On Jan. 27, 2016 over a dozen members of the public spoke to the Public Lands Committee – an ad hoc committee of two LASD Trustees and two City Councilpersons. The public had just seen a ~90 minute discussion among elected officials about three sites – the City’s civic center, Egan Jr. High, and Covington School – as potential sites for locating a 900 student k-8 Bullis Charter School in permanent buildings. See the Site map article about BCS Co-location sites here.[Updated:] Here is a synopsis of the speakers remarks about the 3 BCS Co-location sites. The spelling of names is often just a best effort guess.
Three of the 14 speakers spoke against using Hillview/Community Center as a School site. Traffic at schools is mentioned as already dreadfully unsafe by over 6 speakers and is used as a reason to reject Egan or Covington as a BCS co-location site. [Lalahpolitico: Their unspoken conclusion: therefore use Hilliview?!?!?] Around 3 or 4 speakers recommend using Hillview as a school, or “rethinking” Hillview uses.
Jessica Spiser, Covington PTA President and part of the YES on N bond committee.
She supported the Measure N LASD bond because she wanted the District to increase its land footprint. She rejected the idea of co-locating BCS on existing District land. She finds that 1500 students on the Covington site would be too many, as is 1550 at Egan. She advocated for a “multi-use facility” at Hillview. Lalahpolitico: I still don’t understand what people mean when they say multi-use facility. Classrooms in session down the hall from a senior center and an adult yoga room? A school multipurpose room than has to house City recreation after 4 pm every day?
Duncan Mac Vicar, now on the LASD tenth site committee, was part of the LASD Enrollment Growth Task Force, and part of the committee that drafted the 2008 Los Altos Civic Center Master Plan.
MacVicar advocated for solving traffic issues of the BCS Co-location sites with bussing. 20 buses could transport 900 students. In his scheme, BCS parent would take their kids to their local District School where the buses would be waiting to take the children to BCS’s permanent co-located school.
Roberta Phillips, a member of the NO on A committee
Phillips was concerned that any building that LASD would put on Hillview and the Civic Center would not have to conform to City building codes, in particular not to the 30 foot height limit which now applies to buildings placed on the Civic Center. LASD would have to follow CA Dept of Education Standards only. She suggested that inter-school district redistricting might solve “enrollment growth.” Lalahpolitico: It was unclear because she was rushed, but I believe she meant to say that North of El Camino students could be redistricted out to MV-Whisman, while the Montclaire School area could be redistricted from Cupertino Union out to LASD. ???
Natalie Elefant, member of LASD Facilities Master Plan Committee, and retired public school teacher
She urged the elected officials to “think outside the box.” Could City Hall, or the Police, or a Pool be located at Egan by Portola? She reminded us that Hillview was once a school, that the street [with the same name] was used for school access. She concluded saying that ” Excellence in education cannot be equated with acreage.” Lalahpolitico: Pretty sure Police would be a NO – those nasty suspects next to a school? City Hall probably OK. But it seems better to locate offices on a city parking plaza downtown to drive “vibrancy?” Pool, would be a YES. Acreage? There are some minimums. Then there also is “reasonably equivalent.” LASD is one of the few districts in the state that put tracks on its two junior highs. They are not a requirement. It is very unusual according to the LASD architect. She says our junior highs have HUGE amounts of land because of the tracks.
Maria Lonergan, No on A Committee, Los Altos Community Center Alliance
She urged Los Altans to come together to develop a plan for a right-sized community center that meets actual needs… Hillview is owned by all Los Altans; a school would severely restrict the development of community facilities…The City of Los Altos does not need the District’s Measure N money. The City has 20M in reserves, and surveys showed that 20M bond would pass. Lalahpolitico: In other words, the City could build a “right-sized” center on its own.
Brian Johnson, Santa Rita Parent, PTA
There are more than 100 publicly owned acres in the “community.” Lets talk about greater shared use. “I notice in the pros and cons of these 3 co-location scheme, the pros and cons for Bullis Charter School are not considered at all. BCS is not at the table to talk.”
Jenny Evit, two children at Covington
…talk about traffic…Rosita is already used to the max… it is now used to avoid that Covington parking lot circle. At Covington we are open to sharing, but not with this BCS concept. How about instead colocating a city facility – for example, a Youth Center, Library, City Hall…rather than another school. Lalahpolitio: Watch what you wish for! The library generates tons and tons of traffic! Any way it would be better located downtown to increase “vibrancy.” The Youth Center is expected to go away as a separate entity. Would you like the entire right-sized community center perhaps? With pools complex?
I think it is crazy to have two schools with elementary aged kids next of each other. It is hard to come up with examples. … I’m not 95 years old, and I love the orchards… I think all the stops signs along Rosita to Springer would all have to be turned into stoplights. I think Covington and Miramonte would need a traffic light. I think traffic lights are a horrible idea. If you have two schools, you are going to need all that. There will be” riots in the streets.” Lalahpolitico: An example, San Carlos.
