News


Charter school, district draft five-year agreement

Board members hope to alleviate contentious issues with new plan

Litigation and disputes over facilities may be a thing of the past for Bullis Charter School and the Los Altos School District. On Wednesday, board members from both BCS and LASD finished drafting a five-year agreement that would address a range of contentious issues between the two.

Among other things, the agreement would end all pending and future litigation against each other and open up room for BCS to expand.

The terms of the agreement require both BCS and LASD to agree on student enrollment projections for the next five years, which includes annual enrollment caps 5 percent above those projections. For example, BCS can have no more than 945 students in the 2018-19 school year -- 45 students above the projected 900.

To clear up issues regarding use of facilities, the agreement outlines what facilities BCS can use throughout the day at Blach and Egan Middle schools. For the shared-use facilities not exclusive to BCS, there is a schedule to dictate which school has access and at what times. The charter school's access to facilities will change over the years, and those changes are listed in the agreement.

One of those changes includes the use of 9,500 square feet at Blach now occupied by the Stepping Stones Preschool. According to the agreement, LASD will no longer lease facilities to the preschool as of the 2015-16 school year to make room for BCS. All the space left by the preschool will be used for BCS facilities except for the parking lot, which will be shared.

The terms of the agreement also call for an end to all current and future lawsuits against each other over things like CEQA requirements and equitable access to district facilities under Proposition 39.

Tamara Logan, LASD board president, was one of the board members who drafted the deal. She said the agreement as a "package," rather than its individual components, was important in bringing both sides together and resolving past issues. She said there was a lot of give-and-take; neither party got everything it wanted, and concessions were made on both sides.

Logan said one of the easiest terms for BCS and LASD to agree on was ending litigation.

"Phasing out litigation was mutual; nobody wants to keep spending millions on legal fees," Logan said.

John Phelps, chairman of the BCS board, declined to comment on any individual component of the agreement, and said he'll let the wording in the document speak for itself. He said the draft was the result of a concerted effort and commitment by both BCS and the school district representatives.

"A lot of hard work went into to this, with consistent goals for both sides," Phelps said.

Joe Seither, a member of the LASD Citizens' Advisory Committee for Finance and a member of the Huttlinger Alliance for Education, said the agreement draft took him by surprise. The outcome was much better than past mediation, and the "breadth" of the agreement is good, he said.

"I'm very encouraged, and I think it's a great step forward," Seither said.

Like Logan, Seither was happy to see big concessions from both sides, including the decision for BCS to end litigation against LASD.

"The charter school dropping litigation is huge," Seither said. "They have a very strong legal team and budget, and it's a big deal for them to stand down legally."

The agreement also includes a provision that BCS and LASD cooperate to place a bond measure on the November 2014 ballot that would help finance more school facilities to accommodate increasing enrollment for both parties. LASD is slated to finish the draft and board members are expected to vote on it at the regularly scheduled Aug. 4 meeting.

The five-year agreement will take the place of annual facilities use agreements, which caused issues in the past. A disagreement over the FUA last year led to the school district's changing the locks on charter school classrooms at Blach for 10 days, causing parent and teacher protests.

But with a five-year plan, both sides agree there should be fewer problems. Phelps said the long-term plan would "alleviate a burden on both parties, and place more focus on students."

Both the BCS and LASD boards will welcome public comment on July 28 before voting to approve the final agreement. The full agreement can be found here.

Comments

Posted by Not so fast, a resident of The Crossings
on Jul 5, 2014 at 8:33 am

While it is indeed a tremendous step forward to get to termsheet stage, one must remember, we've seen this movie last year when both boards thought they had a termsheet only for the LASD community to convince their board that it wasn't a good deal. There's already a lot of noise in the BCS community that this deal won't fly with the families and this is not what they signed up for. So before both boards go patting themselves on the pack, they should sharpen their pencils and think of a few more giveaways, from symbolic to substantive, that could be thrown in. You are so close and if it take a little more to appease the BCS families you should do so. They obviously feel slighted by LASD last year, so it's only HUMAN and nature to want to compensate for that this time around. As a retiree in the community, I'm hopeful but I've already been proven wrong by how long this conflict has gone. It's not about the children. It's adults behaving as children.


Posted by Another retired person, a resident of another community
on Jul 5, 2014 at 1:54 pm

This is interesting. I had thought it would be the LASD folks who would again reject this solution. After all, it's the same one that was put forth a year ago, and it was the LASD side that rejected it. So far as I can tell, the only conditions added were things that BCS had done all along and things that were going to happen automatically as time moved along and enrollment increased. Some of the BCS people don't want to see the school expand beyond 945 students anyway, certainly not within 5 years.

