Bullis raises red flags over plan for three-way charter school split


Bullis Charter School's board of directors raised a lot of concerns Monday night over the Los Altos School District's plan to split charter school students across three school sites, further fracturing a school community that has long sought a single campus.

The plan, voted on by the district's board of trustees last week, called for Bullis Charter School's 2019-20 students to be housed in portable buildings divided between Egan Junior High School, Blach Intermediate School and Loyola Elementary School. Bullis Charter School is planning for an enrollment spurt over the next three years, and district board members concluded it was infeasible to house as many as 1,200 of its students on the junior high campuses.

School districts are required by law to provide facilities for charter school students who reside in the district under a process laid out in California's Proposition 39 law. It's been a source of contention between Los Altos School District and Bullis for years, prompting legal battles over what qualifies as "reasonably equivalent" facilities.

Echoing those past concerns, Bullis board member Andrea Eyring laid out a myriad of places where the district's facilities offer for the 2019-20 school year appears to fall short of the equity guaranteed under state law. At the Feb. 4 charter school board meeting, she said that Bullis was allocated 960 square feet per classroom, a sort of bare-bones approach without regard for the larger kindergarten and middle-school classrooms typically available at other schools.

Other deficiencies cited by the charter school include a lack of so-called STEM rooms, which are available at Los Altos School District's elementary school sites but not for the charter school, and an under-allocation of space available for special education and flexible uses, she said. The newly added Bullis site, Loyola, doesn't include facilities for a computer lab, science room or art room, nor does it include custodial space, storage space or a place to serve student meals, Eyring said.

But above all, Eyring said the district did not clearly demonstrate why the increased charter school enrollment couldn't be handled at Egan and Blach, without Loyola. She said the district has excess capacity on the school sites, claiming the combined enrollment across Egan and Blach will decline by between 157 and 199 students compared to "previous years." Adding a third site is disruptive to both district and Bullis families and requires redundant facilities.

"LASD can fully accommodate all the students at Egan and Blach," she said. "A third site is really unnecessary."

In coming up with the 199-student number, Bullis officials told the Voice they took the highest enrollment reached at Blach and Egan, which actually fell on separate years, and matched that combined amount against their own projections for junior high school enrollment for the 2019-20 school year. The actual delta between peak junior high enrollment and current enrollment is 98 students, according to state data.

Several parents at the meeting urged the charter school's leadership to find some kind of middle ground with the school district and reach a compromise on both facilities and future enrollment growth. Almond parent Jon Winny said he worries that Bullis' leadership is focused more on larger motives related to the charter school movement, rather than meeting the needs of the parents Bullis already has, some of whom are shocked and dismayed that the two parties are constantly embattled.

"Both sides are taking a willful position to bury their heads in the sand, throw bombs over the fence and wait for what comes back," he said.

Other parents laid more of the blame on Bullis, criticizing the charter school's opaque plans to expand its presence in Los Altos without an obvious place to put the extra students. Oak parent Tara Williamson said Bullis' uncontrolled growth is of "great concern" to the whole district community, and that the school district needs some kind of agreed-upon cap on enrollment in order to reliably plan for the future. Loyola parent Nina Hinrichs said the charter school needs to be more publicly transparent about its growth plans, and that the disclosure that the school would expand from 900 students to 1,200 in just a few short years -- first revealed to the district's hired demographer last year -- wasn't adequate for planning facilities.

Bullis parent Jill Jene said the numbers shouldn't have come as a total surprise, and that district leaders knew about the 1,200-student projection over the summer when considering what to do with a tenth school site in Mountain View. Jene said her worry is that the facilities provided by the school district could shortchange Bullis students, leaving them with less space to learn compared to the rest of the district. Compared to schools like Covington or Loyola, she said, there's a big equity gap for Bullis Charter School.

Linda Lukas, a manager at the Bullis campus at Blach Intermediate, said it's difficult to hear all the animosity in the district against Bullis, most of which she said is unwarranted, and that the further separation of the charter school onto three campuses is unfair.

"I believe that as a public school -- and we are a public school, that was started by public school parents -- that we are all entitled to equal facilities," she said. "That no school should be forced to fragment themselves, because that is not good for the community or the students."

Few members of Bullis' board of directors weighed in after the comments, in part because of an upcoming closed-door negotiations with the school district scheduled for Feb. 5, the day after the board meeting. Bullis board chair Joe Hurd said the mediated discussions could bring both parties to a resolution outside of the Proposition 39 process, and that the charter school's leadership may be reticent to speak in order to avoid inflaming tensions.

Talks on a facilities agreement began over a year ago as leaders from both the district and the charter school attempted to craft a successor to the five-year facilities use agreement, which spelled out enrollment growth each year and shared use of facilities at both junior high schools from 2014 to 2019. The closed-door talks reportedly went nowhere fast, later relied on a mediator and had ceased at some point during 2018.

But the latest round of talks could be a glimmer of hope. In a joint message Wednesday morning, representatives from both the district and Bullis stated that the talks Tuesday were productive and that there can be some kind of resolution, "albeit with difficult compromises on both sides." The upcoming Proposition 39 deadlines have been extended by two weeks to focus on continued negotiations, according to the statement.

