Los Altos School Board, June 2021

LASD Board Meeting June 1, 2021

The board members voted unanimously to adopt a new math curriculum for grades TK-5 following a brief presentation and public hearing.

The Citizens Advisory Committee of Finance (CACF) presented their annual report, which showed that the district is in a strong financial position. Reserves are above target levels and projected to increase due to stable tax growth and flat enrollment. LASD facility maintenance fees are higher than those of neighboring districts, so the CACF advised setting aside $5 million from Measure N ($1 million per year for 5 years) to upgrade aging facilities. (Measure N was approved by voters in 2014, allowing the district to issue bonds in order to fund facility upgrades and the purchase of a new school site.)

Assistant Superintendent Randy Kenyon presented the 2021-22 District Budget. The budget projects that revenue will exceed expenses by about $900,000 next year, bringing the district’s total reserves to almost 15%.  Property tax revenue is expected to increase by 4% while federal and other state funding sources will decrease because one-time funding to address the pandemic will be withdrawn. Expenses will also decrease for a variety of reasons, including carryover from the 2020-21 budget and the cessation of COVID-related spending. Multi-year projections show reserves growing year over year.

For more information about the budget, please see item H.10 from the agenda for the June 1 meeting.

LASD Board Meeting June 8, 2021

Assistant Superintendent Sandra McGonagle presented preliminary results from the spring academic assessments in reading and math. Despite the pandemic, the percentage of students testing below grade level was similar to previous years, with  87% of students at or above grade level in both subject areas.

The board of trustees voted unanimously to approve the 2021-22 District Budget.

Superintendent Jeff Baier also announced increased compensation for both teachers and staff.

The board will meet on Monday, June 21 to vote on the following:

  1. A one-time payment in the amount of $1000 per FTE (full-time equivalent) for the 2020-21 school year for both teachers and staff
  • A 5% raise for all teachers and staff (in addition to the 2% raise approved earlier this school year) for the 2021-22 school year to keep salaries competitive

The board also approved the annual report from the Measure N Citizens Oversight Committee. The annual report included a clean audit showing that all Measure N expenditures during the 2019-20 fiscal year met the spending requirements specified by the measure.

LASD Board Meeting June 21, 2021

The board voted unanimously to approve the increased compensation for both teachers and staff (including non-represented employees) as discussed during the last board meeting on June 8, 2021.

Stella Kam, Observer

Los Altos City Council, June 2021

June 8, 2021

The City Council wishes to achieve a Housing Element Update that reflects the City’s goals (including community involvement) and can be certified by the State of California in compliance with State law. The City’s sixth cycle Housing Element update must be completed by January 2023. State law requires that every eight years cities prepare an update of Housing Element, a guide for the housing needs of all segments of its population.

To enlist a consultant experienced in developing a Housing Element Update, Council approved adding some Capital Investment Projects funds for the Housing Element Update and authorized the City Manager to execute an agreement with Lisa Wise Consulting (LWC) to provide the Update.

In addition, new changes in State law (SB 166) related to zoning creates new pressures for the City to ensure that sites identified for lower-income housing are not concentrated in one area but must be spread out.

Also, the City will face higher scrutiny for non-vacant and vacant sites during this cycle. State regulations designate land which is deemed ‘non-vacant’ and ‘vacant.’

Finally, the City will need to accommodate a much higher number of lower income housing units to meet the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) State mandates to be completed by 2031, which may require the City to amend its general plan and zoning code to allow for more housing opportunities for residents—regardless of income.

Discussion about community outreach and engagement included organizing a variety of ways to educate the community about the heavily regulated State requirements for the Housing Element Update and RHNA before the project is completed.

The City Council heard an update from the City Council Legislative Subcommittee on State Assembly and Senate bills that affect the positions of the League of California Cities. For bills which had been previously on the “watch” list, four have been changed to specific positions and the subcommittee has letters for the Assembly and Senate committees to be approved by Council. Of those bills, City Council opposes AB 602 which changes laws that govern local development impact fees, such as Traffic Impact fees; opposes AB 989 which creates a new appeals commission to make judgements on local public health and safety decisions about housing development; opposes AB 1401 that prohibits local government from imposing minimum parking requirements for housing. The city supports identical SB 4 and AB 14 which prioritize deployment of broadband infrastructure in California.

June 22, 2021

The City Council welcomed a new City Manager. Gabriel Engeland will begin work in Los Altos on July 19, 2021. He previously was City Manager in Sierra Madre, California, and also worked in Trinidad, Colorado and Gilbert, Arizona. He received his Masters Degree in Public Administration at the University of Kansas. His expertise is finance and budget.