But consider, LASD is cruising along preparing to sink their chances of passing a bond. I mean, their main strategy seem to be to fight for Hillview Community Center. Can you think of a more destructive approach than to identify a community resource that will be closed or at the very least seriously disrupted by the passage of the bond? The senior center, the theatre groups, the preschool parents. The league of women voters even have an office there. There's some perverse logic from LASD that because some are against remodeling the community center then they would be in favor of closing it entirely. So this way, Bullis is provided with a solution even when LASD does mess up as they are bound to do.


Posted by Optimistic subject to..., a resident of another community
on Jul 5, 2014 at 4:46 pm

The devil is in the details especially with regard to the bond. If Doug and Tammy insist on asking for a big $nut without detailing who/what are the beneficiaries of the funding, there is no way it will pass. With BCS families on edge, do you think they would agree to the bond if they are not guaranteed that they get the school they so desperately want and have been fighting for, for a decade. It's absolutely moronic of the LASD board thinks they can get away with it. And I agree, continuing to agitate for Hillview is either a genius red herring or the ultimate "I'm above the community" attitude that these so-called elected officials think they are.

I'm waiting to read it in writing before assuming we've made any progress here.


Posted by Happy parent, a resident of another community
on Jul 5, 2014 at 5:44 pm

As a LASD parent, I'm happy to read that the charter school has finally caved in on pursuing its campaign of litigation. So much time, attention and money has been diverted from the district from their assaults, but I guess they finally read the writing on the wall that no judge was about to hand them over an entire school campus.

It's a shame that Prop 39 is being abused by a handful of wealthy parents to browbeat the public. Finally, we can all move on.


Posted by Come again, a resident of another community
on Jul 5, 2014 at 11:06 pm

Did you miss where this was a proposal from the charter school ONE YEAR AGO? Who has caved in here? Someone has come to reason, but it's not a cave-in from either side. Why did the district not act on this proposal a year ago? I would speculate that it has to do with THEIR lawyers telling them that they could STALL just ONE more year. For the price of $1.7 million on their side, and a lesser amount on the part of the charter school, they got a one year delay. I don't know. THe only part that seems to have benefited by this extra year is --- Stepping Stones Preschool which serves what, 20 kids?

It was quite clear that the Bullis people were eager to see this same solution put into force a year ago.


Posted by Huh?, a resident of another community
on Jul 6, 2014 at 12:04 am

"News - March 8, 2013
Bullis passes on litigation 'pause'
Chair of charter's board says BCS will work with LASD, continue pursuing litigation"

Web Link


Posted by Insight, a resident of another community
on Jul 6, 2014 at 8:57 am

Huh? Just wants to deflect. While I am happy that LASD is finally acting in a somewhat responsible manner, I think it is important to realize that BCS offered this proposal a year and a half ago. LET"s state that again, just so we are clear about it,

BCS OFFERED THIS EXACT PROPOSAL OVER A YEAR AND A HALF AGO.

What BCS did refuse to do is put of freeze on litigation AS CONDITION OF SITTING DOWN AND TALKING.

And thank goodness that they didn't. This mediation came about BECAUSE THE COURT ORDERED IT.

Let's give credit were credit is due -
*****Credit to the court for forcing LASD to come to the table.
*****Credit to BCS for offering this solution and agreeing to it, even though court cases were likely to eventually lead to a much better outcome.
*****Credit to LASD for knowing when the jig was up.


Posted by George h, a resident of another community
on Jul 6, 2014 at 10:02 am

I have an inside contact that informed me that BCS has been trying to stop fighting for awhile now, but a few influential parents have been threatening to withold major grants if they did. The charter school board decided that enough was enough and went ahead to agree to LASD's proposal anyway.

It's disappointing that Bullis took so long to let this go. The court system can only be manipulated just so far...


Posted by George j, a resident of another community
on Jul 6, 2014 at 12:22 pm

No one thinks BCS has been manipulating the courts. Clearly you don't have an inside contact because quite a lot of BCS parents are upset with the proposed plan and it's not at all a done deal yet. What do you expect? 1200 parents to all agree on something?


