News

LASD, Bullis exchange openly hostile open letters

LASD, Bullis criticize each other in latest public communications

A little more than a month after officials from the Los Altos School District publicized their proposal to partner with Bullis Charter School on a bond measure to build two new schools -- one for LASD and one for BCS -- the district has issued another open letter demanding that the charter shape up or else.

According to the letter, dated Nov. 4 and signed by district board of trustees president Doug Smith, the charter school has repeatedly violated the terms of its agreement with the district. In the letter, BCS is warned that it must get back on track within 45 days and make up for past violations. In the meantime, the district will consider "whether BCS's violations should disqualify it from receiving any offer of facilities for the 2014-15 school year."

In a response addressed directly to "Doug," Ken Moore, chair of the BCS board of directors, called the district's letter "yet another attempt to in a decade-long campaign to deny parents the right to choose the best local public school option for their children."

Throughout the letter, Moore wrote: "The district has not only refused to support Bullis, it has done everything it can to destroy Bullis. ... When will it end?"

Litany of offenses

The LASD open letter lists a litany of alleged Bullis offenses. According to the document, BCS regularly exceeds student capacity limits at both the Egan and Blach campuses. The charter is also accused of allowing children into rooms and facilities that they should be restricted from accessing due to their age; and, the district claims that Bullis officials have allowed children to play on shared athletic fields when they were not scheduled to do so -- causing a conflict with physical education classes at Blach.

In his letter to LASD, Moore called the district's restrictions on the charter school "arbitrary," writing that he views them as little more than a tool to "frustrate Bullis' programs."

"The only persons that LASD restricts from setting foot on the Blach or Egan sites are the charter public school students," he continued.

As for the capacity limits on the number of Bullis students allowed on either campus, Moore said they "have no legal or factual support whatsoever."

Denied space?

Attached to the letter, in a document entitled "Exhibit A," the charter alleges that BCS is only allowed to use a fraction of the space at the Blach portion of its campus. It also purports that Bullis is denied open space, such as the soccer field, blacktop, the tennis courts and the track, even though those spaces are unused close to half of the day, or more, in the case of the tennis courts.

While Bullis children on the Egan portion of the campus have a jungle gym they may play on, BCS has been unable to build a play structure for its students at Blach. According to Jay Reed, a spokesman for Bullis, Blach kids are not allowed to play on the field at Blach, but must stay on the blacktop next to the grass.

In short, Moore's letter accuses LASD officials of forcing the charter school into an agreement, knowing full well that they would have to violate the agreement in order to run their programs.

"Your letter only confirms what we have sensed since before our school opened its doors -- the district will not stop attacking Bullis until Bullis surrenders and closes its doors," Moore wrote. "That is not going to happen."

Smith defended the rules outlined in the Facilities Use Agreement, which Bullis signed before being allowed to use district facilities this year.

"If they (Bullis) are going to use the facilities, they should use them with the rules that govern that use," Smith said, denying that LASD officials created rules knowing they would be difficult or impossible for BCS to follow. "We thought about it a lot to make sure that we were giving them a reasonable program."

In fact, Smith said, the charter had the rules in advance of the school year, and had a chance to design a program that would work within the district's guidelines. "They still choose to operate their program in defiance of the rules."

When it comes to rules saying that Bullis may only have a certain number of children on one campus or another, or that primary grades belong at Egan while only middle school-aged kids are allowed at Blach, Smith said there is plenty of research and safety protocols that say those restrictions are sound.

Because Blach is supposed to be the middle school campus for Bullis, the rules say children in fifth grade and below are not allowed on that campus. However, Smith said, Bullis regularly allows primary school kids on the Blach grounds.

This rule also explains why there is no playground on the Blach campus, Smith said, as middle schoolers do not traditionally have play structures on their campuses.

Bad for bond

Smith said the district's most recent open letter "probably is not good for the bond," referring to the proposed joint school bond to build two new schools. But, he added, "The district cannot just turn a blind eye to what is happening."

According to Smith, the best way for the two educational organizations to get back on better terms begins with Bullis "following the rules."

"Although we believe that the accusations in your letter are baseless," Moore wrote, "and although the unlawful restrictions that you are imposing are intended only to harm children -- not help them -- we are going to find ways to live within the restrictions in the (Facilities Use Agreement) within the time frame demanded."

Moore then struck a defiant tone, vowing that the charter will continue to grow and "continue to be a model of education in the nation."

"When the dust settles," Moore concluded, "Bullis shall remain standing -- with or without your consent."

Comments

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Posted by Citizen
a resident of another community
on Nov 18, 2013 at 12:02 pm

LASD's letter was lacking in facts to support their accusations. One 'violation' was that a class was singing in one of the rooms. The charter school only has a dozen rooms on the site and some of them are not of much use. Apparently they tried using one of the rooms for a music class a single day and this is the incident that Doug refers to in his letter. In the case of the athletic field incident, this was not an issue with PE activities but rather simple recess. The districts offer says the two schools will mix all the kids together for their mutual recesses and lunches on the blacktop space (about an acre of it) at Blach, but that this is not allowed unless the charter school keeps the identical schedule as Blach, which changes depending on the day of the week. The offer says the charter school will be permitted on a small area of the athletic field if the schedules are not 'synchronous'. This is where they were when a Blach PE class decided to use that area of the field contrary to the predetermined schedule one Monday. Since that day, none of the charter school kids has been permitted on the Blach school fields for recess or lunch. Not even grass--the issue is nothing to do with play structures. They are confined to the ramps and sidewalks immediately outside their classrooms.

The district uses comparison calculations in its offer which takes the credit for sharing approximately 80% of the Blach buildings and grounds with the charter school using them 25% of the time. In reality their offer does not come anywhere near this standard so there is a lot of confusion that results from this half-way thought out plan.

