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LASD fires warning shot over Bullis growth plans

Original post made on Nov 4, 2018

Bullis Charter School officials announced that they are seeking to boost student enrollment by over 20 percent in the coming school year.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Sunday, November 4, 2018, 9:14 AM

Comments (27)

41 people like this
Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 4, 2018 at 9:34 am

Steven Nelson is a registered user.

It is extremely disheartening that the Los Altos public school district ADMINISTRATION is still deciding to wage Public Relations and probably Legal war on the public charter school. Under California law, passed by the people of California in Proposition 39, the LASD is legally required to provide equivalent facilities to the public school students that attend Bullis.

Pretty simple. In the free competition between parent wanting Bullis public Charter, vs. parents wanting public LASD, the public charter is often winning. [there are many ways to measure winning - as a % of available spaces that are applied for - BCS is handily exceeding the LASD]

Rich People's Squabbles. They always seem to involve wasting $,$$$,$$$ on lawyers. These hired guns use up public money best used (IMO) on public education programs for kids.

IMO the Superintendent of LASD should be ashamed. But that is the Public Policy of the majority of the LASD Governing Board.

But, with the apparent BMV (Bullis application to Mountain View-Whisman) attitude of the MVWSD organization leaders (Superintendent and Bd. President request for delay), my home MVW district may have it's own problems.

15 people like this
Posted by Tamara Logan
a resident of another community
on Nov 4, 2018 at 12:00 pm

Joe Hurd's claim that "Bullis is requested by state statute to name a specific school site" is simply false. The charter must name a location and/or geographic area. How can one interpret taking over the entire Egan campus with exclusive access as anything other than closing an LASD school? The BCS petition offers no concrete alternatives. While the Kohl's site would not be perfect for BCS, it could certainly be an avenue to long term reconciliation and site certainty without the need to close any LASD schools. It could be brand new, state of the art facility just for BCS students. If there was not enough space, a secondary site could be created much closer than the current Blach location.
The charter's rejection of this option and pressure on Mountain View City Council to kill the deal are anything but collaborative. Do Bullis families really want to be at the center of more years of pain in the district?

83 people like this
Posted by Hey GrownUps - Figure It Out
a resident of The Crossings
on Nov 4, 2018 at 1:47 pm

It's absolutely 100% wasted energy trying to claim moral high ground on either side. Who cares what the other side said or didn't say. The bottom line is - LASD, figure it out. Where are you going to put 1100 kids by next fall. Stop wasting time looking at real estate in Mountain View and initiating Go Fund Me campaigns - it's a complete waste of time b/c at the end of the day, you still are obligated to find space for 1100 kids in 10 months time. So best sharpen your pencils and get to work. We elected you and gave you a boat load of money. You also had the benefit of a 5 year siesta. Literally, you sat on your behinds and have nothing to show for 1800 days and a gazillion dollar. You should be fired regardless of the transgressions of your opponent.

You sound like a certain political party in the US that is trying to do a headfake heading into the midterms and appeal to emotions only on topics like caravans and the like.

Get back to work LASD and Figure This Out. You were elected to deliver results. If I wanted more whining, I'd spend more time with my kids.

56 people like this
Posted by Bikes2work
a resident of The Crossings
on Nov 4, 2018 at 2:47 pm

Bikes2work is a registered user.

I have to say that I am very disappointed with the inflammatory LASD press release. The main issue is not Egan at all. The main issue is how to make room for all the new BCS classrooms that are needed for next year. Maybe LASD should offer to set up a third campus for BCS at Covington or Loyola?

Then we'll have BCS North, BCS South, and BCS West. There won't be many kids actually going to the old LASD schools soon. BCS won't be able to be called a commuter school either. With that many campuses, many BCS students can just attend a BCS campus in their own neighborhood.

15 people like this
Posted by Karish
a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Nov 4, 2018 at 2:50 pm

BCS does not need to be placed on one site. LASD is also not located on one site, but spread across a handful of sights. Just because one calls itself a district and the other calls itself a school doesn't change anything...

56 people like this
Posted by LASD Negotiating Tactic
a resident of another community
on Nov 4, 2018 at 3:22 pm

This is LASD's negotiating tactic. First they stall and make no decent offers then they wait for BCS to put in its Prop 39 request. Then they distort what BCS says in an effort to aid their negotiations. There was never a chance that Egan would close. Egan is reducing in size naturally as the population decreases. That's different. LASD has ZERO idea put forth on how they would increase BCS's space to even be equal for the current 900 students let alone the enrolled 1100 for next year. LASD succeeded for the 5 year agreement in squeezing BCS down into space sufficient for about 600 students by pretending that there would be no way BCS could ever grow to 900. So naturally BCS changed tactics and completed enrollment BEFORE making the request for next year. This isn't seek to increase. These students are already enrolled.

