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Parents: Show Us The Bullis Agreement For Two Weeks

Concerned about a complex agreement getting passed on a tight time-frame, parents urged the Los Altos School District board to "sunshine" the long-term agreement that is being negotiated with Bullis Charter School.

 

Parents want any agreement hammered out between the and the to be available for public inspection for two weeks before any vote.

During a special meeting of the board Monday night, the LASD Board of Trustees invited input on two topics: announced May 7 with Bullis Charter School (BCS) that would result in it moving to its own campus, and the prospects and possible timing for a bond measure to build that campus.

The board is under a tight June 1 timeline to try to resolve a number of details about a 10-year agreement that means:

  • Both jointly work on passing a bond measure to "solve the problem of ten schools on nine campuses."
  • BCS would move to one of four school campuses upon passage of the bond: , , or 10.5 acres of .
  • If a bond measure does not pass by August 2014, Bullis would get its own site permanently and the Los Altos School District would have to close a school.
  • BCS would stay on the site for duration of the agreement; it could not ask for larger facilities, even if it grows.

Parents had several opinions, and board president Mark Goines asked they also try to come with possible solutions and alternatives, along with the pleas not to close their child's school.

Some parents, such as Sheila McGovern and Jennifer Carlstrom said they would rather have a decision to close a school made quickly, in order to make plans and have certainty.

"Please make a decision on which school is closed or relocated, sooner rather than later," said Jennifer Carlstrom, a Gardner Bullis School parent.

"We want to own a part of this process, we want to be making it happen, not having it happen to us."

During the three-hour meeting, the parents wanted to know why the four schools were selected to be among the pool of schools that might be closed to be given to Bullis School, temporarily or possibly long-term. While LASD board members were open to any of the district's seven schools being candidates for closure, Trustee Doug Smith said it that the four schools were specified during the "give and take of negotiations." The four are feeder schools to Los Altos High School, which has been a part of BCS' facilities request.

Parent Sharon Clay wanted the board to build in some kind of "escape clause" to the agreement, should a second or more charter schools be created. "This should be a risk that BCS shares with us, not LASD children alone," she said.

Several parents agreed with parent Daniel Cornell's request to make the agreement available for the public to see, two weeks before any board vote. Responding, some board members expressed a desire to make some form of the agreement available, even given the tight timeframe for negotiation.

A two-week period of inspection would mean a document would have to be available by Friday if the board wanted to take action by June 1. That deadline needs to be observed in order to allow the district to enough time to prepare the school site for a mid-August move in.

There is also a busy schedule of activities that need board members' concentration:

- Monday some board members have a meeting scheduled with the Mountain View Mayor Mike Kaszperzak, and there is another meeting with the Los Altos Hills at an unspecified date, with Town Council member John Radford.

- May 29 City-Schools meeting to discuss common issues, including a Bullis site solution.

- Aug. 9: A bond measure, if deemed do-able, is submitted for the Nov. ballot

- Nov. 6: Bond measure voted on.

And there were other questions.

"I wonder to what extent that there would be a bond anyway because of population growth?" Daryl Odnert asked. "The public wants to know."

Several board members replied, at the end of the comment period, that a small amount of growth had been projected then years ago when the Phase I and Phase II of a facilties improvement bond wishlist had been constructed ten years ago.

"We are underbuilt," said Trustee Steve Taglio "We do need to do a bond to deal with those issues, not just Bullis. We're at 1200 more children now than we were 10 years ago," partially because of turnover of homes.

There was, however, one question that trustees couldn't really answer:
"What I don't understand about the framework is the BCS agreeing to support the bond," Odnert said. "I don't understand why.

"BCS gets a campus regardless of whether the bond passes. What incentive does BCS have to work for the bond?"

For fuller details on this meeting, and commentary from participants, see Los Altos Patch's.

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Joan J. Strong May 18, 2012 at 05:40 AM
Closing a school is what got us into this mess. Closing a school would destroy countless long-built-up connections between children, parents and teachers. It would tell parents and children than there is no reason to care about their community, no reason to work on their school, no reason to give a dang about it because it may simply be pilfered by some billionaires and their lawyers. Closing a school will cause a rift in this community which will never heal. Keeping our school communities together should be the #1 priority for our District board, and that is what our PTAs and LAEF leadership has communicated to the District board.
Bill May 18, 2012 at 04:39 PM
What is the process BCS uses each year for the lottery? Do they utilize a grade specific lottery? Does it renew the waitlist each year? If not, this again serves to "keep out" those that did not apply in K. Further reducing its reach to other members of the community and insulating BCS. If I moved to town with a 3rd grader, why should my child be disadvantaged and placed lower on the wait list? First come, first serve is against Ed Code. A random and unbiased process is needed. A roll over wait list is a free "call option". The list should be torn up each year and parents made to re-apply or at least confirm their desire to remain waitlisted in the new annual lottery.
Noah Mesel May 18, 2012 at 04:54 PM
Don't know exactly how their lottery works, or even if they actually have had to use the lottery. I'm going to be seeing friends who are BCS parents (and they are genuinely good people), so I'll ask them what they know.
comment1320 May 18, 2012 at 05:17 PM
Having attended a lottery at BCS, here are the answers to Bill's questions: 1. Yes. There is a grade specific lottery. In fact there is a "lottery" to pick the order of the grades due to the sibling preference. 2. No. There is not a continuing waitlit after the academic year. Each lottery is a fresh lottery. The list is torn up each year and parents must re-apply.
Ron Haley May 21, 2012 at 10:47 PM
Bill, It makes too much sense :)

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