Posted by Watch out for EACH, a resident of The Crossings
on Jul 6, 2014 at 1:44 pm

It's not clear that the new org, EACH, that has been running all the anti-LASD ads, is going to support this. Their entire raison d'etre is to extract more for BCS and this deal doesn't do bupkis on that front. There is a thread on another forum where it's suggested that BCS will demand that long time LASD board members stand down for re-election this fall. That could be a nice gesture for all. Let's be honest - there are a few overzealous LASD board members who are just too emotionally wrapped up in this debate that they really can't be objective on it. So the time is now to push thru and get this papered as a contract vs as a termsheet and for new personnel to come on. BCS apparently has booted Ken Moore, so let's see LASD do the same to Dougie Smith and his counterparts. It's spring cleaning! Out with the old and in with the new!


Posted by Actual BCS Parent, a resident of another community
on Jul 6, 2014 at 4:42 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


Posted by Wen, a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Jul 6, 2014 at 6:34 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


Posted by Community Member, a resident of another community
on Jul 6, 2014 at 8:04 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


Posted by Joan J. Strong, a resident of another community
on Jul 6, 2014 at 8:39 pm

Folks, the war is over. Stop fighting it. Whose fault it was and who started what doesn't matter anymore. There's a peace agreement and it's OVER.

While I personally want to continue to fight the good fight to save our schools from new area of segregation and exploitation driven by charter schools and vouchers, this fight is no longer in Los Altos, CA--it's in Sacramento and Washington DC.

Here in Los Altos, it's over. Find something else to fight about.


Posted by Truth, a resident of another community
on Jul 6, 2014 at 8:40 pm

BCS has demanded a unified campus for their program for a decade.
Did they get it? No.
Are they now willing to agree to no litigation for five years? Yes.

They caved.

Why? Because they were losing in court. Next step was sanctions against them. Followed by de-certification by Santa Clara.


Posted by Insight, a resident of another community
on Jul 6, 2014 at 8:56 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


Posted by Insight, a resident of another community
on Jul 6, 2014 at 9:03 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


Posted by Lisa, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 6, 2014 at 9:15 pm

Ken Moore's term was up on June 30. BCS did not "boot him", Watch out for Each. 3 Board Members' terms expired on June 30. We can only wish our dear antagonist Joan David Cortright would go away. Doubtful.


Posted by Alice, a resident of Gemello
on Jul 6, 2014 at 9:42 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


Posted by Obvious, a resident of another community
on Jul 6, 2014 at 9:47 pm

Please note that all of the anti-LASD rhetoric seen on this thread is from one or at most two individuals. We all know who they are. Sour grapes is just so undignified!


Posted by LASD Parent, a resident of another community
on Jul 6, 2014 at 10:09 pm

No, I will not vote for the bond. The official LASD demographer has projected declining enrollment for the district and new schools are not needed! This entire mess could be resolved with the following simple three point plan:

Step 1 - Close GB or Covington. Give that campus to BCS.

Step 2 - Move 6th grade to Egan/Blach middle schools (and welcome to the 21st century, LASD)

Step 3 - redraw attendance boundaries for the remaining schools

Problem solved!


Posted by Sweet, a resident of another community
on Jul 6, 2014 at 10:34 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


Posted by Paula, a resident of The Crossings
on Jul 6, 2014 at 10:43 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


Posted by BCS Parent, a resident of another community
on Jul 6, 2014 at 10:44 pm

I hate that we are giving up taking revenge on LASD. I hope that we reject LASD's peace offering. It's a great deal for our school, but we really need to create more pain and extract more money from the public.


Posted by Harold Barton, a resident of Gemello
on Jul 6, 2014 at 10:50 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


Posted by Actual BCS Parent, a resident of another community
on Jul 6, 2014 at 10:53 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


Posted by Sigh, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 6, 2014 at 11:48 pm

Thank you, Bob Baxley. We get it. Why accuse David of making majority of the posts when you are right there with him? Oh you mean, you are one of the two. Awesome. You might follow your own advice.


Posted by David Roode, a resident of another community
on Jul 7, 2014 at 1:06 am

Everyone can relax. I can assure you that I made at MOST 4 of the above posts. I am not going to be more specific than that.

In not using my name on these posts, I meant nothing by it. Like the common practice on this site, I used the i.d. to reflect the content of the post. In each case, the post stands on its own and does not rely on the other posts to indicate some sort of underwhelming consensus among the micro-sample of those posting here. In fact, I have been on the road for 8 hours until now and a lot of posts have come since I left.

