Saturday, January 27, 2007

Our Council's resolution asked them to create petition

Craig et al. -
The only business of the County Committee, until we showed up, has been to approve/disapprove completed petitions based on the 9 criteria. Our Council's resolution was asking them to create a completed petition which would then be evaluated against the 9 criteria. Not one committee member, and staff did not provide much guidance, indicated that they were aware that this was the case. They were in their County Committee mindset.

Part of the job that we were asking them to take on was to define the territory. Different definitions would result in different student head counts. Since no territory definition was specified, no one knew what the actual head count was. The head count argument at this point was, at best, a red herring.

One committee member said that the Council's resolution was too narrow. Hogwash. The Council's resolution merely included the Council's preferences. In my opinion the resolution's contents, other than the request for reorganization, in no way constrained the County Committee, contrary to what that member said.

My overall take was that the members of the County Committee did not want to take on this legally defined, yet novel, task. It appeared that "Any excuse to sink it!" was their motto.

- Steve

P.S. The best reason that was presented for voting us down was that there were no signs that the students were being underserved educationally. If we want success going forward we have to strongly demonstrate that they are being underserved by the current arrangement. This is not new information.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Committee:

In observing the presentations and discussions at the last meeting on this subject held in November, numerous competing factors operating in the decision process became abundantly clear:

1. Many citizens of Los Altos Hills are outraged over the treatment received at the hands of the Los Altos School District trustees over a period of thirty years. These citizens feel a loss of community that comes from absence of a neighborhood school.

2. Many other citizens of Los Altos Hills, not affected by the past and recent closure of the schools, are quite satisfied with the existing school district.

3. The citizens of Los Altos Hills cannot cure the problem themselves because they hold only 15% of the total district voting power. Even a Trusteeship, while helpful, would provide only one vote on a five person board.

4. The LASD seems to feel that reopening Bullis school in some form will cure the dissatisfaction problem. The outraged citizens no longer trust the LASD to keep its promises.

5. The affected school districts oppose any redistricting, fearing loss of revenue or loss of control over district boundaries.

6. The Committee is reluctant to add a new district, preferring to consolidate districts rather than spinning off new districts.

7. Some committee members question the metrics behind the formation of a new district. Los Altos Hills believes the metrics are sound.

Given these competing forces at work, a rational decision to redistrict or not to redistrict seems almost impossible to achieve. Any definitive decision will leave at least one party, and possibly more, very unhappy. The committee is being asked to figuratively cut the baby in half, almost like King Solomon of biblical times.

While I strongly support the redistricting request if it can be achieved, a negotiated solution agreeable to all parties seems to be more achievable. Such an agreement must be binding and not rescindable in a year or so at the whim of any party. A rudimentary draft of a "Good Outcome" (GO) Plan is now in existence, and should be built upon.

My plea to you, the Committee, is to take an active role in fixing the very real school problems facing the citizens of Los Altos Hills. Whether the fix is redistricting or a negotiated agreement, the results of the past four years have proven that we need your strong hand to achieve a good outcome. Please do your duty to the good citizens of Los Altos Hills. Thank you for your conscientious duty and for your support.

Sincerely yours,

James W. Steiner,
PresidentHILLS2000/Friends of the Hills