Schools

Bullis Charter School LASD Agreement – Big Cracks Appearing

Our community has become more and more divided over the Bullis Charter School impasse
Written by lalahpolitico

Two weeks ago BCS and LASD reconciliation seemed imminent. But this past week cracks appeared in the “tentative agreement.”  On May 7 it looked like an semi-solid understanding – admittedly one with the hammer of a court mediator. LASD and BCS were  going to join hands to work for a bond issue to fix up all sites, and fund a 10th site to help house the over 1000 student growth over the past decade. But by May 21, it looked like LASD rewrote the agreed verbal “framework” such that the key points were of the verbal agreement were substantially transformed.

LASD and BCS were  going to join hands to work for a bond issue to fix up all sites, and fund a 10th site to help house the over 1000 student growth over the past decade.

Announcement of Reconciliation

As of May 7, LASD announced at it’s board meeting and in a joint press release with Bullis Charter School, that through the mediator, they had reached a tentative framework for a long term agreement.  This must have been a verbal agreement.  Doug Smith of LASD presented the framework  to the audience of 200 mostly parents  in this 7 slide powerpoint the evening of May 7 [LALAPOLITCO – we don’t know why is is dated May 14] .  He said the framework called for

1. BCS gets either Almond, Bullis Gardner, Santa Rita, or (Covington 10.5 acres) no later than August 2014.

2. BCS can continue to camp on Egan while waiting for the vacancy.

3. BCS  and LASD will work to pass a bond that fixes up all 9 sites AND finances a new 10th campus.

4. BCS pays its own litigation cost.

5. The agreement is for 10 years, with an option to renew for 5 years .  BCS will not ask for different facilities for 10 years.

You can read our article on that meeting and see and hear Doug Smith’s presentation here.

LASD Writes the First Draft

LASD got to the write the first draft to firm up the verbal agreement.  LASD sent the 26 page draft to the BCS board a few days before May 21. Doug Smith said the draft had been “posted” for the public on May 21. [LALAHPOLITICO: actually it was emailed to LASD parents. It was finally posted on the web site for the general community on May 23]

At the Monday, May 21 evening LASD meeting, the key rupture in the agreement was revealed by Doug Smith. He said,

“The draft long-term agreement does include language that could locate BCS on the 10th site.  I have  had a lot of concern that the community would not pass a bond wherein BCS gets the new campus.  It polled dead last on the list.  That poll was done before everybody understood where we stand.  Hopefully that realization will drive some people to action. My plea is  very simple. If you don’t want us to close one of  the neighborhood  schools, then we need somebody to step up and say they are willing to lead the bond measure.  Tell me point blank, I’ll do it if you can get BCS to agree to locate on the 10th site.  I’ll take that. Ok. We’ll work hard to get that in the agreement. If that’s what the community wants then we need some people to step up to make that happen.”

David Casas, Los Altos City Council Member, representative to the Standing City-School Committee, spoke his 3 minutes as a public speaker.

“On the agreement.  I just received it this afternoon.  LASD reserves the right to place the charter school at a location other than the four sites noted. To avoid additional litigation, I encourage the inclusion of  negotiated methodology for the site. …. There needs to be clarification of terms used [ to describe days of access, hours of access ].”

 LASD reserves the right to place the charter school at a location other than the four sites noted. To avoid additional litigation, I encourage the inclusion of  negotiated methodology for the site.

BCS Says ” DISLIKE THIS”

By Wednesday May 30, The Bullis Charter board responded with its 10 key objections.  The BCS board chair wrote a letter explaining the situation to its families.

“Unfortunately, the District has sent us (and circulated publicly) a draft written agreement without our input that does not fairly articulate the deal to which we agreed. In a last ditch effort to avoid further litigation, we have highlighted some of the problems with the draft agreement and are discussing them with the District. There were plenty from which to choose, but we tried to pick ten of the most obvious flaws. We are sending that document to the District today, and I am attaching a copy of the documents here for your review.”

 The District seeks to “reserve the right” to place the Charter School on a “newly constructed or alternative site” that is not indentified in the agreement. This is not what the parties agreed to.