Look at it this way: LASD's own polls (and there have been several of them)
consistently show that at least 1/3 of those polled are OPPOSED to the new bond. You can wrap this around your brain anyway you want, but it surely means no one should be surprised by some concerned posting here. In the end, only 55% of those actually voting carry this issue. What I'd say is that if you are in the opposition, it's very important to vote.... it takes a lot of people to vote no for this thing to fail. On the other hand, if you are for this vote, you kind of want as few voters as possible, because its well known that people who vote for other reasons tend to come out against other issues on the same ballot.

It's highly unlikely that anything posted here is going to affect the outcome one way or the other. The way to lull the opposition into non-concern is in fact for them to think the bond will fail, that a lot of people are against it. I urge people not to think that this is the case, just like Bob Baxley. However, I don't think that one or two people are behind all the posts on this page.


Posted by Really?, a resident of another community
on Jul 7, 2014 at 8:19 am

"In not using my name on these posts, I meant nothing by it."

Uh-huh. Roode constantly has these fake dialogues to try to show there is significant community opposition to LASD. Sorry buddy. It is very transparent.

Now that BCS has conceded their fight to destroy LASD, it will be interesting to see how this, uh, "gentleman" occupies his time.


Posted by Insight, a resident of another community
on Jul 7, 2014 at 8:26 am

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


Posted by Harold Barton, a resident of Gemello
on Jul 7, 2014 at 8:36 am

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


Posted by No, a resident of another community
on Jul 7, 2014 at 8:51 am

Harold Barton and Insight are both David Roode. Very sad.


Posted by Big difference..., a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jul 7, 2014 at 9:25 am

@Harold -- the big difference that I see is that LASD advocates like Joan Strong, Joe Seither, Dave Courtright, the HAE, etc. would love nothing more than to be rendered irrelevant in this debate. That would mean that we had finally achieved a relative level of peace in the community and that their efforts were no longer needed. Roode and the "Each Student Counts" PAC seem to have no such perspective and appear to be dedicated to continuing the conflict no matter what.


Posted by War is Over, a resident of The Crossings
on Jul 7, 2014 at 9:39 am

Note that the BCS "scam" parody website and parody videos have been off the Internet for months now. People are done fighting over this. The war is over. Everybody go home.


Posted by Harold Barton, a resident of Gemello
on Jul 7, 2014 at 10:09 am

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


Posted by Joan J. Strong, a resident of another community
on Jul 7, 2014 at 10:45 am

Joan J. Strong is a registered user.

@Harold Barton -- BCS has subpoenaed every one of my emails to the LASD board and LASD board members have, thanks to BCS lawyers, gone under oath as swearing they do not know who I am--which they don't. Ditto for BCS scarecrow David Cortright, who has gone under oath in a court of law saying he doesn't know who I am.

Yet you and the rest of the BCS hard-cores continue to write these things about me.

Would it really terrify you that much to find out that I'm just a plain-old LASD parent with no ties to anybody official, writing only because I am concerned about our schools? Would that ruin all of your life assumptions? Would that cause you to re-think everything? If so, I'd invite you to check the BCS court document record...


Posted by Waldo, a resident of Waverly Park
on Jul 8, 2014 at 7:23 pm

Waldo is a registered user.

Blach and Egan are nationally acclaimed Blue Ribbon Schools, an honor shared by the seven LASD elementary schools whose students eventually go on to these two LASD middle schools. With such a great school district, why do we need Bullis? Bullis is redundant and should not have its charter renewed. Web Link


Posted by Lee, a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Jul 9, 2014 at 8:12 pm

Lee is a registered user.

Waldo - You need to check your facts. You are in fact wrong. Seven LASD schools may have received designation as a distinguished school ( a state award) but they have not received National Blue Ribbon designation. Blach and Egan were nominated as Blue Ribbon schools, but they have not received that award.

As to your second point, the only other school in Los Altos that was nominated as a National Blue Ribbon school was...BCS. In additional to that honor BCS was one of only 14 schools in California to be named a California Distinguished AND a California Distinguished Visual and Performing Arts School.


Posted by Lee, a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Jul 9, 2014 at 8:14 pm

Lee is a registered user.

And just in case anyone is wondering Blach, Egan and BCS will be notified if they have won the Blue Ribbon Award later this summer so stay tuned. Congratulations, by the way, to all three schools.


Posted by Joan J. Strong, a resident of another community
on Jul 9, 2014 at 9:18 pm

Joan J. Strong is a registered user.

The sad thing is that charter/voucher school zealots believe--as they have to believe--in "competition" and thus they want public schools to win awards in the same way Apple wants Android to win awards--which is to say, they don't really.

