School Board sets LASD Tenth Site BCS Decision Deadline

Los Altos School District, LASD tenth site BCS decision
Nite of March 14, 2016 Los Altos School District talking about the LASD tenth site BCS decision
Written by lalahpolitico

On March 14 the the School Board set a LASD tenth site BCS decision deadline, well, sort of, for the end of June 2016.

Contents – LASD Tenth Site Decision…

This article covers 1) March 14, 2016 Board discussion of the Measure N bond program implementation, 2) Board discussion of the final Public Lands Committee meeting and the March 8 City termination of its participation, 3) Board discussion of a possible Community survey proposed by Joe Seither and the Huttlinger Alliance for Education

Oked Some Prep for Using Existing School Land

After strong initial guidance from Superintendents Jeff Baier and Randy Kenyon, the LASD Board discussion on March 14, 2016 meandered a fair amount, but did finally give “direction” or permission to staff to start to prepare for the possibility the District might have to use its own lands to permanently house the charter.  To Lalahpolitico, it sounded like the architect would not yet be involved, but staff would  assemble data — on traffic, pros/cons for 2 or 3 sites (or perhaps all schools) — and present it to the board sooner than later.

But Private Land is still being Vetted

Board President Pablo Luther stressed that 2 or 3 private land sites were still real live options. At least for Luther, cost was a big consideration in feasibility. [Lalahpolitico: It is not clear that other board members share his concern about cost.]  At first Luther said the 2 or 3 sties could be vetted for feasibility or rejected by the end of the school year in June.  However later he adopted weasel wording suggested by Tamara Logan–there just had to be ” a high probability that they were moving forward on a private site”; and if they were using existing school lands, they may not name the school(s) till after the November Measure N Parcel tax election.

Brown Act Compliance = meandering  board discussions

The transcript discussions below can be hard to follow for the listener or the reader, because many board members words wander. The good news is that their confusing meandering means they are adhering to the Brown Act and not meeting outside of publicly noticed closed sessions and public sessions.  These meetings are the only times they can signal what they are thinking to each other ; this goes for staff too; only two people can discuss a topic outside of meetings. There is a lot of thinking outloud during the meeting; and you know that isn’t usually pretty. Lalahpolitico approves.

Hillview still Burns in their Hearts

Clearly, some board members have not given up on the 18 acres of the City’s Civic Center/Hillview or on  inappropriately involving the City in their planning problems.

Reflecting on the City Council’s abrupt termination of participation in the Public Lands Committee, Trustee Tamara Logan said all they ever wanted to do was “share city land with a school” not to grab city land. Vladamir Ivanovich said it was a shame the City and the community did not get to see their concept drawings of a shared school-city facility at the 18-acre Civic Center. [Lalahpolitico, is this is the 3-story plan with the charter on floors 2 and 3?]  The board seemed to give guidance to staff that their Hillview drawing(s), at least the ones prepared by the district using taxpayer money, should be posted on the district website.  UPDATE: now posted.

Regarding  a proposed joint City-School survey about “what people want for the Civic Center/Hillview,” Superindent Baier made it real plain that the board could chose NOT to act on the proposal emailed by a member of the public.  [Lalahpolitico: Although no one named the sender of the proposal, it is pretty plain it is from Joe Seither’s Political Action Committee, Huttlinger Alliance for Education. ] The board ignored Baier’s suggestion to drop it and instead did give direction to staff to send a letter proposing exactly the kind of survey Seither has proposed publically, as in the Town Crier. [Lalahpolitico: As I’ve said before, it is totally inappropriate to ask non-City residents and non-City taxpayers how they want the City of Los Altos to use its 18-acre Civic Center/Hillivew. ]

Measure N Bond Implementation

Jeff Baier, Los Altos School District Superintendent. Setting up Trustee discussion of the LASD tenth site BCS decision

Jeff Baier, Los Altos School District Superintendent. Setting up Trustee discussion of the LASD tenth site BCS decision

Who is Speaking

Meeting items transcripts are written to clarify what the speaker is trying to say.

I adopted the following short names for speakers

  • Baier: Jeff Baier, LASD Superintendent
  • Kenyon: Randy Kenyon LASD Superintendent for Business
  • Luther: Pablo Luther, LASD Board President
  • Steve: Steve Taglio, LASD Board
  • Sang: Sangeeth Peruri, LASD Board Vice-president
  • Tammy: Tamara Logan, LASD Board
  • Vlad: Vladamir Ivanovich, LASD Board

Video of LASD Meeting March 14 – Start with Measure N item..

