Palo Alto Weekly

News - January 18, 2013

News Digest

Board members back school-attendance change

Jim Lukash's preschool daughter has looked forward to starting kindergarten at Addison Elementary School in Palo Alto, directly across the street from the family home on Middlefield Road.

But such are the exigencies of school-enrollment demands that the Lukash home, despite its proximity to Addison, will be assigned to Walter Hays Elementary School according to new boundaries expected to be finalized Jan. 29.

"Under this proposal our daughter is banned from attending the school that's directly across the street," Lukash told the Board of Education Tuesday night, Jan. 15.

Board members said they sympathized with Lukash but maintained the boundary is being changed to prevent worse problems for a greater number of families. All five indicated they intend to support the change when it comes up for vote Jan. 29.

With an explosion of young families in the current Addison attendance area, dozens of students in recent years have been "overflowed" to schools across town. At the same time, Walter Hays has had room to spare, officials said.

The boundary change — to take effect this fall — will mean greater certainty that neighborhood families will in fact be able to attend their assigned schools, they said. Current Addison students and their younger siblings will be able to stay at Addison.

The new boundaries will shift about 20 blocks of households, both north and south of Embarcadero Road and east and west of Middlefield, from the Addison to the Walter Hays attendance area.

The shift will mean more children trying to cross Middlefield at Kellogg Avenue and Melville Avenue, and officials said safety protocols are still being worked out.

Do City Council members talk too much?

Worried that lengthy meetings are "undermining public confidence" in the political process, Palo Alto's mayor and two City Council members have called for possible mandatory limits on council members' speaking time.

If council members do not voluntarily shorten their questions and comments, "mandatory provisions to limit council questions and debate time" should be considered at a mid-2013 retreat, Mayor Greg Scharff and council members Larry Klein and Gail Price said in a memo to colleagues.

The average length of council meetings — held almost weekly — crept up from about four-and-a-half hours in 2008 through 2011 to five hours in 2012.

Last year, 37 Council meetings started before 6 p.m., 27 meetings ended past 11 p.m. and nine meetings went past midnight.

"We believe that these numbers show a disturbing trend," the three said.

"In 2012 we spent 66 more hours in meetings than we did in 2008, a 34 percent increase.

"We acknowledge that there may be many reasons for longer meetings: more extensive reports and more discussions from the public, for example. But the one variable we have direct control over is the time we spend as council members asking questions and discussing issues.

"We risk undermining public confidence in our processes if we can't get this problem under control."

For starters, the three suggested, the council should spend an hour discussing the problem of meeting length at a retreat coming up Feb. 2.

Oshman Family JCC chooses interim CEO

A seasoned corporate and nonprofit leader will serve as interim chief executive officer at the Oshman Family Jewish Community Center in south Palo Alto, center officials announced Tuesday, Jan. 15.

Ric Rudman will take charge starting Jan. 28, while a national search for a new CEO is underway.

He succeeds Alan Sataloff, who recently accepted the CEO position at the Chicago Jewish Community Center, one of the nation's largest JCCs. Sataloff was the Palo Alto JCC CEO for nine years.

Rudman will manage the day-to-day operations of the JCC. He was executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Electric Power Research Institute in Palo Alto until 2006. He has served on many community boards, including as board president at Congregation Beth Am, Hillel at Stanford University and the Albert L. Schultz JCC, the predecessor agency to the Oshman center.

"Ric has deep roots and knowledge of our community as well as a distinguished career in senior roles in corporate and nonprofit businesses. Our board is confident in Ric's ability to manage the center during this transition while we seek an outstanding next CEO to lead and grow the OFJCC," said Daryl Messinger, Oshman's board president.

"It is an honor to serve as interim CEO at the Oshman Family JCC. Our family has deep roots in this community, and with my past JCC board experience, I feel I am 'coming home,'" Rudman said.

The JCC serves more than 9,000 members and the larger community through social, cultural, educational, fitness and wellness programs.

— Sue Dremann

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