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New LASD school plans hit speed bump

Original post made on Feb 29, 2016

City and school district officials in Los Altos trying to find a home for a 10th school campus say they will keep working together. The partnership came into question following a lengthy standstill that had some board members skeptical of the city's willingness to consider a shared-use agreement.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Sunday, February 28, 2016, 8:38 PM

Comments (45)

25 people like this
Posted by guest
a resident of another community
on Feb 29, 2016 at 11:19 am

The root of the problem in my opinion is that the District seems to be stubbornly unempathetic to the priorities of the City government. The District and some of its parents are coveting the city resources such as the land under City Hall, Civic Center, History Museum, Historic Orchard, Police Station, Youth Center, etc., to add to District's balance sheet. While some of us are sympathetic to the challenges of District in serving ~5000 K-8 public school students in mere 115 acres of land, it strikes me as incredibly selfish for the District to expect the City to disrupt and move all these City functions to elsewhere - the City's priorities are not to spend public dollars to move/rearrange all these buildings and civic functions! LASD serves not just the residents of City of Los Altos - it serves(and collects tax from) 25% of Mountain View residents and 10-15% of Los Altos Hills as well smaller portions of Palo Alto and Unincorporated parts of the County. Similarly, residents of Los Altos are served by Cupertino School District as well as Los Altos School District. Los Altos School District issues/challenges are not the challenges of the City of Los Altos! I think the City Council have been incredibly gracious and collaborative in having these discussions - since obviously there's a synergy between the two governing bodies - but to paint the City Council as not working with them is not a fair assessment. The City was willing to lease Rosita Park to the District for day-time field use (not to build on it) - I think that shows a great willingness to help the District with their challenges.

20 people like this
Posted by Fairness
a resident of another community
on Feb 29, 2016 at 12:15 pm

One can see the problem in the comments of the board members. They are the problem. They have been stubbornly unwilling to do anything to alleviate traffic, when they have that ability quite easily. Mountain View Whisman operates bus service (with a fee to those who can afford it) for the case of students who are far from their assigned schools. Why is LASD putting itself above this simple mitigation measure for the affected students? In this case they have 200 kids from The Crossings assigned to a school clear across town, 3 miles away by car. They have 200 kids that are across El Camino and 1 to 1.5 miles by car from their assigned schools at Almond and El Camino.

Yet they have the gall to keep saying the traffic is terrible already and there is nothing they can do about it. The truth is that they need these kids to pump ip the enrollment counts. They can't afford to operate schools with less than 400 students each. So they use El Camino area kids from Mountain View to get these schools up closer to 550 students in size.

And, at the same time the speak to the Los Altos city council, they don't admit this. They publicly purport to be in negotiations for sites actually in the El Camino Area of Mountain View. They go so far as to extract a complicated promise of millions of dollars of city of Mountain VIew park funds to help pay for this alleged new school in one case. Then they move on to publicly being in negotiation for the Village Court shipping center in Los Altos at the corner of El Camino Real and San Antonio. And it's surprising they find that the city of Los Altos doesn't consider them serious about their plans for using various city sites? Why should they?

Figure in also that enrollment DROPPED this year and is set to drop even more next year. There's no rush.

17 people like this
Posted by Consistency
a resident of another community
on Feb 29, 2016 at 12:26 pm

The LASD board also hasn't said what they will do with their new site. They have said it might provide housing for their charter school. They have said it might be 900 kids. They have said it might be fewer kids. They have said they need 2 new sites. They have said they can only afford 1 new site. They are all over the map. They need to get their plans set up before they ask for help, bothering other government agencies like Mountain View and Los Altos. Is this too much to ask??

22 people like this
Posted by James Thurber
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 29, 2016 at 2:25 pm

It was well over a year ago (two years come November) that the citizens of Los Altos awarded LASD $150 million in bond funds so that they could pursue / build a new school site - either for Bullis Charter or perhaps for a new LASD elementary school.

It's good to see the discussion continuing but at some point the voters are going to wonder why they even bothered to authorize the bond measure.

The LASD might take a hint from Kelly Johnson, founder of Lockheed's Skunk Works, and cut their 30 plus exploration committee down to a reasonable size - say five to seven, max.

The least expensive option would be to give Bullis Charter the Covington campus, lock, stock and barrel and move Covington students to the current Charter Site at Egan. Bullis Charter would have plenty of room house their K-8 program, including expected expansion. The District Offices could move to rental space downtown placing them in a central Los Altos location. The fact that the Egan campus would now be hosting a LASD school would eliminate a lot of shared space issues. The cost of doing this? Practically nothing, saving the community one hundred and fifty million dollars for a school it might not need.

20 people like this
Posted by James Thurber
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 29, 2016 at 2:25 pm

It was well over a year ago (two years come November) that the citizens of Los Altos awarded LASD $150 million in bond funds so that they could pursue / build a new school site - either for Bullis Charter or perhaps for a new LASD elementary school.

It's good to see the discussion continuing but at some point the voters are going to wonder why they even bothered to authorize the bond measure.

The LASD might take a hint from Kelly Johnson, founder of Lockheed's Skunk Works, and cut their 30 plus exploration committee down to a reasonable size - say five to seven, max.