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3 people like this
Posted by SRB
a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Feb 7, 2019 at 1:37 pm

@Mountain View Voice - Has the other Bullis board (MV) met yet to review MVWSD's offer? Is that other board even meeting publicly yet? (hardly any information on website).

13 people like this
Posted by Rossta
a resident of Waverly Park
on Feb 7, 2019 at 2:32 pm

Rossta is a registered user.

Separate schools for elementary, middle school and high schools is pretty standard and seems like a good idea to me. Why would a charter school be any different?

20 people like this
Posted by Why is there such demand for BCS
a resident of another community
on Feb 7, 2019 at 2:46 pm

First of all, I think that the LASD's parents' objections sound quite a bit more even than in the past - there are more calls for both LASD and BCS to work together, which is a very good sign for those of us that hope for peaceful co-existence of BCS and LASD.

Still, this criticism of "unchecked growth" is unfair. The increase in enrollment (around 200) is not just a number - it represents the desire of a very significant number of families that want "excellent" education for their children, and they feel that BCS provides what they are looking for.

Parents pay a premium for houses in Palo Alto and Los Altos, and the #1 reason is that they want a "great" education for their children. To make matters worse, the premium has gone up quite a bit in just the last several years - housing prices went up 50% or more. For these parents, they sacrifice a more comfortable lifestyle in a less expensive area to be here.

I saw in the last lottery how disappointed some parents were that they didn't get into BCS. As a current BCS parent, it would be entirely too easy for me (and perhaps selfish even) to say "yay, let's keep peace and cap enrollment". I got my choice, so capping enrollment certainly doesn't effect me.

But, instead, I think we should be aware of the changing economics of this area and recognize the young families' strong desire for an excellent education for their children and work out a compromise between BCS and LASD that recognize these young families' needs.

30 people like this
Posted by A dialogue
a resident of another community
on Feb 7, 2019 at 3:21 pm

Bullis: “Our school is great so we are going to expand!”

LASD: “Ok, we have carved out space at three of our schools to accommodate your sudden expansion. You’re welcome.”

Bullis: “No, you need to shut down one of your schools so we can have one campus for all three of our grade levels.”

LASD: “No, we are not going to shut down a high performing school to make way for your expansion. That doesn’t make any sense.”

Bullis: “We don’t need to make sense. Betsy De Vos told us to keep parroting the phrases “equivalent facilities” and “parent choice” until we get what we want.”

LASD: “I’m sorry—were you thinking aloud?”

Bullis: “Uh, yeah, I mean no. I mean... EQUIVALENT FACILITIES NOW!”

21 people like this
Posted by James Thurber
a resident of Shoreline West
on Feb 7, 2019 at 3:59 pm

James Thurber is a registered user.

Despite the FACT that Bullis spends enough money on their students to give them an outstanding education the reason charter schools EXIST doesn't "fit" the entire Bullis Charter origination concept.

Charter Schools are formed because of failing public schools. Los Altos has always had an outstanding district, with exceptional state placement. The ONLY reason Bullis Charter was formed was because of angry parents.

Perhaps it's time to settle the fuss ONE and for all and have the County pull the charter - voila - all done. Adios Bullis Charter and thank you for a job well done.

Otherwise it's "Off to court we will go, we will go, we will go. Off to court we will go . . . We'll let the judge decide."

25 people like this
Posted by SpEd parent
a resident of Slater
on Feb 7, 2019 at 4:08 pm

I love that BCS is trying to ask for more space for special ed facilities. Ha ha ha. Very funny. They make special ed families feel unwelcome, and push them into other LASD schools. They refuse special ed groups the ability to come in and speak with their parents. They are not following the inclusion practices that LASD has been working hard to include in more and more classrooms.
I wish BCS really did try to make their model work for all their students. Instead, they make the students fit the model.

8 people like this
Posted by psr
a resident of The Crossings
on Feb 7, 2019 at 6:09 pm

psr is a registered user.

@ a dialog

You were pretty accurate - except for the part where you try to blame Betsy DeVos for the slimy tactics Bullis uses.

Bullis has been attempting to exact vengeance on LASD for MANY years before this administration. I suspect our Secretary of Education would be appalled at the Bullis tactics and their damage to a high-performing school district with their frivolous lawsuits and their constant whining about how "unfair" it is that they can't steal a school from the district.

What is ACTUALLY unfair is the charter extracting money from the district while using their money to send kids to China. It have very little sympathy for their "plight" about "unequal" facilities when they are sending their students on international junkets. Why should the money flow only to Bullis? If they have money and they are a "public" school, then the rest of the district kids should benefit from the equal distribution of educational funds.

I guess Bullis is only interested in equality when it's coming their way. Some animals are more equal than others, it seems.

10 people like this
Posted by J
a resident of another community
on Feb 7, 2019 at 7:45 pm

Do they even allow special ed students? They say they do but I don’t know of a single one. Maybe a tiny little 504 that needs a ball to sit on but no real diagnoses, classrooms, aides, behavioral therapists, and more as you said. I know for a fact they wouldn’t allow my child that has an emotional disturbance IEP. Which, as you said, both goes against LASD’s inclusion and is also illegal.
So more classrooms for the 2 races they allow in + travel agents I guess!

* never applied to BCS die any of my kids. No thank you.

