Thursday, March 3, 2011

Offer to talk with BCS

Sometimes outreach is done behind the scenes,a dn quiet diplomacy is useful. However, it's also important for the public to know that efforts are being made.

Back in January, BCS approached LASD and asked that a portion of the proposed LASD parcel tax be given to BCS. We had a meeting with represnetatives of their board and discussed our concerns. I'll blog about those specific concerns at a later date. Unfortunately, the meetings took place just two weeks before we had to submit the final resolution to the Registrar of Voters. There wasn't enough time to address the various legal and practical problems to directly transfer a share of this parcel tax to BCS. It was a disappointing response to BCS.

It's important to know, though, that the parcel tax does benefit BCS. Amongst other things, the parcel tax affects our classroom loading. If the tax fails, our classroom loading will go up- and under the terms of Prop 39, so will the BCS loading. Under the agreement we signed in September, that change will apply as early as the 2011-12 school year.

Anyway, I wanted to make public an offer I've made repeatedly to BCS. I am willing and ready to come speak to BCS parents about the parcel tax, and how it will benefit their students. I've asked the BCS Board of Trustees for an introduction to the head of the BBC (Bullis Booster Club, their parent organization) to arrange this discussion. In addition to these emails, I've repeatedly spoken with members of the BCS Board and made this offer.

I won't speculate on why nothing has happened. However, I'm saddened to think that we are struggling with an issue so important to the education of all public school children in the LASD.

From: Doug Smith
Date: Wed, Feb 16, 2011 at 10:03 AM
Subject: Re: BCS & LASD Parcel Tax discussions
To: Ken Moore
Cc: Margot Harrigan, Peter Evans, Katia Kamangar


A little over a month ago, I first sent this offer to discuss the parcel tax with the BCS Board of Trustees and the BCS Parent community. I believe it is critical that we engage in dialogue about this issue. I have already heard of parents from BCS (including Ron Haley and others) contemplating a "no" campaign on the parcel tax. Clearly that's not a position I agree with, and I believe it is inspired by a number of misunderstandings and incorrect facts. Even if their facts were all correct (which they are not), a dialogue is a much more constructive way to move forward.

Should the parcel tax fail under pressure perceived to be driven by BCS, I believe it would substantially damage relations between our two entities. It would also have an immediate impact on the quality of the program at both BCS and LASD, and would certainly unravel some of the recent progress we have made together.

I understand that the BCS Board will likelynot endorse the parcel tax, but I would still appreciate a chance to talk with the BCS parent community about it. In the long run, this tax affects every member of our community, whether they have kids at LASD, BCS, private schools, or no children at all. As an elected representative, I'm interested in hearing the community's feedback. I would appreciate an introduction from you to the parents that head up the BBC, so that I can extend to them this offer to come and speak, and to hear their voices.

Douglas J Smith
Board of Trustees, Los Altos School District

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Doug Smith
Date: Fri, Jan 14, 2011 at 10:13 AM
Subject: BCS & LASD Parcel Tax discussions
To: Ken Moore
Cc: Margot Harrigan, Peter Evans, Katia Kamangar


I'm sure that in your recent discussions Peter and Katia have relayed our offer to come speak with BCS, but I wanted to reiterate our genuine desire to do so.

The Parcel Tax that LASD is considering putting on the ballot is a critical measure for all public schools students in the area. As Margot and I expressed, in the short period of time we have to make this decision, there was simply too much to overcome to add a significant variable such as explicit language about BCS to the
equation. However, a successful parcel tax campaign for LASD directly benefits BCS through classroom loading and other factors. Likewise, a failed campaign would have serious impacts to both organizations.

I know that it's disappointing that we couldn't get to the type of arrangement BCS
was hoping for, but we really do feel that this essential measure benfits all students, including those at BCS. I would welcome the opportunity to come and speak at a BBC meeting, to chat with your board, and anyone else you felt appropriate. In the end, folks will make their own decisions- we're just offering to provide our perspective as part of the dialogue, and to listen to what your folks have to say.

Could I ask you to put me in touch with the leaders of the BBC, so that I can extend this offer directly? Likewise, if you'd like to discuss this at a BCS Board meeting, or informally over coffee, I'd be happy to do so.

Best wishes,
Douglas J. Smith
Board of Trustees, Los Altos School District

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