The least expensive option would be to give Bullis Charter the Covington campus, lock, stock and barrel and move Covington students to the current Charter Site at Egan. Bullis Charter would have plenty of room house their K-8 program, including expected expansion. The District Offices could move to rental space downtown placing them in a central Los Altos location. The fact that the Egan campus would now be hosting a LASD school would eliminate a lot of shared space issues. The cost of doing this? Practically nothing, saving the community one hundred and fifty million dollars for a school it might not need.

16 people like this
Posted by Biting the helping hand?
a resident of another community
on Feb 29, 2016 at 3:02 pm

Every neighboring community has found ways to maintain educational excellence with a much higher student density than our Los Altos School District.

Every neighboring community has fortitude to solve difficult problems with strong leadership. We could use strong leadership to ensure equal facilities for every district student.

It is ironic that the LASD trustees are the ones claiming they will shut down discussions, and yet the school district needs the city's help with EVERY scenario. Does this make sense? Even if the school district divides Covington into two school sites, the district will need the generosity of the city to use public park land during the day for play space and help with traffic mitigation. Yet our elected school trustees choose to alienate the city leaders and voters.

Voters approved measure N without a plan or a budget. Now our elected trustees have also chosen to start spending the bond money on "improvement projects" with no comprehensive plan or solution for equal facilities for all students. Let your school board trustees know we need leadership and solutions.

26 people like this
Posted by LASD taxpayer
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Feb 29, 2016 at 3:03 pm

LASD is the problem...the board members lack the backbone to make tough decisions. Instead they defeat Measure A and imply that they will take control of the LA City Council in November.

If they are so concerned about traffic, then perhaps they should move the 300 children who have to be driven to Covington each day from the Crossings to a new school built on the Egan campus. Then these children truly have a neighborhood school.

If they do that, then the charter school can be at Covington. The existing, non Crossings children, can either stay at a much smaller Covington or easily be absorbed into Gardner, Almond or Loyola especially if 6th grades move to Egan/Blach.

It is so logical, why is it not being considered? It also allows more money to be spent retrofitting existing schools.

21 people like this
Posted by BCS Parent
a resident of another community
on Feb 29, 2016 at 3:05 pm

Has the LASD Board asked the charter school where it wants to go? I've never once heard any BCS parent or board member state any interest in being located at Hillview. Given the limited amount of land available there, I don't understand how LASD can legally place BCS at Hillview. The land there is simply too small and not reasonably equivalent.

The LASD Board has mis-characterized the facilities situation and unfairly demonized BCS for long enough. Now it wants BCS to risk more community hatred by placing BCS in the eye of a storm. BCS does NOT want to be located at Hillview! We do not want to take the blame for the loss valuable community resources that happen there.

3 people like this
Posted by reader
a resident of Waverly Park
on Feb 29, 2016 at 3:10 pm

Has Grant Park on Morton been considered? That seems like a logical idea. Maybe someone can fill me in on what is the thinking about that?

9 people like this
Posted by David CourtsRight
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 29, 2016 at 3:14 pm

LASD student enrollment was down this year and will be down again next year according to the demographer. Meanwhile, BCS student enrollment is growing, and it just had its strongest open enrollment season yet. With the opening of the south campus location, half of Oak Elementary is interested in BCS (a school that historically had pulled the smallest number of students to BCS because of location).

Why doesn't LASD simply give up 1/3 of each of its elementary campuses to BCS? Move the 6th graders to Egan and Blach, and the population and traffic problem is now solved.

10 people like this
Posted by Boundaries
a resident of another community
on Feb 29, 2016 at 3:23 pm

Grant Park is in the portion of Los Altos that is served by the CUSD. In other words, it isn't part of LASD nor are any of the Los Altos residents in that area.

9 people like this
Posted by stoo the insanity
a resident of another community
on Feb 29, 2016 at 5:31 pm

I really see these trustees as being in a bubble where they don't represent all the voters. Close the senior center they say. Kick the preschool out of Hillview. Who needs a park daytimes st Hillview when you have Rosita in the same town. Tear down city hall and rebuild it downtown and the library too.

28 people like this
Posted by LASD mom
a resident of another community
on Feb 29, 2016 at 7:18 pm

The LASD Board trustees have solved their own pickle they are in. Per their logic stated above, give all of Covington to BCS and require a busing system that BCS parents can fund. Move NEC students and Covington students to new school on Egan site. That is the 10th site. NEC kids are closer and Egan and Covington can co-share the Egan site. I'm a LASD parent and I'm a little frustrated that our trustees are using traffic as the excuse to not utilize the land we have. Please stop. If traffic is the problem, then find a way to solve it. Don't beg the city for their land. This is a waste at the expense of the rest of the schools in the district. Regarding our small neighborhood schools? I'm glad BCS exists as they keep our schools small by absorbing 700 some kids who would otherwise crowd LASD schools. Just give em their own site and move on.

22 people like this
Posted by Prescription for Prosperity
a resident of another community
on Feb 29, 2016 at 8:51 pm

Close Covington and move Egan to that campus.
Move 6th grade to Egan/Blach middle schools.
Spend the $150M of Measure N bond funds on capital improvements for existing schools.

