Faced with growing enrollment, packed campuses and difficult shared-space agreements with Bullis Charter School, the Los Altos School District is looking to the November ballot for some relief.
Over the next two weeks, the district will finalize the language of a bond measure, to be voted on in the November election, that would allow the district to build new facilities -- including a new school site. The bond amount is likely to be $145 million, with a maximum of $30 per $100,000 of assessed value per parcel.
The district board will vote on placing the measure on the ballot, and the specific ballot language, on Aug. 4.
The district will also hold two special meetings, on July 28 and July 30, to discuss the bond language. The July 28 meeting will be at 7 p.m. in the district office, and will include a vote to approve a proposed five-year agreement with Bullis Charter School.
Board President Tamara Logan said district staff looked at a wide range of options for a new school site. She said that while there is no readily available or perfect site for a new school, the city of Los Altos has offered up a few potential spots. McKenzie Park, near Loyola Elementary School, and Rosita Park are sites that are on the table as of July 22.
Logan said ideally she would want the new campus to be located in Mountain View, where the school district is experiencing the highest level of growth. She said Mountain View students within the Los Altos School District have to cross El Camino Real to get to school, and have the hardest time with transportation.
Despite the circumstances, Logan said, a new school campus in Mountain View is not likely. She said the district has asked the Mountain View City Council on multiple occasions to help establish a school in the region, but haven't received a positive response.
Logan said the district is not considering the Hillview Community Center as an option for a new school site. She said the city of Los Altos has other uses for the area, including a senior center, a library and a sports field. She said the city does not believe it's feasible to have school facilities at that location.
If the district succeeds in passing a bond measure for new facilities, Logan said, Bullis Charter School would be likely get its own school. She said that a separate campus would alleviate a lot of disputes that go on between the charter school and the district.
"The school district needs more space, and shared-space facilities makes things difficult," Logan said.
It is still unclear whether the charter school would get the new campus or an existing school site.
District staff members do not think the school district can afford two new schools with a bond measure due to high costs. Instead, options might include one new school and new facilities at existing schools, or one new school and a switch to grades K-5 elementary schools and 6-8 middle schools.
Putting the bond measure on the November ballot will be a collaborative effort between the school district and the charter school, according to a proposed five-year agreement between the two parties.
Though both boards still need to approve the agreement, which was drafted earlier this month, the terms include Bullis' cooperation with the district to place a measure on the ballot, and both parties' working together "to draft and finalize the ballot language."
A Bullis representative was not immediately available to comment on the charter school's role in drafting the bond measure.
The July 28 district meeting will include not only a discussion about bond language, but a vote to approve the terms of the five-year agreement between the district and the charter school. Among other things, the agreement would end all litigation between the two parties, end disputes over enrollment numbers and open up new space at Blach for the charter school.
Logan said the five-year agreement does not hinge on voters passing the bond measure this November.
"The bond is a solution to problems that go beyond those five years," Logan said.