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2 N The Almanac N TheAlmanacOnline.com N January 16, 2013
UP F RONT
Menlo Park district turns to public to help plan school campuses By Renee Batti Almanac News Editor
ould the Menlo Park City School District community endorse significantly larger class sizes or year-round school? Judging from history, no. That’s one reason the school district’s option of terminating the lease with the tenants of its former O’Connor School site and opening its own school there is looking more like a reality. The school board and district staff are moving into high gear to make a decision by midMarch about whether it will end the O’Connor site lease with the private German American International School. Community meetings and special board meetings have been scheduled for the next two months to get the public’s views and ideas about how the district should proceed in the face of an everincreasing student enrollment at its four schools: Encinal, Laurel, Oak Knoll, and Hillview Middle. The board meets at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 15, to approve “guiding principles” the district will call upon to decide how to address the enrollment surge, and three community meetings will be held in February. Board President Terry Thygesen said the community meetings are critical to helping the board decide among options, which include increasing class
size or going to year-round school so that no new campus would be necessary; or creating a new school at the O’Connor site at 275 Elliot Drive in Menlo Park. Although a list of options has been compiled, the board is open to the community’s ideas beyond those on the list, Ms. Thygesen said. “We’re throwing things out as an academic exercise, trying to seed a conversation. But no analysis on the various options (has been done.). That’s the next step.”
Community meetings are set as the board nears a decision on opening a new campus. The list of options also includes creating a magnet school; and integrating Laurel School and a new school on the O’Connor site, creating a single K-5 neighborhood school. The district’s enrollment has increased by about 40 percent since 2000, and is not projected to level out for several more years, according to district Superintendent Maurice Ghysels. The increase significantly
exceeded enrollment projections done in prior years. This year’s enrollment is 2,791, up 81 students from the prior school year. In the 201314 school year, the district is expecting enrollment to rise to about 2,882, an increase of 91 students, according to Ahmad Sheikholeslami, the district’s director of facility planning and construction. A prior study projected enrollment for the 2014-15 school year at 2,847 — a figure that will be exceeded by 35 students one year early, according to current projections. In accordance with a termination clause in the lease, the district must notify the German American school by April 10 if it is to end the lease. But district officials say they want to make the decision by the board’s March 12 meeting to give the private school more notice. The GAIS took over the O’Connor site in 1991; the lease expires in June 2016. The private school operates out of one permanent building and several portables, and has an enrollment of 315 students, according to its website. The district has said that if it breaks the lease, a new district school may open for the 201415 school year. For dates and additional information about the community meetings, call the district office at 321-7140.
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PERSONAL REFLECTIONS Whether you are wearing eyeglasses with prescription lenses or looking at someone wearing them, reflections and glare can be very distracting. Thus, it is a good idea to opt for an antireflection (AR) coating for your lenses. This can be especially advantageous if you have a stronger prescription, because most choose Hi Index materials when filling stronger prescriptions, and these materials reflect even more light off their surfaces. And the purpose of an AR coating is to reduce the light reflected
off your lenses, both front and back. This means that you would be less susceptible to glare emanating from behind. As for reducing the light that is reflected off the front of the lens, this feature enables others to see what lies behind your lenses. Eyeglasses are a customized product. The shape of eyeglass frames, the style of bridge, and how the frame sits on your face can affect how you see and minimize some facial features while enhancing others. Bring your eyewear prescription to MENLO OPTICAL at 1166 University Drive, on the corner of Oak Grove Avenue and University Drive. Because we are locally owned, we emphasize individualized attention and quality products. Call us at 322-3900 if you have questions about lenses or frames. We provide complete repair service. P.S. An antireflective coating provides a great safety benefit by providing better vision for driving at night. Mark Schmidt is an American Board of Opticianry and National Contact Lens Examiners Certified Optician licensed by the Medical Board of California. He can be easily reached at Menlo Optical, 1166 University Drive, Menlo Park. 650-322-3900.
Ormondale School sets parent visitation day Parent visitation day will be held at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 31, for parents whose children will be attending either transitional kindergarten or kindergarten at Ormodale School in the fall of 2013. The day will begin with a short orientation by principal Jennifer Warren. Parents will then brief ly visit the four kin-
dergarten classrooms. Registration forms for kindergarten will be available in the school office afterward. Children should not attend visitation day. Incoming kindergartners must be 5 years old on or before Oct. 1, 2013, in order to be registered for kindergarten. In accordance with the
Kindergarten Readiness Act of 2010, Ormondale will offer transitional kindergarten for those children with fifth birthdays between Oct. 2 and Dec. 1, 2013. Ormondale is located at Shawnee Pass in Portola Valley. For more information, call the Ormondale School office at 851-1777, ext. 1151.
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4 N The Almanac N TheAlmanacOnline.com N January 16, 2013
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Local News M
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Menlo cop caught with prostitute keeps job Case sheds light on confidential police disciplinary process.
