Rotary members’ eyebrows were raised at a recent Los Altos Rotary luncheon when the event speaker — the Director of the Hakone Foundation in Saratoga — mentioned that a recent “customer” was the Los Altos School District. There was an LASD retreat held there this summer.
Superintendent Jeff Baier and Asst. Superintendent of Curriculum, Sandra McGonagle, huddled with the District’s nine principles on Tuesday, August 2, 2017 at the cushy Lower House building at Hakone Gardens for their all day LASD retreat.
No one is disputing the need for this LASD meeting / LASD retreat on Aug. 2. But $1,873– an excessive sum–was spent on rental and food. And it was spent outside LASD boundaries!
Our government agencies and local non-profits are expected to spend money locally. It is somewhere between treason and a faux pas…to send money to other locales. For example local MV-LA-LAH organizations I know, won’t consider renting at the new Elks building on ElCamino for an event…because it is technically in Palo Alto.
Some Measures of the LASD Retreat Extravagance
It would take 8.4 taxpayers’ Measure GG parcel tax payments ($223) to pay for the $1873 LASD retreat.
Kiss your hard-earned money good-bye.
It would take 1.6 parents’ suggested LAEF donations ($1200) to pay for the $1873 LASD retreat.
Cheap (er) Alternatives Passed Over?
LASD Board Room?
1.Either the LASD’s Board room at Covington School and the ILearn Studio next door to the board room can easily hold a 11 person business meeting. These rooms are quite pleasant and very business-like.
PRICE: FREE $0 to LASD, compared to the $1400 Hakone building
Lalahpolitico: Ironically LASD charges non-profits for use of LASD facilities. Bullis Charter School has occupancy of its two campuses – on Egan and on Blach – only during the school year. So when then BCS parent community produces its free summer camp at Egan for low-income children, the non-profit Bullis Booster Camp pays rent to LASD.
“…On top of all the [parent] volunteer hours, the [Bullis Booster summer] camp relies on sponsors in order to provide the food, the clothes, the supplies and the money to run the camp, with support coming from the Los Altos Community Foundation and the Kiwanis Club of Los Altos as well as companies including Linden Tree Books and LuLu’s Mexican Food. Part of the money goes towards renting the space from the Los Altos School District to host the camp, Yang said.”
The above quote is from Mountain View Voice, July 28, 2017, Free Summer Camp helps fight brain drain. There are some interesting public comments after the MVVoice article.
2. Neutra House, City of Los Altos, is $35 an hour rental price for local non-profits.
PRICE: for the 8 hour meeting, it would have been $280, compared to the $1400 Hakone building.
Garden House?3. Garden House at Shoup Park, City of Los Altos, is $110 an hour.
PRICE: for the 8 hour meeting, it would have been $880, compared to the $1400 Hakone building
Why did this happen?
Did LASD procrastinate again?
Perhaps both Neutra House and Garden House were booked for Aug. 2? But how could the LASD’s own Board Room and iLearn Studio be booked? And it is the summer wedding season, so Hidden Villa’s Dana Center in Los Altos Hills may have been booked. [LASD has used the Dana Center in the past. Lalahpolitico attended a training session for newly elected Board members in 2017, wherein the newbies got in depth training about conforming to the Brown Act and about government transparency.]
But maybe the unnecessarily expensive Hakone LASD retreat is just another small symptom of LASD’s chronic trouble with planning ahead…
Unable to plan facilities for student enrollment growth. It was a big surprise.
Unable to adopt a plan to move 6th grade to the middle school model after “studying” it repeatedly for nearly a decade. The math program remains 2nd rate.
Unable, 3 years after Measure N $150 m bond passage, to find additional land for a 10th site.
Unable to plan a range of approaches to using LASD’s existing land for a Measure N 10th site, just in case there is no economically feasible new land.
Unable to move ahead with prioritizing Measure N renewal projects at existing schools. [A piddling $275,000 was spent out of the operating budget this summer on small repair jobs…painting and flooring…]