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Bullis Charter School’s facilities are currently split between Egan Junior High and Blach Intermediate schools.
The Nov. 5 Los Altos School District meeting, scheduled to gather feedback from the community on the 2013-2014 facilities offer, opened with Bullis Charter School’s estimate that an additional 140 in-district students would enroll next year.
California’s Proposition 39 mandates the district to provide “reasonably equivalent” facilities for in-district students who attend the charter school. The district’s offer is due by Feb. 1.
As part of the process, the charter school must identify a preferred site. It named Covington School as its single-site choice.
A majority of the district parents at the meeting pleaded with the Los Altos School District Board of Trustees to protect their neighborhood schools . The speakers did not want a district school closed to meet the charter school’s requirements and suggested that the district continue the current Egan Junior High and Blach Intermediate schools’ split accommodations for Bullis Charter School students.
Covington parents raised concerns about increased traffic and the difficulties of co-sharing space with the charter school.
“It is said it takes a village to raise a child,” Covington parent Davida Ewan said. “For us here at Covington, this is our village. I understand the challenges facing you, but I implore you to keep this fantastic community together. Displacing the school should be a last resort.”
Many parents echoed Ewan’s viewpoint and requested that the district continue the current split of facilities – with K-6 housed at Egan and junior-highers at Blach. They did not offer suggestions for how the current facilities could accommodate an additional 140 students.
Midway through the public statements, Trustee Doug Smith asked the audience how the district could make that split work well.
“I think we need to think of the split on a more permanent basis,” said Santa Rita parent Bryan Johnson. “Bullis Charter School is still growing – larger slices need to be carved out so that it is clear that this is a space that the charter school will have.”
The meeting set a new direction for the annual facilities process. Charter school Board of Directors member Peter Evans and Bullis parent Fred Gallagher discussed the growth projected for next year.
Following Evans’ presentation, the district board allowed parents approximately 15 minutes for questions before opening discussion to the charter school board members.
Evans and Gallagher remained until the meeting’s conclusion.
“I want to thank you for hanging in there with us,” Trustee Steve MeTaglio said to them. “Thanks for hearing what we hear all the time.”
Mark Goines, president of the Los Altos School District Board of Trustees, said the meeting – and the charter school’s participation – gave him hope.
“I sense a real breakthrough in a way to collaborate,” he said. “I’m feeling optimistic. This is the type of collaboration we should be having – a step in the right direction. Remember that if we can come to a solution for next year, it is a step in the direction toward the long term.”
Not all interactions with the charter school representatives were conciliatory. Several times parents went off track with their questions for Evans and Gallagher and challenged them instead.
“What would you say to the neighbors that might be displaced at Covington? If BCS gets what they want, there will be hundreds of students that won’t have their local neighborhood school,” said one parent, who did not offer a name.
District trustees intervened quickly to keep parents on topic, but one trustee was confrontational.
District Trustee Bill Cooper, whose tenure ends in December, threw what he termed a “strong comment” at the charter school officials.
“As I understand it, the charter school exists because the district closed a school,” Cooper said. “The district took away that sense of belonging for the families within Los Altos Hills. Isn’t it ironic? I find it appalling that 10 years later you can go and do it to another school.”
Evans responded that he thinks that isn’t the only reason the charter school was started.
“What happened 10 years ago is only relevant a little,” he said. “We are now drawing from all district attendances. What I thought 10 years ago doesn’t matter anymore.”
Cooper criticized the charter school’s enrollment preference favoring the Los Altos Hills area.
“We can continue on a back-and-forth or we can start to work together,” Gallagher said. “That is why I am here tonight.”
The discussion will continue at the next meeting, scheduled 7 p.m. Dec. 3 in the Covington School Multipurpose Room, 201 Covington Ave., Los Altos. The district board is slated to present additional facility options based on community input and continue to solicit feedback on its preliminary offer.
1"BCS = Commuter School"
at Wednesday, 14 November 2012 10:24
BCS is not a neighborhood school. By choosing BCS, parents are choosing a commuter school. A school which you drive to, and may be located anywhere in the district.
