Transcript Bullis Charter School & LASD Third Long-Term Discussion – Sept. 18

with Jeff Fixler, John Radford, Sharon Clay, Noah Messel

Bullis Charter School LASD discuss facilities in Los Altos Hills Town Hall

Bullis Charter School LASD discuss facilities in Los Altos Hills Town Hall. Left to right, Tamara Logan, Doug Smith, Gary Waldeck, Peter Evans, Francis LaPoll. Geoff Ball standing

Don’t have time or the stomach to watch the whole City of Los Altos Hill video of this Bullis Charter School – LASD meeting on Sept. 18? Try skimming or reading this very lightly edited transcript below. It’s much faster.

Or try the reporter summary of the Sept. 18 meeting discussion in this post.

The third meeting of the Long-term facilities planning discussion 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. 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 long-term arrangement. It might just live with modest enrollment growth related to current student’s grade progression for the next couple of years. The discussion group will try to have a meeting in the next 45 days. Near term scheduling of a meeting before the week of Oct. 7 looks improbable

As always, in this transcript I capture all statements, cleaning up for redundancies, false starts and the like. There is no cherry-picking. Items in brackets [ ] are my clarifications for words like “this, that, it” and are intended to improve the context for the reader. Emphasis like italics and bold are mine. With emphasis, I am trying to highlight key points on both sides, to make it easier to skim, but this exercise does become subjective. I have included only selected public speakers this time, because of my time constraints. (Public Comments by Jeff Fixler, John Radford, Sharon Clay,  Noah Messel are at the end.) Section headings are mine and try to give the flow some structure, some milestones. ‘Lalahpolitico: some text’ are injections of my opinion. I work from audio only, so I may occasional mix up the two BCS speakers.

–Editor

 


Starting with Smith-Logan Draft Written Proposal Regurgitation

 

Doug Smith LASD: First I want to clarify something from last session. There was a misperception at the end of last session.  This proposal was not put forward as a “take or leave it, this is the way it’s got to be.” At the first long-term meeting, Mayor Waldeck had asked us to come back with written proposals we could work through. We drafted a four page legal agreement because this was the step we all stumbled on last time. I thought it would be wise to have a document we could work from, to redline, whatever we need to do to change things. To figure out how we could get through these topics so that we could walk out of here with something we could support.  This was not intended as a “take it or leave it.”  It does encapsulate what we feel are the critical issues that need to be addressed.  I can talk through them.

 

All of section 1 is to address BCS’s short term concerns. This is not vetted by the rest of the District board. But this is a possibility. If you look through this, we tried to say yes to almost everything BCS asked for.  I watched the first two meetings (sic short-term) in their entirety.  We encapsulated almost all of that in here.  Access to teaching space. Ability to add playground equipment at Blach, adjustments to the attendance caps.  That obviously requires a CEQA process. There is language in here that there will be indemnification till that CEQA is completed. [sic the draft says that BCS is to pay for the entire CEQA costs, the consultant, the lawyers]. We tried to address all the things you guys raised.

 

The other issues… Item 2 is about getting clarity about facilities during the transition, whether that is single year or multiple year, last time you said you wanted to talk through that.  That’s a reasonable request.

 

Termination of the pending litigation.  This is to my knowledge every open case on both sides. There is language about what we are supposed to do to terminate each one of those cases. There is no intent to hold anything back or preserve any litigation position. It would all go away. How can we pass a bond if we don’t do that? If we are still in court, its going to be difficult. Actually it’s going to be impossible.  We have an uphill battle even if we do accomplish all this. So we have to end litigation.

 

Substance of the site.  We continue efforts to locate a site. The district and Bullis Charter School continue efforts to locate the site.  Yes, we need to tweak the language in here.

 

Immediate passage of a bond resolution.  I asked for BCS to pass a resolution supporting the bond and the development of the site.

 

It’s well known that there is a site fund at BCS. So when that money is not used for litigation, the balance of that ought to be going into the campus. That would be a great gesture and a way for the public to understand that we have put the litigation behind us and we are all working towards peaceful coexistence.

 

Occupying the site for an extended period of time. [sic for 15 years.]

 

Item on enrollment preference.  I think that is a key item. Francis, I understand your resistance to this. The people we need to get support from have said very clearly that they have concerns about these issues. I made a proposal to Peter that we explore pieces of that offline. Seeing how we can build some understanding between our two groups. Maybe we understand a little better how one another work would help to advance détente between the organizations.  We are aware there are discrepancies. We can talk about why those exist. Does it make sense. Or is there something we want to do to address those. It maybe that we need to have some of those offline discussion before we get to the language on this.  I am open to that conversation. But we need to figure out how to address the community’s concerns.  We are not going to ask them for $150M and not take their concerns into account.

 

Lalahpolitico:  Discrepancies!!!!!!! OMG.

 

That’s the sum of it. It’s four pages long. It is a lot shorter than the last agreement we tried to strike. I recognize there are a lot of holes in the tent. The idea was to have something we could work from

 

[Geoff Ball  - Facilitator - Ball asks Doug for clarification on a couple points for his note taking on the flip boards.]

Bullis Charter School Facilities Discussion - Tamara Logan, Doug Smith of LASD

Bullis Charter School Facilities Discussion – Tamara Logan, Doug Smith of LASD. Sept. 18

 

Smith Beats the Drum of “Concerns” again

 

Doug Smith LASD: We’ve got to be able to look at the public. If anybody asks somebody on the board or in the administration, we’ve got to be able to look at them with a straight face and say, You know what, that was a concern in the past, it is not a concern now, here’s why. Whether your practices have changed. Your programs have evolved. I don’t care. I’m not worried about that.  And frankly Peter, I want to learn from BCS, if there is an opportunity to do that.

 

Lalahpolitico:  Great idea. Doug can write in his blog, disowning his old rhetoric and all the rhetoric of all the other activist bloggers. Please just say none of those specious allegations are a concern now.

 

So when we talk about special needs students. If you’ve got better ways to serve those students, that don’t cost as much money, we’d love to save that money and spend it on other things. That takes sitting down and talking to one another about how we deliver program. In theory that’s what charter schools are supposed to be for. To innovate and then those practices get rolled back to traditional schools.

 

Lalahpolitico:  Well actually, charter schools are for….providing choice.  Sometimes the programs at charters can be adopted or imitated by public schools, but not necessarily.  The goal is not for all curriculums to be the same or to be improved in the same way.  However, charter schools are good for market research trend identification.  For example, in the 1990’s a group of Los Altos School District parents told District administration they would really like a Mandarin immersion program. They were ignored. That minority of parents was of course attracted to BCS when that was included in the BCS program.  Now well over a decade later, seeing BCS’s share of market rise to 12%, the District is beginning to consider language immersion programs.  I guess the District is learning from BCS?!

 

Tamara Logan LASD: One you missed Geoff Ball  – Facilitator -. We would consider a joint effort to find a site. [sic Geoff Ball  - Facilitator - writes this on the white board]

 

Gary Waldeck City LAH: Gentlemen [addressing BCS Francis LaPoll and Peter Evans], any comment?

 

BCS Responds – FUA does not belong in LT discussion,
it’s for the short-term discussion series of meetings

 

Peter Evans BCS: Just a couple of high level reactions. First, all the points that have to do with the Facilities Use Agreement, I don’t think they belong in this. I don’t think that’s what this discussion is about.  We need to get that resolved. If these are doable things, then let’s do them.  We have not asked to change the facilities you offered. Just to use them.  Let’s get that done. They are not points for negotiation. It’s the ability to run our program and serve our kids.

 

Doug Smith LASD: The tradeoff with that Peter is that the things requested do have impact.  If I am going to look at the parents who live Egan…”hey I want you to vote for a bond. Oh, by the way we’ve increased the number of students using the site, and the traffic is worse, it’s harder to get down your street in the morning.  If we don’t recognize the tradeoffs we are missing a big chunk of the conversation.

