Santa Clara County Voter's Guide On Children's Issues

Mountain View-Los Altos High School District

Fiona Walter

Families are incredibly important in their child’s education. Partnering with families is necessary to ensure student success. Parent leadership opportunities, parent education speakers, the Aeries/Student Information System, teacher conferences, high school/college guidance, and mental health services all contribute to this partnership. Students are the direct beneficiaries of these efforts.

  1. What do you think are the top three issues affecting our children and families and how do you propose to address them?

    a. Mental Health: Multiple resources positively impact students. MVLA’s homework policy prescribes two homework free weekends and homework free breaks. Ten therapists/CHAC are available each day. Refer-a-friend boxes alert staff to students needing assistance. Resource cards provided for every student with 24/7 helpline contacts. b. Food/Financial Insecurity: Free and reduced lunch students eat at the cafeteria each day. Financial aid is available for class trips, tests, on-campus clubs, and athletic participation. Outreach to families who qualify for these services is ongoing. c. Academic Preparation: Supports include homework clubs, tutorial centers, AVID, extended library hours, peer tutors, family involvement, etc.

  2. How will the priorities you addressed in the first question be reflected in the way that you approach the budget process?

    Our LCAP (Locally Controlled Accountability Plan) includes the above items. It is our guiding document for budgeting and hence guarantees that funding continues for these items. We spend $1.5M annually on mental health services and the Facilities Master Plan includes Wellness/Student Centers designed to house them. We make sure that every student can fully participate in high school regardless of the family’s ability to pay. In addition to on-campus supports for students, we continually engage families in their student’s learning via programs like PIQE, parent education speaker series, ELAC, DELAC, LUCHA and El Cafecito (two Latino Parent Organizations).

  3. What steps will you take to address the high cost and lack of availability of quality child care and preschool programs in our communities, especially for low-income children and English language learners?

    The MVLA high school district does not currently operate any preschools. However, quality child care is critical in many arenas of high school life. For example, we provide child care for moms/dads in our Young Parent Program so that they can take classes themselves and complete their high school education. We further provide childcare for on-campus events such as meetings of PIQE, ELAC, DELAC, LUCHA, El Cafecito, etc. Family involvement is key to a student’s success and providing child care at events greatly contributes to a family’s ability to stay involved. I will continue to support these efforts.

  4. What steps will you take to improve inclusion and outcomes for children with special needs or with disabilities?

    Inclusion is the goal for our special education and disabled students. Co-teaching mixes special education and general education students in one classroom. In these classrooms, both teachers cover the curriculum and all students receive the same stellar college preparatory education. Our engineering classes partner with special education classes to design and develop tools unique to students’ needs. These tools are then built on campus and provided to the student who requested them (e.g., an umbrella attachment for a wheelchair). A coordinated hand-off for students as they enter our district helps with both transition and inclusion once they’ve arrived.

  5. Much of the student achievement gap has been linked to the "opportunity gap" that low-income children and children of color experience, including lack of access to healthy food, preschool, tutors and enrichment activities. If elected, what steps will you take to address this issue?

    MVLA strives to overcome the opportunity gap in many ways including: free tutorial center/homework club; extended library hours with teachers; F/R meals during the school year and summer session; expanded AVID classes; athletics and other types of scholarships (clubs, activities, etc.). Our Community Service Liaison supports our struggling students and families at all of our sites. Transitioning from high school to college, we have Mentor Tutor Connection and MVLA Scholars in action for our students. I will continue to support these programs in addition to those provided to our parents through PIQE, ELAC, DELAC, El Cafecito, LUCHA.