Bullis Charter School enrollment cap – an explainer post

Trustee Sangeeth Peruri asked the wrong person the wrong question about the wrong data series
Written by David Roode

The BCS enrollment cap was questioned by LASD Trustee Peruri during the Enrollment Forecast presentation. He asked why Bullis Charter School was under-enrolled. It’s not true explains David Roode in this short ‘explainer’ post. Furthermore, LASD’s lack of enrollment growth is aggravating the lasd-charter facilities inequality because of the out-dated calculation formulas in the current 5-year agreement.

There were several inaccuracies in his questions, which I will explain here.

Written by David Roode, Los Altos resident, 10-year LASD observer

During the Monday, May 14, 2018 meeting of the LASD board, Trustee Sangeeth Peruri asked the district demographer some questions about why the charter school did not hit its BCS enrollment cap, which Sangeeth Peruri understood to be over 900 students.

There were several inaccuracies in his questions, which I will explain here.

How the BCS Enrollment Cap
Actually Works

Trustee Sangeeth Peruri gets answers from David Roode

First, attached is the relevant section of the 5-year facilities agreement. It is stated in terms of total enrollment, not in terms of in-district enrollment.  As you can see in the table footnote A., the 5% grace number applies only to each individual grade level, but NOT to the sum total of students across all grades in the school. It is inaccurate to say that BCS has a cap of 105 students times 9 grade levels or 945. The max cap that is reached is 900, not 945.

I recall when this limit was imposed. Originally the all grades total number was the only cap. The district negotiators thought they had exerted extra control by adding the 5% fluctuation on the cap per grade level. They did not intend to increase the total number of students allowed. LASD was quite firm about this. Yet for 2017-1018, the CDE reports a total enrollment of 879 students, 4 over the cap.

Tables: Extract from 5-year agreement

bcs enrollment cap table from 5-year agreement till 2018-2019

Total in-district enrollment cap is 875 this school year 2017-2018.

The LASD ‘corporate memory’ seems to have forgotten the exact details. Now, also consider that the max BCS enrollment cap this year, is not 900, but rather 875. This is clearly shown in the tables. Furthermore, this cap pertains not just to the number of in-district students, but to the total enrollment. State law requires that once a student is enrolled in a charter school, that child may remain in the same charter school even if he leaves the relevant district. So there are probably a few BCS students at grade levels 1-5 who were enrolled as residents but no longer qualify as such. They are still students. Their attendance still counts toward the agreed-upon cap per grade and total.


To conclude, total BCS enrollment as reported by the CDE is 879. Comparing 879 actual to an enrollment cap of 875 is no shortfall at all, Mr. Sangeeth Peruri!

LASD Demographer’s BCS Slide
is only in-district students so is
less than total students per CDE

For BCS data, the demographer appears to be working with an “only in district” data series, not a total enrollment series. As students transition from K through the grades, some move away, but have the the right to remain at BCS.


Doing the CDE math:
879 minus 812 = 67 BCS students reside outside of the district for 2017-2018.
Note that all new BCS admissions – at any grade level – must reside within the District at the time of application and admission. See Table B below for BCS out-of-district enrollment by grade.


Table A: Official BCS Enrollment

BCS enrollment cap, 2017-18 enrollment by grade

Total Bullis Charter School enrollment is 879, whereas, LASD Lapkoff demographer reports 812 in-district. These are two different data series.

Table B: Calculated In vs. Out-of-District
BCS Enrollment 2017-2018

BCS enrollment cap in district and out of district enrollment 2017-2018

Here I used the Lapkoff in-district BCS data series to derive the BCS out-of-district enrollment by grade.


How the LASD Enrollment
Stagnation Results in
Growing Facilities Inequality

Finally, the same section of the 5-year agreement shows the number of students at other LASD schools which was used to calculate the portion of facilities to be made available to LASD. It looks to me based on the demographer’s new report and forecast that LASD is 500 students short of the numbers used to compute the division of facilities between LASD traditional schools and the charter. This is worth keeping in mind.

500 – That’s one missing entire elementary school worth of students who nevertheless attracted facilities out of the total LASD pool. – David Roode

It’s important to recognize the extreme predictability of BCS enrollment relative to their forecasts.


Los Altos Politico Post on new 2017-2018 Demographer Report & Forecast

CDE info on Bullis Charter School

CDE BCS enrollment reacts to the Demographer’s Forecast


About the author

David Roode

David Roode is a Los Altos resident who has been closely observing
the Los Altos School District for 10 years.