Bullis Charter School board approves 10-year agreement with LASD


Bullis Charter School's board of directors voted 8-0 Tuesday night to approve a long-term facilities agreement with the Los Altos School District, calling it a good compromise that can provide 10 years of peace.

Earlier this month, the district and Bullis unveiled a 10-year agreement where most of the Egan Junior High School campus will be given over to the charter school, relocating the junior high to a yet-to-be-built school site in Mountain View. In exchange, the charter school would agree to cap its enrollment at just over 1,100 students for 10 years.

The transition of district students to the Mountain View site, followed by the charter school's use of the full Egan campus, would not take place until 2023 at the earliest, according to the agreement.

The proposal, which still needs approval from the Los Altos School District's board of trustees, comes after a year of negotiations and "repeated calls" from families in the Los Altos School District seeking peace through a long-term agreement, Bullis' board chair Joe Hurd said in a statement. He described the agreement as a compromise that examined all available options for a solution that "best fits everyone's needs."

"No agreement will be perfect, and compromises have been made on all sides," Hurd said. "BCS voted for this agreement feeling confident that it was the best option, and we hope the LASD board agrees."

The facilities agreement has been a hard sell to some families in the school district. Dozens of speakers slammed the idea at the April 8 school board meeting, saying it amounts to a giveaway to the charter school and a loss of a popular and high-performing school that has been a fixture in the community for half a century. Families also had trouble stomaching the idea of having their middle school-aged children travel north into a traffic-heavy part of Mountain View.

The charter school's board is expected to sign the agreement and send it to the Los Altos School District in the coming days, putting the ball firmly in the court of the district's board of trustees. There is another discussion scheduled at a special meeting on Thursday, April 25, with the expectation that trustees will vote on the agreement on April 29.

The scheduled vote is less than four weeks after the agreement was first unveiled. District officials say the process needs to be expeditious in order to plan for facilities for the upcoming 2019-20 school year.

The April 25 meeting begins at 7 p.m. and will be held in Covington Elementary School's multipurpose room, located at 205 Covington Road in Los Altos.

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4 people like this
Posted by James Thurber
a resident of Shoreline West
on Apr 25, 2019 at 3:31 pm

James Thurber is a registered user.

Eleven-hundred students? Not for long I believe.

The students and parents of Los Altos have truly embraced Bullis Charter and it would be an easy "contract change" to sell, simply by quoting parent's desire for their sons / daughters to attend the charter. I'll bet within four years it will be at least 1,500 students - perhaps more.

And the LASD will have to hand over more property.

LASD, you might consider giving the entire district, lock stock and barrel over to Wanny and company. It would be cheaper in the long run.

Thanks for listening and . . . best of luck.

PS: Please do not build the "new" school in the middle of a mall parking lot. Seriously, you could do better.

7 people like this
Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on Apr 25, 2019 at 6:09 pm

LongResident is a registered user.

Not really, because the deal is that the charter school will cap itself at 1111 students. Only if they are split up and scattered around will they continue to grow. A lot of people make a big deal that this cap only lasts 12 years. After that, the sky is the limit for the charter. I don't think this is a realistic concern. The previous cap was a cap on the growth rate, that allowed growth over 5 years but at a limited pace. This new cap is a flat cap for 12 years, assuming it takes 7 years to get them full use of 16 acres at Egan. That's a meaningful difference.

The LASD people forgot that it was a cap on the growth rate, and expected the
900 cap to automatically extend forever. But they never did provide the promised new site during the entire 5 years. The agreement even had the crazy idea that the new site might be available and in use after 4 years. Now we are looking at 5-7 more years from NEXT YEAR.

7 people like this
Posted by LASD Strategy?
a resident of another community
on Apr 25, 2019 at 8:57 pm

LASD Strategy? is a registered user.

Many people have been asking what's the "wink wink" in this Agreement. Here's what the trustees said: LASD retains the unilateral right to terminate, but BCS does not. So, after say, 4 years, before Egan actually moves to the 10th site, LASD can just terminate. BCS doesn't get Egan, but in the meantime they were bound to a cap.

The problem with this strategy is that this is NOT an agreement between 2 corporations with a small set of decision-makers. It's problem for LASD parents because -

* They can't read the trustees' minds - how do they know that the trustees will terminate?

* What if before the trustees have a chance to terminate, BCS manages to get BCS-proponents elected to the board? The new board doesn't exercise the right to terminate, and then BCS moves in to Egan.

Very bad strategy. Only thing it's guaranteed to accomplish is lots of BCS-hate, but maybe that's LASD's true objective.

6 people like this
Posted by Tired
a resident of another community
on Apr 25, 2019 at 9:35 pm

This battle will continue as the LASD folks are up in arms and rightfully so. I think the LASD board is manipulating the parents to stir up as much anti-BCS sentiment as possible by choosing to give away Egan. Covington was the obvious choice to give BCS but that wouldn’t be nearly as inflammatory as Egan to rile the troops and feed the fire that they’d like to keep burning. So sad that this feud continues endlessly. If the “neighborhood school” proponents were smart they would spend less energy trying to outlaw charter schools and devote more energy trying to implement the same programs in LASD that are attracting all the families to BCS. Because the BCS draw is their root problem.