You don't support public schools by abandoning them. Competition in the context of taxpayer dollars never works and invites corruption--its the government competing against itself, which is destructive. When a part of the population will always make bad choices, it means that school choice will put taxpayer money behind bad choices like segregation.

The war in Los Altos may be over, but the war over the future of public education in the USA is in full swing.


Posted by Mort, a resident of another community
on Jul 10, 2014 at 1:43 am

Mort is a registered user.

Competition is not what charter schools are about. Choice is not just about competition. It's small-minded to focus on a race between schools when the fact is that the students are individuals with individual needs in the way of education.

The inflexible approach used in Los Altos School District is right for some fraction of the kids. Those who don't have their needs address have no other option than Bullis Charter. That's sad. I wish another charter or choice program would start up.

Right next to LASD there are 3 districts serving K-8 students. In all 3 districts there are options which can be elected by students who don't feel well served by the DEFAULT program. In all 3 districts, these choice options are not charter schools. So, the district is competing with itself.

This is the kind of irrelevant argument that the anti-charter zealots inflict on our community. Such arguments don't address just why Los Altos should fail to provide choice programs when Mountain View Whisman, Palo Alto and Cupertino all 3 do. All 3 districts have other programs which are superior to LASD as well. In Mountain View Whisman, there are district-run (not just on district land with high tuition and paying rent to the district as a source of extra income as in LASD) preschool programs TODAY open to ALL STUDENTS in zip code 94040 and 94043. This is especially beneficial for low income families who cannot afford preschools, because these preschools are low cost or even free. LASD spends more per student and has higher property tax revenues not counting local parcel taxes compared to both Cupertino and Mountain View Whisman. LASD's failure to offer choice can't be blamed on a lack of resources or funding.

Someone like this mythical Joan Strong comes along and is completely uninformed about the realities of our community. In the case of LASD, the charter school consumes much-reduced taxpayer resources for its students than does any equivalent size group of students at any of the other schools. But don't bother JJS with these facts--she's a bot on a virtual world spewing hate and falsehoods.


Posted by Joan J. Strong, a resident of another community
on Jul 11, 2014 at 10:00 am

Joan J. Strong is a registered user.

Mort, you seemed to have made a case against charter schools and privatization and in favor of taxpayer-controlled choice programs administered by locally-elected officials.

If the LASD leadership wants to create a choice program and can do so within the rest of its voter-mandated trade-offs, then more power to them. Go ahead and criticize them for that--I won't stop you. You'll get in line with the rest of the voters who want their particular pet project, but maybe you will prevail.

BCS expenses, per county records, are about 10-20% more than LASD's on any given year. Then there's a ton of anecdotal evidence that they raise 10-20% more in off-the-books fundraising. Net-net, BCS's overall program cost is probably about 30% more than LASD's.

Add to that, the fact that BCS does not incur significant expenses for special education, facilities overhead, and legacy retirement, and you can see that the comparable LASD program for "typical" (non-special need) students is probably around half that of BCS.

In other words, if BCS were to take over the whole school district, taxpayers would need to somehow come up with about 70% more than they do now. Ergo, the BCS program is a fantasy only available to a select group of rich people.

With a twice-as-expensive program, BCS delivers 1% higher test scores while enjoying a demographic (again, according to country records) that has a vastly higher propensity to higher test scores. That higher-scoring demographic, by the way, comprised between 50% and 80% of BCS's new families this year.

BCS is like replacing part of our public bus system with a fleet of Ferraris. It accomplishes the same thing for more money with a few prettier bells and whistles and slick marketing.

And to continue that analogy, it would be as if only Southern Europeans (mostly Italians) signed up to use these Ferraris while the rest of the population used the plain old public bus.

Segregation of our schools--which is what a chorus of academic papers and education thinkers say charter schools accomplish--is not only wrong, it's expensive.


Posted by Jim L., a resident of another community
on Jul 14, 2014 at 11:24 am

Jim L. is a registered user.

@Come Again. Stepping Stones serves about 75 children in about 60 families.


If you were a member and logged in you could track comments from this story.

To post your comment, please click here to login

Remember me?
Forgot Password?
or register. This topic is only for those who have signed up to participate by providing their email address and establishing a screen name.

Touring the Southern California “Ivies:” Pomona and Cal Tech
By John Raftrey and Lori McCormick | 5 comments | 2,286 views

Chai Brisket
By Laura Stec | 3 comments | 1,625 views