Schools

LASDs Leaky, Divisive Fear-Mongering About BCS Growth Plan

Putin whispering to Trump. leaking, collusion, violation of confidentiality, fear-mongering for political theatre, Los Altos School District, LASD, BCS
Leaking, collusion, violation of confidentiality, fear-mongering for political theatre
Written by lalahpolitico

The LASD trustees accomplished a lot of their ToDos on the night of Sept. 10 board meeting. Divisive fear-mongering about the BCS growth plan? Check. Phony forgetting? Check. Invite the Charter to a publicity stunt? Check. Collusion to violate the confidentiality agreement of the negotiation process for the next 5-year agreement? Check. 

Each of the five Los Altos School District Board members took seemingly scripted turns accusing BCS of ‘secrecy’ and a ‘disappointing lack of transparency’ about the BCS enrollment growth plan. Apparently backed up the silence of District staff, the board flat out claimed they did not know the BCS growth plan. Sangeeth Peruri went on to say he heard a ‘rumor’ that the Charter might be planning to grow to 1800. 

Sangeeth Peruri

All trustees expressed fake outrage at the alleged secrecy about charter enrollment growth. Peruri had the best script — it included a lot of divisive fear-mongering. He raised the alarming spectre of having to ‘close two or even three schools’.  Theatrically, he intoned the names of the potential closure victims of the Charter’s allegedly brand new, unknown and cunning plan to grow:

Which 2 or 3 would it be…’Covington, Oak, Almond, Gardner, Loyola, Egan, Santa Rita, Blach, Springer?’

Below are links to  the five Trustees’ remarks for streaming.
Or see the audio content synopsis and download links  at my podcast page https://losaltospolitico.podbean.com

https://losaltospolitico.podbean.com

Taglio, 2 minutes

Speiser, 3 minutes

Peruri, 6 minutes

Johnson, 2 minutes

Ivanovich, 3 minutes


The Insincere letter to BCS…

Not quite a week before the Sept. 10 board meeting, the District invited the BCS board by letter to ‘present its BCS growth plan’ to the trustees and the public at the Sept. 10th meeting. You know, to end the secrecy and lack of transparency about the BCS growth plan!

Shelley Lapkoff, LASD demographer

Lalahpolitico: Whoa, hold your horses. Guess what? The LASD trustees, staff and the public have known since at least May 2018 that the Charter’s OFFICIAL BCS growth plan is to grow to 1200 over a few years.

[Assumed enrollment goes up from 898 in 2017/2018, to 912 in 2018/2019, to 1066 in 2019/20, and 1134 in 2020/21 per the League of Women Voters of LA-MV Observer newsletter covering a May BCS board meeting. There is also BCS growth plan data on Slide 12 of the LASD Demographer’s May 2018 enrollment forecast revision presented to the Board and the public on May 14, 2018.].




The District five-year agreement negotiating team includes current trustees Bryan Johnson and Steve Taglio as well as two ex-trustees with junk-yard dog negotiation records — aka Doug Smith and Tamara Logan.

At the Sept. 10 board meeting Johnson proceeded to share  two statements he attributes to BCS negotiators. He heard these statements during the private mediated negotiation sessions.   Listen to the audio for yourself (link above).

  1. BCS moving to Kohls is ‘unthinkable’.
  2. BCS would ‘like to’ grow to 1800

Johnson’s ‘leak’ is a violation of that mediated process.

The Trustees’ invitation to the BCS board to present their BCS growth plan is just plain silly political theatre, because LASD ALREADY KNOWS that the official BCS goal for medium-term growth is 1200. 


Where does Trustee Peruri’s 1800 ‘rumor’ number come from?

Obviously, one way the board heard the number was directly from fellow Trustees Bryan Johnson and Steve Taglio … a leak. But many people have pointed out in public for months that BCS has the CAPACITY to grow to 1800, and would like to do so some day perhaps … but CAPACITY IS NOT A PLAN. The U.S has the capacity to double its nuclear missile force, but has no plans to do so. 

Jill Jene – the BCS rep – to the Task Force asks… with 250 kids on 10 acres on Gardner and on Oak, ON WHAT PLANET is 2000 kids on 10 acres “reasonably equivalent” under the Prop 39 facilities sharing law???

Another way for Peruri to have heard the 1800 number is the Advisory Task Force’s draft report written up after its last meeting on Aug. 27, 2018 and then sent to the staff and board. 

At that meeting Jill Jene explained that  because of its 1000 student waiting list, in her opinion, the Charter has ‘the capacity to grow to 1800, as big as two 900-student schools.’ 

