Bullis Charter School officials have formally asked for a stand-alone campus at one of the Mountain View Whisman School District's schools, seeking to expand outside of Los Altos and serve students exclusively from Mountain View.
The facilities request, dated Oct. 31, states that the newly formed Bullis Mountain View plans to open up a charter school in the district for the 2019-20 school year, starting with transitional kindergarten through second grade. The goal for the first year is 168 students, and the charter school anticipates it will have no trouble reaching "100 percent capacity."
The request is part of a monthslong and often contentious process under the state's Proposition 39, which requires school districts to provide "reasonably equivalent" facilities to students residing in the district who choose to attend a charter school instead of district-run schools.
The timing is a little awkward, given that the charter school doesn't exist yet. The Mountain View Whisman School District hasn't approved or denied the charter petition -- which acts as the founding document for the school -- and school board members are tentatively scheduled to vote on the proposed school in December. But state statutes require that a charter school make the request for facilities by Nov. 1.
Unlike the divisive facilities request from the Bullis Charter School in Los Altos, which asked for "exclusive" use of a 20-acre junior high school that would essentially evict the current school, Bullis Mountain View took a softer approach. The 205-page request asks for classrooms and other school facilities in an area that currently serves students attending Castro, Theuerkauf or Monta Loma elementary schools, which would best suit the charter school's goals of serving a high number of low-income students and English learners.
The charter school's enrollment policies prioritize accepting students from low-income families in Mountain View, many of whom reside within the attendance boundaries of those three schools.
"We intend to serve a diverse demographic and being within walking distance of the charter school for low-income families is important in order to build an intentionally diverse school," according to the petition.
The facilities request argues that the school must have a multipurpose room, an art room, a "makerspace" room and seven dedicated classrooms -- a number that will rise in the coming years as third, fourth and fifth-grade students are added. The request goes on to say that all of these buildings need to be in one spot, rather than scattered throughout the district.
"It is critical for our students to be on one contiguous school site due to their young age," according to the request. "It is important for young children to have consistency in spaces and with the adults that they interact with. Consequently, the charter school's educational program requires a single contiguous school site in which to operate."
While the request stops short of asking for a specific school, it points to a district report from last year showing some room is currently available at Theuerkauf Elementary and Crittenden Middle School. The November 2017 report shows Theuerkauf could potentially house 133 more students and Crittenden could house 264.
That report, however, was written in the context of North Bayshore housing growth and the ability for both schools to grow, which is different than planting a new stand-alone school on either site, and it's not clear what configuration could accommodate 168 charter school students as soon as next year. The school is also expected to grow to 320 students over a three-year period, further adding to the challenge of housing all the students.
Superintendent Ayinde Rudolph told the Voice last month that it doesn't appear that Theuerkauf, the Stevenson PACT choice program, the district office and the charter school -- along with the planned expansion of the district's transitional kindergarten and city-owned park facilities -- could all be crammed onto one single site. District officials declined to weigh in on the viability of Crittenden as a home for the charter school, pending a full "inventory" of all of the district's facilities.
The request also reveals that while the charter school is interested in recruiting families from schools with a high number of low-income students, the largest number of families who have shown an intent to enroll in Bullis Mountain View are not from Monta Loma, Theuerkauf or Castro. Projected enrollment shows 42 children would come from the Landels Elementary School attendance boundary, followed by Huff (21) and the new Jose Antonio Vargas Elementary School boundary (21). Monta Loma and Theuerkauf follow closely behind at 20 students each, followed by Castro (18). No families currently attending Stevenson are included in the projected enrollment.
Although the demographic makeup of this new school remains murky, charter school officials wrote in the request that families in the district have been clamoring to get into Bullis Charter School in Los Altos.
"Bullis Charter School (in) Los Altos has historically had a long wait list of parents who reside within the MVWSD boundaries and wish to attend Bullis Charter School -- on average approximately 175 students," the request states. "As such, it is very likely that many parents will be interested in enrolling in the charter school."