It appears the and the finally did on Monday night what they could not do for eight years: Agree to live together and work together.
"At our meeting tonight, I said that both sides took a giant step toward each other and held out their arms ... now we just need to hold hands," wrote Anne Marie Gallagher, a member of the Bullis Charter School Board, in an email to Los Altos Patch.
Meeting in parallel, and hastily finishing via telephone the framework of the agreement, district trustees and the Bullis Charter School (BCS) released announcing the tentative 10-year agreement.
The negotiations went til 7 p.m., and the LASD board opened its regularly scheduled school board meeting at 7:05 p.m. Trustees waited nearly two hours—through recognition of student and staff successes, through the Springer School presentation, through Egan students' presentations, and meeting-setting with the City Council—before making the announcement.
Finally, during the innocuously titled agenda item, "Mediation Discussions on Long-Term Facilities Location for the Charter School," Trustee Doug Smith announced that the board had reached a long-term agreement.
It provided for:
- BCS to work for passage of a bond measure to build a 10th campus and make other school district improvement by August 2014
- BCS to remain at the Egan Jr. High School campus up to the passage of the bond measure.
- BCS to subsequently move to one of the following elementary school campuses:
- Gardner Bullis
- Santa Rita
- If a bond measure does not pass, LASD would consolidate onto eight campuses and BCS would move to one of the four sites above.
- BCS agrees to enroll at least 400 students to ensure the district gets
"maximum advantage of scarce real estate"
- BCS would stay on one site for the duration of the agreement
- BCS has two five-year options to remain on the site after the initial agreement expires.
- BCS agrees to "litigation peace" for the duration of the agreement
- It agrees to waive attorneys fees and costs from the recent lawsuit
- Details are continuing to be negotiated in good faith
Smith, who was part of the mediation meetings along with Board President Mark Goines, said the objective from the beginning was to find a long-term location that would break the "annual angst" of contentious Prop. 39 facilities requests.
"We also wanted to get past eight years of litigation," Smith said.
The annual Prop. 39 process is a baseline requirement set down by laws stemming from the state proposition that requires school districts provide "reasonably equivalent" facilities to charter schools within their boundaries. Many school districts have long-term agreements precisely to avoid the yearly facilities negotiations and provide stability for schools.
The had five formal mediation sessions, Smith said. Some sessions lasted 12 hours, he added. Two were professionally facilitated by Justice Richard J. McAdams.
Goines said that he hopes that the final agreement can be finished by the end of the month, because there is a lot of work on the facilities that needs to be done.
The process for determining which of the four campuses might provided to Bullis Charter School is about a year off, Goines said. It is, in part, dependent on where a 10th campus might be located.
Then, the district would proceed with studies, "and a full public process," Goines said. "We very much want to hear what the public has to say about the proposed agreeement."
In the meantime, he and members of the board appealed to the parents in the room to help pass a bond measure, which could come as early the November ballot.
"We will need the support of everyone in the room and everyone you know," Smith said.
Los Altos Patch will post reports on additional information during the school board meeting, including the results of the telephone survey, and enrollment projections.