Indeed, straying far from their roots in Los Altos Hills, the BCS leadership now actively derides the idea of a neighborhood school in favor of their different model in which everybody drives all over the place to attend the TYPE of school they want to attend, not the school near them.
With a growth path headed towards 900 students or more in the next few years, BCS now must concede that the old BCS (the replacement for a closed school in LAH) is d-e-a-d dead. It will NEVER be the neighborhood school of Los Altos Hills, and it will never return there as there is no school site suitable for a large commuter school anywhere in Los Altos Hills.
Schools like BCS belong in high traffic areas along major roadway arteries. We should look into sites like the old Target site in Mountain View and others like it.
at Wednesday, 14 November 2012 10:26
Bill Cooper is right. It IS ironic and inexcusable that the Bullis Charter School, which was founded out of anger when their school closed, now wants to close another neighborhood's school, displace those neighborhood families, and takeover their school.
The fact that some of the BCS board members have hung on well after their children have graduated out of BCS indicates a legacy agenda which does not help the current situation move forward.
The community would be MUCH more supportive of BCS if it did three things:
1. Get rid of its admissions preference for LAH. Equal Access.
2. Get an elected board. So the board would represent the current BCS parents, many of whom are interested in working with LASD for a win-win.
3. Adopt a growth strategy that is a reasonable size for the BCS children, not one that is just aimed at creating a monster sized school in order to press the facilities issue.
at Wednesday, 14 November 2012 15:07
If the K-6 part of BCS were to remain at Egan, then in order to accommodate their growth, LASD would likely need to level the baseball field and tennis courts at Egan and give that space to BCS.
This is very unfortunate for the community. But when compared to the alternative of totally uprooting the Covington community, and the extreme damage to central Los Altos families as well as Crossings families who would be displaced yet one more time, the sacrifice of some of the community's recreation facilities looks... actually palatable.
at Wednesday, 14 November 2012 17:13
I am a former student and member of a multi-generational Blach family. While this might generate some bias, I do have another family member who as taught at Bullis. Blach was a great school. I imagine Egan was (almost as!) great as well. I seriously doubt these two schools have fallen on hard times. May I ask, what is the purpose of Bullis? Drawing resources from extremely successful, well respected, and established 'neighborhood' schools? Endangering a local elementary school? Growing to 900 students? This seems like a fad whose consequences far outweigh any benefits. Our local districts are well equipped to meet the needs of students and have fantastic teachers. Were we in another part of the state, I could understand the motivation to establish a charter school, but here it is imagined. Our elementary and middle schools routinely rank in the upper echelons in California. What's all the fuss about? To the aforementioned 'BCS leadership', get a hobby, or send your kids to Waldorf.
5"Jr Highs needs more space"
at Wednesday, 14 November 2012 17:23
As a neighbor and former Egan parent, I would like to point out that the Egan site is maxed out. The traffic is horrible on West Portola, especially because Santa Rita traffic is mixed in with BCS and Egan traffic. West Portola was not designed to handle that level of vehicular/pedestrian/bike traffic and is not safe as it is. Also, the recreational facilities at Egan are maxed out. BCS already has the tennis courts and the softball field, which means that Egan can no longer host softball or tennis teams and they cannot offer the related PE units. If Egan has to give even more space to BCS, then Egan will lose other sports teams and PE programs as well. These may seem like "community recreation facilities" to some, but they are actually integral to the junior high program and very important to the students who attend Egan. Imagine LAHS without athletic programs/facilities. Is that what we want for our students? Egan has no more space to give BCS. We need a different solution.
at Wednesday, 14 November 2012 17:23
The most poignant point of the evening was when two dedicated parents who have lead the PTA for special needs kids in the District mentioned that Covington has specific on-site facilities to meet the needs of the moderately to severely disabled students across the District. If Covington were closed to accommodate BCS, these students would be kicked out of these facilities and displaced to locations that were not equipped to serve them. This is truly a shame. Please support these children who enrich our community in so many ways.
at Wednesday, 14 November 2012 17:24
"Schools like BCS belong in high traffic areas along major roadway arteries."
