Second BCS facilities meeting again draws large, engaged crowd

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Zoe Morgan/Town Crier
More than 250 people turned out to a meeting on Saturday morning about finding long-term facilities for Bullis Charter School.

A Saturday morning meeting about finding long-term facilities for Bullis Charter School drew more than 250 people to Egan Junior High School’s multipurpose room.

The crowd topped the approximately 200 community members who turned out to a Sept. 25 meeting at Blach Intermediate School on the same topic.

Both meetings, dubbed “charrettes,” followed the same format.

Tables of roughly six to eight people were given an hour to review and discuss facilities options for the charter school. Everyone received a document summarizing ideas considered in the past, but participants also were encouraged to brainstorm new options.

Rather than try to convince each other or say what they were opposed to, attendees were directed to discuss and write down which possibilities they could support.

After examining the options for an hour, a representative from each table reported out what the group had talked about. As at the first charrette, many different ideas emerged, including giving Bullis Charter School an existing school site, putting part of the charter school on the 10th school site and continuing to share space at Egan, and making the 10th school site a neighborhood school for students living north of El Camino Real.

Joan Chaplick, director of management and policy planning services at MIG, led the meeting. The district hired MIG to lead a public engagement process about facilities for Bullis Charter School.

“There are a lot of ideas that were discussed,” Chaplick told the crowd at the end of Saturday’s meeting. “There are some that I’m sure you really liked, and there are some that caused you pause. That was our intention today, to surface … the ideas that come from the community.”

In addition to Chaplick, a number of officials from both the school district and charter school attended the charrette. However, the leaders didn’t participate in the small-group discussions.

Los Altos School District representatives included board President Jessica Speiser; trustees Bryan Johnson, Vaishali Sirkay and Vladimir Ivanovic; Superintendent Jeff Baier; Assistant Superintendent Randy Kenyon; and Director of Communications Sarah Stern-Benoit. Charter school board President Joe Hurd and board member Clara Roa also were present.

A similar group

Chaplick collected demographic information about attendees using handheld “clickers.” The results showed that Saturday’s crowd closely mirrored the group at the first charrette.

Of the respondents (numbers are rounded), 47% were parents of children in district schools, while 23% had children at the charter school. At the first charrette, those numbers were 47% and 26%, respectively. On Saturday, 0% of attendees had children enrolled in a private or parochial school; 7% had children in enrolled in some combination of district schools, the charter school and private or parochial school; and 20% didn’t have school-age children. Three percent chose “other.”

The bulk of the audience, 78%, lived in Los Altos, with 16% from Mountain View, 3% from Los Altos Hills, 0% from Palo Alto and 3% residing elsewhere.

When it came to age, 70% were between 36 and 54 years old.

Now that the two charrettes are complete, Chaplick said representatives from MIG will work to review and organize all the ideas discussed. In November, two workshops are scheduled, where attendees will vote for the ideas they support using the clickers. Participants will be able to choose multiple options.

The workshops are set for 9:30-11:30 a.m. Nov. 2 at Egan and 6:30-8:30 p.m. Nov. 4 at Blach.

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