Two-Campus Split for Bullis Charter School

The Los Altos School District instructed staff to evaluate different configurations of grade levels to house BCS at Egan Jr. High School and Blach Intermediate School.


Just two weeks away from the deadline to make a facilities offer to Bullis Charter School, the Los Altos School District Board on Monday night instructed staff to analyze three possible class configurations, split between two campuses.

The board asked district staff to prepare analysis for kindergarten to third grade, kindergarten to fourth grade or kindergarten to fifth grade at Egan Jr. and the corresponding upper grades at Blach Intermediate School.

The action capped a four-hour meeting, during which more than 40 parents weighed in with their opinions on four options the board was considering for its preliminary offer to the charter school (BCS).

Many, if not most people, said they supported the option of building a new campus, the so-called "10th campus option," but expressed doubt that a suitable campus could be available by the 2013-14 school year or in the near future.

Bullis Charter School parents came out is large numbers, in part to voice their assessment that the Raynor Activities Center site, the one of few sites that have been mentioned as a possible 10th site, is too far away in Sunnyvale for working couples to juggle morning and afternoon drop-offs and pick-ups, nor middle of the day volunteer duties.

Covington parents, opposing the option to place BCS at Covington and redistributing Covington students throughout the district, came out to describe how its special, welcoming community would be scattered and lost among the other schools.  Special education parents implored the board not to disrupt the special teaching and supportive atmosphere at Covington that allowed their children to thrive and be mainstreamed in a safe environment.

The Los Altos Parents Preschool, a co-op that had just moved to the Covington campus 18 months ago, told how they had spent more than $100,000—nearly all its savings—to make the move from Los Altos High School and didn't have that kind of money for another move.

And no one liked the last option, spreading BCS among three campuses. Not only did it present logistical and social challenges to the BCS student population and staff, it meant three schools would also have to adjust and work through any friction that came along the way.

Trustees agreed, striking that option, as well as the Covington option. "We're talking about Special Ed kids who get freaked out when their breakfast cereal changes," let alone being moved to a new school or classes, LASD board president Doug Smith said. 

In opting to spread BCS between Egan and Blach schools, trustees had differing ideas of how to configure the grades at each campus. Trustee Mark Goines suggested a grades K-3 at Egan and 4-8 at Blach. Others suggested a K-4 at Egan, and 5-8 at Blach. Still others asked Assistant Superintendent for Business Randy Kenyon to analyze a K-5 and 6-8 grade configuration.

Nearly every trustee described the two-school option as a temporary situation as the district searches for a solution to finding a permanent home for BCS.

"I agree we should all sit down and talk," said Trustee Pablo Luther who referred to the BCS PTA president's remarks during the meeting. "And I agree that we should have it as open, public discussion—but only with a moratorium on litigation," he said, adding that discussion was difficult with litigation looming constantly.

The board's final meeting to consider draft language and the preliminary offer scenarios, is Jan. 28.


Also on Los Altos Patch:

LIVE BLOG: Los Altos School Board Discusses Bullis Facilities Offer Monday Night

Palo Alto to Select New Elementary School Site

LETTER: North-End LASD Students Deserve Consideration

Bullis Ideas: Share At Covington

Bullis Ideas: Convert to K-5 / Middle School Format 


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comment1320 January 16, 2013 at 08:41 PM
The BCS board has offered to do just that and has been rebuffed by LASD. However, I do think putting the litigation on hold is a non starter. Given the annual process and the timing of court cases, putting litigation on hold ensures that this can be stalled forever. As in the real world, the pressure of litigation often motivates behavior that encourages a compromise. Also, keep in mind that LASD walked away from the mediated framework last year -- which BCS is still willing to accept.
LASD Taxpayer January 17, 2013 at 04:59 PM
Comment1320, I would really appreciate a link to where the BCS offered and LASD rebuffed. I don't recall reading that. Regarding the mediation, I read that LASD Board revised the draft agreement after getting slammed by the LASD parents. To offer 1 of 4 specific sites and not include a 10th possible site was short-sighted at best. Regardless, I read that the LASD Board has invited BCS Board to continue talks in a public forum. http://losaltos.patch.com/articles/lasd-tells-bullis-public-meetings-are-best-course Why does it have to be private talks?
Laurie Uhler January 19, 2013 at 04:21 AM
@comment 1320, it in not my singular opinion that the lottery process is questionable. This is a widespread belief in the larger community. The question was asked and I offered my two cents. I honestly think it's a no brainer on how to handle this perception moving forward. You seem very defensive about a positive suggestion to eliminate the issue once and for all. My personal experience at BCS has nothing to do with the lottery so not sure why you mention that except to distract. I agree that the process of drawing the numbers on the lottery day is quite verifiable. What people question is the potential for "creaming" prior to the lottery drawing. With parent volunteers having access to applications and the private information they contain, it just isn't good practice to run the system this way. Additionally, as you are fully aware, until last spring BCS (until ordered by the SCCOE to remove) included the requirement of sensitive student information such as IEP in the application PRIOR to offer and acceptance of a spot. The SCCOE saw the conflict, not sure why BCS did not until they were told, loudly. Not sure what "proof" you are looking for. No, don't personally have in my possession sworn statements. Ck the court documents for that.
Mary K January 30, 2013 at 05:35 AM
You are implying that the parent volunteer who has access to the application is doing something illegal! If I was that parent, I'd be quite mad and rightfully insulted, maybe even feel slandered. The registration material until this spring was identical to the ones on LASD site - I heard one board member say publicly that they simply copied that in the early days of BCS and hadn't really thought about it much. Only if the information is used to discriminate against someone, that would be illegal, and that's what SCCOE stated, not that BCS was in fact acting illegally. Just because someone didn't get in, as one person said in her declaration, that doesn't prove that lottery was somehow rigged. Did she have a proof that it was tempered with? No!
Joan J. Strong January 30, 2013 at 11:11 PM
Mary, the fact that BCS hands its lottery process over to an un-named "parent volunteer" is enough to cast suspicion over the entire process. It means that the entire process can be rigged, and there would be absolutely no recourse by the people. If discovered the BCS leadership would release a statement saying, "oh sorry, we won't let that parent handle our lottery anymore" and that would be the end of it, and they'd be free to pick another parent who would rig the lottery yet again. So in short, we know: 1. The BCS, based on its financial model and drive for test scores has every bit of MOTIVE to rig the lottery. 2. That the BCS leadership has nothing to lose by a discovery that the lottery was rigged. 3. That many people have alleged irregularities in the process. 4. That there are straight-forward ways of rigging the process (MEANS). 5. That BCS does not have the same demographic profile which would be consistent with a random sampling of the student population. None of these thing prove anything per se, but there's certainly a lot of reason to be suspicious.


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