18 people like this
Posted by Tired
a resident of another community
on Apr 25, 2019 at 9:40 pm

It also continues to be mind boggling to me that the intelligent, educated LASD community voted for a bond without ANY agreements on how the money would be spent. Dumbest thing ever.

35 people like this
Posted by Withheld
a resident of Monta Loma
on Apr 25, 2019 at 10:22 pm

Parents outraged because their JUNIOR HIGH children will have to walk or bike north and/or use a shuttle to go into Mountain View for two years...two whole years!

Honestly, this is a ridiculous and offense argument given our children walked and biked to Egan and did the same to Los Altos High, but Los Altos parents are outraged that their children will have to walk or bike to Mountain View.

It's offense and at this point I hope BCS does takeover LASD for obvious reasons.

22 people like this
Posted by I'm With Tired
a resident of another community
on Apr 25, 2019 at 10:31 pm

I agree with Tired. Just say "No" to the next Bond request because it's been since 2014 and all they done is spent the money on solar panels.

7 people like this
Posted by Politics
a resident of The Crossings
on Apr 25, 2019 at 11:56 pm

Politics is a registered user.

5 years ago the deal was that BCS would support the Measure N bond, BCS would limit enrollment growth, there would be peace and stability for 5 years, and LASD would come up with permanent facilities for BCS by the end of those 5 years (2019).

This new deal would delay permanent facilities by at least another 4-6 years, or indefinitely if LASD says "never mind" about the 10th site and Egan.

LASD gets an enrollment cap on BCS, something the board repeatedly said is the most important thing to them and essential to any deal. This happens to coincide with union priorities, the community is focusing more on other things. And LASD gets stability with no immediate need to shuffle schools or boundaries or to deal with Prop 39.

BCS gets some improvement in "interim" facilities. Stability and a break from annual Prop 39 battles. And ... not much else guaranteed. The headliner, Egan, is in the part that LASD can unilaterally cancel.

So I see this as a 6-10 year status quo peace agreement.

1 person likes this
Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on Apr 26, 2019 at 1:34 am

LongResident is a registered user.

The solar panels were not paid for by LASD. They pay the electric use charges to the company that provided them, but that's it.

3 people like this
Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on Apr 26, 2019 at 1:39 am

LongResident is a registered user.

I guess a lot depends on just how nice this new Junior High set up is. It could be spectacular. The opponents are a vocal minority. I don't believe Egan to be a neighborhood school, not when it serves 60% of the LASD students in Junior High. I actually think these yellow signs with the blue letters that say save our neighborhood schools plural are an endorsement of solving the growth issues through use of relocating the Egan program. Closing Covington would not be a slam dunk. You really could close Santa Rita instead. Think about that. Relocate Santa Rita to California Street, redraw attendance boundaries to split half the other displaced students with Almond and half with Covington. Santa Rita is an 11.5 acre site into which you could squeeze BCS if they agreed. You could use portables at both Santa Rita for BCS and at California Street to make construction costs work. Two story prefab buildings are one way to fit more on the sites with low construction cost too. Not so good for a Jr High but okay for BCS and for Santa Rita across from The Crossings.

The current "neighborhood school" serving the Egan location is.... Santa Rita. Bye bye.

8 people like this
Posted by Bumpy Ride Ahead
a resident of another community
on Apr 26, 2019 at 6:13 am

LASD Trustees to vote NO

Web Link

After discarding the proposed 10 yr agreement, the logical and legal place to begin again is Prop 39. The Prop 39 offer on the table is to share 30% of Loyola and share more of the common space at Egan and Blach next year. It is magical thinking by the LASD board to think that BCS will agree to the first 5 years of the proposed 10yr agreement AND accept an enrollment cap.

The current facilities agreement ends June 2019.

It is still the district’s responsibility to find space for BCS 1000 in-district students starting August 2019.

The district has had 5 years to figure out permanent facilities for BCS and plan for NEC enrollment growth.

It is disappointing to see the good faith efforts of both negotiation teams be thrown to the curb. There’s no guarantee that the MV land deal will be available after this umpteenth community input exercise is completed. There’s no guarantee that the anti-charter school bills will have any impact on the way BCS Los Altos operates.

We are back to square one. Again.

4 people like this
Posted by Tired
a resident of another community
on Apr 26, 2019 at 11:38 am

The issue isn’t (or shouldn’t be) that LASD kids can’t cross El Camino for 2 years. After all, the NEC kids cross it for 12 years. The real issue is that the middle of a shopping center isn’t an appropriate place for any school for safety reasons. Add to that the traffic nightmare of transporting all those kids to that already impacted area and it equals a terrible idea.

