Legal battle ends between Bullis, LASD Around Town, posted by Editor, Mountain View Voice Online, on Jan 27, 2012 at 3:00 pm
The California Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal from the Los Altos School District on Jan. 18, effectively ending the years-long battle between the district and Bullis Charter School over equitable sharing of the district's facilities and funds.
Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, January 27, 2012, 1:41 PM
Posted by Stop Lying, a resident of another community, on Jan 27, 2012 at 3:07 pm
How disingenuous Ken Moore: "Bullis is open to any student in the state, said Moore. Bullis is prohibited by law from charging tuition or creating selective criteria that might favor one group of students over another". You know very well that Bullis Charter selectively enrolls students from Los Altos Hills, rejects true underprivileged and needy students from the "other side of El Camino", and expects every family to "donate" $5K per year.
Posted by Griff Derryberry, a resident of the St. Francis Acres neighborhood, on Jan 27, 2012 at 3:53 pm
My two children attend LASD schools. I am not against Bullis Charter School, but I do think that the law that creates charter schools represents an unfunded mandate. We would not all be caught up in this divisive issue if LASD had an extra 10 acre parcel available. Unfortunately, is relatively easy to create a charter school compared with a school district being able to cough up the site AND facilities necessary to support the operation of the charter school. Given this law, how is a school district supposed to manage facilities long term? Should it hold in reserve land and buildings in the case that a charter school might added into its district? To me, the law should have included the provision to create bonds to enable the district to acquire land and facilities. What a waste of time and money this has been for both BCS and LASD in this struggle that was imposed by a state law.
Posted by Rex, a resident of the Rex Manor neighborhood, on Jan 27, 2012 at 3:57 pm
Charter schools should have the same access to resources as public schools because competition keeps the teachers union honest, competitive, and in-check.
I disagree with "Stop Lying" because its nothing more than the usual utopia liberalism, execuses, and deceit that ignores the facts and continues divisive policies that set our students up for failure in the real global world market place.
The $5000/year per child "tuition" is not the only thing this school lies about. They lie about their entire existence.
The title of this story is VERY MISLEADING in that this battle is the EXACT OPPOSITE of "over". The title should have been:
"Current Litigation Between Bullis, LASD Concludes"
First, BCS supporters have PROMISED that there will be more lawsuits against LASD coming from BCS. For supporting evidence, take a look at the most recent BCS Board Minutes wherein it alludes to two more litigation matters anticipated. Could there be two more lawsuits against our school district on the way? Care to explain these, BCS?
Next, it's worth noting the IMPOSSIBLE position that BCS puts our school district in: unless they close down schools and raise the extreme ire of the "90%" in our public schools, BCS will sue (and many say they sue anyhow). BCS has an INFINITE legal budget and ZERO DOWNSIDE of continued litigation--it's not like they have a Board to answer to, and money is no object for these billionaires. They can do anything they want.
Finally, as many have pointed out, these laws are so vague and so new that litigation will be the only way anybody makes sense of them. The makers of these laws gave us vague commandments and left it to the trial lawyers to figure out the rest. So here we are, litigating. The only winners are the lawyers--and the BCS people, who are presumably enjoying their revenge.
The only way this will stop is for BCS to be shut down. This school is a scourge on our community and with the District legally unable to accomplish what needs to be done, PARENTS are going to need to step in. This is our year to do so.
Posted by Charter School Parent, a resident of another community, on Jan 27, 2012 at 6:50 pm
The Prop 39 law is being upheld by this decision, one that requires public facilities to be shared equally with all public school students in the district attendance area. BCS is not asking that our students be treated better than any other LASD student. They should have the same access to facilities and not be penalized for choosing to attend the charter school.
The BCS community is committed to finding a long-term solution to our facilities issues with a minimum of disruption to the wider Los Altos School District but ultimately, any solution will be crafted and implemented by the LASD Trustees.
I ask that false information, misleading suggestions, and uncivil tones being propagated cease and that real solutions that are fair to all students have an opportunity to prevail in the discussion.
On a personal note, our family chose Bullis Charter School because of the exciting and innovative curriculum and we choose to stay at the charter school because of the outstanding and motivated staff that inspires our child to pursue her passions.
Posted by Share Facility, a resident of another community, on Jan 27, 2012 at 7:20 pm
LASD had the adequate facility back in 2004 when they closed down then Bullis Purissima. The LASD refused to let BCS occupy the site. Instead they offered BCS a 6-acre site with limited facilites that inadequate compare to other elementary schools in the district, which has 10-acres. Since it's inception in 2004, BCS had made the same facility request every year to LASD and it includes enrollment projection for each year. But LASD chose to ignore the growth of BCS and illegally offered them a sub-standard site for BCS students year after year. Essentially LASD has boxed itself in now that the CA Supreme Court has found them violating Prop 39 since 2004. The cause of the problem was not BCS, it was due to the short-sightedness of LASD board.
Posted by Stop Lying, a resident of another community, on Jan 27, 2012 at 7:21 pm
To Charter School Parent:
We all agree that Bullis is a very good school, and I think we all would agree that Los Altos schools are top schools as well.
We ALL want fairness and equal treatment, as you say. But that means that Bullis needs to offer equal enrollment to all, not preferential, and be willing to at least mirror the demographic population of LASD, which includes Hispanics from El Camino area. Bullis does not want that. That is a matter of fact and part of the Bullis charter record to provide preferential enrollment to kids from the Hills. They want their cake and eat it to, so to speak.
What is disrupting is that Ken Moore and others on Bullis board are the ones promulgating the misleading and false information, and use hardball tactics like suing the LASD board and individuals on the board to get their ways.
