Mountain View Voice

News - March 23, 2012

PTAs oppose Bullis quest to take over LASD campus

Letter urges parents to 'stand together' to prevent any school closures

by Nick Veronin

The heads of the PTAs and education foundation are asking parents to take a stand against closing any Los Altos District school to give the Bullis Charter School its own campus. A joint statement signed by every PTA president within the district, as well as by leaders from the Los Altos Educational Foundation, was sent out March 17.

"We feel compelled to write our membership and school communities to assure you that we stand in solidarity as a district," the PTA-LAEF letter said. "We do not believe that a charter school should cause any of our high-performing schools to be relocated or closed."

The letter comes after yet another proposal LASD facilities-sharing plan was rejected by Bullis Charter School. The unofficial offer, announced in a district press release on March 16, proposed splitting the charter school between two shared campuses within the district — an idea Bullis officials said would not be acceptable.

LASD and Bullis have been locked in a sometimes-litigious battle for years — with both parties unable to reach agreement on where the charter school should be located. In recent months, Bullis has been adamant that the district should close an entire school, redraw attendance boundaries and redistribute the displaced students throughout the remaining campuses.

Officials from the charter remained firm on that demand on March 16, dismissing the proposal to share Covington Elementary School between current LASD students and all K-6 Bullis students while keeping seventh- and eighth-grade Bullis students at Egan Junior High School, which currently houses the entire charter school.

Ken Moore, chair of the Bullis board of directors, said he was caught off guard by the announcement that LASD planned to explore another plan to split Bullis between two campuses, since the two education organizations are in the midst of mediation talks, and since Bullis has made it clear that its program requires all of its students to be housed at a single site.

"It didn't seem to be a very reasonable attempt to comply with Proposition 39," Moore said, referring to the state law governing charter schools, which dictates a school district must offer a charter school within its boundaries "reasonably equivalent" facilities.

"How's that remotely reasonably equivalent?" Moore asked incredulously. "They are splitting the school, which is illegal."

Kelly Toshach, co-president of the Springer Elementary School PTA, said that she hopes Bullis and LASD will be able to come to a mutual agreement. However, she echoed the sentiments expressed in the letter, noting that she was particularly concerned with the idea of closing a neighborhood school and redrawing the individual schools' boundaries.

The letter asked all who received it to "work with your PTA leaders to stand together as a district to prevent the closure of any LASD school."

In response to the joint PTA-LAFE letter, Moore said he understood the concerns of local parents over how the charter school will affect their lives and their children's lives.

"Unfortunately, it appears the intent of the PTA communication is to maintain the illegal status quo," he said.

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