The City Council directed the city staff to file an appeal of the City’s housing allocation for the sixth housing element cycle to the Association of Bay Area Governments/Regional Housing Needs Allocation (ABAG RHNA). The appeal against California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) challenges the method used by HCD to determine the numbers of housing needed in Los Altos.

The City Council Legislative Subcommittee presented further update on State legislation the Council has been asked to support or oppose as recommended by the League of California Cities. The Council voted to support SB 16. The bill makes subject to disclosure every incident involving unreasonable or excessive force by police, and any finding that an officer failed to intervene against another officer using unreasonable or excessive force. Councilmember Jonathan Weinberg states the bill provides transparency to police action and in doing so augments public trust in the police. On reconsideration, the Council changed 3/2 to support AB 989 about an appeals commission to make judgements on local public health and safety decisions about housing development. The council changed 3/2 to support AB 1401. The bill prohibits a local government from imposing a minimum automobile parking requirement, eliminates expensive parking mandates in areas with good transit, and supports changes to public driving and parking models in the future, according to Member Weinberg. Vice Mayor Enander states that the legislation would take away the ability of local governments to make parking requirements.

Observer Claire Noonan

Los Altos City Council May, 2021

May 11, 2021

Council reviewed a resolution to endorse the Carbon Fee and Dividend Act of 2021, (H.R. 2307). The resolution would recognize the importance of reducing greenhouse gas emission and would align with a City Council decision to adopt REACH practices for all new building in the city. HR 2307 creates a Carbon Dividend Trust Fund that will provide a steadily rising carbon fee and return the revenues to Americans as a dividend. This is estimated to reduce carbon emissions 90 percent by 2050 and to offset the cost of higher energy prices for consumers. The council voted unanimously to send the resolution to the City Environmental Commission for review and recommendations.

Vice Mayor Anita Enander and Council Member Jonathan Weinberg discussed seven of thirty-four bills in the current legislature that have been proposed to watch by the League of California Cities (LAC). Of most importance is opposition to SB 9 and SB 556. The mayor was authorized to sign a letter of opposition to both bills.

 SB 9 makes two important changes to state law:

  • It allows homeowners in most areas around the state to divide their property into two lots, thereby increasing opportunities for homeownership in their neighborhood.
  • It allows two homes to be built on each of those lots, with the effect of legalizing fourplexes in areas that previously only allowed one home. 

SB 556 would prohibit a local government or local publicly owned electric utility from unreasonably denying the leasing or licensing of its street light poles or traffic signal poles to communications service providers for the purpose of placing small wireless facilities on those poles.

In addition, the mayor was authorized to sign a letter to support SB 612. The bill aims to ensure all California ratepayers have fair and equal access to benefits associated with investor-owned utility (IOU) legacy energy resources. Public comment supports the Council position on SB 612.

May 25, 2021

After many debates and studies at Council meetings on the fate of Halsey House in Redwood Grove, questions still haven’t been answered adequately. City Council approved funds for three consultants to make recommendation on the property. The Architectural Resource Group will provide historical structure analysis. Page & Turnbull is to provide a historical resource evaluation. Both reports are important because the house is currently a designated historical resource. David J. Powers & Associates will review California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) questions. With active pro and con positions from public comment, it is hoped for a decision from the recommendations to either renovate or demolish the Halsey House part of the Redwood Grove Nature Preserve.

 

The City Council adopted 3/2 an amended resolution to take a leadership role on the question of the disagreement between statements by Council member Lynette Lee Eng and Los Altos resident Kenan Moos. The resolution noted that the community is affected, and Council meeting time is negatively impacted by the conflict. In the resolution the Los Altos City Council asked residents to join the Council in finding ways to move forward and unite the community. Public comment of nearly eighty residents and seventeen written comments did not lead to resolution. The Council took no further action to resolve the disagreement between Lee Eng and Moos beyond adopting the amended resolution

The City Council received an additional update on the legislative bills the city is asked to oppose or support as suggested by the League of California Cities (LAC). The bills take a position on legislation that affects the cities, mainly on revising housing regulations. The total list from LAC has been reduced to twenty-two bills. The Council agreed on authorization of additional letters for six of the bills moving from the Assembly to Senate or vice versa, including further support for AB 612 and opposition to SB 9.

