Guest opinion: Time for direct conversations on Measure N


There is growing concern over the designation of the $150 million school bond passed in 2014, and rightfully so. Nearly four years ago, Los Altos and Mountain View voters came together to support the Los Altos School District's desire to purchase more land to address enrollment growth. Now, we're faced with declining LASD enrollment, an expensive potential land purchase that will do nothing to serve LASD's only neighborhood without its own school, and a community frayed by years of debate and little action.

LASD added fuel to that fire at their most recent board meeting last Monday when district trustees made several accusations against Bullis Charter School that I would like to publicly address for the record, in my new role as BCS board chair.

BCS has always been clear and up front about our enrollment growth plans. We proudly announced earlier this year that our goal is to increase enrollment to 1,200 students in response to a growing waiting list that currently stands at over 1,000. Open enrollment is happening right now, and interest could not be higher. Unfortunately, BCS has more demand than it has classroom space, and sadly that means we have to turn away many eager in-district students and their families year after year.

LASD trustees' claim that BCS' higher enrollment will draw students away from LASD and force school closures misses one simple point: No LASD family is being forced to attend BCS. Parents choose to enroll because, quite simply, they believe that our model works best for their children.

Sadly, in an attempt to inflame community passions, LASD trustees fabricated a new claim that BCS has an enrollment target of 1,800 students. Not true -- this figure has never been publicly discussed by the BCS board, nor is it a figure that is used in our facilities planning. Even though current parent demand for BCS would support a much larger school in the medium- to long-term, we have been consistent with our growth plans in order to properly set expectations with both our current parent community and with the hundreds of LASD families who desire a space in the future. In fact, we told LASD's own demographers about our plans for 1,200 students months ago.

LASD trustees have also accused BCS leadership of failing to be transparent about its objections to the potential school site in Mountain View.

That accusation is misleading. In over two years of discussions, LASD trustees have never formally approached BCS about relocating the school to the site north of El Camino. LASD has had multiple opportunities to engage with our board over the past 48 months, informally through a working subcommittee seeking to extend the current five-year facilities agreement, and, more formally, through a mediation process initiated by LASD. BCS board meetings are open to the public, yet LASD has never offered to share preliminary thoughts with the BCS board and the over-16 percent of LASD residents -- taxpayers and voters all -- who are part of the BCS community.

Rather than sending messages through the Mountain View City Council, providing statements to the 10th Site Advisory Task Force, or engaging in dueling interviews with local journalists, the BCS board believes the most productive step is to engage in direct conversations with LASD.

We will be publicly inviting LASD to join an upcoming special BCS board meeting, and we hope that some of our elected LASD trustees will accept, so the entire BCS community can hear LASD's plans for the 10th site in an open and transparent way.

We all want to do what's best for all LASD public school students, and it's time to come together to have a public discussion about the best use of school bond funds. LASD taxpayers, Mountain View residents, the BCS community -- and the children in the district -- deserve that much.

Joe Hurd is the chair and president of the Bullis Charter School Board of Directors.

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10 people like this
Posted by Enough, BCS
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Sep 26, 2018 at 12:25 pm

Charter schools are meant for underprivileged children. But BCS takes free ride of public school campus and resources, to serve highly privileged, extremely rich children. This is wrong.

Recently, I received multiple, multiple rounds of solicitation from BCS troops for enrolling my children at BCS. It is no secret that BCS wants to use the expanded enrollment as a weapon against LASD.

Recently, BCS abruptly announced a plan for an isolated campus at MV specifically for low-income kids. With this, BCS hopes to justify its existence at Los Altos providing free private education for rich kids.

6 people like this
Posted by Why can’t BCS go private?
a resident of Monta Loma
on Sep 26, 2018 at 12:30 pm

Really, BCS at Los Altos should be private school.

7 people like this
Posted by Privatize
a resident of another community
on Sep 26, 2018 at 2:16 pm

BCS is a public school that serves 900 students at at time now, and has served thousands over the past 15 years. Why can't the public schools be privatized? Public education allows society to share the burden of raising children. BCS is an excellent public school. 1000 students are on its waiting list currently. Enrollment is almost entirely by residents of LASD, regardless of city, parts of Palo Alto, Mountain View, Los Altos and Los Altos Hills.

Charter schools are a way to AVOID privatizing public schools but still allow alternative programs to thrive. This is a very successful alternative program that is chosen by a very large fraction of LASD. Students can switch back to their LASD school if they want, and a very low percentage do so. This is a really good feature. It's not as easy to switch back from a private school to a public school but switching between public schools is easy. There is no tuition paid. LASD attempts to raise about $1500 per child in contributions from parents in the district. $500 goes to the PTA at the school and $1000 goes to the LAEF. BCS requires no contribution and still charges no tuition. Privatizing it makes no sense, because while LASD spends $15,600 per child at its schools, BCS received under $8000 on average for the children it educates, out of public funds. It's much more cost efficient with public dollars to have kids go to BCS, so it should be EXPANDED and not privatized.

11 people like this
Posted by What?
a resident of another community
on Sep 26, 2018 at 3:51 pm

@Enough BCS

"Charter schools are meant for underprivileged children."
Who says so? Where is that written in the tenets of charter schools?

"But BCS takes free ride of public school campus and resources, to serve highly privileged, extremely rich children."
Um, those would be the kids that reside within the LASD. As the children of taxpaying residents within LASD the BCS kids have just as much right to public education (including their campuses and resources) as though who choose to attend the more traditional programs at LASD.

4 people like this
Posted by Ruth
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Sep 26, 2018 at 6:50 pm

You can't blame the Los Altos School District for trying to get a place to dump BCS in Mountain View and save the $150 million for improvements at the other district schools. Smart thinking. The dummies are on the Mountain View City Council.

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

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