Jul 30, 2014
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LASD Roundup: New Blach Principal & More

Los Altos School District's transition kindergarten, still a potential cut from the state budget, eschews a central school and opts for a child's 'home' school.

This week in Los Altos School District news, the got a tweak, a possible bond election to build a tenth campus was discussed, and the new principal at Blach School was introduced to the board.

Sandra McGonagle was introduced as the new principal at , Monday night, taking over from principal Leslie Crane, who gave her notice earlier this year. Crane spent more than a dozen years in the district and was principal of Blach since 2006. McGonagle is the current principal at . (Patch will have a Q&A with McGonagle on Monday.)

The district is proceeding with plans for a transitional kindergarten program but has changed plans for a central transitional kindergarten class, said Alyssa Gallagher, assistant superintendent of instruction. It is aimed at the children who turn five later in the year, and end up going into kindergarten before they may be ready. Children in California have been eligible to enroll in kindergarten if they turned 5 by December 2. A 2010 "school readiness" law sponsored by state Sen. Joe Simitian gradually increases the age at which children become eligible for kindergarten, to Sept. 1 by 2014. It requires districts to offer an optional year of transitional kindergarten to children whose birthdays fall between the old and new dates. 

The program at LASD was initially going to have one transitional kindergarten class for all the district children at Almond School. With the possibility that the governor may cut the program, Gallagher suggested putting the children qualifying for the program at their home school instead of one central school. She said this would mean less change in a young child’s life.

Gallagher said she still needs to communicate with the appropriate staff and parents who signed up for traditional kindergarten regarding the change.

The board continued its examination of a potential bond measure in the fall, hearing from a finance consultant about considerations.

The district has a basic facilities needs that includes additional classroom space, the next step in modernization projects, improvements to fields, implementation of solar facilities, and more, according to Dave Olson, vice president of KNN Public Finance, the independent company advising the district about its possible bond election.

As such, the district would need to go to voters for a general bond measure election, which can only occur certain times in even-numbered years. The board has been looking at a November 2012 election and would need to decide by mid-August to get it on the ballot.

Scott Burke, a Covington School parent, addressed the board on a bond measure, particularly in the area of clear communication. “Getting more information to the community is in all of our interests." 

“...School size is important for those of us who chose to come to Los Altos. The more information you can give us to help carry that message out, the better chance there is in us supporting the bond.”

A copy of the finance consultant's presentation, and the original transitional kindergarten plans (central location) are attached to this article, above. 

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