Claire Noonan, Observer

Los Altos School District May 2021

May 10, 2021

LASD is eligible to receive $2.28 million in grant money from the State of California for the purpose of learning recovery post-pandemic. The funds must be used by August 31, 2022. The board approved the Expanded Learning Opportunities Grant Plan as presented by Assistant Superintendent McGonagle in order to apply for this funding. Full details of the plan can be found here.

An LASD subcommittee will be meeting with the City of Los Altos on June 2 at 7:15 pm to discuss topics of mutual interest, including Safe Routes to School, public housing, and school site decisions. The full agenda can be found here:

May 24, 2021

The State of California has signaled that virtual instruction will no longer be required next school year (2021-2022). When the decision is officially announced, LASD will notify parents of student placement, with the expectation that all students will be back on campus full-time.

LASD is proposing the adoption of a new math curriculum for grades TK – 5. The curriculum chosen for adoption comes from San Francisco Unified, and Assistant Superintendent McGonagle gave a detailed presentation outlining the reasons for this choice. There will be a public hearing at the next regular board meeting (June 1 at 7 pm) for further discussion before the board votes. Assistant Superintendent. McGonagle also wanted to reassure parents that the current 7th and 8th grade math offerings (including accelerated math) will not change.

In order to minimize conflicts with MVLA school board meetings, LASD approved a revised board meeting schedule for the 2021-2022 school year. Most LASD board meetings will now take place on the first and third Monday of each month. The full meeting schedule can be found here:

Stella Kam, Observer

Los Altos City Council April 2021

April 13

The City Council received the Housing Element Annual Progress Report (APR) with amended and now complete data for calendar year 2020. Council authorized staff to submit the report to the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research and the California Department of Housing and Community Development.

Housing Element provides an analysis of a community’s housing needs for all income levels, and strategies to provide for those housing needs. The annual APR report also demonstrates housing permit progress toward the City’s part of the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA). In 2020 the 444-450 First Street development provided three moderate-income and one low-income unit of the 26 total units. In addition, 53 Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU) are approved by the Planning Commission and 25 ADUs are at final stages by the Building Division. The current numbers are concerning to reach the number of affordable housing units needed by completion of the 8-year Housing Element cycle in 2023 and are fewer than the number of affordable housing units needed by the city for RHNA, due in Summer 2021. Public comments on the APR that signaled ‘no’ came from those who remain attached to single-family housing with spacious yards, oppose increased traffic and infrastructure, want to retain parks and open space, and think that ‘local control’ is being taken over by the State. Those signaling ‘yes’ for the need for more housing density promote affordable housing models like those being developed at 330 Distel Court.

The City Council received and provided feedback on the Los Altos Community Center Phased Opening Plan. The project is scheduled to be finished June 10, 2021, but completion is still affected by Covid restrictions. The phased opening for summer and fall parks and recreation and community use are projected to be limited. Move in and operational training will begin mid-summer 2021. Facility rentals will open in August 2021. A Grand Opening is scheduled for Fall 2021. In-person special events will be permitted in October 2021.

April 27

EAH Housing and its team, the proposed developer of the 330 Distel Circle affordable housing project, were introduced to the City Council. EAH provided the City Council and the community with information about the other affordable housing projects they have developed and shared their concept for the 330 Distel Circle site to meet both the current as well as the emerging housing needs and demands of Los Altos and Santa Clara County’s lower-income and workforce residents. The City has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the County of Santa Clara and the City Council will continue its financial support for this project.

City Council authorized the Interim City Manager to execute contract Amendment No. 3 on behalf of the City with NOVA Partners for additional construction management services on the Los Altos Community Center project through June 30, 2021. This amendment includes essential construction management services needed to complete the construction of the Los Altos Community Center due to the project schedule being extended owing to delays caused by COVID-19 and other unforeseen circumstances. The amendment includes twenty-two items to justify costs. The amount of $120,884 is still underbudget to complete the project.

In addition, City Council authorized the Interim City Manager to execute contract Amendment No. 5 on behalf of the City with Noll & Tam Architects for the Los Altos Community Center Project. The amendment includes unforeseen design updates and consulting services that occurred since October 2020 and an extension to match the current construction schedule. Although originally the project was to be completed by November 2020, the cost of Amendment No.5 at $117,581 is still underbudget to complete the project by June 2021.

