Bullis Chairman: Won't Support New Proposal

The lack of specific schools identified for a permanent campus is an uncertainty BCS chairman Ken Moore said the board won't abide.


Bullis Charter School President Ken Moore told parents Saturday that the school's board could not support the latest proposal from the Los Altos School Board, setting the stage for some tense times at Monday's school board meetings.

evening in advance of its Monday meeting, "bears little resemblance to the negotiated tentative agreement reached through mediation," Moore wrote in a letter to parents.

It was clear that a sticking point for the charter school mediation team was the proposal's lack of a specific set of possible permanent school sites for Bullis.

"For BCS, the core benefit of the agreed framework was guaranteed delivery of one of four specific permanent sites by no later than 2014," Moore wrote. "... This core element is not present in your proposal." 

had named four schools—Almond, Santa Rita, Covington and Gardner Bullis—that BCS found as acceptable. In the ensuing weeks, parents and community members have steadily raised objections or concerns about naming only four schools, including the potential for turmoil in the home sales market, and making it more difficult to pass a bond measure if only a handful of schools might be affected.

BCS had always be willing to consider an alternative school site if the board proposed one that the school found acceptable, Moore wrote Saturday.

"As the District expressed increasing difficulty adhering to the agreed framework in recent days, we had suggested the possibility of finalizing the details of an interim campus on Egan for 2012-13 only to allow a few more weeks to complete an acceptable long-term deal," Moore wrote.

"Our thought was that the District could quickly chase down its ideas for a tenth site and either determine no new site was feasible by 2014 (thereby hopefully returning to the mediation framework site options) or ask BCS to consider a specific clearly delineated site addition."

It's not clear whether BCS and LASD will be trying to hammer out a last-minute deal on Monday. LASD mediation team member Doug Smith said Saturday there was no date set to meet.

Monday, June 4, is a critical date. LASD Board President Mark Goines had said this was the date by which the parties should have an agreement that was ready for a vote, because of the lead time needed to prepare BCS' facilities for the 2012-13 school year.

"That's what's driving this deadline," Smith said. "We have to go to the state architect for approval of anything we do."

Detailed plans for the buildings (usually portables) have to be submitted to the state architect, then an appointment set up for the state architect to come out, from  approval, and build, Smith said. Already the board is a bit behind, Goines said during the .

"I implore you and your Board to make a serious attempt at approving the tentative mediated agreement," Moore wrote. "We believe it represents the best option for moving forward in a cooperative manner."

If the LASD board and BCS board cannot agree to a long-term facilties agreement, the state-mandated Prop. 39 agreement that splits the charter school between Egan Jr. High and Blach Intermediate School would become the fallback plan. That could trigger another lawsuit by BCS, many fear.