 

At Blach, there are people who will say, “I don’t want playground equipment right across the street from me. That’s not how it is supposed to be.”  We’ll say, “Look can you put up with this for a couple of years.”  It’s a complete package.

 

Peter Evans BCS: How deep into the school year are we going to go till we know what the facilities are you offering this year, tomorrow?

 

Doug Smith LASD: I’d like to get this resolved as quickly as possible.

 

Peter Evans BCS: These are not points for negotiation. These are kids.

 

Gary Waldeck City LAH: Are these the issues that have to get nailed to get to the bond? I’m not convinced they all are.

 

[Some very brief back and forth by Tamara and Doug. ]The whole document vs. the points towards the end of the document…

 

Gary Waldeck City LAH: I thought we were focused on long term.

 

Doug Smith LASD: The genesis of this was Mark Goines and myself, and Peter and Joe on the playground on Egan on Tuesday Aug. 6. Peter and Joe say we have some short term things we would like addressed. We said we have some long term things.  Joe proposed the structure of every other meeting be short-term, then long-term. We interleaved them so we could address all the concerns together.  Because neither party had the confidence that if they followed through on everything, the other party would make good at some other time.  Right?  There is not enough trust between the two organizations right now.  We all know that.  The idea is we all get what we want in one package.

 

Gary Waldeck City LAH: Let me propose something. I think we should separate these into long-term and short-term issues.  Long term is the reason we are here. Let’s focus on those first.  If get through those….Let’s grey out the short term ones.

 

Doug Smith LASD: Let’s have the other team talk about that. The short term meeting that was originally scheduled for them for Sept. 18 will have to be rescheduled.  I’m happy to have them talk about that. The first page and half is for them. Let’s look at the rest of the document.

 

Tamara Logan LASD: I see the first half of this proposed agreement as a very positive thing. If you look, we are going to try and do just about everything you want us to do.  And we want to make the short term agreement feed into helping us have a long term agreement.

 

Gary Waldeck City LAH: That’s not the topic here.

 

Bullis Charter School Facilities Discussion Sept. 18. Gary Waldeck, Peter Evans, Francis LaPoll

Bullis Charter School Facilities Discussion Sept. 18. Gary Waldeck, Peter Evans, Francis LaPoll

BCS Questions the Proposed Bond structure
with BCS as “Lynchpin”

 

Francis LaPoll Drops a Bombshell – We didn’t ask for a shiny New School. This isn’t working.

 

Francis LaPoll BCS: I want to thank you Tammy and Doug, and Mayor Waldeck in this process, as well as Mayor Fishpaw and our colleagues. Just some comments about the process. I have over the years negotiated with the School District on such things as getting user groups together to put money into the fields, while the city negotiated and put forward the gyms at the middle schools, The district moved its vehicles off the Covington site to city space.  I’ve never gone through a process like this.  Obviously, there is role for public input.  But if you want to really solve this issue have meetings to work through them.  This process lends itself to grandstanding.  I’m not saying you did it. It is just natural that one speaks to the larger group rather than engaging.  It become stilted.

 

I hope that we can work through these issues collaboratively. My observation is that we came in here saying, “Yes, we’ll work with you on a bond measure.” BCS in fact it is documented that we are saying we are supporting a bond measure.  It’s not that it is an impossible task to get BCS to support a bond measure. Somehow we have put in this position that we the lynchpin of a bond measure. We are just one of 10 schools. We just want reasonable facilities. We’re not the ones who said we have to a shiny new school supplied.  So I think we should talk through it tonite.  We should step back and take a deep breath and think about where this is going.  Cut the Gordian knot. Clearly we are at loggerheads.  I would like nothing better than to resolve this issue for the community, but this isn’t working.

 

If we go through that list, you said you watched both meetings… is this the same document you handed out at the end of the meeting last week? [Yes] It’s just not going to go anywhere.

 

Gary Waldeck City LAH: Have you said that because you don’t want to talk about it or it that because you want to propose some changes to it?  I think I heard some dialog here, “Let’s talk.” If this is all one way.

 

LaPoll Would Prefer ‘closed door’ Meetings – this isn’t working

 

Francis LaPoll BCS:  There are some issues where we just won’t get there.  There are some others where maybe through discussion we might….we aren’t going to solve it in an hour and half.  We probably need an hour on each of a number of points.

 

We are absolutely not…

 

Tamara Logan LASD: I’m sorry about that. There have been numerous closed door attempts at mediations, negotiations. It’s at least three. It hasn’t been successful. So we are trying something different.

 

Francis LaPoll BCS: This isn’t going to work

 

Tamara Logan LASD: If you say that it never will.

 

Francis LaPoll BCS: This isn’t going to work

 

Gary Waldeck City LAH: Why not? What we are trying to negotiate here is between people….Exposing the process the people… Recently, a solution was arrived at…. That when it was put before the people, because it didn’t have that openness policy, by the time the public saw it everybody was surprised.  No way jose! It feel apart in a very short time. So that didn’t work. [sic Waldeck is referring to the Mediated Agreement of April 2012] How would you propose to change it to get to where you need to be?

 

Francis LaPoll BCS: We are not using that as a starting point.

 

Gary Waldeck City LAH: I am just referring to the process. The public had not had an opportunity to get involved. And when they did see the agreement they said, I don’t want this.  So now they are trying to get to an agreement publically, so the process is for everybody in the room.

 

Francis LaPoll BCS: [Interupting] Respectfully, that is a non-sequitor. The fact that it didn’t work before does not mean it can’t work. In fact the negotiations  that were done – I don’t like the term – “behind closed doors” – where details were hammered out and then presented.  And then at that point, there was/is an appropriate roll for public input.  It’s not as though there was an agreement behind closed doors and then you rammed it down people’s throats last time. [Lalahpolitico: Quite to the contrary. The Los Altos School District board almost gleefully threw out the April 2012 agreement in about three weeks.] But we’re not going to reach an agreement this way.

 

Gary Waldeck City LAH:  I guess I don’t understand why not?

 

Doug Smith LASD: Why don’t we start with some things in here that you said you could talk about.

 

Francis LaPoll BCS: I will not go through that. 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.

 

Gary Waldeck City LAH: I’m not sure what I can do with that.  We can’t force you to participate. Given that, what do you suggest. Is there a process that can be followed? Can you talk about that? I haven’t heard anything positive out of this discussion yet.

 

All we have heard is that this will not work.  Tell us why.  And tell us what will work.

 

Francis LaPoll BCS: I think you are putting too much on BCS. We should not be the lynchpin of a bond. This is the tail wagging the dog.  This has always seemed like an odd thing to me.

 

Smith proposes giving BCS a huge chunk of bond – LaPoll says no, just pro-rata

 

Doug Smith LASD: But you are going to be a huge chunk of the value of the bond. And frankly it’s the most controversial part of the bond. So if we don’t look at how to make that part of it successful, then it’s going to fail. We can’t  say that everyone will vote for it, because the playground at Almond is going to get a new play structure. It’s not going to fly on that basis.  There is no single beneficiary who is anywhere as close as BCS is.  People are going to look at it and call it a BCS bond. Whether we like it or not. So are you the lynchpin to it?  Yeah you are! Because we are having this conversation, largely so we can build a school for BCS.  So to suggest that there is no way to convince the public it is something else is right. Because this is going to take a big chunk of this bond money.

 

Francis LaPoll BCS: I think each of the public school children from Los Altos School District  ,who come from four cities, deserve a proportionate share of the tax monies. I think if it is viewed that way we are no bigger than anyone else.

 

Doug Smith LASD: So when we put a bond measure on the ballot, it is going to say acquire a site, build a site, and that site is going to be for BCS.  You wanted some assurance at the first meeting that there would be language in the bond saying you would get some benefit from a bond. You thought we were going to pass a bond and not give you anything. That language is going to be in the measure.  Everybody is going to look at it and say this a bond to build a school for BCS. Even if we don’t put the language in there, the community is smart. This is not a community where you can slide stuff past people. No matter what label we put on it, they are going to understand that this is to build a site for BCS.  So we have to get people comfortable with the idea of raising public tax dollars to build a facility for BCS.  There is no other way around it Francis.  I don’t see a way to convince the public to raise 100 plus million dollars, and spend a big chunk on BCS, but don’t worry it’s all public school dollars. That’s not the way they are going to see it.