This meeting item is in part a paraphrased transcript. But in some parts quite literal.

Baier : This item is to review site selection criteria and to establish milestone timelines. Right now we are still working on identifying a 10th site. We will continue this “till the board says halt.”

BCS Tenth Site Selection Criteria. Note the modification in red which allows the shopping center on El Camino, Village Court, to be considered.

BCS Tenth Site Selection Criteria. Note the modification in red  – available in 2 or 3 years – which allows the shopping center on El Camino, Village Court, to be considered. Retail leases need to expire or be bought out, increasing expense.

Baier: We want the board to confirm the site selection criteria and discuss the modifications.

  • Site size is still described as a minimum of 4-5 acres.
  • Site should be reasonably easily accessible for ingress and egress.
  • Site should be within school boundaries (for a District School) of within 1.5 miles of boundaries (charter school only)
  • The original language said the site should be available for construction
  • The modified language says the site should be available for construction within the next 2-3 years
  • The site could be leased land
  • The site could repurpose commercial buildings
  • Added item…the site will meet all state guidelines for a school site

Lalahpolitico: The change to 2-3 years till construction seems to make the Village Court site permissible by the board’s now amended criteria. The leases there will mostly expire in 3 years. Longer leases would have to be bought out.

Jeff Baier reviewed the preferred approaches for housing the charter as suggested by committees which did always consider cost.

Jeff Baier reviewed the preferred approaches for housing the charter as suggested by committees which did always consider cost.

Baier : Let me review the 10th site preferences…

  • Our number 1 preference is acquiring private land: we are continuing with that effort.
  • Our number 2 preference was acquiring public land: that was terminated by Los Altos City Council on May 8 when it quit the Public Lands Committee.
  • Our least desirable path is to use District land for a 10th site.
Randy Kenyon. Los Altos School District Superintendent for Business. Los Altos School District, LASD tenth site BCS decision

Randy Kenyon. Los Altos School District Superintendent for Business, setting up the board discussion of Criteria for 10th School Site selection and for  setting deadlines for Board decisions


Kenyon: ”We think we need to have a decision made by the board as to when we have to stop looking for a private lands 10th site. We are thinking towards the end of the school year is the right time limit.”

Once we reach that time limit we should know
1) We have new land or
2) Nothing available was feasible, so we have to use our existing land
Once we know, we can start putting some implementation planning in place.

Kenyon: A side note. In terms of our bond, we haven’t issued any bonds yet because we haven’t found a 10th site yet. We don’t know how much we would need. So no taxpayer has a tax bill yet. They are paying nothing now. Instead we have a line of bank credit with a $50M limit. We have accessed about $5M of it for Enrollment Growth: the real estate consultants, for the charter’s portables. [Lalahpolitico: Another $1M is going into portables for the charter at Blach.]

Randy Kenyon, Superintendent for Busines

Randy Kenyon, Superintendent for Business proposed these milestones / deadlines

Kenyon: Here are some staff proposed decision milestones

1. Can we use public lands for 10th site? – Done: that decision was just made for us by the City.[ The answer was no.] 2. Find a feasible private land site- Deadline: By the end of the school year – June 2016
3. Begin implementation planning – the architect would put together conceptual plans with either the new land (2) OR for our existing lands. So this concept plans would start in a couple of months, July
4. In August and September the Board could start reviewing the Architectural concept plans.

Can you, the board, please discuss.

Discussion of Site Selection Criteria

Baier : Please take the 3 discussion points, one at a time. So first discuss the site selection criteria, confirm the existing ones and discuss the site selection modifications.

Tammy: I’m ok with the modifications, like the 2-3 years till construction


Lalahpolitico: OOPS They missed a public speaker: Bryan Johnson, Santa Rita PTA

Bryan Johnson, Public Speaker

Bryan Johnson: {Paraphrasing} It is time to move on, to make a decision. My one concern is how this timeline interacts [or not] with PTA meetings. Our last PTA meeting is mid to late May. The word on the 10th site decision might not get out. Also if the Board starts discussing plan concepts at August – September meetings, that will take Board attention away from the Parcel Tax renewal ramp up to election in November. You have to go “quiet” after filing for the tax election, but [in Aug. ] you should be working on that ramp up then instead.

Tamara Logan trustee Los Altos School District, night of some LASD tenth site BCS decisions.

Tamara Logan trustee Los Altos School District, night of some LASD tenth site BCS decisions.

Tammy asks Bryan:
What is your idea then?

