audio recordings made by and for the professional note-taker/facilitator.



Lalahpolitico Articles on 3 of the early EGTF Meetings

My old task force coverage:

Los Altos School District Board Forming Taskforce on Enrollment Growth   Doomed from the beginning?

LASD Task Force Wades into the Demographer’s Report  A hopeful start.

LASD Los Altos Superintendent’s Task Force – Where School Size Policy Comes From   Set by trustees. duh.

LASD Superintendent Task Force – Deliverable is an Approach, not a Plan  Game over.


Members of the EGTF. Some absent for this meeting.

Members of the EGTF. Some absent for this spring 2013 meeting. Flip chart mania.

LANN  links for further information

Full text of the task force report:

MacVicar’s May 14, 2013 presentation slides to City Council: (corrected web link Oct. 7)   is the slides



LANN Recommended Opinion Articles on Los Altos Patch

1.  [Lalahpolitico: A hilariously obnoxious facilities suggestion from the anonymous internet troll Joan J Strong. PUT BCS ON HILLVIEW, AND EVERYONE PAYS EXCEPT LASD.  1)LASD has no Prop 39 Facilities Obligations: 2)City leases Hillview land and outdoor space for nearly nothing; 3) BCS finances it’s own two story modulars.  Just hilarious. LASD pays nothing!  ]

“Joan Strong, an alias for a very verbal (and some say combative) resident of the area.” Lalahpolitico: It retired from trolling this June when the 5-year agreement with the charter was announced.


2. [Lalahpolitico: A primer by Nancy Tucker on how intensely Hillview and the Civic Center are used by so many and the relationship of these uses with downtown. DON’T TAKE MY HILLVIEW AWAY]

“Nancy Tucker, a Los Altos resident who assisted Duncan MacVicar” with the EGTF.


3. [Lalahpolitico: PUT NEC MAGNET SCHOOL ON HILLVIEW. 1) Jeff Fixler, EGTF member,  struggles to explain how Hillview could be a neighborhood school for NEC yet be located almost 3 miles away. 2) So he suggests maybe it could be a “magnet” with a preference for NEC residents. 3) He writes that Hillview is 8 acres, but the map draws red around the entire 18 acre civic center 4) Fixler calls seniors, toddlers and other users of the Hillview rooms “vested interests.”]

“Jeff Fixler, member of the task force appointed by MV City Council, LASD parent and MV resident” but not from NEC area.


About the author


Norma Schroder is an economics & market researcher by trade and ardent independent journalist, photographer and videographer by avocation. Enthralled by the growth of the tech industry over the decades, she became fascinated with the business of local politics only in the past several years.

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