LASD does not need an additional site. They have plenty of room to accommodate all the district + BCS on the existing sites. Covington was built as a middle school so all those kids have another “neighborhood “ school. The current Covington kids can be relocated to their other nearby, excellent schools and the entire campus could be given to BCS. Additionally, 6th grade can be moved to Blach and Egan further refucing the size of all the elementary schools.

Building a new school (in a horrible location) is a ridiculous waste of taxpayer funds and will continue to create animosity within the district. Not to mention that since the existing schools all need significant renovations a new bond will be needed soon. I’m tired of the lack of fiscal responsibility.

13 people like this
Posted by 10th Site Nextdoor Neighbor
a resident of The Crossings
on Apr 26, 2019 at 12:47 pm


Where do you think most of those NEC kids live who cross El Camino for 12 years? A huge number live right across the street from the 10th site. It won’t be in “the middle of a shopping center”. It replaces a huge chunk of the center and will have a greenway separating it from Walmart. And Walmart will eventually become mixed-use housing towers.

Please look beyond your biases.

6 people like this
Posted by LASD Resident
a resident of another community
on Apr 29, 2019 at 7:53 pm

Here are the acreage of the schools. Elementary 10 acres ( except Covington Campus which was Covington Junior High School from 1950-until it closed ) and Junior Highs ( Covington Junio High, Blach Junior High, Egan Junior High) 15-18 acres

Schoool Acres Students
Almond - 9.97 488
Covington 15.43 585
Gardner Bullis 10 302
Loyola - pink 10 404
Oak - orange 10 387
Santa Rita 10.29 524
Springer 10.29 468

Blach 17.95 499
Egan - 18.83 586

1085 LASD Junior High Students
On average 543 students per grade year for all of LASD, 294 per grade year at Egan, 250 per grade year at Blach

7 people like this
Posted by LASD Resident
a resident of another community
on Apr 29, 2019 at 8:04 pm

Looking at the school district the critical need is a new neighborhood elementary school to serve the growing student population which lives in the City of Mountain View around the area of the proposed new 10 acre campus north of El Camino Real.

If another campus is needed to be built to house students for the Los Altos School District then the appropriate location for this district school would be in the neighborhood where the most students who are not currently served by a neighborhood elementary school reside—the area North of El Camino – where over 550 student now reside and cross State Route 82 El Camino Real each day to attend school. The presence of many board members residences near to Covington Elementary School does not give children who live near to Covington Elementary School more rights to a neighborhood school then the less well represented children living near the proposed Junior High School tenth campus in Mountain View.

Even if this school board chooses to build a middle school on that site in Mountain View, at some point it would seem most likely that a rational school board will meet the legitimate needs of that group of students to have a neighborhood elementary school, and remodel and relocated the junior high school that this board builds there. The irrationality of having k-6 students cross a state highway ( El Camino Real) when a school could be built near to them escapes me.

I appreciate that the school board thinks that it is threading a needle of school closure and not upsetting the friends and neighbors of the current school board members by closing a current junior high school, not an elementary school.

But the best solution for the needs of all the students in the district over the long term would be to build an elementary school at the proposed 10 acre site in Mountain View and then place Bullis Charter as the sole occupant of either Egan, Blach or Covington and then use the two of these campuses which are not occupied by Bullis Charter for LASD Junior High Schools.

Based on best use of current resources and planning for the future the best use of the campuses currently owned by the Los Altos School District once a new elementary school is built in Mountain View it would be best to give use of the 15.43 acre Covington Campus which is currently configured for K-6 to Bullis Charter for its K-8. This Covington Campus is a the same size as the 16 acre site at Egan Junior High school proposed to be given over to use of the Charter School, but would require less remodeling to meet the needs of a K-8 School. The Covington Campus is in the middle of the school district not on one side like the Egan Junior High Campus so it would be more appropriate for an all district magnet school. And in the future if state law should change related to charter schools then the campus given over to Bullis could be repurposed for a LASD run magnet.

I don’t think it matters for the district's best use of schools and facilities which of these campuses is occupied by Bullis, but if the political will to close a school near which so may school district board members live is not present than I would suggest transitioning Covington back to Covington Junior High School, and closing Egan as planned and opening a new elementary school where it is most needed north of El Camino.

As noted above if Covington elementary were closed and a new elementary school built north of El Camino, hundreds of students who currently are driven 3.1 miles to Covington from North of El Camino would be redirected to a new neighborhood school closer to their homes. While those students who live around Covington would be redirected either to continue at the new elementary school or to one of the other nearby district elementary schools . Review of school locations and of the current enrollments boundaries show that a significant number of these students are as close to Springer, Loyola or Almond Elementary Schools as many other elementary school students in the district are to their own schools. For those inclined to check distances, it is a 0.8 mile walk from Covington Elementary School to Springer Elementary School. It is 1.3 miles from Covington to Loyola Elementary School. And it is 1.4 miles from Covington to Almond Elementary School.

The strangest argument I keep hearing is about traffic at Covington not allowing a middle school or cahrter school at that campus. As Covington already has 585 students many of whom are driven from Mountain View North of El Camino to Covington this is a very illogical and irrational argument.

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