I’m a Bullis Charter School parent standing in the shoes of a Los Altos School District parent, looking at the issue through their eyes.
I hear, “Please do not close my child’s school.”
• Bullis Charter School listened.
• The charter school offered a split location, which does not close a school.
• Charter school parents accepted the inconvenience of two locations as well as the challenging impact on the K-8 program.
Now, I ask you to stand in the shoes of a charter school parent, to look at this issue through my eyes. Consider:
1. Every Los Altos School District school has a multipurpose room in which the entire school can gather. Bullis Charter School students at Blach should have the dedicated use of one of the two gyms or the district should provide a dedicated building for charter school students to gather as one community – as all other district students can do.
2. Sixth-graders need a play structure and blacktop. All other district sixth-graders have access to blacktop areas to play during recess and lunch. Charter school sixth-graders should as well; having use of a gym for PE does not matter at lunch and recess.
3. Bullis Charter School should have access to onsite child care for sixth-graders, like other district schools.
4. Bullis Charter School’s offer to split our school was contingent on the Blach campus being a “real school,” which requires a critical mass of 200 students and a minimum of core facilities sized to function appropriately. All other district students have access to basic, core functioning facilities.
5. Stop sharing calculations based only on the time Blach students are scheduled. Instead, use the Proposition 39 standards, in which the correct comparison is the average of comparable schools. Bullis Charter School students deserve to be treated the same as other students in the Los Altos School District.
6. How is placing sixth-graders on a junior high campus consistent with your resolution finding that students are best served by a K-6 program and a 7-8 program on separate campuses? Are you compromising the safety and well-being of Bullis Charter School sixth-graders by locating the charter school at Blach? No other district sixth-grader has to share blacktop and grass fields with seventh- and eighth-graders. Nor should charter school sixth-graders.
1. Accept the Bullis Charter School enrollment numbers for K-5. Stop insisting on information that is neither relevant nor required by the law. Current acceptances are supported by double-digit waitlists for each grade. Each child to whom you deny space is a public school student who deserves facilities. How do you explain to the parents of 30-40 students that their child does not count?
2. Stop saying that Bullis Charter School is 40 percent of the students at Egan and thus gets 40 percent of the space. The legal requirement is the average of comparable schools. You know that. On that measure, the facilities are undersized.
3. The Egan site for 327 children was declared illegal by the Appellate Court. How is it legal to have more than 100 additional children on that site? The Egan campus will be overcrowded – for everyone. Allow, and provide for, more students at Blach. It makes Egan a safer school.
Let’s work together for a solution. The Bullis Charter School community listened to the concerns of Los Altos School District parents. Yet, not one PTA leader has supported the charter school in creating a meaningful split solution. Why not?
It is time for the Los Altos School District to listen and act on our concerns. Only then can we focus on educating all of the public schoolchildren.
Susan Mensinger is a Los Altos resident.