Over at Egan the charter is supposed to put no more than 443 kids at a time, and they are supposed to put their grades K-5 entirely there all the time. They had asked for space for 469 students in this grade but the district flat out cut them back to much less. In reality they have 477 kids in grades K-5. So what does the district do? It refuses to adjust its limits and it then accuses them of violating the offer which has an illegal failure to provide embedded in it. The district is using fool's logic in its reasoning.


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Posted by Lets Roll
a resident of another community
on Nov 18, 2013 at 2:38 pm

Serious question: What steps are needed to revoke a charter?


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Posted by Rob Fagen
a resident of another community
on Nov 18, 2013 at 2:49 pm

@Lets Roll*,

That's an interesting approach to the problem. Should there be a parallel effort starting with the question "What steps are needed to recall a Trustee from a schoolboard?"

I don't think either of those starting points are productive. We have a disagreement over fair allocations of a scarce resources. I've started a blog (Web Link) to try and move the discussion towards the center, away from polarized conflict.

Join me, will you?


*actually should probably be "Let's Roll", unless your nickname indicates permissiveness regarding rolling, or maybe the comment system doesn't allow apostrophes in nicknames


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Posted by Member
a resident of another community
on Nov 18, 2013 at 3:14 pm

Interesting that Smith admits his letter would not help the bond measure LASD "claims" they want.
From Day 1, LASD has failed to meet the requirements of the facilities use agreement they seek to force on BCS (insisting BCS sign it while BCS was locked out of their facilities).
LASD is more interested in politics than educating even their own children.
Why would a District need more facilities (bond money) when the facilities at Blach remain unused by ANY children during the school day for 30% of the time (for the gym), 76% of the time (for the MPR), etc. See exhibit A and B to BCS's letter!


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Posted by Lets Roll
a resident of another community
on Nov 18, 2013 at 4:06 pm

Rob Fagan, The first two words of my post were "Serious question" and then I asked a question. I did in no way propose "an approach" to anything. I asked a simple and honest question. Please use equal (or more) attention to actually comprehending my posts as you put into trying to proofread my name.
Much appreciated.


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Posted by Students!
a resident of another community
on Nov 18, 2013 at 4:26 pm

Is anyone actually thinking about what is best for the students?!

Sure, LASD thinks their schools are best, and Bullis thinks their schools are best, but it really does not matter which school....give them the best place they can have and teach them and let them play at recess.

Do not treat them like pawns. They are probably acting like the most mature ones out of all.


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Posted by Ron
a resident of Waverly Park
on Nov 18, 2013 at 4:32 pm

Oh Please @Lets Roll, stop with the BS. "I was just asking a question" is s stupid defense. OF COURSE it implies your position and approach. Jeez, you sound just like the LASD board. Makes me wonder...

Rob Fagan is 100% correct. It would be best to move from polarized conflict, and you disagree with him? This is exactly why this is never settled.


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Posted by MV aunt
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 18, 2013 at 4:35 pm

How many excuses and justifications can Ken Moore come up with to justify BCS doing what it wants, when it wants? The restrictions on number of students per site is set by a LEGAL process, which has nothing to do with BCS. Moore deliberately misleads by saying BCS has no legal restrictions. BUT, BCS knows that LASD IS legally responsible for not going over the legal amount of kids at a site. It is a safety issue, and an independent organization assessed the campuses and then put into place those restrictions. So BCS storms along with their agenda, and doesn't care about the legal, practical, and emotional impact on others. Don't like the legally binding facilities use requirement? Sign it at the last minute with great fanfare, and them promptly violate multiple parts of it. Break the facilities agreement by putting elementary school kids on a middle school campus, then cry victim that the kids don't have a playground? Send out a PR blitz about compromise, about not wanting to close an existing school...and promptly demand the Covington campus lock, stock and barrel. In other words, evict 500 kids from their campus, and expect every evicted student to be assigned to all the other open elementary schools, breaking up the entire school physically and emotionally. But when LASD offers BCS an elementary school and a middle school campus, EQUAL TO WHAT EVERY OTHER LASD STUDENT HAS, BCS decided that equal isn't so good after all. The truly funny thing is any of us COULD try get an LASD board trustee recalled, because they are elected officials. And any natural consequences for the BCS board? Nope, they appointed themselves and have no accountability. Loved the big BCS Town Crier ad trumpeting "compromise" and accepting two campuses for the short term, and then promptly filing a lawsuit refusing to site on two campuses. Also love the "we don't want to close a school" message, closely followed by a flat out demand for LASD to close Covington and hand it over to BCS next year. BCS follows the rules and law when it works in their favor, and then does whatever they want when it doesn't.


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Posted by Ron
a resident of Waverly Park
on Nov 18, 2013 at 4:36 pm

@Students! EXACTLY! No one seems to care about the students affected by all of this. All this gaming about which kids can play on empty field or sing in which rooms is horrific to behold.


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Posted by Rob Fagen
a resident of another community
on Nov 18, 2013 at 4:52 pm

Rob Fagen is a registered user.

Dear @Let's Roll,

You make a legitimate point. I apologize.

I googled this for you: Web Link . It refers to California Education Code sections 47604.32, 47605, 47605.6, and 47607 as well as California Code of Regulations, Title 5 (5 CCR), sections 11962 and 11962.1 . I suspect the core activity is providing evidence to the chartering authority (Santa Clara County BOE) at the next charter renewal review (which I think is 2016).

Dear @MV aunt,

My understanding of CEQA and the campus limits are that the limits are 100% imposed by the LASD BoT. CEQA is a mechanism for neighbors to complain about adverse impact. The District uses CEQA criteria to evaluate whether there is likely to be an impact and then determine any way to lessen the effects. Also note that BCS is required by the facility request process to specify a facility that would best accommodate the expected number of students.


