How hard is it to have a talk?
If you're the and the Board (BCS), first you have to have an agreement to talk. And that takes some negotiation.
Monday night, both boards met in their respective board meetings, BCS at the school on Portola Avenue, LASD at the board room in the district's headquarters. Their business included voting on having an agreement to meet in a manner that would allow representatives of both boards to speak freely about the charter school's current and future facilities needs.
That proposed agreement called for non-binding discussions, without fear of litigation, something that nearly always has been a backdrop to negotiations. LASD Trustee Doug Smith had initiated the idea for such an agreement because of the constraints he has felt on the committee negotiating the facilities agreement in the past.
As Patch sat in on both board meetings Monday night, it was clear that some members of the BCS board thought it was a good idea, and LASD was anxious to get started. LASD must make its final offer to the BCS by April 1.
"The way I see this is we were aiming to create a sanctuary where healthy discussion could take place," BCS board member John Phelps, who is on the group's Prop. 39 committee, told the BCS board.
"If we don’t talk, nothing is going to get resolved," said BCS board chairman Ken Moore.
The sticking point, LASD trustee Doug Smith told his colleagues on the board was how much, and under what circumstances, do the parties also talk to the public about that dialogue?
BCS wanted to have language that would allow speaking to the public by one joint public statement, Smith said.
Smith wanted the independent ability for LASD or BCS to speak to the public in general terms, if asked. Speaking in general terms would be much the same way questions from the public are handled when the LASD board is in contract negotiations with various bargaining units—how often meetings are taking place, whether progress is being made, or how long the meetings are.
"From my view this issue transcends BCS," Smith told the LASD board Monday night. "I believe in open government, and I believe the public needs to know when we execute their business, and not just at the end.
"The community at that point doesn’t know, did we meet once? Did we meet four times a week? They will wonder, 'Did you do anything, or did you give up on March 1?'"
In the end, at the BCS meeting despite Phelps' urging, the board voted 3-3, with one abstention to accept LASD's agreement language. The motion failed.
Smith, in the meantime, received unanimous authorization from the LASD board to work on fine-tuning the language on public disclosure so that it is mutually agreeable to both boards.
The Los Altos School Board also discussed what a possible timeline might be if the district undertook a bond measure proposal to build a permanent campus for the charter school.