Schools

Group argues LASD has enough space

Amid the official Los Altos School District meetings last week, an outside group, Creative Facilities Solutions, met to discuss how the district could share its existing land with Bullis Charter School.

Since the formation of Creative Facilities Solutions in 2017, the group has basically argued the same thing: The district has enough space; it just needs to reconfigure its existing land. Despite the group’s insistence, the school district has pursued the purchase of a 10th site so that each school could have its own campus: nine district schools and Bullis Charter School. But a land purchase is guaranteed to be pricey.

David Roode, a Los Altos resident, ran last week’s meeting. The audience of approximately 40 was diverse – several current and former district parents attended, as well as charter school parents, the chairman of the charter school’s board and local residents.

Roode invited an architect, Bill Gould, to present different configurations of how the charter school could share a campus with a district school. Gould, previously hired by the charter school to develop the proposed designs, described plans for how a 900-student charter school could permanently share Egan Junior High’s campus or Covington School’s campus with the addition of new one- and two-story buildings.

Next, David Patterson, a member of the Placer County Board of Education, shared an example of a charter school successfully sharing a campus with a traditional public school. He founded Rocklin Academies, a family of four charter schools in Rocklin.

Rocklin Academy faced a similar situation to Bullis Charter School with regard to facilities, and the district and the charter school agreed to share the campus of one elementary school, Ruhkala Elementary. Rocklin Academy has approximately half the campus, Ruhkala has the other half, and the two schools share the library, fields and outdoor space. The project was made possible by a 40-year housing agreement, which included an enrollment cap and a financial contribution for the construction from the charter school. The school district paid $4.5 million and the charter school paid roughly $640,000, according to documents from the Rocklin Unified School District.

“It’s possible,” Patterson said, referring to the ability to work out a long-term facilities agreement.

The meeting also featured presentations from Roode about enrollment in the Los Altos School District – he believes that enrollment will decrease so much in years to come that the district will have more space than it needs – and Karen Duncan, who presented figures showing that the school district has more square footage per student than nearby districts.

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