THAT’S NOT A ‘RUMOR,’ THAT’S AN OBSERVATION

She also explained that the Bullis Charter School has had a long-term goal of seeing its education model used more widely:  1) Used by itself to expand to 1200 in the next ~5 years. In the longer run, that number may increase to ‘meet the demand.’  2) And used by others in newly chartered spin-off schools, with their own local board of directors, preferably chartered in school districts with a large percentage of Free & Reduced-price Lunch (FRL) students.

A transcript of that August 27 task force meeting would also show that the BCS rep – Jill Jene – reminded members of the fact that the official BCS GROWTH PLAN is to grow to 1200.

Anthony Shortland, NEC resident, Egan / BCS parent

The group first learned about the 1200 PLAN at their May 30th meeting. Task Force member Anthony Shortland noted that slide 12 of the LASD Demographer’s report shows that the BCS growth plan is to grow to 1200 over a few years.  In response, to Mr. Shortland’s remarks,  Superintendent Randy Kenyon said that, yes, the District had received a letter from the BCS board with that 1200 plan information.


Slide: From the May 14, 2018 Demographer Presentation to the LASD Trustees

 

Someone is violating ‘norms,’ and it isn’t a Mountain View City Councilmember. 


Bryan Johnson chosen by the incumbent LASD board

Bryan Johnson

Lalahpolitico:  Trustee Bryan Johnson asked…

Why is a brand new facility
 [on the Kohl’s MV site]
which is only half a mile away
[from the existing the BCS site at Egan] unthinkable. 

Cribbing from Jill Jene’s 10th site Task Force explanations of why Kohls is a no-go … for BCS …

Answer: First, to minimize the carbon footprint of the student car commutes, the BCS should be centrally located, ideally like at Covington.  The BCS ingress-egress traffic will affect much fewer people at Covington, or even at  Egan/Blach, than placing the student commute vehicle ingress-egress traffic at Kohls along Showers and California.  On the other hand, if you value the comfort of the dozens of one-percenters who live next to Covington more highly than you value the comfort of the hundreds of middle-class who live next to Kohls or the comfort of thousands of hard-working commuters on that route, you will reach the opposite conclusion.

Second, over the past 5 years, as District enrollment growth dwindled,  the District’s sq. ft. of facilities/per student has improved significantly. BCS’s expectations for ‘reasonably equivalent’ facilities sq. feet have grown accordingly.


Lalahpolitico:  Trustee Bryan Johnson also asked…

Why are two BCS individuals willing
to put a NEW BCS-type charter school on Kohls,
but the existing BCS refuses?

Answer: First let’s get a little perspective here. Those two individuals are ‘willing’ but that is a long way from anything concrete. It’s talk right now, all talk.

Lalah’s understanding is that the existing BCS was urged by LASD critics to drop its original admissions preference for an attendance area – Bullis-Purisima – and for several years has been giving NO ATTENDANCE AREA PREFERENCE.  Anyone in the LASD boundaries has equal first preference over anyone in MV-Whisman. Enrollment is overwhelmingly LASD residents.

Lalah’s understanding is that the new charter could be designed with an ADMISSIONS PREFERENCE FOR LASD North El Camino (NEC) residents and perhaps also LASD OF MOUNTAIN VIEW residents over in the Gemello area.  In this way, the City of Mountain View would be getting benefits for residents of Mountain View.  It would be a Mountain View centric school.

Admittedly, the two BCS individual’s may be performing a bit of political theatre.  They are trying to expose the District’s disregard for NEC students. And the discussion about moving Egan to the Kohls site certainly exposed the prejudice held by many in our community that NEC students are less valued than students on the Los Altos side of El Camino. It’s OK for NEC kids to cross El Camino to get to Egan, but the poor little snowflake Los Altans can’t manage the risks to cross El Camino in the other direction.


City-School Public Lands Committee. Shown Marcia Sommers, Tamara Logan, Vladimir Ivanovich, Jeannie Bruins, Jan Pepper.

Vladimir Ivanovich, Tamara Logan in Lilac…

Smearing Margaret Abe-Koge’s Record on  the Task Force

The 10th Site Task Force mission was to decide between 3 uses for the Kohl’s site: 1) a District K-6, 2) Bullis Charter, or 3) a magnet/other school.  At the Sept. 10 trustee meeting, Board of Trustees President Vladamir Ivanovich attacked Mountain View City Councilmember Margaret Abe-Koge. 

