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Los Altos district continues to battle Bullis

Original post made on Dec 1, 2011

The years-long legal battle between the Los Altos School District and Bullis Charter School is not over yet, and the litigation could continue for years.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, December 1, 2011, 12:36 PM

Comments (112)

Posted by Courtenay, a resident of another community
on Dec 1, 2011 at 7:29 pm

What a sad turn of events. No one could find this situation more distasteful than the BCS community that, for 8+ years has been relegated to trailers. The fact that it has taken court after court and a small fortune to clarify that the edge of Egan is NOT equivalent is shameful. The taxpayers and students at all Los Altos/LAH schools deserve better leadership and an explanation for why this nonsense continues.

A Supreme Court case for $60 or $70K? I doubt it!


Posted by Observer, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 1, 2011 at 8:26 pm

Jeff Baier is imminently unqualified to be making such statements. He is way out of his league and throwing more good money after bad. What an embarrassment.


Posted by Interested Observer , a resident of another community
on Dec 1, 2011 at 8:50 pm

Jeff Baier is more than qualified to make the statements quoted in the paper. This issue not only impacts the students in Los Altos but the many other students in public schools across California. As mentioned before, the initial concept for charters was great - provide choice and competition - but the results have been devastating in that re-segregation is happening in many public schools. The poorest of the poor and the lowest of the low achieving of students are being left behind with less and less resources available to them. The heart of public schooling is being attacked under the guise of choice!


Posted by haroldbarton@hotmail.com, a resident of another community
on Dec 1, 2011 at 9:00 pm

Regardless of the outcome of this case, LASD should continue to fight the BCS scourge along side of parents of public schools and citizens here in Los Altos, Hills, and Mountain View.

This is a battle for the heart of our community, for our schools, and our property values. If BCS is not stopped, dozens of other "schools" (i.e. small gangs of lawyers) will descend upon our community demand the campuses we worked so hard and spent so much to make great (Charter schools are free to bring as many children to their plundered schools as they wish).

Bullis Charter was started exclusively out of spite and revenge. It all started when LASD closed the only public school in Los Altos Hills and several members of the super-rich there got very angry about this.

Instead of starting their own private school (as most with such means would) or simply moving on, they chose the most spiteful and divisive path their high-paid lawyers could dream up, which was to start a "charter school".

Normally a set of laws set aside for "disadvantaged" communities, these ingenious lawyers figured out how to "buy a Ferrari with Foodstamps" by opening a Charter School in one of the richest communities in the country.

This school is "public" only in that it demands public assets (school campuses) but it is privately controlled and demands what most acknowledge is a "tuition" of $5000 per year--effectively excluding the exact segment of the population that Prop 39 had envisioned when it was passed.

Meanwhile, LASD has since re-opened the school that started this war as Gardner Bullis School. Democracy, however inefficient and difficult, finally won out. This notwithstanding, BCS wants to reverse history and actually CLOSE Gardner Bullis (and/or several others nearby) so it can once again have a reason to exist.

Never in a million years did the voters of California pass Prop 39 with the billionaire founders of BCS in mind. Experiments in education--such as those which occur at BCS--properly belong in the private sector. The spirit of Silicon Valley is about entrepreneurs and their backers trying things, failing, and occasionally doing something great. But they do this with THEIR OWN money. Using the Charter laws in this way is a government-backed boondoggle, and a rallying call for school choice.

Objectively, BCS is an academic failure in that it only achieves standardized test scores slightly higher (1-2%) than nearby schools. Per the exclusionary nature of the school's approach to fundraising, these scores should be much higher.

Although BCS claims as its other primary advantage its operating cost per student as compared to public schools, there are many factors that make this comparison invalid--the list is long. Before going into details, though, you should also consider the source: a bunch of millionaires and billionaires are worried about COSTS? Recall that BCS supporters fought (and lost) a battle to stop voters from passing a parcel tax of $193--an infinitesimal fraction of most people's property tax here, let alone those of the founders of BCS. Cries about costs by these billionaires are crocodile tears.

The proper reaction to BCS is to revoke its charter. As compassionate parents, we should advocate that this be done in the most non-disruptive way possible for the current BCS students and parents--who are themselves also victims of this billionaire revenge plot.

One example of this could be, in exchange for BCS to cease taking in new students, the district provide it with improved shared campus facilities. Closing a district school, of course, should be off the table.

Of course the school's founders could easily "solve everything" by cleaning up the mess they made and gifting the school a campus and/or taking it officially private.

The one thing that cannot happen is for BCS to succeed in its goal of taking over LASD school campuses, disrupting the lives of our children, diminishing the excellence of our schools and destroying our property values by making our school campuses available to the world at large as Charters may do.

This battle has raged for many years now and has been argued back and forth by the same tiny group of players at BCS and LASD. With the latest setbacks in the courts, however, we have reached a critical turning point. For many years, like most parents I thought this issue would "go away".

Now it's apparent that unless we do something, schools are going to close. Not because we can't afford to keep them open, and not because it makes any sense to anybody, but because some very rich people got very angry a very long time ago.

That tiny group of debaters might be thinking they see a light at the end of the tunnel: but that's an oncoming train of outraged parents who have only just now awakened.


Posted by Educator, a resident of Monta Loma
on Dec 1, 2011 at 9:04 pm

Interested Observer,
I am interested in hearing about but the " re-segregation is happening in many public schools" Is there any studies or data that you can site to back this up?


Posted by LASD Parent, a resident of another community
on Dec 1, 2011 at 9:19 pm

Poorest of the poor? In LASD? What? This is one of the wealthiest enclaves in the entire USA!

Choice is what makes us all better. Why should a group of five elected officials be in charge of where your child goes to school? It is my money, my kid and my choice. The parcel tax dollars should follow the student and the Charter School wouldn't have the funding gap to hurdle. Are you really so happy with the CTA being in the driver's seat? California is 46th in the Nation. The only reason LASD and the Charter perform at the top of the heap is because of the demographics and the demographics don't include the poorest of the poor at any of these schools.

The heart of public schooling needs a defibrillator and Charters are the perscription.


Posted by Interested Observer , a resident of another community
on Dec 2, 2011 at 12:14 am

I never said "the poorest of the poorest" are in Los Altos!! Believe it or not, the world is bigger than Los Altos and all of us should feel some responsibility for the education of all students in this country. That is the mission of public schooling - not just serving the rich and already entitled!!


Posted by haroldbarton@hotmail.com, a resident of another community
on Dec 2, 2011 at 12:50 am

LASD Parent:

"Choice" is an empty concept by itself. Should I have the "choice" to move into your house and drive your cars around? Should I be able to start a business in your backyard without your permission? Would they mind if I take over AT&T Park so my kids can play there? We can tell the Giants that we're going to "share" for now on and they will need to play half of their games somewhere else.

So no, just saying the word "choice" a thousand times doesn't solve anything.

There are deep problems with California schools. Absolutely NOT in our district (except for the BCS scourge) but certainly elsewhere.

Another government boondoggle is not the answer. Charters represent what happens sometimes when democracy stumbles: the public votes in a dictator. This never ends well.

And make no mistake, the people who own BCS are "dictators" in that they are accountable to nobody. They are free, for instance, to cram as many students from the entire state on whatever campus they plunder.

And no, it's not "your money". It's all of ours. If you want a libertarian solution, that solution is tax credits for private school. Charters are just the same forced public financing except without democratic control. It's actually the worst of both worlds.

Here in our district our public schools are not "broken" and they don't need "fixed".


Posted by Carl, a resident of The Crossings
on Dec 2, 2011 at 7:54 am

LASD demands plenty of money and time from parents, and those that don't pony up are blacklisted. It is no different than what happens at BCS. LASD power parents who make a lot of noise and bullying the system get what they want, just like at BCS. Nothing different there. BCS, however, does admit outsiders and on a lottery. LASD imposes strict boundary rules on some parents. Why do Crossings kids have to travel clear across town to go to school? No one can answer that. I'm all for BCS. LASD schools are nothing special. Most kid with highly educated and driven parents are bored at Covington. The school ranks high because the kids come in knowing the material, some more than the teachers. And plenty of Crossings kids go to private schools because of it. So please spare me how great LASD supposedly is. LASD takes way too many things for granted. Baier is just wasting more money and will be asking for more tax dollars soon. He reminds me of Don Quixote. Rather than attack BCS, he should focus on cutting costs and get more concessions from the teachers' unions. I too think is unqualified to tackle BCS. He's a former teacher-turned-administrator from the dot.com era when no one was going into teaching. And now all of a sudden he's a brilliant legal mind casting this as a issue with state-wide ramification on the future of eduction? Ha! This is more about petty thinking and small minds at LASD trying to sabotage any chance of BCS survival by not providing them the required resources. LASD needs a new set of lawyers to help waste their money. Baier's out-gunned by the backers of BCS. And if he loses his case, he's got no where to go.


Posted by Ron Haley, a resident of another community
on Dec 2, 2011 at 8:38 am

"Truly, it's about balancing the interests of both the students who attend Bullis Charter School with the interest of the students who attend the Los Altos School District schools."

Jeff, the courts are asking you to balance them equally - how do you think they should be balanced?


