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BCS response seeks more facilities space

Bullis Charter School responded to the Los Altos School District’s preliminary facilities offer Friday, requesting significantly more space for a larger cohort of students at Blach Intermediate School next year.

The district’s preliminary offer included facilities for 125 in-district students at Blach for the 2013-2014 school year, including five classrooms, a restroom, three extra portables and office space. The district made the offer under the assumption that the charter school would send its sixth- through eighth-grade students to Blach.

Bullis Charter School officials based their counterproposal on the Blach camp school setup from 2004, when the district split the campus so that students from Loyola School could attend during renovations to their school. The counterproposal projects 200 charter school students at Blach and requests a self-contained space, with grade configuration at the charter school’s discretion.

Significantly more space

The charter school’s counteroffer seeks significantly more portables than the preliminary request. Officials are now asking for double the classroom space, from five classrooms to 10; a larger office; a separate teacher workroom and lounge; a multipurpose room; kindergarten classroom space; childcare space; a music room; a library; a service area; janitorial space; a computer lab; an art/science room; a locker room; a flexible-space room; a small-group space; and an additional restroom.

The charter school requested separate portables for all its space needs – a total of 21,600 square feet of additional portable space (i.e., the equivalent of 22.5 additional standard-sized portables) more than the building space provided in the preliminary offer.

The footprint of the charter school’s counterproposal includes the current Stepping Stones Preschool facilities, Blach’s baseball diamond and the shrubbery space at the entrance of the school. The charter school’s proposed map recommends moving the Stepping Stones facilities to another space on the Blach campus. The preschool facility has signed a multiyear lease with the district.

The charter school’s counteroffer also outlines requirements for shared facilities, including exclusive use of the City Gym or Blach multipurpose room 1.5 hours a week, tennis courts and soccer fields 3:30-5 p.m. two days a week and the track 3:30-4:30 p.m. two days a week. Officials also requested two two-week periods when charter school students would have exclusive use of the woodworking room and full-time exclusive use of one science room.

The counterproposal assumes that the Egan campus space allocation will remain the same, with continued use of the Egan music room, and asked for scheduled use of Egan’s City Gym.

List of problems

Charter school officials listed a number of problems with the district’s preliminary offer: the proposal did not include a contiguous site; the Egan site is still not “reasonably equivalent” based on previous court rulings; the district cannot mandate which grades attend which site; the district’s counterprojection of in-district students (the district projects 43 fewer in-district students) underestimates enrollment; and the charter school would lack blacktop space and specialized teaching space for sixth-graders at Blach.

The charter school’s response continued to “demand a contiguous site,” and officials claimed that they did not waive those rights with the counterproposal. The response cited Covington School as “best suited” for the Bullis Charter School program and also maintained that the district should have considered the full Egan campus as an option for the charter school.

The district is scheduled to submit a final facilities offer to the charter school by April 1, at which time charter school officials say their counterproposal expires.

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