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Tonight: Six vie for open PV school board seat

Original post made on Mar 26, 2019

The Portola Valley School District school board plans to appoint a new board member at a public meeting on Tuesday (March 26) to fill the slot of trustee Michael Maffia, who resigned from the board in early March.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, March 26, 2019, 8:29 AM

Comments (11)

Posted by NOT ANNE
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Mar 26, 2019 at 12:48 pm

We really don't need yet another stacked School Board.

Anne was positively relentless in pursuing the bond measure, in spite of opposition due to lack of transparency and concern about the lack of promised adaptation of the previous board's architectural design. Not only will Anne not listen to any opinions that oppose her own. We do not need her to help choose yet another horrible superintendent for this district.

People ask what is wrong with the PVSD schools---why can't we choose decent principals? Why do our superintendents misuse funds, intimidate others, leave abruptly (with full pay)? Even the PVSD is asking this, having listed (on the Stanford Business School website) a study asking for volunteers to determine why the PVSD does not have the public trust. (This does make us wonder if Mr. Maffia's firm is going to apply for the developing of the CMS or Ormondale campus, hence his resignation. To avoid conflict of interest?)

Here's your answer: Conflict of interest. Anne was a proponent---a super active proponent---of the bond issue. The PVSD is supposed to be non-biased, non-partisan. She's clearly not.

Posted by They'll appoint the co-chair of measure z
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Mar 26, 2019 at 5:39 pm

Because they need people to support measure z unquestionably. They don't want someone who'll contest the lunacy of spending that much money in a district where money is wasted, the same way they waste the water that runs down the streets. Knowing PVSD, they probably asked her to apply prior to the official resignation of Maffia. When anything to do with this project goes 50% over budget, as ALL projects do within PVSD, don't say you weren't warned, PV residents. They didn't need to ask Stanford Alumni why there's no trust in them left. The things they don't disclose, the things they're not honest about, the things they hide, or misreport, are just some of them.

Posted by Eric Hartwig, PVSD Superintendent
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Mar 28, 2019 at 8:27 am

I do not normally wade into these unmoderated forums where uninformed and anonymous contributors are allowed to trammel on their neighbors’ reputations without fear of being called to accounts. But in this instance I cannot stand by. The Town of Portola Valley should know that Anne Fazioli-Khiari and Michael Maffia devoted vast amounts of their personal time and energy to the improvement of our schools, for the benefit of today’s and future children. They assumed responsibilities that few would, and they were extraordinarily successful in their efforts. Any community would be grateful when such people step forward. To suggest that either one of these people would commit themselves to this work for any type of personal gain is beyond ridiculous.

We all know of the very unfortunate history of a decade ago, but today’s PVSD bears no resemblance whatsoever to that era. The teachers, the administration, and the families of PVSD have worked tirelessly to erase memories that they did not create. Just three weeks ago the district earned one of the highest accolades possible when Standard and Poor’s increased the district’s credit rating by two notches, from AA- to AA+. This decision came after rigorous analysis of the district’s finances, management, resource allocation, and public engagement. We are proud of this accomplishment and submitted a press release and the S&P ratings letter to The Almanac, twice, but this good news wasn’t newsworthy enough to be published.

It is precisely because of the difficulty we have in overcoming the new norms of public discourse that I reached out to Stanford Business School’s Alumni Consultant Team for help in framing and disseminating our message to the broader community. There is much work still to be done, and we are going to need everybody’s support to provide the schools and facilities that our children deserve. I invite any readers to contact me personally for help with any questions about the district. We are going to need more individuals like Anne and Mike, or even “Not Anne” or “They’ll Appoint,” to raise their hands and say “Heck yeah, I can do that. I’ll volunteer.”

Eric Hartwig
Portola Valley School District

Posted by They'll appoint the co-chair of measure z
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Mar 28, 2019 at 4:33 pm

Can't speak for 'Not Anne', but if I hadn't been a volunteer for the school district, I wouldn't KNOW about the reasons for lack of trust that I mentioned in my earlier comment. I said nothing about 'personal gain' either, as in my experience I lost time, money and faith in the district and staff to act conscionably and fairly years ago, and that really hits home. If you had appointed someone who was going to question the reasons why this district needs a sparkling new campus for $50 million plus when kids in other local districts don't have textbooks, I might have been happier at 'giving' an extra $2000 per annum on property taxes in addition to the other bond measure that hasn't yet expired. Yes, PVSD still has much work to do in disseminating their message to the community, that I can agree with. When are they going to start?