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Posted by School Site Capacity
a resident of another community
on Nov 18, 2013 at 5:49 pm

LASD board members are smoking something if they think the capacity of Egan and Blach each are anything less than 1000. What is lacking is their analysis of the traffic impacts at the site. What you need to do is to alter the traffic to accommodate the student loading, not limit the students at the site. That's a kind of a rich man's approach, e.g. car needs gas, let's buy a new car! What LASD has done is to fail to do the proper analysis reflecting the reasonably anticipated loading of the sites. Over the years, as Los Altos has become wealthier and wealthier as the home prices have risen to exclude middle class families from locating there, the traffic pattern at Egan has changed. The same number of students for the Jr High (500) now generates a lot more car trips per day, as there is less carpooling (how bourgeois) and foot/bicycle arrival. That's a 20 acre site alongside of a major roadway (San Antonio Road) and there's no way that it is overloading it to have less than 1000 students. With the mitigations Bullis has taken (carpooling, 3 different start/finish times, directing traffic in the inadequate drop off area, etc.) the problem is clearly coming from the 7th and 8th grade students going to Egan.


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Posted by Johann Bach
a resident of another community
on Nov 18, 2013 at 5:57 pm

@MV Aunt. You are wrong that the school capacity is set by a legal process. It's entirely coming from the board members. For example, this year they said Blach could handle 129 Bullis students. Next year they're going to suddenly say Blach can handle 180 or 200. It's up to them. They have not got a leg to stand on in saying their hands are tied. The Bullis people have the matter in court, specifically regarding LASD's poor compliance with CEQA planning as they have grown. LASD skipped the negative declarations for years, and then suddenly did one for this year for the first time in years. Ooops, LASD's bad.


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Posted by Dave Roode
a resident of another community
on Nov 18, 2013 at 8:05 pm

Rob Fagen,
You are factually incorrect, or at the least misleading, when you state "BCS is required by the facility request process to specify a facility that would best accommodate the expected number of students". Title 5 CCR 11969.9(c)(E) states the charter facility request will consist of "information regarding the district school site and/or general geographic area in which the charter school wishes to locate".

AND/OR.

As in they knew they did not have to request a specific school such as Covington. Instead they could have requested to be within the LASD geographic boundary. Doing this at a time when both sides are supposed to be negotiating for the long term and having parents say "oh we had to request a site, but we really don't want to close your school" is disingenuous.


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Posted by Funniest Part of the LASD Board Meeting
a resident of Gemello
on Nov 18, 2013 at 8:49 pm

Everyone should watch the public comments from the LASD Board meeting on the 11/12/13. They start around 53:00 minutes. My favorite part is when an LASD parent urges the BOT's to simply clarify why k -3 can't be at Blach, "please, please explain" and why all of BCS can't be at Egan - again "If you just articulated, I sure the community would understand" So, so funny. Here is the poor women who has believed everything the LASD BoT's had feed her, until it just gets to weird not to question. She just doesn't get why they just don't explain how they came up with the terms that they did. Of course, there is no way to explain, because there is no logical explanation, except for the one in Mr. Moore's letter. It makes since if LASD is out to end BCS. It doesn't in any other context, it's just that simple. I will however let the loyal LASD bobble heads give it a go…. Love to hear your answer to the following:

Why is it that preschool students from Stepping Stones are allowed to use the fields at Blach but BCS students can't?
Why is it that preschool students are allowed on the Blach campus but BCS students are not.
Why is it that fields are empty, the MPR is empty but BCS seventh and eighth graders have to have PE in the hallway between the buildings?
Why is that LASD predicted - based on loads of evidence to the country- that BCS k-5 would have 25 less in district that it does, and when given the facts didn't adjust totals?
Why is it that LASD made a completely different grade configuration for BCS, trying to manage the way BCS teaches, by forcing a k-5, 6 -8 split?
Why is it that every year LASD offers facilities but then takes them away?
Why is it that students who should be at Blach are given transfers to Egan, if Egan is so crowded?
Why is it that LASD lets community members use the Blach and Egan tracks through out the school day but doesn't grant the same access to BCS?
Why does Egan and Blach get to use the City owned gyms after school, but not BCS? BCS should have access to these gyms for it's own sports teams?
Good luck!


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Posted by Tom Fenstermacher
a resident of another community
on Nov 18, 2013 at 10:57 pm

As I always say, Dave Roode is wrong. There is only one single site that LASD owns which is large enough for Bullis Charter School, so the defacto must identifiy it in their request. The charter laws do not permit a charter school to request that a district create them a site ought of whole cloth as it were. Not to mention Covington Elementary would be strange. It's a school which matches the grade level configuration (K-8) most closely of the district sites and it happens to be large enough such that it affords its occupants the share of district resources which the rules say must go to Bullis. I don't see what you people are making such a big deal about. Why don't you say what I always say that BCS should just self site. Someday I'll find a site and let you know where they could go.


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Posted by LASD Observer
a resident of another community
on Nov 19, 2013 at 12:47 am

@Johann: There's another way. There's a rumor LASD is going to deny any Blach students' request to transfer to Egan next year. This will cut back the Egan LASD population by 50 to 100 students. That will free up room at Egan for the expansion of BCS in grades K-5, which LASD says must be at the Egan Jr. High site. This will still result in more students at Blach but they'll be LASD students instead of BCS students. The only advantage I can see to this is that those students are more likely to walk to Blach then they are to walk to Egan, but don't hold your breath on that.


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Posted by @ funniest
a resident of another community
on Nov 19, 2013 at 12:46 pm

I went back and watched the tape, that was really funny. I am not at all surprised that you haven't gotten any reply from the LASD Bobble Heads. They are similar to the LASD BoT's who won't release this year's enrollment numbers. ( Most likely because the enrollment is way down at Gardner Bullis) Anyway so far you have:

CRICKETS.

