The Los Altos School District Board of Trustees by a narrow 3-2 vote approved a three-year agreement with Bullis Charter School with the goal of improving relations.
The resolution, if approved by both boards, would allow the school district to extend the deadline for its annual facilities offer. To date, the district annually extended its final offer to the charter school by April 1, but state funding is not revised until May.
Proposition 39, passed in 2000, mandates that school districts must provide “reasonably equivalent space” for charter school students who reside within district boundaries. Bullis Charter School currently shares space with Egan Junior High on the West Portola Avenue site, a point of contention for charter school representatives.
Implementation of the resolution, which the charter school board reviewed Monday night (past press deadline), would allow time for the district to adjust its facilities offer, based on the state’s annual May budget revision.
Historically, the district already factors in the May Revise before finalizing the facilities offer – this resolution makes it official, Los Altos School District Trustee Doug Smith said.
Randy Kenyon, district assistant superintendent for business services, said the district would add one classroom to the charter school facility this year if both boards approve the agreement.
During the Sept. 28 meeting, trustees from both the school district and the charter school promoted the symbolic message the agreement represents.
“I have a small dream that we find a way to peacefully co-exist,” said John Phelps, newest member on the Bullis Charter School board. “I don’t think this agreement provides any particular advantage, but I think building trust and taking a baby step here is essential.“
Los Altos School District Board President Margot Harrigan agreed.
“We are all a part of the same community,” she said. “You don’t move forward without extending some sort of olive branch.”
Los Altos School District Trustee Mark Goines said he could not support the agreement because the charter school is currently appealing a lawsuit the district won last year.
“Unless we are negotiating to settle that lawsuit, as long as we are spending district money on lawyers, I don’t see the reason to put effort into this agreement,” he said.
Fellow Trustee Tammy Logan said she would support the proposal if it were only a one-year agreement. Before extending it, she recommended re-evaulating the agreement at the end of the school year to see if the litigation had concluded.