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Court sides with Bullis

Original post made on Apr 23, 2008

Bullis Charter School does not have to change its enrollment policies, and can continue to grant attendance preference to Los Altos Hills students and their siblings, a Santa Clara County judge ruled this month.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, April 23, 2008, 10:19 AM

Comments (22)

Posted by Parent
a resident of another community
on Apr 23, 2008 at 12:59 pm

Unlike the title implies, this is not a preference for all of Los Altos Hills. The former Bullis-Purissima area comprises a portion of Los Altos (University/Orange area) and only about 1/3 of Los Altos Hills from roughly south of Fremont Avenue to El Monte. It doesn't include LAH south of El Monte or the PAUSD portion of LAH. It applies up to 50% of the available openings in any grade level.

Posted by H2G Parent
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 23, 2008 at 2:45 pm

Yes, and the Bulliss-Purissimma attendance area is the same area that the LASD was counting on to fill the brand new school they are opening on the BP site next fall.
Apparently the folks in the Hills were very vocal about wanting their neighborhood school opened again, which was a major impetus for the recent boundary changes. Ironically, other factions in the Hills are equally adamant about the allegiance to the Charter School. While Los Altos Hills figures out which school they want to support (it is clear from their small numbers they can't fill both) the rest of the district's children are the unwilling pawns.

Posted by Casey Weiss
a resident of North Whisman
on Apr 23, 2008 at 2:55 pm

Dear "Parent,"

Thanks for your comment about the Bullis boundaries. We corrected the article online and the printed version which will appear in this week's Voice.

Posted by Truce for our Kids
a resident of another community
on Apr 23, 2008 at 3:02 pm

Now that the legal argument is settled and the LASD Budget further in the red, maybe it's time for LASD, LAH and the Charter School to sit down and figure this one out once and for all.

Bottom line is that the situation is not sustainable:

- 2 public schools with roughly the same attendance area
- attendance area being the least populous (and the most stagnant) one in LASD
- LASD facing a 800K+ deficit
- LASD about to go under the state mandated 3% reserve level.
- Bullis Purissima set to reopen in the Fall with barely 200 students
- Bullis Purissima likely to stay at this low enrollment level (due to BCS attendance preference)
- Still no permanent campus for BCS

It's time for some fiscal soundness and a truce.

Let's not add any more collateral damage (financial or in the form of more kids being displaced on top the 800+ affected by the last round of boundaries changes).

Posted by B. Sane
a resident of another community
on Apr 23, 2008 at 4:07 pm

Bravo, Truce for Our Kids!
While I seriously question the very idea of opening a new (underfilled) LASD school while the district is facing severe budgetary issues, perhaps a compromise could be reached by having the Bulliss-Purissimma and Bulliss Charter School share the Bulliss site. Bulliss doesn't have enough kids and BCS wants a permanent home in the Hills. Isn't it time we all worked together?
Since many of the kids will hail from the same neighborhood anyway they should all get along. And maybe with forced proximity, the LASD and the BCS can learn to play nice as well.

Posted by Truce for our Kids
a resident of another community
on Apr 23, 2008 at 4:13 pm

B. Sane,

If the 2 schools shared the campus it might also settle another looming battle about the name of the campus :)

Posted by Anthony Fredriksson
a resident of another community
on Apr 24, 2008 at 7:41 am

We questioned the wisdom of closing Bullis originally since this left the Hills with no local LASD school. Since that original decision, good money after bad has been thrown at this issue to the detriment of everyone. In our view, the LASD Board of Trustees and the Superintendent's office have mismanaged and miscalculated this issue from the very beginning. It has turned into a grudge match between LASD and Bullis Charter.

We would be in favor of using the Bullis Site exclusively for the Bullis Charter school and allowing Los Altos Hills parents that were originally displaced by this bad decision to have first priority for attendance to the Charter school. Perhaps then they will fill up the one school that they have and Egan can get the rest of their campus back. Based on the additional freedom this community would get from the oversight of the LASD Board and Superintendent's office, somehow, we think the Hills residents would not mind;-). The Charter school competes favorably with the District schools under independent management -- maybe they are on to something good! Bullis parents were originally disenfranchised by the decision and this is one way to correct the original mistake.

BTW, we are parents from the Hollingsworth/Gilmore area that will be moved to Springer next year.

Posted by joanna
a resident of another community
on Apr 24, 2008 at 3:02 pm

Hard to believe that the LASD is spending so much time and money constantly challenging the Bullis Charter School. Especially in a time of budget crisis, filing this lawsuit was a waste of money to begin with. But as demonstrated with the Almond School principal issue, they are not a particularly savvy group.