 

Francis LaPoll BCS:  We were involved, at least the BCS board, was not involved in your conceptualization of the bond measure.  You laid you the way you envisioned it. If that is the way you want to move forward you are going to do that.

 

Doug Smith LASD: Make a different proposal.

 

BCS says school closure, no, just assurances of fair share, yes

 

Francis LaPoll BCS:  I think you should just treat us like another group of public school students in Los Altos. Nowhere up there [the BCS objectives written on the flipboard] did it say we get a shiny new school.

 

Doug Smith LASD: So are you saying you want us to close a district school?

 

Francis LaPoll BCS: What it says is that we just want assurances, that we would receive a fair share, pro rata.  That’s my concept.

 

Doug Smith LASD:  So we went down that path last spring. I was the guy who said this should be an easy sell. It should be easy to convince folks that is we build a brand new school for Santa Rita that won’t mind that BCS gets that campus and they get to move to the shiny new school, they’ll be excited about that.  I don’t think I’ve even been this wrong about something in my entire life.

 

We found out that people were very specifically attached to the site where their kids go to school. There is no other way for us to slice that.  I understand what you are saying.

 

If you look at it as squares on a piece of paper. I can see, oh sure, this square is the same as that square.  But his guy who bought his house next to that square, wants his kid to go to school on that square.  They are not all fungible assets.  So if your argument is that we should close an Los Altos School District school , we already went down that road, the public rejected that flat out.

 

Francis LaPoll BCS: I have not made the suggestion. In fact, it was not BCS’s idea to put that into that into the April 2012 settlement agreement, that some Los Altos School District school might be closed [one of four – Gardner, Santa Rita, Almond, or Covigton].

 

Doug Smith LASD: Actually that was your request.

 

Francis LaPoll BCS: No it was not.

 

Doug Smith LASD: Ok we’ll differ on that.

 

Lalahpolitico:  Interesting that the account of the “facts” differ here.  Doug lets go pretty quick and moves on.

 

 

Doug Smith LASD: What would propose? How would you structure a bond measure we can put in front of the public? I’m all ears.

 

Francis LaPoll BCS:  That BCS would receive a proportionate share of the dollars.

 

Doug Smith LASD: Does that mean you get 1/10th

 

Francis LaPoll BCS: If that’s the way the numbers work out.

 

Doug Smith LASD: Does that mean it is going to solve the Prop 39 issue?

 

Francis LaPoll BCS: That’s my thought.  That’s a way to make this a little more neutral.

 

Lalahpolitico: Actually LaPoll backs away from this statement at the end of the meeting. People were talking past each other here in my opinion.

 

Doug Smith LASD: [Amazement] The math is all wrong for you guys. With 100M bond, you get 10M. What are you going to do with 10M for 15 years. You can’t even lease a facility for that amount of money for that amount of time.

 

Francis LaPoll BCS: It’s a important principle that we receive a fair share of the tax monies.

 

[people talking over each other for a bit]

 

Tamara Logan LASD: [Laughing] we are offering more than that [10M] ! Tell me exactly what that [fair share] means.

 

Francis LaPoll BCS: You are not offering more. What you are saying is “Here it is, and here it’s not. What we’re going for it this, but then when it fails, or we can’t get it to pass, we’re going to blame you.” To me it’s not worth it.

 

Gary Waldeck City LAH: I don’t agree with that. The emotions here are quite high on both sides as you can see. I see that perceptions are setting in.  But I think until you get to something you can negotiate, then you can bring the emotion in.  You are unwilling to discuss the methodology of some of points to get to the bond. I thought that was one of the objectives.  I’m not sure the process here is productive.  You don’t want to do this. Maybe I’m wrong. That’s the sense I’m getting here Francis.

 

Francis LaPoll BCS:  I would like to see the battles over.

 

Gary Waldeck City LAH: So would everybody.

 

Francis LaPoll BCS: But no one should project upon us what they think we want. Up there [ on the flip board]  are our objectives. We want a fair share.

Doug Smith LASD: What does that mean.

 

Francis LaPoll BCS: We’d like a fair share now.

 

??: Can you put some number on it?

 

Francis LaPoll BCS: What are we? 10% [of the Los Altos School District students]? Then we get 10% of tax monies.

 

Doug Smith LASD: The bond or tax dollars?

 

Francis LaPoll BCS: I’m talking about the bond. But obviously, it would be the right thing to do to receive our fair share, since we don’t receive any parcel tax.

 

Lalahpolitico: Here LaPoll is reminding the public that BCS only receives state  funding of about $5K per student per year.  It receives no money from all the local parcel taxes.  In contrast, the District gets the same $5K per student from the state, but keeps all the parcel tax money for non-BCS students, money which amounts to another $5 K or so per student per year. [Govenor Brown prop 30 changes funding statewide somewhat, but as far as I know this discrepancy between BCS public school students and District-run public school students will persist. ]

 

Tamara Logan LASD: And you would sign up to say no prop 39 for 15 years, if we allow you to spend 10% of this bond measure?

 

Francis LaPoll BCS:  I don’t know if that makes sense. After all, all the other students already have hundreds of millions of dollars of property? We should receive a fair amount.

 

Doug Smith LASD: Then you are back again to closing a school.

 

Francis LaPoll BCS: No we’re not.

 

Doug Smith LASD: Then what are you proposing?

 

Francis LaPoll BCS: That’s what we need to think about.

 

[Talk over each other]

 

Francis LaPoll BCS:  It’s not going to work to do that list [Doug and Tamara’s four page document]  in return for a bond measure.

 

[ a long pause]

Doug Smith LASD: Where are you on this Peter?

 

Martha McClatchie Sept. 18

Martha McClatchie Sept. 18

BCS Says We are Overseen by County

 

Peter Evans BCS: I guess I’d like to add some clarity with respect to the list and the specifics.  And what we spend most of the prior meeting talking about.  So there are two or three points here.

 

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 … when we drafted our charter is was granted and overseen by the County Board of Education. This 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.

 

BCS Says Discrimination Concern is “not real, ”
Smith and Logan Created the Concern in the Community

 

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.

 

Our oversight authority, their view is that these numbers are going to be equal.  There are good reasons why there shouldn’t be.  The question is whether we are offering the same opportunities for all students.  And the fact is we are. And I would go beyond that and say, we are happy with the disadvantaged students that we do have. And we are very proud of how they are doing.  To suggest that we don’t want them or we are not serving them well, it’s just not true.  And it doesn’t belong in this document. In fact, we shouldn’t even be talking about it.

 

And the last thing is, you say these are community concerns.  How can that be? They 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 5) and 6), 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 LASD: So after that last meeting I made a proposal to you that the district could gain some insights and be able to say there is not an issue here.

 

Peter Evans BCS: There isn’t an issue here. What we talked about was ways to mutually explore and find best practices.  I’m totally in favor of that. It is not your role to look into our special ed program and determine for yourself that you don’t think there is an issue.

 

Doug Smith LASD: It is not that we want to make some determination on it. Rather, in order for us to say the community really should support this [? The bond?]  we need to convince some people that there isn’t a problem, that there isn’t an issue.  Now I understand what you are saying.  You feel very strongly that there is not an issue.

 

[interrupting a bit]

Peter Evans BCS: No it’s not me. It’s not what I feel. This is a determination of our authorizer whose responsibility this is.

