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.