http://mv-voice.com/square/print/2013/12/31/year-in-review-school-news-features-spat-over-bullis-censured-trustee


Town Square

Year in review: School news features spat over Bullis, censured trustee

Original post made on Dec 31, 2013

Local schools made plenty of headlines this year -- some of them even drawing the attention of a wider audience as regional news outlets picked up stories that regular Voice readers will be familiar with.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, December 31, 2013, 10:21 AM

Comments

Posted by Board watcher , a resident of Cuesta Park
on Dec 31, 2013 at 11:32 am

Too bad that Mr. Nelson learned nothing from the censure. He was on better behavior for one meeting and then went right back to his usual rude and childish behavior. The board members can't do their jobs with this clown on the board.


Posted by LASD Board Watcher, a resident of Gemello
on Jan 1, 2014 at 7:56 am

Mountain View Whisman has one crazy unprofessional member. while LASD has a majority of it's Trustees are unprofessional, irrational and wasteful. You should have included Ms. Logan's and Mr. Smith's visits to the MV City Council were they suggested that Mountain View Taxpayers pay for new Los Altos Schools. In a second action instead of making tough decisions about school facilities, they spent LASD tax dollars on a wasteful and crazy attempt to get rid of the Charter.

LASD Trustees have already spent, and tried to spend millions more tax dollars to purchase an old decaying school site along the Sunnyvale- Santa Clara border.. The three acre Raynor Park site is way down El Camino and needs millions in repairs. LASD has already spent big bucks on this Raynor foley, and appealed related court decision, wasting tax payer dollars that should be spent on educating students. Luckily Sunnyvale selected a different buyer.

A Santa County Grand Jury task force suggested that MV Whisman/LASD/MVLA combine into one district. I am not sure if that is the answer but it is clear to me that the MVLA and MV Whisman Boards are more professional and are better stewards of tax dollars.


Posted by Vladimir G. Ivanovic, a resident of another community
on Jan 1, 2014 at 9:23 am

Welcome to the New Year! And it's not even a day old, and people are already peddling the same old combination of misinformation and innuendo as last year. <sigh>

@LASD Watcher: If you want to contribute to the conversation, you need to pay attention.

* Misstatement of fact: LASD did not spend millions of dollars to purchase the Raynor site. The Board merely authorized staff to prepare a bid, and I don't even recall that there was a dollar amount attached.

* Innuendo: And, so what if that site were decaying; everyone expected it to be renovated or rebuilt.

* Innuendo: And three acres sounds wonderful to me: my top rated elementary school housed 300 kids on (generously) a half acre.

* Innuendo: Trustees Smith and Logan hardly asked Mountain View to pay for Los Altos schools. They did point out that Mountain View has authorized the construction of hundreds of condo and apartment units in the North El Camino area (think San Antonio shopping center) with no plan (none, zero, zilch) for schools. Schools don't magically appear; it takes years to plan, fund and build them, particularly if there is no obvious site. And don't forget that an entire apartment complex counts as just a single parcel for tax purposes.

My feeling is that had the North El Camino construction occurred within a Mountain View school district with no plan for providing education for those kids, there would have been an uproar in the Mountain View City Council. But since the construction is in the Los Altos School District, it's Not My Problem.

* Innuendo: Why is it "lucky"" that Sunnyvale selected a different buyer for Raynor? What difference does it make if the site is outside District boundaries? What *educational* difference does it make? Raynor is 13 minutes from the current Bullis site according to Google, and Bullis is already a commuter school. Why is exchanging more commute time in return for an exclusive, dedicated site a horrible, horrible plot by LASD to shut them down?

* Misstatement of fact: The trustees of the Los Altos School District are not wasting taxpayer dollars that ought to be spent of educating children. We are *defending* ourselves against eight (count 'em, eight!) lawsuits by Bullis, lawsuits that obviously we don't want. Why is it that *we* are wasting taxpayer dollars and not Bullis?

* Misstatement of fact: It is not true that the "MVLA and MV Whisman Boards are more professional [than the Los Altos School Board]". That's merely your opinion.


Posted by LASD Concerned Citizen, a resident of another community
on Jan 1, 2014 at 11:54 am

Our LASD Trustees are just as rude and childish as Mr. Nelson. In particular I have witnessed Mr. Goines, Ms. Logan and Mr. Smith exhibit very rude and unprofessional behavior. At the beginning of this school year I was at a meeting where the a several young, earnest and articulate BCS teachers were addressing the Board. Mr. Goines glared at them and then proceeded to completely ignore them, by loading shuffling papers and then laughing. Mr. Smith and Ms Logan smirked, shook their head and then carried on a side by conversation, completely ignoring the BCS teachers. They did this with at least two or three of the BCS teachers. I was embarrassed that they would show so little respect for educators in our community. It really was very unprofessional. In the next election I will not be voting any of them.


