Town Square

Measure N racks up more 'yes' votes

Original post made on Nov 10, 2014

The $150 million school bond proposed by the Los Altos School District to accommodate growing enrollment may win after all.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Sunday, November 9, 2014, 8:58 PM


Posted by Game over
a resident of another community
on Nov 10, 2014 at 10:03 am

Game, set, match. As much as the naysayers tried to topple this bond measure. Enough of the community voted along "party lines" to ensure it passed. Having said that, the victors should not rest on their laurels. This is indeed a cautionary tale. Look at all the other school bond measures on the peninsula that passed this election or recently - not a one was as hotly contested as this and that's an embarrassment and indictment on our community leadership. The new board must be real stewards of this bond or their legacy will forever will be blemished. You have the opportunity to be leaders and take our community in a new direction. Enough of the fighting from years past, let's move forward.

Posted by JimB
a resident of another community
on Nov 10, 2014 at 1:08 pm

The other communities didn't have a litigious relationship with a charter school suing them over every little detail. That has left a bitter taste in the mouth of most residents that are concerned over BCS getting a chunk of that bond money. It's going to take more than constructive leadership from LASD. It's also going to take true partnership and cooperation coming from BCS leadership.

Posted by Give to them
a resident of another community
on Nov 10, 2014 at 1:41 pm

Build the charter school a new school. That is the top priority. Get over it. I don't like it anymore but it you want real peace, give them a site, let them grow to 900 students and focus on the core LASD schools. You've capped BCS' growth and limited that movement to 1 site. It's done. It's game, set and match for the charter movement in Los Altos. They got their beachhead and that's it. If you don't give them a site/school, then you are just asking for years of protracted fighting and you better believe they will ramp up their money machine and their legal machine if you don't.

Posted by Land Cost
a resident of another community
on Nov 10, 2014 at 1:48 pm

LASD has many valuable school sites. If you were to close down Egan and sell off the land for housing development, you could develop about 80 homes each on a 10,000 square foot lot. The land value alone for the minimum size of 10,000 square feet in Los Altos these days is about $2 Million. So except for the value of the newer buildings which would be lost, that land at Egan is worth $160 Million.

To build the 900 student charter school a new school, you need to buy a new site. Even the district is talking about that being a minimum of 12 acres but 14 acres is also something they talk about.

So, sure, the price of peace is that to accommodate those 900 students who would otherwise be attending the various other LASD schools (all of them) is about $100 Million for land and then construction costs on top, say another $40 Million.

The upside is that this has already reduced the load on the traditional LASD schools and they are still claiming to be crowded. But if Bullis were to close up, the problem would get worse. Those 900 students aren't going to go to private school.

Posted by mb
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 10, 2014 at 2:31 pm

The election is flawed since some Los Altos Hills residents in the Los Altos School District, like me, were given the incorrect ballot with the Palo Alto School district issues. I reached out to the Registrar of Voters' Office, the Santa Clara Tax Assessors office, Mt. View Voice and Town Crier but no one seems to want to rattle the boat. The Voter Registrar's office told me in an email that they will correct the mistake after the election is certified. That is a blatant violation of my constitutional right to vote. Four separate Amendments – the 15th, 19th, 24th, and 26th – even use the same powerful language to protect it: “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged . . . .” So, there needs to be an investigation into this matter and the election results halted until such time.

Posted by apalled
a resident of another community
on Nov 10, 2014 at 3:03 pm

@mb - Wow! That's amazing- they wouldn't give you the correct ballot in advance? You're right- you (and all the others) should be given the opportunity to vote now, before the election is certified. How many voters were involved in this mistake?

Posted by Just goes to show
a resident of Monta Loma
on Nov 10, 2014 at 4:21 pm

Another rigged election. At the last minute a few thousand of yes votes showed up, how convenient.

Posted by Seriously?
a resident of another community
on Nov 10, 2014 at 4:59 pm

@Just goes to show -- Are you and MB seriously suggesting that this election was "rigged"??? Do you have any idea what an idiot that makes you sound like? Just exactly how would that be done? How many people would have to be involved in such a conspiracy? Just because you don't like the outcome, doesn't mean the election was "rigged" or otherwise flawed in any way. If you have any evidence at all, then show it. Otherwise, do yourself, and the rest of us a favor and keep your ridiculous accusations to yourself.

Posted by Voters Duped
a resident of another community
on Nov 10, 2014 at 5:02 pm

Very disappointed that the voters of LASD have been duped into approving this outrageously expensive $150M bond measure which is NOT NEEDED. The so-called "explosive" enrollment growth is a myth. In fact, the official projection from the LASD demographer is that enrollment will DECLINE. You see, while LASD is a highly desirable school district, it is also very expensive. There is a high barrier to entry for families who want to move here. The high cost will keep enrollment at the current levels. They should just call Measure N what is really is... the Gardner Bullis Tax. Congratulations LASD, you just raised your taxes by $150M so that Gardner Bullis wouldn't have to be turned over to BCS. Was it worth it?

Posted by Not duped
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Nov 10, 2014 at 6:46 pm

Duped? Yeah, because the LASD voting population isn't very intelligent or very informed. The reality is that PAC's like Each Student Counts, dark money from the California Charter School Association, arguably illegal campaign signage, etc. all failed to dupe the voters into not supporting the bond or into voting for the two charter school Manchurian candidates.

Posted by Voted No
a resident of another community
on Nov 10, 2014 at 7:11 pm

And what about the dark money from the teachers unions, PTA's, Builders, Architects, and the Huttlingers? Not to mention the illegal mailers bought and paid for by LASD.

Posted by JimB
a resident of another community
on Nov 10, 2014 at 8:14 pm

I for one am glad a majority of voters did not fall for the misinformation and lies that David Roode put on his site. The arguments were ridiculous and the tag line of "no on N. No senior exemption" was laughably stupid as it displayed the ignorance of the organizer of that effort. Barely any of my friends knew there was a No on N effort and never saw the signs. If people voted no it at least not based on any of his lies.