 

Doug Smith LASD: But you are going to turn to the people here, not the whole county to fund this. You are asking the folks in our community to fund this.  Folks in our community have come forward and sworn out affidavits that say I’ve got these problems, these things are of concern. So if we are going to look at these same groups of people and say this lawsuit is going to go away.  I can do that with a straight face if I can also say say to them that I looked into it and there is really not an issue here. Your experience – I don’t know what happened. I’m not worried about it right now.  From here and looking forward everything is fine.

 

Peter Evans BCS: The county has done all that. You just continue to raise it.  So people say, oh it must not have gone away. It’s a great example of what you [Gary Waldeck] talked about last time , of something that isn’t true, but if you continue to raise it, it begins to look like it might be true.

 

Doug Smith LASD: So why not just tackle it head on with the facts?

 

Peter Evans BCS: Because you can always claim that there is something that you don’t like. Who are you trying to convince?

 

Gary Waldeck City LAH:  I think the question is – Is it an issue for the community? Or is it an issue for the chartering authority. I’m hearing on one side the County Board of Education..

 

Peter Evans BCS: It’s also an issue for the students. As I said the English Language Learners and the Special Ed students we do get, the ones we get are the ones we get, the numbers are what they are.  We do well with them. We talked about that last time.  It’s like proving a negative.  Those students have a least the opportunities that the other students have.  In terms of outreach. We’ve talked about other things we could do to reach more of these students.

 

But the thing that is really more important is that those kids we do serve are doing great. In fact, our students in those groups do better than those groups in the district schools.  And to say this is only to make the point that , to me as a board member, that is our measure of our capability as a school.

 

[Tamara trys to interrupt.] Don’t interrupt me please. How many hours did we listen the other night?  And we shouldn’t have been talking about it then. And we shouldn’t even be talking about it now. And we’re not going to talk about it anymore.

 

Tamara Logan LASD:  Our obligations come in the other way. It’s this tit for tat thing. It’s not helpful.

 

Peter Evans BCS: [heated] You brought up these allegations on Facebook!

 

Michelle Sturliale Sept. 18

Michelle Sturliale Sept. 18

Waldeck asks Who Gives BCS its Grade Card? County? Public?

 

Gary Waldeck City LAH: [trying to calm the bickering] Let’s terminate it.  Let me ask a question. Who sets the rules?  Is it the school district.  Is it the County Board of Education? Because ultimately to put this question to bed, the answer is Who gives them the grade card? I don’t know the answer to that. Do you?

 

Doug Smith LASD: [ leaping in to speak] Ultimately, the public does.

 

Gary Waldeck City LAH: That’s true, but the question is who is the evaluator?

 

Doug Smith LASD: The public.

 

Francis LaPoll BCS: What you are trying to find out…[inaudible] The accountable authority is the County. That why they come in. They sent numerous people, repeatedly to verify that we were doing everything correctly.

 

Gary Waldeck City LAH: Then the question becomes, if – and I know the answer to this, but I’m going to ask it publically – if the County is responsible and they they are not putting up any red flags, then why does it become an issue for the District?

 

Tamara Logan LASD: They have put up red flags.  I’m sure they will disagree. But the red flags I’ve heard outloud and  personally and it’s on tape at a board meeting of theirs. [Lalahpolitico: Sorry, I don’t know she is alluding to? Something old?]

As BCS has frequently pointed out, they are part of Los Altos School District. That means that as a board member for Los Altos School District, regarding the over 5000 kids in the district, I feel that part of my job is to make sure that every child is treated equally. Or fairly.  And I think that is part of my job.  Now it may not be legally part of my job to write reports on it, but I think that observing what goes on, and looking at the numbers, and trying to see if things seem to be correct is part of my job.  And as a citizen too, not just as a board member.

 

Smith Argues LASD Standards Are Higher than the County’s

 

Doug Smith LASD: I see this a little bit differently. Frankly the County Board of Ed is not the be all end all resource. In our community prides itself on achieving high standards. So when I look at what goes on in our community, we set our standards higher than the legal minimum of what the County is going to sign off on or what the state is going to sign off on. Right?  This district doesn’t run our schools at the level the County would sign off on, and your guys [ BCS] don’t either.  Our community is not going to say that this low bar set by an outside authority is ok.  That’s not going to work.

So we need to be responsive to what the concerns of the community are, if we are going to ask that same group of people for 100M dollars.  It is unrealistic to say that we can demand from the public $100M and yet we are not going to take into consideration what their concerns are.

 

Peter Evans BCS: But this is not that.  This is you saying that you set both these things up Monday night: That we discriminate in our missions; and that we are not serving the students with special needs that we currently have.

 

Both of those things are untrue.  And every time you say it, it makes it harder for people in the community to believe that we are working together, that we are passed the strife.  It makes me fairly skeptical that you are actually interested in our success. I think you are interested in continuing to beat this dead horse.

 

Bullis Charter School Facilities Discussion. Sept. 18. Tamara Logan, Doug Smith, Gary Waldeck, Peter Evans, Francis LaPoll. Geoff Ball standing

Bullis Charter School Facilities Discussion. Sept. 18. Tamara Logan, Doug Smith, Gary Waldeck, Peter Evans, Francis LaPoll. Geoff Ball standing

BCS Says A Litmus Test of Equal Demographic Outcomes is Not Going to Happen

 

Peter Evans: And I think if you want the numbers…And we can jointly say,  “This was an issue. We were mistaken, it’s not an issue.” If you want the numbers to match, they are not going to match.  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.

 

I just don’t understand why this keeps coming up.  I think it keeps coming up because it’s a myth with some truthiness. The more you repeat it, the more truthy it seems.  It’s not going to help us get a bond done.  And it doesn’t belong in this document.

 

Tamara Logan LASD: If I can just go back to the [proposed] agreement. One of the things in that section asks Can you drop the LAH preference?  It doesn’t say… whatever you said…”discriminatory.”  The preference gives greater weight to people in that attendance area, and we would like to see that dropped.

 

And the other part is the granting of preference to those that statistically are not enrolling. I’ve said in front of the county board before. They asked, Well how do you get to special ed?  I said I don’t know the answer.  If the services aren’t there, then the people don’t want to enroll.  If the people aren’t there, then the services aren’t there. I agree with you, it becomes a chicken and egg problem. And we are trying to see if there is some way we can work together to help crack the egg. So there are some people we have heard from, who do not feel comfortable enrolling. We’d like those people to feel comfortable enrolling in any school in the district, including Bullis.  And that should work out for kids.  I agree that it’s a great school  One problem I have with the pushback is what’s the fear?

 

Peter Evans BCS: The fear is that we won’t pass a bond. You continue to raise this[discrimination].  People in the community, especially the vocal ones, believe it is a concern. And there is strife.  That’s the fear. There is no concern to address.

 

Doug Smith LASD: You may not have a concern. But they have a concern.

 

Peter Evans BCS: They have that concern, because you told them to have that concern.

 

Doug Smith LASD: You just said there is no concern to address. Whether it is because I’ve supposedly manufactured it or they’ve come there on there own. The concern is there it is real.

 

Peter Evans BCS: So then the answer is that we change our charter?

 

Doug Smith LASD: I’m open to other ways to address it. That’s why I suggested the idea we did. Then we go out on a big PR campaign. Then we say these kids are really well served. In fact the district is going to model some of these behaviors in our own schools.

 

Peter Evans BCS: Then suppose my chief educator, who I don’t speak for, but who works for me, believes what you propose isn’t the best way to serve those students. Purely as a matter of educational expertise in her view, which is what we pay her to have.  Is that then uncooperative? Is that us being obstructionist. Or is it just her making the decisions she feels are best for the kids she is responsible for serving. It’s the latter. And that’s why it doesn’t belong in this discussion.

 

This is about facilities. The district’s responsibilities are to provide facilities.

 

Doug Smith LASD: I keep coming back to it.  We can’t pass a bond without a way to get the public comfortable with it. If there is transparency in the process.  You know is it possible that Jeff [?Baier] and Wanny [?Hersey] have different opinions about this? Absolutely.  There are many different educational approaches out there that work.

