Bullis reaches milestone

Charter school celebrates first class to make it through entire 'comprehensive' program

The very first class of students to make its way from first through eighth grade at Bullis Charter School matriculated last week.

"This is a particularly exciting event for us," Wanny Hersey, superintendent and principal of BCS, said of the milestone, which was commemorated with a June 7 afternoon ceremony. "Not only has it been an extremely successful class, in terms of academic achievement, but the students were also the ones who helped us pioneer our innovative curriculum."

Six of the 24 graduating students in the eighth-grade class of 2012 started their academic careers at Bullis, winding their way all the way up through the school's "comprehensive and integrated" program, Hersey said.

Hearing the students speak at the commencement ceremony was vindicating for Hersey, who said it was great to watch "a very full, well-balanced, articulate group of young people who are able to really recognize the benefits of the special program they were involved with."

That "special program," according to the charter school's mission statement "offers a collaborative, experimental learning environment that emphasizes individual student achievement and inspires children, faculty and staff to reach beyond themselves." According to Hersey, the school's faculty and staff aim to create 21st century citizens, ready to excel in a variety of fields -- not just one specialized area of expertise. The world today demands that young people entering the workforce be comfortable working on their own or on teams, and understanding right-brained "creatives," left-brained analytical thinkers, and all types of people in between.

To prepare students to be able to thrive in the modern world, school officials designed a curriculum where all classes -- from science to history to art to writing -- intersect and overlap. Additionally, students learn from mentors in the fields they are studying. Application developers, biologists, engineers and finance experts all have visited classes at Bullis.

Lynn Steffens, who sent all four of her daughters to Bullis, said the school's integrated approach clearly made a difference in the development of her children, especially her youngest -- the only one to go through her entire primary education at the charter school.

Steffens, who was able to compare her older daughters' experiences against her youngest, said the integrated program at Bullis took her kids "a lot deeper" than traditional school programs. The overlapping curriculum and size of the school also make for a much more intimate learning experience, where all of the teachers know all of the students, she said.

"When the kids are going through it, over time they really get to know the whole school community," she said. "It makes a big difference throughout the year. That's a very hard thing for a traditional school to do -- regardless of the caliber of the school."

Perhaps the biggest difference Steffens noted with her youngest child was the positive attitude she had about school. When she asked her older daughters how their day went, all she would get in return was a grunt.

"My youngest gets in the car and says, 'This is what we're working on in school and did you know this, mom?'" she said. "She is so engaged in the academics and she is excited to learn more."

"They just hold themselves to a higher expectation at that school," Steffens said

Most of the BCS eighth-grade graduates will attend high schools in Los Altos, Mountain View or Palo Alto.


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Posted by Ms. Dictionary
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 19, 2012 at 12:28 pm

"The very first class of students to make its way from first through eighth grade at Bullis Charter School matriculated last week."

Web Link
"to enroll in a college or university as a candidate for a degree"

It sounds like they matriculated 8 years ago and they're graduating now.

Like this comment
Posted by Copy Editor
a resident of another community
on Jun 19, 2012 at 2:33 pm

@Ms. Dictionary: Or they did so well at BCS they're skipping directly to college and matriculating there!

More likely they simply graduated, though.

Like this comment
Posted by Mr. 99%
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 19, 2012 at 7:29 pm

I wonder how much did the parents have to "donate" in order for the child to matriculate through Bullis?

Like this comment
Posted by OR
a resident of Castro City
on Jun 20, 2012 at 7:44 am

When I was a little kid in church, I heard many rumors through my parents who donated the least and the most to the church. I can't help but make the same analogy. Lynn's four kids would cost 20k a year. How do they save for college?

Like this comment
Posted by Taxpayer
a resident of another community
on Jun 20, 2012 at 2:29 pm

Tax dollars spent/student

LASD - $10.500
BCS - $6500

BCS receives $4000 less in funding/student than does LASD.

Donation asked by school foundations:
LAEF: $1000/student
BP; $5000/student

I hope that clears it up for everyone. BCS receives $4000 less in tax revenues/student than does LASD. BCS parents make up the short fall. LASD kids are funded by you, the tax payer. BCS kids are partially funded by their parents, because the schools are not funded equally. BCS parents pay parcel taxes and property taxes. These taxes benefit LASD kids. They don't go to their own kids at BCS. In fact LASD gets an additional $4000 for every student that is at BCS. They get to keep the money that they would have spent on educating that BCS student in LASD schools.

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Posted by lalla
a resident of another community
on Jun 20, 2012 at 3:03 pm

THANK YOU Taxpayer for the math... very informative... and i think everyone should be made aware of the funding....very very interesting......and to the children and parents at bullis charter school...a heartfelt bravo....keep up the excellent work....i support you and congratulate you 100%...

Like this comment
Posted by Doug Pearson
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jun 20, 2012 at 4:04 pm

The Los Altos School District has been fighting Bullis Charter School every step of the way. Based on Taxpayer's math that doesn't make sense. I suspect BCS is getting costly benefits, e.g., their campus--inadequate though BCS thinks it--from LASD that do not figure into Taxpayer's analysis.

In any event, to the extent that BCS graduates better students I count it a success, regardless of the cost, and I'm pretty sure BCS parents do, too.

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Posted by Taxpayer
a resident of another community
on Jun 20, 2012 at 6:49 pm

The math is correct. It doesn't mean they like the competition. I suspect if BCS was made up entirely of ELL students who qualify for free and reduced lunch who also have an IEP and live in the Almond or Santa Rita attendance areas they wouldn't fight it so much. They tried last fall to switch the preference area - it didn't work.

Like this comment
Posted by Greg David
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 20, 2012 at 10:25 pm

The only winners in this feud are the lawyers.....

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Posted by Dave Cortright
a resident of another community
on Jun 21, 2012 at 7:20 am

Taxpayer, you are wrong. In even the coarsest of estimates, LASD spends $9228/student-year whereas Bullis spends $11131. BCS spends over 20% more to educate each student.
Web Link

And that does not even account for special ed (LASD spends $7.5 million/year on this, while BCS spends nothing), facilities (as Doug Pearson astutely points out, facilities costs for BCS students are actually charged to the LASD students), and paying teacher pensions. Back of the envelope math shows that BCS is spending about twice as much on each mainstreamed student as LASD.

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Posted by taxpayer
a resident of another community
on Jun 21, 2012 at 10:03 pm

OR - you are confusing the money they spend on educating their current students vs. the tax revenues that they actually collect. LASD has made some very poor decisions, including offering lavish health care packages to current employees and retirees. They collect 10,500/student. -- about 2,000 of that goes to retirees. They also separate their budgets into two different parts - hiding the fact that they are not good stewards of the publics money.

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Posted by Taxpayer
a resident of another community
on Jun 21, 2012 at 10:05 pm

Sorry - I guess I should have addressed that to David Cortright... which I suspect is actually OR anyway.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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