12 people like this
Posted by Anti-charter propaganda
a resident of another community
on Feb 7, 2019 at 8:37 pm

The anti-charter propaganda is extra ridiculous's devolved into complete and utter spam.

Anytime BCS is linked to Betsy DeVos and/or Trump, you know the lies are coming...

What worries me is who/what organization are behind these posts. There was a teachers' union strike in Los Angeles recently, and anti-charter was one of the issues - perhaps these posts are part of the anti-charter effort?

I used to really respect I'm worried. Do union teachers support these absolutely awful tactics?

Charter schools basically comply with California Charter Schools Act of 1992, and Prop 39 was passed in 2000 to provide equivalent facilities. These anti-charter folks clearly know that, but they continue to support that we violate the law.

What is their purpose? About 10% of California's k-12 students are enrolled in charter schools. Do these anti-charter activists want to get rid of the 1000+ charter schools in California?

21 people like this
Posted by @psr -- wrong
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Feb 7, 2019 at 9:09 pm

It is incorrect to say that Bullis spends district money to "send kids to China" on a junket. That is totally wrong. Yes there is an optional trip to China in 8th grade but families pay for every cent of their child's expenses, not the school. My kid saved up for two years to pay for the plane ticket.

And BTW, she said it was one of the best experiences of her life. She planted bamboo on a panda reserve and stayed in a Chinese student dorm-- far from luxurious. It I don't agree with many things about the way Bullis is handling their expansion but it's unfair to make false claims.

11 people like this
Posted by LASD and BCS working together
a resident of another community
on Feb 7, 2019 at 9:16 pm

Despite how the above article started out, there's actually good news, which is hidden at the end of the article:

"But the latest round of talks could be a glimmer of hope. In a joint message Wednesday morning, representatives from both the district and Bullis stated that the talks Tuesday were productive and that there can be some kind of resolution"

The legal obligations of the district under Prop 39 to provide equivalent facilities to BCS were discussed in detail in a 2011 appellate decision. In a precedent-setting case between BCS and LASD, the 6th Appellate Court held that LASD violated Prop 39 - it undercounted "over one million square feet" of non-teaching space, amongst many other violations. The court also said that "[t]here is certainly evidence in the record" of bad faith (i.e., intent to deceive) on the part of LASD.

If LASD finally recognizes the district's legal obligations under Prop 39 and the 2011 decision, hopefully there will be an amicable solution short as well as long term.

For those interested in reading the 6th appellate court decision (upheld by California Supreme Court in 2012 by denying LASD's request to review):

Web Link

23 people like this
Posted by taxpayer
a resident of another community
on Feb 7, 2019 at 9:44 pm

I hear a lot about LASD and BCS wanting to work together for a solution agreeable to all but it seems the LASD folks are stilling pointing the finger at BCS for the problems, namely not divulging enough in advance their expansion plans to 1200 kids. I get that they want a cap so that they can see the future but LASD has had FIVE!!! years to plan for equivalent facilities and they did nothing. Now, splitting them into 3 schools is hardly a reasonable solution when they were supposed to have had their own campus by now (and surely they could have surmised that BCS would expand when the 5 year moratorium was lifted). Some LASD parents saying they'll NOT close a school to give to BCS is nonsensical. The LASD schools are now under-enrolled while BCS is growing. Covington can easily be given to BCS in its entirety and boundaries redrawn to re-balance the other schools. Alternatively they could give Egan to BCS and move Egan to Covington. They can also move 6th grade to Blach/Egan to balance numbers. The district just doesn't want to "reasonably" accommodate BCS so they play games. I don't have any kids in school but as a taxpayer I'm tired of the shenanigans. Give BCS their school and stop squandering my tax dollars.

11 people like this
Posted by For crying out loud
a resident of another community
on Feb 7, 2019 at 9:56 pm

Oh my. What fun we are having today! For the millionth time, LASD retains the money for each district kid who attends BCS. Decent pocket change for the district for each BCS student. And no, the County will not randomly shut down a charter that is as successful as BCS. There are plenty of kids at BCS with 504s and IEPs. Shocker! While haters here are sharpening their knives for battle, there are more productive people in the community who are working together to try and solve this problem once and for all. Accusations, lies, animosity drags everyone down and does nothing toward finding a solution.

3 people like this
Posted by concerned LASD parent
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Feb 7, 2019 at 10:45 pm

@Why is there such demand for BCS

"The increase in enrollment (around 200) is not just a number - it represents the desire of a very significant number of families that want "excellent" education for their children, and they feel that BCS provides what they are looking for. "

I think part of what gets under the skin of some non-BCS parents is that we feel the LASD schools (not BCS) provide what we're looking for, and strongly prefer them to BCS. BCS may be best for some kids, but not for all. I see a ton of comments on articles like this whose underlying assumption is that BCS is universally better than other LASD schools and hence should grow to accommodate demand. Other districts have things like choice schools that have enrollment caps and lotteries, and while it may upset parents who lose the lottery that they can't get their first choice, that's just the way things are in public education. We can't all get our first choice, even if your first choice is your neighborhood school -- if it's overenrolled, your child goes elsewhere. Public schools must balance the needs of all kids, and not push some to the front of the line because their parents prefer a charter school.

1 person likes this
Posted by psr
a resident of The Crossings
on Feb 7, 2019 at 10:57 pm

psr is a registered user.

