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LASD parcel tax raises questions over charter school equity

Original post made on Jun 3, 2016

Over the next two months, the Los Altos School District will be hammering out details for a parcel tax renewal slated to be on the November ballot. And although school board members have yet to talk about what the measure will look like, there is a looming question on whether the funds ought to be spread out among all students in the district — including the kids attending the local charter school.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, June 3, 2016, 12:00 AM

Comments (29)

Posted by Randy Salim
a resident of another community
on Jun 3, 2016 at 11:43 am

I live in Los Altos and have kids at the public high schools and junior high (not Bullis) but can't understand why public funds shouldn't be evenly split with all public school kids...regardless of what school they go to. A Charter school is a public school and part of our community. So why is sharing funds even a question? Kids are kids and all deserve an equal education and funding.

Posted by Private not Public!
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jun 3, 2016 at 5:45 pm

So tired of BCS's bellyaching. They already have cost the district almost a hundred million dollars ever since they started their war against the truly public schools. Now they want to steal even more money. Ridiculous. Look st their test scores! They are doing fine and don't need even MORE of our hard earned tax dollars.

Posted by Ode to BCS
a resident of another community
on Jun 4, 2016 at 12:13 am

How should the LASD Board of Trustees love thee, BCS. Let me count the ways.

(1) They preach the need for small schools, but they each cost a lot to operate. BCS is one school with 800 students. That's the only reason the 7 district elementary schools are of average size 500 students apiece. Without BCS, LASD would be in a pickle. To keep their current school size, they'd need to hire 2 more sets of school staff, staff which they claim they can't afford.

(2) With a lock step adherence to the same program across all the LASD-operated schools, there's no individual choice. BCS gives every kid in the district an option.

(3) LASD prizes neighborhood schools above all, but each year they vector up to 300 kids to schools that are not the closest to their homes. BCS gives such students an option to attend a special program serving the district as a whole.

(4) BCS serves kids from every attendance area in the district.

(5) BCS serves 20% of the kids in grades K-3. 100 kids at BCS per grade. 425
across all 7 LASD legacy schools together.

(6) LASD has no real need for a parcel tax. This is thanks to BCS. So if they don't share it with BCS, well, then there's no chance it would ever pass.

(7) BCS is a public school operating under the California ed code. It's not one of a big chain of charters. It's completely locally grown. It has 9 trustees whose only interest in the school is seeing that those 800 kids get the best education they can. They get less STATE money than any non-BCS kid in LASD. The district receives state money of $4,000 more for the kids in LASD schools than BCS receives for its kids.

(8) The perpetual parcel tax gives LASD's 4650 kids $7.5 million dollars which they
DO NOT share with BCS.

(9) Why should the district get another $2.1 million dollars on top of all this state and local largess without sharing it equally with the 800 kids at BCS, all of whom are entitled to attend LASD schools in the first place.

So Pablo Luther, consider that these other districts that hoard their parcel taxes away from their charter schools, don't have 20% of the parents in the district standing not to benefit one iota from voting aye on this money grubbing add-on parcel tax that the district has no real need of anyway.

Posted by Sharing Equally
a resident of another community
on Jun 4, 2016 at 12:16 am

Yes, to sum it up. LASD Trustees. Which is better, 80% based on headcount of a $2.1 million add-on supplemental extra 2nd parcel tax, or 100% of nothing?

Posted by David
a resident of another community
on Jun 4, 2016 at 6:48 am

Simple first steps: BCS needs to move from being chartered by the Santa Clara County School Board to being chartered by LASD. If their chartering authority is under LASD then LASD will have better oversight how it's parcel tax revenue is used by BCS.

Next step would be to combine the two non-profits of LAEF and the BCS equivalent to ensure equal funding per child. BCS spends more per child than LASD and with smaller facilities still ranks as the top performing school. Until BCS is chartered by LASD and level per student funding occurs, most residents will have a difficult time sharing the much needed parcel tax.

Posted by Share, it's fair
a resident of The Crossings
on Jun 4, 2016 at 7:46 am

Hey Private not Public check your funny math.

BCS saves the district money. BCS educates hundreds ( ~700) of LSAD district kids, yet LASD keeps ALL the local revenue to spend on fewer kids. LASD can not afford to educate all the kids who attend BCS. Yes that's right on a per-kid basis. You're right money flows from the state to BCS, but only state money. LASD does not share parcel taxes. LASD would be broke if they had to educate more kids without more revenue. If those kids went to an LASD school there would be too few dollars for the same LASD education.