Posted by LASD Parent, a resident of another community
on Dec 2, 2011 at 9:36 am

Nothing wrong with our District? Do you live under a rock or even have kids currently enrolled? How is it that we barely have Art, Music and PE? Our Library lights can't be turned on without a unionized teacher? Foreign language? Our school days are shorter and the best negoiation tactic is furlough days? Who is in charge here? The appeal of BCS is that the parents and nimble administration can demand changes to match the educational needs of the students, not be forced to play by the CTA's rules.

Scourge, boondoggle and dictators? For real?


Posted by haroldbarton@hotmail.com, a resident of another community
on Dec 2, 2011 at 10:05 am

I guess we go to different districts. We are VERY happy with our school, as are most parents I talk to. I've turned on lots of library lights so that is yet another smear. Your "foreign language" options are, um, let me see: Mandarin, Mandarin, and... Mandarin. All paid for my the Chinese government--and absolutely forced on my children from Kindergarten. Some "choice" that is.

No, we don't go to a private school and we don't expect that. Yes, I'd love more private options here and that $11k back in my taxes, but until Ron Paul is elected absolute ruler of the world, that's not going to happen. Here in the real world we have public schools, democracy, and all of the trade-offs associated with it.

Globally, if all districts were like ours, our schools would be #1 in the WHOLE WORLD. California's problems with schools in tough areas and with difficult kids and families--something BCS would not touch with a ten foot pole.

[Portion removed. Let's tone down the rhetoric.] Educating the kids of the rich and famous is cheaper than educating disadvantaged and problem kids. What a shock.

[Portion removed. Let's tone down the rhetoric. ]


Posted by Parent, a resident of another community
on Dec 2, 2011 at 10:54 am

Questions for Ron Haley or other BCS parents:

1. Why is Gardner the first choice for placement of BCS rather than another campus with larger and more usable acreage? Yes it is 10 acres but mostly unusable for classroom due to its location on a hill so that there are four different levels. Is the school district and BCS looking into the cost to make Gardner's acreage usable? So far, the district hasn't spent the money to do so and it is an issue as Gardner expands and additional portables are needed.

2. If BCS founders were able to creatively get around the intent of Charter law to create this school, why can't they creatively find a way to locate a site for BCS that doesn't involve closing a district school and pissing off district parents? BCS could come out looking like heroes if they obtained a site to place their school. It doesn't need to be and shouldn't be in Los Altos Hills if BCS is drawing students from the entire district.


Posted by haroldbarton@hotmail.com, a resident of another community
on Dec 2, 2011 at 2:56 pm

Carl, you made a long case as to why LASD schools are really terrible. Not too many people do that given our test scores. Interesting angle.

You did not, however, offer a single bit of evidence as to why BCS is a better solution. What secret powers have they demonstrated that will allow them to deal with all of the HARD (not easy please, hard) issues that public schools face, such as a diverse student population, long-term employees who need retirement benefits, etc. etc. etc. What structural difference does the
"publicly-funded private" approach make that will solve these problems?

Now, before you say, "the current LASD board are dummies" please note that I said STRUCTURAL differences, not just who happens to be in power right now. Otherwise I'll just say, "what happens when the private BCS board changes hands?". I'll bring up dozens of examples of Charters across the country which have absolutely cratered. And if you think the whole problem is the LASD board, well, elections are coming up next year. It's called democracy. Nobody likes Congress right now, but few are advocating dictatorship as a remedy. Why is that?

So let's talk systems here. Why is the "public/private" system better than the "public/democratic" system? How will this solve real-world problems?

In other words, what do you have to offer this debate except hurling personal insults and Monday AM quarterbacking?


Posted by Mommio, a resident of another community
on Dec 2, 2011 at 4:01 pm

Carl doesn't need to explain why it is "better. There were 600+ people last year that wanted to find out for themselves. This year, I predict over 700. BCS is different. If you want to equate different as better or as worse that is your choice.

And having BCS around is giving you the opportunity to put your kids in the program that meets your needs. I am thrilled you chose LASD. Sincerely. Why cant you afford me the same courtesy?


Posted by Ed Advocate, a resident of another community
on Dec 2, 2011 at 5:02 pm

This issue must be challenged. It's a very personal issue to families at BSC or in the LASD schools. But to those of us living outside of Los Altos, where charter and district schools are hanging on every decision and appeal, in order to strategically redeploy resources in their favor, this issue has much greater implications.

If the appeal stands, it becomes precedent impacting many other disputes current and pending around the state.


Posted by haroldbarton@hotmail.com, a resident of another community
on Dec 2, 2011 at 7:17 pm

Mommio, like many parents, I have been one of those "applicants" they speak of. It was just part of the decision process. Applying doesn't mean anything.

That said, with a few well placed flyers in places outside of our district BCS could get TEN THOUSAND applications if they wanted to. It proves nothing. Who wouldn't want to come to our top-scoring school district and our lovely schools we spent so much money making great?

And no, you do NOT have the right to kick my children out of their school so you can engage in some sort of private "experiment" with education. I like my children's school and it was created through a DEMOCRATIC PROCESS which is the only civilized way for public assets to be utilized. Anything else is just private people appropriating public assets for their own private desires. In the case of BCS that private desire was: "revenge".

The next gang of lawyers will probably have some other desire if this scourge is not stopped. It will be open season on our very best schools. Why start a charter in a needy area? It's more fun to simply grab kids from an already-top district and then brag about your super-high test scores.

You have every right to create a PRIVATE school with your own money. This is what America is all about: private money chasing a dream. You might even make something great. More power to you.

Grabbing public money and resources to perform your own private experiments is pull-peddling lawyer-driven corruption, not "choice". It is NOT in the spirit of Silicon Valley entrepreneurism. Instead it's "who ever has the best lawyers wins".

Boutique Charters (like BCS) are a step backwards for both public AND private education.


Posted by Ron Haley, a resident of another community
on Dec 2, 2011 at 7:57 pm

My preference is Covington, as that allows all LASD students to attend the same neighborhood school they would have in 2001. With the new construction on El Camino/San Antonio, LASD will need to modify boundaries in the near term.


BCS isn't circumventing the law - the law was written for schools like BCS. Prop 39 was passed by California voters, and is the law!

I continue to be amazed at the number of LASD residents that are comfortable discriminating against children that live within the LASD. All this screaming because the courts have affirmed that all LASD children should receive equal facilities. It's no wonder so many posters don't have the courage to comment under their real names.


Posted by Mommio, a resident of another community
on Dec 2, 2011 at 8:36 pm

The only "private" school in this discussion is the one you keep acting like you "own." Might I remind you, the campus is public land, the district is mandated to serve the the students who elect "public" school and BCS is a public school despite how many times you try to define it otherwise. Your children, while I am sure are quite lovely and deserving, are no more or less so than mine. Get that through your head.


Posted by Byzantine Logic, a resident of The Crossings
on Dec 2, 2011 at 9:20 pm

@RonHaley

Why would any kid/parent ever care about where they would have gone over 10 years ago (2001)? For any currently enrolled kid/parent, going back to 2001 would likely mean a change of school; why would anybody want that?

Sounds just as logical as having in 2012 an enrollment preference based on last millennium attendance areas whose maps are nowhere to be found ....oh wait somebody actually did that.

I'm not sure there is a solution that will be equitable to all parties but I'm certain it won't be found by remaining stuck in the past decade.

BCS (and to some extent LASD) cheerleaders, move on already! None of your kids were in school in 2001. A large portion of your school parents were not even LASD residents at that time.


Posted by haroldbarton@hotmail.com, a resident of another community
on Dec 3, 2011 at 12:14 am

Mommio, if you REALLY think that the voters would have passed Prop 39 with the billionaire founders of BCS in mind, then there's clearly no reasoning with you. Further, if you don't know the difference between an publicly elected board and a private group of OWNERS of a school then I guess we can't even agree on simple English definitions.

No honest person would ever believe either of these things.

If you really think that Los Altos and Hills voters are really that stupid, you should recall that Measure E was PASSED by a 2/3 majority despite the despicable dishonest attempts by BCS supporters to lie to voters in order to get it voted down. There's actually some honestly left in this world despite what you might think.

Any honest examination of what is going on here will tell a person that Prop 39 was not meant for the super-rich any more than Foodstamps were meant to buy Ferraris, and that Measure E was a $193 additional tax not a $790 tax hike like every BCS-supporter-sponsored lawn sign said it was.

And honest people get pretty skeptical when they hear members of the super-rich talking about their local taxes (typically about .01% of their taxes) being too high. Clearly there's a secret motive that these people dare not reveal because nobody would give them the time of day if they knew it.

I understand that you are another victim of the great BCS revenge-driven swindle. I am very sorry about that. You should point your anger, however, not at my innocent children who want to merely stay in the school that we all helped my great over the years, but at the founders of BCS.


Posted by Mommio, a resident of another community
on Dec 3, 2011 at 8:08 am

Since you are so keen to discuss elections, let's review the facts that the recent tax increase of 20% passed narrowly and I believe the "Yes" voters would NEVER have passed it had they known the teachers would then refuse to make any real and meaningful concessions other than additional furlough days. Further, I believe most in this community would have refused a vote for most of the past and current LASD trustees had they been able to see the mess they have made of this entire community. But they did. Just like the majority ruled in 2000 on Prop 39 and consistently have supported Charter legislation. I wrote my property tax check even though it infuriated me that it was neither necessary nor shared equitably because the majority spoke. Now you need to man up and live within the democratic process and support Prop 39 which clearly states ALL public school children should be treated equitably. Why is this discrimination fair in your mind?


