Imagine that your child attends a different public school from your next-door neighbor’s child. Both students are the same age and both live in Los Altos.
The difference, however, is that your neighbor’s child receives $3,739 more in public funding for his or her education. This is reality for the more than 400 public school students who attend Bullis Charter School (BCS). According to a report released last week, LASD students receive 60 percent more local, state and federal funding than students who attend BCS.
LASD Trustees are now asking the community to widen this public funding disparity through a $193 increase in the local parcel tax, which will generate an additional $2.3 million for the district. Just like the existing $7 million per year parcel tax passed in 2002, BCS is wrongly being excluded from this funding.
BCS is an independent, public charter school. While charter schools were created to instill choices within public education, they also have a larger goal of inspiring all public schools to improve. Charter schools were also designed to introduce greater accountability and innovation into the public school system.
Unfortunately, LASD Trustees view charter schools as competition. BCS is not included in the parcel tax because trustees, who view BCS as a competitive threat, control how much public money it receives. BCS has grown to become a public school option that the community values, with nearly six LASD students applying for each available seat. Due to community demand, the school will expand to serve eighth grade.
LASD Trustees have a track record of working against BCS and have largely impeded efforts to collaborate at every opportunity. They denied BCS’ charter petition twice, and, year after year, continue to allocate BCS a temporary school facility that is almost half the size of the average district school.
There is a legitimate debate occurring in our community over the wisdom of Measure E. While some say that asking taxpayers to pay even more in property taxes is the right thing to do for our schools, others make a strong case that LASD should first tighten spending, reduce inefficiencies and bring its generous long-term benefits back in line with the private sector. Nevertheless, can we at least agree with the principle that all public school students in our community should be funded equally? Measure E fails to do this.
It is time for LASD Trustees to stop mistreating BCS because they view it as competition, particularly when they control how much money the school receives. By doing so, they unfairly punish more than 400 public school students in their district who attend BCS.
We wait for the day that LASD Trustees embrace BCS for what it is – a school that has become the highest-performing public charter school in California and one that is an excellent, innovative educational option for Los Altos families.
Ken Moore is chairman of the Bullis Charter School Board of Directors.