Posted by Are ballots being counted?
a resident of The Crossings
on Nov 11, 2014 at 3:13 am

What is going on at the Registrar of Voters Office? Someone should investigate whether and how ballots are being counted. Go to the Registrar's website and see whether it acknowledges receipt of your ballot - especially if you did NOT vote!

Posted by Report fraud to opponents
a resident of The Crossings
on Nov 11, 2014 at 3:19 am

If you did not receive a proper ballot or have another complaint about the voting or counting process, contact the opponents of Measure N identified in the ballot pamphlet. There could be legal redress.

Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 11, 2014 at 9:17 am

The passage of the LASD Bond is expected. There is really no 'dark money' because the state (FPPC) reporting is pretty open. The normal type of contractor/construction union YES support, with added PTA $$ support. Homeowners actually (in most CA districts) win from a Bond's passage - in macro-economics research - Bond passage is a "signaling variable" that shows this community Really Cares about good education. Clicks up the value of residential real estate.
It also makes no statistically significant difference in educational outcomes!

LASD/BCS generated 'fights' are always a hoot to watch (including "the money trail"). Hopefully - compromising heads will prevail on these Bond/build issues as well. Best of Luck!

Posted by Whoever
a resident of another community
on Nov 11, 2014 at 1:04 pm

@Steve Nelson: Would it surprise you to learn that LASD put out 5 newsletters to voters in the months leading up to the election? 4 of these were glossy slick-worded brochures, and one even mentioned Measure N by name. These came out in April, May, July/August, and the second half of August. There had to be considerable expense in preparing these mailings. The taxpayers paid for them and for the campaign preparation behind them.

Because they typically only have 1 such mailer per year, I think this violates the Political Reform Act. What do you think?

Posted by Whoever
a resident of another community
on Nov 11, 2014 at 1:05 pm

Forgot to mention: The typical newsletter is sent to all RESIDENTS of LASD, but these 4 slick brochures were sent only to voters. TO me that is also evidence of their being campaign oriented.

Posted by MB
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 11, 2014 at 2:31 pm

I'm not saying the election was rigged but there is an error (ie incorrect ballots sent) that the Voter Registrar is aware of and dismissing until the election is certified. I have all this communication with the Registrar in email.

Posted by MB
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 11, 2014 at 2:52 pm

To Seriously? Unlike you, I don't make false accusation and all my statements are backed by tangible evidence. I have it all in writing (email) from both the Registrar's Office and the Santa Clara County Tax Assessor's Office as to the mistake and their desire to fix the mistake only after the election is certified. I'll be more than happy to meet you in person to provide you a copy of the emails. Let me know when and where you'd like to meet. However, I would then expect you to write an apology letter in MV Voice. Also, in case you are interested here are the names and email addresses of the persons in the Registrar's Office who have been informed and are involved. Shannon Bushey at [email protected]; Matt Moreles at [email protected], Ray Johnson [email protected],and Bob Nguyen at [email protected]
Unlike you, my agenda is not to pass or fight a particular measure but rather ensure that we have a correct election. A true and correct election is the main pillar to democracy. You need to look at the big picture and not be self absorbed.

Posted by Seriously?
a resident of another community
on Nov 11, 2014 at 4:14 pm

@MB -- Settle down Beavis. I'm not the one waving my arms and claiming the entire election is "flawed" or has been "rigged" to yield some pre-determined outcome. Why not post those emails here? Did they acknowledge that there was in fact an error, or simply commit to looking into your allegations after the election is certified. Secondly, Would you argue that every election that has even a single mistaken ballot is "rigged" or "flawed'? It would be pretty tough to trust any election if that were the case. Finally, who would be capable of orchestrating a conspiracy along the lines of what you and "Just goes to show" seem to be implying? I'm reasonably sure that nobody with that capability had enough at stake in this little local bond measure to risk serious jail time for felony election fraud. So take a deep breath, stop the hysterics, and acknowledge that even if there was such an error, it does not mean the entire election is "flawed" or "rigged" or that it was anything more than a simple mistake (if in fact there was any mistake at all) with no impact on the outcome.

Posted by Whoever I am
a resident of another community
on Nov 11, 2014 at 6:16 pm

I believe you MB. It sounds like it is not a large potential error. I noticed they had been monkeying quite a bit with the precinct maps over the last 3 years. I don't know why. Did you know you can probably spot the error on the precinct map? You can locate them by address and download one. It also shows the adjacent precincts. Most likely the problem will be that the address you refer to won't be included in the LASD set of precints, but you can use a nearby address and when you download that, you'll be able to see what precinct they stuck the addresses in.

I heard 2nd hand that there were some problems over in the Palo Alto (Monroe Park mainly) area of LASD too! So this could add up.

To download precinct maps go here: Web Link There is a box on the side panel which says Download Precinct Maps. From there, you have some choices. You can search by residential address, or you can get all the precincts in LASD by selecting District Type and then Elementary School District and then LASD.

Please do share what you find out! This could be wider spread than you realize.

Posted by Maher
a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on Nov 11, 2014 at 7:54 pm

Well I tend to support this Bond issue. I'm really sickened by the ballot snafu and despise anything that interferes with a person's right to vote on whatever issue. Nausea is my response.

I wish they would re-issue ballots on this issue to all the qualified voters and let them vote correctly and see what the results are.

Posted by Whoever
a resident of another community
on Nov 11, 2014 at 9:16 pm

Oh my gosh. There are way more votes on the Measure N issue than there are on the trustees. At the same time the ROV said 5% of eligible voters weren't voting on Measure N.

What if they gave that 3rd page which had just Measure N on it to a bunch of voters, like maybe 1000 who weren't supposed to get it? With it only winning by 300 votes over the 55% mark, this could really mess things up. Maybe some of the people who got them but shouldn't just didn't vote, but some did.

