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Future plans to move Bullis Charter School put on hold as LASD grapples with reopening schools

Original post made on Jul 15, 2020

The Los Altos School District is postponing a major decision on where to permanently place Bullis Charter School, citing a need to pause the public process until schools are reopened in the fall.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, July 15, 2020, 1:11 PM

Comments (9)

Posted by Dan Waylonis
a resident of Jackson Park
on Jul 15, 2020 at 2:14 pm

It's disappointing to read that the schools keep doing what they've been doing for sixty years. In light of COVID-19, it seems like we need more innovative solutions. What about "micro schools" which are small, neighborhood schools? What about testing and accreditation online? What to do with the administrative body of the school systems that are no longer needed?

Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on Jul 15, 2020 at 2:17 pm

LASD was always failing to be mindful of continually falling enrollment. Each year for the last 5 years, the total LASD enrollment (counting BCS) has been declining. Maybe taking a little longer to consider this will shed light on the district's future enrollment size. Maybe things will change with the epidemic and the 15% (So far) drop in rental prices of apartments. For nearly 20 years, there have been enough kids living in Mountain View near San Antonio Road toward justifying them having a local neighborhood school. Will that change? In the past, it had appeared there would be TOO many kids in that area to all fit into a single elementary school. Will that change?
There's a whale of a big cost difference in constructing a 1200 student K-8 school versus building one of LASD's typical 500 student K-6 schools. Building a local elementary school which is 10 years overdue would be the least costly option for developing the site.

But, then, should LASD even go ahead with purchasing that site there? Will they still get the "development rights" money they had hoped for?

Lots of questions with answers T.B.D.

Posted by Gary
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jul 15, 2020 at 2:41 pm

Among the 13 options is giving the planned site in Mountain View (San Antonio center) to Bullis. But wait. The current contract with the City of Mountain View would not allow it. So, the gane continues to be: find candidates for Mountain View City Council who wlil support such a change in the contract. And keep secret who they are.

Posted by Gary
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jul 15, 2020 at 3:11 pm

Darn. Two typos above. On this matter of offering Bullis Charter the new school site in Mountain View, we can start by asking the current and former city councilmembers planning to run this year who previously took a position. I am asking them now. Post your current position below. We will want to hear from all council candidates on the matter. And there is a related issue. The use of a new money-raising technique by the city: Transferable Development Rights (TDRs). When, if ever, should the city issue TDRs going forward? Think about that one. The Voice should add those questions to its list for council candidates.

Posted by Gary
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jul 15, 2020 at 3:24 pm

So to be more specific, the current contract between the LASD and the City of Mountain View would only permit Bullis Charter at the new (not yet built) Mountain View site if Bullis gave admission preference to children in that Mountain View neighborhood. A little loose. But candidates may comment from there. Giving city money (some $100 million dollars in TDRs) toward the site was sold as specially beneficial to children in that neighborhood.

Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on Jul 17, 2020 at 10:24 pm

I’ve been around so long I’ve lost any sense of the real world. I just gripe about everything out of habit now

Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on Jul 18, 2020 at 7:55 pm

Questioning assumptions is always reasonable. The thing is that LASD trustees have repeatedly failed to take notice of the decline in population. They neglected to add a school for the San Antonio area back in 2005 when it was first needed. Now the decline in population is distinct, established and likely to continue. It's not just LASD seeing fewer kids. It's the entire state of California and also the larger world. See Web Link for a recent article about the trend.

So, it's interesting that noting the sunny side of LASD taking a pause on planning to adjust for imaginary growth is perceived as a gripe. It's the opposite of a gripe.

The gripe would be that we see an increasing disparity in funding for the wealthy areas like . There's LASD where revenue is largely fixed and having fewer students yields more for each of them. Then there is the bulk of our county and state, where shrinking students means lower overall job demand for teachers since staff has to reduce to match the reduction in kids.

Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on Jul 18, 2020 at 8:07 pm

Gary, when you think about it, this new school is likely not to be completed before 2027. So much can change by then. Whatever the plans, for LASD to deprive a local neighborhood of a new school ONCE IT'S FINALLY THERE is going to meet resistance from the local residents there. They will have a lot of explaining to do if the do not operate a local school, given the likely demographics and the number of kids living around that new school building.

They can make whatever plans they want now, but in 7 years when it opens, they will be the actual context at the time. I just don't see them being able to turn it over to a district wide charter school and filling it with kids whose average distance traveled each day is increased by that action. With declining enrollment I see it far more likely that they will need to shut one of their existing elementary schools due to declining enrollment.

Now, if they succeed in their constant efforts to shut down the charter school, that will create quite a problem for them. They save a lot of money by sending kids to the charter instead of to one of the traditional schools which are very expensive for them to operate. But obviously then, they'd have NO CHOICE but to
use the new school for some sort of local neighborhood school, be it a middle school or an elementary school. They have to use it for something, if they do go ahead with this purchase (if they can even afford to).

Posted by Gary
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jul 18, 2020 at 8:51 pm

I suspect the plan is to quietly identify candidates for Mountain View City Council who are willing to vote to cut the strings attached to the City's contribution toward the school site. The LASD would then design and build the school to be occupied by Bullis Charter. Maybe save money by providing for outdoor classrooms.
Being outdoors is better to prevent the spread of some viruses!

Nearby Mountain View residents could complain all they like. They would have been sold out by the majority Mountain View City Council and would next be laughed at by the LASD Superintendent and Board.

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