Challenger takes on two incumbents in high school district race

Daily Post Staff Writer

Los Altos mother and city environmental commission member Laura Teksler is running against incumbents Sanjay Dave and Phil Faillace for a spot on the Mountain View Los Altos High School District school board.

The district, which serves a total of 4,394 students, includes Mountain View High School and Los Altos High School. The district also has an alternative high school, Freestyle Academy for Arts & Technology, and an adult education center, Middle College.

PHIL FAILLACE, 76, is a retired mathematician and business executive. He joined the MVLA board in 1996 after 13 years on the Los Altos School District board. Faillace said he wants to ensure that local students reap the same benefits from their education that he did. He said the education he received at his public high school in Philadelphia prepared and motivated him to win scholarships, study and teach at world-renowned universities.

He said his experience qualifies him to help the district through the pandemic, especially since many high-level administrators including the superintendent are new. He said he is concerned about the loss of learning students will have because of remote learning.

He said the district’s Instructional Support Teams and outside consultants might be able to provide support to remedy some deficiencies. Since the district can’t afford to pay for private tutors for everyone it should partner with parent volunteers who want to help, he said.

Faillace said it is hard to reopen a high school since teachers don’t just teach one class.

“Even when we do safely return in hybrid mode, half the instruction will still be remote, so it will still be necessary to repair ongoing learning loss and to make remote learning as good as it can be,” he said.

SANJAY DAVE, deputy director of engineering at Taiwan Semiconductor, said he is running for re-election for the same reasons he ran in 2016.

He said he wants to provide equal access so all students can thrive, have the district look at ways to improve high-quality STEM education, attract and retain high-quality teachers and provide sound financial planning.

He said he wants the district to create a decision timeline for reopening schools to in-person learning while knowing that whatever timeline they put in place needs to be flexible as new information pops up. He said he wants the district to communicate its plans more efficiently with the public as the district works to reopen.

“It is imperative we work on a goal to reopen our classrooms to full in-person learning, as all of our students are experiencing some level of learning loss,” he said.

LAURA TEKSLER, who is vice president of the Los Altos High School PTSA, said she wants the district to strike a better balance between academic achievement and student health.

“Curriculum should focus not just on learning facts, but more importantly should teach critical thinking, problem-solving and teamwork skills,” she said. “Students learn best in a supportive and inclusive environment that enhances their social-emotional and mental health.”

She said she became concerned last spring that the voices of families are not being well-enough represented in Covid-related decisions. She said the district needs to do a better job of communicating and listening to families and students outside of the ones who comment at board meetings.

She said she hopes the district will be on its way to a hybrid plan before her term would start this winter, but if not her first priority will be to push for a reopening plan for the spring semester. She said she wants to see more dialogue between the board, teachers, parents and students.

“The community conversation around this plan should begin now and needs to include a full-distance option for students and teachers that are not able to return in-person,” she said.

1 Comment

  1. We are lucky in Los Altos to have three strong candidates for the MVLA high school board. As a parent with a LAHS student, I strongly support Phil Faillace in his reelection bid. I have been attending our MVLA school board meetings for the past 7 months, and I have observed Phil in action. He is extremely knowledgeable, asks insightful and probing questions, and allows all constituents to be heard. In particular, he has proven to be a great advocate for allowing parent voices to be considered, which is especially important during this time where our students are experiencing school at home.

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