The Los Altos School District Board of Trustees voted May 12 to change the name of Bullis-Purissima School to Gardner Bullis Elementary School.
Due to budget cuts, Bullis-Purissima School was shuttered in 2003, igniting a firestorm of contention and controversy. With the school set to reopen in the fall, some board members – and community constituents – believed resurrecting the old name might perpetuate the negativity associated with the closure of Los Altos Hills' lone elementary school.
In an effort to wipe the slate clean – and to avoid confusion with Bullis Charter School – Superintendent Tim Justus proposed the possible name change to the board.
In early April, the board established a committee to suggest new names for the district's seventh elementary school. The committee recommended such variations as Gardner Bullis Elementary School and Purissima Elementary School.
After the seven committee members selected the top two choices, board members Bill Cooper and David Pefley reported that Gardner Bullis Elementary School was the choice.
"The concept is to try to look toward the future, but with respect to the past," said Pefley, board vice president.
Pefley said some members of the committee voted to keep the name as it was, Bullis-Purissima.
"What a wonderful, wise and conciliatory conclusion to what began as a very divisive issue," Shari Emling, Los Altos Hills resident and former parent of Bullis-Purissima students, wrote in a letter to the board. "Thank you for the decision to keep Gardner Bullis' name on our school, and continue to honor a man who was so instrumental in bringing (and maintaining) so many positives to both Los Altos Hills and Los Altos."
The district received several letters and e-mails in response to a proposed name change. Several Los Altos Hills residents wanted to preserve the Bullis name to honor the memory of Gardner C. Bullis, an attorney instrumental in incorporating the city of Los Altos Hills. A longtime community volunteer, Bullis died in 1981 at the age of 94.
Pefley said the change both honors the Bullis legacy and lessens the confusion with the charter school name.
"The name Gardner Bullis has the historical ties to Bullis," Pefley said. "To the extent that â€˜Gardner' would be emphasized â€¦ offers a potential to get rid of confusion."
As far as a mascot is concerned, the decision will be left to the Gardner community, Board President Mark Goines said. The previous mascot was the Bullis-Purissima Bear, and several community members have suggested the "Gardner Grizzlies."