At first BCS facilities workshop, few options gain majority support

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Zoe Morgan/Town Crier
Almond School parent Erin Sobota reviews facilities options for Bullis Charter School that were printed on large poster boards at a Nov. 2 workshop.

It was standing room only in Egan Junior High School’s multipurpose room on the morning of Nov. 2 as more than 200 local residents gathered to give their feedback on facilities options for Bullis Charter School.

Participants were given handheld “clickers” and asked to rate their level of support for 55 potential configurations of facilities for the charter school. Ultimately, only three managed to find majority support.

The gathering was led by Joan Chaplick, a representative from MIG, the firm the Los Altos School District hired to lead a public engagement process on charter school facilities. The ideas presented at last week’s workshop were generated during three charrettes the district held in September and October.

At the charrettes, table groups of approximately eight people reviewed previously considered facilities solutions and brainstormed new possibilities, then wrote down the options members of the group could support.

Representatives from MIG took the ideas and organized them into the 55 options split among six categories. MIG included only ideas that focused on properties the district already owns or the 10th school site at the corner of California Street and Showers Drive in Mountain View the district is in the process of purchasing.

“I think it’s going to be polling palooza today, because there’s a lot of ideas this community has generated,” Chaplick told the crowd. “We wanted to respect all of the input received, so we didn’t remove any of them or come up with our own set of guidelines. We distilled them down and we are sharing back with you what we learned.”

For each of the options, audience members choose among: “fully support the idea,” “somewhat supportive of the idea,” “neutral,” “somewhat unsupportive of the idea,” “do not support the idea,” and “no answer.”

Ranking the options

Only one plan got a majority to “fully support the idea,” with 57% of respondents fully supporting “BCS K-8 with neighborhood preference” at the 10th site.

Two other options had a majority “fully” or “somewhat” supportive of them: “BCS K-5 or K-6 only” at the 10th site (49% fully support, 7% somewhat supportive) and “BCS K-6 at 10th site, BCS 7-8 at Egan share” (48% fully support, 8% somewhat supportive).

However, Bullis Charter School officials are not in favor of being placed at the 10th site or having a 10th-site neighborhood preference, according to a list of “points for consideration” the charter school submitted and Chaplick presented at the beginning of the workshop. The list of points also stated that because the school uses a fully integrated K-8 model, it should not be split horizontally by grade level.

In addition to being asked about specific facilities options, the crowd was polled about three different enrollment cap options for the charter school: 900 students, 1,111 students or no cap at all.

When it came to a 900-student cap, 55% fully supported the idea, 7% were somewhat supportive, 4% were neutral, 2% were somewhat unsupportive and 31% did not support the idea. A 1,111-student cap (the number in the current two-year agreement) was less popular, with 28% fully supporting the idea, 18% somewhat supportive, 6% neutral, 6% somewhat unsupportive and 41% who did not support the idea.

As for the idea of having no enrollment cap at all, 25% fully supported the idea, 3% were somewhat supportive, 2% were neutral, 2% were somewhat unsupportive, 66% did not support the idea and 1% chose no answer.

Attendees also answered the same demographic questions that were asked at the charrettes. This time, 45% were parents of children in district schools, 23% had children at the charter school, 20% were residents without school-age children, 1% had children at private or parochial schools and 10% had children enrolled in some combination of district schools, the charter school and private or parochial school. One percent chose other.

Chaplick said MIG will be able to analyze the data to show the level of support for different options based on demographic group. MIG will present the data to the Los Altos School District but will not make any recommendations, she added.

A second workshop is scheduled 6-8:30 p.m. tonight (Nov. 4) in Blach Intermediate School’s multipurpose room.

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