If you truly feel the way you write in your note, then I ask you to then attend Bullis board meetings and tell them to stop their heavy-handed methods and misleading and false statements and seek to find a fair and equitable solution for all. That is the only way this will stop by the Bullis parents with sense of decency and fairness step in and stop this madness.
As MLK said -- "In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."
Posted by Oh please!, a resident of another community, on Jan 27, 2012 at 7:41 pm
Calling creating a Charter School "easy" underscores how totally how of touch you are with BCS's 10 year struggle. LASD has systematically obscured the reality of the situation by writing letters and covertly organizing its PTA's all in a effort to thwart the ever-growing success of the Charter school. Do you honestly expect BCS to just sit back and watch LASD produce another ridiculous facilities offer without bringing in legal council? Of course we will sue and sue because, like you we are protecting our own self interests--OUR SCHOOL. And, if it takes even more than a victory with the California Supreme Court to get you to sit up, listen and understand that YOUR trustees have used such poor judgement year after year, then so be it. We were NOT the ones found guilty. LASD was. This is paramount to blaming the woman who got robbed for wearing her wedding ring!
You want to help solve the problem, demand LASD comply and lickity-split it is over.
Posted by You should be ashamed, a resident of another community, on Jan 27, 2012 at 8:05 pm
As one can see this is how wars start among nations.
The aggressor is never honest about its behavior and sees itself as a victim.
Bullis Charter school was founded, funded, and started by extremely wealthy people that wants to leverage public money and exclude students from lower social economic classes. That's a fact-- read your Charter how it require preference for Hills students. Come'on. Be honest.
Charter schools were started to support lower income families within poor school districts. The LA Hills is not low income (in fact it is one of the most wealthiest areas in the country) and LA school district is one of the finest in the State. Check-out the school ratings.
So please stop your whining and nonsense.
If you want a private school education -- send your kids to a private school-- there are plenty around here. If you want public schools, then don't co-opt a law that was never intended for the children of rich, bigoted people that can send their kids anywhere they want.
Posted by Oh PLEASE!, a resident of another community, on Jan 27, 2012 at 8:15 pm
And, if it takes even more than a victory with the California Supreme Court to get you to sit up, listen and understand that YOUR trustees have used such poor judgement year after year, then so be it. We were NOT the ones found guilty. LASD was. This is paramount to blaming the woman who got robbed for wearing her wedding ring!
You want to help solve the problem, demand LASD comply and lickity-split it is over.
Posted by BrainwashedCharterSchool, a resident of another community, on Jan 27, 2012 at 8:58 pm
So there you have it: it's all an Evil Conspiracy by the Evil District. Our letter-writing campaign to the SCBBOE just proves we are stupid puppets controlled by the District board. Parents could not have POSSIBLY come up with this themselves because we actually have no minds of our own.
Do you SEE how brainwashed these people are? Do you SEE how far from reality they are?
And once again we have the affirmation of the post above: BCS is vowing to sue our school District again, and again, and again...
I seriously hope the District gives Bullis Charter THE SHAFT in every way they can. If... sorry, WHEN they get sued again I'll just send more money to LAEF. You might be billionaires but we're not the poor little pawns you think we are.
This is indeed the year that PARENTS in Los Altos speak up and ACT to save our schools and our community! The BCS people not only don't care what we think, THEY DON'T EVEN BELIEVE WE EXIST.
Posted by Share Facility, a resident of another community, on Jan 27, 2012 at 9:26 pm
BCS has reached out to the Hispanics in the Mountain View area by sending out flyers in Spanish and posting in Spanish newspapers. It also offered translators at Parent Info night. The preferential enrollment is only for people who lived in the old Bullis-Purissima boundary, which only includes a small part of LAH.
That said, Los Altos community should also question LASD board's motives for not offering reasonably equivalent facilities to BCS for the past 8 years. LASD board was trying to suppress BCS from growing. Why is that? BCS did not want to sue until the they realized that LASD will never treat BCS and its students fairly after years of negotiations. It was a desperate move for BCS to get equal treatment for its students.
Posted by Waiting on the List, a resident of another community, on Jan 27, 2012 at 10:00 pm
Charter Schools were created to create competition. They are not an unfunded mandate.
If no one chooses to go to them they cease to exist. This doesn't seem to be the case here. In fact 30% of the parents of all LASD incoming kindergartners are applying for a spot. If you live in the LASD boundaries, chances are you have a neighbor who applied to the school. I think it's interesting to look at where in the district the students are coming from. Here is a list from the BCS Facilities Request:
Almond 61 13.8%
Covington 56 13 %
Gardner 137 31%
Loyola 53 12%
Oak 16 3%
Santa Rita 74 16.8 %
Springer 42 10 %
The list shows that children are coming from all over the district, every school with the exception of Oak has a significant portion of it's students at BCS.
I know that many people in the district think of this problem as an us against them issue. However at school's like Santa Rita it's likely that half of the kindergarten are on the BCS waiting list. Here is rough estimate* of this years kindergartners at each school who are now on the waiting list for BCS:
Santa Rita 27
What I think these numbers point to is the fact that quite a few people throughout the district are interested in a program other than their neighborhood school. BCS is offering the only public school alternative. All the district schools offer the exact same program, the choice to do so was made long ago.
I think the district has a good program, in fact it's about as good as you can get with a strong teacher's union. The problem is innovation rarely happens in union controlled schools.
Elected school boards don't help either. They are usally beholden to special interests. Here, the favored groups are the teachers union and parents who live close to their neighborhood school. In favoring these groups, the Trustees fail to address alternatives. What if Covington had been opened as a choice school instead of neighborhood school? It's a really large site and could have handled several different programs. What would our district be like now if we had a parent co-op school? A mandarin duel Immersion Program? A STEM magnet school?
