UPDATE May 2019: Lalahpolitico brings this 5-year old article to your attention as typical of the stress of the annual Prop 39 charter facilities allocation process. In those days five+ years ago, struggles over the initial calculation of ‘reasonably equivalent’ sharing of common areas and struggles over the day-to-day implementation of those agreements were ongoing. Tasked with actually doing the sharing, teachers and staff at both schools were allegedly pulling their hair out with frustrations and non-communications.
UPDATE continued: Lalah is happy to report that for the 2019-2020 school year, Trustee Bryan Johnson believes Egan teachers and staff will be able to cheerfully manage the increased BCS sharing that will occur 2019-2020. There is a 2-year temporary agreement that has increased the sharing at Egan. This is because LASD enrollment decreased, while BCS enrollment increased. That increased the fractional share of common area time to which BCS is entitled.
Original May 2014: BCS facilities at Blach Junior High could quickly and easily become legally “reasonably equivalent” and even “morally equivalent” IF the LASD Board of trustees could just bring themselves to SHARE. Right now the trustees and Randy Kenyon claim to share, but actually they starve the charter students. And at the same time, they are keeping the community in the dark about the extent of Blach facilities sitting idle. According to LASD’s own data in the Final Offer, Physical Education facilities at Blach are unused from 31% to 74% of the instructional school year and are deemed “unassigned’ when there are in-district students that need to use them.
The following estimates of idle capacity are based on the assumption that all instructional periods during the school days during the school year constitute 100% of instructional usage capacity. In this estimate that works out to 38 weeks a year, 5 days a week, 7 periods a day for a total of 1330 periods. The 100% instructional capacity does not include lunch, recess and breaks. The source of the number of assigned usage periods for Blach and for BCS is LASD’s Final Offer Document, Exhibits including Exhibit L. Of course, nights, weekends and vacations are not part of the 100%. Because the City of Los Altos has so few parks, it long ago made an arrangement that outdoor and gym facilities could be used by the public outside of school hours. The city pays much of the maintenance, and groups like baseball and soccer leagues pay use fees.
PHOTO INFOGRAHPICS – Color key
- Blue is Blach
- Orange is Bullis Charter School
- Clear is Idle Capacity controlled by Blach
BLACH GYM – 31% idle
TRACK & FIELD – 60% idle
MULTI PURPOSE BUILDING – 42% idle
BLACKTOP – 63% idle
TENNIS COURTS – 74% idle
Over at Egan, Bullis Charter School has exclusive use of the facilities allocated by the district. Those are 100% of time available as interior and outdoor/PE space. The square footage is obvious. Over at Blach, sharing the non-exlusive square feet of expensive facilities certainly sounded like a smart idea. Smart for the taxpayer for sure.
DECEPTIVE SHARING CALCULATIONS –
LASD and Randy Kenyon pretend that
69% use of gym (48% Blach + 21% BCS) is 100% of its instructional capacity
40% use of track & field (30% Blach + 10% BCS) is 100% of its instructional capacity
58% use of multipurpose building (45% Blach + 13% BCS ) is 100% of its instructional capacity
37% use of the blacktop (28% Blach + 9% BCS) is 100% of its instructional capacity
26% use of the tennis court (24% Blach + 2 % BCS) is 100% of its instructional capacity
[These percentages are rounded/truncated for readability.]
Basically, Kenyon just OMITS the unassigned IDLE TIME in his deceptive approach. BUT the idle time BELONGS to LASD. It is their time. It is their square footage during that idle time. The arrangement is NOT like the old English Commons. The LASD-BCS contract (The Final Offer plus the Facilities Use Agreement with punitive “remedies” prohibits BCS from using any space as a commons.)
RESULT IS OVERSTATEMENT OF PROP 39 METRICS
The key issue is converting time assigned in a SHARED space to the equivalent of 100% time in an EXCLUSIVE space. LASD’s deceptive sharing calculations let LASD overstate the following PROP 39 “reasonably equivalent” metrics.
- BCS site size
- BCS space allocation
- BCS maintenance costs owed LASD
“VIRTUAL SQUARE FOOTAGE” OVERSTATEMENT
Using our example here of shared Blach PE facilities…you can see in the table below that Kenyon’s denying that idle time “belongs” to LASD results in very different answers for what is the virtual square footage BCS controls at these PE facilities.
