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November 6, 2018 — California General Election
School

Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School DistrictCandidate for Board Member

Photo of Steven E. Nelson

Steven E. Nelson

Retired Teacher
14,288 votes (16.94%)
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • My primary focus is Core Value of Quality: "every teacher, every classified staff member, and every school administrator should set excellence of instruction and programs as their number one priority." Equity in this process is very important.
  • Another important matter is Board Fiscal Policy to support that achievement and equity I'm after. As a former elected school district trustee, I'm extremely familiar with LCFF/LCAP and many Budget processes down to the line-item detail (SACS).
  • The necessity of a GOOD NEIGHBOR POLICY using California's Environmental Protection Act as it’s guidance. Continuously monitoring our impact on our neighbors is important: Noise, Traffic, Street Parking, Light. Start to self-monitor these 4!

Experience

Experience

Profession:retired teacher and retired R&D engineer
Member of the Governing Board, Mountain View Whisman School District — Elected position (2012–2016)
Board member, Community Health Awareness Council (CHAC a Joint Powers Authority) — Appointed position (2012–2013)
K-8 substitute teacher, Mountain View Whisman & Sunnyvale SD (2008–2011)
high school science teacher, East Side UHSD & Sequoia UHSD (2005–2007)
Member Research Staff II, Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) (1985–1995)
Development Engineer, University of California, San Diego & Santa Cruz (1980–1985)
middle school science teacher, US Peace Corps, Liberia West Africa (1973–1975)

Biography

Biographical Highlights [ 42 words, 7 lines]

 

Occupation: retired teacher/engineer

Graduate, UC Berkeley, Astronomy,  UCSB, MS Instrumentation

R&D engineer almost 30 years, UCs, Xerox PARC etc.

Graduate, San Jose State Teacher Credential

Middle/High School Science Teacher

MV public school parent since 1995

Trustee, Mountain View Whisman SD (2012-2016)

 

 

More Biographical Information, ] of education/trustee special importance

 

Approximately in sequence:

Graduate, UC Berkeley, Bachelors in Astronomy; UC Santa Barbara, Masters in Scientific Instrumentation

] Middle school Science Teacher, US Peace Corps, Liberia West Africa

] Research & Development Engineer, full time for almost 30 years

( 4 US Patents granted)

/UC San Diego and UC Lick Observatory, 6 years

/Xerox’s esteemed Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), 10 years

  (Corporate Research Group Team Excellence Award)

/several Silicon Valley semi-conductor companies

31 year family resident of Mountain View

] Parent of 3 sons all through MV-LA (2003-2018) and MVWSD

] Graduate, San Jose State Secondary Science Teacher Credential Program 2005

] Middle and High School science teacher

K-8 part-time substitute teacher

] Trustee, Mountain View Whisman School District (MVWSD) elected 2012-2016

 

Volunteer, Head Start, Berkeley

Volunteer, ‘VP research’, environmental group S.A.V.E., Stop Attacks on the Verdugo Environment (cf. Verdugo Mountains State Park formation history)

] Volunteer, Condominium Association board (72 units)

Volunteer, 2 Amateur Astronomy club boards, 6 years (non-profit corporations)

Volunteer, CERT  group training (Community Emergency Response), City of Mountain View

Volunteer, Destination Imagination Team leader, 1 year

Volunteer, Santa Clara Co. Science Fair Board, 3 years

 

Volunteer, MVHS Marching Band support (for 2 sons)

Political Beliefs

Position Papers

Biographical Highlights and More

Summary

Education, Jobs, and Volunteer activities arranged in a more sequential manner.

Biographical Highlights [ 42 words, 7 lines]

 

Occupation: retired teacher/engineer

Graduate, UC Berkeley, Astronomy,  UCSB, MS Instrumentation

R&D engineer almost 30 years, UCs, Xerox PARC etc.

Graduate, San Jose State Teacher Credential

Middle/High School Science Teacher

MV public school parent since 1995

Trustee, Mountain View Whisman SD (2012-2016)

 

 

More Biographical Information, ] of education/trustee special importance

 

approximately in sequence

Graduate, UC Berkeley, Bachelors in Astronomy; UC Santa Barbara, Masters in Scientific Instrumentation

] Middle school Science Teacher, US Peace Corps, Liberia West Africa

] Research & Development Engineer, full time for almost 30 years

( 4 US Patents granted)

/UC San Diego and UC Lick Observatory, 6 years

/Xerox’s esteemed Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), 10 years

  (Corporate Research Group Team Excellence Award)

/several Silicon Valley semi-conductor companies

31 year family resident of Mountain View

] Parent of 3 sons all through MV-LA (2003-2018) and MVWSD

] Graduate, San Jose State Secondary Science Teacher Credential Program 2005

] Middle and High School science teacher

K-8 part-time substitute teacher

] Trustee, Mountain View Whisman School District (MVWSD) elected 2012-2016

 

