Friday, June 8, 2012

An Open Letter to the Bullis Charter School Board

Dear Bullis Charter School Board Members,

I am a Los Altos School District (LASD) parent who has been involved with other parents in trying to envision a better future than the current "zero sum game" that makes some schools winners and some losers in the process of solving the facilities issue and while simultaneously creating animosity throughout the community.

I was the host/moderator of a recent joint Bullis Charter School (BCS)/LASD parents' meeting to begin to take steps down the path of a better future, and I would like to express to you that most community members understand that Bullis Charter School is here to stay and is a valuable part of our community. We would love to boast about both Los Altos' exemplary district schools and its model charter school. The overwhelming majority are ready to work hard for a win/win/win
(district/charter/community at large) solution to the facilities issue. The time for secret negotiations is over. It's time now for a completely open public dialog on the best way to achieve that positive
outcome. Here are three suggestions for action:

  1. Work with the City of Los Altos and LASD to fully vet the opportunities and concerns about the creative joint use of the Hillview site, whether the school portion ends up as BCS or a moved district school. Work with the city of Mountain View to fully vet the idea of using developer school and park fees to assist in purchasing land there for a school site, again, either a district neighborhood school or for BCS. Encourage BCS parents to host informal brainstorming sessions, as official meetings often move at a frustratingly slow pace.
  2. Perhaps working with the SCCOE, help educate the community and allay some of their concerns about how BCS fits into our concept of public education. Please help us understand your school better, so we can all get on board together for our mutual benefit. The community has many important questions about the charter that need to be fully answered before we can all get to that point, as evidenced by the recent petition drive to try to close BCS (which neither myself or LASDVoices was not affiliated with) .
  3. We need an outside audit to prove to folks that the $5000 BCS donation request is to fill in funding gaps and not just to pay for the extended day and the foreign language teacher. We want to know how much of the school's budget comes from private foundations. We would be much more supportive if you would accept just names and addresses for the lottery and then ask for application information afterwards, as I understand is charter best practices. We want to hear that you are open to dropping the Los Altos Hills admissions preference when your charter comes up for renewal. And we would feel much better about investing money in a new school site if the BCS board was elected among our friends and neighbors, the BCS parents.

Thank you for listening. I'm very involved with the district site selection committee and LASDVoices parent group, so if you have ideas for implementing these suggestions, I will work hard to make them happen. I look forward to your response.


Nancy Morimoto