Joan, you've said a bunch of dumb things in the past but this absolutely surpasses all of them by a longshot.
ABSOLUTELY NO SCHOOL containing elementary-level kids should be located in a high traffic area. As much as we know you hate the BCS kids, implying that their physical safety be compromised is abjectly disgusting.
8"Further to the above ..."
at Thursday, 15 November 2012 09:29
If the parent who posted the "BCS Roadkill?" entry above is indicative of Bullis parents, then it is clear that, in addition to an immense sense of personal entitlement, one of the problems in dealing with Bullis is an unreasonable combativeness and willingness to call names (which we discourage in our children) and mischaracterize others' positions (I don't believe that Joan "hates" Bullis children). This angry person and others like him or her will only make a rational dialogue impossible, and frankly makes me question whether those so strongly holding the Bullis position have any rationality on their side.
at Thursday, 15 November 2012 09:30
Yeah, kids should be located in classrooms, not in the roadway. Very funny.
A commuter school like BCS should be located in areas where it's easier to commute. So they need to locate the school in places where large amounts of CARS can access the school. The school parking lot, to be clear. Not the playground. Cars don't go on the playgrounds. Or the classrooms. Just the parking lot.
I guess I need to spell these things out carefully lest I'm, um, misinterpreted...
at Thursday, 15 November 2012 09:31
The cannibalization of Blach and Egan has gotten completely out of hand. This is a very negative outcome for our current and future Jr. High students as well as the neighbors of these schools who have to endure traffic nightmares. I urge the board to negotiate a deal with BCS and give them full use of the underutilized Gardner Bullis campus. BCS, in exchange, would agree not to outgrow the Gardner Bullis campus. As repugnant as this idea may be, it is better than the alternatives.
11"to LASD Parent"
at Thursday, 15 November 2012 16:49
You are a little late to the party with the above suggested idea. The initial mediated agreement earlier this year did propose this (one school to limit growth plus no more lawsuits) but it named four potential schools and the LASD parents went beserk.
Now BCS is forecasting number way beyond the capacity of GB. If the LASD board wants to name a school ( and Im not proposing this as the only alternative) then they are going to need to review all of their schools to determine which one most closely fits the needs fo BCS including traffic patterns etc.
BCS is forecasting over 600 kids for the next school year with probably no more than 20% of them coming from the old Bullis attendance area. Because BCS is now truly a district school there should be other sites much more appropriate.
For GB to increase it utlization, how about turning it to both a neighboorhood school and a magnet school focusing on STEM?
at Thursday, 15 November 2012 16:49
The charter school (despite it's name and logo -- BULLIS Charter School) has already outgrown the Gardner Bullis site. Everyone, including the Bullis CHarter School themselves have acknowledged that GB is no longer an option.
The GB site has the worst, narrow, hilly site of any of the school campuses. It had 360 students when it shut down in 2002, and 410 at its absolute peak.
13"Former BCS parent"
at Thursday, 15 November 2012 16:50
The prize for BCS remains Gardner Bullis (GB) campus. Current strategy: Create growth "crisis" then posit the solution: GB as so "innocently" articulated by recent "LASD Parent" post (a member of their PR parent/professional staff?). I know their tactics from having been a parent at BCS. The problem is that this growth bites back. The parents at BCS do not want it (except maybe the power base that get perks for their kids no matter what) and many will leave. Each time they grow, they lose something--black top, teachers, library... Parents go there for a small intimate school, and have expectations of it being a special place for their kid(s). This is not sustainable with the growth. The school will rely on replacing these families with others but that is not sustainable either. The leadership knows this. No matter what Ron Haley says, he knows the prize is to get Bullis Gardner campus (note: preference for the GB feeder neighborhood that doesn't go away). Will they suc
14"Further to the Further"
at Thursday, 15 November 2012 16:50
Actually I'm not a Bullis parent-- my kids are grown up. Surprise!
Your insistence on casting this issue as a sort of "us vs. them" "holy war"
led you right to that one, like ants at a picnic.
