Thu11272014

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LASD set to approve final facilities offer


Photo By: Traci Newell/Town Crier
Photo Traci Newell/Town Crier

Los Altos School District and Bullis Charter School parents crowd the district board meeting March 25, giving input on the district’s facilities offer to Bullis Charter School.

The Los Altos School District Board of Trustees was expected to approve the final facilities offer for Bullis Charter School at its Monday board meeting, after the Town Crier’s press deadline.

The district published a draft in its meeting agenda last week that detailed the final offer, which allows Bullis Charter School continued use of Egan Junior High School’s camp school space, with two additional classrooms to serve 443 in-district K-5 students.

The remainder of the offer outlined shared facilities at Blach Intermediate School for 129 in-district sixth- through eighth-grade charter school students. The allocated space at Blach includes five classrooms (three for sixth-graders and two for seventh- and eighth-graders), exclusive use of a home arts room, one specialized teaching area, an administrative building, library/media building, locker rooms and bathrooms.

The administrative building houses space for the principal, receptionist, nurse, conferences, small groups, counselor, speech/PTAs, resource materials and a servery.

The library enclosure includes a reading area, bookshelves, an office, a data communications room and a computer lab with a whiteboard/display board.

The district’s Blach offer relies largely on the use of shared space. It schedules use of a science room (2:30-4 p.m. weekdays), drama/chorus room (8-9:45 a.m. weekdays) and multipurpose room (eight days throughout the year).

The offer also includes a proposal for shared physical education space. For various lessons throughout the year, Bullis Charter School students may use the gym (16 weeks), multipurpose room (two weeks), blacktop (8 weeks), tennis courts (two weeks) and the track and field (10 weeks). PE facilities are available to charter school students during periods 1-5 on Monday and Tuesdays and through 9 a.m. Wednesdays through Fridays.

Bullis Charter School students will share the blacktop space with Blach students during lunch and recess, assuming their breaks coincide, the offer states.

The parking lots will be available on a first-come, first-served basis, with 10 spots allocated to the private Stepping Stones Preschool & Infant Care facility, six for charter school officials and six for Blach officials.

District officials included language in the final offer that would make it difficult for charter school students other than sixth- through eighth-graders to use the facilities. The specialized classroom and PE space is not approved for K-5 students, and the Blach facilities assigned to the charter school are available only to grades 4-8.

After the March 25 board meeting, the Huntlinger Alliance, a group representing 1,500 district parents, sent a letter to trustees requesting that the district weigh the needs of all students and not overallocate space to the charter school.

Charter reaction

Despite numerous last-minute recommendations from Bullis Charter School parents, the district’s final offer does not differ much from what trustees discussed at their March 25 board meeting.

Charter school officials and parents pleaded with district trustees to provide facilities for their projected enrollment of 615 in-district students. The final offer provides facilities for 572 in-district students.

Throughout the final week of March, charter school parents sent letters to district officials an exclusive-use multipurpose room at Blach campus.

Bullis Charter School parent Gaurav Suri said the school holds weekly assemblies for students that include opportunities to overcome their fear of public speaking. The multipurpose space would also be used for student award ceremonies.

After reviewing the district’s March 25 facilities discussion, charter school officials sent feedback to district trustees before the offer was finalized.

The Bullis Charter School advocates contended that the shared time allocated to the charter school is “leftover time,” the library space is too small and the multipurpose room is not reasonably equivalent to that offered to district students.

Their initial concerns about the number of computer stations for charter school students and the lack of a suitable nurse’s station were addressed in the final offer, which added stations and space.

Charter school input maintained that the Egan site would be adequate for 345 in-district students if it were 8.45 acres. The district’s final offer proposes to house 98 additional students on a 7.45-acre footprint. Bullis Charter School projects 26 additional in-district students for which the district’s offer did not provide for.

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