The Los Altos School District board is trying to enlist surrounding cities in its search for space for a 10th campus, and seek creative solutions to its facilities problem.
The school board designated board members Steve Taglio and Bill Cooper Monday night to engage the cities of Los Altos, Mountain View, and the town of Los Altos Hills in an ad-hoc committee. Such a committee would be helpful in identifying available sites within school district borders, which straddle all three communities.
“I feel very strongly we have the opportunity to do something positive for the community together,” said board member Tamara Logan, partly addressing Los Altos City Council members who were in the audience.
The board still needs to contact the City of Mountain View and the Town of Los Altos Hills to open communications on "items of mutual interest," said LASD board President Mark Goines. That's commonly understood to mean a 10th campus, but could encompass other solutions that relate to the district's ability to comply with the state Court of Appeal's October 20121 order to provide "reasonably equivalent facilities" to the Bullis Charter School.
Patch asked for comments from city council members of those cities Tuesday, who welcomed the idea of more communication.
Mountain View's mayor, when the city council receives a letter from LASD, may very well want to appoint someone to represent the council, said Mountain View City Council member Margaret Abe-Koga.
"A large segment of our community is in the Los Altos School District and it would make sense to have more communication," Abe-Koga said. She chairs the Mountain View City Council’s youth services committee and also serves on the Santa Clara County Cities Association, which talks about issues of mutual concern between all of the cities, including schools.
The "big hurdle," indeed, will be obtaining land to build a new campus, she said.
Members of the Los Altos Hills Town Council, similarly were receptive to having more communication. Patch queried Mayor Rich Larsen and Council member John Radford, who is the liaison with the town's Education Committee.
"I think I speak for both myself and Rich in saying the we would absolutely welcome an invitation of this kind, especially regarding issues of mutual interest and the well-being of students living in LAH and within the boundaries of LASD," Radford wrote in an email Tuesday.
The board also voted Monday night to send a letter, in particular, to the Los Altos City Council to establish formal communication for collaboration.
Los Altos Mayor Val Carpenter and Council Member Ron Packard made a rare appearance at the school board to express the city's interest in helping to find solutions. Packard said the City Council would be discussing the matter at its Tuesday night meeting.
“Val and I prepared a very similar letter that is inviting a couple council members, probably her and myself, to work with a couple school board members,” Packard said to the board.
That, alone, may be progress after a bit of a stumble two weeks ago.
During a Los Altos City Council meeting April 10, Council member that the school board “back off” thinking of eminent domain to take civic center land, and to state "unequivocally" it wouldn't do that. The council members' appearance signaled that a furor that erupted two weeks ago may have been addressed.
But the school board maintains that it was never considering that.
“In attending the city council meeting (a few weeks ago), there was a lot of concern expressed about the words 'eminent domain," said board member Tammy Logan.
"I have seen things in community discussion but I think it’s clear and needs to be said that it is never something we have talked about in public.”
Packard added that his only concern was that the agenda of an ad-hoc committee did not place one agency against another in an eminent domain solution. Goines said that is not an interest of the board’s.
“That is very calming,” added Packard.
- Mountain View Patch Editor Claudia Cruz contributed to this report