He said she introduced the Egan idea “out of band” and that it was a “violation of norms.”  Lalahpolitco: If so, the District should blame the facilitator, not Ms. Abe-Koga.  I was there when she very politely asked permission to introduce an idea of hers in the magnet/or other category. She explained she had seen a lot of ideas for solving the Bullis problem, but to her knowledge, this one was new.  And indeed it was – move the  <900 student Egan student body to the shiny new school in MV and leave all of the Egan campus to the 1200 student Bullis Charter School. The facilitator signaled that it was within bounds, and she could take some time to explain her idea fully to the group.  At a later time, when the members were doing their final voting, the facilitator got agreement from the group to simplify option 3, dropping “magnet school/other” and simply calling option 3 “Egan.”  




Ivanovich’s words are a gross mischaracterization of how Abe-Koga introduced and advocated for her Egan idea.  Furthermore, Ms Abe-Koga was always polite during the meetings, even when being somewhat roughly ‘pressed’ by other Task Force members.  For example, one Task Force member told her more or less … ‘who the heck are you MV city council members to tell my school board what kind of school to put there?!’  

She replied that MV Council members can have an opinion because the City is putting up so much money and TDRs.  The task force member continued on to say more or less, ‘Money should not talk.’ Lalahpolitico:  FYI: Sadly, only the federal government can print money.  Other jurisdictions need funds. 


Too many casual NEC surveys
So many requests for professional surveys
Sang throws Shade on Margaret’s ‘Research’

Abe-Koga supports a NEC LASD neighborhood school

Mountain View Council person supports requiring LASD to use the NEC site for a neighborhood school

Ms. Abe-Koga claimed that this summer, when she told dozens of NEC people across a wide spectrum of backgrounds about her idea of locating Egan Junior High at a Kohls, all were positive about it. 

At the Sept. 10 board meeting, Trustee Sangeeth Peruri said that when he ran for council in 2014, he walked every block in NEC, both Palo Alto and Mountain parts. He claimed that when he talked to people he found NO NEC support for a K-6 neighborhood school on that side of El Camino.

I believe it was in 2012 that the Crossings HOA – namely the Freidmans –  conducted an amateur survey of its constituency.  They found solid support for a K-6 neighborhood school. [The HOA is maybe 20%  of the NEC resident population]

Jill Jene — recently a 10th Site Task Force member and a Facilities Master Plan member in 2014 — and many other people over several years —  have suggested the DISTRICT contract for a professional, statistically valid survey of the NEC area to indicate whether or not there is demand for a K-6 neighborhood school.

At the Sept. 10 board meeting, Sangeeth Peruri said that the BCS board should contract for a survey of its BCS parents to see if they wanted a 1200 or a 1800 student school.  He claimed that back when BCS was at 400 students, he met many BCS parents who just ‘wanted BCS to stay small’. [Lalahpolitico: I’m not sure but I think this was the point in time at which BCS decided to add 7th and 8th grades and add an extra incoming kindergarten class?]

So what we have here is the LASD board demanding BCS survey its customers and we have supporters of BCS and supporters of NEC equity demanding [for years now] that LASD survey its NEC customers! Funny.


Lalahpolitico: Fake News, like the Russian Meddlers

The board are telling UNTRUTHS about BCS growth plans. There is no BCS ‘secrecy and lack of transparency’ about the BCS growth plan to reach ~1200 over the next ~5 years. The BCS growth plan has been shared with LASD and the PUBLIC since May.

So why spread the fake news that LASD has not seen the BCS growth plan for 1200, and therefore LASD ‘can’t properly plan for LASD’s future’?  

Why spread the fake news that the BCS growth plan is for 1800 students, when that number is not a ‘rumor’ but an often mentioned theoretical possibility based on the admissions waitlist, a number floated as perhaps aspirational, but definitely NOT EVER STATED AS A CURRENT PLAN?  Task Force member Jill Jene explained 1800 was a POSSIBILITY in an open meeting. She also said in open meetings that 1200 was the BCS growth PLAN. The difference is clear.  Trustee Peruri is feigning stupidity.

Why? To create a publicity stunt, to whip up fears, channel parent mammalian hates, and amplify old divisions. And thereby to attempt to sabotage the mediated negotiations. Did they take this from the Russian meddling playbook

 


BCS may soon start cloning its popular educational program model in other school districts

BCS Clones…

There is a lot of public confusion about BCS ‘growing’ by potentially cloning itself … spawning brand new separate charter schools. It is true that BCS wants to clone its program model.  This has been in their mission statement for a long time. These would not be NOT ‘satellite campuses’ of BCS though.  These are separate schools, with separate boards, separate charters, separate authorizers, separate financial statements, separate reporting to the CDE.  It is improper to call the new schools an ‘expansion of BCS’ or to call them ‘satellite campuses.’