This obvious posturing and propaganda is ridiculous and insulting to me, as it should be to everyone in Los Altos.
By the way, thanks for clarifying, Joan!
at Thursday, 15 November 2012 16:51
Yes, GB is not 600 students and frankly it never can be, regardless of what has been stated before. Ask residents who live near GB about how frustrated they are with traffic and parking. Come take a look at pickup. Get a visitor's pass and take a look at the blacktop at recess. GB might have a little room to grow, but not by much. BCS has already outgrown GB which is why they didn't ask for it in the latest facilities request.
at Friday, 16 November 2012 16:43
Don't kid yourselves. BCS has the ability to decrease enrollment if they want to. I believe that they could easily get their enrollment down to 425 students next year if they were motivated to do so. If LASD offered them full and exclusive use of the Gardner Bullis campus, I believe they would take it and reduce their enrollment accordingly.
17"Nice people, eh?"
at Sunday, 18 November 2012 21:34
So there you have it. The BCS regime says they are all for massive growth because it's "the right thing to do". Then they reveal their true motives by offering to expel half of their students, disrupting their lives and cutting the community into pieces--if it means getting the campus across the street from them. (By "they" I mean the ONLY parents at BCS that matter: the tiny handful of millionaires who own and operate the school).
As for the rest of BCS parents, it seems they are just pawns.
Current BCS parents should vote with their wallets and refrain from donating this year. If they are going to use you as disposable filler, don't add insult to injury by paying them as well. The school has millions in the bank so this will not affect your children's programs one iota.
at Monday, 19 November 2012 08:15
Growth has always been the threat and the bargaining chip for BCS. Even the early negotiations for the GB site always promised in exchange the commitment not to grow.
But today, BCS has grown beyond the size that will fit in GB because that is the size needed to outgrow Egan.
I think everyone knows what is going on. I don't think anyone thinks that BCS wants to grow to an enormous size because and transforming into a larger, more impersonal school is desirable for educational reasons or for any benefit to the children.
It's all about the unelected BCS board members and their legacy. Which is about the facilities.
It's unfortunate since an elected BCS board, with no agenda, truly representing the BCS parents and not just continuing the holy war they mentioned above, would actually be more likely to arrive at a win-win with LASD and the community.
19"It's about education"
at Monday, 19 November 2012 12:55
BCS growth is about providing the best education possible for more kids in our community. Through programs such as Focused Learning Goals, Project Based Learning and Co-Curricular electives the educational program of each student is individualized to meet the needs of the students. This is a very different approach than what is offered the LASD top down uniform curriculum approach in which only kids with IEP's get an individualized program.
20"It's all about anger"
at Monday, 19 November 2012 14:06
LASD has individualized programs as well, but obviously they are not given Catchy Names(tm). Our public school district--being a PUBLIC school district--doesn't spend a lot of time coming up with slick marketing slogans.
Cut through the marketing hype and you'll find that BCS test scores are virtually the same as surrounding schools even though the school spends almost twice as much on typical students. They achieve these equivalent test scores with an arguably more advantaged group of parents who can afford a median of $5000 per child--a donation level only 1% of LASD parents achieve.
Parents and taxpayers should look at results, and those results don't add up for BCS.
Growth does not help a single student at BCS. The BCS board is not growing to help students, they are growing because they are mad.
at Wednesday, 21 November 2012 09:19
I don't think anyone believes:
BCS growth is about providing the best education possible for more kids in our community.
Growing a school that large doesn't even provide the best education possible for the kids attending BCS.
BCS has been very clear and obvious about what its agenda is. It's always, consistently been about doing whatever was necessary including whatever legal expenditures or political positioning, or even eviction of neighborhood school families, in order to obtain better facilities from the school district. Formerly BCS was focused on the GB site but now is focused on the Covington site.
at Thursday, 22 November 2012 10:31
BCS only grows as an increasingly larger portion of LASD parents choose to send their children there. The current plan will result in a school of at least 900 students. That's two campuses - not one. And as BCS continues to outperform the local union run district schools, expect that to grow.
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