CHIRP CHIRP CHRIP


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Posted by Which system cost tax payers the most?
a resident of Monta Loma
on Nov 20, 2013 at 2:30 pm

Which system cost taxpayers the most? Then lets move to abolish that one.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by BullisIsABully
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 20, 2013 at 2:39 pm

"Which system cost taxpayers the most? Then lets move to abolish that one. "

Great idea. That would be Bullis, since they also receive private funding through their non-profit foundation. Every donation there is tax deductible which reduces tax revenue to the district, city, county, state and government. A good portion of that funding is not spent on education, but on legal and PR campaigns to force LASD to spend a ton of money to fight off their frivolous lawsuits.

LASD is a high performing school district by any standard and it's ridiculous that a few wealthy families are abusing the charter school concept for absolutely no beneficial reason to the students.

It was asked before...how can we revoke Bullis' charter?


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Posted by Ron Haley
a resident of another community
on Nov 20, 2013 at 8:21 pm

Bullis has wasted a lot of money fighting legal battles in the name of the larger charter movement. I'm in favor of anything that ends the hostilities and wasted lawsuits and putting that effort into education. LASD population is growing and Bullis isn't going anywhere. My kid had an excellent education at BCS before going Egan. I would gladly donate to a bond that will build BCS their own school without shutting down or sharing an LASD school.


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Posted by BCS a Bargin for tax payers.
a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Nov 20, 2013 at 9:49 pm

So let's talk cost to the tax payers and value.

BCS gets $5500 from the tax payers to educate it's students. BCS is the top charter school in California and is the top 10 of all elementary schools in California. Students at BCS enjoy mandarin, drama, music, art, engineering and PE taught by credentialed specialists. All students take these classes, they are not just offered as a private after school program.
Students at BCS have a longer school day in fact each student at BCS spends at least 20 more days in the classroom than do students in LASD schools.

LASD gets $11,000 from the tax payers for each students, but spends a large portion of that amount on lavish benefits for retired teachers and their spouses. Nice. Students in LASD schools spend the vast majority of their short school day studying for standardized tests, yet their scores are not as good as the students at BCS. Not very good value.


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Posted by Recall LASD BOTS, Tyranny must end now.
a resident of another community
on Nov 20, 2013 at 9:56 pm

I wonder why the Bobble Heads have not yet answered the questions about the FUA? Most likely because they know that LASD doesn't have a leg to stand on. They are punishing kids because they want to destroy BCS. LET KIDS PLAY.

LONG TERM WILL NOT HAPPEN UNTIL YOU ARE REASONABLE ABOUT THE SHORT TERM.


Come on Bobble Heads please explain the actions of your incompetent and corrupt board


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Posted by David Roode
a resident of another community
on Nov 20, 2013 at 10:41 pm

BCS was the one who left the short term facility negotiations. They are the ones who gave up on the process that may have alleviated the FUA conditions. If only they hadn't walked out and ignored the basic requests for numbers so that LASD could amend the CEQA to allow increased access to Egan and Blach for BCS students. You BCS parents need to ask your board why they gave up. Your silence to your own school boards actions makes you partly responsible.


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Posted by Tom Fenstermacher
a resident of another community
on Nov 21, 2013 at 12:15 am

Huh, David Roode is wrong again. LASD clearly said that before it would finalize ANY agreement on the short-term issues, an agreement of a long term nature MUST BE SIGNED. So the short term effort is not lost. Why it could come as soon as next May. There's still time. LASD may well agree to let the Bullis kids out on the grass at Blach. Just give them time to have things work their due course. First things first. We must reach a long term solution. That's what comes first. Next year and all the years following for the next 15, those are the FIRST THING we must handle.

Bullis hasn't walked out of anything. There are still more meetings planned on this pressing issue of the short term usage caps and blockages from daily physical activity imposed by LASD on ALL the Bullis students who are sited at Blach. Meanwhile, keep in mind that the Bullis students are rotating so they will only be physically inactive at school for 3 weeks at a time. Then they will go back to Egan and can move around again.


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Posted by Lynn R
a resident of another community
on Nov 21, 2013 at 9:45 am

I don't think that is the real David Roode. What the poster above is saying makes too much sense as compared to other incoherent ramblings David posts everywhere on facebook. I agree with what was said. It has been in the power of BCS to define how the site was used with the constraints put on by LASD. If they were unhappy with the FUA they could have continued the negotiations until the problems were corrected. I think the short and long term discussions got mixed because BCS did end the short term talks abruptly. What choice did LASD have? At least they tried. Why didn't BCS provide the necessary information so that LASD could do the simple analysis and let more BCS kids on at either site? Glad they are finally agreeing to the FUA but it could have been so much better if they gave the dialog a chance!


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Posted by Sarah
a resident of another community
on Nov 21, 2013 at 12:21 pm

The LASD BOTS need to throw our the punitive conditions of the FUA before anyone sits down to any more talks. They have refused to meet on the short term issue, until that is settled there shouldn't be any long term discussions. Our BCS students are being held hostage by the Board of Trustees, who tried to destroy BCS through their ridiculous FUA. Let BCS use their facilities at Blach as they see fit. It was working fantastically the first six weeks of school,. Being split up is bad enough in the first place, placing unworkable conditions on BCS, to create a difficult situation for BCS students is just plain evil.
Cut it out BOTs.


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Posted by @BCS a Bargin for tax payers
a resident of Monta Loma
on Nov 21, 2013 at 2:49 pm

Wow, if that is the case, then we should get rid of LASD and have it run by BCS.


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Posted by BCS Bargain
a resident of another community
on Nov 21, 2013 at 6:43 pm

BCS also restricts admission of ESL and special needs kids which helps boost test scores.
Let's not get carried away with insignificant test score differences with all kids in both groups being drawn from the same high scoring gene pool.


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Posted by You are LIar
a resident of another community
on Nov 22, 2013 at 5:56 pm

BCS restricts no one. Not a single child. It is a lottery. There is are zero restrictions on ESL and special needs kids. You fill out an application and you are assigned a number. Numbers are drawn in a random lottery. There is bias. BCS is SO POPULAR that it needs a lottery! BCS has lots of special needs kids, which year after year do much better on state assessments than do special needs students in the Los Altos School District.

