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Los Altos City Council Wants to Meet with Bullis

City council members will discuss setting up a joint meeting with the Bullis Charter School, and hiring an independent consultant.

 

The Los Altos City Council wants to explore an informational meeting with the Bullis Charter School board.

Coming at the end of its Tuesday night meeting, the council was discussing key points from the May 29 joint Los Altos School Board and council meeting.

Council members at that time had raised the idea of a larger joint meeting to include the charter school board so they could better understand how to be most helpful in finding a solution to the eight-year dispute over facilities that now may close a district school in order to house the charter school. 

Both Mayor Val Carpenter and Mayor Pro Tempore Jarrett Fishpaw reported on their observations of school board meetings. Carpenter had attended the Los Altos School Board meetng June 4, and Fishpaw had attended the Bullis board.

When Council Member Megan Satterlee expressed concern about engaging that board as both it and the Los Altos School District were in court, Council Member Ron Packard was impatient.

"I say tough luck to the school district; they have pulled us into this. I'm not going to walk on eggshells."

Packard had also suggested exploring the services of an independent education consultant to help the council sort through some of the issues. In talking about the problem with others, Packard said he found the need for an independent analysis.

"Some say you don't need a 10th site. Others say you do. Since this is impacting our city, I think it might be in the best interest of the city to engage an outside consultant, Packard said. "It's impacting our property, it's impacting our residents, it's impacting us."