Posted by Carl, a resident of The Crossings
on Dec 3, 2011 at 8:12 am

Only the obsessed paranoid would see BCS as a revenge-driven swindle. Seriously. And your claim that BCS backers are all "billionaires" is just hilarious. If you want to know where the billionaires children go, take a look at some of the excellent and very expensive private schools around here. That's where you will find them. After all, billionaires around here aren't exactly stupid.

As far as your view of schools being formed through a democratic process, the case has been laid out that this is exactly how BCS and charter schools have come into being. As far as LASD, it is more of a cabal driven entity--not much democracy involved. Again, my "neighborhood" school is clear across town. If anything, I am on the low end of the socioeconomic pole with 1000 square feet of living space. LASD has always been about preserving neighborhood schools for those that live in them, and has little regard to democracy, fairness, or whatever you want to call it. And I am all for BCS.


Posted by Courtenay, a resident of another community
on Dec 3, 2011 at 8:43 am

Well...Good Morning! Gotta weigh in here. The real question I keep asking is why these billionaires (Love the broad generalization) and others of means would choose to send their kids to school in trailers when they could clearly afford many options without all this baggage? BCS is exceptional and all the kids in public schools deserve to be treated fairly.


Posted by haroldbarton@hotmail.com, a resident of another community
on Dec 3, 2011 at 9:50 am

So Mommio, instead of a democracy, what form of government do you suppose we should have?

And there's a huge difference between voters electing the "wrong" people and a loophole. No voter could have possibly read every line of Prop 39 and/or understood the implications of it. Nobody understood that it could be exploited by billionaires to take over and CLOSE top-rated schools.

This will be reeled in by the voters and/or the supreme court sooner or later. Until then, the high-paid lawyers hired by the BCS billionaires have done their job. I can only hope the other 95% of the population in Los Altos and Hills who does NOT go to BCS (and is thus living under its constant threat of lawsuits) wills LASD on to keep fighting no matter what.

I have said that what is being done to the children and parents of BCS is wrong and unfair. They are victims in this too. We should create a solution for them that 1) stops the damage from spreading; 2) does not involve the closure of any LASD school; 3) creates the best possible environment for them for its remaining years within the constraints of #1 and #2.


Posted by haroldbarton@hotmail.com, a resident of another community
on Dec 3, 2011 at 10:06 am

Carl, that should read, "ALL billionaires around here aren't exactly stupid". Also, I wouldn't use "stupid" to describe these people: the correct word is "immoral".

And yes, the non-immoral people of means here sent their kids to private schools when their school in Los Altos Hills closed. A small revenge-crazed group peeled off and worked to do the most damage to our school district they possibly could.

Now, if they were able to actually target the specific members of the LASD board who wronged them, that would be a bit crazy but not completely immoral. It crossed the line when they decided that the citizens of Los Altos and Hills were expendable and could be used as pawns in their revenge plot.

And, um, insofar as we can find any public information about any of the secretive owners of BCS, you will find actual billionaires here. This is just a statement of fact.

Normally, I really wouldn't care about the net worth of private citizens like this (and we should respect their privacy). In this case however it is relevant to the case because it shows motive: they could have EASILY created themselves a private school and/or bought their little experiment a campus.

The fact that they did NOT do that, but wanted instead to sue the district shows that their motives had nothing to do with educating kids or improving our community. It was just spite and revenge. This is the genesis of BCS and the ensuing war on our community.




Posted by Harold Barton 2, a resident of another community
on Dec 3, 2011 at 10:15 am

cuckoo


Posted by Carl, a resident of The Crossings
on Dec 3, 2011 at 11:06 am

Immoral behavior is not the privilege of any particular class or income level. I think the LASD superintendent could even tell you that.

As far as the stuff about war, a revenge plot, and all the revenge-crazed immoral motives, I sincerely doubt that all that is what is behind the creation of a charter school. Most people are just too sensible and rationale, or even lazy and cheap, to put so much effort into such a crazed conspiracy that you suggest.

BTW, I think you forgot to take your medicine.


Posted by haroldbarton@hotmail.com, a resident of another community
on Dec 3, 2011 at 11:12 am

Carl, you forgot the read the written history of this school.

And yes, the prospect of my children's school closing makes me a bit angry. So sue me. (Oh, wait...).


Posted by Fact Checker, a resident of another community
on Dec 3, 2011 at 11:22 pm

@ HBDC
BCS actually educates about 10 % of the Public School kids in Los Altos. It's Gardner that has about 5%.


Posted by haroldbarton@hotmail.com, a resident of another community
on Dec 4, 2011 at 12:06 am

BCS threatens every school and every citizen in Los Altos and Hills. Thus it's the 90% of the population that will rally against you as soon as they learn the facts about this terrible situation.

They will see through your lies just like they did when they passed Measure E with a 67% majority.

And thank you for again pointing out that you want to DOUBLE the number of kids, parents and CARS coming to the Gardner campus every day. I'll be sure to let the citizens of Los Altos Hills know.



Posted by Fact Checker, a resident of another community
on Dec 4, 2011 at 11:22 am

@hbdc
100% of LASD Taxpayers pay for the bad decisions of the Trustees.


Posted by LOL, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 5, 2011 at 8:58 pm

BCS supporters should move the school to Harold Barton's house. These thread are some of the funniest stuff on the Internet these days. You people should get some medicinal marijuana and relax. By the time, all the lawyers get this sorted out, your kids will be in college, so who cares. It has no impact on your own personal situation. The status quo will prevail because that's how local politics work. To each side of this debate, suck it up!


Posted by haroldbarton@hotmail.com, a resident of another community
on Dec 5, 2011 at 11:19 pm

Word on the street is that BCS will force the closing of either Gardner Bullis or Covington for next year, and probably both after that.

Sorry to be such a downer, but it's as real as it gets, and it's all happening in the next six months...


Posted by Fact checker, a resident of another community
on Dec 6, 2011 at 9:41 am

@HBDC

The LASD board will decide how to provide reasonably equivalent facilities to all public school children in the district. Here is a link to the BCS facilities request for the 2012 -2013 school year.
Web Link


Posted by Curious, a resident of The Crossings
on Dec 6, 2011 at 10:27 am

@Fact Checker (or is it Fact Stater?)

All these facilities requests mention a need to have a facility within the Los Altos High boundaries. Where is this requirement coming from? I can't imagine why it would be in the Education Code. It also doesn't seem very logical if BCS's goal is to serve all of LASD. Furthermore, LASD doesn't control the high school boundaries and those could change without LASD or BCS having any say. Finally, the list of comparison sites (if for whatever obscure reason it has to be based on LAHS attendance boundaries) doesn't seem quite right. A large chunk of Covington goes to Mountain View High. Similarly, a sizable chunk of Springer and even Blach goes to Los Altos High School.

Just curious why all these convoluted rules/restrictions on disconnected attendance areas -aside from keeping lawyers busy- when it's all supposed to be about choice and equal opportunity?


Posted by haroldbarton@hotmail.com, a resident of another community
on Dec 6, 2011 at 11:54 am

I should clarify this since this since it is VERY confusing unless you understand the background (and even then).

According to Prop 39, the District officially "decides" what is "reasonably equivalent". There is no clear legal definition of this, and there is no clear remedy if the District is found to be wrong, as far as I know.

As such, the pattern is simple:

1. BCS requests facilities and makes "suggestions" (they currently suggest: the Gardner campus).

2. LASD gives them facilities.

3a. If the facilities are unpalatable to the owners of BCS, then:
BCS sues them.

3b. If the facilities are large, opulent, throw kids out of their existing schools and destroy our communities, take into account supposed massive growth of BCS, then:
BCS sues them anyhow.

What have they got to lose?

Even if BCS gets the campus they supposedly want, there is absolutely NO stopping this private organization from suing our district again and again. The costs for the lawyers are actually a lot cheaper than buying or even leasing facilities themselves. And the way the law is written, by my own reckoning, doesn't stop this from going around in circles forever.

On that note, just for some perspective:

1. The district is spending on the order of $60k per year fighting these lawsuits (they will probably double that if the supreme court thing goes through).

2. The cost of sending a SINGLE family of three kids to private school (which will be the only viable alternative to many if LASD does not fight BCS ) is about $30k-75k per year.

That's not to mention the massive loss in property values we will suffer when BCS and others like them turn our little town into the place where the entire Bay Area commutes to school.

So in fighting BCS we are fighting for public schools, we are fighting for our kids and we are fighting for what is right. And yes, it makes tons of financial sense.


Posted by Fact Checker, a resident of another community
on Dec 6, 2011 at 1:33 pm

I am checking HBDC's posts and correcting as needed.

The majority of the BCS students live within the LAHS attendance boundaries, so that may be why they are requesting a school site in that area. Here is the projected numbers from the site request -

LAHS feeders
GB - 137
SR -74
A - 61
C - 56

MVHS Feeders
L - 53
S - 42
O - 16
Here a link: The numbers are listed on page 2
Web Link

I believe that all Covington students live in the LAHS attendance area. Some of them go to Blach and then LAHS so that may be why you are confused.

Some students from Loyola ( unincorporated area west of Magdalena) go to LAHS also.


