As a teacher raised and educated in the excellent public schools here, I am dumbfounded by the methods Bullis Charter School uses to control the community and the Los Altos School District.
It is despicable that the charter school sues the district for “equitable” facilities and continues to grow beyond a reasonable size. Its proposed enrollment expansion to 644 students places the charter school’s population well beyond that of any other school in the district, on a site that is shared with another school.
Anyone who has tried to position him- or herself in the neighborhood of Egan Junior High School near West Portola Avenue, Los Altos Avenue and San Antonio Road at approximately 3:15 p.m. knows that traffic is horrendous. Drivers arriving and departing the school on West Portola will simply block the street until they are able to enter and exit the lot.
Last year an Egan student severely broke his leg just after school was let out and required emergency services to stabilize the situation. Emergency medical services were unable to move through the crowd of cars waiting to enter and exit Bullis Charter School. There is simply no regard for residents on the street, Egan personnel and parents, emergency vehicles or through-traffic travelers. It has become an absolute nightmare. Adding more students will exacerbate the problem exponentially.
The charter school’s enrollment numbers should not be allowed to surpass those of the highest populated school in the district – Loyola, with approximately 570 students. In addition, it should not be allowed to share a site with another school – this has been unbearable.
If I had a say, I would suggest moving Bullis Charter School to Hillview Community Center, which was at one time an elementary school. Compared with the public schools in the district, it has a central location as well as the space to accommodate a number of students. Bullis Charter School should not be allowed to usurp another school’s location. This will continue to cause problems in the community.
If Bullis Charter School wants to be a private school, then let it find its own land and develop it according to its wishes. If the charter school wants to be part of the district, then let it take its knocks the way the rest of the public schools take theirs.
Sarah Gerfen is a Los Altos resident.
1"Can't have it both ways"
at Wednesday, 28 November 2012 09:37
First BCS is accused of being elitist. It opens up more spots so that it won't be elitist and because the community is ASKING for it. There are so many LASD children that want a BCS education that the wait list is extraordinary.
Now they're accused of controlling the community by trying to address the community demand? You can't have it both ways...
It is entirely up to LASD where they locate BCS. It doesn't have to be at Egan. Moving BCS to Covington, and moving Covington to BCS would make all the sense in the world... Nearly 1/2 of Covington's community lives CLOSER to BCS than they do to Covington.
Ms. Gerfen should be addressing her comments to the LASD board and urge them to locate BCS elsewhere.
Why should LASD parents be denied their choice in public schools?
2"Rich People's Game"
at Wednesday, 28 November 2012 10:49
Bullis Charter School is choosing--choosing--to grow itself into a giant mega school with no personality and no community.
The school requires at least $5000 per child from parents. Growing the school will mean that many new parents won't be able to pay, which means that current BCS parents should brace themselves for thousands more in contributions. The entire scheme could come crashing down easily as parents start to question why they are paying for other's private school.
BCS growth benefits NOBODY yet the BCS board is pressing forward. Why? Global politics that have nothing to do with children or education in Los Altos.
We as citizens in Los Altos are being USED as pawns in a rich family's game. It needs to stop. Please urge your friends and neighbors to not apply to Bullis Charter School. If they are already enrolled, urge them to withhold their donation until the school operates in harmony with the community.
at Wednesday, 28 November 2012 15:50
As a BCS parent I agree there are traffic issues and that sharing the Egan site has challenges. The story you share about an Egan student not being able to receive prompt medical attention because of a traffic jam is heart wrenching. Traffic around our two schools is common, but please remember BCS has asked to be elsewhere for many years now. This specific situation has been created by the LASD Board of Trustees who have chosen to allocate the public school facilities of the district to the public schools operating in the district in exactly this way - BCS has no say in which site itd's on year to year. The district has placed BCS temporarily at Egan for 9 years, despite demand for BCS and many opportunities to give BCS a permanent home. As a community we may chose different schools for our children, but what I hope we have in common is a desire for a long term solution to benefit all the children and mend the riff in the community.
at Wednesday, 28 November 2012 16:14
I think most in the community agree that the Egan sharing situation is not a solution. But to blame BCS for what is a LASD Board decision is wrong. LASD has continued to try and marginalize BCS using the facilities issue. BCS should be located at another location but ONLY the LASD Board can make that decision. It is way past time for the LASD community to accept that BCS is a desired option for public school students in Los Altos and accordingly is entitled to appropriate facilities. I also agree with the writer who struggles with BCS being blamed for being exclusionary given the high demand for limited slots yet when it addresses that problem by expanding, it is blamed for that too.