Stacy June 14, 2012 at 12:30 AM
My point is that district shifts attendance boundaries as demographics change. It's not the end of the world as some would like to suggest. The fact that then-BP parents (not all, just some) chose a path that eventually led to today's BCS does not change that. The district did what they had to do then and they should do what they have to do now, and not cave to some parent pressure. Here's a quote from Doug Smith (as appeared in MV-voice), explaining why the district backed out of the May 7 mediated agreement : "But, Smith said, as many district residents told him, they had built their lives around the current school structure and they didn't want their children to change schools, even if they would be going to a "new bright and shiny school."
Ross June 14, 2012 at 12:40 AM
I agree that it's a great idea and I hope the study will include a long term demographic study so that the residents of this town who aren't involved in this fight aren't stuck with an (even larger) tax bill just because some angry residents don't want to have to deal with redrawing school boundaries. If there's a genuine need for a 10th campus then so be it but please not before other options are considered (like maybe moving the 6th graders to Egan & Blach to allow more capacity at the elementary schools as they're shuffled). By the way my kids are grown so no dog in this fight- I'm just watching from the pages on the Patch. But I can't help wondering why LASD doesn't just give BCS the Bullis Gardner campus. It seems like the logical choice to me.
Ross June 14, 2012 at 01:20 AM
I agree with Stacy that a boundry change is hardly the end of the world. Kids in school districts all over the country have boundary changes and I'm sure they do fine with the transition. The only thing that would make this traumatic for a child is the anger spewing forth from the child's parent as she cries"unfair!!". I think the board of LASD would be well advised to note that BCS is a very popular school. Many (if not most) incoming parents cite BCS as their first choice for their children (didn't I read 6 applicants for every spot?). Perhaps LASD should be emulating BCS rather than castigating them.
Joan J. Strong June 14, 2012 at 02:21 AM
Because, Ross, it would destroy a thriving school community with 300 children, their parents and the community surrounding it. This is exactly the reason BCS exists in the first place. Closing a school would create a mess that would take another 10 years to get over. If there's anything this community has learned, is that you should never, ever close a thriving neighborhood public school. There's also no reason. BCS is perfectly fine on it's current campus where it has achieved the status of the highest-ranked charter school in the State. Every single BCS parent chose that campus, so it can't be the horror story they are making it out to be.
Joan J. Strong June 14, 2012 at 02:26 AM
That says to me that some parents jump at the chance to get a subsidized private school underwritten by billionaires. It says to me that the relentless BCS marketing machine has it's desired effect. It says to me that there are a lot of "tire kickers" that will apply to BCS with absolutely no intention of enrolling. You're right though Christy, maybe LASD should start requiring the school's programs require $5000/child per year from parents. Then they can have all kinds of cool programs. Why didn't they think of that?
Christy Lin June 14, 2012 at 02:27 AM
Once again, you do not have the facts. 1. Gordon and Betty Moore are NOT founders of BCS. And even if they were, not that they gave their money to Caltech not BCS. 2. It is NOT illegal to give parcel tax money to charter schools. LASD could have written the tax in a way that made it perfectly legal with oversight from the funds done through the county (BCS would, of course, have to pay for that oversight). This has been done in other locales. Instead, LASD wrote it in a way so that BCS could not be part of it. So sad... these children are PUBLIC school students too. 3. Your site is a scam. It is a fact that BCS does not get the parcel tax. It is a fact that they do not get the bump from basic aid. They get significantly less PUBLIC funding than their counterparts in LASD. PUBLIC money should be shared equally. 4. BCS does have special needs students. They pay the county for these services and the money is kept at the SELPA. That is why you don't see it in the budget. 5. I absolutely agree that with equal funding, BCS should pay their share of the districts services for ALL students that need extra services (disabilities and ELL). If that were the case and BCS did pay 10%, LASD would end up owing BCS millions of dollars each year. Your spin does a disservice to anyone trying to understand what is a very complex situation.
Joan J. Strong June 14, 2012 at 02:31 AM
Yeah, no big deal. Just that closing a school created a near 10-year long war in our community. We should totally do that again. Also, Ross, please stop parroting BCS lies. Not every parent wants to send their children to BCS. Far from it. Please see: http://bullisCharterScam.org/bullis_charter_facts.php
A step in the right direction June 14, 2012 at 02:32 AM
To Christy: "Only 300 kids at Gardner." Let's be conservative and assume that if the smallest school, Gardner, were closed only 200 of those kids would have to be distributed between Santa Rita, Covington, and Almond, and possibly Springer (the only schools with populations that feed into Los Altos High School). The extra 50+ students per school would put some of the campuses close to or over 600 students. When the new housing units north of El Camino are finished, the northern schools would certainly have populations in excess of 600. Some LASD schools used to be this large and the size did impact the educational experience. There were 100 students (5 classes) in one grade, recesses had to be staggered, students didn't know each other, etc. LASD cannot "easily" redraw boundaries in a way that would absorb the closing of a school. LASD needs all of its current campuses, especially the campuses in the northern part of the district where there are more students.
LASD resident June 14, 2012 at 02:47 AM
JJS You are a one man wrecking crew. You have posted a quarter of the comments. You bully anyone who disagrees with you and everything is BCS lies, billionaires etc. One of my favorites in group of posts BCS campaigned against a Bond measure although I don't believe there have been any since BCS was formed One day it might be nice to read comments without your cute little red school all over the place
Joan J. Strong June 14, 2012 at 02:47 AM