Posted by Bullis-Purissima Parent
a resident of another community
on Apr 25, 2008 at 7:40 am

Bullis-Purissima doesn't need to open with only 200 students. Families requesting a transfer to this school from other Los Altos schools are being turned down! I can't imagine why. There are lots of people (not from the Hills) who are excited about being at this new school and making it into a wonderful community. Sharing the school with the Charter makes no sense at all - how would you feel about sharing your facilities with another elementary school?! It would just cause more tension between the schools. Finally, the name change isn't a big issue among the families who will be going to Bullis-Purissima. Most everyone realizes that the name causes too much confusion. The only people I've heard who are opposed to the name change are people who will not be going to the school or who went to the school years ago.

Posted by Bullis Parent
a resident of another community
on Apr 25, 2008 at 1:50 pm

Sharing simply doesn't work. The narrow site only had 380 students when it closed. The charter school will have 330 next year by itself. Maybe more the following year. Doesn't make sense to duplicate library, multi-use room, admin offices, etc.; and it would be difficult to share these either.

Posted by Truce for our Kids
a resident of another community
on Apr 25, 2008 at 4:49 pm

Bullis and Bullis-Purissima Parents:

Where do you suggest BCS goes then? And how do you suggest LASD pays the millions needed for a permanent location for BCS?

The current status quo doesn't work either, BCS is currently cramped at Egan in a space that would be much better used to avoid shifting so many kids around town, BCS is in a temporary campus and also not close to the attendance area the Court just allowed it to favor.

Posted by Weary about LASD
a resident of another community
on Apr 26, 2008 at 11:50 am

BCS and BP need to merge together and form one school. It is not fair on Egan to have to host an overcrowded elementary school permanently.

LASD has to make amends for their past decisions instead of continuing the trend. They have accepted the public responsibility to serve the best interests of the children of LASD. Dividing up the communities, separating children from their neighborhood schools, filing lawsuits against a charter that their own decision helped create are all the wrong moves...

Otherwise, I have resigned myself to more bitter and acrimonious contentions between LASD and BCS as budget cuts worsen and tax revenues decline.

Posted by Class Clown
a resident of another community
on Apr 26, 2008 at 2:42 pm

BCS and BP merging, of course, what a great idea! I'll bet the parents and staff of BCS would be thrilled to be under the direction of the visionary LASD board who have consistently shown fiscal responsiblity; the efficient LASD bureaucracy, who have bent backwards to nurture innovative learning, and the flexible teachers' union, who have the students interests at the core of their values. George Washington and the founding fathers probably considered merging back with England after that costly and messy Revolutionary War. After all, I'm sure it would have been more cost efficient than having duplicate governmental institutions for two English speaking populations ... :-)

Posted by Parent
a resident of another community
on Apr 26, 2008 at 9:02 pm

Well, after watching the John Adams series on HBO, I think I missed the part where the founding fathers asked England to pay for constructing and managing Independence Hall and then the White House -:)

Point is that the rest of the District actually cares little how this gets resolved, 2 schools co-sharing, 1 merged school, 1 school taking the other one over.... as long as the financial nonsense stops and that the District stops shipping our kids around town without an end to sight.

Posted by Another Parent
a resident of another community
on Apr 27, 2008 at 10:21 am

There are ways to solve this problem. Here is one possible solution:

Move BCS to the B-P site. Ask BCS to help pay for the B-P renovation and/or pay rent. Use that money to cover the budget shortfall, so cut backs are not required for LASD next year. Ask BCS to expand its program if necessary to meet the needs of the LAH community that wants a neighborhood school. Students that prefer an LASD school can continue to attend their LASD school.

Move the Almond and Santa Rita 6th grades to the Egan camp school site. (You could add additional 6th grades if the other schools become over crowded.) Run the 6th grade program as its own separate program (independent of the 7th/8th grade program). By putting 6th grade on its own site, you will solve a number of the problems that the committee looking at 6th grade has identified. The students could get the instructional minutes needed because they wouldn't need to be driven by the lower grade schedule. 6th grade teachers could easily collaborate on their teaching by being together. The 6th graders could benefit from the junior high facilities(e.g. track, gym). The 7th and 8th graders could benefit from having the baseball field back.

This model has been used successfully in other districts.

Everyone could come out a winner!

