LASD organizes to encourage mediated input

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Members of the Los Altos School District Board of Trustees have established a different format for their Dec. 3 meeting, scheduled to gather additional public input on Bullis Charter School facilities.

Following public comments at the Nov. 13 meeting, trustees narrowed the suggestions for charter school facilities for the 2013-2014 school year to five options.

1. Locate Bullis Charter School at Covington School; move Covington students to other campuses.

2. Allocate the current facilities at Egan Junior High and Blach Intermediate schools differently. Balance the charter school’s growth between the two campuses.

3. Swap another school with Bullis Charter School. For instance, move Santa Rita students to the Egan camp school site and house the charter school at the Los Altos Avenue campus.

4. Identify a 10th site to rent or use, within school district boundaries or outside them but nearby.

5. Divide charter school students among three sites: Egan, Blach and an elementary school campus.

“These cover a wide variety of options,” said Trustee Doug Smith of the recommendations. “We have a wide variety to start from. We go through this process every year, and with their enrollment forecast to eventually reach 900 kids, we need to look at this in radically different ways. We need to throw it wide open.”

To expedite a thorough evaluation of the five options at the meeting, Superintendent Jeff Baier will divide the audience (the last meeting drew 200 attendees) into five facilitated groups and assign each group to review and report on the efficacy of a specific option. Trustees will float among the groups.

“This year has a much different set of numbers,” said Los Altos School District Board President Mark Goines. “We need to look more widely than we have before. We have historically been very insular during this process and we have been criticized for it.”

Goines said he hopes that including the public – not just for their comments, but also by involving them in the planning process – will prove beneficial.

“We are taking a significant risk,” he said. “This is a much more grassroots process. This is very important. It will be messy, but it will be very useful, and I am looking forward to it.”

Although this is the final public input meeting scheduled on the facilities process, trustees emphasized that it would not be the last opportunity for public feedback. The preliminary facilities plan for the charter school is not due until Feb. 1.

The meeting is scheduled 7 p.m. Dec. 3 in the Covington School Multipurpose Room, 201 Covington Ave., Los Altos.

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