Two board members at the Los Altos School District are leaving on a high note this year. Following approval of the five-year agreement with Bullis Charter School and approval of placing a facilities bond measure for the November ballot, Doug Smith and Mark Goines announced they will step down.
Both Smith and Goines started working with board members at Bullis Charter School about a year ago on what would later become the five-year agreement. Smith had been on almost every one of the "negotiating teams," and was one of two board members who stuck around until the early hours of the morning at mediation meetings to make sure the legal team was happy with every last comma in the agreement.
But Smith won't take any special credit for the agreement. He said everyone on the board and the district staff put a significant amount of time and effort into the agreement, and helped to strike a comprehensive compromise between the district and the charter school.
"It's always a team effort," Smith said.
He said that Randy Kenyon in particular, the district's assistant superintendent of business services, did a great job giving the board an idea of what the school district needed to provide to the charter school under Proposition 39.
Though Smith did not say whether his decision to retire from the board hinged on the approval of the five-year agreement or the board's success in getting a bond measure on the November ballot, he did say that the new board members will be in a more stable position going forward.
Though the five-year agreement and the ballot measure are fresh on everyone's minds, Smith said he's also proud of how much the district has improved the school programs over the years, which included throwing out the "old model" of teaching.
"When I ran five years ago, I really wanted to revamp the way we deliver curriculum," Smith said.
He said the district has done a great job shifting away from lecture-style teaching and towards collaborative work and small group projects, where students divide up responsibility for the project and have specific jobs.
"If you look at kids leaving the program, they are able to work well with others, and they are inquisitive," Smith said.
When elected to the board, one of the first things Smith had to do was hire a new superintendent for the district. He said the board's choice of Jeff Baier has worked out great, and that the board has had a "fantastic" relationship with him.
"We chose someone that we collaborate with well," Smith said. "Jeff is always very well-prepared."
In a statement addressed to the LASD community, Goines commended Baier and district staff for their service during his time on the board and for "their dedication and excellent service to children."
With Smith and Goines opting out of this year's school board election, five people will be vying for the three open seats. The decision by the two incumbents not to run gave the green light to Vladimir Ivanovic, a Gardner Bullis parent, who said his decision to run for a board seat hinged on whether Smith and Goines planned to run for re-election. He said the board has done a good job so far, and that there was no reason for him to run if all three incumbents sought re-election.
Incumbent and current board president Tamara Logan will run for re-election this year. Other candidates are Martha McClatchie, a community volunteer and parent of three students at Bullis Charter School, Sangeeth Peruri, a Covington parent and member of the district's Citizens' Advisory Committee for Finance, and John Swan.
About 25 percent of the district's students are Mountain View residents.
More information on the candidates can be found in the July 18 edition of the Voice.