Bryan: I hate to suggest postponing things, but.. After November, when we know whether we have the parcel tax renewed or not… is a better time to start making a conceptual plan. Everything can be considered altogether. Also there is a school board election. But yes, do say what the site decision is at the end of the school year. People want to know. Do say if it is NOT a private site. But don’t come up with the concrete plan for one of our sites or for a new land site before the election, it’s is too tricky [politically]. [don’t say which District school is affected] [He also wondered if the City was still open to sharing its land for something like District offices. Lalahpolitico: IMHO At the moment the answer is No, they are not open to it. That was explicit, at least with the majority of council, at the March 8 council meeting.] Tammy: You say wait till after the parcel tax passes? Hmmm. I remember we passed a bond and quickly thereafter closed a school….[that caused trouble in the community in 1998, 1999 the closing of Bullis Purrissima in LAH ]


[Lalahpolitico: Finished with the public speaker, the meeting returns to topic of  Site Selection Criteria]

Vlad: No?

Sang: 2-3 years till construction is way too long. should be 1 -2

Steve: [2-3] ok with it

Luther:  4 or even 5 acres is no where near ideal, neither is waiting 2-3 years. I’d prefer 5 plus acres and lag till building up to a max of 2 years

Tammy: I don’t think it’s worth changing the slide.

Luther: ok, but let’s keep the ideal site – five plus acres and available soon –  in mind, [not the minimum acceptable to the Board]

Pablo Luther, Los Altos School District, LASD tenth site BCS decision

Pablo Luther, President Board of the Los Altos School District, night of some LASD tenth site BCS decision.” Let’s keep the ideal site in mind.”

Point 2: Discuss Deadline for 10th site decision

Luther: Let’s start with Steve

Steve: I do think we need to make decisions end of year. I don’t think we need the next step, the concept plan in August.

Sang: End of school year is reasonable. There will definitely will be cons with whatever we do. We should communicate as much as we can. And that takes time. I would prefer to do it earlier than later.

Vlad: I am ok with end of the school year but would prefer longer.

Tammy: So by the end of the school year we can say we are buying a property or we have to go with out existing facilities. It might be that we say we are not quite done with negotiations. We have to be flexible. As for conceptual drawings, if we can get ideas in July, August, that is not a bad thing. But right now we still think we have real options for a real 10th site. But if we have to use our land, doing a conceptual plan for that will take more time than July and August. If we have found the 10th site, then conceptual plans are easy. But if we use our lands, we have to decide who is moving,how to divide things up… that’s a lot more discussion and has to be more public.

Luther: I get accosted in downtown Los Altos. There is a lot of angst and consternation about the bond. People say things like you’ve had the bond money for 17 months now and we have nothing to show for it.

I get accosted in downtown Los Altos. There is a lot of angst and consternation about the bond. People say things like “you’ve had the bond money for 17 months now and we have nothing to show for it.” – Pablo Luther

Luther: From the outside it looks like nothing is happening. But just for the record, we’ve looked at several [private land] sites through this committee and prior committees. We’ve made offers on at least 2 or 3 so far. We’ve looked at several more [for feasibility]. For one reason or another, be it cost – the board are financial stewards for the District, people expect us to do the right thing financially — I don’t want to pay for NEC land where the best and highest use commands a very high price , we don’t have enough bond money, and I don’t think it is appropriate to spending that kind of money on land personally — so cost, or ingress egress,congestion, park & field issues,…[these] negate some [site] alternatives. We have been whittling them down. That’s the process we have been following for these 17 months…

Discussion Points about LASD Board Decision on Charter Site

Discussion Points about LASD Board Decision on Charter Site

Luther: We are now down to 2 or 3 sites that are feasible on the face of it. We should vet those [or not] over the next couple of months. We will know [by then] if any of them are really feasible. However, to Tammy’s point, we may have not have gotten into the process of actually purchasing [any one of] them, But we would know by then there is feasibility and there would be a high probability of moving forward with it.

[Lalahpolitico: Weasel Words. So the final price, or other contingencies might be still up in the air.??? If these are routine contingencies, like passing the State school site selection tests and checklists ….that’s ok with me. But otherwise, I’ve seen plenty of “deals” fall through. Actually it may be yet another way of keeping us – their constituency — in the dark even longer. It is unclear to me if in June the Board will NAME the specific private land site, that they “with a high probability are moving forward with.”

Luther: So by end of the school year we do owe it to our constituents to have an answer . It could be a Yes or a No. Or it could be, yeah, we are really really close and we’re pursuing something and we are quite a ways there. {lalahpolitico: does it sound like they will NAME the private site?} So I would go with [the deadline] of end of the school year.

