Photo Town Crier File Photo
Seventy percent of Los Altos Hills children attend either Gardner Bullis School, left, or Bullis Charter School.
Although newly designated Los Altos Hills Education Committee Chairwoman Heather Rose reported no educational achievement gap in Los Altos Hills for most students, her annual presentation to the city council Nov. 15 highlighted the committee’s underlying challenges.
“Our remaining ‘in town’ public school, Gardner Bullis School, has had a rough set of transitions since we last came before the council,” Rose said.
Gardner Bullis Principal Erica Gilbert announced the day before school opened this year that she had accepted a position closer to her home outside the Los Altos School District. Linda Eckols served as interim principal until Courtney Cadwell accepted the position in early October. The recently reopened campus was one of four named as acceptable alternate sites for the Bullis Charter School program in the mediation agreement between the Los Altos School District and the charter school.
The committee and the community are grappling with other issues, including the discontinuation of more than half of the bus services provided by the Palo Alto Unified School District and the ongoing lawsuits and tension between the Los Altos School District and Bullis Charter School.
Although Los Altos Hills parents send 352 children to 15 different elementary schools, more than 70 percent of students attend either Gardner Bullis or Bullis Charter School. According to the Education Committee’s 2012 Enrollment Report, 149 students (50 percent of all students at the school) attend Gardner Bullis and 108 students (22.3 percent of all students at the school) attend the charter school.
“The committee exists due to the structural problem in LAH,” Rose said. “Los Altos Hills needs a unified group to monitor educational issues for our residents – who are otherwise quite a minority in their districts.”
As of this month, only five of the 11 seats on the committee were filled. And not all schools are represented, despite efforts to include more diverse voices. According to the committee roster, there are no members representing Bullis Charter School. Rose encouraged community residents to apply for appointment.
“We welcome parents from any schools attended by Los Altos Hills kids, but mainly we want Los Altos Hills residents passionate about informing and improving education for our kids,” she said.
Councilman John Radford applauded Rose’s efforts to include parents representing all schools on the committee.
“The focus (of the committee) does have to change,” said Radford at the Nov. 15 meeting. “For the past three to four years, it’s been between BCS and LASD. … It’s always come down to a discussion of one versus another.”
Radford called Bullis Charter School a “wonderful” charter school but noted that if the school’s latest facilities request for Covington School moves forward, it will likely drop the Los Altos Hills quota used in its lottery system.
Rose highlighted numerous goals for the Education Committee in 2013, including the creation of an informational website listing education options available to Los Altos Hills parents, increasing safe transportation options and boosting carpooling, producing enrollment and performance reports, and collaborating with the Parks and Recreation Department.
The Los Altos Hills Education Committee meets 7 p.m. the first Wednesday of every other month in the Los Altos Hills City Council Chambers. For more information, visit losaltoshills.ca.gov/city-government/standing-committees/education.
Los Altos Hills State of Public Ed
• Parents in Los Altos Hills send students in elementary grades to schools in the Los Altos School District and the Palo Alto Unified School District.
• There are 956 K-12 public school students enrolled for 2011-2012.
• Residents of Los Altos Hills contributed $20.2 million, $21,133 per student, in property and parcel taxes to public education.
• High school students are enrolled in four schools.
• Middle school students are enrolled in five schools.
• Elementary students are enrolled in 15 schools.
at Wednesday, 28 November 2012 09:40
The article should have stated that:
Residents of Los Altos Hills contributed $20.2 million, $21,133 per student ATTENDING PUBLIC SCHOOLS, in property and parcel taxes to public education.
There are so many ways to look at this:
LAH gives a lower amount of parcel taxes as a percentage of income and a lower amount as a percentage of property value or square footage than anywhere else in the district.
Or.... LAH gives a higher amount per pubilc student since many in LAH choose to attend private schools.
Hopefully everyone simply agrees that strong public schools are wise investments that increase property values for all and attract great neighbors. Besides strengthening the future of our country.
at Thursday, 29 November 2012 12:31
Wow. Only 149 LAH kids at Gardner Bullis? Why is the district spending millions on legal fees and raising the stakes in the ongoing war with BCS? All to keep GB away from BCS. The costs and risks outweigh the benefits.
at Thursday, 29 November 2012 14:17
The above commenter (come on folks, think of a name :-)) makes a great point: the fact that such a large percentage of Hills students are in private school saves our school district a lot of money.
I am sure that virtually all LAH residents are more than happy to support public schools for the reasons you stated.
It's worth noting, however, that if there were, say, a "hybrid" sort of public/private school which consistently took kids out of private schools and into a school which took public dollars per student... then that would cost our school district a lot of money.
at Saturday, 01 December 2012 15:28
This is NOT about keeping GB from BCS.
BCS has long ago outgrown the GB site which is the smallest capacity K-6 site in the district.
BCS has a K-8 program with a target of 900 students.
BCS is now targeting Covington. (Could be Egan and/or Blach later, stay tuned). Hopefully Foothill is safe.
5"GB has ~340 students"
at Monday, 03 December 2012 09:10
The Gardner Bullis campus has around 340 students last I checked, not 149 as the commenter above inferred. The 149 number is the number of students residing in town Los Altos Hills who go to that school.
BCS has almost nothing to do with Los Altos Hills at this point, and locating the school there--even if the student population of 900 fit on that campus--would be unworkable from the standpoint of traffic and commuting. At this point the best place for BCS is closer to the center of the District, and also distributed among campuses to lessen the stress on our streets.
6"LAH is not embracing GB"
at Tuesday, 04 December 2012 15:29
Joan, we all know that you are a Gardner Bullis parent. You can say that BCS is too big for GB all you want to. That doesn't make it true.
The fact that there are only 149 LAH children in the only public school located in LAH tells me that LAH has not embraced Gardner Bullis nor do they particulary seem to care (other than a few militant GB parents)
How many of those 149 Los Altos Hills children actually walk to school? 20? The bottom line is that Gardner Bullis, as it is currently constituted, is a COMMUTER school! Let's put BCS in there with a long term agreement and end this nonsense.
at Wednesday, 05 December 2012 10:30
BCS doesn't fit at GB. It's that simple.
Their - grow their way OUT of Egan strategy, resulted in a grow their way OUT of GB as well.
On to other possible solutions...
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