What I find very interesting is that most students enter LASD an BCS in kindergarten, but LASD ends up with many more students that end up being classified as special needs. There are several reasons for including:

1. The short LASD school day - you have to pay to stay.
2 The larger LASD class size.
3. The one size fits all LASD curriculum.

4. BCS as an extra credentialed teacher at each grade level. This teacher is able to work with students who need extra help.
5. More hands on learning at BCS.
6. Teachers at BCS are assigned by need, not by seniority. So if a more experienced teacher is needed at a certain grade level they are moved there. In LASD senior teachers pick where they want to work. Too bad if they are needed somewhere else.

7. LASD has a long history of moving kids around to improve test scores. Most of the time it is special needs students who take the brunt of it. They create programs to to quote, "help kids achieve" when really all they are doing is trying to move all the low performing kids to one school so that all of the other schools end up with higher test scores.


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Posted by Lynn reede
a resident of another community
on Nov 23, 2013 at 7:04 am

Web Link
This link is a good read how the charter system is being abused by parents who care more about a priveleged opportunity of choice than unmet real educational needs. This is happening both here in Los Altos that doesn't have a problem with the traditional schools and in Oakland Unified where real need is being segregated with fluffy charters serving those who want to flee students in traditional schools.


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Posted by response to you are a liar
a resident of another community
on Nov 23, 2013 at 8:43 am

Sorry,
Regardless of what the "official" Bullis policy is, I have personally witnessed the Bullis principal telling a prospective special needs student: "Sorry we don't have special needs resources here, you should stay in the LASD to get those resources..." and it was done in a particularly bullying way, which was really irritating.


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Posted by Rob Fagen
a resident of another community
on Nov 23, 2013 at 9:48 am

Rob Fagen is a registered user.

@response to you are a liar,

I'm surprised by your assertion. As popularized by Carl Sagan, "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." Based on my personal observations of Ms. Hersey, I find it very hard to believe your characterization. You say that you were there at the incident to personally witness it.

You'd help your credibility if you didn't post anonymously. I understand it's difficult to put yourself forward in that way, but as Justice Scalia said "Requiring people to stand up in public for their political acts fosters civic courage, without which democracy is doomed." (paragraph 4 Web Link)

In respect of your desire to remain anonymous, if you wanted to contact me at rob (dot) fagen (at) gmail (dot) com, I'd be happy to meet you personally and hear your story. In addition, if convinced, I'd be the first to ask Ms. Hersey what happened.

Regards,

Rob


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Posted by Lynn Reed
a resident of another community
on Nov 23, 2013 at 10:01 pm

Please you use own name when posting. I respectfully ask that you do not use mine.
I do not support the comments of the person or persons that are trying to attribute posts to me.


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Posted by Dave Roode
a resident of another community
on Nov 24, 2013 at 8:22 am

Rob Fagen, you never answered my point pointing out how you are wrong about the request for Covington? Why would the BCS board say they don't want to shut a school yet still request the whole Covington site? The law says they don't have to. All this does is further divide and rile up the community. What does this accomplish?

Thank you for the link above Lynn Reed!


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Posted by Lynn Reed
a resident of another community
on Nov 24, 2013 at 9:22 am

There is someone who is posting under other people's names. I don't think the actual David Roode just posted the last post. What are you trying to accomplish by these fake posts?

I am sad that my home towns, Mountain View and Los Altos, are being torn apart by people who seem to want to keep up the vitriol instead of trying to work for a solution. As adults we should be setting good a example for our children.


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Posted by David Roode
a resident of another community
on Nov 24, 2013 at 6:05 pm

No, that's not me up above. I think it is Tom Fenstermacher. I don't know the point of imitating other people.

I do know why Bullis mentioned Covington though. It's so simple. It's the only site that LASD owns that fills the bill. There's nothing else to mention. Whether they would accept that site or not is a different question from whether or not they would mind seeing it closed. The law doesn't let them REQUEST to have the district make alternate arrangements. They can only request an existing school because LASD can't be required to construct new facilities or even to reconfigure old facilities.


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Posted by Curious about bcs special ed
a resident of Waverly Park
on Nov 24, 2013 at 8:03 pm

I just checked the BCS web site, as well as the bcs STAR test results. in 2013 out 392 students tested, 30 had disabilities. I also found this information from the BCS website:

"How does BCS work to support special education students?

When testing indicates that a student qualifies for Special Education services, an IEP team, including the parents, teacher(s), resource specialist, psychologist, and administration, convenes. The areas of the student's needs are determined and the special education staff develops Individual Education Plans (IEP), working with the classroom teachers to modify instruction and assignments, and coordinate support programs as necessary. Review on the progress of IEP goals occur tri-annually and a formal assessment annually, each entailing written reports, are sent home to the parents. Parents, classroom teachers or other staff may request a review of the IEP in order to update and modify the plan prior to the annual review.

All students with special needs are taught through a collaboration of staff efforts. The Resource Specialist program is designed to fit the individual needs of the students. Students may be seen on a pullout basis, addressing the issue in their IEP and/or a collaborative basis in the classroom working on assignments within the classes.

BCS also employs a Speech and Language Pathologist, an Occupational therapist, and an Educational Psychologist. Parent authorization is required prior to the testing of a child. If a parent feels that his or her child may benefit from this program, the options can be discussed with his/her teacher."



So apparently there are special education students at BCS. I don't think that they have any Special Day classes there though, but there isn't any at my neighborhood school, Oak, either. I think that most of the Special Day students in LASD are assigned to Springer. Can you choose which school to go to if your child is in a Special Ed classroom for most of the day? What happens if you want to go to your neighborhood school, but your child needs to be in a special education class for most of the day? I thought that was a specialized class that is only offered at one school. Does BCS have special day classes?