11 people like this
Posted by Prescription for Prosperity
a resident of another community
on Feb 29, 2016 at 8:53 pm

Correction on pt 1. Close Covington and move BCS to that campus.

20 people like this
Posted by Cathy W
a resident of another community
on Feb 29, 2016 at 9:56 pm

Let me get this straight. The trustees are upset that the City won't give them Hillview to site 900 BCS kids. They say that the City is not working with them. Do they not understand why the City cannot hand over Hillview to the district? Los Altos includes families who are not zoned for LASD but are zoned for Cupertino Schools. Why would they give up a community center that is being paid for by their taxes? LAH has kids that go to LASD and their kids would enjoy the school at Hillview without paying any taxes to the City of Los Altos. Why does the district not understand this? They sound like spoiled children who are having a tantrum for not getting their way. Then the trustees also say that there should not be 900 kids at any school site. What would you call that if they got their way and put BCS at Hillview with 900 kids? Not their problem anymore. But the traffic will certainly be there. They are trying to push off their problem of BCS onto the City. Maybe the City could work something out if there weren't so many other issues of historical grounds and city and school district boundaries and who pays taxes or doesn't pay taxes. Like the LASD parent points out, BCS keeps the LASD schools small. If BCS didn't exist, there actually would be a huge enrollment problem. 900 kids will have to go somewhere in the district. As so many residents have pointed out, buying land is too expensive and will wipe out the budget to update many LASD schools. Jeff Baier knows this. Instead of complaining about traffic, do traffic studies and implement measures to ease the traffic issues around the district. That is where the City could work together with the District. But that will take time. Also, when is traffic bad? For 15 minutes every morning? That's not bad traffic. This is not the 405 in LA. We have a bond measure flapping in the breeze since Nov 2014. It's time to roll up the sleeves and make some hard decisions about finding a 10th site on current district owned land. Are Blach and Egan really neighborhood schools in the true sense? Maybe co-locate one of them with Covington. There is likely less traffic at Blach. Put BCS at Blach and have Blach go to Covington. That's like 650 total kids? Perfect. Hey, it was a junior high before! K-8 at one site would be fun! There are workable solutions! Time is ticking, trustees. Let's have some closure. Pick a site in the district with the least amount of traffic and put BCS there if traffic is such a bother. Wala.

9 people like this
Posted by Los Altos resident
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 29, 2016 at 11:53 pm

1. Put one of the junior highs with Covington and the two schools will share the space including daytime use of Rosita Park. Give former junior high to the charter school.


2. Redraw boundaries, move Covington students and disburse to Almond, etc or move all student body to share with Egan and give all of Covington campus to the charter school. If charter school is at Covington, give enrollment preference to surrounding neighborhood. Nice perk for home values!

I think the trustees are saying they don't want to put the charter with another school and make a large population of 1000+. I think they are trying to say that they need to give the charter school their own school campus.They should definitely not go looking for a school campus somewhere else and expect the tax payers to cover over priced purchases.

8 people like this
Posted by Many ideas
a resident of another community
on Mar 1, 2016 at 5:48 am

One thing that shocks me is that a lot of money is spent at Blach to squeeze the 2nd school there into less than 1.5 acres. This is way too small for a school to be. It has 200+ kids but LASD wants to bump that up to 300 eventually before the BCS 5 year hiatus is up.

If the track were done away with, that would be a lot of land that could be used for both schools. So little use is made of the track at a Middle School. It's a joke really to say that it is essential. And how many million dollars will be spent to buy land so that the track can be preserved? What do you think?

Blach could permanently be a home to one of two school sites for the charter school. Rearrange just a bit of blacktop and the fields there and the elementary school portion oculd be more respectable. So much cheaper than spending on new land, or evicting current city uses from the civic center.

15 people like this
Posted by The track
a resident of another community
on Mar 1, 2016 at 5:57 am

At Blach, the track is on 4.75 acres of land. The adjacent softball field is 0.6 acres. The blacktop area is just about 1.0 acre of land. Oddly, the situation is a bit different at Egan which has over 1.5 acres of blacktop, and less grass around the track. That's not counting about 1/4 acre of blacktop which does nothing but hold the portable building used for restrooms. Nothing like that at Blach. Both schools do have a pair of tennis courts as well, however.

And LASD feels that an entire school could be fitted into just 4 acres of land, and that's what they have been going for when they look around?

Look no further than your own track at each Jr High.

21 people like this
Posted by Enough Already
a resident of another community
on Mar 2, 2016 at 7:30 am

Are these LASD trustees serious? 900 students on one campus is too many? Covington neighborhoods can't handle the traffic?! What do these boneheads think has been going on at Egan for the last 10 years? I live two blocks away from Egan and have been dealing with horrible traffic in my neighborhood every morning and afternoon. Between BCS and Egan, I heard there were over 1000 students on the Egan campus located on the northwest corner of Portola Ave and San Antonio Rd. This this campus is much smaller than Rosita Park/Covington.The streets in my neighborhood have much narrower lanes and those at Covington.

It's time to spread the wealth! There are things called staggering start times and buses. I think $150 million could let these trustees figure out some sort of traffic solution. Putting 900 students right smack in the middle of downtown sounds insane. Why should Los Altos residents give up a senior community center and yet another preschool, when there is an underutilized school with plenty of park land that the city is willing to share at Covington?

