Amanda Burke-Aaronson

Questions from the Community

To recuse or not to recuse

Sent the following for publication in the Los Altos Town Crier.

At the League of Women Voters forum on Sunday, September 30th, I had stated my intent to recuse myself in any vote that would pertain to BCS facilities offers. [Amanda's kids attend BCS]

After that statement I received a lot of input regarding whether or not I had a true conflict of interest in this matter. I have spent the week looking further into the issue, and gaining advice from experts. As there is no financial conflict of interest, per the FPPC I do not need to recuse myself from voting on BCS facilities offers. See the following summary webpage regarding financial conflicts of interest:

Furthermore it is my intent to seek counsel on potential conflicts of interest as needed, on individual issues, in order to be certain that I do not abuse the system and that I act in best interest of the community.

I've been asked repeatedly to outline my ideas for ways to house BCS on the current campuses in LASD.

Here are a few thoughts:

I'm always open to hearing and hatching out more ideas!

Questions from Michelle Sturiale and Molly Black.

1. What is your background? (What is your current job, past job, volunteer, interaction with city or school board?)

I am a neonatal nurse, and a professor at the University of San Francisco. I served on the Attendance Area Advisory Committee the last time the school boundaries were redrawn in 2007, and worked to represent the needs of the North of El Camino, and especially the English Language Learner community. I served as the Hot Lunch coordinator at Santa Rita, and on the executive board of the Booster Club at BCS.

2. Why have you entered the race?

My top reasons for running include continuing to strive to bring the entire community together for the good of the kids. I wish to open the lines of communication, in order to represent all the parents and the community. In order to accomplish these I plan to look at innovative solutions for the issues facing the district.

3. What are your top 3 concerns and why?

4. What will you do differently than your competition?

It is my intent to look further at alternative options such as re-evaluating the grade configuration of the schools, allowing schools to grow naturally within the physical confines of their facilities, no longer binding all schools to 600 students, or perhaps creating magnet programs within the district to entice students to underutilized campuses. This would involve soliciting feedback from the community by such methods as constituent surveys, round table discussions, and “open mic” nights (similar to the PAUSD where the board hosts parents for a session of just hearing what they have to say).

5. Who has endorsed you?

6. Why should someone (parents?) vote for you?

I have extraordinary and unique insight into working with BCS. I have the ability to sit down and help build a relationship between the two boards. This strength would be the best chance of moving toward a mediated solution. The current instability puts a strain on parents, our community, and especially on the children.

Additionally, I am an educator - meaning I have experience with curriculum development, leading faculty, and actually standing in a room teaching students. I am a Mountain View resident, specifically living in the Crossings. Lastly, I am a union member, and can appreciate the perspective of the teachers working with collective bargaining.

7. How do you propose the school board manage the projected student enrollment increase, especially in North Los Altos?

The North end of the district, including Mountain View and Palo Alto, would be best served by a 10th site. However, at this time, short of passing a bond and miraculously finding land, we are not in a position to do this. I have spoken with Mike Kasperzak, who has been willing to also think about possible sites in Mountain View, though most would be small. In the meantime, the Camp Site currently housing BCS continues to provide a potentially viable site for a small school in this area if another home is found for BCS elsewhere.

8. How do you propose to handle the rising cost of teacher health care expenses and its impact on the school district's financial future?

We need to act as a company would, by evaluating the costs of specific plans, absorbing the increases we can afford, and hopefully limiting the excess costs that need to be passed on to the employees. There are many factors playing into the district's financial future - the rise in healthcare costs cannot be evaluated in a vacuum. We need to look at other areas where we can decrease costs, and we need to continue to work with, and grow our basis of, community volunteers for programs.