As we all work together towards a solution we need to consider that not everyone supports the status quo. At least thirty percent of us are interested in an alternative.
* To get the rough estimate I used the data from the BCS facilities request for 2012 -2013. Web Link
To get the current number of kindergartners from each school at BCS, I used the projected numbers for next years first grade class.
To get the estimated number on the waiting list I doubled the amount. I did this because BCS reports that for every kindergartner admitted to BCS there are two other in-district kindergartners on the waiting list. There are 60 students enrolled in the BCS kindergarten, all of them are in-district students. Also if you do the math from the district totals - There are around 540 in-district kindergartners. A 1/3 of this amount is 180.
I did not double the students at GB. About 1/3 to 1/2 of the GB students live in the old Bullis P attendance area , so they have a better chance of getting into BCS, and are less likely to be on the waiting. Also the students there from the PAUSD portion of LAH, as out of district students, do not have any chance of getting into BCS, so they most likely didn't apply. However the students who live along Los Altos Ave in the GB attendance area might be applying at about the same rate as Santa Rita. I distributed the remaining amounts to each school by percentage of students from that school at BCS.
BCS FUD: "Isn't choice great? And it's ABSOLUTELY FREE!"
Choice is not free. Your local grocery stores offer you an open market choice--by having separate, redundant facilities. This costs money.
Our District does not have a campus "sitting around" and has no money to simply buy an extra campus (like, say, the BCS founders do) because a few people don't like what our top-ranked public schools have to offer. If these people want something "different and interesting" they can pay for it THEMSELVES: it's called private school.
Posted by InterestingData, a resident of another community, on Jan 27, 2012 at 11:21 pm
This what I just read:
CURRENT 2011 State API Data contrasts the 281 students NOW at BCS whose test scores were used to calculate its API score of 984 to that of the 366 students at Santa Rita (API score of 957) . The demographics TODAY of these two “Public Schools” separated by a couple thousand feet are dramatically different. At BCS Zero of the 281 of the students (0%) were Socioeconomically Disadvantaged compared to 26 of 366 (7.1%) at nearby Santa Rita Elementary, at BCS 5 of 281 (1.8%) were English Learners compared to 91 of 366 (24.8%) at Santa Rita Elementary, at BCS 18 of 288 (6.4%) were Students with Disabilities compared to 44 of 366 (12%) at Santa Rita Elementary School.
Posted by bummer, a resident of another community, on Jan 27, 2012 at 11:30 pm
Just saw the prelim offer. It is up on LASD site. Not compliant! Who would have guessed? Well community, you decide. Should BCS sue to get what it wants or just start a second school on the second site? BCS 2.0
God only knows how many apps we have this year coming in. But according to some, that just doesn't matter. Try telling that to folks trying to get in and escape the tyranny at LASD.
Posted by InterestingPresentation, a resident of another community, on Jan 27, 2012 at 11:32 pm
"BCS has reached out to the Hispanics in the Mountain View area by sending out flyers in Spanish and posting in Spanish newspapers. It also offered translators at Parent Info night. The preferential enrollment is only for people who lived in the old Bullis-Purissima boundary, which only includes a small part of LAH."
In Oct. of 2011, BCS had planned to reach out to Hispanics for the first time. It really did it! Quick. Miracle. Enlightening.
Posted by BummerBummer, a resident of another community, on Jan 28, 2012 at 12:40 am
When, for the first time ever, we tell these parents applying to BCS that they are essentially DAMAGING OUR PUBLIC SCHOOLS by going there AND it also will cost them $5000/year per child to go there AND that the BCS lies about our top-ranked schools here actually being "really terrible" (who knew?) is baloney... then we'll see how those application stats look!
The District is not allowed to do "marketing" like BCS is. Well, parents are going to do it this year for them! Finally, actual "competition"! Just like you wanted, right BCS?
Most parents apply to BCS:
1. Because of the test scores (greater disadvantaged mix = lower test scores = bye bye enrollment).
2. Because they don't know that the $5000/year per child tuition is really, really, seriously, no kidding, a "requirement" even though they can't legally call it that.
3. Because they believe BCS marketing BS that our top-ranked schools are actually REALLY BAD and "cookie cutter" and bla bla bla bla bla.
4. Because they hear that "billionaire kids" go there and adore the idea of the hobnobbing with such royalty (contacts, jobs, etc.)--even though the kids themselves are absolutely tortured when they have to socially fit in with kids about nine levels above their social scale.
Many don't change their minds and end up stuck there for a year, but many do.
Posted by Sam T, a resident of the Blossom Valley neighborhood, on Jan 28, 2012 at 11:59 am
Couple of noteworthy points from the facility offer & resolution:
-District is not obligated to pay for existing school modifications to accommodate BCS grade level configuration
-There is no existing facility capable of supporting a K-8 grade configuration suitable to pre-adolescents & adolescents educational &physical requirements without requiring significant modifications
-LASD points out BCS requested LASD to close a campus in their facility request to house BCS students (YES, THEY DID REQUEST THAT). Doing so would violate California law within CEC, sec 200. Equal rights & opportunities to all students would be violated in doing so, along with LASDs commitment to < 600 students per site
-Bach is suited to accommodate BCS 7th-8th grade while alleviating utilization loads at Egan (improved traffic, improved safety, more resources)
-BCS has consistently overestimated its 7th grade enrollment for the past two years while experiencing attrition of 6th graders to traditional middle schools. That will be an interesting stat to follow over the years
-The court of appeal stated "the fact that a charter school receives a smaller facility than those of the comparison group schools does not, by itself, warrant a finding that the charter school has not been provided reasonably equiv. facilties". Such discrepancy can be neutralized with qualitatively superior teaching/non-teacing facilities, such as that offered to BCS in excess to those offered to within LASD
Posted by Sam T, a resident of the Blossom Valley neighborhood, on Jan 28, 2012 at 12:42 pm
Quote from pg 18:
"The District also reserves its right to, and will, seek reimbursement from BCS for over-allocated space in accordance with Section 11969.8 of Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations based on inaccurate enrollment projections by BCS."