Still BCS has been open and forthcoming about possibly accepting a reduced amount of space. Having ALL of Egan would be 25% less than that to which they are entitled. That's a big concession starting out. But beyond that, after the example of Egan, BCS said in their application:

"Although Proposition 39 requires the District to allocate a school facility for Charter School use, BCS is amenable to discussing alternative facilities arrangements that meet both the needs of the District and BCS. Nothing in this Request for Facilities should be construed as a waiver of any rights of BCS. BCS hereby reserves any and all rights available to BCS under the law."

Elsewhere in the application for Prop 39 space, BCS goes into detail with various problems with past LASD tactics at hindering BCS's operation by constrictions placed on space they were provided. They even comment on what is important should they continue to be split across 2 different sites. THIS IS NOT DEMANDING A SINGLE SITE, LET ALONE DEMANDING EGAN.

LASD Lies, pure and simple.

35 people like this
Posted by space for kids
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Nov 4, 2018 at 3:26 pm

If space for kids in classrooms is what's at issue - and the number of kids is basically staying the same (Total kids = LASD +BCS ), @Bikes2work and @Karish are 'basically' correct.

There is no shortage of classroom space. There may be shortage of "Figure It Out" by "Grownups." But there is no shortage of classroom space. Middle schools or Jr. high schools, the politically "untouchable" Covington, lots of shortage of innovative thinking. There is not shortage of classroom space BECAUSE (Total kids = LASD + BCS is a constant).

18 people like this
Posted by LASD Negotiating Tactic
a resident of another community
on Nov 4, 2018 at 3:27 pm

I know you don't like web links, but anyway, here's a link to the complete submission from Bullis in requesting facilities under Prop 39. It includes the part about what's important if they are split between two sites, and so forth. See:

Web Link

45 people like this
Posted by Sad Parent
a resident of The Crossings
on Nov 4, 2018 at 3:47 pm

So disappointed that BCS and LASD are going down the road of conflict. It's so wasteful and unnecessary.

In this round BCS had to name a location. What might a reasonable choice look like? The most obvious requirement is that the location needs to be ready for kids to actually attend school there by this coming August. Which facilities could LASD possibly provide in that timeframe? Is there any possibility other than an existing school site? And unless LASD is going to build new facilities in a hurry, what alternative exists other than facilities in use today? So BCS named a location already in use.

And then there's the state requirement for the provided facilities to be "reasonably equivalent." That would rule out portable buildings, multi-site splits, sites without a complete facilities mix (sporting field, blacktop, playground equipment, restrooms, lockers, special-use spaces like for drama and assemblies, etc.). That narrows the options enough that the Egan site looks like the least disruptive possibility, or pretty close.

I'd love to see any other options that would meet the requirements above and that don't involve displacing students. In the meantime it looks to me like BCS did their homework and played it straight. Now it's up to LASD to do their homework and respond.

My hope is that BCS and LASD can think and resolve this like adults.

29 people like this
Posted by Amanda
a resident of The Crossings
on Nov 4, 2018 at 5:10 pm

Looks like the Crossings Bullis cabal is firing up the boards again. Believe it or not, the majority of us in the Crossings are perfectly fine with LASD schools and are sick and tired of being pushed around by the same personalities that continually claim to speak for us all when in reality they speak only for themselves and for Bullis. Bullis has always bullied its way around both here and throughout the district. Parents considering Bullis should really question whether or not they want to be part of a culture of bullying, entitlement, white lies, and discrimination against less fortunate families from lower socio-economic groups and special education students.

10 people like this
Posted by Amanda Burke-Aaronson
a resident of The Crossings
on Nov 4, 2018 at 6:33 pm

Amanda Burke-Aaronson is a registered user.

Again, to be clear, THIS poster is not me:

“Posted by Amanda
a resident of The Crossings
1 hour ago
Looks like the Crossings Bullis cabal is firing up the boards again. Believe it or not, the majority of us in the Crossings are perfectly fine with LASD schools and are sick and tired of being pushed around by the same personalities that continually claim to speak for us all when in reality they speak only for themselves and for Bullis....”