Posted by Member, a resident of another community
on Dec 6, 2011 at 1:44 pm

Well of course most of the BCS kids will feed into LAHS when BCS reserves 50% of its slots for Gardner families. It's crazy to reserve 1/2 of open slots for Gardner families and then argue that BCS deserves the Gardner campus because BCS has more "Gardner families" (or maybe it's just strategic planning). BCS claims to be a district school - not a neighborhood school - and to want to attract more socioeconomically diverse students. Then it should be requesting a more central location and should get rid of the preference for Hills kids.


Posted by Fact Checker, a resident of another community
on Dec 6, 2011 at 2:05 pm

BCS reserves half of it's remaining slots. ( After in-district siblings.) So if there 60 slots in Kindergarten and 30 of them are taken by siblings. Then 15 would come former Bullis-Purissima area. This area does not include the PAUSD area of Los Altos Hills or the Area along Los Altos Ave that were added to the GB boundaries.

The remaining slots are open to the district at large.

About 25 % of BCS students are from the GB area boundaries. A significant amount are from Almond, Covington and Santa Rita. About 80 % live in the LAHS boundary lines.


Posted by Confused, a resident of The Crossings
on Dec 6, 2011 at 2:19 pm

LASD seems to be assuming there will be no change for next year. Would love to know where this word on the street is coming from. Does anyone know whether the appeal to the Supreme Court automatically stays the ruling? Or does LASD have to comply with the ruling for next year?


Posted by haroldbarton@hotmail.com, a resident of another community
on Dec 6, 2011 at 3:20 pm

I'm not sure what the ruling means, but as I mentioned above, nobody's really sure what any of these "judgements" mean besides, "try again". The court's decisions have been "yes/no", not at all indicating what specifically should be done.

The SC could, as far as I know, make a drastic judgement in either direction. The entire (very small, non-central) Charter aspect of Prop 39 could be thrown out--or they could re-jigger the law in BCS's favor. Who knows.

Here again it's worth pointing out just how disingenuous the founders of BCS are. If they REALLY cared about the kids in their school, they wouldn't subject them to the constant threat to the existence of school as a whole, and just buy them a campus.

Even if you happen to believe in their cause, you have to admit the whole school was built in a warzone. Nobody who cared about KIDS (as opposed to caring about "being right") would ever do this.

The school was never about kids though, it was about revenge and spite.


Posted by Fact Checker, a resident of another community
on Dec 6, 2011 at 7:37 pm

@ hbdc

There are quite a few articles written about the ruling. Here are a few quotes:
If anyone is interested here are a few links from neutral parties to investigate:

Silicon Valley Foundation
Thoughts on Public Education:

"In a unanimous, unambiguous decision overturning a District Court ruling, a three-judge panel of the Sixth Appellate District ruled that the Los Altos School District failed to offer Bullis Charter School adequate space because it did a faulty comparison with what was available in its other schools."

Web Link

From Education Law and Student Rights:
'Last week, the California Court of Appeals for the Sixth District handed down Bullis Charter School vs. Los Altos School District (October 27, 2011). This case vindicated the rights of charter schools to facilities reasonably equivalent to other schools in the district. This is an important decision for California parents and students as it will ensure charter students are not jipped and/or do not get stuck in small, run down facilities, with inadequate space for sports, child care, and students.'
Web Link

From Fagen Friedman & Fulfrost, LLP -
Court Clarifies Proposition 39 "Reasonably Equivalent" Standard
In Bullis Charter School v. Los Altos School District, et al. (October 27, 2011, H035195), the California Court of Appeal reversed a Santa Clara County Superior Court decision and found that the Los Altos School District failed to offer and provide a charter school with facilities that were reasonably equivalent to its comparative schools, in violation of the Charter Schools Act ("Act") (Cal. Educ. Code section 47600 et seq.)
Web Link

FindLaw:
"In a case exploring the practical meaning of the reasonable equivalence mandate of Proposition 39 as it amends the Charter Schools Act, Ed. Code, section 47600 et seq., judgment is reversed where the defendant School District offer of facilities for the 2009-2010 school year did not comply with Proposition 39 or its implementing regulations."
Web Link

Here is a one more:
Web Link







Posted by haroldbarton@hotmail.com, a resident of another community
on Dec 6, 2011 at 10:32 pm

Looks like it's exactly as I said. The court clarified that the previous offer of facilities by the district was "bad"--but there's no specific standard of "good", only the usual vague rules in Prop 39. So we're right back to where we started.

Further, it's also unclear as to what, exactly, will happen WHEN (not if) BCS sues the district again after the next offering of facilities.

As a citizen, as a taxpayer, and as a parent, I sure hope the district does NOT give in to BCS demands and does NOT close local public schools because of these demands. They will be sued whether they do or not, so they might as well spare my children and others like them.

As besides, if they do threaten to shut a school down (or two), they will probably have to deal with lawsuits from parents of the threatened schools (as will BCS). I'm always amazed that the BCS people can't imagine that others won't react exactly as they did. And we have billionaires on our side, too.

It's a feast for lawyers, that's for sure.

Meanwhile, citizens need to rise up in our community to get rid of this terrible scourge known as BCS and "boutique charter schools" in general. If the district can hold off a year or two longer, the momentum of the Charter School movement will reverse in large part due to abuses like that of BCS.

When every perspective parent of BCS is fully briefed on the whole story behind BCS and how hated they are in our community, their growth will stall and reverse. If BCS is compelled to actually follow the law and emphasize less advantaged kids, their test scores will fall below that of the district and interest in the school will plummet.

All we need is a little bit of time. Hopefully the district will keep fighting and give it to us.


Posted by To confused, a resident of another community
on Dec 7, 2011 at 8:33 am

It's my understanding that LASD is required to meet the new standards as set forth by the judge. Scuttlebutt is they don't intend to.

IMO LASD is playing a really risky game. If they continue as is, @HBDC is correct... BCS will likely sue again. If the Supreme Court doesn't hear the case (the most likely scenario), then LASD will have set themselves up so that the likelihood of LASD having to pay BCS's legal costs is very great (and I can only guess, but that's a ton of $$), and what's worse... the courts will get to decide how to remedy the situation. LASD won't be able to claim they haven't had enough time to come up with a good solution.

Think about that, the courts deciding where BCS goes NOT THE LASD board. If our communities want some say in how the facilities are shared, then we should be pushing the LASD board to fix this solution now.

The reason this case is so different from other charter schools is that LASD does have the room. All of the campuses have capacity for 600+ kids (some obviously better than others), and there's LASD documentation that pretty much says this.

Those of you who weren't in the schools a few years back, don't remember, but most of our schools have had way more students--the board shrunk school sizes in order to justify opening up Gardner.

Unfortunately, history is not on the side of LASD at this point.


Posted by haroldbarton@hotmail.com, a resident of another community
on Dec 7, 2011 at 9:41 am

I get the part about the legal costs. A "lot" in this context probably isn't that much when you consider how much parents like me are willing to donate to save our local public schools.

I don't get the part about the court deciding the exact facility for LASD. I am out of my depth, certainly, when it comes to legal stuff, but I can't imagine a "court" could do something so complicated like redrawing an entire district, which is what closing one or more existing campuses would require.

If it's just a matter of paying the "BCS tax" to the lawyers to keep our schools open, I'm totally fine with that. It's absurd, but it would definitely be temporary while our outreach efforts and other legal moves could do their work.

The larger history--of what happens when you try to close the only public school in Los Altos Hills--is not on the side of BCS.


Posted by Fact Checker2, a resident of The Crossings
on Dec 7, 2011 at 10:52 am

@HBDC. If LASD does not do what the law says they must, the court steps in and does it for them.
It's as simple as that.

Paying lawyers to keep the schools open? Doesn't work that way. Unless the Supreme Court agrees to hear the case, there are no more legal avenues. Suggest that if parents like you are willing to pay a lot, that you purchase a site for BCS then.

LASD has boxed themselves into a corner. Without a reversal from the Supreme Court, there is no reason for BCS to even to contribute to a site. That option was offered years ago and LASD declined. Now the law says the district must provide it.


Posted by member, a resident of another community
on Dec 7, 2011 at 12:24 pm

It wasn't much of a contribution if I recall - $3 million for a 10 acre site on a main road with facilities already built.


Posted by Fact Checker 2, a resident of The Crossings
on Dec 7, 2011 at 1:13 pm

Actually, two offers were made. At one point, it was closer to $10 million as there was a state program that would have paid for the site to be upgraded for a charter school.

Just think what the other LASD schools would have looked like if that $10 million had been spent elsewhere.

And now... there's no reason for BCS to contribute anything at all.


Posted by Bart Carey, a resident of another community
on Dec 7, 2011 at 6:21 pm

As you mention past offers, realize that this logjam could have been broken years ago. I do recall the Bullis Foundation offering $3M to "buy" the GBS site at the time the district was re-opening the school. One big problem is that the district and LAH want a neighborhood school at that site, and BCS in its current form does not work as such. (I do not recall a $10M offer.)

The less public offer from LASD was that BCS could have had the GBS site if they changed their charter to become an independent charter of LASD. They would have retained their same administrators, teachers, curriculum, etc, with their chartering authority changed to the district. But the BCS board could not see past their animosity toward LASD, even to work out reasonable arrangements for a new school site! Anything less than 100% independence from LASD was not open for discussion.

