Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Endoresments for City Council, SCCSB

I don't normally voice opinions about what other government bodies are up to, but... with my ballot sitting at home, waiting to be completed, I thought it appropriate to share a couple of thoughts on how I plan to vote.

Los Altos City Council - Curtis Cole
I am pleased to endorse Curtis Cole for city council. Curtis already has significant experience, having served on our council (incl. time as Mayor), the planning commission, and other capacities in our local government. After taking a break, he's ready to come back.

I like Curtis' pragmatic approach. The biggest issue I see facing the city council is the need to redevelop downtown. While some residents may prefer the "quaint" feel, we're at real risk of losing any functioning downtown area over the next few years. If we don't encourage multi-story development, our existing 20%+ vacancy rate will continue to climb. Curtis has been active with Los Altos 2025, a visionary group that has shown a clear plan for revitalization. That revitalization means millions of dollars of new revenue for the school district- plus, it'll make our downtown a true hub of activity, with services for all residents.

Santa Clara Count School Board - George Tyson
For the County Board, I'm voting for George Tyson. George has previously been heavily involved in the Cupertino School District, and served those constituents well. Now he's stepping up to a county position.

Most of the LASD interaction with the county comes around the Bullis Charter School. I believe George brings a pragmatic approach to that situation. He doesn't overly favor one side or the other, but is very cognizant of the implications of the decisions the county makes, and the impact it has on local boards such as LASD. I look forward to working with him over the coming years.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

History is Made (BCS agreement)

Sometimes history is a big moment, like the invasion of Normandy or landing on the moon. Other times, the event itself is just a small step that begins a longer journey, like isolating penicillin or compressing the first music file into digital form.

We've had a small historical breakthrough with BCS.

On Sept 28th, the LASD Board passed a resolution that modifies the way we allocate teaching stations (classrooms) to the BCS campus. Last night, the BCS Board also passed the same resolution, creating a bi-directional agreement. No judges were involved, and it only required a small amount of consultation with outside counsel.

I've written about this agreement before. The substance is unchanged from when I described it on Aug 16th. (link to post) The agreement basically says that if LASD classroom allocation changes after the date when we allocate space to BCS, they'll accept the same change, up or down.

I have to thank my fellow board members for their thoughtful consideration of this agreement. It did not pass LASD unanimously, but I believe that everyone gave it careful consideration and voted their conscience. I'd also like to extend my thanks to the BCS Board, particularly those members who worked with us over the past 4 months in getting this agreement in place. It was not an easy task, and I often doubted that it would ever see the light of day. i'm glad it has finally been passed by both boards.

Legally we are not required to have entered this agreement. We can stand firm on the April 1 deadline and not change our allocation to BCS. Historically, though, we have improved their offer if our situation improved. This agreement means that we're committed to that path. In return, BCS agreed that if our allocation got worse, they'd agree to reduce their allocation, even though they are not obligated to do so under the law.

The "historic" part of this agreement isn't so much the content- we've made these adjustments most every year. The historic aspect is that we agreed to this together, without having to resort to the courts.

There are some who felt that we shouldn't be doing this while BCS is still appealing last year's ruling. While I understand that sentiment, I have to disagree. If we wait for the optimal time to make progress in the relationship, we'll never move it forward.

Don't get me wrong- I am still incredibly frustrated that BCS has chosen to litigate so often. BCS is still appealing their loss in district court last fall. I believe that LASD will be upheld when that ruling is completed. There are many other ways that this relationship is still extremely broken. Still, today I can hope that this one small agreement is the beginning of a less contentious relationship.