For the first time since the Los Altos School District Enrollment Task Force was established in August 2012, members of the Los Altos Hills City Council were invited to participate in its search for two new school sites.
“We’re at the highest point (in student growth) in 40 years,” said Los Altos School District Superintendent Jeff Baier during a discussion with the council July 15 on why the new sites are imperative to accommodate future growth projections. “We need more sites. ... That will require cooperation among LASD, Bullis Charter School and public agencies that would gather the public support needed for the successful passage of a bond measure.”
According to district Trustee Tammy Logan, an ad hoc district committee has researched approximately 40 potential locations within and outside the district, but further cooperation is needed to identify potential Los Altos Hills sites. The committee must move quickly to determine the possibilities – members hope to schedule a bond measure in either June or November 2014.
Baier estimated that the bond would be set at approximately $120 million, the amount needed for land acquisition costs, which are increasing with every passing month.
“This is the first time I’ve heard any constructive dialogue about getting together, period,” said Los Altos Hills Mayor Gary Waldeck.
By the conclusion of the district’s presentation, Waldeck volunteered to shepherd the committee through conversations with the town on any potential sites for a school.
Although Waldeck and the other councilmembers ultimately supported working with the task force and the district’s 10th Site Committee, the commitment wasn’t made without a few tough questions.
“You are aware that back in 2000, in the middle of 15 years of growth, your board did decide to close Bullis-Purissima School?” asked Councilmember John Radford, who also questioned why it took so long for the committee to reach out to stakeholders for support.
Bullis Charter School Board of Directors member Joe Hurd echoed Radford’s concerns about whether the timeline for a bond measure next year was realistic at the district’s current pace.
“In your efforts to be reticent and keep things close to the vest, you’ve lost a little bit of time in not reaching out to other members of the community,” Hurd said.
According to Baier, the committee plans to engage members of the Mountain View City Council. A presentation from the committee to the Bullis Charter School Board of Directors is scheduled Aug. 6. He said the district did not want the school-site search to become so contentious that jurisdictions played a game of “Liar’s Poker.”
“This only happens if it’s a win for Los Altos Hills,” Baier said. “This isn’t about anything other than trying to work together to find something that satisfies everyone.”