Volunteer, Head Start, Berkeley

Volunteer, ‘VP research’, environmental group S.A.V.E., Stop Attacks on the Verdugo Environment (cf. Verdugo Mountains State Park formation history)

] Volunteer, Condominium Association board (72 units)

Volunteer, 2 Amateur Astronomy club boards, 6 years (non-profit corporations)

Volunteer, CERT  group training (Community Emergency Response), City of Mountain View

Volunteer, Destination Imagination Team leader, 1 year

Volunteer, Santa Clara Co. Science Fair Board, 3 years

Volunteer, MVHS Marching Band support (for 2 sons)

political philosophy

Summary

A short and terse description of some of the factors I think important in the governance of public school systems.  These agencies can spend public money compelled by the taxation power of the state.

Political Philosophy, Steven Nelson

 

The Board makes the Public Policy for the district using the legislative process.

The Administration runs the schools and the district following the adopted Policies.

 

Board member election by 5 districts, following the California Voting Rights Act, will ensure that all neighborhoods, from Bayshore to the Hills, will always have an elected Board member and voice.

 

I’d agree with those who say - if you think there is a problem in the world - don’t just complain, but act.  That is why I joined the Peace Corps after college, that is why I publicly opposed a grossly unequal Facilities Plan (2012 MVWSD Measure G, SFIP), and that is why I ran and won election for the MVWSD (elementary) in 2012.

 

As an experienced legislator at the school board level, I know that soothing talk and inaction is very cheap, but it is a “difficult, difficult board” that is needed to successfully manage policy improvement.  I find the California School Boards Association sometimes just mirrors the talk from Administrator’s associations.  Boards must set Public Policy, just like they must stay out of daily school operations.  But Administrators do not set Public Policy - only elected legislators do, by majority vote.

 

The best political philosophy advice, that I got from former MVLA Superintendent Barry Groves, was “The magic number on a School Board is THREE.”  A majority vote of a board, 3:2, can substantially change Public Policy.  I successfully improved equality in public school spending in my elementary district, as a very crucial voice and vote in some significant 3:2 policy decisions.  I speak the truth (sometimes to a Fault), and I VOTE to support policies I promised to support during the campaign season.

 

I think that a Board Member should not at all think of their position ‘as a volunteer.’  It is a Public Trustee position representing the interests of all community constituents.  Not just parents, not just taxpayers, not just neighbors, not just students.  The priority mission is Student Learning, but all interests need to be considered when tackling the priority mission.

 

Hard data from research: educational, economic, demographic, and environmental should be used by legislators to help them make hard policy decisions, and inform their votes.  I am little swayed by ephemeral “push” by loud special interest groups - like on-line web petitions.  There are almost 100,000 residents in this District, and tens of thousands of households and voters in this community.

 

I support Public Charter Schools, I strongly oppose Public Vouchers for private schools.  I think a Summit or High Tech charter type of high school might be interesting - to discuss - for the North Bayshore area.  As a son of a working-class union family, I support the rights of the majority of staff, to vote for and have effective union representation.  I absolutely support California’s Free Speech constitutional protections.  I support web-casting Board meetings for better Open Government.

 

 

GOOD NEIGHBOR and other Policy debates

Summary

Stadium Lights, North Bayshore, Facilities Bond spending, and Trustee electiions are all topics that are, or will be up for discussion and debate.

Recent elected school board experience puts me in a strong position to help the district as a change agent.  I have proven my legislative effectiveness negotiating neighborhood equality.  I have demonstrated fiscal constraint to avoid over-building, but voted generously for the primary goal: excellent staffing for student learning programs.

   Steven Nelson, retired MVWSD Trustee and 2018 MV-LA candidate

 

The Board sets the public policy of the district, working by a legislative process.

The Administration runs the schools and district following those policies.

 

I’d debate that!

 

  Stadium Lights.  Even without lights, there needs to be a Board GOOD NEIGHBOR POLICY enacted ASAP.  See the // draft // of such a  public policy at the end.  By using accepted Environmental Quality monitoring for Noise, Off-site Parking, Traffic, and Light (trespass) we can get a handle on the current problem for neighbors and start working for solutions and monitoring the several years (5 or more) of construction that are coming.  As part of this monitoring, we can address the Stadium Lights issues.  In general, I would guess that there are several solutions for some of these, even Game Night Busses for student transportation.  As a former school board trustee, I know that this balancing (students/neighbors) is a “difficult, difficult” task.  I’m glad to see the MV-LA administration start to seriously address this. [ see draft policy example at end ]

 

  North Bayshore residences/schools.  I have for over a dozen years been a vocal public advocate for Sunset On Shoreline (SOS).  That darn “quasi-RDA” diverts millions on millions of property tax dollars every single year away from MV-LA!  The Tax Rate Report of the county is clear, the Share Shoreline/JPA temporary agreement only gives 1/2 of the money back.  The 1969 statute allows “public buildings” to be constructed by that Shoreline district.  We should insist on that source of new facilities building funds, schools are clearly “public buildings” - or else we should push for Sunsetting Shoreline as a special district and ending those property tax diversions.