Tammy: Let me add something as a response to Bryan [previous public speaker]. We’ve been looking at ways to share our facilities. We’ve been looking at outside properties that we might be able to use for much more than 5 years. This isn’t 17 months, because we just started 17 months ago. It’s 17 months because it’s not good answers. I agree we do need to make a deadline at this point. But it does take time.

Lalahpolitico: At a 2012 board meeting I heard Tom Campbell, the district’s go-to real estate guy, say in the public comments that the District had been looking and looking at sites for years already. He said that sadly some pretty good sites were now already sold.   So there was inaction then. Of course there was no bond money either. That’s why I voted for the Measure N, to get action on permanently housing the charter in my lifetime. And I’d like to see the existing schools get their new MPRs and libraries, etc. And Kenyon’s idea to pay off debt agrees with me, especially if the payments are at higher interest rates than prevalent now.


Pablo Luther, Los Altos School District, LASD tenth site BCS decision

Pablo Luther, “The bond measure is for capital improvements. The November parcel tax is for operations.”   This is the night of the Los Altos School District, LASD tenth site BCS decisions about deadlines.

Luther: As to the parcel tax ramp up, and as Randy Kenyon brought up the Bond Measure, this issue had come up several time. “ We are paying for the bond measure,” but as Randy just explained the taxpayers are NOT yet paying for it.

Luther: The other side of it is the two are completely bifurcated. The bond measure is for CAPITAL IMPROVEMENTs. The parcel tax is for OPERATIONS, for running a school district. They really don’t have anything to do with each other. So when people try to tie those together, that’s a falsity to tie them together. Because they are in two different buckets all together.

[Lalahpolitico: I beg to differ. As is the case with water, you can pour money from one bucket to the other. And Randy Kenyon has proposed just that. He has suggested using some Measure N money to pay off portable leases at all the schools and some old construction loans, AND to install solar to reduce annual electricity bills. This is using CAPITAL to reduce OPERATING costs. And I believe, the District used to take money out of the Operating budget each summer to pay for the inevitable expansion of Bullis Charter facilities. This summer he is taking $1M out of Measure N money to pay for what I believe is the final expansion of BCS at Blach, under the “5 year, non-litigation and facilities agreeement.”]


Vlad: What is the sense of the board? Is the end of the school year the sense of the board? or…

Luther: That’s what I’m hearing. I’m hearing at the latest by the end of the school year. Again, that’s the latest. If we can do something earlier, but all means [do it.]

Vlad: ok.

Baier: So by end of the school year is the decision point as to the two options.?

Luther: Yes, “Dropping the PURSUIT of the 10th site or not.”


Discussion Point – Any Planning for Charter on District Land?

Baier: meaning additional land, right. Does the board want  us to look at solutions that address enrollment growth though utilization of our own land prior to that or wait until after that [deadline] ?

Luther: Personally, I think it makes sense to do it concurrently. Just as a backup plan in case we don’t have that option, why lose another 3 months. Any thoughts, rest of the board.

Steve: I don’t want to spend a lot of money on it, but I understand we need to go down that path.[inaudible]

Tammy: One of the things we can do, oh, pause, the Public Lands Committee is not, pause, I believe the City is still willing to look at traffic. Maybe there is something in [our prior] looking at these sites we’ve missed. Is is the City still willing to be involved in traffic? and site utilization in that way? I haven’t seen any new and innovative ideas on how we might work on traffic at an existing site. But that is one thing we could see….That would be one thing we could do [now] about how we could use an existing facility.

[Lalahpolitico: I beg to differ with Logan on certain points. I think City Traffic Engineer Cedric Novenario did a pretty good job making suggestions for the 3 sites at a recent Public Lands Committee meeting. I would urge the City not to waste staff time looking at engineering traffic for a site where the buildings, driveways, blacktop, green, etc. are not yet laid out on a site plan. In particular if a campus is being reconfigured, it may be possible to create a private road along the entire perimeter…as is commonly done for Palo Alto schools and was done for Menlo Park’s Hillview School. This gets cars off the public thorough fare onto an nice and long private road system. Also the District has never tried more staggered start and stop times. Maybe that’s hard to do because of LASD teacher work rules and the constant wrangle over the length of the “instructional day.” The charter does time staggering big time. Also, bussing some BCS students to their permanent school – if we ever see one materialize — would ease congestion. I am sure that once the BOARD has made a 10th site REAL decision, and let the architect develop a draft site plan, the City staff would love to put their heads together with the architect and think about traffic engineering. ]
Sangeeth Peruri, trustee Los Altos School District, the night of LASD tenth site BCS decision to set some deadlines

Sangeeth Peruri, trustee Los Altos School District, the night of LASD tenth site BCS decision to set some deadlines. Sangeeth prefers a long community engagement period.