Christy: 1. I won't make this personal. The Bloomberg article does. You're splitting hairs and you know it: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-11-15/taxpayers-billed-for-millionaires-kids-at-charter-school.html 2. The taxes are not written that way. LASD has no control over BCS, which is chartered by the county of Santa Clara. If BCS wants even more money, they should talk to the county. 3. I understand you want to take money away from the less advantaged so rich kids can have even more. Nice. It's a fact that BCS gets FAR more money per student after parent donations, and they far have less obligations to spend it on. 4. BCS has an utterly dismal record on Special needs that is well-documented. Some of the money went to buy groceries at Draegers and colorful decorations from Edible Arrangements. And yes, we know that a BCS student can look forward to being "sent to County" if they have special needs. Obviously no parent in the world do this, so they don't. 5. I would love to see your facts to back this up. Don't forget to add in legacy retirement, facilities costs, and other overhead that LASD must, by law, pay. Oh, and make sure you make up for the massive loss in donations that LASD misses from the richest donors in the District at BCS. Finally, don't forget that parent donations are tax deductible so generally 40% of that part of BCS's revenue is paid for by the Federal government.
Joan J. Strong June 14, 2012 at 02:56 AM
It would be even better to get through an entire thread without personal attacks by BCS people. Haven't seen that happen yet though. The bond is not on the ballot yet, yes, but BCS people are already coming out against it online and undercutting it at every chance they get. You don't even have to turn the page on your browser to verify this fact.
Ross June 14, 2012 at 03:04 AM
1500 people signing the petition = about 5% of the community and I'm sure those are the 1500 people that are most invested in opening a 10th campus and stand to benefit by it. Hopefully the city council will also consider the other 95% of the Los Altos residents that might prefer to use city property for purposes that benefit all the residents, not just those with elementary school children. And remember that a fair number of our residents attend CUSD and also a fair number of our school children are Mountain View residents who do not pay LA city taxes but would be occupying city property.
LASD resident June 14, 2012 at 03:13 AM
You know Joan, I haven't seen many personal attacks just people stating their point of view.Even Ron hardly ever gets personal. You just don't like what he has to say. I also heard after the Mediated Settlement of 5/7 that the BCS foundation made a sizable donation to KLASS. The BCS Board is not currently against the Bond and claiming they already are is simply not true. Alot of LASD residents are against the bond for a variety of reasons.But as we all know there won't be a bond measure anyway.
Joan J. Strong June 14, 2012 at 03:25 AM
Based on the current growth rates, households with children will be the majority in about five more years. Meanwhile, very few people vote for local elections, and even fewer campaign for them. Any political consultant will tell you that 1500 adults (which is far more than 5% of the community) is a massive, massive voting block--and that took us a mere week to generate. Oh, and the last poll for the bond showed that older people do not side with BCS--quite the opposite--and support public education very strongly. Now, I'm not sure how letting a rotting school campus sit there waiting to be condemned in the next minor earthquake benefits all residents. Only allowing it to be purchased by LASD (giving the City $30m it otherwise cannot raise) and creating a mixed-use facility will benefit all current Hillview patrons. The current strategy of waiting for a pipe-dream civic center to be approved by voters will not. All of this FUD is a clear attempt by BCS to deprive our schools from needed funding and facilities and nothing more. The worse it is for LASD, the better it is for them (so they think) so here we are, listening to their agents...
lasd resident June 14, 2012 at 03:34 AM
Actually, API scores haven't basically changed since the schools were in excess of 600. Since I'm not one that believes API scores tell you much at this level of school, I will grant you that it will change the experience somewhat. However, I don't understand why no one is discussing the LASD budget woes as part of this discussion. Randy Kenyon stated that if the new taxes proposed by Governor Brown don't pass than LASD will lose $2million. Where's that going to come from? The CACF presented that LASD is faced with a $1.7 million deficit in 2013-14 (and that's even if Brown's tax increases pass). It only gets worse from there. I cannot see building a new school when we cannot afford the ones we have. Yes, some of the schools may need to be at 650--but fortunately, LASD has already proven they can run schools that size.
Ross June 14, 2012 at 04:07 AM
Joan- I'm parroting BCS lies? As I said, I have no dog in this fight (other than that I'm a taxpayer that's tired of seeing my tax dollars squandered on attorneys to fight this fight). I'm an objective observer that's following this battle and coming to my own conclusions. I believe I'm correct when I state that there are 6 applicants for every BCS spot and that's a statement about the desirability of the program. As for the lack of space to accommodate the 200 Bullis Gardner kids if BCS took that campus (by the way, is it possible that a large majority of those kids would want to stay at BCS if it were located in their neighborhood?), that's the purpose of the demographics study that the city will hopefully undertake. But I'll bet there's a good chance that if the 6th graders were moved to the Jr Highs that elementary school kids could fit at the existing campuses. And why are you always picking on the billionaires? Aren't their kids entitled to public school education too? Don't they have a choice as to whom they donate their money? If they want to donate money to a school that's offering inovative programs it seems to me that that's their perogative. Just my 2 cents worth.
Joan J. Strong June 14, 2012 at 04:47 AM
Ross, GB currently has about 300 students and there is no extra room. It is on a flag lot with a small parking lot, little street parking, and no room to cheaply expand. Putting BCS there in its current state would nearly DOUBLE that student population. If the current GB students stayed at BCS (it only costs $5000/child, why not) then the extra 300 students would TRIPLE the current campus's usage to 900 children in a few years. Impossible. Also, GB would have to be enhanced to add all of the 7-8 facilities such as a running track, chemistry labs, etc. etc. etc. This is all part of prop 39 and is not optional. In short, BCS precluded the GB campus when it expanded its enrollment and added a 7-8 program. That campus is no longer even remotely viable for BCS. As for there being 360 incoming kindergartners (60 slots * 6) applying to BCS, that would imply that virtually every single incoming kinder in the District is applying to BCS, and not even Ron says that. That is false. GB, by the way, has become the school of choice for LAH residents since the school has opened, not BCS. It now has twice as many kids in that attendance area as BCS and growing. So much for parents choosing BCS.