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Posted by Rob Fagen
a resident of another community
on Nov 24, 2013 at 9:22 pm

Rob Fagen is a registered user.

@"Fake David Roode",

Someone claiming to be the real David Roode responded to your question, and I haven't finished looking up and reading the section you cited.

If you want to continue the conversation in email, my address is elsewhere on this thread. At least then I'd have a small degree of certainty on who I'm talking to.


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Posted by Huh??
a resident of another community
on Nov 24, 2013 at 9:32 pm

Our town is being buried in waste. I don't know the BCS principal, but I am trying to picture the situation that
Response to you are a liar, is describing:
" I have personally witnessed the Bullis principal telling a prospective special needs student: "Sorry we don't have special needs resources here, you should stay in the LASD to get those resources..." and it was done in a particularly bullying way, which was really irritating. "

Do tell. She said this to the perspective special education STUDENT? So okay - I can maybe visualize a situation when a parent enquires about Special Day classes and the Principal could answer that they don't have facilities for those, but are you actually claiming that she said anything like that to a child? Come on now! Do we really need to trough oil on the fire?

My kids are almost done with LAHS. They went to LASD schools, BCS was there, we stayed with LASD, which were good schools, for the most part. I am sick to death of the stuff that is getting thrown around, I for one would like to return to a peaceful town. Take your excrement throwing somewhere else please, our community is getting smelly.


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Posted by More data
a resident of another community
on Nov 25, 2013 at 3:33 am

Not all special needs students require special education, i.e. an IEP. The STAR test numbers reflect participation in grades 2-11 only, so no student in K or 1 who is in special education shows up within the STAR results. Bullis obviously provides services to non-IEP students who need accommodations as defined in Section 504. Some of these students may also have an IEP, or some may have an IEP for just a while and then move to non-IEP mainstream education, but still get services under Section 504. One theory is that LASD may not make the distinction in the same way and may continue the IEP longer than Bullis would, especially for Section 504 accommodated students. The SDC students are a small fraction of the total special needs students in any school district, so it's certainly not right to gauge the size of the special needs population by the number in SDC classes.


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Posted by Dread Pirate Roberts
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Nov 25, 2013 at 10:59 am

The BCS vs LASD topic has devolved into complete foolishness across virtually every online forum. The real David Roode started the downward spiral by spamming the LATC forums with multiple aliases withing the same threads -- Adamantly agreeing with himself and trying to create the appearance of broader support for his ridiculous statements. But despite the fact that Roode and Lynn Reed (again, the real one) contribute little of substance to this debate, it's bad form to hijack their identities to further confuse an already deteriorating discussion. There is a proposal on the table. I suggest we let the respective Boards do their jobs and see if they can find a resolution. Those who would continue to inflame the situation are doing nobody any favors.


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Posted by Lynn Reed
a resident of another community
on Nov 25, 2013 at 1:27 pm

"I'll tell you the truth and its up to you to live with it."
-- William Goldman, The Princess Bride


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Posted by Mark S
a resident of another community
on Nov 25, 2013 at 6:54 pm

Mark S is a registered user.

Nice quote Lynn. What do you think of the proposal that is on the table? Speak the "truth". Are you for closing down a high functioning school? I was affected because of this. I don't really care if the above posters are fake. It's the substance on what they write that counts and they do have a point. I'm upset that my school was requested when we all know a specific school is not needed. I'm upset at all the BCS parents and their board who turned a blind eye to that request and the consequences from it. I really do want a long term solution to end this mess but the stupid politics of the BCS board have to stop and start listening to the community.


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Posted by DavidR
a resident of another community
on Nov 26, 2013 at 11:54 am

DavidR is a registered user.

What is the big deal about being listed as the one campus which is big enough to serve 678 students? It is true, but how did we get to this stage? You know that for years the campus that was listed was Gardner Bullis. Do you imagine that this change occurred because Covington was preferred?

Instead think about the substandard set up the district has foisted off on Bullis for all of these years. I am not talking merely about the fact that it is portable classrooms in a temporary location. There is some issue with the fact that other schools are permitted to have their PTA add facilities to the campus and grow attached to them, while Bullis has no ability to depend on the Egan camp site. But the main issue is that consistently over the years, the facility has been smaller than the LASD schools, with less outside space and a poor campus layout unlike any other school. What I am talking about is how easily something better and nicer could have been done. Why was it OK to treat the charter school like this? They were practically forced to go to the courts in 2009 and then to appeal the local court ruling. When 3 careful judges from the appeals court examined the situation, they detailed all the problems with the district's logic. They also said there was evidence that supported that the district had acted in bad faith in designating these facilities.

So, I would submit that if LASD had acted more appropriately then much of the current problems could be avoided. I also note that the inappropriate behavior got worse with the election Doug Smith and Tammy Logan. Doug Smith basically admitted that they did not want the campus for Bullis to be as attractive as the other LASD campuses. So with this kind of logic, it's no wonder that awkward solutions result as the only way to recover.

And, even now, Bullis is willing to be split across the 2 Jr High campuses, if they are given a reasonable split with reasonable facilities. The sticking point is still basically mainly that the district does not want to give Bullis reasonable facilities. The time is eventually going to approach when a court will intervene, and Covington stands out as the best solution. That's just an impartial assessment. If you used that 16 acre campus for 700 or 900 kids, then LASD gets more out of it then it does using it for 500.


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Posted by Mark S
a resident of another community
on Nov 26, 2013 at 12:51 pm

Mark S is a registered user.

David, If you can't understand the effect of closing down a high functioning school so that another high functioning school with existing facilities can have it, then talking it out with you is pointless. Do you have kids at Bullis David, or in LASD? You really sound like you have no idea how our kids function in our schools and what makes a good school a great one. Hint: It's not the size of the facilities!


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Posted by DavidR
a resident of another community
on Nov 26, 2013 at 2:36 pm

DavidR is a registered user.