@@psr - wrong

You clearly didn't read my post. I SAID that BCS complains that they are not treated equally while taking their money and sending kids to China. That is hardly fair treatment of the district children. They (BCS) also sees nothing wrong with stealing a junior high to house their elementary program, which would automatically give their children better facilities that all district kids of that level. I'm sure you BCS people have no problem with that despite the obvious inequality - since you would benefit rather than the LASD kids.

If they are a public school, then the district kids should have the same opportunity to use the deep BCS pockets to travel the world. But I'm sure you don't understand much about how a real public school works if you have your kids at BCS.

As for who is posting here, I'm sure it's hard for BCS lovers to understand but it's the parents of district kids who are tired of BCS and their bully tactics. Unlike BCS, we don't need to hire a PR firm to handle our interactions. We just call it like we see it. I'm sorry that you find the image in the mirror being held up to you is so ugly.

And finally, if you find me "creepy" then I'm fine with that. It tells me a lot about you. Primarily, it lets me know that you can't debate with facts so you have to jump straight to character smears. I'm sad for you.

15 people like this
Posted by Politics
a resident of The Crossings
on Feb 8, 2019 at 2:11 am

At an LASD board meeting last month a parent stood up and spoke about their child on an IEP at Bullis. They expressed frustration that so many people claim BCS doesn't take kids with special needs, when in fact BCS has been completely open and supportive of their child and others. Web Link

The false rumors about BCS and special needs keep going around, no matter how many times they're debunked. That's because the rumors serve a political purpose. These rumors are political weapons used to mark the target as "other" and to stir up negative reactions.

I'm convinced that the vast majority of educators and parents are ethical truth seeking people. The problem is with the political operatives who systematically produce and distribute misinformation via trusted sources. This is the grassroots version of political attack ads and way more effective. Nasty.

4 people like this
Posted by James Thurber
a resident of Shoreline West
on Feb 8, 2019 at 5:56 am

James Thurber is a registered user.

Don't forget to ask yourself the question: "Why does Bullis Charter exist?"

The answer is stone simple: "P.O.P." (To wit: "Angry parents")

Gardner Bullis School, which was poorly planned and built, had a diminishing student body and had to be closed for renovation. That wasn't good enough for wealthy Los Altos Hills parents and, in a rush to judgement, they demanded a replacement school.

Up stepped Wanny Hersey and voila: Bullis Charter was formed. It's been a thorn in the side of LASD forever. But it's as great school. Why? Because parents contribute HUGE amounts of dinero to the charter school. Funded properly it gives students a great education.

But ultimately Bullis Charter only exists because of P.O.P. (angry parents).

3 people like this
Posted by @politics
a resident of another community
on Feb 8, 2019 at 6:39 am

I’m sure that special education parent had a child with anxiety (which is serious), but not autism, paranoia, extreme anxiety, bouts of bipolar, etc. So they claim they can handle SpEd but it’s really just adhd and minor anxiety...the rest they send back to LASD to deal with....and not affect their test scores.

9 people like this
Posted by "Neighborhood" Parents v "Competitive" Parents
a resident of another community
on Feb 8, 2019 at 9:40 am

@Concerned LASD Parent

1) You said "Public schools must balance the needs of all kids, and not push some to the front of the line because their parents prefer a charter school."

If LASD does its job to "truly" balance the needs of all kids and provide equivalent facilities for all, then BCS students does not get pushed "to the front of the line".

2) You also said "we feel the LASD schools (not BCS) provide what we're looking for, and strongly prefer them to BCS. BCS may be best for some kids, but not for all"

I really don't like to engage in debates about choice schools v neighborhood schools. All parents' choices should be respected. But, this issue comes up over and over my observation, the parents who prefer "neighborhood schools" choose it because: a) they want their kids to build lasting friendships with neighbors, and b) academics can come later.

On the other hand, some parents worry that in an increasingly competitive world, starting to "push" their children at junior high is too late - particularly because LASD starts middle school/junior high at 7th grade. For these parents, BCS may be the solution. We'll call these "competitive parents".

IMHO, in our area, there are increasingly more "competitive parents", and instead of constantly criticizing BCS for "unchecked growth", we need to recognize the need of these parents and the trend.

Also, there are over 1000+ BCS families. Any one of us can choose LASD school for our other child or Egan/Blach for middle school. I hate to say this, but for me, personally, this constant and relentless attack by LASD trustees, staff and some LASD parents have made me stop considering LASD schools as options for my children.

A "great" organization welcomes competition and tries to beat it - school districts should be no exception. The constant stream of BCS criticism creates a hostile environment for BCS students. That, combined with the continual flouting of the Charter Laws is disapppointing, to say the least.

7 people like this
Posted by Politics
a resident of The Crossings
on Feb 8, 2019 at 9:52 am

Here's a researched history of BCS with sources, starting 20 years ago: Web Link

Key quote: ‘”We love our teachers,” Farrand said. “We just hope to start a charter school if Bullis is going to close. It’s not out of animosity; we just want to do the best thing for our children. I hope the district can work with us on that.”‘

It's ancient history anyway. Pretty much everyone who was involved 20 years ago has moved on.