There was an easier way than all the lawsuits, it is just that cooler heads have never prevailed. Blame can be placed on both sides. And we are now on the brink of a much more difficult resolution. Time for both boards to be flexible, but unfortunately it looks like we will hear from more lawyers and judges.

And as we see, our whole community is affected by decisions of these 2 boards. It is also time that they both be elected by constituents, rather than one self-appointed--that is hardly a formula for democratic change or community responsibility.


Posted by Skeptic, a resident of another community
on Dec 7, 2011 at 9:19 pm


Harold Barton has posted many many times here and elsewhere that he donates a lot of money to local schools. I quote one here:

"I get the part about the legal costs. A "lot" in this context probably isn't that much when you consider how much parents like me are willing to donate to save our local public schools."

But a quick look at LAEF 2010 Annual Report where all donors are listed and the range of how much, I don't see him listed. He implied many times that his children goes to Gardner Bullis, and that he has spent many dollars and years making that school great.
However, he's not in the 2010 Gardner Bullis directory either.

I'm just curious what Mr. Barton's motives are in spreading negative opinions regarding BCS, if in fact he does not even have children attending a LASD school... ???


Posted by Ed Donor, a resident of another community
on Dec 7, 2011 at 11:37 pm

Here is a link to the LAEF Donor List. HB is not listed. I couldn't find DC either.
Web Link


Posted by haroldbarton@hotmail.com, a resident of another community
on Dec 7, 2011 at 11:39 pm

I don't see "Skeptic" listed anywhere in the white pages for Los Altos or Hills. What could Mr. Skeptic's motives be? Is there a Mrs. Skeptic? Could he (or she) be a member of Al Qaeda, or even (gasp!) the PFJ?

Personally I use the Internet to learn things, and I've learned so, so much in the last month...


Posted by Harold Barton 2, a resident of another community
on Dec 8, 2011 at 12:14 am

that sounded like a public spanking! Wow, who would have thought Harold was full of hot air?


Posted by Joan J. Strong, a resident of another community
on Dec 8, 2011 at 9:17 am

Joan J. Strong is a registered user.

I don't follow that last comment.

But that said, maybe BCS supporters should focus on the facts here, not individuals. It looks like, failing to win your argument, you are simply resorting to personal attacks. If the thesis is that you are a bunch of bullies with lawyers, you sure are reinforcing that.


Posted by Fact Checker, a resident of another community
on Dec 8, 2011 at 10:31 am

Joan,
I agree with you that bullying and personnel attacks should not be part of this discussion. I believe it is important to for everyone to understand what is going on. We all have a stake in this, as parents, taxpayers and residents on this community. Here are a few sources of information:

Report on BCS Funding -
Web Link

Appellate Court Decision:
Web Link

LASD Budget for 2011 -2012
Web Link

BCS Facilities Request
Web Link



Posted by Harold Barton 2, a resident of another community
on Dec 8, 2011 at 10:37 am

For weeks now, this guy has posted all kinds of threatening rhetoric..."this is war, we will fight, BCS=Scourge, I will fund the lawsuits, etc." Now he is called out for not even donating to the school he is fighting so hard to keep. One, I might add, that I am funding both in property taxes and in additional underwriting to fill the seats with PAUSD kids for his kids to call classmates! Then I spend even more commuting and supporting my kids school that he now wants to become part of LASD?

The Appeals court isn't suggesting BCS be treated better than any other LASD kid, just treated equally. BCS parents demanding that makes us bullies? How so?


Posted by Joan J. Strong, a resident of another community
on Dec 8, 2011 at 11:13 am

Joan J. Strong is a registered user.

You don't think it's possible that people here use pseudonyms, "Harold Barton 2"? How about you, "Fact Checker"? How much do the records show YOU donated?

My point is, names are not important, are they? What is important is the content of the arguments, the facts, etc.

So with that, for now on, I'm just going to change my pseudonym once a month whether it needs it or not.

Now, per your point above, BCS absolutely IS demanding it be treated better than every student in LASD because THEY demand their kids not be torn from their school and scattered all over the district. Destroying our school communities is fine for LASD students, but not for BCS it seems.


-- Joan


Posted by Fact Check on Bart Carey, a resident of The Crossings
on Dec 8, 2011 at 12:13 pm

Never heard that LASD offered GB to BCS if they would become chartered by LASD... can't find that anywhere on the web either. What's your source?
Also, what you describe as the offer is a "dependent" charter, NOT an "independent" charter. That would mean that BCS no longer would have control over their curriculum, their teachers (who would then have to be unionized), or anything else. It would be governed by the LASD board which has made it clear they do NOT believe in choice schools.
An "independent" charter has its own governance separate from their chartering agency (but accountable to their chartering agency) and I do not believe LASD has ever offered that to BCS.
The charter is the ONLY asset that BCS has that makes BCS what it is.
It's no wonder they would turn down that offer.


Posted by Bart Carey, a resident of another community
on Dec 8, 2011 at 2:45 pm

Hi Fact Checker,
You won't find this with a web search. I have been involved in this drama for a long time, including meeting with both parties to encourage solutions, and this is what was discussed at some of those meetings.

At the time LASD was most recently re-drawing boundaries, there was logic in placing BCS at the GBS site. LASD officials were willing to move in this direction if BCS became an "independent charter" of the district. BCS officials shut down this discussion since it did not mean 100% independence from LASD, and they thought they would eventually get this site anyway. Unfortunate approach, though one which could still ultimately prove correct in regard to the ultimate goal.


Posted by Fact Checker, a resident of another community
on Dec 8, 2011 at 3:16 pm

I donated thousands of dollars to BCS last year. I paid this to make up the revenue short fall. BCS receives about $5000 less in tax revenues per student.
As a tax payer I have paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in property and parcel taxes, dollars that go to educating kids in LASD run schools. As mentioned above I also pay for PAUSD kids attending LASD schools. My children, public school students in the LASD district, receive nothing from the parcel tax or the extra dollars tax dollars that LASD receives as a basic aide district.

The District receives an extra $1,000,000+ in revenue each year, because it doesn't have to share it's revenues with BCS.
Don't believe me? Here are the facts:
Web Link


Posted by Joan J. Strong, a resident of another community
on Dec 8, 2011 at 4:09 pm

Joan J. Strong is a registered user.

I took a look. No mention of somebody named "Fact Checker" listed as a donor (are we past the pseudonyms thing yet?).

However insofar as you are a BCS parent then by definition you "donated" your tax-deductible tuition of $5000/year. No surprise there. (Nice to see that unlike normal private schools, BCS is a tax-deductible private school. Nice loophole there.)

Insofar as you can afford to live in Los Altos Hills in a house that costs 100s of thousands of dollars per year in property taxes, then your complaints about crippling property taxes are complete BS--you would have doubtless paid ten times that in income taxes, capital gains, etc. etc.

Nobody with a brain can possibly believe you and the other BCS millionaires are HONESTLY upset about the district not being fully compensated for PAUSD kids, or for that matter in normal times would ever give a flying flock about miniscule local tax and expense matters like this.

Any honest person can see that this is just about revenge and "getting" the LASD board any way you can.

That thousands of kids will be collateral damage in your little war is of no consequence (and yes, I am talking about BCS kids ALSO who are just being used as front-line soldiers on YOUR war).

So please quit talking about how "upset" you are about local financing matters. You know these don't matter to yourself or any of your millionaire friends. Talking about them just betrays another level of dishonesty.


Posted by BCS Dad, a resident of another community
on Dec 8, 2011 at 6:31 pm

Joan, welcome to the party. I see you showed up late and the reason there is so much humor over the pseudonyms is that everyone knows Harold Barton's real identity and I suspect whoever did the cross referencing also checked his real name. The curious thing is your posts are starting to have the same tenor as most of Harry's!

Why is it that my donation to the Bullis Purissima Foundation (it funds BCS) is any different than the one Harold Barton doesn't make to LAEF? Both are non-profit entities that use the funds to cover funding shortfalls in public education. Is it because we have to ask for so much (since we don't get our share of parcel taxes) that you like to call it tuition? Lets be honest. LAEF and BPF are the exact same organizations and if Harold could write a check to LAEF, he would enjoy the same tax deduction I get. Yes, BCS begs for the money because we so desperately need it and put it to good use, but I suspect, there are plenty of Harold Barton's at BCS that can't or won't pony up. Just like there are plenty of LASD folks who get shook down for LAEF.


Posted by member, a resident of another community
on Dec 8, 2011 at 7:56 pm

BCS parents don't donate $5000 because they don't get district money. They pay that money for the huge salary of their principal, the extended classes, the professional cleaning company, legal fees, etc. I'm not sure BCS could operate in the same way if it had to rely on the same amount of money the district schools get and which fluctuates every year based on state cuts.

And why does everyone assume they know who Harold Barton is? I don't. And btw, there are plenty of anonymous donors to LAEF.


Posted by Fact Checker, a resident of another community
on Dec 8, 2011 at 8:21 pm

Hi -
correction - I do not pay hundreds of thousands of dollars/year in property taxes. Who does? That's is the total amount I have paid. I live in Los Altos in a average LA house.


Posted by Fact Checker, a resident of another community
on Dec 8, 2011 at 8:31 pm

LASD and BCS spend about the same per student -- around $11,000.
Here are some links if you want to examine finances:
Web Link

Web Link


Posted by member, a resident of another community
on Dec 8, 2011 at 8:36 pm

Then why all the chatter about how BCS "does more with less"? Not on this particular string of comments but on many others?


