LASD counters Bullis growth projections

The Los Altos School District submitted its counter-projection of Bullis Charter School growth for the 2013-2014 school year, asserting that the school would grow by 97 in-district students rather than the 140 forecast by charter school officials.

The enrollment numbers matter to both sides, as the district bases its annual facilities offer on growth data the charter school provides.

The charter school based its projections on the addition of approximately 20 students in grades K-3, 30 students in sixth grade and 15 students in seventh and eighth grades.

The district’s counter-projection, a legal right recently upheld in Santa Clara Superior Court, claimed that the charter school’s enrollment growth was “overly aggressive.” The district predicted 15 new students in grades K-3, 30 in sixth grade, 2 in seventh and 14 in eighth. The district projected 48 fewer in-district students than the charter school.

District officials supported their projections with historical data showing that the charter school has annually overstated its projected enrollment. For the current school year, the charter school projected 493 in-district students and enrolled 475. District data also revealed that the charter school has never grown by more than 72 new in-district students annually and averages 48 new in-district students per year.

The district included community input to support its counter-projections.

“In the current climate, it is safe to say that Bullis Charter School is under heavy scrutiny in the community,” a report from the district stated. “The net effect of all this is that the district believes there is considerable local pressure running counter to Bullis Charter School marketing efforts.”

The report claims that community members are “engaged” and spreading the news about the negative impact of Bullis Charter School’s target to reach 900 students, making it the largest school in the district.

“Bullis Charter School has never had to swim against a community current this strong,” the report stated. “It is reasonable to predict that Bullis Charter School enrollment will not grow at the pace Bullis Charter School might otherwise expect.”

The charter school has an opportunity to respond to the district’s counter-projection by Jan. 1. The district is required to submit its preliminary facilities offer by Feb. 1.

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