3 people like this
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Waverly Park
on Mar 2, 2016 at 10:24 am

@Fairness - I didn't read all the comments, so not sure if someone else addressed this "Mountain View Whisman operates bus service (with a fee to those who can afford it) for the case of students who are far from their assigned schools. "

My understanding from my involvement MVWSD several years back was that the buses are there because of a long-standing state transportation subsidy. It's not enough to serve all students. They probably get the subsidy because of the large number of economically disadvantaged families. They do offer paid ridership on a sliding scale, but it mainly served the lower income students who have to attend a school too far from their homes. LASD would probably have to front the full cost of a bus system, which would most likely be cost-prohibitive. If MVWSD didn't have the subsidy, I'm sure they wouldn't have buses either.

3 people like this
Posted by psr
a resident of The Crossings
on Mar 2, 2016 at 1:56 pm

Glad to see that the BCS parents are out in force with their vendetta against the district just as fresh as ever.

The LASD parents will not stand still for ANY of the neighborhood schools being closed in order to give the campus to BCS. It is about time you got over that.

The City of Los Altos needs to work with the district to use Hillview as the 10th site, since it is the only parcel available that is large enough to work. The result in cooperating would be a improved site that both the LASD and the community at large could use and enjoy. If they don't want that, they need to step up and make some constructive suggestions, because closing an existing school for BCS is NOT acceptable and any council member that states that it is will likely lose their seat in the next election.

Stop making like BCS and start cooperating. We have wasted enough time with this issue.

9 people like this
Posted by James Thurber
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 2, 2016 at 2:55 pm

Why do anything? Latest demographics are that LASD students numbers are not increasing much, if at all. Granted there are an awful lot of apartment buildings being constructed but the number of school children that will result is questionable.

The LASD Board and Administration need to think VERY carefully about building a new school. One hundred and fifty million dollars is a great deal of money - even for some of our residents who could write a check for that amount. If the current resources will work they should be used and the bond money should NOT be spent.

If, in the future, student populations increase then the issue can be re-addressed but please do not waste the citizen's money that was awarded to LASD by a (quite) narrow margin in November, 2014.

12 people like this
Posted by Fairness
a resident of another community
on Mar 2, 2016 at 11:13 pm

Fairness would require that the 900 students projected for BCS (with the district reaching 5100, sos 6000 total) have access to 15% of the total 115 acres of land owned by LASD. That's 17 acres.

So, Hillview is not big enough. You might negotiate with BCS for unfair treatment, and in that case, perhaps just 12 acres of land might do, or something like 7-8 acres in each of two separate sites. Irresponsible talk of just 2 acres of land at Hillview plus shared access to the 3 acres of park land is just way too little to be accepted by BCS even if they will take an unfairly small allocation.

As for bus services, the situation in Mountain View happens to have all of the distant school assignments disproportionately affecting low income kids. So naturally the demand for bus services there is by low income kids who qualify for a special supplement in funds from the state. However, most district which now operate bus service charge a fee to sign up for access for the year, which is paid by all but the low income kids. LASD has overly inflated the potential cost when they look at this. They need to stagger the start times at different schools so that the same set of buses can serve more than one school (i.e. the bus can make 2 or more runs in a day to different schools and different home areas).

Bus service is not a big added expense to the district. It's just something they have taken the luxury of not dealing with, and inflicting the resulting car traffic on the neighbors of their schools.

11 people like this
Posted by Fascinating
a resident of another community
on Mar 2, 2016 at 11:38 pm

Oh but psr, you avoided mentioning that Covington can share it's campus with BCS. No one needs to "close the neighborhood school". They can share! That's a time saver solution right there. The only people wasting time is the Trustees with everyone's money. You forgot. 8 acres of Hillview is not larger than the 19 acres of Covington. But wait you think an LASD school should move to Hillview. Who will that be? You want to put the NEC children there so they can travel further? How will safety measures be implemented to keep the kids safe in a mixed use building? Do tell.

3 people like this
Posted by psr
a resident of The Crossings
on Mar 3, 2016 at 8:37 am

Sharing has always been an option, but that is not the BCS goal. Their goal is, and always has been, closing a school to "pay back" what they think happened to them.

If BCS agreed to share the Covington site and PERMANENTLY agreed to STOP the lawsuits, I'm sure that could work. Want to see if they agree?

30 people like this
Posted by Community
a resident of Waverly Park
on Mar 3, 2016 at 3:12 pm

I am wondering how LASD will meet the needs of the ENTIRE community. Right now they just seem to be focusing on needs of three very small groups:

Group one - the Covington School Community, who do not want to share school site. The needs of this group make it likely that we will never solve our over crowding problems.

Group two - Vendetta against BCS - this group is very interested in using school facilities as a way to compete with and make things difficult as possible. Right now they are obsessed with placing all of BCS on a very small parcel -4 acres. They are hoping that some how it is legal to place a school that is twice the size of an average LASD school on a parcel of land that is less than 1/2 size of a typical LASD school. This solution is costly as in results in money spent of property, buildings and lawyers, lots and lots of lawyers. Plus this group feels that any solution that does not punish BCS is a loss for LASD, forgetting that should be focused on the needs of children not adults.