Sang: My initial thinking was that we should definitely do these in parallel. But then as I think through the logistics of it, it’s an incredibly complex process to figure out if we’re using Blach, or Egan or Covington, or a combination or some other site so to speak. And if we put a hard deadline on us for end of the [school] year, I’m not sure if it’s worth it — practically speaking — for 2 or 3 months, to go through that [pause] torture almost.

Sangeeth Peruri — “it’s an incredibly complex process to figure out if we’re using Blach, or Egan or Covington, or a combination, or some other site.  And if we put a hard deadline on the board for end of the [school] year, I’m not sure if its worth it , to go through that torture to save 3 months…. We want to engage the community. We want to engage the school. And at the appropriate time engage the charter school. There are a lot of constituents..

Steve: There’s other people we want to engage in that conversation at that point too.

Sang: We want to engage the community. We want to engage the school. And at the appropriate time engage the charter school. There are a lot of constituents that [inaudible.] And I’m always trying to go for speed, but the 2 or 3 months it saves I don’t think it makes sense.

Pablo: We’re not talking about doing a full blown process. We are talking about looking at the feasibility of certain sites and having some conceptual…

Sang: interrupting. But how else you do that? You need to pick the sites first.


Steve Taglio, trustee Los Altos School District, night of LASD tenth site BCS decision for deadlines. Steve want long and deep engagement with parents.

Steve Taglio, trustee  Los Altos School District, night of LASD tenth site BCS decision for deadlines. Steve wanst long and deep “engagement” with LASD parents and anyone else who will listen.

Steve: And rather than doing the conceptual, I’d want to engage the communities we’re impacting.

Sang: We want to engage the community. We want to engage the school. And at the appropriate time engage the charter school. There are a lot of constituents: We’ve looked at the feasibility. We’ve been through that.

Luther: And you’ve picked the sites.

Tammy: Well

Luther: to a large extent

Vlad: No. no. The Public Lands Committee picked the sites. The board has not picked the sites.

Tammy: I don’t disagree. I would expect in that what[sites]  I looked at… those [at the public lands committee] would be my choices for possibilities, however, we haven’t discussed it with the whole board. Like I said, the one feasible thing we could do, well, continue, well we can discuss it next time, discussions of traffic analysis and that sort of stuff. I don’t think there is any reason not to do that. But it’s just factual information. It’s not necessarily any site development.

Luther: Yeah, can you get some background data collected, look at ingress egress, zoning issues, feasibility of [our] sites, pros and cons…that you could present

Lalahpolitico: Notice the board majority seems to be agreeing to NOT YET pick in June a District School site where they want to permanently site the charter. I note that Steve Taglio may be up for reelection and lives in for of the target area,  the Covington  School area. Also board member Sangeeth Peruri lives in the Covington School Area.  It must be difficult to make a decision which some of your neighbors will howl at.  Is it really wise to scare all the the other schools?  As I recall Doug Smith and Mark Goines in 2012 decided to be coy about naming a “target” school and then Charter Long Term Agreement just fell apart.

Baier: So are we on to the third bullet?

Luther: Yes.

Vlad: I’m with Sang on this. The staff has plenty to do without this. I would prefer for staff not to be involved in even data collection.

Lalahpolitico: Hmmmm. Vladamir seems to not like the direction staff is pointing the board. Interesting.

Vlad: We want to engage the community. We want to engage the school. And at the appropriate time engage the charter school. There are a lot of constituents:

Pablo Luther, Los Altos School District, LASD tenth site BCS decision

Pablo Luther, President Los Altos School District Board, the evening of LASD tenth site BCS decision on deadlines, took charge of summing up “direction to the board” that evening. “Ask Jeff Baier.”

Luther: Ask Jeff.  [Baier]

Vlad: Ask Jeff?

 Baier: Randy [Kenyon] is probably the chief data collector. But I think it is critical that we begin gathering some information on what is going to be needed in terms of data, if the acquisition of additional lands doesn’t happen. Knowing that now in March and in April is really important. So we can begin gathering that, we can begin presenting that. That is going to inform the board’s decision on culling through properties, or through our own sites and properties, understanding where we are going to do our true evaluation of how we are going to build out. 

Lalahpolitico:  Look at which board members actually want to be informed by staff research. And those who don’t

Luther: That’s right.