Posted by LASD Observer, a resident of another community
on Jan 2, 2014 at 2:23 am

Wow, the comment by Mr. Ivanovic was self-critical. What kind of board would authorize a bid with no amount of money being specified? Surely there must have been a limit, and surely it must have been many millions of dollars. Mr Ivanovic was a candidate for LASD board himself, and he should know that unlike in other countries, in California there are state standards for elementary school sites. These standards call for a 10 acre minimum school size, not 3 acres. This is the kind of lack of attention to the law which gets LASD where it is. He counts up 8 Bullis law suits but this is over 10 years time. At present there is one main lawsuit going forward, and this one is the 2009 suit which LASD lost. Bullis is appealing the failure of the trial judge to follow the ruling of the appeals court. Seems reasonable to me. LASD requested the judge to make Bullis file a new suit on the matter and so Bullis did, but then LASD obstructed that continually, expending a great deal of money, so Bullis has gone back to the 2009 lawsuit as its main vehicle of moving forward. This question is simple. Did the appeals court mean what its decision said or has it changed its mind. LASD is trying lots of tactics to get it to change the ruling. We will soon know. No matter how you slice it, the LASD failure to abide by the 2009 ruling is what has incurred all the additional legal fees since then. Probably we are taling about $5Million (both sides) before the ruling and then another $6Million (both sides) since then. And all the law says is that ALL the kids whether in charter or traditional schools deserve a similar share of the legacy public school facilities. If LASD does a job that is insufficient and 600 kids leave the LASD schools, why should LASD keep all the space they would otherwise occupy? This would reward them for doing a poor job.


Posted by LASD Board Watcher, a resident of Gemello
on Jan 2, 2014 at 10:58 am

@ Vladimir G. Ivanovic -

You need to study up on issue. Just listening to one side blinds you from the facts. Let's start with Raynor site purchase. Certainly a clear indication that the LASD Board is acting in Bad Faith. It is willing to spend millions on lawyers rather than doing it's duty to provide facilities to a PUBLIC school that is operated by a different organization.


Misstatement of fact: LASD did not spend millions of dollars to purchase the Raynor site. The Board merely authorized staff to prepare a bid, and I don't even recall that there was a dollar amount attached.

LASD did in fact spend money on the following: 1. Application/Paperwork preparation which includes countless hours of staff time - time that should be spent on educating kids. 2. $50,000 bid fee. 3. Legal fees. 4. Court costs. 5. More court costs because LASD decided to appeal the decision - even though Sunnyvale sold the site to someone else. Cost is still accumulating on this one voters. It is a mean spirited and clearly bad decision making as well as a complete waste of tax payer dollars.


Innuendo: And, so what if that site were decaying; everyone expected it to be renovated or rebuilt.

Yes in fact it would have to be rebuilt at a very high cost. In addition the cost for this site would be ongoing because you would have to rent space from the adjoining park. That's our board for you. They are willing to spend any amount of tax payer dollars ( 30 million? 40 million?) to get rid of BCS.


Posted by LASD Board Watcher, a resident of Gemello
on Jan 2, 2014 at 11:06 am

@ Vladimir G. Ivanovic - (Cheerleader for LASD Bad Decision Making and Mistreatment of BCS and the NEC)

You stated that apparently your school, Gardner Bullis ( the only LASD school at 300 students - about 1/2 size of the three largest schools.) uses only 5 percent of it's campus:

Innuendo: And three acres sounds wonderful to me: my top rated elementary school housed 300 kids on (generously) a half acre.

There are several things wrong about this statement. Gardner is not a top rated school - scoring only a 7/10 on the CDE Similar Schools Index. According to the index, it is one of the lowest performing schools in our area. Additionally Gardner is a 10 acre site. So either you have no concept of space and measurement or you are making stuff up. The blacktop areas, school buildings and parking lot measure 5 acres. The grass playing field is 2 acres. The fact that Gardner only uses 5 acres is a staffing decision created because Gardner is a very high cost school, the highest cost of all LASD schools. I am sure if BCS used the site that they would use the entire 10 acres.