Group three - Real Estate Tycoons. -- Want to spend it all on very expensive property and add to the LASD balance sheet. It doesn't matter that it is really costly they just want to buy and build.

Groups whose needs are not met:
LASD parents and future parents that would like to see improvements at every campus spending all the money on purchasing property makes this impossible. Many LASD parents would like to see six graders at the middle schools so that they can have access to better math and science programs. As long as BCS is at Egan and Blach this is unlikely to happen.

Tax payers who voted for the bond to solve overcrowding problems. Taking away park space doesn't do this.

Bullis Charter School --Fins a permanent site that is reasonably equivalent.

Everyone wants this problem solved, stop catering to the small group who wants to waste money and time and get to work.

18 people like this
Posted by qts
a resident of another community
on Mar 4, 2016 at 2:36 am

Oh how fickle is he who seeks to read the minds of his neighbors and lay blame to their motives.

Regardless of history or past intent, LASD has a problem to solve. The argument that Covington should be shared is very powerful. On one hand you have the LASD bureaucrats selling the idea that they can house BCS at 900 kids on 4 acres of land, with maybe the use of a 1 to 3 acre adjacent park for PE turf area space. On the other and you have those located near Covington, which just happens to have 5.5 acres more land than any other LASD school, and also an adjacent 6.5 acre city park.

Now, I think the LASD bureaucrats are not acting responsibly when they talk of 4 acres of land for any school. But if you look at Covington which serves 550 kids of whom 200 live in The Crossings area 3 miles away, you can see how that sharing could be made to work. Don't force Covington to fit in the 4 acre size space, but yes, it's believable that they could fit into 5.5 acres with partial use of Rosita Park for PE turf area space. It's Sooooo very logical. Then you have the original 10 acres of land that exists at Covington to match any other LASD school. Now, once again, you could much more easily envision use of that 10 acre school to house BCS than any sort of 4 acre parcel elsewhere. And BCS too could have partial use of Rosita Park for PE turf area!

So, yes, you'd have to be pretty intransigent and opaque to reason in order to rule out sharing as a solution to the LASD land use needs. Especially since it is ZERO cost, unlike the contorted expense of messing about with the Hillview Community Center and adjacent 3 acre Hillview Park.

42 people like this
Posted by schadenfreude
a resident of another community
on Mar 4, 2016 at 9:59 am

I think you are too insulated. Most LASD parents that I know are fine with turning over Covington lock stock and barrel to BCS and they really do not understand why the District Office can't move elsewhere so that Covington could share that site with BCS, and in fact if ventured out beyond your small group of the LASD power elite and hangers on you might find there many rumblings afoot.

Many LASD parents want BCS off the middle schools and are smart enough to realize that there is no way that BCS could fit at Hillview and more importantly they are not going to fight to keep Covington the way it is if it means sacrificing improvements at their own school or moving six graders to the middle schools.

Have listed to LASD parents? They are very unhappy with six grade program. The test scores are lower than the other grades and the teachers keep changing. Many six grade teachers have difficulty with advanced math and science is not so great either, 30 minutes of CSTEM a week is not enough. A majority of parents support moving six graders to the Blach and Egan so that they can take advantage of the programs there. For that to happen BCS needs to be off those campuses.

So keep your head in the sand you won't hear anything that bursts your bubble but in the end it might make all the more painful for you.

39 people like this
Posted by schadenfreude
a resident of another community
on Mar 4, 2016 at 10:18 am

I wouldn't be so sure of community support for placing a school at Hillview or anywhere at the civic center. You incorrectly think that people support LASD above the need for open spaces, a senior center, rec center or an orchard.

If I was an Los Altos City Council person I would hold my ground because there is no way that LASD can rally enough voters to support turning over any portion of the Civic Center or Hillview for a school. Most see the duel use plan as ridiculous it simply wouldn't work. In addition anyone with any basic understanding of simple arithmetic understands that there is a room problem, there simply isn't enough room to fit a civic center, museum, rec center, police station, library, senior center, orchard, parking lots, rec fields and a school at the 20 acres at the Civic Center complex, not mention all of the other problems throwing a school into the mix would create.*

There will be no ground swell of support for a school at the Civic Center or Hillview, in fact I suspect there will be large outcry against it.

* In fact I find it a bit frightening that the very persons placed in charge of our children's education continue to push this idea. At the very least they should understand basic requirements of a school and how much land is needed for that.

13 people like this
Posted by Public DIscussion
a resident of another community
on Mar 4, 2016 at 1:03 pm

What's going on with the LASD Board is that they have been avoiding any discussion of their plans for the new school. They block themselves off from open input from ALL the community and don't fully analyze the idea of using Hillview. They all have different pictures in mind. That which is not fully spelled out can avoid all the inevitable negative aspects due to the lack of specificity.

Not only would it not work for other reasons, but it would require spending the entire $150 Million bond and even then would only "work" if the city of Los Altos kicked in $150 MIllion of its own to go back to the discarded (as too expensive) idea of building the new civic center on top of the current police station. The reason the city council threw out that plan was that it was not fully funded and would have cost more than double what they eventually put out for a vote in Measure A.