Posted by BP Parent
a resident of another community
on Apr 27, 2008 at 6:45 pm

That doesn't solve the problem of what to do with the newly-created Bullis-Purissima community of students. These kids know they are going to BP next year and have watched the school being built. We parents have worked hard since the new boundaries were drawn to reach out to each other and nurture friendships among our children so the transition wouldn't be too difficult. Don't forget that the Bullis-Purissima families are part of the district too and are just as much "victims" as the families in other parts of the district. We're making the best of the situation instead of continually asking that the board change its' decision.

Posted by non BP parent
a resident of another community
on Apr 27, 2008 at 8:37 pm

While I can relate to your angst, it's quite a stretch to say that BP families are as much "victims" as the rest of us.

We're all trying for our kids to preserve existing or develop new friendships at whatever school they'll land next year. However, BP families develop these new friendships .. with their neighbors. Many other families have to develop those far from their neighborhood.

BP families are also moving into a neighborhood school, many other families are being uprooted from their long established neighborhood school.

So while every family is trying to make the best of the situation, I hope you realize that your situation is a bit more favorable.

Posted by Another Class Clown
a resident of The Crossings
on Apr 27, 2008 at 10:39 pm

Why is it that whenever the LASD has been involved, everyone effected begins to refer to themselves as victims?!!

Posted by Lou Jacobs
a resident of another community
on Apr 28, 2008 at 9:25 am

Fellow Clown: Unless it finds a permanent place in the attendance area it favors, BCS will also victimize any neighborhood or school site it lands into. Else, who would want to be crowded by a school that puts its geographic neighborhood second?

Posted by Gracie
a resident of another community
on Apr 28, 2008 at 10:04 am

I don't really agree with non BP parent - many of us in the Orange Avenue area are much closer to Covington, our current home school, than to BP. We're not moving to a neighborhood school that we can walk to. The board decision isn't any more favorable to us than to the families in other schools.

Also, just because BCS started out as a reaction to the closing of BP doesn't make it fair that the BP families should have to deal with this problem by having them share the site with us. This is a district-created problem and it needs a district-wide solution. I hear so many people say the Hills families should have the burden of BCS because the Hills created the problem. Not true and besides, we are not Hills families!

Posted by non BP parent
a resident of another community
on Apr 28, 2008 at 11:13 am

Gracie: I agree the board decision doesn't favor your area any more than many other areas. But arguably somebody from the Crossings moved from Santa Rita to Covington is in a less favorable position. There is no continuous boundary and the Crossings have been bounced from one school to another (Springer, Almond, Santa Rita) every other year it seems. Hence, I don't think you can claim we're all in the same exact situation.

Having BCS share any site isn't fair for any school. Unfortunately that's happening already with Egan. Is it fair to have Egan cramped by BCS while BCS puts Egan's immediate neighborhood second in enrollment preference?

Posted by New BCS Parent
a resident of The Crossings
on Apr 29, 2008 at 12:25 pm

Just got this e-mail, and I thought I'd share. There is also an article about it in the Los Altos Town Crier: Web Link

Good luck with the LASD School Board! See you at Egan unless we manage to convert the BCS Charter to include 7th and 8th grades. Got room for that?

Dear New BCS Families,

We wanted to share some good news with you! Earlier this month, Bullis Charter School received the California Distinguished School Award. This is an award that was put in place to honor the state’s exemplary and inspiring schools.

This year, the selection criteria for the Distinguished School program were more stringent than ever. A visitation team from the California Department of Education spent a day at BCS evaluating its mission, implementation and award-winning academic programs. Their review committee offered the following observations to the BCS community.

“In the site team’s combined 65+ years of experience we have seldom experienced the power of a vision so fully implemented. On a daily basis, the whole child is nurtured. Students participate in project-based learning using curriculum that emphasizes problem-solving, inquiry-based instruction and cooperative learning as well as curricular and extracurricular units that highlight the arts.

Most importantly, the signature practice of the school – individual learning plans for each student – sets the foundation upon which the instructional program is developed. The staff works closely with students and parents to set academic, social and emotional goals. Students fully understand and freely discussed their strategies for meeting these goals and it is clear that they are richly supported in these efforts.
This unique learning environment would not be possible without the superior leadership of the principal, the BCS board, the sustained personal and financial commitment of the founding families and the unique constellation of professional expertise by staff and parents.”

I truly believe this award is a testament to the incredible talents, dedication, and sheer hard work of the entire BCS community. Four years ago we set out to implement our vision and are thrilled to now be recognized as a California Distinguished School.

Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions. We are looking forward to your joining the BCS community next Fall.

Warm regards,

Wanny Hersey

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