Posted by Multiplier effect
a resident of another community
on Nov 11, 2014 at 10:26 pm

The sum of votes for LASD Trustee (choose up to 3 out of 5) will naturally be much higher than the sum for and against Measure N. They're not reporting ballots, they're reporting votes

Posted by Whoever
a resident of another community
on Nov 12, 2014 at 12:43 am

Sure, Measure N is less than votes on Trustees. But if you triple the Measure N vote count, that number is much greater than the number of votes on trustees. It is about 33% greater than the votes for trustees. It's like 90% of the voters only voted for 1 trustee candidate, or 45% only voted for 2. Something strange.

Posted by Whoever
a resident of another community
on Nov 12, 2014 at 12:46 am

That is, triple the Measure N votes, and it is 45% greater than the number of votes for trustees. Too much difference.

Posted by MB
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 12, 2014 at 9:29 am

Seriously? I don’t appreciate your rudeness nor misstating what I’ve preciously said. If you were to go back and look at my previous posts, I did not claim this election was “rigged” (i.e. fraud was involved), nor claim a conspiracy theory. You’re the one who is trying to spin my statements that way and seem to be frantic. I’ve only stated that:
(i) the Registrar has erred by sending out incorrect ballots,
(ii) the Registrar Office has acknowledged its error in an email (i.e. writing), and
(iii) the Registrar Office stated in an email (i.e. writing) it will correct its error only after the election is certified.
I have issue with the remedy, as we are not merely speaking to a clerical error but an error that has led to a violation of a constitutional right. Violations do not need to be based on fraud but may innocently occur. But irrespective of the reason why, a violation has occurred. We don’t know the extent of the mistake and whether or not it would impact the outcome until the Registrar of Voters Office halts the certification process and looks further into this matter.
Also, I offered to meet with you and provide you copy of the emails, but you don’t seem to be interested in the facts. I will not scan and post the emails because it includes my personal email address and property address. However, to ease your concern that my allegations are false and unfounded, I’ve include the pertinent content of the emails below. Also, my offer to meet you in person stands; so long as you would then write an apology letter in MV Voice.
From the Santa Clara County Tax Assessor’s Office: [email protected]
“Registrar of Voters: Please assist in getting the school district information corrected for the taxpayer. Let me know if you need any additional information from our office.”
From the Registrar of Voters Office: Nguyen, Bob" <[email protected]
“After reviewing our information and map with the county assessor’s data, we have realized that our record did not contain the current school district information. Your property which is located on XXX, Los Altos Hills California 94022 falls within the Los Altos School District boundaries. After the November 2014 election is certified, we will make the correction. If you have any additional questions, please let me know. I can be contacted at: (408) 282-3037. Thank you, Bob”
What is disappointing here is that persons like you seem to be more interested in their personal agenda than seeking the truth, correcting mistakes and looking at things rationally. The pillars of character (Caring, Citizenship, Fairness, Respect, Responsibility, and Trust) that we are so proud to have instituted in our schools and for our kids to learn and abide by are meaningless if we don’t practice it ourselves with members of our community. You have breached every single pillar via your posts and are a bully.

Posted by Bleu
a resident of another community
on Nov 12, 2014 at 9:37 am

The vote count is not surprising. A lot of people only voted for Swan and McClatchie.

Posted by Appalled
a resident of another community
on Nov 12, 2014 at 11:43 am

@MB - is there any way to escalate this? I think the election should be nullified unless they can prove that the votes which weren't included couldn't possibly effect the outcome. Do they know how many voters were sent the incorrect ballots?

You should call 7 on Your Side - the Channel 7 consumer watchdog. Give them a little publicity ...

Posted by Appalled
a resident of another community
on Nov 12, 2014 at 12:12 pm

@MB - does the Town Crier know about the incorrect ballots that were sent out? Or the SJ Mercury?

Posted by David
a resident of another community
on Nov 12, 2014 at 12:53 pm

If they decide to have a redo I am ready to bring the site back online. Just remember that no seniors like myself have an exemption on this school bond which by law can't have a senior exemption. Also remember our schools are growing and not enough space for that growth but LASDs facilities have more than enough capacity for growth. No taxpaper dollars should go to this effort that will be used to improve LASD and BCS facilities. These and many more more logical facts are ready to be posted again.

Posted by Seriously?
a resident of another community
on Nov 12, 2014 at 1:15 pm

@MB -- what is it with people who characterize honest, blunt disagreement with "bullying". People seem to be throwing that term around alot these days. To quote the great Inigo Montoya: "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." But I'm sorry if my directness and skepticism of your intentions offends you. Oh wait, no I'm not sorry...

Look back at my original post. I was responding to both your claims and another poster who used the word "rigged". You are in fact stirring up conspiracy theories with your claim of a "flawed" election and are fanning the flames for people who opposed Measure N (often times through questionable means). I did see your posting of the email text from Bob Nguyen and believe that to be an acknowledgement of nothing more than the fact that your individual house was mis-classified as to school district. One house. That hardly indicates a fatally flawed election, AND as another poster pointed out, you had immediate remedy to fix the so called "violation of your constitutional rights" at the polling place. Instead, you'd rather try to force a massively expensive review of the entire election based on no evidence of fraud, conspiracy, or anything other than a clerical error impacting nobody but you.

Posted by Precincts
a resident of another community
on Nov 12, 2014 at 2:04 pm

@MB: As I said before, they redid a lot of precinct maps in LASD. This error could be more than one house. Have you checked out the precinct map where your house is? Each precinct should be entirely within one elementary school district. By looking at the map, you might see how many other people were affected. They are readily available.

Posted by Whoever
a resident of another community
on Nov 12, 2014 at 2:08 pm

For slate voting of just John and Martha to explain the shortfall in votes for trustees vs Measure N, there would need to be 45% votes for both of them. But that's impossible. They only got 20% of the vote (or less) so that really doesn't explain it. Something is inconsistent about these votes. One thing that would explain it would be if there were people who got the Measure N ballot item but DID NOT get the LASD Trustee choices (i.e. they got the PAUSD choices).

