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Comment Peek into the Past

Editorial County board backs out on Bullis


ullis Charter School is good to go for at least another five years. The Santa Clara County Board of Education approved renewal of the school’s charter last week. Strangely enough, board members went ahead with approval despite reservations about the program. Board member Anna Song, for one, launched a litany of concerns in a recent letter. Citing a range of various statistics, Song contended that the charter fails to serve enough special-needs students or those from poor socioeconomic backgrounds. She and other board members also questioned the charter school’s tuition costs, the 50 percent enrollment preference in place for Los Altos Hills students and a charter school board that is not accountable because it is not elected. Despite going into detail discussing the concerns, the board rubber-stamped the charter renewal and elected not to gather more information or place conditions on the charter. With all due respect to Bullis Charter School and its academic accomplishments, the county’s approval defies logic. Just read this quote after the vote from Board President Joseph Di Salvo: “There continue to be many issues still to be resolved. My hope is that the adults on all sides of the issue will move toward complete reconciliation. ... My hope is that, when up for reauthorization in 2017, Bullis will go to the Los Altos School District to become its independent charter.” Translation? They backed out. The board either did not want to bother with examining the issues or, worse, was afraid to – Bullis Charter School’s “wasteful litigation” – as Di Salvo called it – with the Los Altos School District is an indicator of what could have happened to the county, too, if the board failed to renew the charter. Equally disturbing was board members’ apparent lack of knowledge of charter law. Lacking such knowledge, simple renewal was the easiest course to take. As for Di Salvo’s hope of Bullis’ being chartered by the Los Altos School District? Apparently he wasn’t listening: Bullis wants no part of the Los Altos School District – if for no other reason than the hassle of reapplying and beginning the process all over again. To its credit, the charter school has become an academic powerhouse with strong programs and high demand. Here was an opportunity for the county board to improve the way the charter school enrolls students, and the board blew it. Charters like Bullis provide educational alternatives and ultimately challenge public schools to perform better. Likewise, they should be challenged as well. Too bad the county dropped the ball.

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This 1950s-era event took place at San Antonio School in Los Altos, which once occupied 4.5 acres along Hillview Avenue. The school, built circa 1910, served K-8 students in Los Altos and for decades was the only school in the Los Altos School District. The school closed in 1956 and the building was converted to offices for the district’s administrative staff. In the early 1970s, the school was vacated and demolished, and its land was subsequently sold, according to the district’s website.

Commissions must aim higher to stop library ‘raceway’ By Kerry Swanson


alk about whispering “drive slower” at a demolition derby. Perhaps members of the Traffic and Library commissions haven’t had to dash for their lives across the road from the Los Altos main library. Is it possible that they’ve never played chicken while trying to back out of “compact” car parking spaces in a lot filled with oversized SUV drivers who back up without looking? With all due respect, recent recommendations by the Traffic and Library commissions (Town Crier, “Council puts the brakes on motorists outside main library,” Sept. 28) barely put a dent in an outdated arrangement that is a medical emergency just waiting to happen. Sure, taking the diagonal spaces away from the patrons and posting “15 mph” signs miles are a start. How about a real start, such as to: • Direct traffic flow to one-way in at the library entrance. • Cone off the diagonal parking spaces across from the library entrance. • Paint the abused one-minute spaces into roomier handicapped spaces or additional bike racks. • Widen compact spaces to code-specified, 21stcentury vehicle sizes. • Paint a pedestrian crosswalk from the last diagonal space to the entrance curb. Those who already drive carefully and politely

will obey speed-limit signs for 15 mph. The rest are late, drive 10 mph faster anyway, suffer from mild road rage or are busy changing tunes or texting. Ever been waiting in a line of cars anticipating the sickening crunch of a car or SUV hurtling blindly off northbound San Antonio Road? (My favorite is the thrill-seeker who roars around this line.) The main library is like a school. Ask any librarian how many parents drop off their children for the afternoon. We demand speed bumps and crossing guards in front of schools, but at the library it’s up to the elderly, women and children to use evasive maneuvers to survive another day. Nobody could have imagined that SUVs and vans would be prerequisites to having children in Los Altos. There was plenty of room when the access road and compact-car parking spaces were installed as part of the 1970s redesign. That was then, this is now. Coned-off spaces across from the entrance could be used for special events. Jaws of life would no longer be needed to exit your parked car in compact zones. Access-road rules would be easier to enforce because squad cars could actually access the area. Most importantly, the sight of parents clutching their children, unsure if the driver can be trusted; the sounds of honking and yelling; and the acrid smell of leaking coolant from an accident will be things of the Los Altos main library’s past. Kerry Swanson is a longtime Los Altos resident and regular patron of the Los Altos Library.

Other Voices


CNPA BNC 2011 Editorial Comment - County Board

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