LASD revises working agreement for bond measure

While no future facilities discussions between Bullis Charter School and Los Altos School District are currently scheduled, the district moved forward last week by revising a draft agreement to generate mutual support for a potential bond measure.

Following the Sept. 23 Los Altos School District board meeting, trustees revised the draft agreement designed to address short- and long-term charter school facilities issues in an effort to work mutually toward a successful district bond measure.

“This proposal incorporates all of the short-term requests that Bullis Charter School made that feasibly could be adopted, while also addressing community concerns in a way that respects the Bullis Charter School program while building community support for a bond,” wrote Doug Smith, district board president, in a letter sent to the charter school Saturday.

The draft agreement addresses:

• Enrollment and admissions practices. It was clear during previous facilities discussions that charter school officials did not want to alter their enrollment and admissions processes to gain support for a bond. The district changed the language defining the issue, calling for the charter school to “seek and achieve” an enrollment representative of the district’s student population.

The agreement also includes language removing the charter school’s current enrollment preference for the previous Bullis Purissima Elementary School boundaries (predominantly Los Altos Hills). Smith stated in his letter that he was unsure whether charter school officials would support the amendment.

• Bullis Charter School support for a bond. Los Altos School District parent Laura Orella, who attended the charter school’s Sept. 23 meeting, said she was shocked to hear charter school board member Janet Medlin’s statements objecting to a bond for the school district.

“I do not trust that the Los Altos School District would use the bond monies in a fair and prudent way given their long-term and recent behavior,” Medlin wrote in an email to the Town Crier.

• An end to all current litigation on both sides.

• Charter school financial support for a new site (estimated at $5 million to $7 million).

• Site certainty. The agreement includes language that calls for housing the charter school on a new site for no less than 15 years – “waiv(ing) any and all claims to obtain further facilities from the district under Proposition 39.”

• Extension of the split-site in the interim. The district’s letter explained that the annual facilities request-and-offer process generates conflict that is “poisonous to the bond effort.” The draft includes language that the charter school would agree to the same facilities for the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 school years as it has for 2013-2014, providing “sufficient time to pass a bond.”

• Solutions to short-term problems with the Facilities Use Agreement. The draft agreement addresses the charter school’s difficulties with grade-level restrictions, enrollment caps and play equipment connected with this year’s facilities offer.

Future meetings

The district’s letter proposes that the parties meet soon to work through the draft to reach closure on an agreement.

Smith said district Trustee Mark Goines has attempted to contact charter school officials to schedule a final short-term facilities discussion but has yet to receive a response.

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