BCS growing from 900 to 1200 student enrollment is an expansion of BCS.  The only satellite campus of BCS is the Blach campus! An analogy to the cloning of the BCS program model is the diaspora of Montessori  pre-schools.  Each school is generally completely independent, but it adopts the Montessori methods. The BCS clones are expected to be completely independent but adopt most BCS methods.

Lalahpolitico hopes to write a separate article about the two publicized proposals for clone schools. But here’s a quick summary now.

One clone is a well-baked actual plan – 2 years in the making – to seek MV-Whisman as a charter authorizer for a small TK-5 school attracting mainly Free & Reduced lunch students. There are funding and academic benefits of having a concentration of FRL students over 55% in one school.

The other clone is just talk, a trial balloon to create a joint venture between the City of MV and LASD with LASD as the authorizer for a new, separate BCS methods clone on the Kohls 10th site. It could have admissions priority for students residing in the NEC area and be a defacto “neighborhood school.” LASD would then have 2 charters within its boundaries.

Why float this idea for a 2nd clone? The three LASD Superintendents have said emphatically during the summer months, that they don’t want to operate a 10th District school on the new Kohls site, for financial and academic reasons. Hence, the BCS clone proponents — one current and one ex-BCS trustee acting as individuals — said they stepped in to float their idea to MV City Council — a council which prefers a neighborhood school there. And MV City Councilmember Margaret Abe-Koga is right. LASD Trustees are using “bait and switch” to obtain the City of MV $23M Parks fund and $79M of City of MV TDR revenue!


So many missed opportunities for lasting peace

LIST of MISSED ‘Permanent’ BCS Peace Settlements

2002-2008?
BCS offered to cap at 400 to 500 students at the broken down, non-remodeled Bullis Purisima in  LAH.  The idea was to open a school that was closed.  But BCS grew and grew on the ‘camp’ site at Egan and …

2008-2012?
BCS would have capped at 600 max students at any of the LASD K-6 school sites. ‘Close a School.’

2012 – 2014
BCS was growing beyond 600, but probably would have agreed to cap at 900, but at Covington, not the smaller campuses.  At this time BCS was OK with sharing the almost 19 acres with a District School if the District preferred shared rather than exclusive use.

Now, an about to missed plausible settlement
BCS still is saying it wants Covington as a single site for a centrally located commuter school.  They probably want exclusive use.  Yes, that means sending LASD Covington students back to their 3-4 prior attendance area schools. How is this so taboo?  LASD negotiators Logan and Smith might be able to negotiate with BCS to give up on the aspirational 1800 enrollment nearly forever — and agree to a 1200 cap.  I very much doubt they can get BCS to stay at 900. That ship sailed a couple of years ago.

Remember that the current 5-year agreement expiring in 2019  allowed the charter to grow about 300. It seems a pipe dream that the charter would take anything less than an agreement that allows them to grow another 300+ over the upcoming 5 years. 


moving boxes on moving day

Does Los Altos Measure N promise Bullis Charter School a permanent home or not.

RUMORS – So What does ‘Permanent BCS Home’ mean?

On Sept. 10 we heard Trustee Peruri say he heard a rumor about a 1800 BCS growth plan. Well, Lalah heard a rumor that LASD trustees, including Jessica Speiser, say that the language of  Measure N does not promise BCS a ‘permanent site.  Some of them suggest that BCS  might be at a new facility on Kohls for a while and then be moved again. 

Lalahpolitico: Really? Moved? I suppose it depends on moving to where?  I hope it is Covington. Or is BCS going to be like the  Jews, moving from place to place for centuries before getting a ‘permanent’ home? 

Yet at the Sept. 10 board meeting, Jessica Speiser can be heard saying how she and Measure N co-chair Sirkay Shali worked so hard together to solve the ’10 schools on 9 sites’ problem by providing for a 10th site and a “permanent home for BCS.”

So is Kohls intended to be permanent or not?


Some recent media coverage:

Tensions Grow…
https://www.mv-voice.com/news/2018/09/11/tensions-grow-between-lasd-and-bullis-charter

BCS in MV Whisman…
https://www.mv-voice.com/news/2018/09/04/bullis-seeks-new-school-in-mountain-view-whisman

BCS Expansion in MV...
https://www.losaltosonline.com/news/sections/schools/209-school-news/58495-bcs-expansion-plan-targets-mountain-view

About the author

lalahpolitico

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