By Sandy Brundage Almanac Staff Writer
earing a knock at the Motel 6 door, a prostitute wearing a black catsuit answered, $20 bills stashed in her cleavage. In the bathroom, Sunnyvale police officers found a veteran Menlo Park police detective wearing nothing. End of his career? Nope. Officer Jeffrey Vasquez, 48, returned to duty in the Menlo
Park Police Department late last year, following an internal affairs investigation triggered by the bust. He had also been charged with misdemeanor solicitation by the Santa Clara County District Attorney. What internal sanctions he faced remains unknown; the state’s confidentiality laws prevent discovery of penalties levied by his employer. The leak
Under California law, internal affairs investigations — even the fact that an investigation has occurred — are confidential
personnel matters. So are complaints of misconduct and police disciplinary records. But the investigation came to light anyway more than a year later. On Oct. 17, 2012, Menlo Park City Manager Alex McIntyre sat talking about city business with his predecessor, Glen Rojas, at a communal table near the bar at the Menlo Hub, a Menlo Park restaurant. Their conversation carried to an Almanac reporter sitting at the other end of the same table. Part of their discussion involved the city’s binding arbitration policy, invoked when a
police officer appeals a disciplinary penalty after failing to convince city management to reverse it. Apparently the city “lost royally” during arbitration, Mr. McIntyre said, forcing Menlo Park to reinstate the officer. The city manager said he told the council that paying the officer to leave instead of returning to work would be “a million dollar check.” He expressed frustration that some members of the City Council wanted to discuss the matter publicly despite regulations prohibiting disclosure. Without naming Officer
Vasquez, the city manager mentioned the officer’s length of service and gender. Only two current officers matched the description; a painstaking search of employment data, police logs and court records led the Almanac to a Santa Clara County Superior Court file that detailed the case against the officer. “You overheard a conversation between two colleagues,” Mr. McIntyre told the Almanac during an interview in January. He said he didn’t remember preContinued on page 10
Parcel tax vote likely for PV school district By Renee Batti
district board room. The school community was rocked last year by revelations oters are likely to be asked that then-superintendent and this spring to renew and chief finance officer Tim Hanboost the Portola Val- retty had embezzled more than ley School District’s parcel tax, $100,000 from the district, and which last year raised close to significantly misrepresented the $1 million for the two-school amount of money the district district. had at its disposal. After extenThe tax, approved by voters sive audits were performed and with the passage of Measure austerity measures put in place, C in 2004 and Measure D in the district closed the fiscal 2010, will expire in spring 2014. year ending June 30, 2012, with The district hopes a $31,000 deficit to place both meaand no money in sures on the ballot its reserve fund. in May for an eightBut the disThe district year renewal, and trict’s plan to ask raise the combined hopes to raise the voters to renew amount district resand possibly parcel tax by idents are assessed increase the par43 percent, to to a maximum of cel tax “has noth$656 — a 43 percent ing to do with $656 a year. increase. Tim Hanretty’s Currently, the actions,” school combined tax from board President both measures is Jocelyn Swisher $458 per parcel. Measure C said in an email to the Almanac. assesses $290 per parcel annu- “Through restitution (courtally; the assessment for Measure ordered at $181,750 to include D is $168 per parcel each year. attorney and auditor fees and That has added up to a robust other costs) and improvements supplement to the school dis- in process and oversight, we trict’s budget over the years, feel that those issues have been last year bringing in $987,296, addressed.” according to Sandra Lepley, the Instead, the parcel tax issue district’s interim chief business “relates to the long-term stabilofficial. ity of our school district,” she The school board will consider wrote. “We have two options: we adopting a resolution placing can renew and enhance stable the parcel tax measures on the local funding that we control; ballot on Wednesday, Feb. 6. or we can let these funds expire A public hearing on the mat- and hope for the best. “This ter will precede the vote. The meeting begins at 6 p.m. in the See PARCEL TAX, page 11
Almanac News Editor
Photo by Howard Young
This tree along upper Alpine Road fell into Corte Madera Creek during a late December storm and, in falling, weakened the shoulder of the road. The situation is safe, officials say, but may cost $300,000 to repair.
December storm damages infrastructure By Dave Boyce Almanac Staff Writer
he heavy rain over the Dec. 22 weekend inflicted infrastructure damage in Woodside and Portola Valley that could cost nearly $1 million to repair, officials said. There was damage in Woodside at two culverts and an equestrian crossing over Bear Gulch Creek, and in Portola Valley at the road shoulder on a short section of upper Alpine Road. Both towns have asked for disaster relief from the governor’s office through the San Mateo County Office of Emergency Services. None of the damage affects vehicle traffic, officials said.
In Portola Valley, the damage to upper Alpine Road was to the road’s western shoulder along the bank of Corte Madera Creek. A tree fell over and took with it part of the shoulder, Town Manager Nick Pegueros said. The town geologist and public works director have inspected the site, and public works checks it regularly, Mr. Pegueros said. Repairs could reach $300,000. The town “will repair it at some point in the future, but it’s not a threat to life, safety or property,” he added. See STORM DAMAGE, page 11
January 16, 2013 N TheAlmanacOnline.com N The Almanac N 5
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6 N The Almanac N TheAlmanacOnline.com N January 16, 2013
Bradley’s Fine Diner to replace Gambardella’s Celebrity chef Bradley Ogden is planning to open a new restaurant in the large, plantationstyle building that formerly housed Gambardella’s on Merrill Street across from the Menlo Park train station, a spokesman for Ogden has announced. Mr. Ogden, a chef and restaurateur who has a home in San Jose, is poised to open B.F.D. (Bradley’s Fine Diner) in late summer. He plans to develop a restaurant with food served in a casual, approachable atmosphere, said Michael Duffield, a spokesman for Ogden. The space features a 2,800-squarefoot, wraparound deck that would be used for patio dining. Gambardella’s — which had been a Menlo Park mainstay since the mid-1980s, aside from a brief three-year stint in Burlingame — closed in late December. A phone call to Andy Gambardella was not immediately returned. The proprietors of nearby restaurants Crepes Cafe and Lisa’s