City Council Schools

Los Altos City Council Interrogating LASD Tamara Logan

City Council has learned about misguided "LASD Board Policies" the hard way
Los Altos City Council has learned the hard way about misguided "LASD Board Policies."
Written by lalahpolitico

Here is a 32 minute video of the Los Altos City Council interrogating LASD Tamara Logan at the March 8, 2016 City Council meeting.  This is the meeting where they voted 5-0 to quit the Public Lands subcommittee. Below is a partial, paraphrased transcript with approximate timing markers you can use to jump to sections of interest. Lalahpolitico took a screengrab of the City video and added overlays of relevant explanatory text as well as selected slides and images. Think of it as translated libretto to follow along with the live opera production.

One of the best ways to peruse the video is directly on the Vimeo Page by opening the video in a second browser window. There is a short set of time markers to automagically jump the playhead  on the Vimeo page. [Click on the time.] But the transcript is more complete here on this losaltospolitico.com page.

https://vimeo.com/160158770

A Lalapolitico analysis is at the end of this post.




Los Altos City Council Interrogating LASD Tamara Logan

https://vimeo.com/160158770

Los Altos City Council Interrogates LASD Trustee Tamara Logan About LASD Constraints, March 8, 2016 from Norma Schroder on Vimeo.

** Indicates the start of what Lalahpolitico believes are the most revealing sections of the video of Los Altos City Council interrogating LASD Tamara Logan.

Jeannie Bruins, Los Altos City Council Interrogating LASD Tamara Logan

Jeannie Bruins, Los Altos City Council Interrogating LASD Tamara Logan

**00:00 City’s  Perceived List of LASD’s Positions

00:30 Tamara Logan says addressing enrollment growth is No. 1 goal, not adding land

00:55 Tamara Logan – we are not using our LASD land today because we are saving it for tomorrow’s growth

01:15 Tamara Logan… losaltopolitico…some comparative land ownership stats, Hillview stats slides

01:25 Tamara Logan’s  vision/pitch for Hillview possibilities

01:50 Tamara says the District has drafts of site plans for BCS on Hillview

02:25 Tamara then says there are no plans, that the District has not looked at plans

02:35 Tamara wonders how “the process” got derailed…”if you’re saying we’re not ever meeting again after tonite… “

Tamara Logan LASD trustee talks with Los Altos City Council

Tamara Logan LASD trustee talks with Los Altos City Council

03:05 Tamara sees opportunities for all of Los Altos…”a non crumbling community center” and a enrollment growth solution, not just one for the Charter

**03:35 Tamara, ”About the middle school conversion,” we can’t do that now, or plan that now because of the Charter school being on Egan and Blach.

03:50 Lalahpolitico: but District already paid Gelfand to plan for 6-8 on Egan and Blach with BCS there. Two slides of Gelfand 2014 work used for Facilities Master Plan Committee.

04:25  Tamara says moving to 6-8 is a way to solve the Enrollment Growth problem…

**04:45 Megan Satterlee interrogates about whose land is a “LAST RESORT.”

05:05 Tamara says YES that’s true. 
 

Megan Satterlee Los Altos City Council interrogates LASD Tamara Logan

Megan Satterlee Los Altos City Council interrogates LASD Tamara Logan

05:45 Megan asks about District’s “intent to grow your acreage” Does that mean there will be less City acreage?

**06:00 Tamara,  It depends on if one is using “stacked acreage” … multistory

06:10 Megan, that’s still less City land … Tamara continues

06:40 Megan, that’s still a net loss of City land….Tamara disagrees

06:50 Jan Pepper begins her interrogation — Is it true the LASD position is not to change boundaries?

**07:40 Tamara begins her explanation of “reboundarying” every so many years…the Crossings, Mt. Hamilton, Bullis-Purissima “moved” to Covington

08:25 Tamara: Yes we can move boundaries, but if that results in moving a school…that’s completely different!

Jan Pepper Los Altos City Council interrogates LASD Tamara Logan

Jan Pepper Los Altos City Council interrogates LASD Tamara Logan

**08:30 Jan: What about transitioning boundaries? Say make Covington into a middle school…

09:10 Tamara: Mark Goines talked about making Covington a third middle school…Jan: or is that two middle schools
10:25 Tamara: Our small school promise [Lalahpolitico now extended to apply to middle schools too]

10:40: Jeannie Bruins interrogates Tamara about the District’s sense of urgency to make a charter decision… expiration of 5-year “moratorium” on Prop 39 litigation AND how long would the Public Lands subcommittee need to continue to do what it set out to do?

