News

Bullis agrees to two-site solution -- with strings

Stipulations attached to 'big compromise' with LASD

Bullis Charter School has agreed to what one official described as a "big compromise" in negotiations with the Los Altos School District -- accepting the district's split-campus option for the charter, at least temporarily. But in return for their acquiescence on the dual-site option, BCS has asked for concessions from the district, to which district officials aren't likely to fully agree.

"Bullis Charter School has agreed to the basic framework of a split-campus proposal by the Los Altos School District as a possible short-term facilities solution if certain key parameters are met," Ken Moore, chair of the BCS board, announced in a statement on Jan. 23.

It might come as a surprise to those who have followed the debate that BCS would accept the option of running the charter school on two separate campuses, as officials there have continually dismissed the idea in the past. However, it isn't likely to surprise anyone if the "parameters" that Bullis has proposed turn out to be unacceptable to the Los Altos School District.

And it would appear that at least some of the things Bullis officials are asking for will not be handed over so easily from the district.

"I'm really pleased that they've made a statement that they'll accept what we've offered them already," said LASD board member Mark Goines. "But frankly, it's a little late in our process to ask for a bunch of new stuff."

Too late, Goines said, because the Jan. 23 announcement came just over a week before the district was required to make its yearly preliminary offer of facilities to the charter school. There won't be time for the district to fully consider whether it is possible to give BCS what it is asking for before the Feb. 1 preliminary offer deadline, he said.

On Jan. 28, at the LASD board meeting, the trustees voted to instruct LASD staff to draw up a preliminary offer of facilities that would cost the district about $300,000. That money would cover six portable buildings to be built on the two sites. Five of those portables would be erected at Blach Middle School and one would go at Egan Middle School.

The preliminary offer also dictates that Bullis' footprint would not expand on the Egan campus. However, in accepting the two-site solution, Bullis officials have proposed expanding the footprint of Bullis on the Egan campus, as well as new construction that would cost about $1 million at least, according to Doug Smith, president of the LASD board of trustees.

Bullis' plan also assumes that a preschool located on the Egan campus would be moved.

According to Smith, the charter is asking for quite a bit more than the district is prepared to give -- even in exchange for accepting the two-campus option.

For his part, Moore acknowledged that further negotiation would surely need to occur if the two educational organizations were to come to an agreement based on the most recently proposed framework. "There's a lot more detail that needs to be worked out," Moore said.

Now that LASD's board of trustees has voted to move forward with the district's preliminary offer, it remains to be seen how Bullis will react once it is finalized. Bullis will have a month to consider the preliminary offer before officials there will have to return with requests for changes in March. After that, LASD will have another month to come up with a final facilities offer.

Meanwhile the two organizations continue to battle in court over previous years' facility offers. According to Moore, the charter school is willing to compromise on a temporary two-site solution until a permanent site can be found, because BCS wants to put an end to all the legal fighting.

It is certain that LASD would also like to see an end to the legal battles it has waged with the charter school. The question is whether this latest move will bring the two sides any closer to a resolution.

Comments

Posted by Mark, a resident of Shoreline West
on Jan 31, 2013 at 12:37 pm

Bullis is full of bullying bullsh*t ... my two middle fingers are raised in your direction Bullis = YOU'RE NUMBER 1! If the school district buckles and concedes ANYTHING to the bullying tactics of Bullis, it will only invite MORE of the same from other incompetent "charter schools".


Posted by LASD parent, a resident of another community
on Jan 31, 2013 at 1:32 pm

BCS's offer is only a PR stunt. They know they are unpopular. They conducted a focus group recently that did not go well. LASD parents and non-parents in the groups told the facilitator that BCS does not exemplify what a charter school is supposed to be and that the BCS folks have an sense of entitlement that has disgusted many people.

BCS' luncheon where they made this announcement was set up far in advance and included charter school movement leaders, yet LASD Board members weren't invited to the announcement until the day before. If this were a genuine offer, why make a big media production out of it? Why not tell the district earlier? Why not invite district officials when others received their invitation? And why hold a private luncheon for insiders in the first place? Isn't this supposed to be a public school?


Posted by Go Niners, a resident of another community
on Jan 31, 2013 at 2:01 pm

BCS motives are as clear as day. They know they can't win in a court of law so are putting on this PR stunt to try to win in the court of public opinion. LASD should absolutely give them nothing more than what is in the preliminary offer.


Posted by Ron, a resident of Waverly Park
on Jan 31, 2013 at 2:14 pm

@Go Niners: Except that BCS HAS won in the courts before, and multiple times. These things move back and forth in the legal system. When LASD lost twice before in the courts I doubt you said "well they won, that's it, lets give them everything and move on." So pardon me if I don't think your opinion is unbiased.

Lets face the truth shall we? NONE of the usual posters on this topic wants fairness for anyone. The pro-LASD folks just hate all BCS people as "privileged snobs" and all the pro-BCS people think the LASD is evil and is threatened by any education system that competes with them. Nothing new here. Noone will EVER agree, and we will just keep sending millions to the lawyers. The only losers are the students in both systems.


Posted by Wild Wood, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 31, 2013 at 7:08 pm

@Go Niners overlooks another victim of this unfortunate situation: public education. The charter school movement has been shown in many studies to fail in achieving what it claims is its objectives - and with a disproportionately "not disadvantaged" school population.

Charter schools, vouchers, temp/part time jobs/workers you name it: the social fabric based on the common good is and has been under attack.


Posted by lasd parent, a resident of another community
on Feb 1, 2013 at 7:05 am

Turns out BCS never actually communicated with the LASD school board. They made an announcement at a media event but never provided its offer to LASD in writing. No letter, no plans outlining their offer. When someone is serious about negotiating, isn't the normal course of action to contact the other party directly?


Posted by Cancer Bullis, a resident of Blossom Valley
on Feb 1, 2013 at 4:41 pm

They want to distract from anyone looking at their financials and admissions policies.
THAT is what scares them to death because that is where assumptions can turn to facts.


Posted by Parent, a resident of another community
on Feb 4, 2013 at 6:59 pm

How much you want to bet that BCS files yet another lawsuit regarding facilities? Why not just find your own site? You want to be different, so be different! Don't say we want to be different but we want what you have too.


Posted by reader, a resident of another community
on Feb 7, 2013 at 6:24 pm

@ Parent,

"Don't say we want to be different but we want what you have too."

haha, that reminds me of one of the Toddler Laws: "What's mine is mine and what's yours is mine."

Yeah that's an accurate description of BCS.


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