Mark S, what I said had nothing to do with the serious impacts on the Covington community of having the school taken away from them. They have attended that school for 4 full years since the attendance boundaries were redrawn in 2008 and that has created a new community which has attachments. There's no doubt about it.

That doesn't mean that the courts will see it that way. Legally, there is no such concern. This is why I was describing how that closure could have been, and still could be, avoided.

One option I did not refer to was the one about sharing the site between two schools. This is quite workable as well, but it is another option which the charter laws do not require the district to undertake. In theory, they will do exactly as you describe and shift attendance boundaries around some other way (perhaps back to where they once were before Covington reopened as a drop in replacement for Gardner Bullis). This shifting does not do anything to inhibit having high performing schools, since all of LASD is nothing but high performing schools. Just because that is the intent of the law does not mean that it is without impacts to other students. In trying to pretend that the law allows them to avoid impacts to other students at all costs, the LASD board has opened us up to having the court intervene and spell out a solution.

What does spending more effort and creating better campuses at Egan and Blach have to do with forcing a closure of Covington?


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Posted by DavidR
a resident of another community
on Nov 26, 2013 at 2:54 pm

DavidR is a registered user.

Consider what it did to Covington in 2009 when Gardner Bullis was open after a long closure and that year had 250 of the students who would previously have been assigned as part of Covington's 550 student total. Covington shrank to 455. To replace them, Covingon had 150 students from other neighborhoods, mainly the Old Mill/Crossings area 4 miles away in Mountain View. Did that hurt Covington's status as a high performing school to have those drastic changes made? The change actually happened at first in 2008 but the transition of all the students over to Gardner didn't complete until the 2009-2010 year, so there was a bit of a grace period.


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Posted by Mark S
a resident of another community
on Nov 26, 2013 at 4:14 pm

Mark S is a registered user.

David, do you have kids at Bullis or LASD? You sound like you are pretending to be an armchair lawyer without regard for the existing families at either school. You were the one attempting to justify the request to close down Covington. I can't tell if you are now backpedaling or avoiding the discussion. My point is that it is wrong to request closing down Covington in favor of an equally performing school, with the result of increasing the population elsewhere. LASD is affect two fold in that scenario. I'm all for BCS upgrading their facilities, either where they are now or somewhere else, but not at an existing school. From what I've heard it's bad enough with the crowding at Egan, it would only be worse at Covington (it was two years ago when that was last proposed!).

I'm still waiting on Lynn Reed to answer, not you David, why she thinks Covington should be closed down or if she will speak out against ANY school closure.


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Posted by DavidR
a resident of another community
on Nov 26, 2013 at 5:06 pm

DavidR is a registered user.

They aren't the BCS facilities. They are provided by LASD. LASD could deal with this situation by relaxing its rigid enrollment caps and redoing boundaries. To say that does not mean that they should or that it is the only option. However, so as to avoid 3 of their schools reaching a size of 650 or so, they have exiled one of their schools to inferior facilities that don't pass muster. They have even split it into two places 4 miles apart. Don't forget that. You can't place LASD schools above a charter with regards to facilities, or not legally. This has been going on for 10 years. Now at this point you come to the party and complain that Covington might be closed. I don't want Covington to be closed, but if that is what it takes to spread things around more evenly, then that's OK with me.

LASD has not even tried having a school size of 650 and it talks about asking its taxpayers to pay for $200 Million or more of bonds so as to construct 2 new schools just so they can keep the schools all under 500. Two problems: the cost, and the fact that there is no land to use for this.

It's simple minded not to look at simply upping the school size to 650. Plenty of high performing districts do this. It's pure supposition that the LASD high performance comes from having 100 less kids than 650 at each school. 650 is practically the same as 550.

The taxpayers don't want to pay for LASD to have boutique public schools so LASD has resorted to shunting the charter school onto ridiculous sites and portraying them as villains.


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Posted by Mark S
a resident of another community
on Nov 26, 2013 at 6:14 pm

Mark S is a registered user.

"Exile", "Inferior Facilities", oh please there's nothing of the sort! David, do you normally have difficulty following a conversation and communicating with people? Good to know you're stand on closing Covington. Frankly I'm more interested in hearing the opinion from those who made the request or go to BCS (Rob or Lynn). Are you affiliated, or will you continue to evade that simple question? It really would help the two sides come to peace to acknowledge that was a stupid and unnecessary request to make.

I am for a solution that absolutely does not close any school. If that means one day my school grows to 650 then so be it since I have confidence in our amazing staff and parent volunteers. I believe the taxpayers value preserving our education, and to any sane individual that includes not closing down a high performing facility at all costs.


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Posted by DavidR
a resident of another community
on Nov 27, 2013 at 1:37 am

DavidR is a registered user.

Whatever. If the BCS facilities are not inferior then the solution could be that Covington stays operating but swaps sites with BCS and goes to the Egan camp school. Only 20% of the students walk or bike to Covington and another 20% would be much closer if the school were at that camp site. Problem solved. That was easy.



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Posted by Rob Fagen
a resident of another community
on Nov 27, 2013 at 7:07 am

Rob Fagen is a registered user.

@Mark S and @DavidR,

I like that you've been engaged in a reasonably civil dialogue up to this point. Looks like the conversation is starting to turn a corner, though.

This is a very difficult situation we're all in. It hasn't been made any easier by actions over time on the part of *both* boards. However, the LASD Trustees are the ones with a duty under law to make this work. I think the BCS board has had to escalate to legal action because it's the only tool they feel gets any traction with the BoT.

We have a very specific problem of limited resources ("limited" in a First World Problems sense). The facts on the ground are:

1. There's a state law and appellate court backing for the idea that BCS is entitled to a minimum level of facilities of a certain quality
2. We have a number of communities that have developed around each of the campuses in the LASD (seven elementary, two middle school and one K-8 program), a few have been disrupted and reformed since 2003 in some number of attendance boundary changes
3. The students attending BCS are currently in a situation that is not equivalent to the remainder of the students being served in LASD facilities (split campus, all portables, restricted access at BCI)

There is no easy fix. Even if we magically raised a $200MM bond, where would we build?