It is a discriminatory practice to treat public school children non-equitably. All local money should be shared equally. All local tax dollars should be equal. It's the right thing to do. For every public school student.

Posted by Oh, poor you!
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jun 4, 2016 at 9:20 am

Children of billionaires want to deprive even more money from public schools to give their kids a private education with public money. Charter school legislation was intended to improve the educational opportunities of students in failing schools and districts. What Bullis has done is to create a private school within one of the top school districts in the country!

BCS Is constantly attaching the public school district in the attempt to plunder even MORE money! Save the district money?!?! What a JOKE! NIce try spin doctors!

Posted by Eppi Shesshen
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jun 4, 2016 at 10:06 am

Geez... Here we go again. I guess the period of relative peace and quiet on the BCS issue had to come to an end at some point. Whether we like it or not, BCS is now a part of the landscape here, but that does not mean they should be allowed to suck up even more resources than they already do. BCS spends more per child than any other public school in the district, and yet they want more? Can't wait to hear the return of the incessantly whiney refrain from BCS supporters that "IT'S NOT FAIR!". Not to mention the threats of imminent litigation if they don't get their way... Oh Joy.

Posted by BCS parent
a resident of another community
on Jun 4, 2016 at 4:06 pm

Billionaires send their kids to BCS AND LASD schools FYI. In case you weren't aware of the wealth that permeates this area. Show the numbers. BCS spending more per child? Doubtful. Wheres your data to back up that statement? Obviously you don't want to share the parcel tax with BCS. Why would you? Your children are enjoying the benefits of the taxes we pay to the district but our kids aren't benefitting at BCS. Yes, we knew that when choosing BCS instead of LASD. But BCS eaks out a much better program on far less funds. BCS' existence keeps your schools nice and small. So there's a huge benefit to its existence. If BCS ever goes away, lasd is screwed. Meanwhile, continue to enjoy our tax dollars and your small schools. Obviously I won't support giving more taxes to the district without benefitting. I already supported measure N and looks like BCS will be jammed into 5 acres or whatever. Thanks a lot.

Posted by Ridiculous
a resident of another community
on Jun 4, 2016 at 7:29 pm

"If BCS ever goes away, lasd is screwed."

LASD did fine before the wealthy Bullis parents assaulted the school district and cost it tens of millions (maybe 100mil) in legal and lost oppty costs. LASD was and is a top performing school district.

I don't know of a single BCS parent that supported Measure N or will vote for any school bond. They feel the world owes them and do not credit the reason for the wealth, previous bonds and taxes that built and maintained the infrastructure and markets they used.

Posted by Davide LePoint
a resident of another community
on Jun 4, 2016 at 8:32 pm

Rich people permeate LASD. The property values have gotten so darn high that any homeowner is a multi millionaire. I KID YOU NOT!

Wealth and the historic rise to epic proportions of rich people in LASD schools and BCS has nothing to do with the situation.

Yes, LASD would be screwed if BCS went away, because LASD has grown to depend on the services provided by BCS. IF LASD operated schools for an additional 800 kids, the cost to LASD would be even more than BCS spends on its 2 school locations. Among other things, LASD wouldn't get the expense recovery "rent" paid each year by BCS to LASD. Public bureaucracies are notoriously inefficient. Just look at the millions of dollars that LASD has stored up for OPEB funding. If the 800 BCS kids had LASD employees for teachers, the OPEB obligation would be bigger. There's a lot of other funny arithmetic inside the LASD budget numbers. Better by far for the taxpayers to have BCS operate as a separate corporation and handle those 800 kids, or 1000 or 1200 if it grows to that many.

If you want to talk about merging organizations, you should move all the PTA's in LASD. BCS has not separate fund raising arm for its PTA's. The corporation which operates the school and receives state and federal funding is the same corporation that operates like BCS's LAEF and all 9 LASD PTA's. All PTA functions are funded by that non profit public benefit tax exempt organization. LASD schools understate their budgets because they don't count the $4 Million dollars per year raised and spent by the PTA's.

Yeah, so if you want to merge something, first start by moving LAEF and 9 individual PTA's.

Posted by Question
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jun 4, 2016 at 8:42 pm

[Portion removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]

What's the deal? Why are you better than LASD?

I have to disagree that LASD is better off financially with BCS. So they fundraise money. For themselves. If they weren't around, LASD found rent the spaces they use to Google for more money. BCS, do yourself a favor and start being nice to random strangers AND the district you reside in. It can't hurt, can it?