Posted by Tax Payer, a resident of another community, on Jan 28, 2012 at 2:03 pm
OMG they have doubled down. They are about to embroil the district in even more litigation. LASD parents, is this what you really want? Is the preserving the ego of the school board and the power of the teachers union that important to you?
The district owes BCS a bunch of space, this offer doesn't address that. The court is deciding that now. Where are they going to put all of the portables that the court will allocate to BCS? Where is the extra blacktop and turf going to come from? It has nothing to do with middle school -- this is just k-6 space that they failed to offer. Moving the middle school won't fix this. I predict that a large chunk of Egan will have to be turned over to BCS.
Here's the great part though -- Now south South Los Altos will have access to BCS. Maybe BCS can take more apps for this year and grow at the other site.
Posted by omg, a resident of another community, on Jan 28, 2012 at 2:32 pm
What do you think the judge is going to say when s/he looks at this? Is it compliant? No. and from there, we have a crap shoot. S/he could say "this is all LASD can do," or equally likely use one of three cirteria for solving the inequity.
1. Location. Give BCS Santa Rita as it pretty much complies and is closest to its current location.
2. Give them GB as it is the least full school and either reboundary or simply switch campuses.
3. Give BCS Covington because it is the closest to prop 39 compliant today.
LASD Families, your trustees are about to leave you no opportunity for public input because, a judge will decide with the stoke of a pen, not a town hall forum. The team you are following into battle is taking an extraordinary risk.
Posted by BCS=Lawsuits Forever, a resident of another community, on Jan 28, 2012 at 3:09 pm
Look how dishonest this is. BCS people are saying, "we don't like this offer, so NOW we're going to sue", implying that there existed some sort of offer wherein they would NOT sue.
That is simply false. No matter what the District offered, BCS would sue. They have NOTHING to lose and everything to gain by another lawsuit. They can "probe" until the end of time because they have an INFINITE legal budget and they certainly don't care about how bad this looks since they are convinced they are doing us a favor.
There are only two possible outcomes here:
1. BCS exists in a constant battle with our public schools.
Posted by Sam T, a resident of the Blossom Valley neighborhood, on Jan 28, 2012 at 5:41 pm
District does not 'owe BCS a bunch of space' apart from what it is currently offering. Tax Payer and OMG, read the facility offers before you make baseless claims to stir up the debate. Look at the calculations for the amount of equivalent space per student between what exists over the court approved sample schools and what is currently given to BCS. All spaces (except for library and K, which is exact) are actually under used as compared to the LASD average. Better teacher ratios and more room space per student is considered by the state to be a 'qualitatively superior facility' item, which neutralizes other site size discrepancies (like not being on a 10 acre parcel but 6.2 instead).
To quote from the Facilities offer AND THE APPEALS COURT RULING:
"The District does not understand the court of appeal’s decision in Bullis, supra, 200 CaLApp.4th 296, to require the District to offer BCS a prescribed site size. As the court stated:
(HERE'S THE APPEAL COURT RULING PART)
-We disagree with Bullis’s contention that “site size by itself shows
-that [it] has not received ‘reasonably equivalent’ facilities.
-[Citation.]” (Fn.omitted.) The fact that a charter school receives a
-smaller facility than those of the comparison group schools does
-not, by itself, warrant a finding that the charter school has not -been provided reasonably equivalent facilities. Other factors, such -as the overall relative condition of the facilities, size and number -of buildings, etc., may result in the conclusion that the charter -school was offered reasonably equivalent facilities, for example, -because the site size discrepancy was neutralized by the charter -school’s being offered facilities qualitatively superior to those of -the comparison group schools.
The District understands the court of appeals decision to mean that a facilities offer can satisfy Proposition 39’s requirements despite an alleged “site size” discrepancy. Indeed, the court of appeal acknowledged that the District could neutralize an alleged size discrepancy by offering “facilities qualitatively superior to those of the comparison group schools” by other measures under Proposition
Posted by Freedom to Choice, a resident of another community, on Jan 28, 2012 at 6:36 pm
I am really tired of the authoritarians in this town. You do not get to choose how I educate my child. I do, thank goodness. Stay in bucket with the rest of crabs, it's safe and cozy in there, until the water warms up. This crab has already escaped and you are not pulling me back. The law is on our side.
Posted by Charter Fan, a resident of another community, on Jan 28, 2012 at 9:17 pm
Charter schools are for all students in California. They were created to create competition among public schools. In the early 90's parents that were feed up with the state of the CA schools placed a voucher initiative on the ballot. The teacher's union put in millions of dollars to fight it. ( I remember this because I was a forced dues paying member of the CTA at the time) They were successful in defeating the initiative but agreed to adding charter schools as way to stave off another voucher bill.
The teachers union wanted to put in a bunch of stuff about the schools being unionized, but were unsuccessful. The CTA then tried to add parts to the bill about the type of kids that could go to a charter school. The restrictions included limiting charters to low SES students. I think that is were that the idea comes from. The assembly was smart enough to realize that charters would work best if all kids had access to charters, not just groups that the teachers union didn't want to teach, so there is nothing in the law that requires charters to be limited to low SES schools.
