Mountain View Voice

Opinion - September 7, 2012

Bullis demands not fair to district students

by Elena Shea

Your Aug. 24 editorial, "School dispute will cost Los Altos district," mischaracterizes the mission of the Huttlinger Alliance for Education. The Alliance was not formed to "attack (Bullis Charter School) for its effort to obtain adequate classroom space for its students," as your editorial suggests. Instead, the Alliance's more than 800 community supporters seek to ensure that the interests of all students in the Los Altos School District — both BCS students and students enrolled in the district's traditional schools — are fairly distributed among district facilities.

The editorial parrots BCS's call for the LASD Board of Trustees to close one of the district's neighborhood schools and turn the campus over to BCS. But as BCS's attorney admitted in a March court hearing, nothing in the state appellate court ruling to which your editorial refers entitles BCS to its own campus. BCS has nevertheless vowed to continue to sue the district until it capitulates and surrenders a campus.

Giving BCS's 466 in-district students one of the existing elementary school campuses is not the answer. This approach would displace hundreds of district students, thereby driving up the size of the remaining schools far beyond BCS's enrollment, and beyond the district's optimal school size. Under this scenario, BCS's students would enjoy more space per student than their traditional school counterparts.

This is hardly a fair solution. Nor would it comply with Proposition 39. The actual text of the statute states that "public school facilities should be shared fairly among all public school pupils, including those in charter schools." It does not require — or allow — school districts to afford charter school students better facilities than other public school students.

For the current school year, the District has provided BCS with 11.3 acres of space over its two junior high campuses to house BCS's district-wide K-8 program, a substantial increase over the facilities provided in previous years, reflecting BCS's growth. But the Voice endorses BCS's demand for even more. How would it be fair to give more space to BCS, whose students already enjoy more per-child classroom space than other district students? Why would it be fair to displace district students who attend their neighborhood school, in favor of students who have voluntarily chosen a district-wide charter school? Why would it be fair to give BCS exclusive use of a campus, when no statute or court decision requires it, and to do so would force hundreds of other students to change schools?

Ultimately, a plan for sharing district facilities needs to be developed with the participation and endorsement of the entire community. The recently announced Task Force on Enrollment Growth — in which BCS will be invited to participate — is a tangible first step in this process. To achieve the goal of fairly housing all students will require that BCS not look to the courts to force a solution, but instead actively participate in good faith with the larger community to solve the problem together.

Elena Shea is president of the Huttlinger Alliance for Education.

Comments

Posted by Alexander MacInnis, a resident of another community
on Sep 7, 2012 at 8:27 am

Thank you Elena for setting the record straight, about the Huttlinger Alliance, BCS, and the Voice's biased editorial on this topic.

It is in the interests of everyone living in the area covered by the Los Altos School District, including much of Mountain View, to keep the LASD schools among the best in the state. LASD is a big draw to home buyers, and it helps keep everyone's property values stable and rising, and improves the quality of our community.

We would all be better off if everyone, including in particular BCS, would work together to find the best solution for school facilities and funding for those facilities. I strongly second your closing sentence, "To achieve the goal of fairly housing all students will require that BCS not look to the courts to force a solution, but instead actively participate in good faith with the larger community to solve the problem together."


Posted by Voice of Reason, a resident of Blossom Valley
on Sep 7, 2012 at 11:36 am

The person who wrote the previous piece needs to be MUCH more informed about the issue.


Posted by LASD Resident, a resident of another community
on Sep 7, 2012 at 12:40 pm

The district has purposely chosen to provide BCS with bad facilities to attempt to discourage participation by students in the BCS program. The district already lacks neighborhood schools for a good many students, who have to travel a mile or more to get to school. The current location of schools favors certain specific locations with local schools and denies them to others. A district-wide program serves to compensate. LASD has denied students access to any sort of district-wide magnet program. The people exercising their right to form and join a charter are allowed facilities also. While the decision does not require an entire school campus, the history of disregarding the required level of facilities suggests it as a direct resolution. Just because it is not required does not mean it cannot be concluded that given the other factors it is the right option. It is taking too long to come up with a reasonable workable alternative. The distance between the two sites provided to BCS is 4 miles.


Posted by MVLA parent, a resident of The Crossings
on Sep 7, 2012 at 8:11 pm

As a parent in this community, and a long time supporter of our local schools, I will never understand the arrogance of the BCS parents and teachers. My friends are parents at BCS, but then they send their children to the local high schools and have no complaints. I just don't get it! I know far too much and the BCS parents and leaders are all just spoiled adults who basically turn me off! Unfortunately for them, I am not in the minority. The community will not pass a bond to build a school for the squeaky people who are trying to destroy our community. Hello? Don't they get it? Ummm - obviously not.