 

More and More, Round and Round on the “Concerns”

 

Peter Evans BCS: So then let me say, I agree with your premise. For better for worse, and I think for worse, this is an issue that has to be addressed. [Peter makes an aside] I love the passive voice. It came up. People hold it. It exists. It has to be addressed. All passive voice. Nobody is responsible [being facetious] The solution to these non-issues can’t always be “BCS, the number one charter in the state, do something different, change how you are, change what you be, change how you operate.”  That can’t always be the solution. And me as a board member, to take what is working from the students we have, and changing that, because of a perception from a Facebook post…

 

Gary Waldeck City LAH: Let me say one things….This issue I hear here from the back and forth, it that there is a perception that exists, and there is a denial of that perception.  How do you answer that question?  If it has to be addressed, and you are asserting that it does.  Perhaps a dialog, by independent people, I don’t think the people here at this table are going to do that.  But independent people could walk in and talk to Wanny and they could talk to Jeff, and come back with a report, that would vindicate one side or the other.  It would be like a judges decisions.  Because we are not going to get there by going back and forth on it tonight.  I think the better answer is that if it becomes an issue and it has to be addressed that you are better off assigning it to someone who is independent and who can provide a report. You will know if it is biased or is it not.

 

Tamara Logan LASD: Yes, we do have have something…

 

Karen Duncan of the Los Altos Community Foundation: [she is in the audience] We don’t want to be assigned anything.  We already have our study [ outlined].  We are going to conduct our study on this topic [ charter enrollment and operations] in any case according to our principles.  We are delighted to share our findings with everybody. We don’t need an assignment.  We thought it up ourselves.

 

BCS LAH Geo Preference was Suggested by the County

 

Francis LaPoll BCS: The preference item that keeps being raised — the current configuration of that was actually suggested by a current member of the county board.  And then the Los Altos School District sues the County Board of Education and it lost.  And yet you keep bringing it up.

 

Tamara Logan LASD: It doesn’t matter.

 

Francis LaPoll BCS: Go back and read the decision.

 

Doug Smith LASD: The court ruled we did not have standing to raise the issue.

 

Tamara Logan LASD: It doesn’t matter.

 

Francis LaPoll BCS: No the ruling was legal. Go back and read the decision. It’s the code.

And second, there may come a time when we can cooperate [inaudible].  We have with younger teachers in other districts. We might be able to help eventually.  But respectfully, Tammy, you DON’T have a role in our oversight. I understand it might be of interest. But you don’t. And until you are actually invited in, it’s going to be very unhelpful. And it’s not just because there is something about BCS.  There is something inherent in the relationship between charters and school districts.  Charters were set up to compete with school districts.  In a way that can  be a little irritating. Read the legislative intent. Read the legislation.  So for you to try to come in and to your oversight and you questions, it’s a little bit like Apple and Samsung.  You iphone is really good, so we want to see what you are doing.  Or like Intel and AMD.  You have competitors who are too involved. We need to work on those things where maybe we do have common interests.  We try not to step into your realm. We have enough to do with our own. Part of this also, is we keep getting into these things. We feel we have responded [already.] We don’t have a lot of administration. We don’t have a lot of staff. A lot of what we do is done by volunteers. And we do want to be spending our time on our children and on educating, and not continually responding to perceptions.

 

Tamara Logan LASD: I want to point out that Apple and Samsung are not public companies.  Well, I do mean they are public companies, but not in the sense of public government entities. Being public has a lot to do with it.

 

Francis LaPoll BCS: That may have to do with it, but it doesn’t have to do with the construct that we are set up to compete with each other. You are not our oversight body.  So what we do is of interest to you, but it is not appropriate.

 

BCS Suggests Pro-rata Share Again

 

Gary Waldeck City LAH: I’m not sure where we go here.  Are there are any other points. Doug? [Given the time]

 

Doug Smith LASD: I’d be open to going through this list and seeing if we have agreement on any of this language. Start at 1 on page 4…You are shaking your head Francis.

 

Francis LaPoll BCS: Those are the points that you went through at the last meeting.

 

Doug Smith LASD: I’m starting at the top. We’re going to look for a site.  Is that controversial?Is there other language that should be there.

 

Francis LaPoll BCS: After the discussions we’ve had, I don’t know if that is appropriate.

 

Doug Smith LASD: You are saying you are not interested in working with us on finding a site?

 

Francis LaPoll BCS: I’m saying is that paradigm may not be worthwhile. Because what you are saying is that the community objects if the bond measure has a site for us, whether its in the language or whether it is understood. We need a different paradigm. We’ve been down this road. I don’t know that you were able to pass it even it we did get money. {?} It was closer negative, even without us being involved [the surveying last April and July 2012]. The numbers were the worst I’ve seen[for a school bond measure.]  When we were trying to get a high school bond in 95, or 98, it was way low.  Usually whatever number you start out at, they go down. It’s sort of depressing when you see those numbers. And  that’s even if we don’t get  penny.  It just didn’t look very good. I really think we need a different paradigm.  And I really want to see Los Altos School District succeed[?] I haven’t been on CACF for 18 years to not see the needs of all kids served.

 

Doug Smith LASD: What paradigm are you suggesting?

 

Francis LaPoll BCS:  I think the community would support something where we receive a prorate share. Maybe we try to find a site?

 

Doug Smith LASD: If that is on the table, then we’ll put for it absolutely.

If what you are saying, there is a 100M bond, you guys are 10 or 11 percent, so you get 10 or 11 million dollars, and that relieves the district for a prop 39 obligation for 15 years, we’ll pull for it.

 

Francis LaPoll BCS: I don’t think it would remove the Prop 39 obligation. Because what is happening is that every student is getting a share of those dollars. And every other student already has a campus.  Maybe this goes further.  I do have something to show you that shows our enrollment projections. It’s pretty much what Peter showed your Los Altos School District board last November.  We have

 

We had 947 [Nov. 2012 presentation], but this document says 875, but that has to do with a different time frame. These are all in-district students.

 

Waldeck Asks How Many BCS Kids will Be Out-of-District in the Long Term

Gary Waldeck City LAH: Thinking ahead to a site. How many more students are out of district.

 

Doug Smith LASD: We don’t have an obligation to provide for any out-of-district students.

 

Peter Evans BCS: They [out of district] also don’t get in.

 

Francis LaPoll BCS: In fact the number of out of district student is declining. We had a number who came in in the first two years of our existence, when we were not oversubscribed. [ But BCS is now oversubscribed, so they only enroll from the in-district applicants] That clump will graduating out and will be replaced with locals.  As a practical matter all the Ks are in-district.  The graduating 7 and 8s are being replaced with Ks.

 

Doug Smith LASD: We asked whether during the transition period, if you would hold your enrollment steady.  So that we didn’t put increased pressure on district sites, and the neighborhoods around those, while we build support for a bond.  You were copied on a letter from 80 Egan neighbors just going up to 575.

 

John Radford: [From the audience asks] Doug, can you read the numbers, none of us know what you are looking at.

 

Doug Smith LASD: So 13-14 is 644.

14-15 is 736.

15-16 is 806

16-17 is 850

17-18 is 875

 

Francis LaPoll BCS: The idea is that it was going to stabilize at 900 in-district students.

 

Discussion Swerves into 2013-14 Considerations for Blach, Egan
No New Strands perhaps, Transport Alternatives

 

Tamara Logan LASD: Is this actuals for 13-14? [no, just projections of in-district. Tamara seems to be calculating the next 2013-14 one year Prop 39 offer?]

 

Peter Evans BCS: For the purposes of this [long-term] discussion, the out of district students get replaced with in-district students.  We agreed to take the first page of the proposed agreement and send it back to the short term group.  They can worry about 13-14.