14 people like this
Posted by LA Voter
a resident of another community
on Mar 4, 2016 at 4:17 pm

@ Community

Good observation. I agree the Los Altos School District really seems to be catering to a small core group. Those three groups you mentioned are really just one group. A portion of which doesn't even live in Los Altos and don't vote in LACC elections. I do think this core group is trying to fool the city council into thinking that all LASD parents support using Hillview as a school. DON'T BE FOOLED. They are scamming the city council. When they speak at a meeting I suggest that city council members ask:
a. What school does your child attend?
b. Have you ever been a member of or supported the Huttinger Alliance for Education?
c. Are you currently serving or have you previously served in a leadership roll in the LAEF or LAPTA?
d. Are you an appointed member of an LASD committee?

Of course anyone should be able to speak, but asking these questions will allow you to collect data. I think you find that many of the speakers have kids at Covington, are members of the Hutts or are part of the LASD Elite Inner Circle. It's all planned to look like a big ground swell to support taking precious community resources .

LASD needs to use its own land to solve this problem. Most parents want BCS off of Blach and Egan, but really don't care if they are placed at Covington or Hillview.

In addition I think that residents in the area around Covington would be supportive of placing BCS at that site if an attendance preference for BCS was granted to that neighborhood. Even if they don't have school age children I am sure that many will realize that such a preference would help their property values.

21 people like this
Posted by LA Voter
a resident of another community
on Mar 4, 2016 at 4:28 pm

The Los Altos City Council should also support the idea of building a smaller LASD run school at Egan. If LASD truly needs an additional school they need that school should be as close to the NEC area as possible. That is where the growth is and it is on both sides of El Camino. If we are so concerned about traffic then we should start by moving the kids from the Crossings to a school closer to where they live. Since Santa Rita and Almond are two of most crowded schools it only makers since to:

1. Move BCS to Covington.
2. Move the District office to the current BCS site at Blach.
3. Build a new school at the current BCS site for the NEC and the portion of Los Altos closest to Intersection of El Camino/San Antonio
4. A smaller Covington could operate along side BCS at that school site. It could even phase out over time if LASD enrollment drops.

9 people like this
Posted by Feel the Bern
a resident of another community
on Mar 4, 2016 at 8:08 pm

Good posts, Schadenfreude. You nailed it.

5 people like this
Posted by Reality check
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Mar 5, 2016 at 7:12 am

All of the districts woes are caused by BCS. They were offered their own unified campus last year, but turned it down. As a result, all of the public school kids, teachers and staff suffer.

Shame on BCS!

4 people like this
Posted by This isn't that hard
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 5, 2016 at 8:40 am

LASD should just give the bond money back. They only know how to pay consultants and real estate cronies of theirs. They have no plan and never did. And they may not need one b/c you can squeeze all the kids at the existing campuses (I, too, have heard that there is no real growth in the District b/c kids are really just moving over to BCS). Poor ole BCS will just be permanently split btwn Blach and Egan. The rest of the District can make due but putting 6th graders in MS where they belong. Add some shrubbery and put some fresh paint on those portables and give all the seniors their tax money back.

26 people like this
Posted by Living in the present
a resident of another community
on Mar 5, 2016 at 1:28 pm

BCS has been in existence for 12 years now and the in-district demand for spots is higher than ever. In fact, creating two campuses (Egan and Blach) has probably spurred demand in South Los Alltos communities of Oak and Loyola.

BCS and LASD are currently in the second year of a five year facilities agreement which lays out in exacting detail what facilities are provided. So no, BCS was not offered a magical single campus last year.

In 12 years, a first grader in 2003 would now be a senior in high school. A whole school generation of children have come and gone. There are families who have moved into the district who truly have no idea what went on in the distant past. Let's move forward!

14 people like this
Posted by We're on the Road to Nowhere
a resident of another community
on Mar 6, 2016 at 4:18 pm

For a speed bump to slow you down you have to be moving in the first place.

Face it, there is no cohesive idea here. Just vague plans that were never tested by any sort of reality. They seem to be following the same tired path that they have been following for ever which has several distinct aspects that are getting us no where fast including:

1. NO CHANGES -Make sure that the current crazy gerrymandered school attendance boundaries stay the same (which is weird considering that in the past LASD frequently changed boundaries, at least every 5 years)

2. PUNISH BCS Make sure that what ever plan happens BCS does not end up with any thing resembling a reasonably equivalent campus. (Again weird, because to do this they will have to spend all of the bond purchasing very expensive real estate and building a BRAND NEW BIG BOX school for BCS. Even though BCS has told them over and over again that they do not require a brand new campus)

3. BLAME OTHERS - Its not the fault of poor planning and poor decision making by the LASD Trustees and Administration. No sir its somehow all the fault of the Los Altos City Council, they won't turn over the land that LASD desires at the well used Civic Center. ( Again weird, the city council offered them the use of the large Rosita parcel, yet this isn't good enough?) Or its the fault somehow of the Mountain View City Council for approving new housing. Even though the housing in Mountain View has yet to contribute more than a few students. Most to the growth in LASD has been absorbed by BCS and most of that growth came from turn over in housing in Los Altos and in new townhouses and condos SOUTH of El Camino, which last time I checked was in LOS ALTOS.