5"What Parents Choose"
at Thursday, 29 November 2012 08:48
@suzi -- You should clarify who chooses what.
* BCS parents choose a school program.
* LASD parents choose a campus.
BCS parents have no right to get upset about being moved around as necessary to preserve the choices of the other 80% of district parents who chose their neighborhood school.
If the BCS regime would stop blocking the construction of a new campus, then we could create a permanent home for the school. Until then, sharing of multiple campuses is the only viable way to preserve the choices of ALL parents here. BCS parents don't get to have it both ways.
I find it offensive that a BCS spokesperson would say they lament a "rift" in our community when only a few sentences later they call it a "choice" for parents. BCS necessarily splits Los Altos into two separate communities. This is the whole reason the school exists. There was no "rift" in our community ten years ago before BCS got here, and there will be no rift after the school folds up.
at Friday, 30 November 2012 16:24
Let's keep a few things straight:
1) Courts have ruled in Los Angeles that charter schools cannot force the shutdown or the taking of existing performing public schools.
2) BCS can find its own facilities if it is not satisfied with what the district provides and then charge the district for the facilities.
3) BCS has chosen to underutilize the Blach space provided to it and over crowd the Egan space this year.
BCS has non litigation options available to it that they have not fully pursued and that are completely within their control. If they replaced their misguided, and non supported by case law, efforts to take a campus and work collaberatively on a new site or broader sharing arrangement perhaps some headway could be made.
7"What Joan Chooses"
at Friday, 30 November 2012 16:25
Really, Joan?! BCS is blocking construction of a new campus? I can't imagine why they'd be doing that, since that would solve the whole problem!! Your posts sound like you jammed a bunch of facts into a Cuisinart with Tapatio and poured the results on your keyboard.
at Monday, 03 December 2012 09:09
I did not mean that BCS itself was blocking the passage of a new campus bond. I was speaking in brief using the short-hand, "regime" meaning the wider BCS community including folks like Ron Haley and Courtenay Corrigan--folks that have collaborated with BCS on political campaigns before.
Based on our experience with Measure E, we know that BCS can be a powerful political force and can sway a close election. Hence the implicit threat by the BCS regime must be accounted for.
With BCS support we could pass a bond with an 80% majority. Their lack of support is akin to trying to block it.
With such a limited amount of characters, it's sometimes hard to get all of the ideas in here with the necessary rigor...
9"Courts will solve it"
at Monday, 03 December 2012 09:10
Sadly, a child will probably need to suffer a really horrific accident before the LASD Board is compelled to take action. They need that air cover in order to do anything. Right now, all the hardline LASD parents have them completely stiffled. It's like the Fiscal Cliff. Until you go over and lots of people are impacted or a single tragedy shines the light on how bad it is, nothing will happen. At least with the Fiscal Cliff, we have January 1. With LASD vs BCS, there is no timeline and no compelling event. Either a hit and run or escalating litigation - that's the only salvation, sadly in this town of ours.
at Monday, 03 December 2012 14:16
Curious, "time will tell": what sort of message would a horrible accident at one of our campuses accomplish? Remember that moving BCS somewhere can mean moving *other* children someplace else--it's a zero sum game until we build a new campus.
The most logical thing to do from a safety perspective is to split up BCS among several campuses so they can move their students closer to their homes. It's called the neighborhood school model, and it's the safest approach there is.
We clearly do not have enough school campuses here and must build more--if BCS would get on board, we'd easily pass a school bond. The more campuses, the safer our schools.
As for the courts solving this, as long as BCS keeps suing, then yes, it will be in the courts. That's what BCS suing means. There's nothing the District can do but defend themselves when BCS sues.
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