Bored with JJS June 14, 2012 at 05:09 AM
Great points LASD resident. We would all be better served without JJS. My advice is when you see the red school house - just skip it. She never says anything new or insightful anyway.
Joan J. Strong June 14, 2012 at 06:38 AM
Wow, a dedicated alias which *is* a personal attack. I must say, that's original!
Joan J. Strong June 14, 2012 at 06:55 AM
But I love what Ron has to say. It allows me to correct him and make my points. I heard that donation was ten THOUSAND dollars, or, to put it into perspective, approximately 1% of the amount that BCS is now asking the judge to order our District to forfeit to a bunch of millionaires and billionaires, most of whom probably make $10k in few minutes in an up day in the markets. A lot of LASD residents are hearing BCS supporter FUD and reacting to it. Clearly you are against it, and you are somebody who... well you won't say*. *** * As I have always said, I am an LASD parent and in no way affiliated with any government entity of any kind, not even PTA except as a parent member. Please see the footnote at: http://bullischarterschoolthoughts.blogspot.com/2012/04/theres-nothing-manufactured-about.html Anyhow, there's my full disclosure. Where's yours?
David June 14, 2012 at 10:01 AM
Gardner Bullis is not a flag lot, it is just a slightly narrow very long 10 acre lot with an ungraded slope at the very back. The district has repeatedly talked of housing up to 600 students on it, such as back when it decided not to house Bullis Charter there when reopening it as a K-6 school in 2008. It needed the space there for growth. I can't see how they'll ever redraw boundaries to get 500 students there unless they use it for a district wide school, like Bullis Charter. If they use 2 story buildings they could indeed get 800 there as Bullis has indicated they might.
Ron Haley June 14, 2012 at 02:38 PM
JJS - I think full disclosure starts with name.
Joan J. Strong June 14, 2012 at 04:25 PM
Actually, the name is the least useful aspect--it doesn't say anything about where you are coming from. I have disclosed "who I am" in every necessary way. David Roode below says he's "David Roode" but that tells us nothing about who he is. ..
Joan J. Strong June 14, 2012 at 04:27 PM
I've seen that lot, and it's parking lot and neighborhood. The school *barely* fits the 300 it currently has. Doubling or tripling the current number of students there is inconceivable.
Bill June 14, 2012 at 05:23 PM
JJS has been shoulding much of the public load and there are a great many people thankful for the determined effort to stand up for our kids....Thank you JJS...
lasd resident June 14, 2012 at 05:57 PM
Joan, you continue to perpetuate the myth that whatever school BCS ends up at needs to be improved to handle the 7th-8th grade population. Prop 39 specifically says that is NOT required and BCS has repeatedly said that they would finance the costs to do just that. But I can't imagine they would make improvements without some long term guarantee that they could stay at that site awhile. I think the flaw in the mediated agreement was that it guaranteed the site for too long and ignored what would happen if LASD increased the sizes of Bschools to over 600 per student. Perhaps they should have put in a clause that if BCS population fell below 10% of the majority of the LASD schools, then in X years, the would be subject to moving. That would protect LASD from ending up with 700+ students on each of their sites with only 500 BCS students at another site.
Joan J. Strong June 15, 2012 at 03:11 AM
The law says that the District is not required to modify a campus in order to make it compliant. It does not say that you can offer a non-compliant campus. The District cannot offer GB unmodified. It is also not required to modify GB so it is compliant. Yes, a mediated agreement could override any and all of that, but the mediation attempt failed (which, if anybody would like to recall, I correctly predicted it would fail before it started). Mediation in the context of litigation between the two parties is impossible. In this case, both sides were convinced they were better off in court and they negotiated accordingly. BCS proposed a deal which was ten times worse than the absolute worst possible outcome in court. So short of mediation--which as I said is impossible since BCS has already initiated litigation--then LASD has no choice than to create a fully compliant offer. Doing this with the GB campus would minimally require millions and millions of dollars the District does not have, and would most likely be impossible at any price. Then it would be rejected by the LAH city council besides. With $0.00 in the bank, the District could not possibly legally offer the GB campus to BCS. Yes, it's the whole reason the school was started, but this is just another in a string of ironies associated with BCS: in an attempt to grow big enough to get GB, they grew too big to get GB...
Ron Haley June 15, 2012 at 03:34 AM
LASD can meet its prop 39 obligations at GB by adding portables. It doesn't require capital funds for this. In fact. they could move some of the portables from Egan that they are already funding.
Joan J. Strong June 15, 2012 at 03:38 AM
They would need to double the size of the capacity campus with portables--and the campus is already something like 1/2 portables. They would also need to add science labs, a gym, a running track, and many other facilities. They would need to prepare fallow land which would cost $millions. Without a mediated agreement, GB is impossible.
Joan J. Strong June 15, 2012 at 07:11 AM
Christy, There are 10,000 homes in Los Altos. We sell about 400 homes per year in good years (and as little as 300 in the downturn). That would imply that we turn over about 3-4% of our homes per year. The turnover cannot happen quickly. This would imply a median longevity of 12.5 years using the most optimistic model possible--and it's clearly more like 15 years if you understand the data. A quick look at some real estate stats[1] show that 15 years ago, prices were about 40% of what they are now on average. This, then, would indicate that over half of the houses in Los Altos would have a 60% upside in being sold. It means that we are, on average, going to realize an average of a 60% boost in property tax--from $8k to $20k--on about 200 homes per year, yielding us $4m per year more in Prop 13 money per year. This is not counting a ton of other things, of course--and the other half of homes sold which will yield us something less than the 60% boost. This is for LA alone, which is only 2/3 of the LASD revenue source. Your 20% number is baloney. [1] http://www.julianalee.com/los-altos/los-altos-statistics.htm

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