4. ACQUIRE ASSETS - Add things to the balance sheet -- such as city owned property, solar panels or re-engineered sports fields. None of which have an actual impact on kids in classrooms. Who can forget the last bond go round where they built a new fancy office spaces and put a bunch of money into reopening a school where we really didn't need one? Then there was other cool wasteful items like a world class shot put practice area, its seldom if ever used, but does make an interesting conversation piece, as in what are those large curved poles for? You never know, maybe someday all of Egan and Blach will be lining up to throw the shot put. I think it cost at least six figures at each campus. Money well spent - not so much.

26 people like this
Posted by schadenfreude
a resident of another community
on Mar 9, 2016 at 4:28 pm

Last night, in case you missed it, the Los Altos City Council told the Los Altos School District Trustees/Administration to take a hike. They did it in much more polite terms by exposing the lack of planning, uncompromising stances and out right greed of our LASD Trustees. Here's a link to the video of the LACC meeting:

Web Link

Its difficult to pick a favorite moment, there are so many to choose from, but if I had to pick one it be when one of the council members, I think it was the Mayor, asked Ms. Logan if the top priority, as stated by LASD Super, Jeff Baier, was to expand the LASD footprint? Ms. Logan was at a momentary loss for words, then replied, our top priority is to address enrollment growth. Good to know, since I don't remember anything in Measure N about expanding footprints.

Another favorite moment was the Mayor asking Logan what is your time frame? Ms. Logan's answer is that they have none. They then asked Ms. Logan to explain why attendance lines couldn't be redrawn, or why, for example Covington couldn't be used as middle school instead of an elementary school. No really good answers for that except a suggestion, that yes indeed it was previously suggested that LASD might need a third Junior High!

So 18 months after the passage of Measure N there s no plan and no time frame to even create a plan. Apparently the plan is to expand the footprint. They been trying to do that by various means for awhile including:

Trying to illegally purchase a community center in the Santa Clara School District. -- Money spent on lawyers.
Trying to use bond funds to purchase a recently retired Trustee's toxic waste site in Mountain View.
Trying to use bond funds to purchase or lease office space -- I hear 40 million just on the lease. And just when we thought things couldn't get any more ridiculous there was the idea that the Village Corner shopping center would make a great place for a school.

They were always keeping their eyes on the prize -- Hillview Community Center. The answer to all their prayers. It didn't matter that it would take the entire bond to purchase or lease the land and put the school there. It didn't matter that it was already a busy space, that was the only solution. And it didn't matter that there wasn't any kind of plan to create a workable sharing arrangement (because you can't) So very unwise. The City Council called them on it and exposed this plan for what it really is, a land grab.

Apparently there is some other plan to buy up 9 acres of homes in North Los Altos, I am sure that will be popular. Maybe its the recently retired board member, the one with the toxic waste site, trying to sell his house, and I guess his neighborhood to LASD.

Really this couldn't have happened to a more deserving bunch. I hope the Trustees can now settle down and work on what they are supposed to be doing, its not likely they have gotten the message yet, ( I am sure some more crazy things are in the pipe line) but at least Hillview and the Civic Center are off of the table.

16 people like this
Posted by Jolly Joker
a resident of another community
on Mar 10, 2016 at 1:53 am

9 acres of homes? I.e. 45 homes at $3 Million each? How could you know that? $135M just for land? It's a little out of character. I'd expect them to look at buying up 5 acres of homes and try to cram a new school in there. 25 homes at $3 Million each, merely $75 Million for land cost. That was what they said they budgeted at the outside when they got more realistic suddenly.

You know, this does go to show that they really better set about preparing a REASONABLE plan to use their existing land and start running bus service to offset traffic impact. Otherwise, it might look like they are a bunch of incompetents.

14 people like this
Posted by Laurie T
a resident of another community
on Mar 10, 2016 at 9:39 am

@ Jolly Joker

Here is a quote from Los Altos Politco on the newest LASD efforts to spend the entire bond on what now appears to be their top priority*, increasing the LASD footprint.

"Superintendent Baier reminded everyone the District is talking to real estate agents and landowners – a rumor floating is that a 9 acre area of large homes on large lots in north Los Altos is being pursued. Eminent domain?"
- LA Politico, Upcoming Los Altos Public Lands Meeting – Even more Constraints

Its an interesting article/opinion piece. Here is a link:

Web Link

In the same article there is also comments from the 2/8/16 LASD Board meeting. Here is our LASD Superintendent

Baier: Let me reiterate a point, this is a direction of Randy [Kenyon’s] and mine. The board’s clear priority position is to acquire additional land. We are working on concurrent projects… Talking to real estate agents, negotiating with land owners, talking to the City. The priority direction is to expand the land footprint. This is what we said prior to the N campaign. We already know we have a fallback position of over 100 acres we can utilize. We have ideas on that, should that should that have to happen . But priority is, where we are pushing the hardest right now is, on that first priority. [expand land footprint]

* Apparently its not the 3Rs, STEM, STEAM, developing young minds or anything like that.