BCS Objection – certainty where Bullis would be located

“The District seeks to “reserve the right” to place the Charter School on a “newly constructed or alternative site” that is not indentified in the agreement. This is not what the parties agreed to. Bullis made it clear that it would only sign a long-term deal if there was some certainty over where Bullis would be located. The deal that the parties agreed to was clear: the District can choose to put Bullis on one of four campuses – Almond, Covington, Gardner Bullis, or Santa Rita.”

BCS Objection – limiting hours and days to interfere with the yearlong mission

“The District seeks to limit Bullis’ use and occupation to limited hours (8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.) during only the “instructional year.” (See ¶ 1.F, p. 3) This misses the point of the deal. While Bullis recognizes the possibility of reasonable community usage of any public schoolfacilities, the point of the discussions was to reach an agreement regarding a full-time, exclusive use, year-round site for Bullis. Bullis must be permitted to use that site in a manner consistent with the law and its educational mission throughout the entire year. Likewise, Bullis should not be required to end its after-school activities and programs. The District’s language undermines the most basic tenet of this deal – that Bullis gets an exclusive site for 10 years.”

BCS Objection – Drop Covington if  BCS is not the only school on it

Bullis told the District that in order to agree to non-exclusive use of Covington as a permanent option, Bullis would not agree to having additional K-8 students on that site and that there must be limits on the District’s loading of its portion of Covington.  If this is not acceptable to the District, Bullis is willing to drop Covington from the list of possible school sites.

Summary of other top BCS  objections

…who pays for major maintenance, giving up all claims against the district whether based on Prop 39 or not, other lawyerly contractual details, refusal to identify a date by when which of the four sites will be identified as for Bullis use. Bullis wants no later than November 30, 2012

EDITORIAL COMMENT
Get BCS to Accept More Uncertainty?

So Doug Smith is working hard to get Bullis to accept uncertainyy about where the 1oth site would be located and to not know when the site would be identified?  Looks like we’re headed back to the litigation treadmill. Is LASD placing a big bet on reversal of Prop. 39, the law which requires the provision of “reasonably equivalent facilities?”

LASD placing a big bet on reversal of Prop. 39, the law which requires the provision of “reasonably equivalent facilities?

Bullis made it clear during mediation that it would only sign a long-term deal if there was some certainty over where Bullis would be located. So Bullis is betting on Prop 39 continuing.  And they have this court judgment in their favor. Here’s an excerpt:

“The District violated Proposition 39 and its regulations by (a) housing Bullis in-District students on a temporary campus with significantly less per-inDistrict student space than at comparison group schools; (b) failing to account for all building and outdoor space, regardless of whether or how they are used, at any or all comparison groups schools in determining reasonably equivalent facilities for Bullis;  … (e) overstating the size of Bullis facilities, including its failure to prorate share use space based on the percentage of time Bullis has access to such space, and its inclusion of Bullis-owned space  as facilities “offered” by the District.”

BOTTOM LINE:  We wish we could go time travel back a couple of weeks when it looked like the real reconciliation was in the offing.  That felt so much better than this. Hello, you LASD parents out there. The board has focused on litigation and not noticed the 1000 plus enrollment over the last decade?  GUILT by association?  No wonder the  November 2012 election scuttlebutt is that for incumbents who have to rerun – Bill Cooper and Steve Taglio  — they may not run. Cooper is likely not aiming to run again  and Taglio is iffy. Only 3 1/2 years ago the LASD board had a nice list of prospective sites for another campus. It did not act, and now they are all sold. Brilliant! Though we admit it was tough call to buy any real estate in 2009 — a time at which all real estate investments seemed doomed.

Hello, you LASD parents out there. The board has focused on litigation and not noticed the 1000 plus enrollment over the last decade?  GUILT by association?

 

About the author

lalahpolitico

Norma Schroder is an economics & market researcher by trade and ardent independent journalist, photographer and videographer by avocation. Enthralled by the growth of the tech industry over the decades, she became fascinated with the business of local politics only in the past several years.

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