Posted by change is good, a resident of another community, on Jan 29, 2012 at 10:02 am
I hope the vitriol we see on the blogs reflects just a fraction of the community, and that really most people are respectful of each other's choices. I would love to see the LASD/BCS district recognized for the innovation we collectively bring to education, and how we work together for the good of our children, not for how we've let the fact that some people make different choices tear our community apart. It's become a celebrity divorce proceeding. Enough already!
I hope we can find a way to re-engage respectfully with one another and build something even more amazing for our children moving forward. BCS represents an exciting education reform movement right here in Los Altos. Children, staff and teachers are inspired to collaborate and reach beyond themselves and all kinds of exciting learning happens. I am so glad to be at BCS. If you have found your perfect school within the neighborhood schools of LASD, I am thrilled for you, too. If you haven't, then I would encourage you to work for change and choice. Let's work together to make all of our schools better. Meanwhile, could we please respect that different things work for different families and, as public schools all work together to share and cross pollinate so all of our schools become better?
If the Trustees had managed resources differently, BCS would not have been contentious. I understand why some people, union propents especially, feel threatened by charters, and I get that they do represent a challenge to resource allocation, and that societally we haven't worked out the kinks yet. But I don't understand why some feel we shouldn't have access to a charter in Los Altos simply because we have a decent school district, when someone in a low income neighborhood should have access. If you haven't seen "Waiting for Superman" already, rent it. It will open your eyes to to some of the impossible challenges in education reform and why charters matter (see: Web Link). If charters are a good idea because they bring innovation and competition, and they operate more efficiently because they aren't burdened by large bureaucracies, entitlements, and teachers unions, than they are good for all neighborhoods, not just low income ones.
I look forward to our community recognizing not the scarcity of what we have, but the abundance of what we have, and coming together to celebrate our choices. Let's work together to make things even better for our children moving forward. How about we start with a forum where we can share ideas on what we'd like our schools to become in the future? Are they offering all that we want them to? Am I reading the numbers correctly, or don't more of us want choice? How about our high schools? Now that's where I would really like to see a charter. How about you? Check out some of the charter high schools in neighboring districts, Summit Prep for example. Or an International Baccalaureate program such as the one at Sequoia. Change can be disruptive, but that doesn't mean it's bad. Our public school system was designed to meet the needs of a manufacturing economy, not the 21st century. It needs some updating. Isn't the Silicon Valley the perfect place to lead the charge?
Posted by Bikes2work, a resident of the The Crossings neighborhood, on Jan 29, 2012 at 10:17 am Bikes2work is a member (registered user) of Mountain View Online
The facilities offer is truly a non-starter. The BCS middle school shares numerous specialist teachers with K-6. Those teachers can not possibly be expected to travel back and forth across Los Altos everyday. The program will NOT work with this offer.
Posted by parent, a resident of another community, on Jan 29, 2012 at 10:18 am
There is a lot of mis-information floating around. Because of BCS, LASD spends more money on the other kids in the district. $1 million more to be exact. This is because they keep all of the parcel and property tax monies that would have gone to BCS students had they gone to their neighborhood schools. At BCS students only get 60 cents on the dollar of what they would have otherwise. LASD Trustees spend this on the other LASD children. So, while I think this is dramatically unfair, those of you who complain about BCS taking resources, you might want to get the facts before complaining too loudly. The existence of BCS is to the rest of LASD's financial advantage. (source: Web Link)
Secondly, the demographic data from the STAR test only captures grades 2-8. For complete data you need to look at the letter to the SCCBOE from the BCS Charter Renewal.
BCS's demographic data mirrors the greater LASD community (since BCS admits by blind lottery, makes sense):
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2010 Census.
In district residents White - 67.7% BCS - 51.6%
In district resident residents Black or African American 0.8% BCS - 1.3%
In district residents Asian - 25.1% BCS - 26.2%
In district residents Native Hawaiian & Other Pac. Islander 0.2% BCS - 0.2%
In district residents Some Other Race -1.6% BCS - 0.0%
In district residents Two or More Races 4.4% BCS - 20.6%
In district residents Hispanic or Latino 5.6% BCS - 5.2%
As you can see, BCS tracks the district relative to almost every group, although we have fewer whites than the district by 15%, and approximately that same number more Two or More Race students.
Finally, as has been clarified many many times, like other foundations, the BPESF has a suggested donation of $5000 per student, which is the gap in funding between what the district gives BCS and what it costs to educate a child at BCS. If LASD passed on more of the funds that our students should be receiving (from parcel and property taxes) this number would be smaller. This is merely a suggested donation, just like LAEF has a suggested donation of $1000 per child (because LASD students get approx $4000 more per child than BCS students the LAEF donation is smaller). There are lots of schools that encourage big donations, including Menlo Altherton HS, Portola Valley, etc. BCS has to make up the gap, or we simply can't function as a school.
Don't like the large suggested donation, LASD, give BCS more basic funding and that number will go down. I really don't understand why people keep saying it's tuition. Some families give more, some give less, which is fine with us. Our school has a strong sense of civic responsibility and community values within BCS and towards the greater community. Please don't make this something different than what it is. It would completely go away as an issue if we had equal funding. It's amazing how something can be twisted. BCS students get 60 cents on the dollar from the district compared to other kids, 50% of the facilities, and somehow that makes them entitled? I will never understand that logic.
Posted by ChartersMakeNoSense, a resident of another community, on Jan 29, 2012 at 10:25 am
Charters are on their way OUT. They are not the future, they are the past. They are a failed concept and will go the way of the "energy deregulation" we tried here years ago which caused blackouts.
If you actually cared to READ the article you'll see that Diane Ravitch actually WAS a leading advocate and arguably one of the founders of the Charter movement and, seeing that this idea actually destroys our school system rather than saving it, has now come out against them.