Posted by Monta Loma
a resident of another community
on Jun 4, 2016 at 9:38 pm

Rent space to Google? In LASD? Are you kidding? The neighbors of the schools would never stand for that. There's a lot of lowly used space at Covington Jr High. How much would Google pay to rent that?

Posted by To above commenter
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jun 5, 2016 at 7:50 am

Google daycare, not google offices. Have you done any research on what other school districts (i.e. MVWSD) do to make money? Head in sand. [Portion removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]

Posted by in the budgeting know?
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jun 5, 2016 at 10:04 am

I'm not in the LASD or the BCS service area. The 'state money' that BCS gets is in proportion to the Base Grant that the state allocates or designates from either state General Fund or state permitted general property taxes. I believe - that BCS gets local tax money (not extra state money) for each Base Grant kid (ADA). They should also get 20% extra per low income and/or ELL kid in BCS.

It is my understanding that BCS does not get ANY of the extra per-student money that LASD gathers as a "Community Funded" district [excess local property taxes above the state LCFF approved amount] LASD gets to keep that excess. (a real Charter Funding data expert should correct me/us with an ED Code reference)

If LASD chose to spend millions legally fighting BCS, that money is the responsibility of the LASD voters, and their board of education representatives.

It is quite clear that 'the perpetual Parcel Tax' money is not shared between LASD and BCS. The QUESTION, should a new Parcel Tax be shared (Public Policy)? The political QUESTION, will it be even possible to pass a LASD ONLY new tax?

La Point 'points' make sense. What is the Wealth (sizable) and how is it raised and shared between these Public Schools? For a wider reference, there are ED100 chapters on the topic (8), in a similar vein:
Web Link

Posted by Bullis mom
a resident of another community
on Jun 5, 2016 at 10:21 am

I am a BCS parent and supported Measure N. Actually many of us BCS parents actually participated in the phone a thon to help the Measure N committee. So please don't say we didn't support Measure N. It's frustrating that we were told BCS would have a permanent location if we supported Measure N but it looks like we may have a tiny site on El Camino. Anyway. If BCS had never been created, where would the district be today? How on Earth would they house all of the kids who attend BCS? They couldn't. You'd have portables lined up in the fields of Almond, from where the highest number of BCS kids would otherwise attend. Same for SR which is the second highest. Because we don't receive the parcel tax, something has to cover our expenses to run a school. We are asked to donate 5k a kid. Some people don't and I have friends who do not donate at all. That's fine. No one is harassing them to donate. We are just short that amount in the budget. Why does the LAEF request donations if they receive all the money they need from the state and parcel tax? Because they don't receive enough right? Why are we constantly accused of being millionaires and billionaires when we flat out are missing the parcel tax? How are we supposed to pay our teachers? Yes, if BCS went away we would truly be a burden for the district. bcs has kept your schools small which is what district parents love apparently. You all receive our parcel tax to help with your expenses.

Posted by LASD Daycare
a resident of another community
on Jun 5, 2016 at 12:45 pm

The neighbors in Los Altos shoot down any daycare or preschool proposal for just
about any land in the city on the grounds of traffic disruption. Even churches
get capped at small numbers like 50 kids and requests for small expansions are treated with extreme prejudice.

So, there's no way LASD is renting any land to Google preschool

To even think that they might rent land for Google offices is really out of touch.

Posted by Rationale for Hating BCS
a resident of another community
on Jun 5, 2016 at 12:50 pm

The rationale for hating BCS goes something like this. In Mountain View Whisman, 30% of the kids who are eligible for the district instead go to private school. In Los Altos, only 25% of the kids in that district go to private school. The difference must be due to BCS. BCS is attracting kids who should instead be sent to private school Although BCS is a public school, and spends roughly the same as LASD does per student, it's offering programs that are of a higher quality which should only provided in a private setting. Never mind that Charter schools are defined by the state and BCS operates completely in line with state law, subject oversight from their own 9 member board of responsible trustees, oversight from the county board of education, subject to oversight from the state Board of Education, and even though they have no legal right subject to constant oversight and observation from the LASD board as well.

So BCS is bad.

I don't agree with this thought process at all, but this is what the small minds are thinking, when they hate BCS.

Posted by Good luck
a resident of The Crossings
on Jun 5, 2016 at 1:54 pm

Meh, Jeff Baier won't share the parcel tax with BCS. Ever. Note the enthusiasm in Luther's response.. It's much better to absorb all of the parcel tax paid by tax payers to benefit only Los Altos School District. Sharing would be giving money away to BCS. Won't happen. There's nothing anyone can about it until we get a group of trustees and staff in there who understand that BCS as a public school, should receive the share allocated for each in district child. Lots of luck passing this one come November. The district could solve their traffic problem by using excess parcel taxes on busing. Then they might get more votes but they would have to actually follow through with that.