To the joker talking about the web site, note that a redo couldn't legally take place until 2016 so far as I know.

Posted by Rob
a resident of another community
on Nov 12, 2014 at 2:28 pm

I highly agree. The nolasdbond.con website was obviously written by a joker. It was entertaining but factually wrong. Did David Roode seriously create that website?

Posted by Jim
a resident of another community
on Nov 12, 2014 at 3:15 pm

@Whoever The explanation may be as simple as some people voted on the bond measure, but did not vote on the board of trustees. It is not unreasonable to believe that some people are more concerned about the amount of their taxes (i.e., Measure N) than on who will spend them (LASD board).

Posted by BCS Supporter
a resident of another community
on Nov 12, 2014 at 7:24 pm

So angry. We spent so much money to block the bond measure. Let's look at our failures:

1: We lost almost every single court decision.

2: The county told us we couldn't be so obviously exclusive or risk our charter.

3: Too many of our lawsuits were borderline frivolous, so rather than risk our charter, we agreed to surrender our ability to leverage the courts.

4: We tried to get Martha and John on the board so we could disrupt the district from within, but the voters saw through our attempt.

5: Perhaps the last chance we can mess with the district is this bond measure, but the votes have spoken.

3 strikes you're out! Sure, but 5 strikes!? Eeh-gad! Many parents want to take this as a sign we should try to peacefully co-exist with LASD, but I say let's keep fighting!

Posted by Mom
a resident of another community
on Nov 12, 2014 at 8:46 pm

David and BCS Supporter - shouldn't you be in bed? Middle school starts early tomorrow morning.

Posted by Pathetic
a resident of another community
on Nov 13, 2014 at 6:59 am

This election was pathetic and a total embarrassment for the community - like Kim Kardashian. BCS tried to buy the election and couldn't. LASD pulled a fast one on ballot stuffing or nixing a whole swath of votes. Both sides are culpable and we are left with status quo. I really wish only those who have children going to the actual schools had to pay. Us seniors, the private school kids, and the charter kids should only pay for what they get. Instead we pay for disharmony. Sign me up for another $30/100K. Yes!

Posted by JimB
a resident of another community
on Nov 13, 2014 at 8:47 am

The no senior exemption issue is a sham. There is never a senior exemption for school bonds because of the state law. Roode made that his campaign slogan against Measure N, putting it on his signs and website. Most seniors are fans of the schools and those who have been around for a while can easily afford the bond.

It was Roode's choice to retire and use his retirement savings to buy a Million Dollar house on Mayer Ct in Los Altos. Just because he's bitter about paying his due of taxes isn't good cause to selfishly try to tank a needed school bond issue.

Posted by Whoever
a resident of another community
on Nov 13, 2014 at 11:37 am

I checked, and it does look like in the last trustee election about 25% of the voters did not register a vote on the Trustee selection. I base this on the 80% turnout and the 25,000 voters in LASD. So maybe that explains the disparity in votes for Trustees in this election and votes on Measure N.

Posted by LASD Voter
a resident of another community
on Nov 14, 2014 at 9:57 pm

I don't have kids, but am very happy that the Bullis Charter School failed in their latest assault on the public school system. Measure N will give the school board the means to support and improve the campuses.

This can only help increase property values, so it is money well spent.

Posted by Informed LASD voter
a resident of another community
on Nov 14, 2014 at 11:25 pm

@ LASD Voter- it seems you were an uniformed voter. The Yes vs No debate had nothing to do with BCS. The opposition to the bond was due to the vagueness of the bond language and an unwillingness of any of the trustees to define how the money would be spent. There was hardly an assault on the public school system by BCS.

Posted by BCS Parent
a resident of another community
on Nov 15, 2014 at 2:37 am

We voted against the bond measure to disrupt LASD's plans for improving and expanding the campus facilities. With this money, they might be able to submit to our demand for a big campus without disrupting one of their top schools.

They shut down our school a decade ago so we will keep up the fight until we get our pound of flesh.

Posted by Veruca Salt
a resident of another community
on Nov 15, 2014 at 9:11 am

Can't fight the Seether.

Posted by me
a resident of another community
on Nov 15, 2014 at 4:20 pm is a good resource.

Posted by BCS History
a resident of another community
on Nov 16, 2014 at 1:17 pm

Here is an excerpt from an article describing the disruption that the private charter school is causing to the parents and students of the Los Altos PUBLIC School District. It's important to note that while the No on N folks appear to use neutral language when describing their "recommendation" for how money should be spent on configuring campuses, it just coincides with the long-standing desire to tear a high functioning PUBLIC school away from their campus on LASD and shove them somewhere else. It has been suggested that this is just simple cold-hearted revenge. I don't know about that, but if you read the history of the dispute, there does seem to be some credence to the theory.

"Los Altos, Calif., is a sleepy little town in a quiet part of Silicon Valley where shops close by 6 p.m. and the few restaurants in town are dark by 9 p.m. Families move to Los Altos to take advantage of the excellent public school system and tight-knit community. The Los Altos School District (LASD) has a neighborhood school model. Each school is relatively small (400-600 students), every school is a California Distinguished School, and everyone seems to know each other. The community is safe and many children walk to school. Despite continued state budget cuts, district test scores are at the top of California’s Academic Performance Index scale, and the district’s innovative programs are recognized at a national level. The public school system is alive and well in Los Altos.

Now our small community is faced with the unthinkable – we may be forced to close a high-performing public school to hand that school lock, stock and barrel over to a charter school. How could this happen? Charter school law was originally intended to help children who are underserved and falling through the cracks of traditional education systems. Unfortunately, across the country there are more and more charter schools popping up which are taking advantage of loopholes to create pseudo-private schools with questionable admissions practices, high “suggested donation” requirements from parents and low representation of truly underprivileged children.