Council member Jonathan Weinberg initiated a request for City Council to produce a Safe Firearms Storage Ordinance. In the California Penal Code 25100 “a person commits the crime of ‘criminal storage of a firearm’…unless reasonable action is taken by the person to secure the firearm against access by the child.” The issue is identifying “safe storage”. Of public comments, one was against an ordinance and ten others strongly supported the measure. Council voted 4/1 to direct staff to draft an ordinance to be modelled on the Santa Clara County ordinance that specifies any safely stored firearm in the home be kept unloaded or with a trigger-lock in a locked container.

Claire Noonan, Observer

Los Altos School District April 2021

April 25, 2021

Mr. Baier and Mrs. McGonagle shared that students in grades TK – 6 are now attending classes in-person 5 days a week (effective April 20, 2021). Junior High students are continuing with the hybrid schedule (2 days a week in-person for each cohort) but now have extended hours on campus as well an additional opportunity to meet with teachers virtually on Wednesdays. Summer school will be in-person at Santa Rita Elementary School and the first round of invitations will be going out this week.

For next school year (2021-2022), plans are being made to have all LASD students back on campus 5 days a week. It’s not yet clear whether virtual school will be an option. Under normal circumstances, the education code does not count virtual attendance as true attendance, and the district does not know when Governor Newsom’s special order for virtual instruction will be rescinded.

Sarah Stern-Benoit (LASD Director of Communications) presented the results from the parent survey conducted in March of 2021. Over 1100 LASD families responded, and of those over 93% are prepared to send their children back to campus 5 days a week. A little over one quarter of respondents (26%) agreed with this statement: “I am working regularly with my child every day on school work and I am overwhelmed.” 21% of respondents have “hired a tutor for the first time due to distance learning.” (5% of respondents had already hired tutors pre-pandemic.) A commentor asked to see some of the answers broken down by grade, as it could be the case that younger students need significantly more support. Another takeaway from the survey is that students need more social connection and community experiences, so that will be an area of focus for the district moving forward. There will be another survey going out to parents over the summer regarding enrollment.

Mrs. McGonagle presented information about upcoming academic assessments in math and language arts for students. Board member Mr. Ivanovic wanted to inform parents that they can opt-out of these assessments by notifying their school principal in writing.

The Board voted to approve the 2019-2020 audited financial report which showed the reserves at a healthy level (11.2%) and significantly increased revenue generated by the sale of development rights on excess land around the 10th site (purchased to build a new school).

Stella Kam, Observer

Los Altos City Council March 2021

March 9, 2021

The City Council voted 3 to 2 to regulate, not ban, boardinghouses.

“Boardinghouse” is defined by the current ordinance to include any housing unit where lodging is furnished for compensation to more than two individuals. This allows a homeowner or renter to have one or two boarders without having the home defined as a boardinghouse.

In 2019, the Council considered banning boardinghouses, but in October 2020 the Planning Commission determined that an outright ban would further reduce city housing options.

Public comment and the two Council members who disagreed with regulation said that the several unpermitted boarding houses operating in Los Altos create overcrowding, noise, traffic and illegal parking conditions in neighborhoods. Since the Los Altos Municipal Code does not contain provisions relating to boardinghouses, the City Council directed the staff to tighten up relevant land-use definitions by eliminating ambiguous overlap and needless gaps in the Code and to regulate what is now only implicitly prohibited by omission. This will aid in the city’s enforcement efforts.

Instead of an outright ban, the Council’s regulations for boardinghouses would preserve the character of residential neighborhoods in Los Altos.

March 23, 2021

The Council passed a resolution to condemn Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) violence.

Decisions on the Housing Element of the Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) will be continued until an April 2021 Council meeting.

Claire Noonan, Observer

Los Altos School District March 2021

LASD Special Meeting March 1, 2021

Superintendent Jeff Baier announced that 7th and 8th graders will start returning to campuses this month using the blended model. (The blended model is designed such that half of the students are in-person Mon & Tues and the other half of students are in-person Thurs & Fri. When they are not in-person, students continue with virtual learning.) Other grades have already been using the blended model (see chart below for dates), with a portion of students electing to continue with virtual-only rather than spending 2 days a week in-person.