Posted by psr, a resident of The Crossings
on Jan 2, 2014 at 3:36 pm

As is typical, the BCS cheerleaders have come out in force, spreading their misinformation as always.

If you wish to see unprofessional behavior, I suggest a single BCS board meeting. The disrespectful behavior toward the LASD is evident at all times. At no time does the welfare of the children in district schools enter into their discourse. It is simply "me, me , mine" and whatever they want without regard for the rest of the children. Of course, I need not point this out to you, as I doubt that any of you are not board members or faculty there.

Bullis exist ONLY to attempt to punish the district for what the board members see as a wrong committed against them. There is no other need for a school of this type in the district, as all the schools are high performing. What it, in fact, does is create a drain on the rest of the district in order to defend the rest of the children and allow them the space and facilities their parents' taxes pay for.

I suggest you all clean your own house first before you cast stones at the district. They have to educate the children left after your creaming process. You are not willing to take the good with the bad and I, for one, will continue to support the district in defending those in our community with less deep pockets.


Posted by BCS Parent, a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Jan 2, 2014 at 3:45 pm

@ psr

LOL that's a real thigh slapper! Yep all the parents at BCS are sending their kids there because of revenge! That's why I drive all the way across town! We have to vindicate the wrong that was done 10 years ago. Wow I hope that you are not in any position of authority. Clearly you are not a parent.


Posted by My children are grown, a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Jan 2, 2014 at 6:39 pm

This is actually better than any "reality show" on TV! The K's have nothing compared to this. Absolutely more entertaining than anything on the networks. Even better than SNL.


Posted by psr, a resident of The Crossings
on Jan 2, 2014 at 9:06 pm

Not only am I a parent, I am a resident that is disgusted with the attitude that BCS is an innocent victim in any of this. As a BCS parent, I would hope you would be as concerned with the education of the other children in the district rather than just your own.

I would also be concerned with the attitude BCS has about children that are more difficult to educate. If they were truly a "public" school, as they claim, there wouldn't be the idea that special needs children have no place there. They would also not wish to displace those children and seek to take their schools.

But I suppose that situation is also a "knee slapper" to you. May you never have to deal with issues parents of special needs children face. If I were you, I would be thankful for my situation in a good district and not seek more for children that are already well off at the expense of those who are not.


Posted by Erica, a resident of another community
on Jan 2, 2014 at 9:26 pm

Dear PSR -
I am a BCS parent. My husband and I choose BCS because we liked the program. We liked the idea of our children are learning Mandarin. We also liked the longer school day, the smart teaching staff and the Focused Learning Goals. we really liked that we were able to choose an educational community rather than being assigned one based on our address. Schools are more than test scores. LASD kind of scrapes by on demographics, it doesn't do anything special. It kinds of floats along on the status quo. Hoping parents will donate, but okay if they don;t because they collect taxes anyway. They don't need to attract students and so don't really try very hard.
BCS is leaps and bonds ahead. It is a HUGE asset to our community.


Posted by psr, a resident of The Crossings
on Jan 2, 2014 at 10:03 pm

Erica, you are welcome to your opinion. However, it seems that your opinions come from BCS marketing literature rather than experience. That said, I don't mind BCS as long as they exist peacefully and try to get along with the rest of the community. It is the entitled attitude and the idea that LASD kids are not getting a great education.

The idea that a neighborhood school is about the test scores and not the community show that you have no experience with the district other than what you have been told by BCS. You should consider that biased and talk to real parents. Our communities are very close and strong, which is why the BCS attitude that the kids can just be redistributed to other schools so BCS can have a campus is so opposed by the parents.

Regarding your comment that LASD is "scraping by on demographics", LASD reflects the demographics of the population. BCS has fewer English language learners, fewer economically disadvantaged and fewer special needs kids. All of those cost a LOT more money to educate. BCS has very few and leaves the economic burden for educating them on the district. How is that fair to the district and the kids in it?

As for donations, why do you think it is an issue that LASD doesn't get too pushy about donations? You do understand that many parents CAN'T afford to give more, don't you? We do what is needed to raise funds for our schools and we support those who have less willingly. They are our friends and neighbors, so we help them. Why is BCS so unable to see that? Why do they disregard our communities and think them less strong and close-knit?

BCS could be a huge asset, if they tried to work WITH the district, rather than being at odds at all times. Just imagine what ALL the children could be benefiting from if they would.