 

Doug Smith LASD: So when I look at 13-14 to 14-15. What I see is adding 20 kids in K, 20 kids in 1st, and 25 kids in 4th and 25 in 7th grade.  That’s a lot of additional students in year when we are already feeling a lot of pressure on those sites.  Increasing students on those sites will just increase logistical, practical issues on the ground, and for passing the bond.  We asked you to consider holding steady.  But Peter said we need to roll them through. So well you are going to go up by 20 or so as they roll up.  But adding another strand of kindergartners next year AND additional room of 1st grades, and classroom of 4th graders, and a classroom of 7th graders .

 

Francis LaPoll BCS: That’s  not an additional strand of 4th graders. The class size goes from 20 to 25 students.  What happens is you have 4 groups of 20 in k to 3. Those have to go into 3 groups of 25 as they progress to 4 to 8.  That is just a roll-up, a grade progression.

 

Doug Smith LASD: But you are adding a strand of K and a strand of 1st?

 

Peter Evans BCS: Yes, our board made a policy decision a year ago, and we are simple restating it here.

 

Doug Smith LASD: Would you at least consider not adding those additional students in K and 1st? Those are extra classrooms and kids. I’d like to talk to you about the 4th grade level too.

 

Francis LaPoll BCS: It’s not that we wouldn’t discuss growing enrollment. But we need to discuss the sites too, whether more go on Blach for example. We’ve done a lot to change our scheduling time of day.  There may be other ways to access the schools. We need to have that very practical mechanical discussion.  That is something our staff can  or are talking about.

 

Doug Smith LASD: You say different access? You mean pickup and drop off. You mean different entrances?

 

Francis LaPoll BCS: Yes, I know there are issues there. We’d also look at having drop off points, and then we would shuttle them in.

 

Peter Evans BCS: To put out a more definitive answer to your question. Francis is right. There are a number of ways to deal with concerns of neighbors have raised. And they [concerns] are real [felt concerns].  We need to find ways to address it.

 

These additional strands, perhaps that’s on the table.  But keep in mind our stated long-term objective [at these meetings ] is “To serve any district student who wants to attend BCS.”  That’s [Stopping the addition of strands] is in direct conflict with that objective.  That’s not something I think is good for the school or for the community.  But I prefer looking at in the context of other things we might do to address the real issues, rather than just limiting the size of the school.  Then I would say it is off the table.  Do you disagree with that?

 

Doug Smith LASD: [to Geoff Ball  - Facilitator -] Have you captured it the way he has said it? [ Geoff Ball  - Facilitator - reworks the flip chart]

 

Blach Area Students Crowd Egan?

 

Francis LaPoll BCS: I think we also should consider whether Egan and Blach might do something. There are there things that Los Altos School District can do to attenuate the problems in terms of enrollment

 

Doug Smith LASD: What do you have in mind?

 

Francis LaPoll BCS: Should there be more [ Los Altos School District junior high students ] at Blach. Should there be more at Egan. If there are going to be fewer BCS student at Blach, should there be more Egan students at Blach? Don’t have a school[?neighboorhood] where they can go to either – is that still the case?

 

Doug Smith LASD: We allow intra-district transfer for students who enroll up to Los Altos High. So if your address says you go to Blach, but eventually you are going to go to LAH, then disruptive to the experience of the child.  “Yeah, give up all your friends for two years in junior high, and then you can come back together for high school.” So we allow them to attend Egan. That varies from year to year that is between 30 and 50 kids.

 

Tamara Logan LASD: Moving some of those kids to Blach could make some of the sharing arrangement even more complicated.  So it’s not just a straightforward shift.  Because then the PE classes and science classes get more full, so it would be harder to do that scheduling [for the charter at Blach].

 

Francis LaPoll BCS: This strikes me as a mechanical, relatively non-emotional issue that we should be able to work out. Ok? Maybe at the staff level with school principals. Please coming back with your site council, [and our site council?], coming back with some suggestions.

 

Doug Smith LASD: So from a practical standpoint, I’m trying to figure out how that works.  We need to get through this year.  And be honest with each other. Right? The administrators had a couple of conversations, but there was also bell schedules dropped over the transom at us…and we were told “We’ve changed our schedules. Here is what it is.” And great. This isn’t in compliance with the FUA or the CEQA. So how do you envision that working?

 

Peter/Francis?: Not like it did this year.

 

Francis LaPoll BCS: We won’t claim you’re perfect. I’m hoping you’ll say the same.

 

Tamara Logan LASD: That was an understatement.  [inaudible]

 

BCS Says Can’t Do Assemblies at Blach – No Multi There

 

Tamara Logan LASD: I have concerns about the costs involved and the litigation that is ongoing and building space.  It’s the kids and moving the kids around and some ways is probably less of an issue than where you put buildings.

 

Doug Smith LASD: At 800 plus kids for BCS we have issues on both sides. We’re up against our numbers already.

 

Tamara Logan LASD: You’ve also expressed this year a desire to have all your kids together for assemblies all at the same time. I don’t see 800 kids being able to be together for an assembly at any of our sites.

 

Doug Smith LASD: In addition to the 550 Los Altos School District kids at a site.

 

Francis LaPoll BCS: This is probably a thing that board member Andrea Eyrling can address better. In general we don’t have the [assembly] facilities at the Blach site, it’s not like a real campus. It doesn’t have a multi that all the kids can use. It doesn’t have a nurse’s station.

 

Doug Smith LASD: It does have a nurse’s station.

 

Andrea Eyrling: [from audience]  Yes that true, but the furniture doesn’t fit.

 

Francis LaPoll BCS:  But anyway. There may be logistical issues with having all meetings [assemblies] at Blach[? Did he mean Egan].  And , two, not knowing how quickly you would construe whatever [CEQA peak student data per day] we gave you, we needed to allow for any possible date when we might be all gathering.  But if you are going to give someone a heads up about meetings, you are going to want to give them all possible dates.  So that’s what we did.  I believe there were eight per month. That’s not just lack of trust. Any good neighbor would give warnings.

 

Doug Smith LASD: I have less concern about that on Wednesdays than I do on other days of the week.  We have a late start.  If you have more than 400 kids coming in then they are coming in a period of time that is not overlapping when we are bringing in 550 kids.

 

Francis LaPoll BCS: And Los Altos School District probably does its assemblies on Friday mornings too. At least it used to.

 

Doug Smith LASD: Yes, that’s the elementary school standard.

 

Francis LaPoll BCS: That’s the history. I don’t know if there is a reason why most schools do it on Friday mornings?

 

Tamara Logan LASD: I don’t believe all the schools do it on Fridays.  Loyola?

 

Waldeck Redirects From Short-term Logistics to
Possibly No New Strands

 

Gary Waldeck City LAH: I think we are looking at a lot of logistics here.  A basic question I had is a two year hiatus, or level enrollment, something you are willing to consider.

 

Peter Evans BCS: If it is truly level, if the numbers do not change than that does not work. At minimum, we have out of district kids leaving, being replaced by in-district kids.  We have a rise in strands, that’s growth.  Doug asked about the additional strands. I think we could look at that.

 

Tamara Logan LASD:  That’s [new strands] probably about 60 kids you are talking about.  That’s a large proportion of the 92.

 

Peter Evans BCS: That’s [new strand restriction] certainly not my favorite solution. And it’s not right for the community. But these logistical issues are real.

 

Tamara Logan LASD: I suspect that would make things significantly easier to work out.

 

For Geoff Ball  – Facilitator – to write on flip board: BCS willing to consider: Hold the number of strands for two years. But allow grade progression of current students.

 

Gary Waldeck City LAH: So hold BCS enrollment level.

 

Peter Evans BCS: Gary, every time you sum it up you get it wrong! ….

 

{lots of back and forth to clarify for Geoff Ball  – Facilitator – and Gary}

 

Francis LaPoll BCS: That’s where getting together, seeing what things can be done is important.

 

Scheduling Next Meeting – Not Easy

 

Gary Waldeck City LAH: It’s almost 9 o’clock. We can continue. What is your pleasure? I think we’ve come to a meeting of minds on one step. Do you want to continue?

