Bullis Charter School to LASD – We Don’t Want a Shiny New School
BCS is just one of 10 schools - Just give us our pro rata share, about 10 percent.
SHORT SUMMARY: Little was accomplished at the third meeting of the long-term facilities planning discussion, which included Doug Smith and Tamara Logan of Los Altos School District and Peter Evan and Francis LaPoll of BCS, with Gary Waldeck, council member, City of LAH acting as moderator. At the Sept. 18 meeting, only a single point was agreed on – BCS would perhaps consider not adding new “strands” of classrooms for a couple of years during a transition to a TBD long-term arrangement. BCS might just live with modest enrollment growth related to current students’ grade progression. The same discussion group will try to have a continuation meeting in the next 45 days. Near term scheduling of a meeting before the week of Oct. 7 looks improbable.
BCS: What Real Concerns? What Red Flags?
BCS flatly refused to consider changes to its charter as proposed by Doug Smith, calling community “concerns” about alleged discrimination “not real.” BCS reminded the world that its supervisor is the County Board of Education, not the District, and the County had investigated all the allegations of discrimination and underservice. There are “no red flags.” Evans and LaPoll went on to accuse Logan and Smith of whipping up community concerns, by endless repetition of distortions. They presented data showing that BCS disadvantaged students had even better outcomes than those groups did at LASD.
LASD: We Have a Higher Standard than the County
Doug Smith argued that just because the County had no red flags, “ our community has a higher standard than the minimum.” Furthermore, paraphrasing Smith, “you will need these [community] people to pass a bond where BCS would be getting the lion’s share of the proceeds.”
BCS: Not asking for a shiny new school
Francis LaPoll dropped a bomb shell by saying BCS is not asking “for a shiny new school.” It doesn’t want to be the “lynchpin in any bond” measure and to somehow be “blamed” when it may not pass. It will support a new bond, but only would request its pro-rata share of the proceeds based on share of enrollment, namely 10 or 11% of the new bond funds. He said equitable sharing of tax monies is an important principle. However, LaPoll did clarify that a “fair share” of any new bond did not relieve the District of its Prop 39 obligation. “After all, all the other students already have hundreds of millions of dollars of property? We should receive a fair amount.”
MEDIUM SUMMARY: More details, quotes…
Want to read something a little longer with more direct quotes? Try the Medium summary which follows.
Want to read the whole enchilada? Read the entire transcript in this post.
At this Sept. 18 meeting, Doug Smith recapitulated the key points of his and Tamara’s draft written proposal first handed out at the Sept. 16 meeting –
LASD to meet BCS short term concerns at Blach and Egan, [BCS to pay for CEQA]
Jointly determine facilities for a transition period,
Termination of pending litigation,
Jointly locate a new site for the bond measure,
BCS board to resolve to support bond measure and apply 5-9M to its project,
New site to last for 15 years,
BCS to change its charter to unfavor LAH in its enrollment lottery
BCS to favor disadvantaged groups instead.
Peter Evans objected to the call for BCS to change its charter. He said the conversation was supposed to be about long-term facilities, not short term. So he did not want to tie the FUA this year to the long term discussion. Doug Smith said that was actually BCS trustee Joe Hurd’s idea.
BCS Francis LaPoll said that “BCS had not asked for a shiny new school.” Furthermore, BCS was not involved in the conceptualization of this bond measure. He said he didn’t want BCS to be the “lynchpin” of a bond measure. “ We are just one of 10 schools.” He went on to say he thought the community of voters would get behind a bond that pro-rated 10 to 11 percent of the proceeds to BCS according to BCS’s share of Los Altos School District total enrollment. He felt that fair sharing of all school tax revenues was “an important principle.”
Logan and Smith of Los Altos School District expressed some amazement at the pro-rata approach to the bond allocation Francis was advocating. Smith said, “ The math is all wrong for you guys. What are you going to do with $10M for 15 years? You can’t even rent for that amount of money.”