11:35: Tamara: our board has made no site plan timelines. [Lalahpolitico: it recently agreed to reach a  partial decision on the charter site in June 2016]

**12:00 Jeannie reviews the prior foot dragging of the District during the Public Lands Subcommittee.. you said 6 weeks it took months

12:40 Tamara: We can get through the discussion in 12 weeks…just guessing [Lalahpolitico: she talks as if District has not already drawn out BCS site plans on Hillview. But it had them in their pocket at the prior Public Lands Commmittee.]

12:50 Jeannie segues to ask for direction from Council…

13:30 Jan moves to the “Direction from council to subcommittee” slide.




 

** CITY COUNCIL DISCUSSION

This is a partial transcript.

Jean Mordo Los Altos City Council interrogates LASD Tamara Logan

Jean Mordo Los Altos City Council interrogates LASD Tamara Logan

13:40 Jean Mordo reveals his very changed opinion…” I started the idea … sounded like a good idea at first…I was naive…the land here is as expensive as any other I found out the district has a lot land… I found out the district sets a lot of restrictions on itself… they never want to look at busing…we are wasting our time here… better to work on downtown/civic center planning first…discontinue the committee…we are trying to heal the conflict between LASD and BSC, instead we are creating a conflict between Council and LASD…stop the pain ”

I started the idea of Hillview for a school … it sounded like a good idea at first…I was naive…the land here is as expensive as any other… I found out the district has a lot land…I found out the district sets a lot of restrictions on itself… they never want to look at busing – Jean Mordo

Mary Prochow Los Altos City Council interrogates LASD Tamara Logan

Mary Prochow Los Altos City Council interrogates LASD Tamara Logan

17:25 Mary Prochow… ”I agree 85% with Jean!… this is my original position… we can’t get any more land…there is a portion of the City community that could not benefit from attending this school which admits only LASD residents… I don’t think we should be selling or leasing a postage sized piece of land. Disband the committee. They worked very hard and had the best of intentions.“

 

 

 

Megan Satterlee Los Altos City Council interrogates LASD Tamara Logan

Megan Satterlee Los Altos City Council interrogates LASD Tamara Logan

19:15 Megan Satterlee “ My position is that City land is a last resort. I invested my time to look at Mackenzie and Rosita Park to see if there could be a win win. {in 2014} The school district decided to opt out of those conversations. The Public Lands meeting facilitator pointed out the exact reason why this subcommittee is going to fail — both parties would use their land ONLY as a last resort. The number one thing we should be looking at is how  LASD can solve the problem by using their own land. We can help them with traffic. If their priority is how we can help them with our City land, we are on two different pages.’ We are never going to agree.”

Jeannie Bruins, Los Altos City Council Interrogating LASD Tamara Logan

Jeannie Bruins, Los Altos City Council Interrogating LASD Tamara Logan

21:15 Jeannie: “This is an eye opening experience for me… Some people have the perception nothing much is going on at Hillview now… Wrong…  Counting noses per acre. On Covington 94.5 per acre. On Egan, 84.5 per acre. On Hillview is 157.3… I cannot see the joint use of the 8.2 acres of Hillview. Not without taking away service. We’re not just taking away one yoga class… There is not new  info coming out of the joint public lands subcommittee exercise. When we build the new community center – I hope we will someday —  we will have even more than the 390 users per day now, so noses per acre will go even higher, with more traffic impact… One question: Would we consider taking Covington Admin offices onto City land?”

25:10 Mordo: I say no. Not on any of our 18 acres. They can rent office anywhere.

I’ve counted noses per acre… On Covington with a 900 BCS, it’s  94.5 per acre. On Egan, 84.5 per acre. On Hillview it’s 157.3… I cannot see the joint use of the 8.2 Hillview acres. Not without taking away service… We’re not just talking about taking away one yoga class. — Jeannie Bruins

 

Jan Pepper Los Altos City Council interrogates LASD Tamara Logan

Jan Pepper Los Altos City Council interrogates LASD Tamara Logan

25:30 Jan PepperWhen you first hear of using Hillview, you go, ‘Oh, yeah, that’s an interesting idea, a good idea.’ But over the years, and being on this Public Lands subcommittee, we’ve really looked into this… brings up questions. Is it fair to use City property for LASD when…/  “School Boundaries, why can’t the be changed?… My house was redistricted three times… kids are resilient / The API scores don’t even equate with the facilities … the schools are good because we have a very educated community… /…encourage the LASD trustees to look at using their land better. What is the best use of that 150M in Measure N? Is it more fair that the whole $150M could be used for the whole school district? /