Sang: I had a thought. There is a bunch of stuff that we are going to need, no matter what. Regardless if it external or our own land. Why don’t we focus on that stuff. We can start a checklist of architects, builders, committees, who are all the groups, a calendar, there is a ton of stuff we need to put together as a district for any of these scenarios. And while we are waiting to figure out if we can find feasibility, why don’t we get all that prepped and ready. Isn’t that a practical way to do things? Pause. It’s not controversial and you have to do it. We’re not wasting time.

Lalahpolitico:  Besides Vladimir Ivanovich, it sounds like Sangeeth Peruri also does not want to be informed by staff research?

Randy Kenyon. Los Altos School District Superintendent for Business. Los Altos School District, LASD tenth site BCS decision

Randy Kenyon. Los Altos School District Superintendent for Business. Leads discussion of Criteria for 10th School Site selection and setting deadlines for Board decisions and responds to Sangeeth Peruri.

Kenyon : [ Long Pause…] Yeah. I think there is some utility in that, Sang. Particularly maybe the selection of architects and selection of project managers.

Luther: I think we have waited 17 months to move on the bond fund – that’s the perception, not the reality – I think it is about time to start looking at the feasibility of other solutions out there. I will defer to Jeff and Randy, given that they are going to do the work to see what they can appropriately provide in this timeframe without impacting the excellent work they are doing currently. As much information/data you can provide to the board so that we don’t have a stacked serial timing on this, so that we should do in parallel what we can.

Lalahpolitico: Good, they are avoiding Brown Act violations.

Pablo Luther – I will defer to Jeff and Randy, given that they are going to do the work to see what [info] they can appropriately provide in this timeframe without impacting the excellent work they are doing currently…so that we don’t have a stacked serial timing on this…we should do in parallel what we can.

Vlad: Agreed

Tammy: And I do think that traffic analysis makes sense because you do have to do it while school is in session. So for a couple or 3 places we are looking at perhaps, some sort of traffic analysis. I know we have some for Egan and Blach that is probably recent enough to be helpful. We don’t for this location. That’s not to say those would be the choices. But I think the hard facts would be very useful to have.

Luther: OK. Jeff I think you have your direction thank you.

In the end – Let Staff do What it Wants

LALAHPOLITICO:  After all those words, it sounds like it came down to let staff do what  it wishes.  The Board will not stick its neck out now or soon by officially picking a possible “victim” District school.  But it seems clear that Blach, Egan, Covington will be on the staff research list.  As they should be, because those are the largest sites, followed by Santa Rita I believe. The board still hopes one of the 2 or 3 private land sites will gel.


Discussion Item: PUBLIC LANDS Committee

Luther: … we all know the outcome [City Council unanimously voted to end its participation in the ad hoc Joint City School Public Lands Committee on March 8, 2016]

Baier: The intent of this item was for Tammy and Vladimir to give an update. But on March 8 the council voted unanimously to terminate those meetings. With that I’m not sure the value of the update, but I think there is still value in the update, but understanding that that road is now closed at this point.

Tammy: I feel fine.

Trustee Vladamir Ivanovich, Trustee Los Altos School District, LASD tenth site BCS decision, gives his analysis of the aborted Public Lands Committee discussions

Trustee Vladamir Ivanovich, Trustee Los Altos School District, night of some LASD tenth site BCS decision on dealines, gives his analysis of the aborted Public Lands Committee discussions

Vlad: The [committee] facilitator pointed our that the District had a preference for using City Lands and only if that proved impossible, using our own lands; and the City had the opposite preference.

Vlad: I just want to make sure everyone knows the reason why the School has a preference for not using its lands, is we have a model of education that is very successful. And it’s a small neighborhood school. And we don’t want to fiddle with that model. So that’s why we have a preference for not using our own land. And we’re not out and engaged in a land grab for City land.

Vlad: We’ve always told the city that we’ve actually been interested in colocating the school on city properties. That message doesn’t seem to have gotten across. Whenever the City talks about a school on Civic Center Hillview site, they always talk about the District taking away land from the City. That’s not our intent at all. I was disappointed at the end of the last public lands meetings. And at the end of the city council meeting [of Mar 8] I was even more disappointed. All of us lose. The city could have gotten a community center that was largely paid for. And we could have gotten a school. And everybody could have benefited. But that didn’t happen.

