Mountain View-Los Altos High School District (MVLA) Meetings Nov & Dec 2017

November 6, November 20, and December 4, 2017

These three meetings of the MVLA Board were quite long, due to lengthy discussions about how much of the Facilities Master Plan should be built, and how large a bond to propose for the election.  The various proposals presented by the architects, at the request of the board, ranged from a bare minimum plan of $210M to a more complete plan of $304.8M.  The changes in the various options included: the creation and size of Student Services Buildings to bring all services into one location; the size of the Student Unions; the modernization of cafeterias, libraries and gyms; increasing the size of existing classrooms at MVHS; the size of the Freestyle Academy building; improving Performing Arts spaces at MVHS; artificial turf fields; and the building maintenance at Alta Vista, Adult Ed, and District Office buildings. Even the $304.8M plan did not include everything recommended in the Facilities Master Plan.  Community comments overwhelmingly supported a much bigger budget to include all the needed upgrades and to build a facility that is comparable to neighboring schools and is built for the future.  Neighbors of LAHS expressed concern about having a two-story building so close to the edge of campus and suggested it get built in the center of campus.  The board did not take a vote on the Facilities Master Plan on 12/4 as planned, but deferred it to January.

In addition to the construction conversation, regular business also needed to be done.  The Annual Review for Los Altos High School and Mountain View High School was held using a new format this year, in which the high schools presented their reports together, as a panel discussion.  Topics covered included: more detailed data tracking for sub-groups of Latino students (regular education, special education, English Language Learners, and Socioeconomic Disadvantaged); gender parity in STEM classes; student wellness and counseling needs; and the impact of enrollment growth on school culture.

Brigitte Sarraf, Director of Assessment and Evaluation, presented an analysis of over 500 pages of data on SBAC *, AP, SAT, and ACT test scores, including breakouts of data on Latino, English Language Learners, Special Education, and Socioeconomic Disadvantaged students.  Her conclusion is that SBAC results in 2017 truly reflect what students know, much better than 2016 results.  She covered what it takes to prepare students for the test: provide students experience with taking tests on a device as part of regular classroom experience; cover common core style exam questions; and emphasize critical thinking and problem solving every day in classrooms.

The first Interim Budget Report was presented by Associate Superintendent Mike Mathiesen.  Revenues are projected to be $87,591,000 compared to $84,931,000 in the original budget due mainly to an increase in property taxes and in one-time state revenue increases.  Expenditure projections increased from $85,031,000 to $88,567,000, due to increases in staffing, retirement benefits, and special education costs.  Expenditures include $2M of transfers to reserves and other funds. The reserve in the first interim is $12.6M compared to the eventual goal of $17.7M.  

Keith Moody’s retirement was announced from his position as Director of the Adult School, effective 12/15/17.  New board officers were elected: Fiona Walter, president; Joe Mitchner Vice President; and Phil Faillace, Clerk.  The board selected Fiona Walter as the Board Representative for the County Committee Election. Joe Mitchner as California School Board Association Delegate, and Ellen Wheeler as representative for the Santa Clara County committee on School District Organization District 5.

*Smarter Balanced Assessment System – Testing (CA Dept of Education)

The Smarter Balanced assessment system utilizes computer-adaptive tests and performance tasks that allow students to show what they know and are able to do. This system is based on the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for English language arts/literacy (ELA) and mathematics. 

Sally Ahnger, Observer