Public and private conversations about BCS are flooded with misinformation and rumor because of dirty politics. The anti-BCS operatives are all-in on nastiness and political organizing, so BCS has to play defense while trying to focus on educating children.

For any negative claims about BCS, and there have been many, please consider whether the "news" might be misinformation from anti-BCS operatives. Maybe there's an alternative viewpoint. Ask BCS parents about their experiences. Ask BCS directly about special needs or any other topic, or read on their website.

2 people like this
Posted by James Thurber
a resident of Shoreline West
on Feb 8, 2019 at 9:53 am

James Thurber is a registered user.

Folks, again, the only reason Bullis Charter was formed was because parents felt ripped off that their school had been closed - Gardner Bullis - because it needed to be closed. It was falling apart (absolutely awful construction) and student enrollment was shrinking. It wasn't needed at that time.

But angry parents can do all sorts of things. In this case it resulted in a Charter School being formed - for ALL the wrong reasons. Remember that the entire concept of Charter Schools was as a replacement for a FAILING school - not one that wasn't needed at that time.

If the county had enjoyed a lick of common sense (and courage) they would have told the Charter School folks to (politely) take a hike. However, lawyers were tossed into the mix and after that happened - well, you know what the result was.

Bullis Charter School, although being an excellent school, is driving LASD over the edge, mentally, physically and emotionally. If the entire LASD administration quit and simply walked out the door I wouldn't be too surprised. Hey, now there's an idea!

1 person likes this
Posted by concerned LASD parent
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Feb 8, 2019 at 9:58 am

@neighborhood vs competitive parents

"But, this issue comes up over and over my observation, the parents who prefer "neighborhood schools" choose it because: a) they want their kids to build lasting friendships with neighbors, and b) academics can come later."

Whoah . . . therein lies part of the problem in this debate. The academics at LASD schools are excellent! I'm not sure what is leading you to believe otherwise. It's a little bit insulting to be told that I don't care about academics if I prefer LASD schools. My daughter is flourishing there academically. Now, there are certainly different approaches to academics and you may prefer the approach BCS takes, but that does not mean the rest of us are not looking for schools that are strong academically.

This is what I meant when I said we need to stop assuming that BCS is the obviously superior choice. It is not. It is better for some families, but not for all.

"IMHO, in our area, there are increasingly more "competitive parents", and instead of constantly criticizing BCS for "unchecked growth", we need to recognize the need of these parents and the trend."

Sure, we can recognize the preferences of these parents as being on equal ground with the preferences of other parents, but not above them. That means that BCS should not expand if doing so puts their interests above those of other students. What this means in practice is not entirely clear, but I really dislike the attitude that so many people seem to have that if there are parents who want to choose BCS, then they come first and neighborhood schools come second. No other school gets to grow to accommodate demand. What about my neighbor whose child did not get into her neighborhood school? What about a friend whose son did not win the lottery for a choice school in another district? Why are those situations different than BCS? Why should BCS have the attitude that every child who wants a BCS education should get one, but the rest of us have to accept that schools have enrollment capacities that can't be exceeded?

"A "great" organization welcomes competition and tries to beat it - school districts should be no exception. "

I think this is wrong and highly problematic. BCS should not be trying to "beat" LASD, and LASD should not be trying to beat BCS. The schools should be trying to coexist.

6 people like this
Posted by Charter Laws
a resident of another community
on Feb 8, 2019 at 10:11 am

Sorry, it is not true that "the entire concept of Charter Schools was as a replacement for a FAILING school". Legislative intent makes clear that the purpose of charter schools is to (c) Encourage the use of different and innovative teaching methods, and (g) Provide vigorous competition within the public school system. (Section 47601 of Education Code).

As to revocation of BCS charter:

Under Education Code 47607(c), which governs revocation of charters, the circumstances under which a charter can be revoked are very limited.

"c) (1) A charter may be revoked ...if ... the charter school did any of the following:

(A) Committed a material violation of any of the conditions, standards, or procedures set forth in the charter.

(B) Failed to meet or pursue any of the pupil outcomes identified in the charter.

(C) Failed to meet generally accepted accounting principles, or engaged in fiscal mismanagement.

(D) Violated any provision of law.

(2) The authority that granted the charter shall consider increases in pupil academic achievement for all groups of pupils served by the charter school as the most important factor in determining whether to revoke a charter."

Section 47601: Web Link=

Section 47607:
Web Link.

5 people like this
Posted by "Neighborhood" Parents v "Competitive" Parents
a resident of another community
on Feb 8, 2019 at 10:23 am

@Concerned LASD Parent

I wasn't implying that academics of LASD neighborhood schools are not excellent. When I talked about "neighborhood parents", I meant neighborhood parents in general, not just those in Los Altos.

The fact of the matter is that it can be difficult for an incoming parent to discern how "good" a neighborhood school is, academics and otherwise. BCS, on the other hands, provides lots of information to parents, which is appealing to "competitive parents". And as a current BCS parent, I know it's not just the marketing - it's also the reality - we love the project-based learning, the individualized approach, the arts, music, drama, ...

You seem to really enjoy parsing of words: I guess you didn't like my use of word "beat". Ok, substitute another word there. The point is, competition amongst schools is a good thing. In fact, that's the legislative intent behind charter schools.