Kenyon inflates BCS virtual square footage by a factor of .5x to 4x. See last three columns.
What does Bullis Charter School want?
They just want to discuss getting some of that idle time for its in-district students and families. The principal at Blach and the principal at BCI apparently have a pretty good working relationship. Some days it rains, some days things change. The LASD board should get out of the way of administrators. And of course, BCS would like an official amended Final Offer and Facilities Use Agreement that allocates BCS students a bit more of these idle facilities at Blach… which are just going to scandalous waste.
Pity the Poor Taxpayer Pondering a School Bond
Capacity “Policy” Creates False Scarcity With the Stroke of a Pen
Lalahpolitico: It looks like the LASD board and Randy Kenyon manipulate numbers and craft misinformation campaigns to create false scarcity. They have a “board policy” of creating scarcity – they say all District schools (campuses) have a maximum capacity of 550 now except, Gardner which has a capacity of 350. [No policy on BCS capacity of course.] They say the aggregate district facilities are beyond capacity, and with more students arriving, we will be even more beyond capacity. They say the district needs to acquire land for two additional sites. Yes, that would be wonderful, except it is so expensive – probably $40M to $80M per school. The bond idea being floated (max of $30 per 100K assessed value) is too small to buy all the wonderful things that the board is implying.
How Other Districts Expand Capacity
Here’s what the district doesn’t like to have mentioned. Our district has made NONE of the intelligent “policy” changes that nearby districts have made over the decades. Other districts put two schools on a single site. They reconfigure grades. [They put 6th grade in the junior highs for space reasons but also for pedagogical reasons – advanced math.] They change attendance boundaries. They have alternative schools/programs which are magnets located inside “neighborhood” schools. Any of this could save the taxpayers a lot of money. Why not try these sensible approaches first?
BCS’s Vision for a Cheap Long Term Settlement was Ignored
Bullis Charter is not asking for a shiny new school, or even its own site. Last fall, at the meeting in LAH with Mayor Gary Waldeck, BCS was willing to sign up for 15 years of remaining split across Egan and Blach AND to stop litigation. This BOND THING is 100% LASD’s idea. How hard is it to give BCS at Blach more of this unused PE space – from 31% to 75% idle? And more of other underutilized space? That path could save the taxpayers a lot of money.
Keep Portables a While Longer — LASD Demographer sees a birth decline
Lalahpolitico has personally visited many of the LASD campuses. Mostly they look pretty darn good. The district has learned how to make the District occupied portables appear fairly attractive by spacing them wider apart and letting the PTA do some landscaping. Inside the better quality ones, you don’t even notice it’s a portable. Maybe keep those portables around a while longer in case the LASD Demographer’s predicted 2008 birth decline stays permanent? We still have a great deal of unpaid school debt. Let’s look at solutions to handle enrollment growth that save the taxpayers’ money.
CONCLUSION – false scarcity, false fairness…
Sadly the LASD trustee private blog, Randy Kenyon’s slideware and local media parrots create media illusions of false scarcity, false fairness and false fiscal soundness.
Notes on Estimates: Assigned periods are from LASD’s Final Offer document, especially Exhibit L. The estimates are meant to illustrate approximate magnitude of idle capacity of PE type facilities. At the junior highs there are other idle non-PE facilities not accounted for here. Unused kitchens, unused annexes, etc. This article’s assumption of 180 days of instructional time for a school year might be a little high; it might be more like 170 days. The Multipurpose Building idleness may be overstated. I did include BCS’s allocation of 20 full days of the MPB for non-PE. [This was a last minute addition to the Final Offer and is not listed on Exhibit L. It is worth an additional 140 periods.] However, the number of periods Blach may plan to use the MPB for assemblies, rather than for PE is an unknown. However, for the other PE facilities, there is unlikely to be any significant non-PE instructional use. Let me reiterate that the minutes of lunch and recess time are not included here. See also Final Offer Exhibit C, which is supposed to be some kind of “algorithm.” Recursion is easier!