Posted by LASD Observer, a resident of another community
on Jan 3, 2014 at 1:29 am

Bullis is nobody's victim. LASD is only hurting its own interests when it messes around with legal delaying tactics to skirt state law. They have caused $12 Million dollars in legal fees to be spent. That ought to concern everyone. The law is fair. Bullis's board has nothing to do with the LASD kids, and vice versa. The usage of the grounds and buildings is a scant miniscule component of the educational program. LASD overemphasizes this portion over other more important ones. It is no problem to spread the resources around. LASD's cure is worse than their imagined problem.

As for this distraction issue of the needs of the underprivileged kids in LASD, this is a red herring. LASD has hardly any such disadvantaged kids. Look at Mountain View Whisman.... 50% of the students are disadvantaged. LASD had to mount a campaign to get its numbers up to 4.5% from 2.9% of these disadvantaged kids. LASD pays little attention to their needs, and one of the things they do is to work as hard as they can to discourage those parents from choosing to send kids to the charter school. The prohibit Bullis from speaking to them as an option in their enrollment choices. It's a case of these poor kids being used as pawns to fuel a miserably poor argument about why Bullis is bad. Really LASD itself is bad in comparison to the rest of the over Mtn View Los Altos public school community. The kids at LASD's Jr Highs are virtually going to a private school with small classes of 20 students while in Mtn View Whisman the low SES kids attend classes of 30 or so kids each.


Posted by LASD Observer, a resident of another community
on Jan 3, 2014 at 1:36 am

Also, I should note that several of the LASD schools have nearly no kids with low socio economic status. The LASD kids in this category are concentrated at two main schools and a couple of others with around the district average numbers. Bullis at present is just one of the cases similar to LASD's Gardner or Loyola in terms of its number of low SES students. For that matter the Blach Jr High school has relatively few compared to Egan Jr High. It's very peculiar that LASD can criticize Bullis for just being similar to what they themselves do. What's ironic is that Bullis is trying to recruit more of these low SES students. They have added staff skilled in ELL instruction and they provide all of their materials in Spanish as well as translations for parents as needed. This seems to be more than LASD does. It's also worth noting that in the Jr High ages Bullis has had a number of students from Moutain View Whisman.


Posted by LASD Parent, a resident of another community
on Jan 3, 2014 at 9:41 am

The BCS parent's comment that LASD "scrapes by on demographics" reflects an ignorance as to what LASD is really doing. I have two children in LASD schools and they are receiving a wonderful education. The teachers and school administration are fantastic and the high level of parental involvement produces a special sense of community. We could not be happier with LASD! Keep up the good work!


Posted by Duel Parent, a resident of another community
on Jan 3, 2014 at 10:50 am

I have experienced both BCS and LASD schools. Both have there good points. I don't think LASD offers a wonderful program. It's a good program, which varies depending on what school you are at and what grade you are in. There is always a reason why things can't be done. Parents work really hard to make things great, but can only do much there is always some reason why things can't change. There also seems to be a preference for several of the schools, and everyone knows it. Santa Rita, Gardner and Covington get more goodies than other schools. I think it's because there parents are the most organized against BCS, so they are rewarded. Not a policy, but it just seems to be happening that way. That's why we have one of ours at BCS now. What I have noticed overtime is that LASD parents do not speak up as much as they used to. It's almost like you are being disloyal if say anything negative. Which doesn't help anyone. It's somewhat different at BCS, more like the old LASD. If parents don't like something, they discuss it openly. Also I think it makes a big difference that everyone has chosen BCS, instead of just being assigned, it increases parent involvement.


Posted by Speak the truth, a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jan 3, 2014 at 11:29 am

The prolific "LASD Observer" claims that the lack of underprivileged students at BCS is a "red herring". LASD in total, reflects the demographics of the residents within the district. And yes, we are blessed to live in a relatively affluent area. How those demographics relate to MV Whisman is in fact the red herring here. According to CA Dept of Education data, BCS, after over 10 years of operation, and multiple so-called outreach programs currently enrolls exactly ZERO socio-economically disadvantaged students. And only in 2012 did they have any at all (3), who were gone by the next year. One can reasonably assume that they were not made to feel welcome in the refined environment of BCS. BCS, despite their marketing rhetoric, remains elitist and segregationist, and any parent who sends their children to the charter is complicit in that as well.


Posted by Dale, a resident of Slater
on Jan 3, 2014 at 12:24 pm

Is anyone else tired of the Los Altos folks going back and forth about the 3 percent of students vs the zero percent of low income students? Please get some prospective.