Posted by Joan J. Strong, a resident of another community
on Dec 8, 2011 at 8:49 pm

Joan J. Strong is a registered user.

Name game:

**bangs head on wall**

Wow, you guys just don't get it. I mean, it's actually comical...

Whatever. Let's stick to the issues...
***

LASD schools are PUBLIC SCHOOLS--an idea that's been around for a couple of hundred years here in the USA. I think people know what they are. Everybody knows that public schools welcome ALL comers. LAEF is aggressive about fundraising, but NO person could possibly imagine that they were not able to attend their local public school (and do what?) if they didn't give money to LAEF.

That's just absurd and you know it. Public schools don't charge money. Everybody knows that.

Meanwhile, I attended the BCS "pitch" meeting a couple of years ago and there's no way you could walk away from that and imagine you and your child would be anything but an OUTCAST if you didn't donate the full $5k/child. No parent would ever subject their child to this, so unless you have the $5k/student to plunk down, you don't go to that school: you go instead to one of the (awesome) free public schools.

Say it with me slowly: Puuuublic schools. As in, a school open to the (non-rich) public without fear of intimidation.

No, BCS is a defacto private school just as its super-rich founders intended. Charging $5000 keeps out the "undesirables" who might threaten their precious test scores, which hang by a thread at a mere 1-2% higher than LASD. Even a small handful of less advantaged students could put the school in a death spiral.

You see, if they ever opened things up to a slightly more diverse student population, then they would tank their test scores, and then BYE BYE enrollment because NOBODY in their right mind would move their child to a school with lower test scores that ALSO costs $5000 per year and is ALSO hated by the local community.

BCS students and parents DO deserve better. They should leave BCS and go to an LASD public school. You can save your $5000/year and not feel like a pariah in your own town. Short of that, push on some of those $billionaires to clean up this mess and take the school fully private and lease their own campus somewhere. Problem solved.

Remember that NOT doing this is NOT about "money" since this is pocket change to these people. It's a matter of pride. They HAVE to "defeat" LASD (and take all of our children down with them) or they "lose".

It's never been about children or they would have done something ACTUALLY KIND AND HELPFUL for them a long time ago.


Posted by Fact Checker, a resident of another community
on Dec 8, 2011 at 8:54 pm

@ member,
I think the "more for less" might refer to tax payer dollars. Bullis receives about $6,000/ student in tax payer funding. LASD receives about $10,400/ Student in tax payer funding.

For those who are interested here is description of the BCS program:
Web Link


Posted by psych major, a resident of another community
on Dec 8, 2011 at 9:13 pm

Harold, when dining out, do you ask for a table for one or do you need banquet facilities for your aliases?


Posted by member, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 8, 2011 at 10:07 pm

Appears that Bart was not privy to all the "inside" discussions. $10million is real and was offered. It was a program that BCS qualified for where the state would pay if district schools were refurbished for charter schools. Only problem was the district had to apply along with BCS, and LASD refused. (Of course in today's economy, that program has disappeared.)
And what was described as an "independent" charter has never been offered. Only a "dependent" charter; big difference. A dependent charter would be subject to whatever the LASD board wanted, and would enable them to gut the heart of BCS if they chose to.


Posted by Bart Carey, a resident of another community
on Dec 9, 2011 at 12:02 am

Hi Member,
I didn't say I was privy to all the inside discussions, only the ones I described. And as mentioned, I don't recall any $10M offer or subsidy, maybe you have more info there--I would be interested to learn more.

But to be clear, so we can put to rest the issue of "dependent" vs "independent" charter, the idea I referred to that was shut down by BCS was becoming an "independent" charter. Neither would they have accepted becoming a "dependent" charter, if this was offered at a different time.


Posted by Joan J. Strong, a resident of another community
on Dec 9, 2011 at 8:14 pm

Joan J. Strong is a registered user.

If you want a preview of what we'll get HERE if we don't fight Boutique Charter Schools (BCS) in our area, check out:

Web Link

Nothing less than the heart and soul of our community is at stake in this epic battle against a vengeful slice of the Silicon Valley Elite...


-- Anonymous


Posted by Courtenay, a resident of another community
on Dec 9, 2011 at 9:34 pm

Great editorial MV Voice! I cannot tell you how refreshing it is to read the plain old facts and see that others logically come to the same conclusion...BCS kids have not and are not treated equally in LASD.

Just came from our amazing school play (excellent job and BIG shout out to our Drama department!) Sat next to two BCS Board members and also connected with Wanny. None of them have ever heard of or have ANY record of an offer by the LASD to assume our charter but allow us to remain independent--ever.

Also was told of more tales of woe over the meager, fractional use we have of Egan facilities. Apparently two weeks ago, the Egan pricipal got pysical with 2 of our Board members and this week the fire alarm rang for 1/4 of the time our students were alotted the gym. And, beating the same old horse, we still don't have the rest of the portables that were promised to us in last year's pathetic agreement. If anyone out there still wants to know why we are now fighting this silly stuff with lawyers, it is because the LASD can't even live up to the signed agreements we have. Not to mention the failure to count 1,000,000 square feet of campus space in their comparisions.

Let me know if anyone out there is interested in starting a recall movement. I will write the first check!


Posted by Joan J. Strong, a resident of another community
on Dec 9, 2011 at 10:10 pm

Joan J. Strong is a registered user.

Gee, that is really terrible. Nice chance to sit next to honest-to-god billionaires though. That must have been REALLY exciting!

But this is what the BCS founders have done to kids in order to get back at the board of LASD for shutting down their local public school (later re-opened as Gardner Bullis School).

These founders should clean up their own mess by buying their pawns--sorry, kids--a campus so they can live in the luxury they are used to at home.

According to BCS it's apparently not "fair" to separate any set of BCS classes from one another (viz. k-5 and 6-8), but its totally "fair" to CLOSE an existing public school and scatter kids all over the district, ripping them from their friends and teachers and siblings--if they don't happen to be an uber-privileged Boutique Charter School with massive money for expensive lawyers (but not for facilities).

If anyone wants to know why the BCS founders would rather spend their money on lawyers and suing a school district--and not actually helping kids--it is because their motives have NOTHING to do with kids. It's about revenge.


Posted by Rene, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Dec 10, 2011 at 6:52 am

This reminds me of Congress. LASD and BCS will never compromise and sink everybody in the end. Pathetic. Recall the LASD board, fire Baier, and get down to the business of finding solutions not making more problems.


Posted by member, a resident of The Crossings
on Dec 10, 2011 at 8:43 am

Joan... it's not according to BCS that it's not "fair" to split a charter school across campuses, it's according to the courts.
That was decision that came down quite awhile ago.


Posted by Joan J. Strong, a resident of another community
on Dec 10, 2011 at 9:18 am

Joan J. Strong is a registered user.

Got it. So the voters of California voted for a law that would make all California public school children second-class citizens, free to be scattered all over their districts, ripped from their friends and teachers, their education disrupted--and they voted to make Charter students a privileged elite, free to wipe out public schools at will.

This is what California voters voted for when the passed Prop 39, right? Are you really sure of that?

Before you answer, remember that Prop 39 largely had NOTHING TO DO with Charter school financing as it was generally about tax reform. The charter clause was an earmark to get a few private entities (charter school companies) into the fight. In other words, they made a deal with the devil to get their law passed. The a group of billionaires and their lawyers discovered a way to exploit this law in an absolutely perverted way--like "buying a Ferrari with Food Stamps".

Certainly the battle to get rid of the Charter clause within Prop 39 is going to be a long one as communities like Los Altos will start to fight back after seeing this destruction. We need 500,000 signatures and a few million for a CA-wide campaign. There's no doubt in my mind that when California voters see the facts, they will change this law. There's no doubt in my mind that "boutique charter" victims like us LASD parents will come up with the financing. There are, sadly, going to be a lot more debacles like ours across the state now that BCS has declared it open season on the best districts and school campuses in the state.

There are two kinds of citizens in our community: those who are outraged at what a tiny group of billionaires are doing to our public schools, and those who don't know what is going on and/or don't believe that something so awful could really happen here. Once people understand this issue, things will change.


Posted by member, a resident of another community
on Dec 10, 2011 at 2:05 pm

Why is it not reasonably equivalent to split up BCs upper grades from elementary? That's how LASD is and isn't that what the comparison is? Crazy!! It would also be crazy to give BCS a campus they are too big to fit on (even though they claim they'll happily "make do") and then let them come back to sue LASD once again.


Posted by Observer, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 10, 2011 at 4:07 pm

Joan:

Do you live on the moon? Charter schools are the best chance for improving public education. Go see the film, "Waiting for Superman".

And standardized (basic skills) test scores mean little in a place like Los Altos. Give a more challenging test and BCS students will come out ahead. That's what LASD and the teachers' union are afraid of. Charter schools are all about going above and beyond. What you're afraid to admit is that all parents would jump at a chance for a slot and a BCS in their neighborhood.


Posted by Joan J. Strong, a resident of another community
on Dec 10, 2011 at 5:41 pm

Joan J. Strong is a registered user.

Parents would (and do) jump at a chance to go to ANY of our public schools in Los Altos and Hills. In case you hadn't noticed, our houses cost about twice as much as most of the surrounding areas. The reason is our public schools. This was the case long before BCS came and terrorized our public schools.

