The recent announcement of a five-year agreement between the Los Altos School District and Bullis Charter School is welcome relief for the entire community. After years of dispute and litigation, the pact is nothing short of a minor miracle.
Among the highlights, the two sides have agreed to end litigation. The district and the Bullis Charter School compromised on a charter school enrollment cap of 900 students and further charter school expansion on the Blach Intermediate School campus. Best of all, they’ve agreed to partner to support a bond measure.
The school district would have a more difficult time passing the $150 million bond it’s seeking in November without the support of the charter school community.
The question is: Will the agreement stick? Both boards have yet to officially approve the deal – they’re slated to vote at their respective July 28 meetings. In the meantime, members of both boards are gathering input on their constituents’ opinions of the tentative pact.
The biggest compromise for Bullis supporters is halting their quest for taking over an existing school site. Perhaps the best news for the district’s parents is that their students will not be shuffled out of their current school. But Bullis Charter School will surely push for a new campus as part of the bond measure, and Rosita Park, adjacent to Covington School, and McKenzie Park are being discussed as options.
Even though only 55 percent voter approval will be required, passing a $150 million bond is not a sure thing. Charter school parents need assurance that they will get their own campus in the near future. And negotiations between the two sides to forge facilities goals in the bond language will be intense, with a looming Aug. 8 deadline to qualify for the Nov. 4 ballot.
With Mountain View all but out of the picture, Rosita remains the best option for a new site. If both sides go in that direction, there’s the matter of crafting an agreement with the city of Los Altos, most likely to lease the land. This could prove attractive to a city seeking additional, ongoing income to help rebuild its community center, but there’s the matter of minimizing impact on surrounding neighborhoods.
Translation: We still have a long way to go. But considering where both sides were before the July 2 announcement, we’re already halfway up the hill. We urge both sides to continue to work together and see this agreement through.