Change is difficult, but it's on the plate of the BoT to make hard decisions that some of the parents won't like. To date, the set of unhappy parents have all had children at BCS. It's time to spread that burden more broadly, because otherwise the children are the ones that pay the price.


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Posted by DavidR
a resident of another community
on Nov 27, 2013 at 8:41 am

DavidR is a registered user.

The LASD board waffles between its goal of not giving Bullis a competitive campus so as to discourage participation there and its obligation to do something better than the offers they have made for the last two years. They seem to realize there is a bit of a problem but their proposal for the bond is excessive, even if there were land available. It mystifies me what they are thinking about NEC and if they are truly serious. It appears to me that campus there would be 10 years away and with Bullis at 900 students I just don't see the population for it.

I just don't like to see money wasted. That's my concern. All this litigation is LASD's fault for working so hard to barely comply with the law on the grounds that they might somehow give Bullis more than is needed if they aren't very very careful. (The truth is that these are all kids entitled to facilities.)

The muffing of the various options being currently employed sours the community on their viability. Traffic management at both Egan and Blach requires some added facilities in the form of better drop off area. Although this is only one of the areas where the facilities are lacking compared to LASD schools, it is the one which affects the neighbors. LASD loves this because they can stand back and say "It's all the fault of those Bullis people." But the truth is that absent Bullis these same kids would be in other schools, and yes we would see 600+ populations at several schools and redrawn boundaries just to work with that.

Time is short because the court is going to intervene. Whatever solution is worked out under further court orders will be less optimal than a negotiated solution. LASD is gambling that things will go their way but it seems dubious to me. While they might have hesitated to intervene, the additional time and the state of things now 2 school years past the appeals decision will motivate court action.


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Posted by Mark S
a resident of another community
on Nov 27, 2013 at 8:01 pm

Mark S is a registered user.

"unhappy parents have all had children at BCS. It's time to spread that burden more broadly" So because some parents are unhappy then an equally performing school has to close down so they can be happy? To me that sounds very selfish. To also claim it's the LASD BoT that has to make this work seems like a lazy cop out as well. There is so much your BCS board can and should have done that is within their power.

I've followed this issue for a while and talked with others, so I'm aware of the history and the nuances. From what I have read of the legal rulings LASD is following the law, calculating unusable shrubbery and all. Split campus is the easiest route without placing all the impact at Egan. Plus, the rest of us have daily commutes between the Jr Highs and our elementary, so you aren't out of the ordinary there. We make it work.

Really, it all comes down to the children. You say the "parents" are unhappy. How about the kids, are they unhappy? I really don't think they care what the walls of their classroom are made of. This craziness has to end. Both boards need to work this out. Starting with recognizing that shutting down a school would go a long way. Also having BCS return to the FUA discussions as someone mentioned above is critical as well to solve the field access issues.

David, I really can't speak to you if the first words out of you is about intentional malfeasance by LASD to destroy BCS. It's so far fetched, bordering on conspiracy theorist, that it's a non-starter. Have fun David.


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Posted by Mark S
a resident of another community
on Nov 27, 2013 at 8:03 pm

Mark S is a registered user.

Starting with recognizing that NOT shutting down a school would go a long way


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Posted by Dread Pirate Roberts
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Nov 28, 2013 at 11:11 am

Dread Pirate Roberts is a registered user.

DavidR is right about one thing at least: "Whatever solution is worked out under further court orders will be less optimal than a negotiated solution." He assumes however that the courts will clearly and convincingly side with BCS, and will either impose a specific solution or appoint a "special master" to take decision making authority away from the LASD BoT. Neither is likely. No court decision anywhere in the US that I could find has ever forced the handing over of an existing campus to a charter school. BCS has also had a long series of legal defeats since the earlier appellate court ruling. With the exception of the ruling barring LASD from siting BCS out of district, LASD has prevailed in virtually every decision from the courts. Some, though not all, of these have been procedural but taken in aggregate they clearly indicate that BCS is far from certain to prevail on their larger lawsuit.

To Mark's point above, a good starting point for negotiations would be a clear and explicit statement from BCS that they do not support shutting down an existing school for their own benefit. LASD had proposed raising bond funds to secure a new campus for BCS, but they rejected that plan as having too much uncertainty of outcome and taking too long. The only other workable scenario is a long term sharing arrangement at Egan and Blach, along with explicit enrollment limits and predefined facilities allocations. While that would essentially create permanent impact on both Jr. High's and the surrounding neighborhoods, it at least would end the litigation, stop the annual Prop 39 battles, and protect the existing neighborhood school communities. It's not a perfect solution for either side, but that is usually the outcome in difficult negotiations. Nobody gets everything they want, but they find a deal they can live with.

Pot stirring conspiracy theorists like DavidR should let the Boards work through this option and see if they can find an agreeable plan. But then again, what would he do with all his time if there was actually peace in the community?


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Posted by Bikes2work
a resident of The Crossings
on Nov 28, 2013 at 5:37 pm

Bikes2work is a registered user.

Continuing to use the Egan Camp Site for BCS does nothing to provide more classroom space for the crowded northern side of LASD. Sharing Covington along with a redrawing of the attendance boundaries would allow a slow palatable phaseout of Covington. The Egan Camp Site could then be used as a third school for the northern portion of LASD.

The Crossings and Old Mill could be within reasonable biking distance of their school. Many Los Altos Santa Rita and Almond families could be even closer to the new school too. A new bond could create a really wonderful campus that has been a proven location for over 400 K-6 students.

BCS is simply not the only issue in LASD. The northern section needs additional classroom space. Santa Rita is now the most crowded campus with 561 students.


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