Mountain View Voice

News - February 8, 2013

LASD sees problems with new Bullis requests

by Nick Veronin

An open letter from the president of the Los Altos School District's board of trustees to the chair of Bullis Charter School indicates that district officials are pleased with the charter's decision to temporarily accept a two-campus solution, while also making it clear the two educational organizations have yet to reach an accord.

The letter, from Doug Smith of LASD to Ken Moore of Bullis, begins by thanking Moore for announcing BCS officials' intent to accept the split campus as a temporary solution, as well as the charter's commitment to engaging in dialogue with the district and the public in the search for a permanent fix to the years-long dispute — and calling the BCS proposal a "step in the right direction."

But then Smith shifts gears, noting that the proposal, which Moore referred to as a "big compromise," includes some requests from the charter school that the district will at the very least have to examine in much greater detail and perhaps reject.

"Upon a preliminary read, the proposal needs some work because it again fails to pay sufficient heed to the impact of BCS's proposed configuration on the highly successful programs at Egan and Blach," Smith wrote.

Before writing his letter to Moore, Smith told the Voice that some of the strings — or requests — attached to Bullis' acceptance of the two-site solution, aren't likely to be approved by the LASD board. By way of example, Smith pointed to a map of Bullis' proposed expansion on the Egan campus.

LASD officials do not want to see Bullis' footprint expand on the the Egan campus, he said. Furthermore, the proposal put forward by Bullis would cost the district at least $1 million, but the district is looking to spend somewhere in the realm of $300,000 in its 2013-14 facilities offer.

Smith wrote that he wished the letter had acknowledged the ongoing legal dispute between the two educational organizations. He said that if the charter school would like the district's undivided attention in negotiations, it would be better if litigation could be ended.

He said that the court has ruled multiple times in favor of the district, but still litigation continues. Smith called for Bullis to end the legal stand-off, saying, "No thoughtful dialogue is likely to occur if BCS simultaneously is launching grenades at the district."

In an informal response to the letter, Moore told the Voice that while it seems the two organizations are still at an impasse, the reality is officials from both sides are talking to each other trying to reach a new compromise that will satisfy both Bullis and LASD.

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