Hillbrook Update

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Update on the Hillbrook School Violations:

-Barbara Dodson

Hello, all. Our planning associate, Jennifer Savage, has now told us
that the Planning Commission meeting to address the new Hillbrook CUP
will probably not happen for another six months. Hillbrook submitted
its Letter of Justification (aka application) on February 1. The
Planning Department found the application to be incomplete and asked for
additional materials, including a statement of benefit, which has to
list benefits that the expansion would provide to the Town. Hillbrook
has not yet responded. Jennifer says this process generally has two or
three iterations before the application is considered complete.

In the meantime, I’d like to give the group an update on a couple of
fronts: (1) Hillbrook’s plans for the coming summer and (2)
Hillbrook’s plans for the next school year.

The Coming Summer. The Planning Department has given Hillbrook until the
end of April to tell it what programs are planned; Jennifer said the
Department believed that would give them enough time to evaluate whether
the summer programs would be in compliance with the CUP. When I asked
Jennifer whether non-students would be allowed in the programs, she said
this issue was under discussion.

Breakthrough Silicon Valley. Hillbrook continues to list
this organization on its website and to plan to host more than 100
students in grades 7-9 for six weeks of activities during the summer.
Our objections are two-fold: this is a third-party organization and the
students are not enrolled at Hillbrook.

Santa Fe Leadership Center. Hillbrook continues to list this
organization on its website as well. Carla Silver, Head of School Mark
Silver’s wife, is executive director of this organization (just for
a touch of nepotism). Hillbrook plans to allow this organization to hold
a 5-day professional development seminar for up to 40 non-Hillbrook
educators on its campus from July 15-July 19. Cost to participants will
be $1,575-$1,795 per person. Our objections are three-fold: The first
day of the conference is a Sunday, and the CUP does not allow weekend
events on the campus. Additionally, this is a third-party organization
and the attendees are not enrolled as Hillbrook students.

Summer Camps. Hillbrook lists nine summer camp programs on
its website. These are open to non-Hillbrook as well as Hillbrook
students. The website does not indicate how many children can take part
in the camps. Our objections are these: The camps are projected to run
form 9-3; the CUP gives 7:30-8:30 as the dropoff time for children in
the morning. Our question is: Does the CUP have no meaning if the school
just picks any old dropoff time it wants? Second, traditionally
Hillbrook camps are open only to Hillbrook children; this keeps the
numbers down. Hillbrook is opening its camps up to the community even
though Hillbrook activities are supposedly only open to the 315 enrolled
Hillbrook students.

The Coming School Year. Hillbrook seems quite confident that it will
get approval for a change from 315 to 414 students. As a demonstration
of this, the school is advertising for a Head of the Middle School to
begin work on July 1, 2012.

Hillbrook also is hiring a Director for its Center for
Teaching Excellence (CTE) Resident Teacher Program. The new Center will
begin in Fall 2012, and the Director is slated to start work on July 1,
2012. There will be four teacher trainees beginning this two-year
program in the fall. Eventually there will be a total of 12 trainees.
The program will include a conference and speaker series.

In general, according to its website, Hillbrook wants to
“develop a distinguished professional development and teacher
training center . . . allowing Hillbrook to . . . become a regional
resource . . .” Our objection: Is this just the tip of the iceberg? How
big will the conferences be? How often will they take place? What are
the traffic implications? Hillbrook seems able to create new
traffic-generating programs without telling Town Council or the
neighbors.

Hillbrook is also offering a wide array of after-school
activities. (“When the school day ends, a whole new world begins at
Hillbrook full of classes, activities and fun.”) Our objection:
Traffic is supposed to be limited to 8:30-9:30 and 2:30-3:45. These
activities spread traffic out throughout the afternoon.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

1. Tell the Mayor about your concerns by dropping in at a Meet the
Mayor session. These happen every fourth Saturday at the new library in
the conference room from 2-4. The next meeting is scheduled for
Saturday, March 24.

2. Continue to get petition signatures.

3. Continue to write letters to the editor of the Los Gatos Weekly.
Consider writing opinion pieces for the Los Gatos Patch (blog) and
Inside Los Gatos (blog).

4. Generally spread the word so that when we finally come before
the Planning Commission, we will come in great numbers.

5. Speak at Planning Commission and Town Council meetings.

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