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Posted by concerned LASD parent
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Feb 8, 2019 at 11:05 am

@Competitive vs neighborhood parents

It's interesting (and I don't mean that at all sarcastically -- this is sincere) that you got the information you needed from the BCS presentation and not from the LASD one. I also think it's very difficult to assess schools, especially when you're trying to decide what's best for a very young child. But I came away from the BCS presentation without a good understanding of whether they would meet my daughter's needs (both known and unknown), and I thought the LASD presentation gave me much more information on that. We all evaluate schools differently, and in an excellent district such as this one, to some extent we end up splitting hairs. For most of us our kids will get a great education at either a neighborhood school or BCS, and we're looking to see which one is a somewhat better fit for whatever reason.

This is part of the reason why it's frustrating to see BCS and some BCS supporters saying that anyone who wants BCS should be able to go there and that they should expand to meet demand, even when the same is not true for non-charter schools. They can't expand indefinitely without harming LASD schools. That's simple fact. Whether or not they're at the point of harming LASD schools is a difficult question to answer. The right of parents to choose charter schools at some point encroaches on the rights of parents to choose neighborhood schools. I don't think most of us are choosing them because we prioritize friendships over academics, as you said in a previous post. We're choosing them because, to the best of our ability to assess the situation, we believe they are better fits across the board for our kids. You put parents into a "competitive" or "neighborhood" bin in your post. That's a false dichotomy. I absolutely want my daughter to be competitive as she gets older. I just see a different path to that than you do, and BCS is not on that path. I think the path towards competitiveness begins differently than you do, or at least it begins differently for my particular child than it does for yours. I hope I chose right for her. So far, so good . . . but time will tell.

I think we mostly want the same things for our kids, but we are taking different paths to get there. That's why I bristle when you say BCS and LASD should be in competition. They should not be. They should be providing different options to suit different types of kids, and one should not be trying to growing at the expense of the other.

1 person likes this
Posted by James Thurber
a resident of Shoreline West
on Feb 8, 2019 at 11:40 am

James Thurber is a registered user.

I'll say this one more time and repeat it as often as necessary. The County issued Bullis its charter only because the individual board members were afraid of being sued - which was a realistic fear. Bullis Charter walked in with a multitude of lawyers ready to tear apart the financial security of every single County Board member.

What does this remind me of - why our current President of the United States of course. "When in doubt - sue 'em till they bleed money."

Again, the County School Board is a cowardly bunch. If they had any (ANY) responsibility / self-respect / courage they'd pull Bullis Charter School's 'charter' tomorrow - this afternoon even.

Thanks for listening. Again, I won't make this argument again - unless I have to.

9 people like this
Posted by Some Thoughts
a resident of another community
on Feb 8, 2019 at 12:09 pm

@Rossta: You must be from Ross Valley. Bullis has no High School. LASD is not a unified school district. Bullis is a K-8 school, which is a different type of program than any in LASD. LASD has K-6 and 7-8. That's one reason to have a charter in the first place, to offer a K-8. Unfortunately with LASD's past plans, Bullis had K-8 at Egan and K-5 at Blach (both Junior Highs). This was a plan forced by LASD, not the charter.

@Mr. Thurber: Your history is messed up as are your facts. However, it's worth noting that California specifically allows for the creation of a Conversion Charter to continue operating any site a district should choose to close, regardless of whether the students there are low performaing or high performing.

In all this discussion, it's worth noting that it seems there are two conflicts at play with the current offer. It is more in some ways than the district has ever provided to BCS over 15 years. BCS is also getting shortchanged in new ways that diverge from the past methodology used by the LASD in previous years. So while LASD sought to take a big dig at BCS by a harmful offer, they still got a lot of complaints from parents at LASD schools especially Loyola that this was way too much for them to bear. Basically, LASD suffered from their own habit of non transparency and the sudden surprising plan they revealed at the last minute, despite knowing for over a year that BCS would expand pretty much the way they did. They were never serious in all their planning for the future, especially as regards this plan for the bizarre school designs they have displayed for the new school in Mountain View. What were they thinking? They were stuck in the past trying to use the situation from 2014 as their guiding principle for planning for 2020, but things have grown an evolved since then.

4 people like this
Posted by ResidentSince1982June
a resident of another community
on Feb 8, 2019 at 12:36 pm

ResidentSince1982June is a registered user.

Blach and Egan combined are going to decline by about 100 kids next year. Simply put, this year's 6th grade cohort at LASD is 463 kids, while this year's graduating 8th grade cohort has been 560. Just moving up a year drops the enrollment by about 100. The junior high situation will stabilize for the following 2 years and then drop 70 more, all due to grade progression.

Overall, enrollment in LASD will also slightly decline, similarly by 100 or so for several years, as there are so many fewer K-age kids coming in than was the case until 3 years ago--nothing to do with Bullis.

6 people like this
Posted by Grew Up Here
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 8, 2019 at 2:00 pm

Grew Up Here is a registered user.

It's frustrating to see even mild criticism of BCS and its tactics dismissed as anti-charter activism. I am a long-time MV resident who is deeply concerned with how BCS has come into MV. I am not an anti-charter activist; in fact, I'd consider a charter for my own family if appropriate. It is perfectly reasonable to be concerned about the actions of BCS and their impact on the community without having any larger anti-charter mission.