Lalahpolitico:  It has been very clear for several years that the City no interest it discussing some kind of wacky shared buildings idea – a single building with a community center and a school in it?
NEWSFLASH. As I’m writing this,  suddenly Vladamir’s plan for a shared single building is not one of the Hillview plans published by the District.  The plans do “take” land – about 2-3 acres – way less than the minimum. The plans files one and two all seem to include expensive underground parking. There are no cost estimates, or explanation of how magically giving some Measure N money to the City makes more money for everyone.!?!?  To pay for all these changes.?!?! Where did the theater go?

Tammy: I agree I’m disappointed that we can’t talk about it on a factual basis. We never have talked about Hillview on the [Public Lands] committee because it was always off the table. At our last meeting that staff would go back into the traffic analysis we are talking about, the site flow work , start on that, perhaps have some other drawings brought forth. We never got to that step. I’m frustrated we can’t even have that conversation.
That you cannot present the ideas and then step back and take a good evaluation of them. Because we are not even allowed to look.

One thing I would like to do. At our last meeting, staff and Vladamir and I have reviewed some drawings that City had been frustrated with the type of drawings we had brought the time before. So we put together some other ones. The reason we had put together a Civic Center plan was because we had been restricted to the Civic Center and not Hillview. It was a very contained and unnatural place to put the school. We knew that. But that’s the option we had. We had that drawn up. So we had gone ahead and put some conceptual drawings, or rather staff had, obviously Vladamir and I didn’t draw much of anything. We were prepared to present those at our last Public Lands meeting, but it didn’t fit into agenda. And at that time, what I understood was that we were continuing forward with meetings. And that what we were negotiating was how much of Hillview to include. But that is worthwhile to continue talking. Unfortunately, that is now not the case.  But we do have those drawings in our hand. I’ve had so many community members, including city council members who said “Where are the drawings? People tell me there are drawings. I’ve never seen them.”

Tamara Logan trustee Los Altos School District, night of some LASD tenth site BCS decisions.

Tamara Logan trustee Los Altos School District, night of some LASD tenth site BCS decisions

So I think it is at least worthwhile to let the public have those. They really belong to the public. They were prepared with public dollars. And maybe post those on the website. So I wanted to discuss that with the board. I don’t want that to be a big negative discussion. It just feels like a way to close the door on the discussions. So I don’t have that question coming around again. “ Well you talked about this, but where are the drawings?” Because the drawings were there [at that meeting.] And that gets to some of what Vladamir said there was speculation which had killed the discussion when we’ve never been able to present anything. So I’d just like to close that door and make sure that is something that the board would approve.

Lalahpolitico: The plans files one and two on the LASD website.

Sang: I listened to most of those Public Lands committee meetings. At the last meeting I was hopeful that things were going in the right way. The District ask the city representatives, if you want the City to consider Civic Center and Hillview, then we want the District to consider scraping every single building, and all of Covington, and all of Egan. And the District responded sure. We’re completely ready to use 100% of the land and to keep an open mind. We though that was a reasonable proposal. The District would look at all of its land and the City would do the same. It’s a shame that the City is not even willing to have a discussion. And I’ve said all along…it is very possible that the CivicCenter/Hillview area makes no sense for a school at all. It’s very possible. It’s unfortunate we didn’t have that discussion. But Tammy, I think you are right, I think we should disclose those drawings. Everyone spent a lot of time on those drawings. We have used tax payer dollars.

Lalahpolitico: At the March 8 Council meeting council members also quizzed the Tammy Logan about all the constraints the District has put on the 10th site solution. Peruri is misrepresenting the decision drivers and logic of the City Council.

Baier: I will point out that one of them [Hillview site drawings]  just came to us from a community member. So they are not all ours.

Sang: the other thing I would say is the the Superintendent’s Enrollment Growth Task Force  recommended that we have two schools added to our District. It’s been 10-15 years for the Community Center development process. It may take another 10-15 years. It is possible that this [Hillview] discussion could get reopened in 5 years or 10 years. I think it would be helpful to see what work was done at this juncture.

Steve: I have no issue with this [website publishing]  and the logic behind it

Luther: I attended the meeting also [City Council Mar8] it went on till 12:30. It was disappointing because I attended the prior Public Lands meeting. I thought there was an express decision to follow a systematic process, just like you would in any structured environment. Where you look at all the alternatives, where you look at the pros and cons. In this case we said we would be willing start with a clean sheet of paper. For land the belongs to the city and for lands that belong to the District. And see what we can do with that clean sheet of paper. And then decide whether it makes sense or not. Vs. just writing it off without looking at the alternatives. I don’t think we looked at all the alternatives the way we thought we would. So that turn about was disappointing .

