The following letter was received by Patch regarding the Los Altos School District race. Two seats are open.
The Huttlinger Alliance for Education enthusiastically endorses Pablo Luther and Steve Taglio for Los Altos School District Board of Trustees.
The Alliance encourages its supporters and the entire LASD community to cast votes for Luther and Taglio on November 6th.
The Alliance reached its decision after interviewing each of the four candidates and studying their public positions on issues confronting the District and the community at large.
The following topics were discussed with each candidate:
• BCS-LASD relations
• Community relations
The Alliance is grateful to Pablo Luther, Steve Taglio, Amanda Burke-Aaronson and Vladimir Ivanovic for demonstrating civic commitment by running for public office. However, as detailed below, Luther and Taglio clearly emerged as the two superior candidates.
While the Alliance had initial concerns that Luther's seven-year tenure on the LASD Citizen Advisory Committee on Finance (CACF) could suggest a preference for the status quo and a resistance to change, we believe that his CACF tenure and leadership, especially his knowledge of facilities costs and issues, will be a base of strength for him as a Trustee.
Meetings with Luther revealed fresh ideas and a pronounced openness to new approaches to old issues. Luther’s lack of direct experience with recent LASD curriculum advances was also a concern, but his personal experience with both private and public (LASD, MVLA) schools give him a more varied perspective than the average parent, and could help him come up to speed quickly in this area.
Luther’s extensive professional experience in corporate finance gives us confidence, and after discussions with him and members of the community, we believe he is an independent thinker, unafraid to express himself.
His large and varied community network impresses us, including his history of recruiting BCS Board members onto working committees under his leadership.
The Alliance strongly endorses Luther, and firmly believes he will be a change agent and productive contributor to the Board from day one.
The Alliance observed Taglio's performance on the Board as well as his outreach to the community since his appointment ten months ago.
Some members expressed concern that his soft-spoken nature is a barrier to being an effective Board member. However, after in-depth interviews, we are confident that Taglio's reflective style is a source of strength. Notably, over recent months, he seems to have found his feet—and his voice—on the Board.
Importantly, having already served ten months on the Board, he has climbed the steep and necessary learning curve, yet he retains a fresh perspective. Perhaps unsurprisingly, in interviews he showed a depth and breadth of knowledge about LASD issues unmatched by any of the other candidates.
Calm, reasonable and articulate, Taglio participated as a Board member in the informal BCS mediation process. He has deep understanding of campus issues from his experience as an LASD PTA president. Taglio has good ideas for increasing community outreach and bridge-building with the various city councils. His brief tenure on the Board has already established his independence, including a willingness to cast a dissenting vote.
The Alliance strongly endorses Taglio, believing that ten months on the Board and his unmatched deep knowledge of issues qualify him as an excellent continuing Trustee.
During her interview, Burke-Aaronson impressed us with her poise, fresh perspective, emphasis on a ‘big tent’ view of community and rebuilding healthy BCS-LASD relations.
We acknowledge that, as the lone BCS parent among the candidates, she could uniquely bring a BCS-parent perspective into LASD Board discussions. Burke-Aaronson has also clearly demonstrated an ability to marshal resources in support of her well-organized campaign.
However, it is apparent that Burke-Aaronson lacks detailed knowledge of the LASD academic and financial landscapes, and faces a learning curve far steeper than Luther, to say nothing of the delta versus incumbent Taglio. For all her activism and emphasis on bringing change to the LASD Board, we were perplexed by her admission that she has never attempted to gain a seat on the BCS Board, nor does she know anyone who has. Her statement that legal requirements would cause her to recuse herself from every BCS-related decision, due to conflict of interest, creates potential for a series of 2-2 deadlocks on important Board decisions.
The Alliance is concerned that, notwithstanding her well-expressed intent to serve the entire LASD community as Trustee, any vote or action she undertook might lack credibility and/or legitimacy, especially in light of her past strident advocacy for BCS interests in social media.
While Burke-Aaronson’s apparent interest in bridging the community divide is tempting, and she seems personally earnest and agreeable, we believe she could accomplish as much (or more) healing as a parent activist working within the BCS community. The BCS-LASD situation might feel like the highest priority today, but there are other significant matters coming before the LASD board. Burke-Aaronson seems the least prepared of the four candidates to address these other matters and has a known strong bias in the matter of BCS-LASD relations.
The Alliance does not endorse Burke-Aaronson, but sincerely hopes to partner with her to bridge the BCS and LASD parent communities.
Ivanovic is a passionate, activist LASD parent with a strong interest in modernization and transparency. We are conscious that he attends many LASD meetings, is also member of CACF, and that community outreach is a major focus. Ivanovic expressed many ideas for how the LASD Board could improve community connection.
However, based on our interviews, we are concerned about his inability to identify specific opportunities to solve significant problems facing the district. We are also concerned that he seems the least prepared of the four candidates to work with other members of the board to reach consensus solutions.
Ivanovic is a dedicated community volunteer who, we believe, sincerely wants to help and to drive progress, but we believe he not ready to occupy a seat on the LASD Board at this time.
The Alliance does not endorse Ivanovic, but hopes he will consider contributing at least a portion of his significant passion and commitment toward some Alliance initiatives.
About the Alliance: Founded June 2012, The Huttlinger Alliance for Education (HAE) is a non-profit, volunteer-run organization based in Los Altos, representing over 1,000 concerned citizens. HAE supports innovation and excellence in public education with advisory services, strategic funding, and political advocacy for communities that provide superior public education. HAE was established to fill gaps where existing entities do not meet community needs.