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Bullis, Los Altos School District Reach Tentative Agreement

The Los Altos School District and the Bullis Charter Schol announced Monday night they had a long-term agreement, potentially ending eight years of strife.

Editor's Note: Because of the high interest in the issue, Los Altos Patch is reprinting the entire joint news release and will have an article with commentary later.

 

LASD/BCS joint press release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Los Altos School District and Bullis Charter School Reach Tentative, Long-Term Agreement to Resolve Facilities Dispute

May 7, 2012, Los Altos, California--After five confidential mediation sessions, the Los Altos School District (LASD) and Bullis Charter School (BCS) have reached a tentative agreement to resolve their long-standing dispute over LASD’s allocation of facilities to BCS.  The tentative agreement will be presented, respectively, at the LASD Board of Trustees meeting and the Bullis Charter School Board meeting May 7. The meetings will be open for public comment.

“Given the growth of the public student population, we need additional facilities to serve the needs of the 4,500 LASD students and 500 BCS students.  If we can finalize an agreement with BCS, we will be able to once again focus all of our resources—our time and our money—on enhancing our nationally acclaimed programs for our students,” said Mark Goines, President of the LASD Board of Trustees. “While we are required to keep the mediated discussions confidential, at this point we very much want to hear what the community has to say about the proposed agreement.”

“For nearly a decade, BCS students have lived with uncertainty about what the next year's facilities offer would provide,” said Ken  Moore, President of the BCS Board of Directors  “This agreement will allow BCS to redirect considerable resources spent on annual facilities negotiations toward accelerating the pace of innovative program enhancements at the school.  We hope this will mark the beginning of an important healing process for our local community as we work together to insure a quality education for all local public school students.”

The key terms of the tentative agreement are as follows:

  • Both the LASD Board of Trustees and the BCS Board will support a Fall 2012 bond measure.
  • If the bond measure passes, BCS will be provided one of the following existing LASD campuses starting with the 2013-2014 school year: Almond, Gardner Bullis, Santa Rita or Covington (an approximately 10.5 acre portion of that site to be allocated to BCS).
  • If the bond measure passes, LASD plans to construct a new campus for the displaced LASD school. During construction of the new campus, the displaced school will be housed at school facilities on an existing LASD campus, following the same practice as previous district capital improvement efforts.
  • BCS will be housed on its new campus for a 10-year period (or longer should options to extend the term be exercised), as long as BCS continues to have a minimum number of LASD students attending its school, during which period BCS will relinquish its right to request additional facilities from LASD under Proposition 39 in exchange for provisions to enable BCS to increase the students it serves while remaining on one site.  
  • If the bond measure fails, BCS would be provided one of the LASD campuses beginning with the 2014-2015 school year. LASD would likely consolidate its students on its existing facilities while seeking passage of a bond measure in 2014.
  • Until it moves into its new campus, BCS will continue to run its entire program at the Egan campus, which will include certain additional facilities.
  • Both parties will work in good faith as independent public school partners to resolve future issues through open and direct discussions, and will seek opportunities to interact in ways both believe will be beneficial to their respective students.

The final terms of the agreement are still being negotiated.  The final agreement will be prepared for review and approval by both boards.  It is anticipated that the final agreement will be completed by June 4, 2012.  The final terms are also expected to include a waiver of all costs and fees expended to date by both sides in litigation.

LASD Board Vice President Doug Smith noted the "extraordinary efforts made by all involved to get to this point." Commented BCS Board Member Francis La Poll, "We are impressed by the fortitude of both teams to put the children first and bridge this enormous gap."

LASD Superintendent Jeff Baier and Bullis Superintendent/Principal Wanny Hersey agreed “Being free from the annual Prop 39 process will allow District and Charter school personnel to focus exclusively on the success of our schools.  It means we will devote our undivided attention to enhancing student outcomes through innovative programs and dedication to continuously improving the classroom experience for our students.  Our students benefit directly whenever we can spend additional efforts finding innovative ways to help them collaborate, create, and grow as lifelong learners.”

GT May 08, 2012 at 07:03 AM
Hopefully the beginning of a long, fruitful (and civil!) relationship between the boards, parents and the larger community!
Heather Rose May 08, 2012 at 02:16 PM
I do not understand why LASD has to move an existing school twice to accommodate BCS. Seems very selfish of BCS to displace another school twice.
GT May 08, 2012 at 05:52 PM
Heather, BCS was never in the driver's seat. LASD has held all the cards, and for years chose not to play fair. This is an agreement reached by both LASD and BCS - not perfect, but when is a compromise ever?
A step in the right direction May 08, 2012 at 09:52 PM
No, no, no!!! This seems like the worst agreement ever for LASD students. For now, not only does Egan get no relief, but it loses more space to BCS, which means a tiny campus (for a junior high) with no softball field, no tennis courts, etc. Egan neighbors get no relief, with over 1000 students on the site (in an area with narrow roads, inadequate sidewalks and no bike lanes), and 1500 students within a few blocks of each other (Egan, BCS and Santa Rita). In the future, LASD must move or lose one of its high performing schools and give away a campus in the northern part of the campus, which is the biggest and fastest growing area of the district. And some LASD school community will be moved, at best intact (although this is unlikely given the short time frame to find a site and build) and at worst divided among other schools in the district (which would involve redrawing boundaries for the entire district and overcrowding schools in the north.) This is not a plan that leads to peace for anyone. I see battles ahead over what school will be closed/moved and also battles over how boundaries will be redrawn. And I do not see the community as a whole gaining a thing -- just seems like musical chairs to me. For the record, my kids are older and will not be affected by this. But as a member of the Los Altos community, I am very, very upset by this agreement. It seems like LASD gives up so much and gains virtually nothing.

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