Posted by Disappointed
a resident of Portola Valley: Portola Valley Ranch
on Mar 28, 2019 at 5:23 pm

Eric highlights the problem so clearly:

A) He thinks he has a “messaging” problem when in fact it’s not the message. It’s the spending and the process.

B) He conflates the community’s resistance to spending with previous financial impropriety. No one thinks you’re embezzling. We think you ran a manipulative process to get your bond passed, rather than an earnest, straightforward democratic process to assess the community’s true desires. You mis-represented the school conditions and kept changing the argument about whether you were effectively maintaining the schools.

C) He thinks we’re ignorant.

It’s not that we’re stupid. It’s not that we think you’ve misappropriated funds. It’s that we don’t think our shrinking schools need 50 million of spending. And the taxpayers don’t need to keep paying the full 100 million including interest long after you’ve retired with a full pension and no accountability. I want a school board that will challenge the superintendent, think long-term and effectively maintain our schools, not someone who is eager to throw away an 18 year school that we’re still paying for.

Posted by Also disappointed
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Mar 28, 2019 at 7:25 pm

@ disappointed re b) and c) Plus that as yet, unsubstantiated rumor, that when the playground ran over budget by a few hundred thousand dollars, monies were used from the deferred maintenance budget to complete it without alerting the public and donors? Why did that finance guy move on again?

Posted by Get Active
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Mar 28, 2019 at 8:34 pm

This forum isn’t a way to influence the choice here. We don’t get to vote on this but you can let the existing board know who you prefer.

Email to Include your reasoning.

I don’t know Anne and she sounds like a great person and a dedicated volunteer but I think the spending is ridiculous. I’d rather have someone with a more critical eye.

Posted by They'll appoint the co-chair of measure z
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Mar 28, 2019 at 9:41 pm

@ Get Active Do you really think that our emails to the board are going to make any difference at all? Shall we just wait and see who they appoint? I said it would be Anne Fazioli Khiari on March 26th. If I'm right, then we should question the board.

Posted by Member
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Mar 29, 2019 at 2:40 pm

Once upon a time people used to understand that services like schools and public infrastructure were worth investing in, and those investments made a difference in the community and were part of our civic responsibility. Clearly, most of the commenters here have no idea what it costs to do major infrastructure projects and are under the mistaken impression that there's a cheaper way to get similar results.

Further, I think a lot of you are disingenuous. You don't actually care about the schools here, you simply want to live in a nice community like PV, but with the least possible participation and at lowest possible cost. I've been to a number of the PVSD School Board meetings, and there are usually only a handful of people there who don't have kids in the schools present.

Maybe it's time for you to consider moving to a nice Red State with low taxes and third-world educational standards.

Posted by They'll appoint the chair of measure z
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Mar 29, 2019 at 8:52 pm

I was wrong about the appointment. I'm amazed, but wrong. Maybe this means PVSD is really attempting to rebuild trust, question unnecessary spending, address waste, manage its maintenance challenges, and curtail extravagant real estate plans, to instead benefit the education and emotional growth of students. Congratulations to Kimberley Morris Rosen.

@member who thinks this is all about money. Since there are currently 36 states rated higher in education than California, maybe the fact that their focus is more on education/kids well-being, rather than cutting edge buildings/classrooms, is a hint.

Web Link

If you then take the statistic that the US is ranked 27th in the world for education and healthcare, the argument re money solving all ills, is even weaker.

Web Link

Money can't buy everything.

Posted by Member
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Mar 30, 2019 at 10:09 am

@They'll appoint the chair of measure z - actually the fact that we're 36th is pretty good given that California is 41st Educational Spending in the US adjusted for cost of living. Several of those states spend SIGNIFICANTLY more than CA on a per student basis.

"California schools spent $10,291 per K-12 student that year, or about $1,900 less than the $12,252 per student spent by the nation as a whole, the report said. Notably, California's per student spending was up about $2,000 from the 2012-13 fiscal year, when the state ranked 50th in the nation" - Politifact, January 2018.

While there are certainly lots of opportunities to improve education, all of them require additional funding, and having modern, safe and functional classrooms and facilities are pretty near the top of the list.

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