The Los Altos School District delivered its final facilities offer for Bullis Charter School last week, including slight modifications from the preliminary offer.
The district and the charter school continued to disagree over projected enrollment at Bullis Charter School next year. Charter school officials estimated 678 in-district students, and the district designed its final offer to accommodate a counterprojection of 605 in-district students – a 73-student disparity.
The district’s offer splits facilities between two campuses again next year, with the charter school’s younger students (grades K-4) housed at Egan Junior High School and older students (grades 5-8) at Blach Intermediate School.
At Egan, the district assigned facilities similar to those allocated to the charter school for the current year. The district will offer the same number of portables and amount of specialized teaching space next year, despite the fact that the district projects fewer students on the Egan campus (443 this year vs. 408 next year).
The district also allocated extra outdoor space at Egan next year, allowing charter school students to use Egan’s track from 8-8:50 a.m. Wednesdays.
At Blach, which the district projects will house 197 in-district students, the final offer includes eight classrooms, an administrative portable, a classroom-sized portable for specialized teaching space, a library portable and one larger portable for flex space.
The district increased the length of time students can use the drama/chorus room (which is shared with Blach) to 8-10:30 a.m. Mondays through Fridays. The science lab, for seventh- and eighth-grade students only, will be available to Bullis students 2:17-3:03 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. The charter school also will have access to Blach’s multipurpose room 20 days during the school year.
The final offer outlines a schedule for shared physical education, recess and lunch play space for fifth- through eighth-graders. It allows the charter school to access the gym, multipurpose room, blacktop, tennis courts and track and field for PE, recess and lunch during allotted weeks. PE time is slated in the final offer as 8:30 a.m. to 12:48 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays and 8-10 a.m. Wednesdays through Fridays.
The district also provided exclusive grass space for charter school students at Blach at the top of the track, which runs along Covington Road. Trustee Steve Taglio said the district would likely work with the charter school on a way to fence off that portion of space. The final offer allows the charter school to build a play structure, at the charter school’s expense, for the Blach campus, but requests that the plans for the play space be submitted by May 1.
Charter school reaction
Charter school officials last week said they were pleased with the space offered at Egan but disappointed by the lack of space added to the Blach campus.
“We are grateful that the district heard our feedback regarding the Egan site,” said Ken Moore, charter school board member, in an email to the Town Crier. “We had asked the district not to remove any portables that we had this year at Egan, and the district agreed. Also, it was helpful that the district has allowed BCS to use the Egan field for one hour per week, on Wednesday mornings before Egan classes start.”
Moore said the district failed to address many of the problems the charter school raised regarding the Blach campus in its response to the preliminary offer.
“We had asked that the district treat all children fairly when dividing and sharing facilities between district and (charter school) children,” he said.
Moore pointed out that the district continued to ignore the charter school’s enrollment projections for next year, leaving the final offer short of necessary facilities.
“Bullis Charter School students at Blach are not provided sufficient specialized classrooms for art, science and others, but are instead offered a single 960-square-foot portable for all specialized teaching purposes,” Moore said. “Also, strangely, the district offers another single portable to be used as a ‘compensatory’ (multipurpose room), computer lab and teacher lounge, while simultaneously specifying that no students are permitted in the teacher lounge, per district policy. Otherwise, the (charter school) students at Blach are given a 20-day access for the entire school year to a multipurpose room, unlike all other students in the District, who have unrestricted daily access to a multipurpose room.”
Overall, the charter school’s portion of the Blach campus does not measure up, he said.
“We don’t believe the facilities offered at the Blach site are anywhere near equivalent with what district students enjoy on their campuses,” Moore said. “Many (charter school) parents can’t help but feel that the District is discriminating against them, based on their decision to attend BCS rather than a District school.”
The final offer included the stipulation that charter school officials sign a Facilities Use Agreement (FUA) by May 1.
“Bullis Charter School’s failure to (sign the FUA) shall constitute a rejection of the Final Offer, and the district reserves the right to refuse to add any additional buildings to (the charter school’s) allocated sites during the summer if Bullis Charter School fails to execute the FUA by May 1, 2014,” the Final Offer stated. “No work will begin on provision of new space until the district receives a signed FUA.”
The document states that the FUA will formalize the conditions included in the Final Offer. It outlines consequences for the charter school if officials do not follow the guidelines for occupying the facilities, and a process for handling such a situation.
In the charter school’s response to the preliminary offer, officials requested that the district’s and charter school’s legal teams negotiate the terms of the document. District Trustee Taglio said that as of last week, no communication regarding the FUA had occurred to his knowledge.