I base my opinions of BCS on BCS's own actions (or lack thereof). I read the entire MV petition. I listened to the BCS presentation to the MV Whisman board. I have read BCS's own website.

From that, I have gathered an impression that BCS is claiming to want to help SEL students in MV but is unwilling to put in the hard work to do so. What I see, among other issues, is an organization that has rushed the process (thus essentially guaranteeing that it won't reach the students it claims to want to support), won't put enrollment priorities in place that would help SEL families, has made very limited outreach efforts, and won't hire an outreach coordinator to reach and help SEL families in the first few years of the school. BCS could have first proposed the reasonable suggestions the school board eventually made, and could have taken solid, concrete steps to make sure that the SEL population was reached, but it did not.

It's reasonable to be concerned about an entity that's acting this way without being "anti-charter." It's reasonable to use BCS's own statements and data to evaluate BCS. What is not reasonable is to label any criticism of BCS, even if based on BCS's own actions, as somehow "anti-charter."

6 people like this
Posted by ResidentSince1982June
a resident of another community
on Feb 8, 2019 at 2:41 pm

ResidentSince1982June is a registered user.

This story is about LASD which only serves a small area of Mountain View plus 2/3 Los of Los Altos, half of Los Altos Hills and a tiny piece of Palo Alto. The Bullis school in LASD never made any focus on low income kids, since LASD has so very few of them. Neither did it discriminate against them going to Bullis, but LASD did try to discourage low income kids from applying to Bullis. The anti-charter comments on here relate to LASD, not to MVWSD.

Now MVWSD is a different story regarding low income. It has 38% disadvantaged students by state definition but the distribution is not even between schools. It's going to get even more uneven next year with the new geo boundaries set for various schools. Since the last person mentions this, it's worth noting that the Bullis petition there did have an outright enrollment preference for low income kids, district-wide. Since nearly every MVWSD school has low income kids, this seems fair. What the administration of the district tried to do is to get Bullis to restrict the low income preference to just certain schools. Already, the location provided will serve to concentrate the interest among low income kids
in certain areas. It seems to me that removing any preference for low income kids from say Bubb would not help increase low income enrollment at the new Bullis school in MVWSD. Why the district thinks it's a good idea is a real mystery, but it's not accurate to say that Bullis doesn't already have a preference for low income kids.

9 people like this
Posted by taxpayer
a resident of another community
on Feb 8, 2019 at 4:51 pm

taxpayer is a registered user.

@concerned LASD parent: you are absolutely right about the possibility of losing neighborhood schools if BCS continues to expand. That's why LASD needs to compromise with BCS to end the feud and negotiate a cap on BCS enrollment. From my perspective LASD has given BCS nothing! They've been in portables for 15 years! How could that possibly be considered equivalent facilities? If LASD weren't so anti-BCS, the BCS enrollment could have been contained years ago. First they could have given them Gardner Bullis. Perhaps BCS would have remained a tiny little neighborhood elementary school in LAH. But they wouldn't agree to that. Then when BCS got bigger giving Covington to BCS was the obvious answer but the district wouldn't hear of it. They continued with their "we'll never close a neighborhood school" mantra and BCS got even bigger. They passed the measure M bond with nefarious intentions, citing "overcrowding" and a need for an additional school despite the fact that demographics didn't support an increasing enrollment and moving 6th grade to middle would have alleviated any overcrowding in the elementary schools even after giving all of Covington to BCS. Now BCS is even bigger, enrollment district wide is declining and LASD has plenty of physical space (land) to house all kids within the district but again, instead of giving Covington to BCS and negotiating a BCS enrollment cap they came up with a ridiculous plan to house BCS on an undersized site (even without the enrollment expansion) in the middle of a shopping center in a city in which the majority of the students do not reside. Gee- why wouldn't BCS want that gift? So I guess in summary, LASD is getting exactly what they've been asking for for the last 15 years. With their stubborn unwillingness to accept that BCS is here to stay and is a preference for a growing number of families they've shot themselves in the foot and are still crying "foul" on BCS. If you LASD families want to preserve your neighborhood schools you should be encouraging the board to put on their big boy pants and give up Covington in exchange for a cap. Covington was built as a middle school, not a neighborhood elementary school, so all Covington families have another neighborhood school. Just do it. This endless squabble is leaving me (as well as other taxpayers I'm sure) with an anti-school district sentiment and as a result I will never vote for another school bond or parcel tax until the LASD BoT start behaving more responsibly with my tax dollars in mind.

2 people like this
Posted by James Thurber
a resident of Shoreline West
on Feb 8, 2019 at 4:57 pm

James Thurber is a registered user.


My history is spot on. I'm a retired Los Altos School Teacher and watched as BCS rode roughshod over LASD. The only reason they succeeded was because of a plethora of lawyers who were as threatening to LASD and the County Office of Education as Trump's Tweets.

I'm not for closing the Charter School (bet'cha could never had guessed that, eh?) but if you could get RID of all the lawyers Jeff and Wanny might actually get something worked out.

Threats are never a good way to get anything accomplished. Having a bunch of folks worried about their own financial-well-being / survival working at the Santa Clara Office of Education didn't help matters much either.

And having the voters "toss" $150 million onto LASD's lap honestly didn't help matters either.

