Editorial: Hold the line on charter enrollment

The Los Altos School District needs to come up with a proposal by Friday on how to accommodate Bullis Charter School and its 190-student increase from 915 to 1,105 students for the 2019-2020 school year.

The increase means the school district may no longer be able to fit all charter school students on the Blach Intermediate and Egan Junior High school campuses. It means the district will likely offer part of an additional elementary school site.

This is because the Bullis Charter School leadership is unwilling, thus far, to curb enrollment. This is also because school district and charter leaders have not been able to agree on a permanent facilities solution despite more than a decade of discussions.

Based on current constraints, we think 1,105 is more than enough. The charter school should cap enrollment from this point forward, and the district should compromise and provide those students with the facilities they need, probably their own campus. The charter school isn’t going anywhere, but it doesn’t need to grow.

We were heartened by Bullis Charter School Board of Directors Chairman Joe Hurd’s comment in the Town Crier’s “Other Voices” column last week that the school is not going to grow indefinitely. Let’s get that sentiment in writing with a firm enrollment cap.

Blach and Egan, which currently share their campuses with charter school students, are bursting at the seams.

Los Altos public schools are designed to be relatively small, topping off at approximately 600 kids. Accommodating students from a popular charter school increased the number of students on Blach’s campus to 792 in the 2018-2019 school year and a whopping 1,208 (586 district, 622 charter school) on Egan’s.

We’re concerned continual expansion of enrollment would increase already significant traffic and safety problems at Egan and Blach for both district and charter school students.

Bullis Charter School is an excellent school. While district enrollment is declining, it has a waiting list of families wanting to get in.

We understand the frustration with the lack of resolution to a facilities conflict that has seemingly dragged on forever. But students, families and neighbors on or near these crowded campuses do not deserve to be more adversely impacted. Let’s hold the line on enrollment and get Bullis gets its own campus.

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The Town Crier welcomes letters to the editor on current events pertinent to Los Altos, Los Altos Hills and Mountain View. Write to us at 138 Main St., Los Altos 94022, Attn: Editor, or email editor Bruce Barton at bruceb@latc.com. Because editorial space is limited, please confine letters to no more than 200 words. Include a phone number for verification purposes. Anonymous letters will not be printed.

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