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Bullis Accepts Split Campuses For Short-Term

BCS Board Chair Ken Moore proposes baseline facilities the school needs to operate on two campuses, and calls on a working group of both boards to meet publicly to hammer out a workable solution.

 

Seeking a game-changer, Bullis Charter School (BCS) announced it was accepting a split campus arrangement for the short-term, if facilities were sufficient to run both sites separately from one other.

“We are going to seek a balanced Egan-Blach split for BCS if Covington cannot be made to work,” Bullis Charter School Board Chairman Ken Moore said Wednesday. He was referring to the Los Altos School District's expected offer to split Bullis Charter School onto the Egan Jr. High and Blach Intermediate School campuses in a yet-to-be determined configuration. Covington School was BCS’ first choice.

He made his announcement during a BCS-hosted luncheon panel discussion aimed at influential community members. It featured Jed Wallace, the president of the California Charter School Association and David Patterson, a member of the Placer County Board of Education who has founded charter schools that shared campuses with school districts, and offered up encouragement that it was possible.

Parents and other community members responded hopefully. "I thought it was a reasonable proposal and I hope LASD will have a reasonable response," said which granted the charter to BCS. Millie Gee, a parent who had attended the luncheon commented on the Los Altos Town Crier's report Wednesday, "I applaud the BCS board for making lemonade out of lemons. I urge the two boards to work in a true spirit of cooperation to make this short term solution workable until a longer term solution can be found."

The proposal comes with disadvantages and costs for both Bullis, which would have to hire duplicative staff and deal with operational challenges, and the Los Altos School District, which provides the facilities.

It has a lot of advantages, however, Moore said:

“It doesn’t require a single LASD student to change schools, which is the Number One mantra. It doesn’t require district to close any district program on any site. It doesn’t require immediate spending of funds to acquire land. It allows time to see if the district’s prediction of large increase in enrollment occurs. Doesn’t disrupt the city project at Hillview. It doesn’t require a land swap with the City of Los Altos.”

Moore proposed a working team from each side, to meet “intensively and transparently to design a mutually agreeable solution at both Egan and Blach.”

On that matter, BCS has some initial ideas in its own proposal, particularly for Blach:

  • Add enough portables to run “a real school” on the Blach campus, capable of housing a teachers lounge, teachers work area, office area and food service area, enough bathrooms
  • Add a parking lot in an area that is sloping lawn
  • Move the Stepping Stones preschool further west on the campus
  • Add a playground structure

If it sounded like a lot, Moore pulled out a Google Maps satellite view of Blach School in Jan. 2004 when it operated as a camp school while renovations were being done to other campuses.  “It can be done, and it already has been done.”

Without attaining critical mass of students and separately-functioning campuses, BCS could end up much like it did this year, giving up its library and dense-packing its school because shuttling staff and students back and forth between the two campuses wasn’t workable. 

If the two boards’ teams can meet in a parallel to the Prop. 39 process, hopefully it can rise above the adversarial Prop. 39 process, Moore said.

“We request that LASD seize upon the opportunity to make this short term solution workable, and engage with BCS on a permanent in-district solution, so this community can put this issue to rest. “

Moore said his next step is to send the LASD board its proposal in a letter.

LASD Board President Doug Smith, who was not there and had only read a short report in the Los Altos Town Crier, was cautious. “We're going to have to sit down and figure it all out,” he said. “We have to evaluate with respect to our kids.”

L.A. Chung January 24, 2013 at 05:28 PM
@Fed Up Resident: Thanks for pointing out I missed the captions for the panel. I'll get those on there.
Joan J. Strong January 24, 2013 at 05:40 PM
AP -- BCS is not a "neighborhood school" and they don't want to be. This is not a criticism of BCS--and I'm sure the BCS board would agree with me here. Charter schools are district-wide choice schools. Anybody can apply to BCS and does, and thus they get applications from all over our District, and thus they get enrollment from all over our district. BCS, like any charter school or any "special" or "choice" school run by LASD, is by definition a commuter school, not a neighborhood school. I agree we should float a bond and replace temporary structures with permanent buildings for our ALL of our schools. More facilities will allow us more flexibility to handle BCS or whatever else comes along.
94040 resident January 24, 2013 at 07:03 PM
Almond Parent and Fed Up Resident. Significant Parts of the 94040 zip code of Mountain View are part of the LASD district. The Monroe neighborhood of Palo Alto is also part of the LASD district. There are people in both these areas (lots in the case of 94040) who go to BCS and lots who are in the LASD district. So what exactly are you fed up with about the 94040 students, Fed Up Resident? And what is it that we are naive about 94040 students?
AlmondParent January 25, 2013 at 06:56 AM
Apologies for the oversight of MtnView residents. I just meant to imply that we could draw a line halfway thru the Disrict and easily feed those residents (north, south, east, west - whatever) and allow BCS to have 2 equivalent campuses. I am willing to trade-off more space to BCS and the ability for their school to keep growing in order to have peace in the community and not displace any LASD students. Before going down a path of unrelated quibbling, I want to reiterate that this proposal sounds like a solid compromise on both ends.
Fed Up Resident January 25, 2013 at 05:11 PM
94040 resident, you seem a bit sensitive, I was actually pointing out that these are LASD students, the Fed Up part is the lawsuits and entitlement mentality of those who run the Lawsuit School. The arrogance to insist on closing a neighborhood school to suit their needs and agenda , to grow to a point that 2 campuses are needed when the original idea was to remain small. What most LASD parents are not aware of there are a significant amount of out of district students attending the Lawsuit School who do reside in 94040, with the obvious implications and impact.

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