Former BCS supporter frustrated with lawsuits
This letter is to Bullis Charter School. I used to be one of your supporters. As a parent whose child didn’t fit the Los Altos School District system, I was frustrated that there were no alternative/magnet schools and no Independent Study programs. I watched more than just my child slip through the system. So I felt the charter school brought value to our community by offering another option.
But my support has waned. The district is growing rapidly and can’t afford to give up a campus. It is not unreasonable to ask charter students to attend middle school on a different campus. Our district students do that. The district’s offerings have seemed fair, so it is frustrating to watch the charter school counter everything with a lawsuit. That is wasted money!
I’m glad you’re surveying the community. I think you’ll find that past supporters are no longer standing behind you. The costs of the charter school are outweighing the benefits. I’m not saying we don’t need a charter school, because we definitely need alternatives! But we don’t need any more lawsuits. I hope you’ll reconsider the constant courtroom battles. There’s too much damage being done – to our education system and to this community.
BCS can help build trust
I am hoping to collaborate with Bullis Charter School parents to find and fund new school sites to accommodate the growth of both the Los Altos School District and charter school populations.
Unfortunately, I feel defensive. Bullis Charter School is aggressively marketing to grow as large as possible while they litigate nonstop, forcing the district to spend resources defending themselves instead of on initiatives to improve its schools.
My perception is that the charter school’s ultimate goal may be to close down a local school(s), which would not only affect my children’s education, but as importantly my neighborhood’s entire social fabric. Local schools are not just about the classroom, but seeing the same friends at school as at your neighborhood every-other-Friday block parties, group trips for spring break, etc.
As a district parent, I’d have more trust that charter school officials are really compromising if they stop suing and state explicitly that they would not close a neighborhood school. With this in hand, I am ready to work with Bullis Charter School parents to find and fund new school sites together.
Los Altos: Don’t ignore teen market
As a teen, it has come to my attention that downtown Los Altos is a charming, unique place that has many boutiques and little stores that you wouldn’t be able to find anywhere else in the Bay Area.
Many people from urban places like to come to our town to shop simply because it has more individualistic stores with products you won’t see every day. However, to teens and young adults, having an entire town of boutiques can sometimes be less interesting.
I don’t think I can ever remember a single person my age wanting to go downtown to shop for clothing; the only thing we teens come downtown to do is walk around and eat. I know that about 20 years ago, Los Altos decided it didn’t want any chain or big mall stores to have shops downtown. I agree it is fun to have some stores you have never heard of, but in a way this decision to cut off all chain stores has backfired.
Right now, I would say that the only group they are appealing to is mothers and older women, because the small stores around town have more mature clothing.
I think that if Los Altos really wants to stick to its idea of being a small town, it can let in a few popular stores and still keep it that way. I mean, would it really hurt to have one Hollister Co. store at the edge of town? It doesn’t seem like that would ruin the charming feeling of Los Altos.
If the town continues to stay the same as 20 years ago, everyone from ages 11 to 25 will just become increasingly uninterested and keep going to places in Palo Alto and to big malls like Valley Fair in San Jose.
If there were one or two popular teenage stores in town, it would not only attract more business, but would most likely be extremely well attended.
There is a huge market for teens in Los Altos and I know from personal experience that I don’t get to go to the stores that I like very often because my mom doesn’t want to drive me all the way to San Jose.
Even if the town agreed to let in, at most, three chain stores, I think it would make a huge difference.
Pretending that what customers want is the same as 20 years ago won’t work, but compromising while keeping town values at the top of the list could make Los Altos a more sought-after spot for any age group.
Katie Jo Shuman
Los Altos Hills