A vote for plutocracy | December 14, 2007 | Mountain View Voice | Mountain View Online |


Mountain View Voice

Opinion - December 14, 2007

A vote for plutocracy

Hills residents now have two neighborhood schools — while others have none

by Serge Bonte

On Nov. 26, the Santa Clara County Board of Education allowed the Bullis Charter School to amend its enrollment procedure to favor a portion of Los Altos Hills — the former Bullis-Purissima attendance area — over the rest of the Los Altos School District, which includes parts of Mountain View.

In this, the county board, and Bullis and its backers, are showing a very poor display of responsible citizenship. Even more upsetting than this blatant social injustice, however, is that the LASD board still plans to go ahead with its earlier boundary decision for reasons that now demand serious reexamination.

Here are some facts relevant to this issue:

• Bullis is already sifting its applicants by suggesting a $3,500 annual contribution per child.

• Bullis is a public charter school, not a neighborhood school (in fact, it is not even located in the geographic area it will favor).

• The geographical area favored by Bullis is the LASD area that least needs extra academic help, with a median house price in excess of $3 million.

• LASD is about to open a newly refurbished public school for the very same Los Altos Hills neighborhood Bullis is now favoring.

• In order to open that neighborhood school, LASD approved new attendance boundaries displacing in excess of 500 children, with most of them being removed from their own neighborhood schools.

Obviously, Bullis' new enrollment procedure severely reduces opportunities for minorities. But it also renders those recent boundary decisions by LASD, which were made in the face of tremendous outrage and acrimony, unnecessary.

That's because the boundary changes were predicated on attendance projections that are now invalid. Now, thanks to the new Bullis attendance preference, certain schools will likely be outside their capacity guidelines again within a year or two.

Let me put it another way: The LASD board's sole intention with the boundary changes was to fill up the Bullis-Purissima site as a K-6 school by 2008. The board rejected any "gentler" means of implementing the new boundaries simply because a phased boundary change — as recommended by LASD's own superintendent — would not fill the classrooms at Bullis-Purissima fast enough to appease Los Altos Hills. Yet now, because of Bullis siphoning its attendance, that same school still might not even reach the minimal district attendance guidelines.

As it is, students in the northern part of the school district stand to be ripped abruptly from their schools in fall 2008 — and we may see a repeat in the near future — all in an attempt to fill this school in a neighborhood that will also be reaping most of the benefits from another district-housed public school, Bullis.

Two "neighborhood" schools will serve the sparsely populated Bullis-Purissima area, while the 500 displaced children won't even have one.

It is really time for LASD, Bullis, the Board of Education and their respective cities to sort out this mess once and for all. While that happens, the Los Altos School District should immediately put a moratorium on both reopening the Bullis-Purissima School and on implementing the new boundaries.

While I want my fourth grade son to develop a large and diverse vocabulary, I'd prefer he starts with words like "democracy," "equality" and "justice," rather than "plutocracy."

Serge Bonte lives on Lloyd Way.


Posted by Frustrated LASD Parent, a resident of another community
on Dec 20, 2007 at 10:28 pm

C'mon... LASD created this problem themselves... if they had just listened to the community input and put the charter school up at the Bullis-Purissima site, we wouldn't be in this mess in the first place... hey... even the Los Altos Hills Mayor said they wanted Bullis Charter School up there rather than an LASD school. Plus, they'd be saving money and opening up the existing charter school campus for a future school for the northern part of the district.
You need to look at the district's finances... they stink... they are in serious financial trouble and cannot afford to be opening up Bullis-Purissima in the first place.

Posted by LASD Parent, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Dec 21, 2007 at 3:07 am

Frustrated LASD Parent

One quick correction: LASD listened to some of its community input.... the wealthiest one. The Los Altos Hills Mayor was the first to congratulate the District for reopening Bullis Purissima as a full K-6 and with contiguous boundaries.

Putting Bullis Charter at Bullis Purissima might have been the right solution for the whole district. However, given the choices made, Bullis Charter School is not acting responsibly with the whole District.

The very wealthy get 2 neighboorhood schools. The rest of the District pays for both, fits the mounting legal bills while watching their kids being uprooted from their current schools.

I share your concern over finances. Don't you think it strenghten the call for LASD to at least freeze its June decisions?