Photo Traci Newell/Town Crier Bullis Charter School board members Joe Hurd and Peter Evans, left, met with Los Altos School District trustees Tammy Logan and Doug Smith Feb. 13.
Representatives from the Bullis Charter School Board of Directors and the Los Altos School District Board of Trustees met last week to discuss the district’s preliminary offer as they move forward in the annual facilities process.
The district’s preliminary offer would split Bullis Charter School’s program between the Egan Junior High School and Blach Intermediate School campuses.
As charter school board members Joe Hurd and Peter Evans listed specific requirements for charter school facilities next year, Trustees Doug Smith and Tammy Logan provided feedback.
Evans emphasized that the charter school would like to enroll a “critical mass” of students, approximately 200, on the Blach campus. The district’s preliminary offer allocates space for 125 students.
“We think of critical mass as trying to maintain a K-8 program at two sites,” Evans said. “There has to be enough there so that the students’ experience is what we want it to be.”
Smith responded that the district must perform a balancing act to make the facilities offer work.
“There are some practical realities forced upon us because of the real estate,” he said. “Essentially what happens at Egan is more land, with more programmatic sharing at Blach.”
The district’s preliminary offer recommends that Bullis Charter School house sixth- through eighth-graders on the Blach campus. Charter school board members said they would decide which grades will use Blach, and it could be second- and seventh-graders.
“I think grade configuration is going to be a back and forth,” Hurd said. “Having those sorts of conversations will be beneficial so that we can work those issues out.”
Evans said the charter school expects to serve 615 in-district students next year. The district based its preliminary offer on a counter-projection of 572 students.
Smith is interested in obtaining as much information as possible from charter school officials in their March 1 response to the preliminary offer, which he anticipates should assist the district in resolving problems.
For instance, “Information that says this space would be more useful if we can pave it,” he said. “I’m open to that type of a conversation.”
Smith and Logan expressed optimism that the conversations between Blach Principal Sandra McGonagle and Bullis Charter School Principal/Superintendent Wanny Hersey could help shape and perfect the sharing arrangement so that it works for both programs.
If McGonagle and Hersey can agree on sharing schedules, then the respective boards should be “fine” with whatever agreements they reach, Smith said.
Evans said hearing that some of the sharing was “fair game” was “very helpful.”
Logan and Smith said they had received feedback that the preliminary offer was difficult to read and understand, and Smith offered to craft the final offer “into a format that makes better sense.”
Evans emphasized the importance of having a self-contained site at Blach.
“We can’t have some nondescript square-footage,” he said. “It has to be functional in order to operate a school at that site.”
Logan and Smith requested as much clarification as possible in the charter school’s March 1 response.
“My suggestion would be, as you prepare your March 1 letter, be specific about how you are going to use the space,” Smith said, adding that if there are better configurations for the extra portable space, the district is willing to accommodate their needs.
“Just tell me what you want and I’m open to listening to what you need,” he said.
The two parties talked at length about student safety and staggering start times in an effort to mitigate traffic congestion.
A potential meeting originally scheduled for Monday remains unconfirmed pending discussion among school district trustees.
1"BCS must drop the lawsuit"
at Wednesday, 20 February 2013 15:10
While these talks are encouraging, comments from Joe Hurd in the last session indicated that BCS intends to continue its litigation disputing the entire idea of a two-campus offering. Remember that this means that they are hoping to get a judge to order to closure of a high-performing public school based on Prop 39.
They do this as they ask the District to make concessions contrary to Prop 39's absolute requirements.
BCS can't have it both ways. If they want to sue, and they want our District to follow Prop 39 "to the letter" then they are going to get the offer they got. It may make no sense for their program, but that's the law's fault, not our District's.
If they want to negotiate what they want, then they need to drop Prop 39 entirely, and drop the lawsuit.
BCS needs to become part of our community and stop being its enemy. They need to drop the lawsuits and help us pass a school facilities bond to build more schools.
at Monday, 04 March 2013 11:22
I applaud Ms McGonagle and Ms Hersey for doing what should have been done last year. How else is LASD going to learn how to implement the wonderful BCS programs that they have been copying from us for years? Let's be honest, LASD is a failing district. Why else would BCS be growing?
BCS has a right to sue. It's inexcusable why my children should have to have unusable bits of land, just like all the other schools have those bits of land on the edges of their boarders. How about LASD stop countering our lawsuits first!
at Thursday, 21 February 2013 09:53
The community has become numb to all the BCS lawsuits. We are not even aware of them anymore. It's sad. Especially when BCS runs full page ads in the Town Crier and Mountain View Voice stating how they want to get along with everyone. Amazing.
The ads referred to themselves as a public school about five times. That's a stretch: High tuition forced by pressure on parents. Admissions preference for LAH wealthy parents. Unelected Board. Sueing the community's school district. Sueing and trying to take away one of the community's schools.
4"BCS copies LASD"
at Friday, 22 February 2013 09:19
BCS copied LASD, not the other way around. From the original BCS charter application:
"The School shall adopt and implement the comprehensive, rigorous core curriculum similar to the one usd by the former [LASD] traditional school site ."
BCS also "derived" the school name (Bullis Charter School from Bullis Purrissima) and the school mascot (Bear) from the LASD school as well.
An LASD school was featured on 60 Minutes for an innovative new program. BCS was not.
Meanwhile, after extensive discussions on our community Facebook group with BCS personnel and supporters, nobody can name a single program or program element which LASD has adopted from BCS. Not a single one. LASD is the top-ranked school district in California. They have no need to copy anybody.
at Friday, 22 February 2013 16:47
But BCS costs more so it must be better.
at Monday, 04 March 2013 11:10
The earlier comment from "Yang" by Grace is not me. While I may or may not share the views of this person posing as Grace Yang, I did not post the comments on Feb 21. Sorry to dissapoint. I think I know who you are, and it's unfortunate the Town Crier doesn't have better quality control over its Comment boards.
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