50 people like this
Posted by New to Los Altos
a resident of another community
on Nov 4, 2018 at 9:29 pm

So if Bullis has already submitted 10 Proposition 39 requests since 2004, why is this still not resolved and why are people freaking out about Egan if the previous 10 requests have not led to any school closures? Can someone please explain? Thanks in advance.

30 people like this
Posted by Observant resident
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Nov 4, 2018 at 10:49 pm

Perhaps someone can help with the math here. I was surprised to see that the LAST enrollment has been declining while the population in Los Altos is growing.

So I looked at a few other numbers:

Seems like Bullis is educating 20% of the district's kids in that age group. They are oversubscribed by at least 2x (is that right?). My understanding is that 30%+ of the parents in the district opt for private schools for their kids. I'm not sure what the overlap between the non-lottery-winners and private-school attendees is, but assuming it's half and half, wouldn't that imply that somewhere around 60% of the district's eligible parents would prefer to opt of the LASD schools? If that's right - shouldn't that be the critical concern of the LASD board?

37 people like this
Posted by Adult in the room
a resident of Waverly Park
on Nov 4, 2018 at 11:20 pm

The problem is BCS. It always has been. If you don't have clarity on where you will put new kids, don't enroll them. BCS is not a victim, they are predators. I have watched this story unfold for years and it's time to put it to a stop. Both LASD and MVSD have excellent public elementary and middle schools. I have 2 kids who attended these schools and are now at MVHS. There is no need for a charter school in this area. Parents who desire an advanced, uber curriculum can afford to send their kids to private schools who offer that kind of platform. Or move to Palo Alto where the test scores are higher (what BCS people want). In the end LASD is simply trying to stand up for itself in the face of an organization that is litigious, righteous, and out of line. A public institution against a privately funded bully. Enough is enough BCS. Privatize. You have the ability and means. Quit trying to take advantage of a law meant to enable people in blighted areas to get a decent public education. It's just obnoxious.

15 people like this
Posted by JR
a resident of another community
on Nov 5, 2018 at 7:13 am

It doesn't seem reasonable to me that a private charter school gets to dictate terms to a public school and take away resources on short notice. Imagine if you had to run a business and at any time, you could be forced to give up 1/10th of your infrastructure to your competitor. There's no way you could run a good business like that, it's too disruptive. Yet that's what LASD has to do, according to law. Seems like it's time to change the law. School districts should have AT LEAST three years notice, that's how long it takes to make plans and do construction.

The bigger issue aside, LASD has to ask themselves why this private school is so successful at converting families. WHY are people choosing to attend the charter school rather than LASD? Maybe it's curriculum, maybe it's misinformation (it's easy to have high test scores when you only admit billionaire kids from Los Altos Hills). Whatever it is, LASD needs to figure it out and get ahead of it. Otherwise one day LASD may not exist, the private charter school seems to be taking over.

32 people like this
Posted by Amanda Burke-Aaronson
a resident of The Crossings
on Nov 5, 2018 at 7:42 am

Amanda Burke-Aaronson is a registered user.

“(it's easy to have high test scores when you only admit billionaire kids from Los Altos Hills”

I could not laugh harder at this frequent misrepresentation - yes the school was started by parents who were displaced with the closure of GB in LAH. But there are PLENTY of families, including my own who do not fit this description. Not even close.

And considering the sociodemographics of LASD in general? It’s a straw man argument.

So if you are truly about actual information please stop spreading misinformation if your own.

You can reference last year’s SARC report online if you’d like to look up actual statistics.

50 people like this
Posted by Truth seeker
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Nov 5, 2018 at 7:44 am

The amount of FUD on this board is unbelievable.

To start with, Bullis is not a private school - it is a public school. It is required to take kids without qualification or bias (there is no neighborhood bias, income test, etc). It is required to take kids with learning disorders, need for subsidized lunch, etc. It is also required to comply with state testing guidelines and meet curriculum guidelines (and can choose to exceed them if it wants). The primary thing it is not required to do is work with the teacher's union. Ask any Bullis parent and they will highlight this fact as the core reason why Bullis overperforms - because they can hire and fire teachers based on performance, not tenure them after 2 years of service (fact: that's how long it takes a CA teacher to become unfireable).

Second, Bullis is not "demanding to shut down a school with only N months of notice". Bullis is required to state a specific location as part of their facilities request. LASD has had 5 years and $150M new dollars to solve this problem and they have chosen not to. They have schools that are literally half full with declining enrollment, and they refuse to rebalance the district to make room for all the kids. Bullis is now educating over 20% of the student population and yet they have the portables split across 2 of the other 9 sites. Doesn't it make obvious sense that 20% of the students in the district deserve a school as well?