lasd resident June 04, 2012 at 02:09 PM
Having been around when Bullis was first closed, I tend to disagree with you on what is likely to happen. Yes, it will be war, but once it's over the community will heal. We're back exactly where we were when the charter was created. It's no different. But things calmed down relatively quickly after BCS opened and began to thrive. The fact that BCS has become so popular and now needs more space is what has created this issue. Once the facilities issues are resolved long term (whichever way it goes), we'll get back on an even keel. (The same thing happened with the redrawing of attendance boundaries three years ago.)
Joan J. Strong June 04, 2012 at 02:46 PM
They closed a school 9 years ago and we still haven't "healed" over that. If they try close another school then our community will not "heal". There are *many* legal avenues that citizens (not LASD) can and will pursue if an actual school is slated to be closed. In short, citizens can prevent it--and they will. It won't be pretty, but it will be prevented. BCS is popular because it's a discount private school subsidized by its super-rich owners. They INTENTIONALLY grew the school to force the facilities issue. The plug will be pulled on this school when the super-rich family's kids all get too old to attend there, leaving the current pawns swinging in the wind. The only way this can be resolved for there to be a 10th campus, and for BCS go there and stay there. Short of that, this whole thing will be over in about five more years when all of the billionaire kids all graduate and the benefactors of this school are gone.
Jeff F June 04, 2012 at 04:20 PM
lasd resident, Palo Alto's magnet schools are highly desired with long waitlists and a lottery. Should they be allowed to grow without bound to let everyone in?
Joan J. Strong June 04, 2012 at 04:33 PM
BCS offers one thing and one thing only: free money. Take the free money away, bye bye lavish programs and bye bye differentiation. And yes, BCS both opens the floodgates AND discriminates. It's a delicate balance for the school. They want as many of the well-to-dos as possibly without letting in the "deadbeats" who cannot pay the $5000. As for BCS's utterly cruel and unfair call (and soon, litigation) for "equal funding", please see how this will punish special needs kids here: http://BullisCharterScam.org/bullis_charter_money.php BCS's threat to our parcel tax--when they already spend over twice as much on typical kids (apples to apples comparison)--is all you need to know about how cruel and selfish these people are. BCS is a rich man's hobby intent on bankrupting our local public schools out of spite and revenge.
Just Mom June 04, 2012 at 04:58 PM
lasd resident I believe the discrimination people like myself see is a real issue. It has nothing to do with growing and everything to do with outreach. I think the lottery is fine and have no issue with it. I would like to see the numbers for special needs and the level of disability BCS serves. I would like answers about the parents who have run up against a wall when a disability with their BCS child is identified. I have zero desire to have my children attend BCS due to the many issues brought to light by exiting parents.
lasd resident June 04, 2012 at 06:46 PM
Just Mom... perhaps you should also ask LASD about the lawsuits filed against them from parents with special needs. I know of many.
Joan J. Strong June 04, 2012 at 07:10 PM
LASD spent $7.5m for special needs kids last year. BCS has called out exactly $0.00 in their budget. LASD is trying to solve this difficult and expensive problem on behalf of our community. BCS is handing it off to LASD and the County.
David June 04, 2012 at 10:34 PM
It's clear BCS has way fewer special needs students than the district average, but there is a danger to viewing things as Joan J. Strong describes. LASD spends 7.5Million when you include the half of that total that comes from SELPA funds (State/Federal Funds) which are allocated to LASD based on the number of total students (not just special needs). BCS is also allocated an amount for each of its students but that money is not put into the BCS budget and is not spent by BCS. BCS special needs students can however draw on that money in services received from the county. So they could add quite a few special needs students and you wouldn't see it in their budget. They tried to put the money in their budget one year but they made mistakes in accounting for it and switched over to the county keeping that money.
Just Mom June 04, 2012 at 10:55 PM
lasd resident, can you point to the litigation?
Just Mom June 04, 2012 at 10:59 PM
And on what did they make mistakes charging off David? I am sure everyone would like to know exactly what and exactly why they thought charging it off to special ed was ok.
Just Mom June 04, 2012 at 11:04 PM
lasd resident I too have been here since the start and being as we are 9+ years out and the war is still going proves this wrong. I do not think folks are going to just roll over and forget the damage this debacle has caused. I know I sure as heck won't.
lasd resident June 04, 2012 at 11:32 PM
I suggest you look at their closed session agendas. BCS is typically spelled out. Most others tend to be special ed. I know of at least three families, personally.
lasd resident June 04, 2012 at 11:34 PM
BCS's budget is different than LASD. They definitely have kids with special needs and they pay the county for those services. They may not break out their budget in a way that shows the actual number. Someone suggested that they actually well over "their fair share" for the students with special needs. If BCS were to get, equal funding for their students, and then paid 10% of LASD's entire special ed budget (which would be their fair share), LASD would still owe BCS millions of dollars/year.
Just Mom June 04, 2012 at 11:54 PM
Someone suggesting and reality are two different things. Again please point to the litigation since you are familiar with these families. So tell me about how exactly BCS deals with special needs when they are identified. How long on average does it take to test and implement a plan for a special needs child? What does their special ed program look like? Why are special needs families not made aware of the programs offered? How about that $5000 dollar donation? What if I choose not to donate and have no interest in explaining my personal choice to someone, is that OK?
lasd resident June 05, 2012 at 12:50 AM
the answer to your last question, is Yes, that's ok. The answer to your other question is that there are legal requirements for ALL of those things, and BCS and the County follow those laws. I know a lot of misinformation has been spread on these boards but I can assure you that there are plenty of happy parents with children who have special needs at BCS. Some came from LASD. But BCS is not right for every child (just as LASD is not right for every child). It's great that we have a choice.
Just Mom June 05, 2012 at 01:04 AM
Then why is it repeatedly stated that one must explain not donating as other families must pick up your slack? That does not sound very voluntary to me. Again to what extent are the needs? How many of those children have profound disabilities? How many would qualify for SDC? I too made a choice when I chose to live in the LASD pre BCS.