 

Doug Smith LASD: Push forward. Or decide what the path is to reconvene.

 

Francis LaPoll BCS: If we were to reconvene, it would be behind closed doors, to use your term.

 

Doug Smith LASD: We are an official Brown Act subcommittee. Long-term facilities. We were created on August 26 and of indefinite duration. We are a standing committee.

 

[lots of scheduling, calendar checking, availability of substitutes-volunteers.]

 

Peter Evans BCS: I see some value in continuing to meet. … I expressed that there are some things that are part of this discussion, it’s probably good to continue to work that. If the bond is the best means to an end. The end being a stable facilities solution, then [inaudible]

 

Tamara Logan LASD: We are concerned about that too. If we were to wait just two more weeks, continuing to push these solutions out further and further. We really do want to get to a solution.

 

Francis LaPoll BCS: Are you already meeting with the site councils. The way that it worked in 1998 [bond measure] was that each of the site councils was convened and so they would come up with a wish list.

 

Tamara Logan LASD: We already have all that.

 

Francis LaPoll BCS: Parents change. So you already have all that feed back so you already know exactly what you are going to do at each campus?

 

Doug Smith LASD: We have a longer laundry list than we have money, by a long shot. We haven’t decided how we allocate the money between the sites. I don’t anticipate that is going to be a long call.

 

Tamara Logan LASD: That’s not a simple process, but compared to this process, it’s a walk in the park.

 

Francis LaPoll BCS: You are way ahead of the game.

 

Gary Waldeck City LAH: Can we schedule some meetings for Monday and Wednesday.

 

Tamara Logan LASD: Monday is a board meeting.

 

Steve Taglio, Los Altos School District trustee: [from audience] It would go faster at the Monday meeting without you two [Doug and Tamara]. [audience laughter]

 

[lots of back and forth. Los Altos School District wants to give 72 hour agenda notice for any meetings.  Gary proposes Wed. the 25th or 26th.  Peter proposes Oct. 10.  Group agrees to use doodle.com for 45 days including weekends. ]

 

 

Bullis Charter School Facilities Discussion. Jeff Fixler Sept. 18

Bullis Charter School Facilities Discussion. Jeff Fixler Sept. 18

 

ENDING PUBLIC COMMENTS:

Jeff Fixler, John Radford, Elena Shea, Noah Messel.

-Editor : I selected these comments below in part because the speakers are “known.” And also because I got tired.  The lower profile members of the public ( 8 other individuals) made interesting comments, mostly temperate and reasonable. Comments were about equal between BCS sympathizers and LASD sympathizers. One BCS sympathizer who commented before the opening of the discussion asked Smith and Logan to resign.

Jeff Fixler: [ Member of Superintendent's Facilities Task Force, LASD parrent.] Francis, You said something that Charters are meant to be competitive in the district, in regards to sharing educational values that each body has learned. I want to quote Norma, [Schroder] something said by Mr. Phelps in the second short-term meeting. “We are very keen to do the long term discussion. BCS can be a complement to the district, we can be an experimental lab and have the charter and the district embrace. I am will to do whatever it takes to have a peaceful coexistence with the community.” “ Francis, I really hope that his views reflect the majority of your board and that what you said tonite just reflects your opinon.

 

Francis LaPoll BCS: You misrepresented me. I did not say that we are to compete. In the academic sphere that may be true. I am just talking about the natural arrangement that was envisioned in the [Prop 39 charter law] code, and what the legislature said. So I would like to cooperate. But each has to respect its own spheres. Otherwise it is going to get uncomfortable.

 

Doug Smith LASD: I stayed very quiet, when somebody [at the public comments in the beginning] said that I should resign from public office. So I am going to ask that none of us of address the speakers.

 

Francis LaPoll BCS: You don’t have to, but if someone misquotes what I said, I am going to.

 

Gary Waldeck City LAH: let’s move forward.

 

Sharon Clay, Elena Shea,  Parent Covington Elementary. [heavily summarized.] [Politely delivered]…Transparency is important. We need to see all your operational detail.  BCS trustees,  you can hear our concerns from us directly. [They don’t just come from Doug and Tamara.] The impacts of Los Altos School District compromise need to be acknowledged by you.  We need to stop the yearly Prop 39 process that results in BCS, whether it wants to or not, asking for a school each year.

 

Lalahpolitico:  HAE is a group which organizes and magnifies “concerns” it finds in the community.  They have several smart, energetic principals and have put up millions to research and groom any “complaints about BCS,” to support litigation amicus briefs, and to fund and manage Public Relations campaigns. It saddens me to see such big guns. I guess HAE thinks that BCS has smart energetic principals with millions and are big guns too.  Everyone is nuked up in litigation and rhetoric wars.  Just swell. Here is some of HAE’s representative work on manipulating the traditional media with truthiness. Brilliant stuff.

http://losaltos.patch.com/groups/schools/p/a-parent-group-seeks-status

 

John Radford, LAH city council member. As I’ve said before I’ll support a bond and I’ll actively campaign for it. My concern, especially now after sitting through 4 or 5 meetings, I’m just not sure there is going to be any bond to support. Let me reframe what the community support should look like. We keep talking about we’ve got to get BCS to change so these mystical community people will support a bond.  But I think most of the community, some 27,000 voters, don’t have any idea about all this. But what if we told everyone we were going to close one of the schools if we didn’t pass a bond. Because BCS is going to grow to 900. They may grow mostly off of Los Altos School District kids and you Los Altos School District may not grow at all.  You may need to give them Covington. You may need to put all the fifth [and sixth]  graders into the two junior highs. And you may need to disperse everyone else to your other properties [change all attendance boundaries] if you don’t pass a bond.  Instead of framing it that BCS has to change so that you can get support from the community. You might be better off, instead of protecting all your seven elementary schools, that by the way I don’t think have suffered any impact.  The two junior highs have, the elementary schools have. Instead maybe we might want to talk about the realities of what might happen, if we don’t pass a bond.

 

Sooner or later, whether you want to close a school or repurpose a school, if you only have the acreage you have, you are going to have to do something different. So why don’t we reframe it a bit, instead of always putting it onto convincing everyone that “BCS is changing their ways.” It’s something to think about. Because not passing a bond means you are going to have to do something different.

 

Tom Fenstermacher, Oak Parent.  This is the second meeting in row, where Radford has stood up and talked about how he is not going to support the bond or how it’s not going to be an effective thing. It’s difficult for me to see this [struggle] happening in our community. I guess the thing I’m confused about is why we talk about every option on the table, except for BCS self-siting. [ We hear] how Los Altos School District should not be involved in the [BCS] program or not know anything about it. But we don’t talk about the notion of BCS having their own facilities, and their own program, and everything could be great.  For some reason we keep that off the table, like it is some weird thing that nobody does.  In fact, many charter schools do it. We just don’t talk about it and I don’t know why.

 

Lalahpolitico: FENSTERMACHER – THE ANSWER WHY. The BCS community will not self-site because it feels enough of their tax dollars have already been confiscated from its parents and school choice supporters over the past 10 years.  Since 1998 they voted (repeatedly) to increase school taxes on themselves and as thanks: 1) They had ‘their’ Bullis-Purissima school campus closed and left empty or at low use levels from 1999 to 2008. (The district would not accept $350K rent from BCS! Hidden agenda or board insanity?) 2) Since the BCS school was launched in 2003-4, they never have received their fair share of annual local parcel tax revenues to support annual per student funding. They only get the $5-6K from the state, not the local $5K portion. 3) The BCS community watched the easy “facilities solution” of LASD giving/renting/selling the “closed” Purissima school to them totally slip away in 2008. Now they no longer could fit in it – It’s not part of any facilities solution I know of.

 

In 2008, the District transferred about 50 PAUD out-of-district kids, about 50 Santa Rita kids, and about 100 Gardner area kids (formerly at Covington) to Bullis-Gardener when it was officially cleaned up, staffed up and reopened as a district-run k-6. BCS had about 300 kids at the Egan camp at that time and would have filled out the Purissima campus nicely (and stopped growing). The other kids could have stayed at their current school – Covington, Nixon, Santa Rita – rather than being separated from friends. And I would not be writing this now.

