Parents, administrators and outside consultants on Palo Alto's pilot Mandarin Immersion Program Tuesday told the Board of Education the three-year-old offering has been successful and should become permanent.
With 88 K-3 students in four classrooms at Ohlone School, the program has achieved surprisingly good academic results, according to Xiauqui Xu, a Stanford University graduate student and native Mandarin speaker who has been involved in assessing student proficiency in Mandarin and English.
The goal of program organizers was an enrollment of one-third from Mandarin-speaking backgrounds and two-thirds from English-speaking backgrounds. That balance has not been maintained precisely and is "something to watch," said Assistant Superintendent Virginia Davis.
Ohlone Principal Bill Overton said Mandarin-Immersion families have integrated well with the rest of the school.
"You can see it in playground activities, and when all the grade-level teachers meet," he told the board.
A $300,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education has funded start-up costs of the Mandarin program, including development of curriculum materials through the fifth grade.
School board members questioned program representatives on testing, staffing, financing and admission policies of the Mandarin program.
The item will return to the board at an unspecified date for further discussion and a decision as to whether the program should become permanent.
Palo Alto to require 'better' smoke alarms
Palo Alto became the second city in California to strengthen its requirements for smoke alarms after the City Council agreed to change the city's fire code Monday night.
The council decided to follow in the footsteps of Massachusetts and require builders, landlords and home renovators to install photoelectric alarms — which become activated when the lights they emit get disturbed — in kitchens.
The council made the change upon suggestion of Fire Marshall Gordon Simpkinson, who lauded photoelectric alarms as a safer and more effective alternative to the commonly used ionization alarms, which rely on electric currents.
Simpkinson said ionization alarms take longer than photoelectric alarms to become activated during a smoldering fire, in some cases by more than 15 minutes. Furthermore, roughly 20 percent of ionization alarms get disabled by residents because of "nuisance activation," most notably from cooking fumes.
The council considered requiring photoelectric alarms in all new buildings, but reconsidered after learning that ionization alarms could be more effective during flash fires.
Mayor Pat Burt recommended requiring builders, landlords and homeowners making major renovation to install either dual-sensor alarms or both types of alarms at areas outside the kitchen. In the kitchen area, where nuisance activation is common, photoelectric alarms will now be required.
Simpkinson said the two types of smoke alarms cost roughly the same (about $13). A dual-sensor alarm costs about $25. He recommended making photoelectric alarms a requirement for new buildings, as well as those undergoing renovations or ownership changes.
Coldwell Banker acquires Cashin Company
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage announced Thursday (Nov. 11) that it has acquired the assets of Cashin Company Realtors.
Founded in 1995 by Emmet J. "Skip" Cashin III, Cashin Company has 270 real estate agents in seven offices in San Mateo County and accounted for more than $1 billion in sales volume in the last 12 months, said Coldwell Banker spokesman Steve Maita.
Cashin offices will now operate under the Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage name, he said.
Cashin is headquartered in Menlo Park and has offices in Menlo Park, Portola Valley and Woodside.
With this acquisition, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage has 60 offices in the Bay Area with 3,500 sales associates who accounted for more than $11 billion in sales last year, Maita said.
Cashin Company is "a perfect fit with Coldwell Banker in terms of our respective cultures, our core values and our strength in the local marketplace, especially in the luxury market," Rick Turley, president of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in the San Francisco Bay Area, said in a press release.
"During this economic climate and challenging real estate market, it's more important than ever to be the clear industry leader," he said.
Cashin said in a press release that his firm had many suitors in recent years, but decided that Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage was the right choice in terms of the scale and scope of the company, agent support, technological tools, networking opportunities, and cultural fit.
Cashin, according to the press release, plans to "lend his more than 40 years of real estate experience and contacts to the extended family of agents now under the Coldwell Banker banner."
Chuck Alloo, who has served as chief operating officer and co-founded the firm with Cashin, will continue in a senior management role, Coldwell Banker said.