Just Mom June 05, 2012 at 01:15 AM
And again the outreach is where? How is BCS doing what the county pointed out they are lacking with the outreach? Again, I have seen zero effort.
lasd resident June 05, 2012 at 01:18 AM
Just Mom, it's unfortunate that LASD refuses to give BCS any space for SDC. It's pretty understandable why parents wouldn't choose BCS in these cases since the likely scenario is that their child would have to attend an SDC class at the county. I have not heard it "repeatedly stated" that you must explain about your donations or not. I have heard one family say this over and over and over and have heard from other BCS families that this is not the case at all. I am very happy that you are content with your choice. You were lucky to have a choice.
TiredOfIt June 05, 2012 at 01:32 AM
The sooner this all goes to court, the sooner you guys can go back to whining about the sidewalks in downtown and the TARP money that was spent on that. Seriously, if it hasn't been resolved at this point, just let the courts decide. None of these posts or the waste of time FB page will convince either side of compromising. There will be a loser after the court decides and if you're really bent up about it, MOVE. No one is holding a gun to your head and saying you need to live in LA/LAH.
Joan J. Strong June 05, 2012 at 01:36 AM
Sorry, but simple math proves the point about the BCS tuition: that $5000/student absolutely, positively must come from SOMEBODY. Yes, it's possible that some parents may not pay. That just means other parents will need to pay MORE. The more parents need to pay, the fewer who will be able to pay it. This is economic reality. Yes, BCS usually comes up a little short--which is where the billionaire money comes in to guarantee the school's solvency--but for how long? On what planet can anybody believe this is a sustainable financial model? Clearly the ones who have thought the matter through understand the most important fact of BCS: the age of the children of the founders. If your child is older, you're safe. Younger, you're not... As for spec ed, it's likely that most families won't even try based on the impossible application process and the BCS process to send the the more expensive kids off to County. Yes, you won't hear from them--out of sight, out of mind, right? Soon my "choice" may be CLOSED DOWN by a bunch of billionaires and their lawyers... BCS is only for one choice: theirs.
David June 05, 2012 at 02:06 AM
There's a whole report out about that. The county reimbursed without checking the first 2/3 of any school's spending. They then checked before paying the final 1/3. BCS was trying to start up a special ed program and they didn't request something called an implementation grant and made some other mistakes. The county didn't provide any oversight until the last payment which they rejected. They let non special ed students benefit from some special ed services and the big stickler is they billed their trip to investigate the Finnish system as a special ed expense. It was years ago and they stopped doing their own special ed the next year as a result it seems.
David June 05, 2012 at 02:13 AM
The thing is not even every LASD school offers SDC. Why should BCS offer it if 3 LASD schools do not? The program for SDC is associated with those special needs kids that start to participate at age 3 and continue to age 15 1/2 under LASD, then move on to MVLA until age 22. The charter school system isn't set up to begin before Kindergarten that I know of. I think the point about BCS including special ed is more valid for all the other special ed services. SDC isn't integrated with the mainstream classrooms, so hard to see how it would benefit from being in a charter school. If you tried to start a charter school to do just SDC, it wouldn't be properly funded. The problem there is with the charter law.
David June 05, 2012 at 02:14 AM
Did they spend TARP money on those silly sidewalks? I mainly objected because they messed up 1st street for bikes, not because of whatever it cost.
David June 05, 2012 at 02:18 AM
But Joan, you are forgetting about corporate matching, which doubles the contribution of some. And surely you don't think there is NO donor who gives > $50K ???? It may not be a statistically "normal" distribution and there may be a lot more $5K's than any other amount but you can bet there are a good number of outliers. It just stands to reason. Plus they get 8% on all their parent's amazon purchases....
Just Mom June 05, 2012 at 02:39 AM
I have children who started SDC in 2nd and 4th grades. What does BCS do for those children? And again where is BCS with the outreach that was so very lacking?
L Poway June 05, 2012 at 02:39 AM
There are no billionaires at BCS. BCS's demographics mirror those of LASD. There is no tuition at BCS. All donations are voluntary. The age of the children of the founders is irrelevant. Most founders' kids have graduated and the school is doing just fine financially to meet its needs. The auction raised more money this year, all of it from non-founding families, because it was managed well and had great attendance.
L Poway June 05, 2012 at 02:52 AM
The single thing you can do to increase the number of special ed kids at BCS is to demand that your Board of Trustees give BCS as much space as it needs to admit 100% of applicants. I'm sure you are aware of BCS' outreach: parents going door-to-door in their own neighborhoods voluntarily, all of BCS' materials being translated into dozens of languages, taking out more ads in more papers for open enrollment, working with the County to increase awareness of their special ed services. Let's say you achieve your goal and that BCS's outreach reaches every single special education student within the district. Further, for sake of argument, let's say that 100% of special ed kids within the district apply to BCS next year. With BCS's space limitations, a lottery will be necessary and odds are that only 1/6 or less will be admitted. So push for outreach all you want. Without the ability to admit everyone, without the campus(es) and space needed, the outreach will not matter.
Just Mom June 05, 2012 at 03:22 AM
So what you are saying is no outreach as been done. Simple enough answer without all the rhetoric right?
L Poway June 05, 2012 at 03:36 AM
I guess you didn't read my post, above. "I'm sure you are away of BCS's outreach: parents going door-to-door in their own neighborhoods voluntarily, all of BCS's materials being translated into dozens of languages, taking out more ads in more papers for open enrollment, working with the County to increase awareness of their special ed services." That is word-for-word from above. When do you plan to ask LASD to increase space given to BCS so it can accept 100% of all students including 100% of all special ed students?
Just Mom June 05, 2012 at 04:29 PM
I am not aware because I have not seen it. Must be targeting a very small area. I am in a group that you would think would be a target for BCS outreach and trust me there has been zero effort on this front. The Hispanic families I have spoken to also say there has been no information that they have seen. Where exactly are the folks at BCS targeting with all this outreach?


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