On fact there is true - Bullis is choosing to slowly increase it's enrollment. But note that Bullis has been consistently 4x oversubscribed (not 2x as the other poster commented). If Bullis were to accept everyone that asked, the MAJORITY of kids in LASD would be attending Bullis. That is the fact that most scares a CA Teacher's Union supported smear campaign that keeps spreading FUD.

Charter schools are an attempt by the government to reintroduce competition into a system that has so far set the US to one of the world's worst education record of first world countries. The philosophy is simple - force the school to accept everyone (no qualification tests, pay-to-play, etc), force them to meet a set of standards of education, but then allow them to innovate to produce their own results. Bullis is one of the main examples of this working and is a shining success for Los Altos. The competition has led to dramatic improvement in the surrounding LASD schools as well - they've been forced to add arts programs (choir, etc), innovation labs (with access to laser cutters and 3d printers), language curriculum (did you know Bullis kids can take Mandarin from Kindergarten?), etc. This is the whole point of charter schools - a bit of competition raises the bar for everyone.

Please stick to the truth, don't spread FUD.

33 people like this
Posted by Naomi
a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Nov 5, 2018 at 9:12 am

the LASD schoolboard must get rid of the contentious, incompetent, old boy SUPERINTENDENT. and they'd save a lot ofdough getting rid of their pricy legal team. awful administration.

14 people like this
Posted by Which claims are true?
a resident of another community
on Nov 5, 2018 at 9:22 am

If you're reading this you've seen a bunch of contradictory claims and talking points about BCS and LASD. For anyone who hasn't already picked a side I propose that there's a better way than deciphering vitriol and random comments.

It turns out just a little fact checking reveals what's going on here. No spoiler, just these questions:

Who's playing strategy by telling the truth and following the rules to serve kids and the community?
Who's playing nasty by spreading misinformation to divide the community and serve their own power?

With just a little digging the answer quickly becomes clear to open minds.

24 people like this
Posted by Retire Jeff
a resident of another community
on Nov 5, 2018 at 8:58 pm

Retire Jeff is a registered user.

Jeff Baier is the root of all LASD problems along with Randy. Replace them both and maybe there would be hope to repair the damage done and revive the school district that is losing students to the charter school. Negativity and status quo will continue to drag down the district.

15 people like this
Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 6, 2018 at 6:33 am

Steven Nelson is a registered user.

I would totally disagree that the LASD Superintendent is the "root of all problems." He answers to the Board majority. A Board President, for instance, being quoted as wishing to send BCS "to Florida" is a good example of 'the direction' that Baier is taking (quote is from PA Daily Post coverage)

In MVWSD there was a problem with 'neighborhood schools' (many of us thought) where one "Quadrant" of the District had no neighborhood school at all. The Board MAJORITY eventually corrected the situation. [painfull] It was 3:2, it was contentious, it TOOK YEARS and board member changes and administrative changes.


5 people like this
Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 6, 2018 at 7:01 am

Steven Nelson is a registered user.

BTW: As someone who has been involved in school governance, and a candidate for MVLA Board, I would support a HIGH SCHOOL CHARTER (like Hi-Tech High or Summit) out at Shoreline. My former MVWSD govering colleague, Christopher Chiang, has been a strong advocate for this type of program.

The FINANCIALS- there is about $4,000,000 of general property tax REVENUE that is diverted from the high school district each year by the quasi-RDA Shoreline Community (North Bayshore remnant 'redevelopment' agency). "Public Buildings" like a hi-tech high can be build by that current school-tax eating government entity. LASD-BCS may take literally decades to solve facilities problems - the City of Mountain View has shown it's propensity to work with schools since the 1950's. From 2013 to 2018 Public Policy debate and CLASH has allowed my community to advance one of it's important values - neighborhood schools for all neighborhoods (note new school opening North of El Camino, all-weather lighted sports fields @ Crittenden & trail by Permanente Creek)

28 people like this
Posted by Equity in Education
a resident of another community
on Nov 6, 2018 at 1:30 pm

Equity in Education is a registered user.

I agree, it's time for Jeff Baier to hang up his hat. He has failed miserably. Any other sup would have been fired long ago. Most superintendents last 3-6 years (Web Link), and Jeff's been at it unsuccessfully for over 8 years.

He was able to hide a lot of his incompetence by playing the blame game on BCS, but it's now getting really untenable. How much longer can he keep failing his students?

