Schools

BCS and LASD reach 2-year facilities accord

Bullis Charter School” width=
Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Bullis Charter School is currently partially housed in portable classrooms at Egan Junior High's campus in Los Altos.

The Los Altos School District and Bullis Charter School have agreed on a two-year facilities deal, providing more time to reach a long-term plan.

The two-year agreement will keep the charter school split between the Egan Junior High School and Blach Intermediate School campuses and cap its enrollment at 1,111 students.

“I think it’s good for Bullis because it provides the school certainty around facilities and allows us to focus on … what we ought to be focused on, which is educating the kids,” said Joe Hurd, charter school board chairman.

Jessica Speiser, president of the district’s board, said the agreement gives them time to solicit community feedback on a long-term facilities agreement.

“It allows us to go through that public process on even footing,” she said. “We don’t have to worry about the Prop. 39 process distracting us.”

Under Proposition 39, California charter schools can request “reasonably equivalent” facilities annually from a district for the students the district would serve if they didn’t attend the charter school.

At the beginning of April, both sides announced that negotiating teams had forged a 10-year agreement, which would give the charter school most of Egan’s campus. Egan would move to a 10th-school site in Mountain View the district is in the final stages of purchasing.

However, the move elicited public outcry, with hundreds of parents attending board meetings, multiple protests at local schools and a petition to “save Egan” garnering more than 6,000 signatures.

The Los Altos School District proposed the two-year deal as a way to score more time for public comment before the board makes a decision on the 10-year agreement.

District trustees unanimously approved the two-year agreement at an April 29 meeting and announced last week that they were giving the charter school until the close of business yesterday (May 9) to sign it.

If the charter school hadn’t agreed, the district trustees said they planned to continue with the Proposition 39 process.

The charter school’s board also held a meeting April 29, where board members agreed to instead offer the school district a one-year deal.

However, Speiser called the counterproposal a “nonstarter,” noting that it wouldn’t give the district enough time to work on a long-term solution. The Proposition 39 process for the 2020-2021 school year would begin next November.

Ultimately, at a May 6 meeting, the charter school’s board agreed to approve the two-year deal, pending its negotiating team’s sign-off, Hurd said. The negotiating team ultimately assented and the charter school sent the district the signed agreement yesterday.

According to Hurd, the charter school agreed to the two-year deal “because LASD wouldn’t agree to the one-year (deal). If we could have reached agreement on the one-year, it would have been a one-year deal.”

The charter school’s board has already unanimously approved the 10-year agreement, and Hurd said he expects the school district to present a clear path forward toward approving a long-term deal.

District trustees plan to discuss developing a timeline for community engagement at their meeting Monday. Trustees report that the process will begin in the fall and end next January.

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