Other Voices: Enough is enough – stop disputing, start solving

Following is an open letter to the Los Altos School District Board of Trustees and the Bullis Charter School Board of Directors.

We are parents in both the Los Altos School District and at Bullis Charter School who are asking for your help to bring our community together – regardless of school affiliation – and stop the facilities disputes that have torn us apart and pitted neighbor against neighbor for the past 15 years. Enough is enough.

We were introduced after starting two separate, local online petitions, one to “Save Egan” and the other to find a facilities solution immediately, ending years of dispute and lawsuits. Collectively these petitions have nearly 5,000 signatures. Although we come from different schools, backgrounds and neighborhoods in Los Altos and Los Altos Hills, we’ve found that we have more in common than not. We believe our point of view represents many families in both district schools and at Bullis Charter School.

At the core, both of us want our community’s children to be the priority. Spending time and money fighting over facilities takes away from investing in our children and their classrooms. We demand both of our boards collaborate to solve the facilities needs in our district so that we can close this chapter.

We share a few foundational principles that we want our respective boards to uphold and respect as they make decisions about facilities:

• All children and families – whether from the district or Bullis Charter School – should be treated fairly and consistently.

• Each school community is valuable to the families within it.

• We do not want to spend time or money on lawsuits over facilities because it takes away from our public and private funding, children’s education, parents’ time and community well-being.

• Facilities outcomes can only be reached if both boards are willing to address the needs of both the neighborhood and charter schools; this will require compromise on both sides.

• We can only repair our community if the boards move beyond our history and talk to each other proactively, positively, assuming good intent and acting with empathy.

Based on these principles, and considering the complex and protracted history of this issue, we recognize that the negotiations may include many options that we should all be ready to consider as a community to get to a resolution. For example:

• Co-locating or splitting Bullis Charter School across a reasonable number of locations.

• Granting Bullis Charter School additional access to facilities and outdoor spaces.

• Asking Bullis Charter School for temporary or permanent enrollment caps.

• Reinstating Bullis Charter School enrollment preferences for nearby residents.

• Drawing new district attendance boundaries to normalize the population at current district schools and better use the land within the district to share with Bullis Charter School.

• Buying additional land and constructing additional buildings to solve immediate and long-term needs.

• Suspending Proposition 39 and making multiyear agreements.

• Collaborating to make small shifts in drop-off and pick-up times to mitigate traffic in our schools’ neighborhoods.

We also recognize any of the aforementioned options may raise great concerns for many of our fellow parents in both programs, but we expect a compromised solution in which both parties have made some concessions but also feel satisfied by the outcome.

We know the discussion may be tough, but we ask both parties to enter into discussions with a commitment to demonstrate real leadership, a spirit of collaboration and an open mind, and complete the task without villainizing or assigning blame or cause. We, as parents, are ready to compromise and collaborate; as your constituents, we expect you to do so as well.

All students in our community are our students. We stand together, ready to support your efforts to end this long-standing strife. The time has come.

Peipei Yu is an Almond School parent. Courtenay C. Corrigan is a Bullis Charter School parent. To view the “Save Egan” petition, visit change.org/p/save-egan-middle-school. To view the “Find Facilities Solutions” petition, visit change.org/p/courtenay-c-corrigan-stop-the-vilification-of-bcs-and-find-a-solution.

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