Posted by Silly arguments
a resident of another community
on Jun 5, 2016 at 2:30 pm

What a load of BS. Bullis has cost the school district upwards of 100 million dollars and now they want even more?!?!

There's not a single BCS parent that has ever voted for a public school bond. They get their kids into the private charter school for all the benefits of a segregated private school with no tuition!

I read that BCS will likely have their charter cancelled sometime in the next five years, so any significant expansion or campus investment for them should be deferred.

Posted by Sorry Charlie
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jun 5, 2016 at 2:45 pm

@Silly arguments

Sorry to burst your bubble, the BCS charter was re-approved for an additional five years by unanimous vote (5-0) by the Santa Clara County Board of Education last Wednesday evening.

Posted by Bad financial figuring
a resident of another community
on Jun 5, 2016 at 3:49 pm

To say that BCS cost LASD $100 Million is meaningless if you don't identify the cost you are referring to. Funding that would otherwise go to LASD to educate the same children is on the order of $6 million per year, counting the SELPA funding for BCS's special education students. So if BCS continues for another 10 years, then yes, the total funding will be over $100 Million by then. So what? LASD will have spent $1.2 Billion over the same period and BCS enrolls 16% of the district's resident students. Sounds like a good deal to me.... for the district, not BCS.

Luckily the parcel tax isn't needed anyway but if it is going to pass, LASD will need to give a share to the 16% choosing BCS. The extra $2.1 per year only pays for extras that could be done without anyway. So what?

Posted by LASD Taxpayer
a resident of another community
on Jun 6, 2016 at 2:05 am

The person who claimed that BCS families didn't support Measure N must not have been paying attention because not only did BCS very publicly and strongly support Measure N, but many BCS parents I know put in a lot of time and effort campaigning for it. I took time off from work to volunteer at the Measure N phone bank and ALWAYS saw other BCS parents(just like LASD parents) working to get out the vote for Measure N. Measure N was promised as a community effort to address enrollment growth for the district AND specifically including BCS -- and BCS supported it. There is no benefit to the community to trying to re-write this history.

Posted by LASD in Math Magic Land
a resident of another community
on Jun 6, 2016 at 4:06 pm

The LASD Trustees really have a problem with math. Seems weird considering who is on the board. I think they promised at least 300 % of the measure N funds at this point.

Most LASD voters understand that if you spend 100 million or so buying an unsuitable office park and then spend another 40 million or so fixing it up that there will be nothing left to spend on any other school and here's the real kicker, they don't support it.

They want LASD to use its extensive existing properties to add in a school so that every school gets improvements.
Spend it all on a unsuitable school site on El Camino and your likely hood of getting re-elected, not so great.

I think this carries over to the parcel tax. If the Trustees continue with their magical thinking ( which has much to do with pleasing the Covington Community) There will be many angry tax payers, not just those with kids at BCS.

I seriously doubt this parcel tax will pass unless they leave math magic land. Here's hoping they can do that.

Posted by LASD in Math Magic Land
a resident of another community
on Jun 6, 2016 at 4:57 pm


There is the Math Magical vote count, If the parcel tax barely passed last time (40 votes or so.) when BCS had around 400 or so students, how will it possibly pass with BCS at 800? I seriously doubt that BCS parents will vote for it if you don't intend to share it with them.

There is also the Math Magical Reasonably Equivalent Campus:

As in:

If 500 LASD students fit into 10, 11, 15 or 20 acres, then 900 BCS students should have 5 acres, because? *

Let's all do the math shall we? Help a Trustee, before its too late!

Posted by BCS Parent
a resident of another community
on Jun 6, 2016 at 5:44 pm

There is a campus just perfect for our charter kids. Covington!

We need to dissolve Covington Elementary and give the campus to our beloved charter school. LASD shut down Bullis Gardener and we have been trying to get back at them. We lost in court and were told that the frivolous lawsuits would get us decertified. (Ethics, Smethics!)

Now is our chance to finally shut down one of THEIR schools. Please support our fight for revenge. Short term, it's not in the best interest in student education, but it would finally put to rest our long standing fight. I promise. We represent most of the richest families in LASD, so we will eventually prevail.

Posted by Hmm
a resident of another community
on Jun 7, 2016 at 9:19 am

Revenge? You are all neighbors -- why all the anger and suspicion? This is a serious issue but if you work together, can't you work it out?
Your kids probably play together, even though they might go to different schools. Or not?

