News Digest | April 27, 2007 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - April 27, 2007

News Digest

No news soon on Halberstam car-crash probe

It will take up to 10 days before the Menlo Park Police Department determines who was at fault in the car crash that killed journalist David Halberstam on Monday, according to police officials.

The department is interviewing the drivers of the three cars involved in the crash along with several witnesses who have come forward.

Kevin Jones, a University of California, Berkeley, student who was driving Halberstam, expressed remorse after the crash.

"I want to apologize to his family because I feel so bad," Jones told the Associated Press.

Jones was driving Halberstam from the campus to an interview in Mountain View when his Toyota Camry was broadsided at 10:30 a.m. Monday at Bayfront Expressway and Willow Road. Halberstam died at the scene.

"The accident is still under investigation and at this time there are no charges being filed or fault being established," Nicole Acher, the department spokeswoman, said.

All three drivers received minor injuries and have been released from the hospital.

Several witnesses have come forward, Acker said, and the department is encouraging other witnesses to contact the department at 650-330-6300.

Halberstam, 73, lived in New York City. He won the Pulitzer Prize in 1964 for his stories in the New York Times on the early days of the Vietnam War. He went on to write 21 books, including "The Best and the Brightest," about that war.

Los Altos school changes may affect Palo Alto students

More than a hundred Palo Alto and Mountain View students could be booted out of their neighborhood schools, run by the Los Altos School District, if the Los Altos Board of Education proceeds with redrawing its attendance boundaries.

"We're urging the school board members to be fair in solving this district-wide problem and that everyone should contribute to the solution, not just one area," said Charlene Chang, a resident of Palo Alto's Monroe Park neighborhood and a concerned parent.

The Los Altos school board met Monday night in a controversial redistricting session during which one Los Altos Attendance Area Advisory Committee member walked out.

The board considered four scenarios that would address overflow problems and ensure that the new Bullis-Purissima Elementary School, scheduled to open fall 2008, would have a sufficient number of students. The new attendance boundaries would take effect in fall of 2008 and impact 37 Palo Alto students and more than 100 Mountain View students. The board did not take a vote.

Dozens of parents who live in Palo Alto and Mountain View fear they may be "catapulted" far from their neighborhood school into an area three times as far away, where they feel they have no geographical ties.

"It will become a disenfranchised community," Chang said about the families who live in her area. "We've developed a sense of community only because of our close proximity to one school, which is Santa Rita. Our sense of neighborhood would be greatly diminished if we were to move to Bullis because we don't have any natural ties to the Bullis community geographically."

Three of the four redistricting scenarios would require Palo Alto and Mountain View residents living in the areas just east of El Camino Real in the Monroe Drive and Del Medio Avenue areas to relocate their children from Santa Rita Elementary school, located about 1 mile from their homes, to Bullis-Purissima and Covington elementary schools, located about 3-4 miles away.

Palo Alto and Mountain View residents may have to cross both El Camino Real and Foothill Expressway to get their children to school, while the majority of Los Altos residents would not.

"It is eliminating the option for us to walk or bike to school," Chang said.

The board will hold two additional public meetings on the redistricting issue on May 7 and May 21 at the Covington Multipurpose Room at Covington Elementary School on 205 Covington Road, Los Altos.

School board studies $772 million bond measure

The Palo Alto Board of Education is planning to ask the community to "reach into their pockets" and vote for a bond measure scheduled to go before the public in June 2008 to modernize, expand and maintain facilities at the schools over the next 20 years.

"We have a growing district," Superintendent Mary Frances Callan said at the board meeting Tuesday. "Facilities are aging." She emphasized the importance of getting community input in prioritizing what ought to get done.

Costing $772 million, the 20-year facilities master plan would improve on the work done from the $143 million "Building for Excellence" bond measure passed in 1995. The district used all the money and completed all planned improvement from the Building for Excellence bond in 2004.

Over the next 20 years the money would address the district's enrollment growth; go towards increasing campus sustainability and energy efficiency; and provide for technology, equipment and furnishings at the schools.

The bond measure will go before the board for a vote in February 2008.

— Susan Hong