In our case, a small group of parents created Bullis Charter School (BCS) in 2003 when their neighborhood school was closed due to low enrollment and budget cuts. In accordance with California state law, the district provided BCS with facilities and co-located the school on the campus of one of the district middle schools. BCS does not like this location and hired some very sophisticated lawyers that are trying to leverage the loosely written state charter laws (Prop 39) to force LASD to close a high-performing school and give that campus to BCS. This would displace hundreds of children and impact all 4,500 children in the district, as the remaining school boundaries would need to be redrawn in order to distribute the displaced children among the remaining schools—some of which will struggle with overcrowding and traffic problems.

BCS calls themselves a public school; however, with the exception of the public funds they use, they act and govern themselves like a private school. BCS does not have the same percentages of English Language Learners, socioeconomically disadvantaged children, or special needs kids as the district in which it resides. BCS has a self-appointed, in-perpetuity school board that rules with no community input and no elections. BCS receives tax dollars from the district; however, they do not have to abide by the same accountability and transparency rules that are required by law for public schools.

BCS heavily pushes on the parents to donate $5,000.00 per student per year. They once even used a “wall of shame” to display the names of those families that did not donate. BCS maintains a geographic preference for families living in adjacent Los Altos Hills, one of the wealthiest enclaves in California, where the original neighborhood school resided.

Most recently, BCS has asked LASD for a 10-acre site on which to place their K-8 school. As is typical throughout most heavily populated areas in California, there is little or no room that is not already developed; the only 10-acre sites easily available to the district are those on which public schools already exist. Not wanting to displace students at an existing school, the district has offered to keep the BCS K-6 program at the middle school site and move the BCS 7-8 grade program to the other middle school campus across town. BCS does not approve of this plan and is calling it unlawful. Lawyers on either side of the issue are arguing their interpretation of the charter law.

The precedent set by the final outcome of this situation will determine the future of high- performing, non-charter schools in the state of California. As it stands, it seems as if the current laws will allow a charter school to legally enter a district and potentially shut down a high-performing school. The current laws severely harm high-performing and resource-limited districts in California by forcing school closures. Legal fees used to protect the district schools drain resources, and administrators spend time in courts instead of focusing on innovative education strategies. And there is nothing to prevent charters from continuing to grow and take over more school sites, even to the point of bankrupting one of the top school districts in the state."

Posted by BCS History Part 2
a resident of another community
on Nov 16, 2014 at 1:20 pm

The previous posting details some of the problems the charter school has caused the community. Here is another article which goes into more detail on the same subject. If the charter school is not careful, they will ruin Prop 39 for legitimate charter schools across the state when the votes have had enough. The law is intended to provide some disruptive innovation to low performing school districts. It was never intended to service the desire for wealthy children to provide an exclusive private school education on the public dime. Please read...

"Watch what happens when wealthy people organized a charter school when their one and only public school was closed down. See how one of the top school districts in the entire state got completely, and I mean completely screwed by the charter school process.

We haven't been shy about sharing our "educational €œreform" position with you: we distrust the charter school movement. We believe they are a means for private corporations to strip school boards of their resources and teachers of their benefits by providing cut-rate education under the false flag of "school choice." After all, corporations exist to make a profit. Would you really want your child's education outsourced to the lowest bidder? Of course not!

Charter Schools' Negative Impact on the Educational System

Charter schools are being implemented all across the country, whether parents want them or not. This is happening because some very wealthy people, not one of them with any education background, see this as a way to profit at the expense school boards and teachers unions. Much of the current "school reform" movement has been taken over by tons of money from foundations from the Walton (Walmart), Gates (Microsoft) and Broad (construction and insurance) families and, of course, the Koch brothers. These groups have completely derailed real school reform in favor of their plan to corporatize our educational system.

All that money crowds out real reform in favor of forcing charter schools, despite their lackluster performance and despite their ability to cherry-pick students. There are stories everywhere of neighborhood schools forced to close, fire all the teachers and administrators, and then reopen as charters, despite complete opposition from the affected teachers, parents and children. Needless to say, this is most likely to happen where parents are not well-represented in the political system. That is, this process is most likely to happen in poorer neighborhoods rather than wealthy suburbs. Remember Waiting for Superman (which is, of course, pure propaganda)? The Bay Area school in the film was in Redwood City (a city with mixed socio-economic characteristics including a large low-income barrio). And look at all the corporate charter schools that have popped up in Oakland and San Jose.

But That Doesn't Happen in the "Real Bay Area," Right?

So what would you think of a charter school setting up in an Real Bay Area wealthy suburb and leeching off the school board? Surprise! This is the story of a private group that is trying to strip a school board of its assets by providing a really expensive education for some really wealthy parents' kids. Welcome to the continuing saga of Bullis Charter School of Los Altos.

This story began when the Los Altos School District closed Bullis Purissima Elementary, the only public school in Los Altos Hills in 2003 due to reduced enrollment. Or they closed it in order to renovate but the economy slowed down, depending on which version of the story you choose to believe. A group of parents in that attendance area were unhappy about this decision, and decided to fight it using the charter school facilities language enabled by Proposition 39. Prop 39 was ostensibly about lowering the voting threshold for school bonds from 2/3 to 55%, but charter language was added to gain support from those school operators. And this language says that "public school facilities should be shared fairly among all public school pupils, including those in charter schools."

And thus the Bullis Charter School was born, ready to demand its fair sharing of public school facilities. Rejected twice by Los Altos School District, the school won a charter via the Santa Clara County Office of Education. Now, in order to get those facilities they wanted shared fairly, that means another LASD school will lose them. In order to get more facilities, they need to recruit more students. So they did. And thereby lies the root of many of conflict.