Not till the end of the meeting did Mr. LaPoll clarify, that a “fair share” of any new bond did not relieve the District of its Prop 39 obligation. “After all, all the other students already have hundreds of millions of dollars of property? We should receive a fair amount.”
LaPoll did not want Doug Smith to go through the points of Smith’s proposal [again as in the prior meeting]. LaPoll said pointedly and repeatedly to the group, “This isn’t working.” He preferred private discussion.
Francis LaPoll claimed that it was not BCS’s idea in the ill-fated April 2012 Long-term Settlement Agreement to ask for “closure” of one of district four schools – if the then planned bond failed. Doug Smith claimed it was in fact Francis’s idea. Interesting that these two differ on the “facts.” It is a fact that neither LaPoll or Evans ever suggested a school closure as an option at any time during these three long-term meetings this month. They explicitly rejected closure when Logan and Smith raised it during this third long-term discussion meeting.
Later LaPoll continued to reject going through Doug Smith’s proposal points. “It’s going to end up as a negative discussion. I feel less willing to compromise having gone to two of these meetings, hearing the distortions that I’ve heard, than I was when I walked in.”
Peter Evans echoed similar sentiments totally rejecting changes to the Bullis charter. Gary Waldeck questioned the group, “Who supervises BCS, who evaluates BCS, who gives the school its grade card?” Smith said, “the public.” Evans said,
“You are asking us to make changes to our charter. First of all this is about facilities. Not about our charter. Our charter is managed by, was granted by, and is overseen by the County Board of Education. This [discussion] is about facilities…The school district’s role, its responsibility is to provide equitable facilities for the students to be served as Los Altos School District students. That’s all…So I don’t know why we talking about how we operate our school.”
Evans continued, “Second thing, I think this is really, really, really, destructive. To continue to bring up allegations that somehow we discriminate in our admissions, or that we somehow don’t serve properly certain classes of students, it’s just untrue. And to continue to repeat it, doesn’t make it true.”
Evans went on to totally reject the idea of addressing BCS discrimination allegations again that evening or anytime in the future saying, “There are concerns that you two individually have raised on your own, over and over, and over and over. It’s how they became community concerns. So I think these last two [points] I’m not prepared to discuss them even in a private setting. I think they are just off the table. Because they are not real. Not because they need to be addressed. They don’t need to be addressed, because they are not real.”
Doug Smith said the community feelings are real. Paraphrasing him, To get the community to vote for a bond, BCS will have to air all the discrimination allegations, show its not a problem, or just change its charter to favor admission of the disadvantaged.
LaPoll and Evans said that the County, the Charter authorizer, “had sent numerous people, repeatedly to verify that we were doing everything correctly.”
Gary Waldeck of LAH City Council asked, “If the County is responsible and they are not putting up any red flags, then why does it become an issue for the District?
Here Smith and Logan, argued that our community expects standards “higher than the legal minimum of what the County is going to sign off on. ” [Lalahpolitico: funny how that logic doesn’t apply to annual Prop 39 offers of facilities, where the District definitely like to get as close to the “minimum” as they dare and likes to test new lows in court.]
Peter Evans said, “If you want the numbers [ of ELL, Special Ed, free lunch ] to match, they are not going to match [the District average]. Our applicant pool is self-selecting. We are a small school. There are a lot of differences. If the only litmus test is equal outcomes, in terms of demographics, it’s not going to happen. But also, that is not a sign that there is a problem. Where there is a problem is when the students are not doing well. Our students are doing great. “ BCS had read a comparison of achievement scores of BCS vs. Los Altos School District for the disadvantaged groups last meeting. They were about 10 percentage points or more higher at BCS.
Only a single point was agreed on that evening – BCS would perhaps consider not adding new “strands” of classrooms for a couple of years. It might just live with modest enrollment growth related to current students’ grade progression. The discussion group will try to have a meeting in the next 45 days. Near term scheduling in before the week of Oct. 7 looks improbable.
Full Transcript of Sept. 18. discussion and selected Public Comments of Sept. 18 – Fixler, Shea, Messel, Fenstermacher.