I'm glad you want a "choice". Pay for it YOURSELF. Send your children to a private school or get your billionaire founders to buy their OWN campus and stop trying to steal one from us because you don't happen to agree with what is by any objective measurement is are absolutely OUTSTANDING results in our local schools.
There is absolutely NOTHING inherent in unelected, unaccountable control that will "magically" solve all of those problems you mentioned with public schools. Private companies (esp. those with free, government money to play with) can mess things up just fine. (See examples: Web Link ).
Thanks to the BCS regime and their DECISION to create this horrible division in our towns, our top-ranked schools are going to be ignored and our community is going to be known world-wide for the WAR that we've all been placed in.
I agree that we have great abundance here, and the billionaire founders of BCS could buy a new campus for their little experiment IN THEIR SLEEP and end this war, but like the decision to NOT create what would could have been a world-leading private school, the decision to spend their money on lawyers and not real estate is driven by emotions which are far, far away from educating children.
Posted by DoTheMath, a resident of another community, on Jan 29, 2012 at 10:53 am
As others have pointed out, that study by BCS conveniently left out the fact that there is this thing called a "campus" that costs a lot of money. So much so that this entire war and $millions in legal fees have been spent by BCS over it.
So yeah, the whole "campus" thing is very relevant to the point of being the ONLY thing that's relevant here.
So here's a deal for you:
1. The BCS founders buy their little experiment a campus and vacate the District campus given to them.
2. They enter into an MOU with LASD that they will stop the attacks and in exchange for sharing the our parcel taxes (that said, this is probably not legal since BCS is chartered by the County, but for argument's sake).
If this doesn't sound like a good deal to you then by definition your contention that BCS somehow saves the District lots of money fails.
Posted by parent, a resident of another community, on Jan 29, 2012 at 11:07 am
BUT LASD would have to house those kids on another LASD campus if they weren't at BCS... The facilities costs for BCS students are currently less per student than they are for LASD students because they are in less space, less desirable facilities. So that argument doesn't work DoTheMath - those students need facilities whether they are at BCS public charter or an LASD public school, whether LASD allocates those costs to the charter or to another school doesn't really matter, same number of in district students (public and charter combined) same per student facilities cost.
Posted by Superman, a resident of another community, on Jan 29, 2012 at 11:15 am
To "change is good" -
Agree, let's find a collective solution for all. That would be the neighborly thing to do-- otherwise we all pay the consequences in our community.
That said, I don't think Waiting for Superman is a good example here, given the demographics we are talking about as well as the high performance of LASD by all measures.
First - what I understand is that test scores at LASD are very similar to BCS -- if that sort of measure means anything. If so, then really how much more effective is the supposedly innovative curriculum at BCS and is this pain and suffering worth it for everyone?
Secondly - BCS was borne out of spite and the leadership seems committed to "winning at all costs". That's problem. If BCS wants equal treatment then it should behave a neighbor and community member should for the benefit of all.
Perhaps a starting point would be to change Ken Moore and those of his ilk to bring a closer sense of unity with the rest of our community and not the elitist and entitled world from which he and others themselves are borne out of.
That would demonstrate good faith to begin reasonable negotiations.
Posted by DoTheMath.2, a resident of another community, on Jan 29, 2012 at 11:48 am
What BCS is asking for (or, they promise, they will sue) is a setup that no LASD student has. They want an integrated campus from K to 8 and all of the trimmings. The District has created a solution that is within its budget given the inherent inefficiency of having two completely different school management teams dividing up a single set of resources.
Simply handing over an entire campus is not only a non-starter for LASD parents, it would just mean another lawsuit since LASD does NOT have a campus that could, according to the Opinion of the Court, fulfill everything BCS needs. So even if they did hand over a campus (and basically start WWIII in our community) then BCS would be obligated to sue again to improve the given campus.
To be clear, if BCS were abolished tomorrow then the District would have far, far more resources for LASD kids. A big chunk of the $5k donations would go to LAEF and its clearly FAR more efficient to run a single school district within our district rather than two with completely different programs.
Or to put it another way, these resources are not "fungible" in the way you are implying. If BCS could equally spread its students out among every single campus then yes, but that is plainly impractical (as is having an integrated campus from K-8 like no other LASD school has).
Again, if it were REALLY cheaper and more convenient for LASD to have a Charter school, then we wouldn't be having this conversation. As it stands, my children live under the threat of their school being closed down because BCS is here and attacking. Explain that.
Posted by change is good, a resident of another community, on Jan 29, 2012 at 12:12 pm
We all look at test scores, I get that, but there are so many other qualitative measures to look at that are much more valuable for assessing the value of a program. At my child's BCS Holiday Concert, he and all of his classmates demonstrated the ability to sight read a piece of music they had never seen before in front of a packed auditorium of parents. I didn't even know he could do this!
His individual learning goals, which are developed every year in consultation with his teachers, include goal setting across a wide array of academic areas, individual interests, and social skills that are specific to him, enabling my son, us as parents, and his teachers to invest in his education in meaningful, goal oriented ways. The tremendously wide array of during the day electives (co-curriculars) such as greek monsters, culture cook, stage combat, marble math, or treble voices, to after school extra-ciricurriculars, such as four square, lego robotics, home work club, Spanish, Volleyball, are incredibly enriching and provide individualized learning experiences that keep students excited and engaged.
There is a top notch drama program and students take Mandarin starting in Kindergarten. Public speaking is emphasized as are project based learning projects where kids learn through hands on projects. BCS has merit pay for teachers and lots of teacher development opportunities.
My sense is that BCS gets more value out of the dollar it invests in education, which is exactly the argument made in Waiting for Superman. Sad but true, there is lots of waste in traditional public school bureaucracies, and even districts or individuals that are committed to reform are stymied by waste and union rules.
