Thursday, May 10, 2012

Bike to work day

Today is "Bike To Work Day" in the Bay Area.  The Bay Area Bicycle Coalition sponsors this day each year to encourage people to get out of their cars and take public transport or bike to work.  This morning, I rode from my home in Los Altos up to my office in Belmont.  It's a great way to start the day.

In 1969, nearly half of all kids (48%) walked or biked to school.  In 2009, only 13% managed to do this.  (Source: US Department of Transportation) We all know the concerns with children and exercise.  Riding to school is just one more way for kids to stay active.

I'd like to acknowledge all of our staff that regularly ride to work.  Folks like Jim Thurber, Curtis Schnieder, and others set a strong positive example for our kids when they arrive by bicycle.  Thanks!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Big news

For the very few among you who haven't read it somewhere else first, LASD and BCS announced a tentative deal at our board meetings last night. This marks an historic moment for us, in that we are moving closer and closer to a long term facilities agreement that will allow both groups to focus their energies where they belong- on the kids.

There is still substantial work to be done, and we heard from the Egan community tonight about their concerns. I expect to hear from other schools as we conduct outreach to discuss the deal also. We still have to negotiate the details with BCS, and the clock is still ticking. We need to complete this quickly. However, for the time being, I'm very pleased that we have reached at least this point in the discussion.

We also received some news about the possible success of a bond measure. The experts tell us that there is education and outreach to be done. However, they also pointed out that 64% of the respondents indicated they would support a bond over the course of the survey. It wasnt all perfect, but there is room for us to engage the community in a dialogue about what we would like to do and to try to build the support we need for passage. We will need to figure out how to translate that into more concrete action moving forward.

I would like to express my thanks to the members of both the LASD and BCS negotiating teams. We have a lot of ground to cover, but I believe we are on a good path.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

BCS Impact at Egan (PTA letter)

I've spent a lot of time over the past several months speaking with leaders from BCS about their needs, and what they'd like to get from the district to run their program.  As we have those discussions, I think it's also important to understand that there are impacts on both sides of the ledger for any request.  Any request for "more access" from one side means "less access" for another group.

The Board recently received a letter from the Egan PTA, expressing their concerns about an increased sharing arrangement with BCS.  They've asked for a number of accomodations to help lessen the impact on the Egan program from the increased (and ever growing) footprint of BCS on the Egan campus. 

I know that some of these items have already been discussed (in point of fact, some of them were in motion several months ago).  The Board hasn't discussed every single item in the letter, and I'm not committing one way or the other right now.  I'm simply sharing this letter so that folks are aware of the concerns of the Egan PTA leadership.  Full letter is here.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Long time, no post.

It has been quite some time since I posted last.  I really don't like that, as I've been a longstanding advocate for transparency with the board.  However, I've been trying to respect some boundaries around the mediation we have been engaged in, and it's somewhat tricky to keep it all parsed out.

I do want to provide a quick update on where things stand, though.

Back in November 2011, I approached the BCS Board and asked to create a forum where we could discuss issues.  My only precondition for that was that the discussions had to be protected from litigation.  That agreement took a surprisingly long time to get into place, with BCS adding substantial restrictions that made it impossible to disclose the content of those talks while they were in progress.  Those talks have concluded, and I'll be providing commentary soon on the discussions.

The District has also been involved in mediation with BCS, and I'll be commenting shortly on that.

The District did provide our Prop39 offer to BCS for the 2012-13 school year.  That has been a long and difficult process.  We received significant community input with concerns about a co-location at Covington.  We ultimately chose to locate BCS at Egan and Blach.  However, the Covington proposal is still a possibility for next year.  At our most recent Board meeting, we asked staff to move forward with getting proposals for an Environmental Impact Report.  The lack of an EIR was the major sticking point that kept us from being able to co-locate BCS at Covington for the 2012-13 school year.

On a completely different note, we've begun negotiations with our teachers.  Jeff Baier has sent out some notes about it, and most importantly, the negotiating team has also done so.  This is a TREMENDOUS step forward.  We are sharing with the community what has been discussed at each session.  it's not quite the Douglass County CO model, where they negotiate in open session (link), but I think it is a tremendous improvement for our district. This will allow the community to understand what we're talking about as it is happening.  Hopefully this will help ensure that we are all aligned on both process and the outcome.

I am very pleased that this year we aren't going through the same gut-wrenching cycle of pink slips that we have in the past.  Special thanks to the LAEF, and also to the community for passing the Measure E Parcel Tax last year.  The stability this brings to our district is invaluable.

I owe a number of updates on other topics, so stay tuned.  I will do my best to communicate more often.