A proposed facilities agreement between the Los Altos School District and Bullis Charter School remained in question Monday when the Town Crier went to press.
Boards from both parties were scheduled to vote Monday on a tentative agreement drafted last month that would guarantee Bullis one of the district’s campuses within the next two school years. District officials favor a short-term agreement while they continue to work toward a long-term deal; Bullis representatives seek a long-term location for their school.
District’s short-term proposal
District board President Mark Goines sent an email to parents Friday that included a sneak peek at the district’s idea of a short-term agreement, which would allow the two parties more time to craft a long-term solution.
The short-term agreement, scheduled to last over the next two school years, would provide space for the charter school’s K-8 program on the Egan Junior High School campus, where Bullis has been housed for eight years. During those two years, the charter school would waive the right to pursue litigation regarding its space at Egan, and officials would agree to close the books on the 2009-2010 legal case, including legal fees. The two groups would use the two-year window to collaborate on solidifying a long-term facilities agreement for the charter school.
Goines said that while discussions surrounding the agreement have been ongoing, the groups have been unable to develop consensus on either a long-term or short-term interim arrangement for the next school year.
“If Bullis Charter School accepts this proposal, this will give us time to work through the details of a long-term arrangement,” Goines wrote in the email. “Although this proposal has significant short-term impact on Egan, we hope this compromise will afford us the opportunity to collaborate with our community to find the best solution without the cloud of litigation.”
Goines added that if the charter school and the district fail to reach some sort of agreement this week, the original offer for facilities – which splits the charter’s program between Egan and Blach Intermediate School – would stand.
“Since Bullis Charter School is not happy with this offer, we fully expect further legal action if we cannot reach any other arrangement,” Goines wrote. “We are confident of our position in any such legal action, as this offer was crafted to exceed the district’s obligations under the law.”
Bullis Charter School’s response
Bullis Charter School Board Chairman Ken Moore sent an email to parents Saturday reacting to the district’s short-term proposal and ongoing negotiations for a facilities solution.
“This new proposal by the Los Altos School District includes every concession Bullis Charter School made to get a long-term site agreement but then lacks any specifics or guarantee of a long-term site,” Moore wrote.
Moore said Bullis Charter School’s major complaint is that the short-term arrangement fails to guarantee the charter school a specific site, previously agreed to (Almond, Santa Rita, Gardner Bullis or a portion of Covington School), and neglects to place the charter school on a full-sized campus by 2014.
“The deal proposed provides no guarantees about the long term while locking Bullis Charter School into a two-year campus on Egan that falls far short of what was previously discussed even for that interim site,” Moore said.
Goines said the district continues to work toward placing a bond measure on the ballot that would fund acquisition of a 10th district site, which could house the charter school.
“I understand Mr. Moore still wants us to guarantee closing one of our schools and handing it over to Bullis Charter School,” Goines wrote in a follow-up email to the Town Crier. “We are still negotiating with them in a way that will allow a new site to be an option to avoid disrupting the vibrant communities around our schools.”