The Charter laws, not in a MILLION YEARS had the billionaire founders of BCS in mind. BCS is a complete perversion of the charter concept--and they alone may very well end up being responsible for the downfall of charters in California. The top-ranking schools in the country do not by any objective measure need "improving".

Now, if you have another "personal" way of ranking a school besides publicly agreed-upon standardized test scores, then more power to you. Go start a private school with YOUR OWN MONEY and measure your students by that.

If you are going spend MY tax dollars (and yours, and everybody else's) then we need to do so in a democratic way. It's not always perfect, as is democracy in general--but the alternative is always much, much worse.

If BCS is not stopped, every shyster with a couple of lawyers will descend on our public school campuses here. They are worth millions to the right sort of "entrepreneurs" who want to make a quick buck by legalized plundering. Remember that Charters are open to "any student in the State of California" so visualize kids being bussed in from as far as Hayward just to occupy our formerly public-controlled campuses.

The Charter Laws here in California needs to be modified to include the following simple, fair, easy-to-understand clause:


**** "N.N. The Charter shall maintain standardized test scores of
**** at least 15% higher than that of surrounding public schools".


Just about every Charter in California would have no problem with that clause. Then again, just about every Charter in California was founded to actually educate kids, not to get revenge on a school district for closing a school (now re-opened).


Posted by Courtenay, a resident of another community
on Dec 10, 2011 at 6:13 pm

Perhaps you are familiar with the phrase Location, location, location? It is frequently used by realtors to describe the reason to buy a home. Los Altos and the Hills are a prime Location...and as a result of so much demand, prices go through the roof. With expensive homes, comes executives and their husbands or wives. With them come college degrees. Studies have shown over and over that kids of parents with degrees not only finish school in higher numbers but do better in school over all. Since the climate is so nice and since the proximity of these fine properties is so close to the heart of Silicon Valley, the location is one of the most desirable in the USA. We can go around with the chicken and egg discussion here but if all of the above were not true, the cost of living here would not be so high. That "cost" directly correlates to the degreed adults raising kids and demanding the best in education. Collectively, we all (not just the wealthy at BCS but all the wealthy in the district) pour money into our schools...Public, independent charters and even private schools alike. This money is what most districts can only dream about. And this money is exactly why the schools are all so good. Having a choice is why they are all so great.

Class dismissed.


Posted by member, a resident of another community
on Dec 10, 2011 at 8:22 pm

courtney if that were the case, Mountain View and Sunnyvale would be just as expensive as Los Altos. Schools are what makes the difference. If you look at cost per square footage, Mountain view homes that are in Los Altos School district are generally more expensive than the rest of Mountain View. Homes in Los Altos that attend Cupertino School District are less expensive than Los altos homes in the los altos school district. When we were looking at homes, the importance being in the los altos school district was emphasized by everyone we spoke to.


Posted by Fact Checker, a resident of another community
on Dec 11, 2011 at 10:21 am

I think that Courtney is correct in her assessment, demographics certainly make a difference in overall student achievement. What we need is a way to compare LASD schools to other demographically similar schools. Luckily, the State of California has done this for us.

The Similar Schools Ranking compares each school to 100 other schools with similar demographic characteristics. It includes items such as:
% English Learners (EL),
% Special Ed
% Free and Reduced Lunch
SES
parents education level
If a school scores a 10 that means it is in the top decile of it's similar schools comparison group. Here are the Rankings:

Almond 9
Covington 10
Gardner Bullis 8
Loyola 8
Oak 9
Santa Rita 9
Springer 8

Blach 9
Egan 10

BCS 10

A score of 8 means that at least 20 schools in the comparison group scored higher. Each school has it's own comparison group.

LASD Similar Schools Rank:
Web Link

MVWSD Similar Schools:
Web Link



Posted by Fact Checker, a resident of another community
on Dec 11, 2011 at 10:29 am

Here is the Similar Schools Rank for BCS:
Web Link


Posted by Joan J. Strong, a resident of another community
on Dec 12, 2011 at 7:47 am

Joan J. Strong is a registered user.

Thanks Fact Checker. This is a different way of measuring our schools. Very interesting.

Although this ranking actually eliminates the issue at hand--the fact that BCS's demographics are unfairly skewed because of its $5000/year per child tuition--the conclusion from this way of measuring is... the same conclusion we make with normal API scores. BCS has virtually the same scores as surrounding schools (they are all excellent, to the point of being perfect). It does not add significant value over public schools in this regard.

What we hear repeatedly from BCS folks is that "test scores don't matter". It makes sense that they would say that since they know that BCS does not--and CANNOT--significantly improve on our already-excellent and amazing public schools.

The only improvement BCS can make in education, therefore, will be on other factors that are NOT recognized by the State of California--not generally agreed upon by a majority of Californians. In other words subjective factors.

Personally I agree that there is "more to life than test scores" and I applaud private schools that branch out and try new things. This has no place in public schools though. Public money should not be used to pay for "experiments". That's what private money is for.



Posted by Observer, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 12, 2011 at 8:12 am

These type of test scores don't matter. AGAIN, they just measure the mastery of basic skills and don't even include all subjects. BOTH LASD and BCS seek student mastery of skills WAY BEYOND standardized testing. Those who continue to harp about test scores are missing the point. BCS parents want more than what the state deems measurable as a successful school, i.e., what an average student is SUPPOSED to know and have mastered at the end of each grade level. LASD just wants to blow its horn for having near perfect standardized test scores. Big deal. Go beyond the test scores. Anyone still wading in that line of argument doesn't recognize what's involved in a high-quality, high-achieving education. Above average parents in LASD and BCS don't (or shouldn't) be producing average students.


Posted by Joan J. Strong, a resident of another community
on Dec 13, 2011 at 1:06 pm

Joan J. Strong is a registered user.

Observer:

TOTALLY agree with you about test scores: schools can and should (and do) go way beyond that. When you're talking about how kids should be educated, then test scores are only a small part of the discussion.

However, when you're talking about how we will spend public money, you need "something" to grab hold of that's objective. You need to, objectively, tell the difference between a "good" school and a "bad" one--and everything in between. We can't run things on a "he said, she said" basis. In this regard test scores are all we've got (if we want to expand the "tests" and make them more comprehensive and so forth, I'm all for that).

Anybody can "say" they have a better way of educating kids. Waldorf schools (Google them) are a great example of a school that is VERY sure it has a "better" way of educating kids, and parents of those schools are VERY sure of that as well. If you take a look at how they teach, chances are you'll not agree (but you might). The approach there is, to say the least, very "different" and even they admit is not for everybody.

Should Waldorf be allowed to exist as a private school, with parents and donors paying for their "different" tastes? Of course.

But should we shut down existing public schools and hand them over to Waldorf for free? You want to start a riot? :-)

Democracy is just not conducive to pushing the envelope--you need the whole world to agree with you--or you have, in one form or another, riots.

I harp on BCS's test scores only to point out that our ONLY democratically-decided objective means to decide whether this school is "better" or not shows it is in a dead-heat with surrounding schools. Objectively, BCS is neither better or worse at educating kids EVERYBODY'S PERSONAL OPINION ON THE MATTER NOT WITHSTANDING.

Now the other thing you don't get to do with public money is plunder it. You need to share. In the context of a public school this means taking in all students regardless of their situation. That's what our public schools here in the USA have been doing for two centuries.

Because of BCS's exclusionary nature, they fail at this, which in turn completely invalidates their equivalent test scores. From an objective viewpoint, then, they are, "a public school that excludes certain students" and that is ALL. Everything else is just personal preference.

We should have public schools, and we should have private schools. Trying to mix the two is just a full employment policy for lawyers.



Posted by Fact Checker, a resident of another community
on Dec 13, 2011 at 2:31 pm

I would like to remind everyone, including joan, that BCS does not exclude anyone.
It is a lottery -- you apply by a certain date. There is no exclusion.

I think those opposed to charter schools like to use this "selective" myth. It's a great excuse.
It covers for the sins of teacher's union, district management, and the school board.


Posted by member, a resident of another community
on Dec 14, 2011 at 8:42 am

It's not really "just" a lottery. First, there are multiple recruiting signs throughout the old Bullis-Purissima attendance area. I have been in Los Altos, Mountain View and on El Camino and haven't seen any recruiting signs there. That doesn't mean they're not - just not that they are not as visible. Second, on the information nights Ms. Hersey has repeatedly told parents (including me) that although the $5000 is a donation, it's not fair to attend the school if you can't pay that amount because it forces other parents at the school to pay your share. Message: if you won't/can't pay, don't come. Finally, the school reserves 1/2 of the open slots in each grade for residents of the former Bullis-Purissima attendance area - for what reason I can't imagine. Anyone want to justify this??? That doesn't leave a lot of slots for the other district residents applying by lottery. So yes, BCS does exclude - it just does it a little more quietly than a private school.


Posted by member too, a resident of another community
on Dec 15, 2011 at 2:43 pm

What is the reason for the geographical preference? It doesn't really make sense to save slots for Los Altos Hills when the charter's boundaries are those of LASD.