 

So Mr. Fenstermacher, it’s ok to go ahead and talk about BCS self-siting.  It did offer to self-site itself at the closed Bullis Purissima campus in 2004 and was denied by the administration due to some technical “finding” made by none other than the current Business Superintendent Randy Kenyon. [The facility was “fit” for private preschool kids and business offices, but technically unsafe/unhealthy for public school kids. Yes, for the purposes of exclusion, BCS kids were at one time considered public school kids]. Mr. Kenyon is the one person on LASD staff who has been with the district for the whole duration of this reprehensible BCS torture saga.  He did the deeds for the 1998 LATC person of the year, and fondly remembered boss lady, Marge Gratiot.  Marge was at the helm in the late 1990’s when activist parents came asking for a Mandarin immersion program and were denied.  Other parents were asking for other curriculum innovations. Guess where those parents went?  BCS? Right.

 

Los Altos School District curriculum has remained substantially unchanged till just the past few years. I guess when BCS failed to fail and instead grew, attracting over 6% of students, the district administration finally took notice of the competition and did some introspection and change. You can all thank the competition from BCS for that. I guess some of the intent of Prop 39 is working.

 

NoahMessel: [ Huttlinger Education Alliance Board, District parent. ] I would like to address a point that was addressed several times. Mr. Evans you took this on directly. There seems to be a perception that the Los Altos School District board of trustees has planted the false idea of concerns about BCS in the impressionable minds of Los Altos School District parents and community. I’d ask for you to recognize that the opposite is in fact the case.  Los Altos School District parents came forward with sworn declarations [sic who paid?] stating that their children had experienced discrimination and improper treatment at BCS.  It was only after the parents came forward, that Los Altos School District in the form of their cross complaint in conjunction with the 12-13 litigation , I’ve lost track, pursued those claims. [in other words?, HAE researched and groomed the claims – HAE paid - so that Los Altos School District could pursue them in court – Los Altos School District paid that part.] There are multiple [3, 5, 7?] parents who have expressed those concern repeatedly [ twice, thrice, etc? ]. The HAE collected over 1000 signatures. Someone asked for numbers. Here’s some numbers.  1000 signatures from people in the community who believe that those concerns expressed under oath should be investigated. [Heck, I’d sign a petition to “investigate” just about anything. A low bar.]  I believe it is the fiduciary duty of the board of trustees to spend public money consistently with the stated education code. And in compliance with state law. That’s where the concerns came from. [Sure are a lot of important sounding big words that seem to imply Los Altos School District is legal and a good steward and maybe BCS is not.] So let’s keep the facts on the table. Facts!

 

Lalahpolitico:  Ok, let’s tease out the facts here. HAE found “multiple” parents, who perhaps with the urging of HAE swore in affidavits that they felt discriminated against and underserved.  Perhaps HAE helped the parents groom their complaint language? I cannot imagine that when these parents were feeling their crisis they went to the phone book, they looked for a group like HAE and found HAE.  Rather HAE found the parents. How many did they find? 3, 5, 7?

[Update: Sept. 29, 2013. Lalahpolitico: I have received an email from a parent of a Spec Ed child, a parent who said they emailed and  also spoke to SCCOE board at a meeting in April or May of 2012 about his child’s unsatisfactory experience with BCS. The dad points out that May 2012 was before HAE was formed. So he says that in his case he did not have any help from HAE “grooming” his complaint to SCCOE.  So perhaps he worked totally alone, or perhaps he was already well acquainted with one or more persons who are now active in HAE. He certainly was well acquainted with Dave Cortright in April 2012. Dave posts this parent’s ‘indictment’ here. http://www.kpao.org/2012/05/mike-uhler-support-for-special-needs-students-at-bullis-charter-school.html . The parent begins with “old news” of BCS ‘missteps’ from 2005 – 2007 when BCS was in startup mode. Apparently the parent came to realize he didn’t want the BCS approach to special for his child, he wanted American special ed.  Also in the kpao.org post, the parent presents spec ed school data in tables and charts.  I believe the table and charts are no different from the state data for BCS and the District that I personally have also looked at and written about.  But I have to reject the parent’s analysis and conclusion.  We ran a linear regression on both series. The BCS  series has a coefficient of  growing about 3 students a year, while the LASD series has a coefficient of about 16 a year. [BCS is about a tenth the size.] So neither series is flat.   But  what’s totally weird — if you want to look at “momentum’ rather than regression statistics — is that LASD had several years of flat total enrollment of spec ed kids, but then in the last two years it popped by 85 students over the 2005-6 base year even though total enrollment was only up by 198 students over the base year.  In other words, over 40% of the increase in enrollment was special ed kids?  Is that weird or what?  So what could account for that? A change in classification methods?  Change in county reimbursement rules?  Sudden in migrations of families with special needs in 09 and 10?  Ummmm, as I recall that was the bottoming of the great recession and real estate turnover was nearly nil.  So probably not in migration?  Unless they are being bused in?  Or are out-of-district special ed students now being accepted because of a District policy change in 2009-10?  I don’t know. Please write if you do!

MikeUhlerImagex600

This spring, this same parent of the special ed child has demanded to see the calculations behind BCS’s reporting of its ELL students in 2010-11 school year. The reporting appears on the state education site, but the parent demands to see the underlying spreadsheet or something.  The county authorizer has accepted the BCS report and paperwork, and does not wish to share it with the parent…http://www.sccoe.org/countyboard/Documents/2012-13/050113/7Correspondence.pdf.  And of course BCS itself is not going to bother with this kind of data harassment.  Also in the .pdf,  check out the interesting parent correspondence from several parents — look over the observations about who are our local area Spanish speakers and Mandarin speakers in the letter from Christine Wan. She says they are fairly elite families, some Stanford grad student families, many here for just a one or two year stint. True? I dunno. They aren’t picking strawberries!]

 

[back to the Original.] Wow. I know lots of parents who have had run-ins with a school administration/ teacher in both private school and public school settings. They felt discriminated against and underserved or mis-served.  And in the realm of Special Needs, lawsuits (mostly against public schools) are a big industry.  Unfortunately, having a special needs kid and feeling mis-served is not uncommon. Probably Los Altos School District is a target of such lawsuits too, even without HAE.  I dunno.

 

Let me observe that petitions which are wrist-slaps are pretty easy to get signed.  “Yes, We should investigate the recycling compliance of restaurants in Los Altos and Mountain View. We have sworn affidavits from 5 residents that some restaurants are mixing non-recyclables with recyclables to cut costs.” I’d sign that probably. Compare that to language that says “Yes, we should  close restaurants/ revoke the licenses of restaurants that we find are not complying with recycling codes.” I would not sign that.

 

Right now, there is a devious local petition going around, affecting water management.  It seems the Mountain View residents who are NIMBY vs. the Water District regarding the Permanente Creek Flood Basin Project, are now trying to trick the public into signing a petition to oppose the flood control measure.  The petition asks them to save 100 trees from being cut down. And doesn’t really say why the Water District needs to cut them down.  The point here is that the HAE petition has weak language. So these HAE “numbers” and “facts” are not at all persuasive of anything.

 

Also I wonder if HAE may have had access to District School sites during school hours for the purpose of collecting signatures for the petition Noah is citing. That would be a no-no.  Normally the District keeps all non-profit groups out. It would be interesting to contact a sample of the 1000 names to see if they remembered signing the petition or can recall what it meant.

 

BTW HAE.org site is running a fairly harmless online petition on its website right now. As long as the School District does not link to the petition or plug it during trustee meetings, that would be on the up and up. I personally would never sign this petition because I believe BCS could put its litigation on hold during actual good faith negotiations, but should never terminate those cases until there is the certainty of an acceptable long-term facilities resolution.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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