16 people like this
Posted by Springer Mom
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Mar 10, 2016 at 4:32 pm

I am worried that they will never get anything done. Do you think they are delaying because of the upcoming election? Make up your minds Trustees, the city has said NO, so do something else. Get the problem with BCS solved, don't waste the money buying up houses, or shopping centers or anything else. Why not put BCS at Covington add in some buses and be done with it?

We need to replace portables and fix our buildings. Get BCS off of Blach and Egan so the six graders can move there. Figure it out, be brave or retire and let someone else be in charge. If you waste all the money buying property there will be nothing left for anything else, its likely that my kids will be in High School before you even start this project. I hope thats not the case, but it is sure looking that way.

12 people like this
Posted by schadenfreude
a resident of another community
on Mar 11, 2016 at 10:04 am

I wonder what the Trustees and their buddies will do next? Will they take a stab at all out war with City of Los Altos? Its difficult to fight a war on two fronts so they're going to need some allies and some foot soldiers. The trouble is that they don't have many allies and I doubt they are going to be able to rally the troops. Do they have any support at all in their quest to take over Hillview or the Civic Center?

They can count on support of the Hutts alliance, but how is that really going to help them?

The Hutts founder wrote an article for the Town Crier, basically threatening the LA City Council Members that the Hutts endorsed to vote in favor of turning over Hillview, the Civic Center - really entire complex, OR ELSE. I guess the OR ELSE means the Hutts won't endorse them this time or run a candidate against them. Apparently not so frightening.

Could the press help out?

Well sure, they can publish articles like this one, written by the school district, but most of the comments here are anti LASD. So that really doesn't work.

What about LASD parents? The Trustees can count on their support can't they?

Maybe, but as time goes on its looking less and less likely. Sure there is always that core group of Hutts/PTA/LAEF/Committee Members that will go along, at least for awhile, but its a really small group, with a really difficult job, because they will be charged with convincing the LASD parents that pretty much the entire bond should be spent on buying real estate and building a new school. Can you picture LASD parents rallying behind that? I can't. They are smart enough to realize that it just doesn't add up.

Covington Parents?

Sure, the Covington parents will support a take over of the Civic Center, but how many actual Los Altos Voters are in that group? At least a quarter of them live in Mountain View. A bunch of them -- like every LASD school are not US citizens and will not be able to vote. There is also any number of out of district students there -- children of Employees of LASD and MVLA that don't live in Los Altos either. Also I doubt the portion of the Covington Attendance Area near Hillview is in favor of the mega school at Hillview option.

Los Altos Voters?

Los Altos Voters always support the schools so why wouldn't they support LASD taking over the Civic Center or Hillview? They don't support the schools that much. Los Altos voters are smart, they realize that LASD can and should use its own property to solve enrollment growth issues. They will never support building a HUGE 900 student school in the Orchard, Civic Center or Hillview. They are fine with LASD closing and moving schools, there used it and frankly don't understand why they can't do that now.

I don't see much support for a war with Los Altos. I think they might try, they really enjoy causing havoc, who can forget there all out war against BCS? It will be interesting to see if they try.

5 people like this
Posted by Leslie
a resident of another community
on Apr 2, 2016 at 9:34 pm

Its great that the Los Altos City Council rejected LASD. Someone had to expose the fact the Trustees have no workable plan. They are too tied up in the mess that they and their predecessors created. And yet they keep digging a deeper hole for themselves by creating too many conditions. Time for the truth:

1. We don't have neighborhood schools in LASD. We have assigned schools. Most of us live too far away from our assigned school to work.

2. Most kids are driven to school. A survey by Green Los Altos found on average, 25% of kids walk, ride bikes OR carpool. The vast majority arrive by car.

3. Most people know someone who sends kids to BCS - so it get harder and harder to make the enemy.

4. One neighborhood - Covington - has 4 elementary schools that kids can walk to, yet most others have none at all.

So time to bust myths, and use LASD property, especially the property at Covington - to solve this problem. Traffic will be no worse than it already is because everyone is already driving anyway.

3 people like this
Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 4, 2016 at 9:04 am

School Boards, and School Administrations are well known to be very poor at multi-decade facilities planning and implementation. A California State commission on government efficiency, Little Hoover Commission, made this observation in a report about 15 years ago. As a Mountain View Whisman Board member - I feel for the LASD community.

IMO! MVWSD had a major close-your-eyes-to-the-future cost and implications problem over the first 3 years after passage of our $200M Bond.. I do not think it needs a mini-revolution in the district leadership to fix these types of problems (which LASD also obviously has). It does take a Board, to make Public Policy, that an outside Program Manager company and an outside professional Demography company be brought in - and given control to develop options. Board sets the clear priorities. That's a vote, you have done > year of 'community discussions,' this is more than enough.

In the end - MVWSD got (IMO) an "imperfect but realistic" BAS (Bond Allocation Summary) only by a wonderful outside Program Management (Mr. Lee) and a new Superintendent and a new Chief Business Officer (CBO experienced in balanced facilities spending). The goal is not perfection - but reason. The goal is not 'everyone HAPPY' but the community paying for this - can see the plan for the logical expenditure of THEIR TAX MONEY.

SN is an elected Trustee of the MVWSD, these are only his own opinions

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