If more of you in LASD would like the many wonderful programs BCS has to offer than I would encourage you to ask LASD to give BCS more space and more funding. There is no reason not to make the value available at BCS available to more kids. Getting ride of BCS's great programs won't make them appear at LASD schools. But collaborating might.
I agree that BCS has some perception problems, but I believe that the intentions of the BCS board are to bring an innovative education choice to as many kids in LASD as want it. When LASD Trustees have been in violation of the law, the BCS Board has called them to task. Have they done everything perfectly? No. Have they communicated perfectly with the community? No. But I believe their intentions are to be education change agents and to protect the rights of the students in their care. There have been lots of mis-steps on the LASD Trustees side, we wouldn't be in this situation today if they had handled lots of things differently. Blame can just as easily be placed on their feet.
Both school systems exist. BCS is not going away, and it's not going private. Let's figure out how to make co-habitaion work for the benefit, not detriment, of our community.
Posted by DoTheMath.3, a resident of another community, on Jan 29, 2012 at 1:13 pm
Can you prove, using democratically agreed-upon metrics, that your school BETTER than our public schools here? What if I said that I believe that BCS programs are WORSE than those of the District? What if I said (as I do believe) that my LASD school is AWESOME? What if I don't agree that mandatory Mandarin from Kindergarten is a good thing (and I don't)?
In short, you don't get to spend public money because your whims tell you something is better. This is anarchy and creates a big mess (sorta like what we're having right now).
The public sector is NOT the place to innovate. Everything about it is antithetical to a new venture: majority rule, risk taking, foisting that risk on the unwilling, and so forth (and yes you DO foist that risk upon us because you want our campuses).
In other words, because YOU want something "different" WE have to pay. That is not fair, and not viable. It is NOT the formula for harmony, but rather war.
If parents want these programs they should encourage the District to prioritize them--but they haven't.
Charter schools are at root a private takeover of public funds. This NEVER ends well every time we've tried it.
As for BCS "not going away", you should understand that THIS YEAR WILL BE DIFFERENT. For the first time ever we parents have been told that we need to "compete in the marketplace" for the survival of our public schools. BCS has had many years to dominate the dialog against a defenseless District who is not disposed to "marketing" (as they shouldn't be). The Charter laws have basically told us, "hey public school parents, YOU need to be the marketing arm of your District and you MUST do this or your schools will CLOSE". Well, here we are. Ten weeks ago our presence was zero. Now we have a voice and it will only get stronger. We've ramped up on multiple fronts and some of the brightest minds in the world are on the problem.
So if the Charter laws tell us to "compete", I say: "bring it".
Posted by ST, a resident of the Blossom Valley neighborhood, on Jan 29, 2012 at 1:24 pm
change is good,
Awesome sounding programs there. I don't think most rational people are disputing the benefits of BCS and at the same time LASD. I do think elements of your program exist in various forms at our district schools. I have a 1st grader in Springer, where during kindergarten she was given ample personal direction in her learnings, after school foreign language, and music/vocal programs. In fact, a lot of your after school activities clubs also exist at our school as well (both during school and after).
And that's the thing that is getting under the skins of some district parents. By most measures, even beyond API scores, the educational benefits and methodologies of our systems are similar. Sure would like to hear from a parent with kids in both schools for an unbiased view.
So, given that, what is the true benefit of a charter within LASD? The district recognized this early on, which why they declined awarding a charter. Why spend the resources from a nationally top school district that isn't suffering from poor academic performance, excessively high administrative costs, and high attrition rates. In our area, that's what a private school is for.
BUT... BCS exists, they are still our kids from the LA/MV community and no one wants to place them in any educational harm. However, if you are Charter school, then do more than an alternative teaching methodology. Follow the California education codes on representing the district to which you are chartered (Santa Clara County) and drop the geographic preference towards Los Altos Hills. For a true charter schools in this area, check out what has been done in East Palo Alto.
Posted by LASD parent, a resident of another community, on Jan 29, 2012 at 2:06 pm
@change is good
Very well written argument. I'm guessing you were one of the 20 parent volunteers who received media training from Larson Associates which BCS contracted with for media services such as getting articles places in local papers.
Posted by Bikes2work, a resident of the The Crossings neighborhood, on Jan 29, 2012 at 2:53 pm Bikes2work is a member (registered user) of Mountain View Online
Did it ever occur to you that the competition of BCS is what is prompting LASD to offer some enhanced and innovative programs? Competition is good. It is what charter schools are meant to soto the status quo. That is the true legislative intent of charter schools.
Posted by LA Mom, a resident of another community, on Jan 29, 2012 at 3:04 pm
ST asks "What is the value of having a charter school"?
Good question, and I think it gets at the heart of the matter. I value having a charter school because it gives parents a choice and creates competition. Competition is great for everyone because it leads to innovation. I think all of us in Silicon Valley can agree that innovation is a good thing. What if there never was as Intel? An Apple Computer? Or a Google? I am sure we could all get very geeky with picking the true innovators, but you get my point. We owe our continued good fortune to innovation. When it comes to education, we somehow forget this, many in the community prefer their IBM Main frame and that's ok with me. But don't force me to give up my laptop. At least of us third want a choice and we all need to work together to find a compromise.
If the charter school isn't for you, that's ok but you should value the competition.
Posted by lackingOfSocialResponsibilitesAndTouchWithRealWorld, a resident of another community, on Jan 29, 2012 at 3:19 pm
BCS is a publicly funded private school serving a richest part of one of the richest areas in USA. It is lacking of social responsibilities or diversity, out of touch with the real world. It has considerably lower percentage of Latino student, almost no English learners, almost no special education students, and no special education students.