Posted by Henrietta BARTON, a resident of another community
on Dec 15, 2011 at 6:00 pm

Where to begin. First of all, the only reason why BCS has to *ask* for $5000 is because LASD refuses to share in the parcel & property taxes that every member of the community pays. That's right. LASD takes money away from the BCS kids. Secondly, the majority would have probably gone to their local schools, had they not gotten in to BCS. So, LASD would have had to pay for their education. Aren't they (LASD) lucky that those 455 kids go to BCS & therefore they have not had to $hare in the Basic Aid funding that LASD receives? I'm not so sure I understand why LASD is complaining. They get $1M more because 455 kids go to BCS, instead of the other public schools.

Regarding facilities... this one is a doosy. The LASD board has made so many decision failures, and then blamed other people, that it's hard to understand why we keep electing these people.
Error #1: Closing Bullis Purrisima without the consideration of the local families
Error #2: Refusing the Charter to use that site (Even after BCS offered to pay $$ for it!!)
Error #3: Re-opening the same site.
Error #4: Allowing PAUSD (Palo Alto) students to go to the *new* campus, while PAUSD only transfers $6,000. Yep, that's right. Los Altos families pay $5,000 per PAUSD child who transfers. Isn't that nice of us.
Error # 5: Falsifying documentation & measurement of existing campuses to give the charter school less than they deserve (hence the lawsuits..)

Now, who's the bully???? I would say it's the extremely stubborn, *in the pocket of the Teacher's Union* LASD BOARD!


Posted by parent, a resident of another community
on Dec 15, 2011 at 7:31 pm

It's interesting to read the same argument with the exact same wording over and over again about how much BCS saves LASD in money. Bullet points from the charter board?? Stop drinking the koolaid!


Posted by Fact Checker, a resident of another community
on Dec 15, 2011 at 11:32 pm

Parent --
BCS does save the district money - here is a link:
Web Link


Posted by Sam T, a resident of Blossom Valley
on Dec 16, 2011 at 9:24 am

BCS is chartered through the Santa Clara County Board of Education (SCCBOE), not through the LASD. Hence its boundaries are of Santa Clara County. BCS may say its application process is that of a lottery, but inherently it is very selective. Its preference, in order: 1) Siblings of current students, 2) 50% of the available openings for students residing in the former Bullis-Purissima School attendance area, 3) Other LASD students, 4) Out of district siblings, 5) rest of Santa Clara County.

So, ask yourself why this large preference to LA Hills when it's a county chartered school? On top of that, why the desire for a plot of land that feeds BCS into Los Altos High? In my opinion, creating a fair admission to the rest of the county would lower BCS test scores and thus its draw of applicants. They constantly claim a better education methodology (and it may be) and better test scores. As it is now, those scores are not statistically different from the rest of the LASD. Same pool of kids and households, same talent. So, what measurable benefit to the community does BCS create? As a county charter, how is it then benefiting the county, not LA (or specifically LAH)?

As for financial support, parcel taxes within LASD go (as it should) to LASD schools. If BCS were LASD chartered it would share in those revenues, but instead it must receive its support from the SCCBOE.


Posted by BCS Parent, a resident of another community
on Dec 16, 2011 at 2:44 pm

Sam T
I see that you are arguing LASD red herring #1 -

" BCS is chartered through the Santa Clara County Board of Education (SCCBOE), not through the LASD. Hence its boundaries are of Santa Clara County."

HMMMM. You are of course, incorrect. The boundaries are as stated in the charter, the school district boundaries, that is how the law works.

I think this argument originated with and then was spread by several members of the board of trustees ( I am really looking forward to the 2012 and 2014 elections, it's time for a entirely new board). They were hoping that when the BCS charter was renewed that the attendance area would be changed, so they started this falsehood. I guess they thought that if they said something enough times it might come true and if it didn't work at least they could get ride of the old BP attendance area preference.

Why would they perpetuate this falsehood? Here are the top three reasons:
1. It detracts attention away from the real problem, providing facilities to BCS.
2. If it could magically come true, then they wouldn't have to provide facilities to BCS.
3. If they could just get rid of BP preference then they wouldn't have their very empty, costly school starring them in the face.

It's time to retire this argument and start following the law.



Posted by Sam T, a resident of Blossom Valley
on Dec 16, 2011 at 6:56 pm

Absolutely not true. BCS attendance area is even stated on their site (Web Link). They actually claim all of California can attend, not limited to LASD. SCCBOE is the chartering authority, not LASD.

Still, I would like a good argument why a Santa Clara chartered school has a very high preference toward LAH? Seems like this goes against a basic charter school principle. To what end does this serve? LAH Community building? So that and an alternative education methodology, which doesn't result in any better educated student than the rest of LASD, is what BCS is about? Unbelievable... Just start a private school. Oh wait, Pinewood.


Posted by BCS Scam, a resident of another community
on Dec 16, 2011 at 8:14 pm

The tuition... erm I mean donation is sent through the BPESF, a nonprofit booster that feeds into Bullis. Since this is a nonprofit, it means the tuition/donation is a write off on your taxes. If you go to Pinewood, you can not write the tuition off on your taxes but if you go to BCS you can. Since tuition is a write off, BCS parents are taxed at a lower effective rate, and not paying their fair share as they claim.


Posted by Harold part three, a resident of another community
on Dec 17, 2011 at 6:33 pm

"Since tuition is a write off, BCS parents are taxed at a lower effective rate, and not paying their fair share as they claim."

Really not true at all -- the small deduction you receive, does not make up for thousands in property taxes and parcel taxes.

David AKA -, Harold, David B, Joan, Scam -Time to stop -- you are not helping your cause.


Posted by Joan J. Strong, a resident of another community
on Dec 17, 2011 at 6:56 pm

Joan J. Strong is a registered user.

Highly relevant URL for this discussion:

Web Link

The Charter movement here and BCS are at the beginning of their END.

For the first time EVER, parents are rising up to stop this awful billionaire's experiment.



Posted by Don't click on the link, a resident of Blossom Valley
on Dec 17, 2011 at 10:40 pm

Please do not click on JJS's or HB's or DC's or SCAMS links -- Please do not encourage him by going to his sites. We need to have civil discussion and work for a solution that will be fair to all public school kids in the district.


Posted by Sam, a resident of Blossom Valley
on Dec 18, 2011 at 10:41 am

Yeah, better not click on this link as well: Web Link So many facts and civil communications with the chartering authority of BCS about the problems being addressed in these forums.

It's becoming clearer to many how BCS does not fit the standard definitions of a charter, and is not even living up to their own charter, while gaming the system.


Posted by Jewish gal, a resident of Monta Loma
on Dec 22, 2011 at 1:56 pm

Why does BCS (a public school- right?) have a Santa hat on their scarecrow in the most visible corner of their campus? Is BCS a Christian school?


Posted by Public School Parent, a resident of another community
on Dec 22, 2011 at 4:53 pm

Bullis Charter is a PRIVATE SCHOOL run by a PRIVATE board and owned by a PRIVATE corporation.

As such, they can do anything they want. They could put a nativity scene there too probably. Why not?

It's a bit confusing since they absorb public money and seek to pilfer public school campuses to advance themselves, but you're just looking at it wrong...
[Bullis is a public charter school. Ed.]


Posted by Public School Parent, a resident of another community
on Dec 23, 2011 at 7:07 pm

Ed: With all due respect, I do not consider ANY entity controlled by an private corporation, "public".

BCS is a "charter school", that much we agree upon. As for "public", well, that's just one opinion... They certainly don't ACT like a public school (which I think was the point of the posting I was responding to).


Posted by Jewish mom, a resident of Monta Loma
on Dec 26, 2011 at 7:24 am

Yes. I know the true public schools received letters this year reminding them not to give appearance of endorsing a particular winter holiday. BCS. With its Santa hat on a school mascot on a very visible corner of its school is clearly endorsing Christmas. Maybe ir's no big deal to some people but our schools have a number of Jewish and Hindi children. I for one was offended and question the legality of BCS' actions.


Posted by Ned, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 26, 2011 at 5:57 pm

Jewish Mom, what is so offensive about a Santa hat? Get over it.


Posted by Jewish Mom, a resident of Monta Loma
on Dec 27, 2011 at 9:09 am

What if the school only celebrated Hanukkah? Would you be offended? Would you mind if I told you to get over it? It's a supposedly public school and because it receives public funding it cannot promote one religion (Christianity/Santa) over another. BCS' blatant disregard in this respect is just another example of how it acts more like a private school than a public one. I'm happy to educate you in constitutional law if you need it.


Posted by Ned, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 27, 2011 at 10:02 am

Blatant? A Santa Hat? That's what you call celebrating Christmas? How do you handle walking around the malls? Should we no longer have a winter holiday (which BTW is centered around Christmas)? Where does your extremism end? I feel sorry for the innocent Palestinians caught up in your type of intolerance. What you tote out as constitutional law is nothing more than legalized bigotry. What's next, a lawsuit.


Posted by Jewish mom, a resident of Monta Loma
on Dec 27, 2011 at 11:47 am

I have no problem with Christmas in the malls, have no problem being wished Merry Christmas. I do have a problem with a public school endorsing Christmas. Not extreme - just want schools to follow the law. Extreme? Perhaps you should re-read your own posts.


Posted by The Grinch, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 27, 2011 at 12:09 pm

[Post removed -- off-topic]


Posted by Jewish Mom, a resident of Monta Loma
on Dec 27, 2011 at 2:01 pm

Sounds like Grinch is the right name for you. The forum is about BCS/LASD - not about the City of Mountain View - so I have kept my comments on that topic.


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