Luther: It was a unanimous decision. They are elected officials. That is the way democracy works. They are the voice of the people I guess. I think it was truncated, the process, by their action. I don’t know what the next steps are, or could be. At some future time, it could be resurrected. I don’t know how this works. Having said that, If we do have drawings that are feasible that are done by district reps with public money. I’m not so sure about the public coming up with drawings. If we can condone those or bless those. But if they are drawings done under the auspices of the district, I’d be fine with that…The website should only post things done by the district I think… [repetitive] You have to respect the decision, especially if it is a unanimous decision.

Tammy: So it means post it [on the website on the pages ] where we’ve had lands discussion.

Discussion Item : The “Seither” City Lands Survey

BAIER: We received an email, requesting us going in and contributing funds to a survey. I realize the City council has made a decision. The letter is asking District and City to match the organization’s amount of about $10,000 each.

Tammy: $10 000 is not a small amount of money.

Vlad: Even with the City decision, it would be really useful to hear what the “community” thinks about the use of public land. If we ask 500 people we get 500 ideas. That’s not very useful. So How to phrase the questions that go into the survey to produce a useful result. I think be very valuable.  Lalahpolitico: Is he planning to insert bias? To get the desired results?


Pablo Luther, Los Altos School District, LASD tenth site BCS decision

Pablo Luther, Los Altos School District, LASD tenth site BCS decision

Luther: That is typically done by a professional. That’s what the money is for. To print the questions appropriately and then run the survey.  Lalahpolitico:  How naive?
Sang: The Civic Center is not District land, so it doesn’t make sense to do this without the help and cooperation of the City.

Vlad: Yeah, I agree. My guess is that we will not get the cooperation of the City Council. It’ just 51 to 49. But if the council did agree, I would be ok.

Sang: I would too.

Luther: Why don’t we do then. State that we are willing to move forward, if the City is will to as well.

Tammy: It feels like kicking a dead horse.

Sang: If the City wants to do a survey, we are happy to contribute, the survey doesn’t have to be about a school, it can be about orchards, …

Tammy:  I don’t want to contribute. I don’t think it is our business how they want to use their space…UNLESS perhaps we’re involved in sharing their space. As community members we’re interested, but as the school board…

Sang: I’m just reading what the email from the community member said, “ To properly understand what the community would want for that site.” Right. And so if the City wanted to commission that survey, I think it is worth it as a gesture for us to fund it because it would interesting to see what the community would want and it maybe a school.

Joe Siether Huttlinger Alliance

Joe Siether Huttlinger Alliance. LASD Los Altos School District Activist.

Steve: We’re only going to participate if we have active involvement.

Sang: Of Course.

Luther: Only if one of the alternatives is a potential shared school site. So with the caveat.

Sang: So it’s a survey right? If you have a broad survey, it has to have all possible reasons [uses].

Tammy: I hope City Council will watch tonite’s meeting, and if they’re interested they will come to us.

Luther: This is an action item, let me throw a straw man out there.

Baier: [interrupting] Can I clarify here. Action meaning the board can take action if it choses [or not take action].

Luther: What I’m hearing from out board, it that we would be willing to contribute to the survey, if the City decides to contribute to the survey also and with the caveat that a potential school site sharing scenario be on the survey.

Sang: And the City and District jointly come up with the survey.

Tammy: this is just direction to staff. [no voting here]

Luther: Ok I think we are done with that item.


Lalahpolitico Meeting Summary

The Board set a June deadline to decide if it is continuing “the pursuit of private land for a 10th site” — aka for the 900 students at the charter school — or if will use its existing District Lands.

The Board gave direction that staff could start a bit of research about using existing District lands for the charter. Blach, Egan and Covington seem most plausible.

The Board adjusted its 10th site selection criteria to allow for some very inferior sites like Village Court along El Camino to be considered for the Charter. An inferior site could restart litigation.

The Board finally released some site plans for a school at Hillview, but without cost estimates. They all seem to involve expensive underground parking and do take 2-3 acres of City land. Inferior charter facilities as drawn could restart litigation.

The Board tentatively approved the idea of participating with the City of Los Altos in the Joe Seither survey asking “the community” how it  wants the Civic Center/Hillview used.

Only Board President Pablo Luther expressed any sensitivity to the cost of a 10th site as an important consideration.

Trustees Peruri and Taglio seemed to want to take a lot of time for engagement with parents if it became necessary to locate the 10th site — aka the charter — on existing land. They both live in the Covington area that is a likely target. Taglio may be running for reelection in November. Luther is up for reelection and lives in the Oak School 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 couple of years.

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