Tue07222014

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Task force recommends two more school sites for growth


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Goines

Los Altos School District Superintendent Jeff Baier last week reported on recommendations by the Enrollment Task Force, including the need for two new campuses to address student growth.

The Enrollment Task Force reached its conclusions on how to address enrollment growth in the area after each of its 12 members put in at least 40 hours of research and discussion, according to Baier.

The report recommends the district find two additional school sites – one for Bullis Charter School and one for a district school.

“The pursuit should occur along parallel paths, but the Bullis Charter School site should be first priority,” the report stated. Trustee Mark Goines and President Doug Smith did not agree entirely with this finding, given the current litigation with the charter school over facilities.

“The one thing that troubles me is (recognizing) the charter school as a priority,” Goines said. He added that finding something that the charter school and district boards agree on might take longer than finding a solution for district growth.

The report emphasized the importance of establishing a collaborative process among the Bullis Charter School and Los Altos School District boards and local government agencies.

The Enrollment Task Force recommended partnering with the charter school in finding Bullis a site within school district boundaries. If no in-district site is available, the boards should collaborate to find an acceptable site outside but near the district boundaries. The report added that partnering with local city agencies is crucial to the process of locating additional sites.

The task force suggested that the district consult with Los Altos and Mountain View city councils to locate a site for another district school. The focus should be near the El Camino corridor (where a large portion of student growth is expected) and the district could consider a possible magnet program (instead of redrawing school boundaries).

Looking ahead

District board members said the appropriate next step would be to share the findings and recommendations with the charter school board at one of its meetings.

Just before last week’s district board meeting, Bullis Charter School board member Joe Hurd sent a letter to the district trustees requesting a joint meeting later this month to begin the 2014-2015 facilities process.

Smith responded by requesting the district board visit an upcoming charter school board meeting to discuss strategic ways to move forward based on the task force recommendations.

In response to Hurd’s request to address specifically the allocation of facilities for the 2014-2015 school year, Smith said the district possibly could work with the charter school if it could accelerate the annual facilities request early.

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