Bullis Charter School & Los Altos School District: A Miserable Marriage

BCS is demanding their own school site for 450 students because they don't want to share a school site with an existing one. They find the current offer to have K-6 at one school and 7-8 at a different school unacceptable and claim the Prop 39 language says their charter cannot have split sites because their program is a K-8 inclusive one. Instead they want their own 10 acre site.

The result: a school land grab in LASD, and it has gotten UGLY. Simply check out some of the reportage on this issue and be sure to read the comments sections to see what we mean. BCS Supporters just want what's best for their kids. They want equal funding, as they say they receive less per student. And supporters of the school call detractors "envious" and imply they know who detractors are who post under pseudonyms. There are insinuations that BCS students are being harassed by non-BCS students. One BCS supporter (hi there, Ron!) openly taunts detractors.

BCS detractors refer to the "billionaires" who organized BCS and treat it like their "own private school" and are "Bullis bullies" to the other district families. There are demands that the admission lottery needs an outside auditor. There are demands that the donations and budget be audited as well. There are claims that Special Education students have been forced out of BCS. There are claims that applications to BCS asked for information illegally, such as whether the student had an IEP (e.g. for Special Ed). There are claims that parents unwilling to pay the “voluntary” $5000 per student “donation” have had their names posted on a "Wall of Shame." There are complaints of online harassment. There are allegations that all the organized opposition to a 2011 LASD parcel tax came from BCS parents. There are observations that BCS doesn't negotiate, it threatens.

In 2007, there was a formal finding that BCS filed special education reimbursement expenses that appeared invalid. The school district, in their court filing, called BCS a "semi-private school" that should not be given Prop 39 facilities. The local PTA has taken a public stand on the issue against the "local boutique charter." The Los Altos City Council got dragged in over eminent domain. LASD parents have formed a formal group opposing BCS's designs on a school site. There are suggestions that County Board of Ed members may have voted to renew Bullis' charter for another 5 years because of campaign contributions.

There have been lawsuits. Many lawsuits. BCS has sued LASD several times. There have been motions and countermotions and attempts to submit amicus briefs to the current suit. The bottom line, according to Ken Moore, chairman of the Bullis board, is that the district continues to ignore the law. BCS is simply trying to get what it is due and the district is obstructing them any way it can.

The district's lawyers aren't so sure, however. After Bullis filed its "motion to compel," the LASD legal team fired back arguing that the district had already agreed to more than enough. "BCS's request to order the closure of a district school has no support in the law," LASD officials said in a July 24 press release. Mesel and his cohorts'€” seven community members working to defend the district agree that LASD should not give up an entire campus. And according to Mesel, plenty of others living within the LASD boundaries share his view€” as evidenced by the about 200 signatures of support he says the Huttlinger Alliance for Education has gathered.

What's Happening Now & Who's Talking About It?

The current situation is that LASD is proposing a school bond to build a new elementary school so BCS can have its own site, but they expect the bond measure to fail. Not many school districts in the RBA are building new facilities these days, because they aren't making any more land. However, if the bond fails twice, this is where it gets really nasty. If that happens, BCS can take over an existing neighborhood school, and students in that attendance area will be dispersed to other elementary schools. And BCS has made it very clear to LASD where they want that school to be: in Los Altos Hills, preferably at the old Bullis-Purissima school.

But the original cause for the creation of BCS, namely the closure of Bullis-Purissima, is no longer the case. The school has since reopened as Gardner Bullis. That means the whole point of the charter school is moot, but at this stage nobody wants to back down.

And with so many highly educated people involved, there are many places to talk about these issues. One of the LASD board members comments on his own blog. “This LA-wide blog seems to prefer BCS to the district. There is a blog supporting the school district over BCS. There's also a Facebook group for LASD parents that specifically prohibits any mention of BCS! (Wonder what the backstory to that rule is!) And here's a Facebook group that talks plenty about BCS. Look at the number of comments to each entry! News stories regularly appear in both the Los Altos Town Crier and the Los Altos Patch, with the aforementioned spirited discussions. And you know by "spirited" I actually mean vicious.

You see, it turns out that BCS loaned the principal of the school $250,000 to remodel a house (or maybe not remodel it) that she already owned. The problem is, since the house was purchased before the loan was made, that may not have been exactly legal for a 501(c)3 nonprofit benefit corporation to do. And someone has already filed a complaint with the State Attorney General over this. "

Posted by Jessy
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 16, 2014 at 2:14 pm

Wow! Thank you for providing a historical account of the problem that the Bullis school has caused the community. Now I understand why the misinformation campaign continues via the "Each Student Counts" organization and their No on N campaign.

Most of the LASD community is happy with the school district except for a few charter school die-hards. Let it go folks...

Posted by Evolution
a resident of another community
on Nov 16, 2014 at 2:20 pm

The guy above is warped in his view. Regardless of the history, the situation is that now LASD has revenues of $12,000 per ADA which includes the $3.2 Million raised by the LAEF each year. The rest of the LASD revenue is entirely public funds.

BCS has revenues of $10,000 per year per student, which includes only about $6,000 in public funding provided by LASD (and a few other districts with residents attending) pursuant to state law.

So, since these are 95% students whom LASD would need to educate anyway, the bottom line is that the existence of BCS saves LASD a lot of expense that it would otherwise incur in educatiing these 700 students.

As for facilities, BCS has specifically NOT asked for a new site to be purchased for it. It is entitled to one of the existing sites strictly because it serves so many students and the average site in LASD serves only 500 students. By the number, what should happen is the average students per LASD site should go up to 570, and then one of the existing sites would become the home of BCS. But this is entirely up to LASD, and it has decided it would prefer to purchase new site for the San Antonio area, to avoid increasing the size of the other LASD sites, and then turn one of the other LASD sites over to BCS.

Posted by Evolution
a resident of another community
on Nov 16, 2014 at 2:57 pm

Not to mention of course, that dozens of alleged facts in this guy's warped history could be individually refuted.