Palo Alto District has successfully sited schools next to each other, Fair Meadow, JLS, and Hoover / I’d like to see a matrix of options for LASD using their land / …if they TRULY TRULY EXHAUST EVERY option, and they can’t site a school on their 116 acres, come back to us… maybe we will have finished up our visioning for the civic center and downtown…

School Boundaries, why can’t they be changed?… My house was redistricted three times… kids are resilient…API scores don’t equate to facilities… What is the best use of that $150M in Measure N? [Spending $50M on land for one school community]  … could be used for the whole school district? Palo Alto successfully sites schools next to each other…I’d like to see a matrix of LASD’s options for using their land… — Jan Pepper

31:40 Bruins “I think I’m meetinged out”

 

Lalahpolitico Analysis:

In my experience watching both jurisdictions since 2012, City Council members don’t know all that much about the goings on at LASD. And for sure current and prior LASD trustees know next to nothing about how the City operates. Mutual non-interference and mutual ignorance usually makes sense. It’s ok; we all specialize.  Everyone has their different roles. There has always been ongoing city-school district collaboration about traffic.

But now is different. When LASD tries to make their job the City’s job, it’s time to wake up and learn about “LASD policies.” And clearly this City Council has learned the hard way about some misguided  “LASD policies.”

For example, keeping sixth graders in primary school when they should be moved to a middle school program in order to get the math and science specialists they need. Virtually all surrounding districts have sixth graders at middle schools. Moving sixth grade will go a long way to solve LASD’s enrollment growth at the primary schools.

The “small school policy” — 500-600 kids in k-6 —  has  1) just recently been redefined by LASD trustees to include junior high/middle schools with actual facility capacities of 1000 and 2) been redefined to forbid locating any two schools contiguous to one another.  Palo Alto has three schools sited next to each other.  It is common in San Carlos and lots of other older suburbs.

The District is just flat out refusing to use “reboundarying” as an enrollment growth solution, even though it has done it every 5 or 7 years in the past. Jan Pepper correctly identified Covington as a prior junior high, now a primary school, a school that could easily “transition” the Covington students now there to the 3 primary schools — Almond, Springer, Loyola —  the schools such kids used to attend before the year 2000. They can still walk to school! The 100+  kids from the Crossings & Old Mill in Mountain View, who now are car commuting to Covington, can go back to Santa Rita or Almond where they used to go. Just put BCS on Covington pretty much as it is now. Voila, the cheapest, fastest solution, with the least families experiencing a boundary change. [Or share the land at Covington, building out a brand new second school to house BCS. That’s still reasonable. There is no need to place buildings on Rosita Park. ]

map of City of Los Altos and Los Altos School District

An important Council consideration is that those living in Cupertino School District area in the south end of the City of Los Altos can not attend Bullis Charter School. A question arises: Is it fair to use City land for a school these City people cannot attend. Red/pink is an outline of City of Los Altos area colored with heightened Yellow tint.

If the LASD trustees ask only parents of primary school kids currently in their schools, about “reboundarying,” of course they will mostly say, “Please no.”  If they ask Jan Pepper or maybe just Lalahpolitico and the majority of LASD residents, they say, “Please, yes.”  I agree with Jan Pepper that it is way better not to squander $50M, $60M, or $75 M on new land for a single public school community (BCS), but rather it is better to spread that $150M around all the schools, benefiting the maximum number of students.  Fix those MPRs and libraries that need it; do the seismic work; replace as many portables as possible with better buildings.  There are over $150M of “needs” at the existing 9 school campuses.

We do not need more land when the price tag is so high. No, No, No.  LASD has to stop thinking of its “community” as current LASD parents. The real LASD community is the whole LASD tax base, the LASD voter registry, and the LASD residents,  and Bullis Charter parents, … not just current District-school parents, not just current and former PTA leadership, not just current and retired “public school” teachers and their spouses. When November comes round, I’ll be looking for LASD Board candidates with the common sense to adjust the misguided LASD “Board Policies” which are harming our community and ALL the public schools.

 

 

About the author

lalahpolitico

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 only became fascinated with business of local politics only in the past couple of years.

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