I’m a parent of two Bullis Charter School students this year and will have a third starting in the fall. This is our seventh year being a part of the Los Altos School District community. My family is very happy with the choice we made regarding the education of our children. I’ve attended several meetings over the past few months regarding how to move forward as a community on the issue of a long-term solution for the charter school.
I’m very happy that I took the time to engage with the district board of trustees, charter school representatives and the rest of the district parent community (whether they are parents of children attending Bullis Charter School or other district schools). I’ve learned a lot about the concerns of my peers, the other district parents, whose children attend district schools.
The most common pleas I’ve heard are:
1. Don’t close another neighborhood elementary school.
2. Don’t bring a commuter school into our neighborhood.
3. Don’t break up a community that’s been together for seven years.
Through the discussion of these concerns, face to face with other parents, I can very clearly see why moving Bullis Charter School to a district elementary campus and reallocating the students to other elementary schools would be very disruptive on these three dimensions.
After reflecting on this for a while, I believe I have a solution that could create a long-term solution for a Bullis Charter School facility without being disruptive on these three important dimensions. Specifically:
1. Move Bullis Charter School from the Egan Junior High School campsite to the Blach Inter-
mediate School campus.
2. Consolidate district middle school attendance at the Egan campus, taking advantage of the campsite.
3. Extend an invitation to current Blach seventh-graders to attend Bullis Charter School for eighth grade.
I see a number of benefits:
1. Blach is a commuter school, as it draws from half of the Los Altos School District, so there’s no net detriment to the surrounding community, and Bullis Charter School’s current practice of staggered class starts may actually help traffic.
2. The Egan campsite is already set up with two parking/drop-off locations to help mitigate traffic congestion.
3. Blach seventh-graders could complete their middle school experience in the same facility they started in.
4. The district could realize efficiencies in merging the two middle school programs on one campus.
5. The lawsuits would go away.
6. Bullis Charter School could plan for reasonable growth within a stable and known capacity.
Granted, there are some downsides:
1. There would be a longer commute for middle school students from the southern and eastern parts of the district. (Note: That’s where we commute from to the charter school, and it’s not horrifying).
2. Egan would be a large school, but no larger than it already is, hosting both Egan and Bullis Charter School.
3. There would be disruption for the Blach teaching team during the transition year if the eighth-grade teachers stay behind.
4. There would be a very challenging human resources problem to solve when dealing with Blach/Egan redundancies.
The benefits far outweigh the challenges of this proposal. I understand time is short, but with a clear vision toward a long-term solution, we could make a very positive change with minimum disruption.
Rob Fagen is a Los Altos resident.
at Wednesday, 16 January 2013 11:01
It's very heartening to hear a voice from the BCS community who acknowledges the needs of all children. This is a great start.
To try to continue the dialog, I'd see some practical hurdles with this plan:
1. Getting rid of Blach entirely as a community would have social/emotional consequences for kids moving on to their respective high schools, LAHS and MVHS. Right now the two Jr. Highs are parallel to the high schools, thus easing the transition from Jr. to High school.
2. Having BCS change its admissions preferences around is not straight-forward, and may not be legally possible/practical. That said, simply offering more 7-8 classes may achieve this without changing anything else.
3. The BCS board needs to buy into the idea of *not* growing after a certain point. That may or may not be acceptable to them.
The key to making this work is that BCS would need to effectively replace Blach as the Jr. High on that side of town. It's possible...
at Wednesday, 16 January 2013 17:23
Just one correction to Rob's "Voice", Blach is not a commuter school and it draws from 100% of the Los Altos School District. Oak, Loyola and Springer elementary schools feed into Blach. All of those schools are in the LASD. About 20% of those students reside within the Los Altos High School boundaries and the remaining 80% reside in the Mountain View High School boundaries. Both Mountain View High School and Los Altos High School are in the same school district known in short as MVLA. I'm unsure of where you came up with the idea that Blach is a commuter school, but you have been wrongly informed.
In addition, what would be horrifying is if roughly 500 students travelled from the southern and eastern parts of the district by car, because traveling to Egan from those areas by bike or by foot would is completely unrealistic.
You've seen the light in some regards, but have entered a cloudy area in your justification of taking over Blach. Try again.
at Thursday, 17 January 2013 12:05
Blach is certainly not a "commuter school". See this week's LATC article about the Covington-Miramonte intersection and the reported information that 75% of Blach students walk or bike to school.
Of course, walking and biking to school is something that BCS parents have no appreciation for.
at Thursday, 17 January 2013 14:38
"I'm unsure of where you came up with the idea that Blach is a commuter school, but you have been wrongly informed. "
Yes - and all of you who are trying to call BCS a commuter school has similarly been "wrongly informed".
5"BCS is a Commuter School"
at Friday, 18 January 2013 08:41
Charter schools are, by definition, commuter schools since they take in students from the entire District--students come from all over. Yes, BCS has a geo preference for LAH, but that is insignificant these days (BCS is the third-most attended public school in LAH now behind GB and PAUSD).
So BCS students might live next to Oak or they might live next to Santa Rita--there's no telling. The lottery, insofar as it's not rigged, will evenly distribute BCS attendance.
The two Jr. High schools are also *more* commuter-like in that they have much larger attendance areas.
If BCS parents chose BCS because they wanted a neighborhood school, they made a big mistake.
at Tuesday, 22 January 2013 11:12
The idea that Blach is a commuter school and as a result be considered a BCS option reflects the grandiose self-serving entitlement of the charter community. To have offered this as an alternative shows poor judgment and will further alienate the public. I appreciate the honest journalism provided by the Mountain View Voice, January 18th edition that has identified the “district’s wealthiest residents” long involvement in BCS who rank among the nation’s wealthiest and may have an endless funnel of financial support that could have funded their own location rather than legal fees or exotic class trips abroad. BCS lawyer Gonzalez’s statement reflects arrogance that “the whole district is well-educated and well-to-do”. Not all of us are children of Intel co-founders who could choose any school in the world.
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