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City council aims to meet with BCS later this month

It appears that the Los Altos City Council is gearing up for another meeting of the minds with local school officials.

The council discussed at its Oct. 9 meeting that it is tentatively scheduled to meet with the Bullis Charter School Board of Directors Oct. 30 for what Councilman Ron Packard termed “a sharing of information” meeting. The council took no official action during the discussion.

Final details of the proposed meeting, including a venue and start time, had yet to be finalized when the Town Crier went to press.

Among the items the council tentatively planned for discussion with the Bullis board are the charter and mission of the school, its governance structure and the need for a 10th Los Altos School District site.

Much of the schools’ discussion at last week’s city council meeting, however, focused on something else entirely – safety.

During council discussion, Mayor Val Carpenter intimated that a condition for meeting with the Bullis board required abandoning the city’s standard practice of webcasting special meetings, as well as regular council meetings.

Carpenter further explained that the provision was requested because of unspecified safety concerns on the part of the Bullis Charter School board and some school parents.

“There is, as I understand it, some concern on the part of that (Bullis) board – whose meetings are not televised or webcast at any point – with frankly some of the nastiness that has gone on in our community,” Carpenter said. “Some of them are concerned about their images being broadcast. So the idea was for the first meeting that we could have a discussion without requiring that to be televised.”

An email from the Town Crier to Bullis Charter School Board of Directors Chairman Ken Moore regarding the school board’s safety concerns was not returned by press deadline.

But the meeting will still be publicly noticed, as required by the Brown Act, Carpenter added. City Manager Marcia Somers told the council that Bullis Charter School board officials appeared open to an audio recording of the meeting as an alternative.

“I think the choice will be, if we want the meeting, we go with it on their turf without televising it,” Carpenter told fellow councilmembers. “If we don’t want the meeting, then we insist on televising it.”

Still, Councilman David Casas noted that even with those conditions in place, members of the public have the right to make a video recording of the meeting.

“I don’t want the BCS board to feel uncomfortable in sharing their thoughts in a way that they’re more guarded because they’re recorded,” he said. “But moving forward, if anybody wanted to show up with a video recorder, they could.”

Other provisions discussed for the joint meeting included finding a space large enough to accommodate a potentially large crowd. Some councilmembers suggested switching sites from the Bullis board room – which also serves as a school classroom – to either a multipurpose room or the city’s gym at the Egan Junior High/Bullis Charter School shared campus.

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