There were four items on this board agenda of particular interest to the League of Women Voters of Los Altos-Mountain View Area:

  1. BCS LCAP 2017-2018.  Every school district in California is required to fill out a form of their Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP), present it to their board, and submit it to their county office of education. Cynthia Brietson, Principal/Director of Educational Services for Bullis Charter School, described at length the highly detailed form requirements that continue from year to year so that they can compare their progress over time. This time she could point to the brand new “state report card” that all schools and districts are compared by. This new system is meant to show a “dashboard” of colors, with blue rankings the highest possible, next green, next yellow, next orange, and finally red. Principal Brietsen was able to show the BCS board members that BCS scores “blue” in all the reported categories. Since BCS is all blue, the key for them now is to focus on fidelity, meaning they should continue with the programs, processes, teaching, and parent involvement that make BCS a successful school. One specific recommendation was to continue with professional development for their teachers and staff.
  2. With two BCS board members leaving the board at the end of their term the Ad Hoc Nominating Committee searched and interviewed interested new board members. Nominating Committee Chair David Jaques described their recommended choices; the board will vote to approve them at the next board meeting. Expressions of appreciation were extended to departing board members Jennifer Carolan and Tom Dennedy.
  3. Board members all over the region are grappling with the high cost of housing as they work to attract and retain quality teachers and staff. At tonight’s board meeting the board heard a presentation on teacher housing issues and options by Dr. Mary Ann Dewan, Deputy Superintendent of the Santa Clara Office of Education. In addition to this presentation Dr. Dewan also alerted the board members of two potential options to help teachers with their down payment for a home in the Bay Area. One option is via a start-up called Landed. (Los Altos School District and Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District are also looking into the Landed investment model.) Another potential option is AB 1182 (Evan Low) which would help provide a down payment for teachers in high cost counties who teach in the fields of bilingual education, STEM, or special education. (This bill is currently in the Appropriations Committee. LWVC has not taken a position on this bill since it doesn’t cover all of California.)
  4. Board members heard a presentation by Betsy Nikolchev, Executive Director of the Foothill College Family Engagement Institute, on “Stretch to Kindergarten.” STK is a tuition-free six plus week pre-K spring/summer program for underserved families that operates in many local school districts including at Bullis Charter School. The priority for enrollment is for children who have not attended a quality preschool and who come from low income families. There’s a strong parent education component as well as providing internships for youth interested in this field. The STK class of 2017 has 16 children enrolled, 14 of which are Spanish speaking. These children are from Los Altos, Mountain View, Palo Alto, Santa Clara, East Palo Alto, and Oak Grove School District in San Jose.

— Ellen Wheeler, Observer