Posted by change is good , a resident of another community, on Jan 29, 2012 at 3:20 pm
I do wish to apologize if I implied that BCS was a better school overall or that it would make a better choice for you. I do believe it is better for my family, and I believe that our family has a legal right to choose BCS, and that other families who wish to make that choice should be able to make that choice, too. I am very glad that you are happy with your school, I think it's great that we have so many great choices in Los Altos/LAH. I really am.
I would like us all to respect each others right to choose. If you don't want to go to the charter, don't. But please respect that the charter has a right to exist, and that charter students, as public students, should have equal access to facilities and funding as other LASD students. Right now we have 10% of the students, but only 6% of the facilities, and we receive only 60 cents on the dollar in funding. Sounds like discrimination me. I wonder how you would feel if it were the inverse?
I think we have a bit of herd mentality going on here. Our school communities are such an important part of our daily lives, and the Trustees have encouraged us to feel threatened. But please recognize that we all feel this way, and we all want what's best for our kids, and we all have equal rights under the law. It's tough when there is a lottery for some sense of exclusivity not to be created, but the more space BCS has, the more families that can attend. It is not just me, it is a huge portion of the district that wants to attend BCS. BCS didn't create the Charter law, but our rights/mandate do come from it.
I understand not believing charters are right for you, I really do, but the fact is, charters were created because education reformers felt they couldn't get the system to change, and charters, for all of the pros and cons of the category in general, are the best hope we've got in some situations. Do we need a full scale education over hall in this country? You bet. Meanwhile, we've got a hybrid system and we are in the middle of trying to figure out how to work out the kinks as a community. If we can keep our eyes on the goal - improving education for our kids - perhaps we can make the most of it together. I think we all know charters are not going anywhere, so let's move productively, and fairly forward. BCS is a wonderful school. So are the local LASD run schools. We have lots of brainpower in this community. I am sure we can figure this out if we want to.
Posted by PublicPrivateMess, a resident of another community, on Jan 29, 2012 at 6:00 pm
Apple, Google and (ahem) Intel were all financed with PRIVATE MONEY.
PRIVATE entrepreneurs risking their OWN lives and reputations and investors backing them with THEIR OWN money which THEY ALONE stood to lose.
And for every A/G/I there are a hundred failures each. I'll plunk down lots of money into a 100:1 shot because I can afford to lose it a dozen times. My children, however, all have exactly ONE childhood.
No successful tech company has ever started as a government-funded boondoggle.
Posted by LA Mom, a resident of another community, on Jan 29, 2012 at 7:52 pm
I think you have your facts wrong. Charter schools don't steal money. In fact BCS is spending $5000 less of the Tax Payers money than is the LASD. Choice is good for everyone, except for authoritarians.
Posted by LASD parent that supports Charter, a resident of another community, on Jan 29, 2012 at 8:45 pm
I have kids in LASD; however, I do think a charter school is a good idea. I agree that it fosters competition which benefits the entire school district, like those that support Bullis school suggest. Probably most people (in our community at least) would agree that competition is a good thing.
That said, I support a charter school that is open to enrollment without preference, has a board that is freely elected like other school boards and demonstrates transparency, and has a student body that reflects the general population of the community.
I think that is the major stumbling block for all of us LASD parents in supporting Bullis Charter. Bullis wants it both ways -- private enterprise behavior with public money. That's the rub.
Again, I support charter schools, but one that is open, transparent, and equal. Bullis does not unfortunately meet that standard, no matter how you slice the data.
Posted by LASD Parent, a resident of another community, on Jan 29, 2012 at 8:55 pm
@Tell Us More
It's in the Bullis Board of Directors minutes. September 9, 2011 item II.C. and November 7, 2011 item IV.3. There are other mentions of this throughout past minutes and if you look at past budgets and tax returns you can figure out how much Larson was paid.
I don't think real public schools are permitted (or have the extra money) to pay for PR firms.
Posted by LASDparentsCanThinkForOurselves, a resident of another community, on Jan 30, 2012 at 1:06 am
It is absurd that some BCS people still portray this conflict as BCS people vs LASD board, and LASD parents are just being played by our board. You have to come up with something much more intelligent than that.
Posted by FromTheFuture, a resident of another community, on Jan 30, 2012 at 8:44 am
I am a parent residing in los altos and my first kid will go to KG in 2013, so I am still evaluating where to go. This is a pretty long thread but I read all of it, but still it seems that I am missing some facts. Can folks help me verify these facts:
1. BCS gets $4200 less funding per student than LASD
2. BCS gets 1/4th the campus space than LASD per student.
3. Does every LASD student get close to the average space? I am trying to understand how bad is 1/4 of the average.
4. Almost all the students at BCS are eligible for LASD i.e BCS is educating the same pool of kids that our community is funding.
5. BCS has a waiting list of LASD residents who can't get in at almost every grade level?
It's hard for me to form a strong opinion until I get my facts right.
BTW, if there are other online forums where I can hear from both LASD and BCS, I would love to know about them.
Posted by Sam, a resident of the Blossom Valley neighborhood, on Jan 30, 2012 at 9:48 am
BCS sits on 6.2 acres in portables. The average LASD elementary schools is on ~ 10 acres. Bullis has ~ 460 kids in K-8, subtract maybe 20 - 40 kids in 7-8, while the rest of the district ranges from 325 (Gardner) up to ~ 550 kids in k-6. So, 1/4th the size is far from true. Bullis also has a sharing arrangement (contract) with Egan Middle School for other facility and field use time.
If they do split K-6 from 7-8 over separate sites, and maintain a population of < 450 in K-6, then just on the site they occupy the ratio is 72 kids/acre vs 55 kids / acre. The former does not include the shared facility sites (like the soccer field) whereas the latter does.