As for the revenues for LASD vs BCS, consider also that at the various LASD schools, depending on the wealth of the parents, the local PTA's also raise and spend $500 to $1000 per student each year. A very small portion of this fundraising is contributed to the district and shows in their total revenue figures. At BCS, such fundraising doesn't separately exist, as all the funds raised go to the school through its foundation. So this is one more way that the revenues are lower still for each BCS student.

Additionally, at the LASD schools there are after school enrichment programs available only to those students who can and do pay. This is additional funding for LASD students, which has no parallel at BCS.

Finally, BCS pays out of its budget operating expenses for school and grounds which then show up as revenue in the LASD budget. This is supposed to be just to recover costs, such as landscaping that LASD would spend anyway. But LASD has hiked the fee considerably of late, and this is a cutback on the LASD funding to BCS students.

Posted by BCS Reality
a resident of another community
on Nov 16, 2014 at 4:02 pm

Unfortunately, for Bullis student enrolled has a net cost to LASD of up to $1500. That means as Bullis grows, this will take money away from the public school district that should be going to educating students. The reason for this is due to the bizarre california tax districting rules and agreements. The nut of this is that LASD is forced to hand over $X/student each year, but does not receive 100% reimbursement for this.

This is one of the many dirty little secrets Mr's Roode and Fagen would like to hide from you. They post mis-information anonymously on these boards through multiple aliases and ip addresses. Fortunately, the LASD voters have seen through this and decided to fund Measure N. The Board of Supervisors have already told the charter school that their exclusionary admission practices will result in their loss of certification.

They have recently been forced to phase out their Bullis-Purrisma admissions preference. Unfortunately, they are still practicing their "creaming" recruitment policies to bring in only the "best and brightest", which has resulted in marginally better test scores than LASD as a whole.

If we take into account the legal battles over the years and the still significant legal cost of handling the mediation process, the cost to LASD for each student is actually well beyond the aforementioned $1500.

Of course, the inequities go far beyond this. LASD has to provide education to everyone, including students with significant disabilities. BCS does not. Very, very sad situation for the public.

Posted by psr
a resident of The Crossings
on Nov 16, 2014 at 10:38 pm

Unlike BCS, LASD has to provide for the education of Special Needs children, ESL students and other more expensive to educate children. BCS actively discourages those children from enrolling and, if they do enroll, makes life for their parents exceedingly difficult. The money they save by not having to provide those services makes a nice nest egg to spend on litigation to try to secure a school site from the district and displace hundreds of children.

Since BCS was created in response to not having a school in LAH and Gardner Bullis is now open in that area, BCS no longer has any reason to exist other than to provide its proponents with an avenue to inflict pain on the body that irked them more than a decade ago (LASD). The fact that those children they seek to displace never did anything to them doesn't phase them. The only thing to quell their pique is getting the school site that spells victory for them. The children they bulldoze in the process don't matter to them.

If BCS exists for the good of their children, then they should seek to work with LASD, not against them. I think some of them are trying. I hope those who are can get control over those who are not. This doesn't have to be the zero-sum game some of the Bullis proponents seem to be playing.

Posted by Truth or Consequences
a resident of another community
on Nov 17, 2014 at 8:46 am

@ PSR -
I would be careful if I were you. Maybe you actually belief the lies you are trying to spread. I kind of doubt it though. Here's the thing - you need to stop blaming things on the LASD Special Needs, English Language Learners, and Low Income Communities. They are NOT the reason that LASD spends so much per student, its the over the top benefits packages, retiree pay and operation of very a small school - Gardner Bullis* - that are what is really racking up costs. Blaming high costs on students just isn't cool. You are in fact pointing fingers at the students who most need our love and support.

* LASD collects around $5000 for each PAUSD student attending Gardner Bullis. These students make up more than 10 percent of the students. That short fall is made up by the LASD tax payers, making GB a super costly project.

Posted by Funny
a resident of another community
on Nov 17, 2014 at 9:07 am

It's funny- to read the hullabaloo over LASD having to educate ALL these ESL and special needs kids one would think we live in a diverse community. We don't. This is a wealthy community and there are very few special needs kids. But LASD gets more money from the state per kid anyway since they don't give BCS their portion of the parcel tax. LASD benefits financially from each kid that attends BCS. It would cost more to educate them through LASD.

Posted by Funny
a resident of another community
on Nov 17, 2014 at 9:12 am

Or rather I should say that LASD gets to keep the differential that BCS doesn't get so they have more money to spend per LASD kid than they would have if BCS didn't exist.

Posted by Same old story
a resident of another community
on Nov 17, 2014 at 9:19 am

Are there any BCS enrollment signs in Mountain View or along El Camino? So far I've only seen signs at major intersections in Los Altos Hills just like every other year. I'd like to see a push for a more inclusive student body at BCS and not just targeted advertising for the wealthier areas of the district.

Posted by Local realtor
a resident of another community
on Nov 17, 2014 at 10:00 am

FYI Los Altos Hills is no longer a "wealthier" area than Los Altos. In fact you can get better deals in LAH on real estate there than you can in Los Altos. I've never seen a BCS enrollment sign anywhere in Los Altos so if somebody is being targeted, it's certainly not obvious.

Posted by Truth or Consequences
a resident of another community
on Nov 17, 2014 at 10:43 am

You might want to look into city sign policies. Last year I do remember seeing BCS signs at the San Antonio/El Camino intersection, in front of Chef Chuis.

Posted by Truth or Consequences
a resident of another community
on Nov 17, 2014 at 10:51 am

Sorry about the type o ---- should have been, Chef Chu's.

In any event let us get back to what psr was actually trying to do, which was blaming poor LASD spending policies on it's students, it's most needy students. That is a terrible cop out. As Funny pointed out, we don't have that many of these students anyway. The BCS numbers are really similar to the district averages.

Stop scape goating students, they and their families do not deserve it.