Adie Delamajorie, child at Covington, 2 more will attend later
I want to keep my kids safe walking home from school. I have had walks home where I have to yell at my kids to “quick, get in the mud, get in the mud” because there are so many cars…Access is already a nightmare… Please no more…I don’t want to see more cars in our quiet neighborhood. Lalahpolitico: How about a bond to pay for many more sidewalks thoughout Los Altos? The land is there. It’s the first 6 feet of “your” lot.
Nancy Phillip, 26 year resident, sent her 2 children through the public schools
Has anyone suggested reallocating existing space? Has this been looked at? I mentioned it on the phone “survey” and was told it was not an option being considered. If there are 600 kids at 6 elementary schools, why not raise that to 700 and put those on 5 of the schools. Give the sixth to Bullis Charter School for its 900. This better than dumping 900 on any of the six schools.
Lalahpolitico: Unawareness is bliss! Nancy, yes, this was suggested at the original Superintendent’s Enrollment Growth Task Force in 2012. At least 3 of the dozen(?) members advocated it vociferously. These were the non-parent representatives. But they were “persuaded” by the parents and staff members. In particular, the District has a POLICY set by the Trustees of “small, neighborhood schools” which are defined as less than 600. To exceed that would require changing the policy, and “it’s not what the community wants.” Understand!?!?! Seriously though, LASD teachers and principals like to say that when there are more than 500 students, they have trouble recalling their faces and their names. They imply children suffer socially and emotionally as the kids don’t recognize everyone of their peers around them. Anomie, isolation, etc.
These Old Posts about the Enrollment Task Force are relevant. Especially No. 2.
Joe Seither, Covington parent, HAE member.
I’m happy to see you are taking a more holistic view of City property and downtown…looks like progress…How about a survey? Say 500 from a LASD list and 500 from a City list. You should deduplicate the lists. Let the survey determine Civic Priorities. For example, I like the Orchard. But in the survey results, the Orchard might not make the cut OR it might make the cut.
Lalahpolitico: I can definitely see surveying LASD tax payers if they like the idea of LASD using Measure N money to pre-pay a lump sum of [for example] 30 years of ground-rent money for Hillview land [estimated low-ball at $24 million based on Google MV ground rents to City of MV], AND as part of the rent contract stipulating that the City use the funds to design and build a facility for BCS’s 900 students, a facility that somehow magically is “multiuse.” What does that even mean? It is very ambiguous. Devil is in the details.
When architect Bill Mateson of the LosAltosCommunityCoalition.org described his School On Hillview concept, the idea was that when first built the building is a school 100% of the time, but when the school enrollment declines to zero as schools sometimes do over 20 or 30 years, then the “flexible” building would revert to the City for use as a Community Center. Like Hillview – in 1946 Hillview School was 100% a school, later starting in the 1970’s, it was 100% a community center without any remodeling.
Lalah’s question is where is the Los Alto Community Center going to be in the near term if Measure N money is spent by the City to build a facility that houses BCS on Hillview? People are using Hillview Community Center NOW. Where does it move? Perhaps the City could use its 20 M in reserves and build a new small Community Center in Grant Park next year? Does any of this make sense?
Casey Sulsen, Covington
How can one add two after school child care facilities on these two school sites? It seems inadvisable. I don’t know if you know but unique to the Covington area, Arbuelo, which has no sidewalks, is already being used as a drop off. I can’t imagine what all this would be like with double the amount of parents dropping off. Lalahpolitico: I don’t think BCS has significant after school childcare? Do they?
Derek Pitcher, Covington, Save Los Altos Parks
I like what the City has done to make the Miramonte-Convington intersection safer for students. We know traffic is not going to get any better. So yes, get some busing going on. As Bill Seither suggests, people could rethink uses of Hillview. Ask them. Put Grant Park into play. City pools could be at a school. Here at Covington School, when it was a Junior High, there used to be a pool. Perhaps Covington could be a District junior high again. Moving the Covington k-5 students somewhere else. But whatever… get busing done.
Christie Foothaven, VP PTA at Springer School, Rosita Park supporter
I was disheartened to see this concept of co-location of 900 students at BCS at Covington. I thought because of the bond, Rosita Park was not going to be touched. Recall that a few years ago there was a traffic study for a pool at Covington. ” The neighborhood could not tolerate it.” The traffic for a pool is not much less than for a school. Lalahpolitico: Those of us Los Altans who don’t live in the greater Covington neighborhood think some of you people there are more than a little NIMBY. You gave the City a dificulty about that pool, you gave Pinewood School a difficulty when it wanted to buy additional land for its Fremont campus, and now you want to give the City another difficulty. It’s a free country; keep up that NIMBY reputation.