- He hasn't been able to retain LASD students or make a marked improvement in test scores. Web Link

- He's created an ever-widening achievement gap in his affluent District: Web Link

- Even with a $150mn bond, he hasn't been able to solve the facilities issue with BCS or make any marked improvements at current campuses, many of which are falling apart.

- An unfortunate sexual assault incident happened under his watch at an LASD school which has resulted in mountains of ligation for the District: Web Link

- Finally, he bungled a poorly executed strategy to incense LASD parents by making spurious claims of an Egan takeover, only to have it backfire on him: Web Link

Time to drain the proverbial swamp!

30 people like this
Posted by James Thurber
a resident of Shoreline West
on Nov 6, 2018 at 3:34 pm

James Thurber is a registered user.

Please do not forget that nearly four years ago Los Altos School District was "awarded" a bond of $150 million. To date they have been unable to locate a suitable site despite multiple meetings and committees.

It seems Bullis Charter has been overwhelming accepted by the community since it serves over 1,000 [projected] students living within the LASD district boundaries.

I believe this "dispute" will end up in court and, based on my training and experience, the judge will award the Egan campus, in its entirety, to Bullis Charter School.

I'm not saying I support this decision but I do believe it will happen and by the start of the 2020 school year at the latest.

Does LASD have a plan? If Bullis Charter has enrolled over one-thousand of their students do they (LASD) truly need a new school, or can they adjust classes (middle school concept anyone?) and live with what they currently have?

9 people like this
Posted by William Hitchens
a resident of Waverly Park
on Nov 6, 2018 at 5:04 pm

William Hitchens is a registered user.

"The latest back-and-forth was prompted by a state-mandated process for charter schools to request facilities under Proposition 39, which states that school districts must provide "reasonably equivalent" facilities to children within the district who choose to go to a charter school." The mandate sounds pretty clear to me. LASD can't keep stiffing Bullis. Our public schools waste a lot of money on inferior students who never will succeed. Why not encourage the charter schools invest in superior students who will succeed and help grow the US economy in the future??? Their parents pay taxes too, and their children are entitled to the best educations that their superior children need to flourish. It's all about "fairness for all", even the superior students.

13 people like this
Posted by Bikes2work
a resident of The Crossings
on Nov 6, 2018 at 8:45 pm

Bikes2work is a registered user.

Below is the text from Joe Hurd's letter to BCS families. Copied and pasted from this link for your reading pleasure: Web Link
November 6, 2018

Dear BCS Families,

I wanted to take a moment to reach out to each of you following BCS’s submission of our Proposition 39 (Prop 39) facilities request last week. After LASD Superintendent Jeff Baier responded to our submission with a press release on Friday, there has been a lot of confusion and misinformation within our community. Thank you to those who reached out to me and other Board members directly to share your thoughts, support, and concerns.

Three important points: First, BCS’s facilities request is a standard procedure that’s in line with California law and in no way are we suggesting - or demanding - that LASD close Egan. Prop 39 requires the facilities request to include “the district school site and/or general geographic area in which the charter school wishes to locate.” In order to work collaboratively with the district, we elected to name a site preference. Additionally, the law mandates that the site requested not require construction. Because Egan Junior High School site is the only one in the District that can accommodate a K-8 school without adding buildings, it was the only viable option. If BCS were consolidated on the Egan site, it would free up facilities at Blach that the District could use temporarily as needed (for example, while waiting to construct a new school on the proposed 10th site). It is time to have a conversation about the most efficient use of resources.

Second, while we regret any disruption for even a single child for a single year, it’s important to realize that LASD has had 15 years, including the most recent five years during the 5-Year Facilities Agreement to effectively plan for a more permanent single site solution. Ultimately, it’s up to LASD to provide adequate facilities, and we hope to engage in fruitful discussion with LASD over the next few months about what makes sense for all public school students in the district.

Third, I want to assure you that as a public school, there will be space for all students at BCS for the 2019-2020 school year.

Please take the time to become informed about these issues. You can find the complete Prop 39 request and helpful FAQ on the BCS website. As things develop between now and next April, we will continue to update these pages as new information emerges.

On behalf of the BCS Board of Directors, I appreciate your patience and dedication to BCS throughout this process. As always, please feel free to reach out to me or any other board member to share what’s on your mind.

Warm Regards,
Joe Hurd, BCS Board Chair and President

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Posted by Maggie
a resident of Monta Loma
on Nov 6, 2018 at 9:12 pm

Maggie is a registered user.

I cannot believe with school shooting all over the country that the voice would DARE would a shooting analogy- are you guys crazy or what!!!!

VOICE shame on you for these headlines

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