Blended Start Dates:

Special Day Classes: Sep 28

TK & 1st grade: Oct 12

Grades 2-3: Nov 9

Grades 4-5: Dec 7

Grade 6: Jan 21

Grade 7: Mar 8

Grade 8: Mar 15

Sandra McGonagle presented preliminary student performance data (reading, writing, math) for grades K-5 and emphasized that there does not appear to be learning loss in the form of regression or missed opportunities for learning.  It is too soon to tell whether there is less growth than in previous years, and there seem to be more students struggling with writing and in Kindergarten and 1st grade. She also shared that academic support is available to students that need it in the form of extra hours and subject-based interventions. Over half a dozen parents spoke during public comments to share their personal experiences and to ask for more opportunities to provide parental feedback (e.g. by conducting a parent survey). Many parents have either hired private tutors in multiple subjects or even quit their jobs to be more involved. Commentors pointed out that these factors may be compensating for academic losses that would otherwise be observed. Several parents expressed that they want more time in-person for the students, and board member Jessica Speiser replied that they are working toward that very goal. Board member Bryan Johnson stated that though the data may not show it, based on parent feedback it sounds like many students are struggling behind the scenes.

The board also gave some guidance regarding summer school offerings (which will be in-person). The board suggested casting a wider net and offering longer hours in order to boost attendance.

LASD Board Meeting March 8, 2021

Superintendent Jeff Baier shared some good news regarding school re-opening. The majority of LASD employees should be vaccinated by Spring Break, and cases continue to be very low among LASD families. (Case data can be found here: https://www.lasdschools.org/District/Portal/coronavirus-information) Grades K-12 are now subject to state health orders rather than those formerly issued by Santa Clara County. In light of these changes, the Board would like to see the school district prepare to offer in-person instruction 5 days a week. The expectation is that all students will be back on campus 5 days a week by the fall of 2021, with the possibility of doing so even sooner (especially for grades TK-3). The board would like the district to prepare to make this happen as quickly as possible and to figure out what it will cost to meet state guidelines.

Randy Kenyon presented the 2nd Interim Financial Report with updates to the budget. Funding from the Los Altos Educational Foundation (LAEF) is now expected to be $2.4 million (down from $2.7 million). COVID related spending has cost the district $2.9 million so far. $1.8 million in funding for this purpose has already been received with another $3.8 million on the way from State and National sources. The additional funds can be used retroactively to cover what has already been spent.

In December 2019, LASD purchased over 11 acres of land at the corner of California St and Showers Dr, some of which will be used to build a new school. (The property is commonly referred to as the 10th site, because there are 9 existing campuses within LASD.) The school will not occupy all the land that was purchased, so the board approved a transfer of development rights to Merlone Geier for 150,000 sq ft. This agreement will bring in $19.5 million to help pay for the construction of the new school.

LASD Board Meeting March 22, 2021

Superintendent Jeff Baier shared a recent change (effective March 20, 2021) in the CDC and California Department of Public Health guidelines stating that a 3 ft distance between students in the same cohort is now sufficient (6 ft was formerly required). In order to accommodate more students in each classroom, the school district has ordered additional single-student desks which will take a couple of weeks to arrive.

For grades TK-6, board members directed Mr. Baier and Mrs. McGonagle to prepare for the switch to 5-days of in-person instruction to occur the week after Spring Break (April 12-16). (Families may also continue with 100% virtual learning if they so choose.) Shorter school days or a minimum day on Wednesdays will be considered as a response to teacher requests for adequate prep and collaboration time. The board also instructed the district to look into longer in-person school days for 7th and 8th graders rather than switching to 5-days of in-person instruction due to the overwhelming burden of making that change.

Greg Drummond and Bhavna Narula gave a presentation on behalf of the Equity Task Force and asked the board to adopt a new framework to serve as a guide for anti-bias instruction. The board unanimously approved the new framework, which can be found here: https://agendaonline.net/public/Meeting/Attachments/DisplayAttachment.aspx?AttachmentID=1285264&IsArchive=0. The board also unanimously approved a resolution “Denouncing Hate Crimes and Bigotry Targeting Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.”

Stella Kam, League Observer

Los Altos City Council – February 2021

February 9, 2021

The City Council further discussed issues related to the large number of affordable housing requirements issued to the City by the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA). The question is whether the Council wishes to prepare a response to the RHNA assignment for the City. The Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) is the body which assigns the RHNA number of housing units the City will be expected to add to its area housing. The City can appeal its numbers, and the timeframe to do so is by Summer 2021. Vice Mayor Anita Enander, with public comment from the Embarcadero Institute president, made a power point presentation of the reasons to appeal the numbers.

Mayor Neysa Fligor and council members Sally Meadows and Jonathan Weinberg questioned the power point because a majority had voted at the January 26 meeting to not allow a presentation by the Embarcadero Institute. Residents who gave public comments at the meeting also questioned the procedure that allowed the president of the Institute to give remarks after the council had voted to reject hearing its analysis. At the end, Enander suggested engaging with other cities in the region to revisit the numbers and to identify ways to preserve land for affordable housing with local zoning code changes. At Mayor Fligor’s recommendation, the council tabled the item, allowing Enander to re-do her presentation with the directive that information be presented to staff and fellow council members prior the intended council meeting. No specific future date was announced.