Posted by You can't handle the truth
a resident of another community
on Nov 17, 2014 at 11:32 am

@Truth or Consequences -- First, I'm glad LASD has the resources to spend what they do on our children's education. The results are worth it. And to be clear, while BCS has certainly absorbed much of the net growth in the district over the past 7-8 years, and has probably enabled the delay of redrawing boundaries, BCS is a net financial drag on the district. Continued claims to the contrary reflect utter ignorance of basic economics. It's also ludicrous to claim that with all their bells and whistles, BCS has somehow discovered educational alchemy and offers such wildly "enhanced" programs, with less economies of scale, at a lower total cost.

Finally, your attempt to paint psr's comments as "scapegoating" of ESL, Low-SES, and Special Needs students is utter rubbish and a weak attempt at misdirection. What this is really about is the fact that BCS crows about their better test scores and a more "innovative" curriculum, yet does so without meeting their obligation to serve disadvantaged members of our community. Nobody in LASD begrudges a single dime spent on serving these students (in fact, I'm grateful we have the resources to do so), we just expect BCS to do the same -- and do it gladly. Sadly, after over 10 years, they continue to fail miserably in that respect.

Posted by Facts
a resident of another community
on Nov 17, 2014 at 12:47 pm

BCS has an extensive special education program operated by the county. A large portion of the students receive services. Misdirect that.

If $6,000 per student goes to LASD's special education program, then that program costs $25 Million per year. Huh?

LASD has controlled costs for the most intensive special education program by only offering it a a few of the district schools. Furthermore, depending on the disability of these 75 students, they are offered a choice of just ONE school in most cases. Misdirect that.

Posted by You can't handle the truth
a resident of another community
on Nov 17, 2014 at 1:03 pm

@"Facts" -- (1) BCS's self reported number of special needs students is about half the LASD percentage. (2) What few students that do manage to get admitted with special needs get farmed out to a county operated program for special education services. Hardly "innovation" on the part of BCS. Sounds more like crass outsourcing to me.

Secondly, nobody said that $6K of the per student funding within LASD goes to special education services (again with the misdirection!). What was said was that BCS per student cost was artificially low given the "cadillac" nature of their program due in part to the fact that they don't bear the cost of serving disadvantaged students. LASD supports each and every student within the district who requires special services. Every one. While BCS seems to manage to evade these responsibilities. Dont' take my word for it though. Even the chartering authority has chastised BCS for their failures in this area. The truth hurts, eh?

Posted by More Anecdotes
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Nov 17, 2014 at 1:50 pm

Since everyone here loves he/said she/said stories and a small group really enjoys smearing BCS, I thought I would add my counter point for your enjoyment. I'm certain the ripping apart will begin as soon as my typing stops.

My student at BCS is LD. She got recommended for evaluation in kindergarten, at BCS by an extremely supportive teacher. She was evaluated by county services and qualified for special help multiple days a week. She continues to get these services well into her elementary school life. It's helped her be less frustrated with school. What also helps her to be less frustrated at school are the co-curriculars (non-traditional classes offered during the week), art, music, drama, and PE classes offered by teachers who integrate their curriculum with her homeroom teacher.

I would hope that all kids at LASD get this type of support as well. I'm very thankful that my PUBLIC school was so supportive from the administration as well as the classroom.

One last piece of the "alchemy" that BCS has are grade level teachers have more hours to teach students as there are longer school days. They also have more team meetings than I have ever seen before where they discuss how their teaching of different units and project based learning went. With constant input and tweaking from each other. Plus they are willing to change the way they do things to make the school better.

BCS is growing so much now that it's changed from start up mode. You'd think folks in LASD would like start ups and understand the learning curve and adjustments a nimble new program would have. I'm saddened that many die hards still want to crush such a successful program. I'm saddened that there are those that will endeavor to see the worst in BCS no matter what is said about it. Critics will always find followers. It takes more courage to build up.

Posted by Truth or Consequences
a resident of another community
on Nov 17, 2014 at 2:42 pm

If anyone is interested there are several websites were you can get school data including Data Quest which is administered by the California Department of Education. For example you can find out how many English learners were enrolled last year in Kindergarten in LASD schools and at BCS.

In the 2013 - 2014 school year LASD had 100 students in Kindergarten that were English Learners,which is 21 percent.
In the 2013 - 2014 school year BCS had 21 students in Kindergarten that were English Learners, which is 26 percent.

Posted by Dread Pirate Roberts
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Nov 17, 2014 at 4:21 pm

Dread Pirate Roberts is a registered user.

So, @Truth or Consequences -- how would those comparison percentages look for Special Needs students? Low SES students? Spanish speaking ELL students?

Posted by SQW
a resident of another community
on Nov 17, 2014 at 8:40 pm

SQW is a registered user.

Oh No it's the Fake BCS Parent, or just FBP. The FBP is full of some not very nice material and off his rocker. Wonder if he is minion of Doug or Joe?. Both of them have a tribe that sort of crosses over. Sigh.... wish they could just fade back into more quiet, no political lives and let our town return to the awesome community it used to be, before Doug and a few others went full Machiavelli and started the nasty smear Bullis Charter School Campaign.

Yep, Doug went at it full tilt, recruiting at least one other board member and the team of M and M. Also got a few others involved that really started some very nasty stuff, like that little Joanie ( strange one!) and those Nazi videos.

It worked, sort of, lots of people hate BCS, even they are not quite sure why they should. The problem for Doug, Joe and the rest of the gang is that a bunch of folks weren't fooled by that. They really liked the program at BCS and wanted to send their kids there. They kept on applying and BCS kept on growing. Sad they will have to cap it off. I suspect if you asked parents around here - what program do you want at your current school - most would pick BCS, but they can't cause now the enrollment is capped.

Sure Doug and the gang can continue to roll out the stuff that they are trying to post here - but it is just a pack of lies... Wonder why they are continuing it? Seems kind of weird to me, after all BCS has an agreement to stay right were they are for the next five years, what's the point?

Wonder why we can't let it go?