 

  North Bayshore public district-chartered high school project.  I do not oppose a district chartered public high school of the Summit or High Tech High School model. These facilities and programs are totally unlike our current schools.  They would not need football fields and other large-school acreage.  They should use multi-story adaptable learning/classroom spaces.  This needs to be discussed, in public at the Board Public Policy level.  Our Teachers Union needs to be specifically involved in the discussions (as representative of our teaching staff).  As a former school board trustee, I consistently supported the teachers’ union and took extremely seriously their Teacher Surveys that critiqued the problems of the MVWSD and their own professional aspirations.

 

  Facilities Bond spending.  Based on my experience as a trustee, helping guide about $200 million of MVWSD facilities policy and spending, I do not think there is a problem in MV-LA plans.  Equality of the two large high schools was a battle fought out earlier - I will continue to support that and also vote for The Greenest (low-impact/sustainable) facilities possible.  I prefer substance over show and my votes as a MVWSD trustee show that bent (green fiscal conservative).

 

 The switch to “by-area elections” from “at-large”.  This will absolutely happen because of the California Voting Rights Act.  Since 2000 the 2/5 of district residents North of El Camino have not had a single Trustee on the Board to specifically represent their opinions and interests.  This is a very clear legal problem, for that is where the majority of “the protected class” of Hispanic residents live. Having forty percent of the district disengaged is poor public policy.  It is also illegal under CVRA statute, case law, and court decisions over the last decade.  I will proactively bring this issue to-a-head as a Trustee, hopefully before the District is dragged into court (like Santa Clara, Menlo Park etc. etc.).  Five trustee areas, each representing about 1/5 of the residents, is what I support, and have already vocally brought before the MV-LA Board two times over the past year.  This issue is being ignored.

 

 

====  [ policy wonk detail on a // draft  // ]

 

GOOD NEIGHBOR POLICY 1331  // draft format //

 

  The Board of the District recognizes that it is an important part of the residential neighborhoods that are adjacent to its two major school sites.  We wish Mountain View High School, Los Altos High School and Alta Vista High School to embody the “good neighbor” we would all like to live nearby.  To that end we are establishing this policy for the Administration and Community to refer to.

 

  Neighborhood impacts, as part of our living environment, can be measured as suggested in the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).  Many of the CEQA provisions are formal requirements for development reports, but we choose to also use some of them as operating standards to check our school operations against.

 

  The four main environmental effects we wish to study and scientifically monitor, on a Continuous Improvement basis are:

 

1) ambient noise (mentioned specifically in the Guidelines to the CEQA) (ref. 1)

2) off-site parking impacts

3) traffic impacts

4) light trespass

 

  These four items are required to be well studied in the CEQA process for any new project, particularly for generating a MND, Mitigated Negative Declaration.  MNDs often are contentious, litigious and therefore expensive exercises and this should be avoided by effective Good Neighbor Policies.

 

  This Policy is intended to provide guidance for an Administrative Regulation (AR), contractor guidance for future project CEQA / MND work and dependable baseline public data.

 

// just draft ideas on board ‘direction’ re: Taxpayers v. SDUSD + needed community input //

 

  The physical effects of items 1) ambient noise and 4) light trespass are to be monitored by two sets of standards-calibrated physical meters maintained by the Science Departments of MVHS and LAHS.  Volunteer Community members and students will be encouraged to work with the departments to do field measurements in the neighborhoods. (ref 2.)  Many noise measurement applications (Sound Meters) are available on smart-phone devices - but these need calibration checks.  Light trespass is harder to measure on smart-phone devices.  The AR and Science Departments shall develop procedures for both these monitoring measurements based on recent public CEQA reports.

 

  Off-site parking impacts 2) and traffic impacts 3) are mainly observational protocols that must be done in controlled and thoughtful ways to be valid for legal CEQA MND baselines.  Review the consequence of failures that the San Diego Unified School District had in meeting the legal standards (ref. 3) as part of writing the AR and Science Departments procedures.  Although these two items are not specifically mentioned in the CEQA MND requirement, the Board specifically chooses (italic emphasis added) to follow the court’s advice (ref 4).

 

// this draft finishes with clear, written ’direction to the staff’ on regulation development //

 

  The AR and Science Departments procedures shall be written and updated in a way so as to meet the Goal “Enhance the opportunities as well as achievement of students in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.”  The AR shall detail a Neighborhood Complaint Procedure and form and an Assistant/Associate Superintendent position responsible for handling these complaints.  A Report shall be written for the Board each year on this issue.

 

(1) Public Resource Code, Guidelines 15382

 

(2) etc.

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