The City Council reaffirmed commitment to a diverse, supportive, inclusive, and protective community especially in public City spaces. The staff was directed to distribute a copy of Resolution to every Los Altos City Commission and include the resolution in the Commissioner Orientation and Handbook. The project had been initiated on January 10, 2017. The advantage of distributing the handbook is to reaffirm and support the City’s commitment. It is an opportunity to emphasize the intent of the Resolution, given the current events in society.

February 23, 2021

The City Council heard presentations on three housing projects. The City Council approved with a unanimous vote, as the Planning Commission had recommended, the construction of the five-unit condominium project at 140 Lyell including one Below Market Rental at low-income level. The project meets Density Bonus Review and Zoning Code requirements. In addition, it satisfies the Reach Codes (‘reach’ for zero-emission electric buildings—where all equipment is powered by clean renewable electricity) for new construction and provides progress on the city’s RHNA needs. Concerns from public comment included privacy, parking and traffic, and the height and bulk of the project. All concerns are addressed in the revised plan, including exemption from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Guidelines.

The Council approved the final tract map that subdivided the property for 450 First Street which will include four affordable housing units. The Interim City Manager was authorized to execute the agreement. The revised plan included improvements to the site and affected properties based on earlier public comments.

The Council received an update from the Community Development Director on the 330 Distel Circle affordable housing project. Three-quarters of the 90-unit site would be low-income level units.

The Council received the staff presentation from the Engineering Services Director on the Community Center Construction Monthly Update. Site demolition began in September 2019 with the completion to be by December 2020. The project was delayed by the arrival of the pandemic. In addition, PG&E delayed the capping of gas lines, and below grade conditions revealed at demolition had to be fixed. The projected completion date is now April 2021.

The City Council presented its 2021 goals from the retreat on January 30, 2021. There are eight goals with creating diverse, affordable housing and supporting mix and density of land use set as the first two goals.

Submitted by Claire Noonan

Los Altos School District February 2021

February 8, 2021

Superintendent Jeff Baier provided an update on school re-opening plans. The 7 elementary schools are fully open using a hybrid model. (Half the class in-person for 2 days, then the other half. Virtual learning when not attending in-person.) New state guidelines mean that the 2 Junior Highs cannot re-open until the county has been in the red tier for at least 5 days. There have been low COVID-19 case counts at all 9 schools, with only 26 cases since resuming in-person instruction on Sept 28, 2020. A total of 5 cohorts have been required to quarantine. CARES (Coronavirus Relief) Act funding has paid for modifications (e.g. ventilation) and supplies necessary to operate in person. PPE (including N95 masks) are available to teachers and staff who want them.

Based on the results of a mental health survey conducted in October 2020, board members would like to see better dissemination of information regarding where to go for help. LASD is working with the Community Health Awareness Council and has dedicated additional resources to better support the mental health of both staff and students (e.g. district wide training on suicide warning signs).

Randy Kenyon presented the preliminary budget and emphasized that it is still very early in the process and the numbers are subject to change. Governor Newsom is introducing a cost-of-living adjustment to the Local Control Funding Formula. Since Bullis Charter Schools receives funding from LASD based on this formula, an additional $350,000 will be owed to BCS next year. The $2.7 million grant from the Los Altos Educational Foundation is now considered to be at-risk, and the grant for next year is estimated to be $2.5 million (significantly less than in previous years). Board member Bryan Johnson commented that he feels comfortable tapping into the reserves as long as it continues to meet its target range of 8-10% in order to ameliorate the effects of the pandemic and stated that this is not the time to cut programs. The Budget Review Committee will take that into consideration when they begin meeting.

Fred Gallagher presented the mid-year report from the Citizens Advisory Committee for Finance and focused on the impact of the pandemic. Whether required to or not, LASD is considering a significant upgrade in the HVAC system, which could cost around $1 million. A member of the public commented in support of this upgrade and inquired about the use of HEPA filters. LASD experienced an unprecedented decline in enrollment this year of 11%, so the committee is preparing for a possible post-pandemic spike in enrollment next school year. The committee would also like to allocate resources to address learning loss caused by the pandemic. Governor Newsom’s proposed budget calls for one-time funds to address learning loss. LASD may be eligible for around $2.4 million in funding.

Stella Kam, Observer