Last updateWed, 20 Sep 2017 9am


Construction at Blach continues as BCS prepares for new facilities

Ellie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
Construction continues at Blach Intermediate School in Los Altos as Bullis Charter School officials formulate a plan to use their portion of the allocated space.

As summer continues, so does the placement of new portables for Bullis Charter School on the Blach Intermediate School campus.

According to Marlene Shafran, maintenance and operations director for the Los Altos School District, construction at Blach is on schedule for completion by Aug. 1.

Each year the district is required to provide Bullis Charter School with facilities. The charter school, in an effort to meet growing demand, has added a number of new classes, resulting in accelerated growth and the need for additional facilities. Beginning this fall, the charter school’s facilities will be split between Blach and Egan Junior High School.

The charter school has been offered portable facilities at Blach before, but this fall will mark the first year the charter school has active plans to use the space.

The district designed the Blach facilities offer to serve 129 in-district charter school students, anticipating that the charter school would house its sixth- through eighth-grade students on the Blach campus.

Bullis Charter School Superintendent Wanny Hersey said the school plans to use the Blach facilities to serve different grade levels at different times.

“We plan to use the space in a way that fully utilizes the resources at the Blach campus, and that will include different grade levels over there at different times,” Hersey confirmed in an email to the Town Crier. “Our teachers will be looking at units of study throughout the year and will decide what makes the most sense in terms of resources and location.”

Restricted use

While the portable space at Blach designated for the charter school has no restrictions as to which charter school students attend, the shared specialized teaching space (such as science labs, the gym, etc.) are restricted to sixth- through eighth-grade charter school students only.

Doug Smith, president of the district board of trustees, said the district made no accommodations for safety requirements for K-3 students on the Blach campus – such accommodations are available at the portions of the Egan Junior High School site assigned to the charter school.

According to charter school officials, they plan to house the FabLab, a fabrication laboratory, on the Blach campus. The FabLab features age-appropriate tools and materials that promote scientific modeling and simulations for robotics, sensing and digital fabrication. Hersey declined to disclose whether all grade levels would use the FabLab.

She said decisions related to details affecting room setup would be made once staff reports for training Aug. 5.

“Every summer since our school began, there have been last-minute changes made regarding our facilities, so we never finalize specific details like room assignments and room setup until closer to the start of the year,” Hersey said.

When asked specifically how the charter school plans to use the portables at Blach, Hersey said they expect to house project-based learning and design-thinking units there. Such cross-discipline methodologies are built into the charter school’s curriculum in all grades.

“We have more than 20 staff members participating in a Design Thinking professional development course this week to look for even more creative, innovative ways to use the resources we have next year,” she added. “In terms of how specifically we will use each site, we are still mapping out the logistics, and we look forward to sharing that with everyone once those decisions have been finalized.”

Another unique characteristic of the facilities offer for the charter school next year is a constraint on the number of students allowed on each campus. In accordance with California Environmental Quality Act regulations, the charter school may house no more than 469 students on the Egan campus and no more than 149 students on the Blach campus. The capacity limits prevent the charter school from housing its entire program on one campus, but schoolwide assemblies are permissible at specified times.

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