Posted by What's the Scenario, a resident of another community
on Sep 7, 2012 at 10:39 pm

I can think of many ways to give BCS an existing campus without driving up the population of any school over 600. Here are the best ones:

1. Give Covington to BCS. Move Covington North to the current BCS site and make a new school for the growing NEC neighborhood. This school would have 350 - 400 students from the Crossings and a large part of the Almond attendance area ( both sides of El Camino including LA area north and west of LAHS) - it could also take some from Santa Rita. The Covington Students would go to GB, Springer, Almond and Loyola. The campus should be rebuilt with classrooms similar to those at other LASD schools and they should be able to share some Egan Facilities. ( Track, Gyms, Tennis Courts)

2. Move the sixth grade to the middle schools- six graders will get better facilities and better instruction. Close Covington and move students to Santa Rita, GB, Springer, Loyola and Almond. Move BCS to Covington.

3. Move the sixth grade to the middle schools - Close GB. Move GB students to Santa Rita and Covington. Move BCS to GB.

4. Santa Rita and BCS switch campuses. Santa Rtia and Egan share the Egan Campus.

5. BCS and GB switch campuses. GB and Egan share the Egan Campus.

All of the solutions above will move some kids, but so will redistricting, which will have to happen soon.


Posted by What's the Scenario, a resident of another community
on Sep 7, 2012 at 10:41 pm

One other idea -
Move BCS to Covington or GB - Start a magnet school at the current Egan Camp site.


Posted by Yvette, a resident of The Crossings
on Sep 8, 2012 at 8:32 am

The author neglects the fact that children of the Crossings were displaced several years ago and forced to go to Covington.

The Alliance is nothing more that a bunch of parents who want to be able to go to their neighborhood school of choice within walking distance. The rest of us are forced to take a hike.


Posted by MV Native, a resident of another community
on Sep 8, 2012 at 1:26 pm

I believe that people in the Alliance genially believe that their cause. They bought their house right next door to a school and they believe that their needs and property values trump those of everyone else. To be fair, most of them don't realize that their situation is the exception rather than the rule. The majority of us in the LASD boundaries live more than 1/2 mile from our assigned neighborhood school and at least half of us are interested in some other program. Many of us have already opted out by sending our kids to private school or to BCS. Its time to end the preference for the one size fits all "neighborhood" school model. This program favors Los Altos residents while impacting those of us in MV and LAH.
BCS parents are not the enemy, they just want options and I am sure if offered the choice with a guaranteed placement in a magnet or charter school many LASD parents would opt for choice as well. Its time to end the authoritarian grip that the LASD BoT, the Alliance, and other assorted groups have placed on our community. Its time to end the divisive tactics that are turning neighbor against neighbor. Most of us just want to live in peace and send our kids to the school of our choice, not one forced on us by our address. Its time to end the stranglehold and come up with some new ideas. The Alliance is really evil,
even though that is not their intention. What they are doing is impacting everyone in our community. Please resist the blob.


Posted by Advocate, a resident of another community
on Sep 9, 2012 at 12:38 pm

Dear What's the Scenario, your #1 idea "create a North of El Camino school" would be disastrous. Schools run well with high numbers of parent volunteers. If there's one school (NEC) with disproportionately high numbers of lower-income kids (English Language Learners), it wouldn't have the same level of volunteers supporting the teachers and running critical programs. Don't you think most of those families have both parents working full time and/or the stay-at-home parent might not feel comfortable and/or qualified to volunteer? Every time I hear that suggestion, I cringe. Really, really bad idea.


Posted by Heather Rose, a resident of another community
on Sep 9, 2012 at 9:45 pm

One of the key issues for LASD and creating choice or magnet schools is funding. PAUSD runs several choice schools (they do not call them magnet on purpose) and they spend over $5,000 more per student. And BCS too spends more per student than LASD which they provide via donation. Saratoga is able to offer choice with its three schools by changing to a lottery model for all three schools. This is a completely different model than what LASD has been. I agree with offering choices, but we have to find the budget to pay for it. And it's hard to say that one familiy's choice is more important than another's. Fairness is hard to find.


Posted by Joan J. Strong, a resident of another community
on Sep 10, 2012 at 9:57 am

Joan J. Strong is a registered user.

Here's another solution.

BCS curtails their enrollment to just siblings until we build a new campus. BCS is the only school who can do this and just like they willfully grew their enrollment--including the addition of a 7-8 program before they had even the foggiest idea of how they'd find the facilities for it. This latest irresponsible move on their part shows how little regard they have not only for our children but even their own.

The board of directors at Bullis Charter School has absolute and ultimate control over this situation.

They are creating these problems ON PURPOSE in order to extract revenge for acts from almost a decade ago. The whole problem could just go away with ZERO impact to existing students with a single, effortless act by the BCS board.

And yes, BCS parents are not the enemy--the BCS board is. Unfortunately BCS parents have absolutely, positively NO say in their situation and are victims of these thugs just like the rest of us are.


Posted by LASD Taxpayer, a resident of another community
on Sep 10, 2012 at 7:09 pm

BCS wants to be different. They want to have an integrated K-8 program. To get that they want to force LASD to be different too. BCS parents have suggested that LASD move to a K-5, 6-8 program or a K-8 program just to make room for BCS regardless of whether it is in the best educational interests of the students.


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