Posted by Perspective, a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jan 3, 2014 at 12:44 pm

@Dale -- According to the CDE data, it's 5% in 2013 not 3%. But either way, it is a relatively low number (which I acknowledged originally). The issue is that if BCS were sincerely trying to serve the entire LASD community AND if they were sincerely trying to serve under-performing segments of the student population (which was the primary objective of the charter laws), then they would not have ZERO low-income students. The enrollment data from the last 8 years suggests that the BCS model exclusively caters to those who can afford $5K - $10K annual "donations", international field trips, and many hours of parent volunteer support -- in other words, NOT the disadvantaged in the community.

BCS's existence undermines and de-stabilizes LASD, while providing literally no benefit to those in the community who need it most. Have some perspective on that please...


Posted by More Perspective, a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jan 3, 2014 at 12:53 pm

@Dale -- one more thing: I'm from Mountain View, not Los Altos...


Posted by No Respect, a resident of another community
on Jan 3, 2014 at 1:45 pm

The financial situation of would be students is easily screened if you read the BCS application form. Not direct questions, but if I was to read a completed application I could easily tell if someone might not be able to come through with the contributions as needed. I really hate how they have bastardized the original goal of charter schools, actually becoming what the law was intended to prevent.


Posted by Anything New?, a resident of Cuernavaca
on Jan 3, 2014 at 2:44 pm

Haven't you all had enough? Has any new argument been introduced by either side in the past 5 years?

It seems clear that the only short term end to this comes from passing a bond. And the two sides can't even unite for that cause. Ongoing squabbling diminishes the likelihood of the community voting to entrust additional money for the benefit of LASD/BCS. And even with that, the bickering continues...in the courts, in the blogs...

In the interests of ending this mess, can't both sides put the arguing on hold for 6 months? Or just fake it?


Posted by Dale, a resident of Slater
on Jan 3, 2014 at 7:54 pm

Thanks for letting me know.... if it's 5 percent then well I guess I was completely wrong.
Yippy Skippy your from Mountain View.... but the wrong side of the tracks and El Camino. Your actually in want be LA.


Posted by David, a resident of another community
on Jan 3, 2014 at 9:33 pm

The crux of the matter is that it is irrelevant to have a difference between 5% and 0%. I erred in saying Mountain View Whisman was 50% disadvantaged. What I should have said was that California state-wide is 55% disadvantaged. In Mountain View Whisman the numbers are only 43%. But at Crittenden Middle school the number is 55%. Santa Clara County overall is 37%. Graham Middle School is 43% Free and Reduced Price Lunch, the proxy for disadvantaged. If you do the arithmetic what this means is that in Mountain View Whisman the fraction of disadvantaged is 20% higher in Middle School than it is overall. This kind of difference has some impact and means something, not the difference between a 5% 9 school average and an individual school having 0%.


Posted by David, a resident of another community
on Jan 3, 2014 at 9:43 pm

I object to the premise that the passage of a bond has anything at all do do with the envy that the LASD parents feel towards BCS. BCS has come around to the position that it is okay if their school is split between two sites so long as they receive an equivalent amount of space as the other students. This doesn't require closing any school. The problem is that LASD is putting roadblocks into that approach. There are things that can be done quite inexpensively to make the 2 ad hoc school sites BCS is provided now become equivalent to the LASD schools. When LASD saw that BCS was willing to accept that approach, it FREAKED THEM OUT. They need to say that a bond must be passed to provide BCS with a $100 Million school like all the others. This is not the best approach. I don't see how anyone can say BCS is being selfish to feel that way. They are being realistic. It might be that LASD just plans to promise and promise and never deliver, even with the passage of a $200 Million bond to buy 2 new school sites. In any event BCS is on the right track to favor a cheaper approach. Cheaper doesn't mean inferior in a practical way. The setup LASD provided to the portion of BCS over at Blach is clearly inferior for the sake of saving in money 5% of what LASD is spending on lawsuits defending their 'right' to mistreat the BCS students.


Posted by just the numbers, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jan 4, 2014 at 9:31 am

Clowns like #s too! Thanks for the cover LASD/Bullis. The disadvantaged percentages in MVWSD middle schools, and their increase from the elementary %s is a good indication of the 'opt out of MVWSD middle schools' process that happens (more than we'd like). In the MVWSD Demographics study for 2012-13 this is called "negative migration" and you can see it plainly in Table 14, pg. 62 where 5th (elementary) to 6th (middle school) has a 7 year average of -7.92% and 2011>2012 of - 9.49%. Web Link
Happy New Year!