How about you all get together and bash me instead. :-)

Posted by TJ
a resident of another community
on Jun 7, 2016 at 12:25 pm

We need to do what is best for all of our public school kids. The purpose of measure N was to build new facilities to meet the needs of an expanding student populating AND to improve facilities at all schools. There are different ways to do this. So what are the priorities?

For LASD the main priority, as stated by Measure N, is maintaining small, excellent, neighborhood schools. A secondary priority might be to move six graders to the middle school. ( not stated by Measure N- but mentioned many times) The third priority is to accommodate growth. ( Until now that growth has been absorbed by BCS)

These are great objectives and if we actually spent the bond funds on these objectives we would clearly be the top school district in the state, if not the nation. With a choice in school programs, great facilities at every campus and a top notch education for all.

Unfortunately the LASD Trustees have made expanding the "footprint" the number one objective. Let's call it the Bigfoot priority, because it is at best, a big hairy beast of an idea. Expanding the footprint means purchasing new land, land that land is very expensive, and in terrible locations if not horrid locations. The worst part of the big foot strategy is that it will not, in anyway, accomplish the stated goals of Measure N.

Maintain small neighborhood schools? Nope. A five acre office park is enough room for maybe 300 kids. How will this solve crowding problems? That leaves 600 kids at BCS that still need a school site. Add in new growth in the NEC and you end up with a very large Santa Rita and Almond.

Create new facilities at every campus? Nope. Your local neighborhood school will get nothing. Zero. Zilch. The funds will have already been spent on purchasing the real estate and building the new, very small school. New MPR, no way. If you are lucky you'll get a new planter box.

Move six graders to the junior highs? Nope. When it comes to the six grade program the Bigfoot priority is a big bunch of awfulness. Six graders will need to stay where they are. They won't be able to move to Egan and Blach because BCS will still be there. This is a huge impact on current future LASD programs. Moving six graders creates smaller neighborhood schools, but even more importantly it gives six graders access to electives like music and foreign language that they can attend on a daily basis. It also gives them a chance to use science labs and advance in math.

Accommodate growth? Nope way too small. There is no possible way to fit BCS there, so it will end up as a new LASD school - one that will most likely not be very popular. Do you want your kids attending the office park on EL Camino Real? I doubt it. Do you want to buy a house in the office park attendance area?

Why are we sticking with this crazy priority of expanding the footprint? Traffic seems to be the number one reason. Is a few minutes of busy traffic worth giving up on having the greatest schools? I don't think so. Buses and preference areas should help solve the traffic problem.

Hopefully the Trustees will come to their senses and decide to expand within our existing footprint. Yep, its a tough job and I don't envy them, but we need to do the right thing for our kids. There is extra land at three, maybe even four schools, lets figure out a better way to use it, so we can make sure that every student gets the best educational facilities and the best education possible. Every campus deserves improvements, six graders should be at middles, let's make it possible.

Posted by Cheap Land
a resident of another community
on Jun 7, 2016 at 2:32 pm

Speaking of LASD's dithering on Measure N enactment, consider that about $2 Million per year in current operating expenses are caused by not having used Measure N money as its use was expressed to the voters. $2 Million is a lot to spend extra each and every year.

They have not accounted for that cost savings in their projections of operating income in seeking to justify an add-on 2nd parcel tax of $193 per parcel in addition to the perpetual $594 per parcel tax. Also, they underestimate next year's property tax revenue by about $1 Million, which then will apply to every year hereafter as well.

Instead, they are playing around with the idea of purchasing 5150 El Camino Real as a site for a new school. This small a site is not what their ballot arguments expressed when talking about "Crowding" at existing school sites which range from 10 acres to 16 acres in size for elementary school and are about 20 acres for the Jr Highs.

If 4 acres is enough, just carve that much out of the nearby Egan Jr High. That's as
close to all the potential students as is 5150 El Camino Real.

Because that property has an existing 80,000 square foot building used as office space, the property is worth $85 Million for under 4 acres of land. The district will need to spend a lot to bring that building up to the current code for use as school classrooms and other space, because the requirements for a public building are much more stringent than they are for offices. $50 Million is not an over estimate of this cost. But LASD has not engaged an engineering firm to do the detail analysis of what type of construction modifications would be entailed, nor have they consulted the state architect for the requirements they place on use of that building as a school. It lacks any outdoor space which is at all usable for school recess and PE purposes. There's no room for turf area at all, once parking requirements for the teachers are laid out. There's no place for the typical kindergarten play area adjacent to their classrooms.

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