The announced it was exploring the idea of sharing the Covington School campus with l grades K-6, and providing space at Egan Jr. High School for grades 7-8.
The new idea would require bringing in portable classrooms "to provide enough space for both Covington and BCS students and staff," according to the district press statement.
"Fundamentally it's equal, half and half," said Mark Goines, president of the LASD Board of Trustees, of the Covington campus plan. "Each group would have their portables, each group would have their classrooms and they would share all the other facilities. They would share everything else."
The district did so because it was "evaluating this option in light of the charter school’s March 1 response and objections to the February 1 preliminary offer from LASD, as well as the recent Court of Appeals decision," according to the statement from a press release sent out Friday morning and is attached in a pdf document to this article.
The statement refers to the annual state-mandated facilities request process by which charter schools request of its host school district classroom and other space to operate the charter schools.
The change represents a significant shift from , which BCS chairman Ken Moore had called "the worst facilities offer BCS ever received." That offer provided for Bullis' K-6 grade program to stay at its current site on the Egan campus, and the 7-8 grade program at the Blach campus. BCS has contended its entire program needs to be on one campus.
"BCS would have its buildings and portables and Covington would have its buildings and portables," Goines said. Other facilities such as library and lunch room known as the "serviary" would be shared, "50:50."
"It still leaves students at Egan," Goines acknowledged. The LASD board does not want to close one of its high-performing schools in order to put BCS on such campus, because of the risks of disruption to the program, he said.
Ken Moore, chairman of the Bullis Charter School Board was not happy, characterizing such a solution as "unlawful," maintaining that Prop. 39 required the school site to be contiguous.
“While we welcome LASD’s consideration of alternative site solutions for BCS students, it is not lawful to force BCS to manage its single integrated school program over multiple school sites,” said Moore in a written statement released through Larsen Public Relations.
“Transporting children and staff between the Egan and Covington sites multiple times during the school day to maintain the innovative, high-performing, integrated BCS K-8 program would be inefficient, disruptive, and raise issues of student safety."
Moore tempered his remarks with his last statement, "BCS will continue to work diligently to encourage the District to meet its obligation to provide fair and equitable facilities to our students.”
Goines said the idea reflected a shift in direction for the LASD board, which historically presented its final offer to the public in a board meeting and voted on it the same night. This time it will discuss the pros and cons of the formal preliminary offer versus that of a contemplated modification to house most of BCS students at Covington school. The board would not vote on it the same night.
"We are having a public, open board discussion about an alternative, he said. "It's a deliberation.
"Clearly the Covington community is going to have concerns that we'll want to hear. I'm sure the Bullis Charter School community will have their own imputs."
Trustees are expected to discuss the idea at its board meeting Monday night, along with other topics related to the charter school.
This includes a potential bond measure, for which trustees are considering public opinion polling.
In a joint meeting between LASD and Los Altos City Council Thursday night, the council indicated its willingness to discuss use of the property that it owns, most notably that of Hillview Community Center, which is the site of a closed school.
March has been an active month for discussions on several levels, some of them taking place out of public view:
- The district and the BCS board have filed briefs in court addressing the how space for Bullis Charter School should be allocated in conformance with the Sixth District Court of Appeal decision.
- Members of the BCS board and the school district met in a closed mediation session on March 6.
- An ad-hoc group of BCS board members, LASD board members and the LASD schools community, began of meeting this month to discuss issues of mutual interest, including the short term and long-term needs of Bullis and those school communities.
- The County Board of Education, BCS, LASD and LASD parents have been planning a public meeting in the near future to discuss the interests, roles and expectations of all the groups.
Covington is among several schools discussed on an active Facebook group called LASDVoices. Parents on both sides have created threads for discussion of possible configurations, asked questions about programming, and mixed it up in some freewheeling interchanges.
“It’s important to note that this is just one of many possible configurations the Board is considering and will be discussing in open session at Monday evening’s meeting,” said Goines in his written statement on the press release.