Thanks for listening.

11 people like this
Posted by taxpayer
a resident of another community
on Feb 8, 2019 at 5:03 pm

taxpayer is a registered user.

Also, you parents that are complaining that even within LASD there aren't reasonably equivalent facilities (not equal multipurpose rooms or whatever), encouraging your BoT to scrap their San Antonio plans will leave a lot more money for the district kids to upgrade their existing facilities. It's a win-win for everybody. And even though the Covington families might feel that they are the losers, most of them live as close or closer to another excellent elementary school which would shortly feel just as much "at home" as Covington currently does. Moving down the street to another good school is really not that big of a deal (or at least it shouldn't be).

1 person likes this
Posted by ResidentSince1892
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 8, 2019 at 6:33 pm

ResidentSince1892 is a registered user.

here's the best summary of the problem I've ever read

Web Link

you'll never prevent charter conflicts until you revise charter laws so they focus exclusively on serving underserved students

5 people like this
Posted by Politics
a resident of The Crossings
on Feb 8, 2019 at 9:13 pm

Politics is a registered user.

@Grew Up Here
Maybe I didn't make the point effectively. I'm not saying that every negative claim against BCS amounts to anti-charter activism. I am saying that there are motivated anti-charter activists around here who have been working hard to spread misinformation and to prime the community toward uncharitable interpretations of BCS's actions. They've been effective enough that the "common knowledge" about BCS largely results from their work, amplified through the local political machinery.

Plenty of us, without malice, repeat misinformation believing it to be true. The problem is with the few people who do have malice (or at least motivation minus a moral compass).

Instead of factions trying to "win" or "not lose" I'd rather the more reasonable among us come up with a workable solution to coexist so we can focus on educating children.

8 people like this
Posted by ResidentSince1982June
a resident of another community
on Feb 9, 2019 at 2:31 pm

ResidentSince1982June is a registered user.

LASD has been very arrogant over the years. They are really full of themselves and think they deserve credit for being an outstanding program. But in all their planning they always favor one set of residents over others. They call them neighborhood schools but 1/2 of the kids don't live near enough to merit that terms. Their attendance areas are huge.

They originally wanted to close and rent out Loyola when they remodeled Covington. Where's the respect for the neighbors of Loyola, even if it is only half of the attendees making up the enrollment? Then under political pressure, they switched their target to Gardner Bullis. They eventually closed that site and rented it out for income, though to different tenants. Where was the respect for the neighbors of Gardner Bullis, if having a neighborhood school is paramount? Then consider Covington. That was Junior High School next to a Catholic elementary school. The people living there sent their kids to various different schools depending on address. They did give the neighbors there something they had not ever had, a neighborhood elementary school. But how do you justify taking it away from other areas? What made Covington so special?

LASD makes the perfect be the enemy of the good. The Covington buildings are all permanent except for minor exceptions. The serve some district-wide programs there like preschool special education. They use it as a showcase where their administrative offices are all in a green garden setting near to the one school with the most expensive facilities in the district (more outdoor space, fancier classrooms).

LASD is currently dependent on the funding relief created by outsourcing education of 1000 students to the Charter school. Even Vladimir Ivanovic admitted to the Loyola parents that the charter is funded about 1/3 less per student than the LASD schools. He's wrong. It's really closer to 1/2 less that LASD spends by subcontracting to Bullis for the education of the charter students. LASD knows full well that it would create major financial strain if the charter were to cease operations. Yet people like that last web link blog post are oblivious.

As for legal threats to the SCC BOE, I don't believe it. Had they turned down the charter, it would have simply gone to the state BOE, and been approved there. Why would they need to take the SCC BOE to court? They have to exhaust all administrative remedies before doing that. It's a basic legal tenant for suing government entities. Also keep in mind that experts judged the BCS proposed program to meet all the requirements for creating a charter school. At the time LASD had just closed a neighborhood school. State law specifically allows for parents of students in such a situation to create a proposal to open a replacement charter school and keep that school open. LASD's superintendent at the time recommended that action to these parents. BCS was born. It had nothing to do with legal threats.

38 people like this
Posted by ResidentSince1982June
a resident of another community
on Feb 9, 2019 at 2:38 pm

ResidentSince1982June is a registered user.

All the legal issues have revolved around providing facilities, which is a secondary matter. LASD indeed is poised to waste the $150 Million bond, but no one has sued. LASD has a history of lawsuits. There was a lawsuit back when Covington Junior High was closed and the enrollment at Egan and Blach was increased, particularly from the neighbors of Egan at the time. I don't know the specific conditions, but I can bet that it was more the WAY LASD handled that changed that caused the lawsuit than it was the substance. Probably they made this plan in secret without sufficient public airing of the needs being addressed.

This was certainly the case this last time. LASD was so concerned with messing up BCS by making a 3 way split that they forgot about the potential for disruption at Loyola. They sprung this on them with Zero notice. This is not the way to operate a public agency. As a result they got a huge amount of blow back about the decision from LASD parents, especially those at Springer and Loyola. It was that rather than threat of legal remedies for BCS that causes them to want to discuss a longer term solution.

LASD arguably had a year to debate the Loyola plan. Certainly they had since November 1. We are asked to believe they didn't think of until January 25. Hah.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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