LETTER: North-End LASD Students Deserve Consideration

Neighborhoods north of El Camino Real were told their last boundary change would be long term. The Bullis Charter School facilities offer, coupled with sure growth in the area, raises concerns that it won't be.


Editor's note: The following is a letter to Los Altos School District trustees Tamara Logan, Doug Smith, Mark Goines, Steve Taglio and Pablo Luther. It was submitted to Los Altos Patch for publication. It is not related to Patch's call for ideas for Bullis Charter School facilties and is not part of that series. It is, however, a related facilities concern being raised by parents of students who reside north of El Camino Real, as the district considers how to allocate and prepare facilties for both Los Altos School District-educated children and those at Bullis Charter School. Update Jan. 15: The original headline, "North-End Los Altos Students Deserve Consideration" has been changed to accurately reflect the subject, since the words, "Los Altos," intended by the editor as a shorthand for "Los Altos School District," was ambiguous and excluded Mountain View students.

Dear Tammy, Doug, Mark, Steve and Pablo,

I have talked at some length with many community members, and sat down recently with Doug (thanks Doug) regarding the facilities situation.

I want to raise the point "formally", and on public record, that the current facilities problem is not limited by the question of where to place Bullis Charter School. The question of facilities within the district, and of facilities for BCS should not be considered serially, rather as part of one larger issue.

My understanding from Loyola parents is that that school is crowded to the point of hazardous situations at drop-off and pick-up. I know that both Almond and Santa Rita are currently comfortable hovering around the 550-student mark, however with the current community growth, both of those schools threaten pushing the borders beyond the "small school" designation used in the past of 600 students. Specifically, the new development at the old Sears site boasts 220 two-bedroom units, of which it is likely that approximately 1/3 will host families with at least one child - slated to Almond. The new development at the demolished Marie Callendar's is also aimed at Almond, although the configuration there is currently unclear to me. The new development near Loucks, as well as the development at the old Palo Alto Bowl site are both in the Santa Rita attendance area, the more impacted of the two north-end schools.

Six years ago when the boundary redraw occurred, Mark stated that the current boundary configuration was "a long-term solution". My own neighborhood, The Crossings, fought hard against being moved at that time (again) - having been moved at every single boundary change since its inception. This neighborhood, as well as the Old Mill, now attends Covington. Please think seriously about this vow made six years ago when you consider a much-needed campus in the north end of the district - and whether you can seriously entertain new sites, which Doug mentioned was being considered (to the point of asking for the City of Mountain View's assistance at the next City Council Meeting) for both the north of the district and the charter school.

It is critical that whatever the outcome of the offer to BCS is, that those families who have invested in the Covington community, per Mark's statement of assurance of a long-term solution, receive consideration if they are to be shifted (be it to a new "neighborhood school" for the north end of the district, or if the Covington community is somehow dispersed) once again.

Thank you,

Amanda Burke-Aaronson

Claudia Cruz January 15, 2013 at 07:23 AM
Joan, would the residents of Los Altos vote for a bond? Where do you suggest the first school you mention go?
Joan J. Strong January 15, 2013 at 08:21 AM
The polling from June showed that, even with a very confusing message and a very doubtful situation (people know about the BCS situation, the polling showed), something like 50% of our population says "yes" to a school bond almost blindly. That leaves us just 5% more to persuade with a coherent campus plan, a good compelling story, cooperation and support and endorsement from three city councils and lots of campaigning by LASD parents. We have a low bar to jump over and a lot of strength to jump over it. I think it will win by a landslide if we go through the process. As to where, I know there are several sites people talk about NEC include the old Target site and a few others. For non-NEC, there's Hillview, which to me is a win/win for Los Altos. In both cases, we need to get on another page in terms of requirements: we don't need "10 acres". We may only need 5 acres with two story classrooms and street parking. The "10 acres" commandment is an artifact of two years ago's BCS negotiations when we were trying to find a single-site solution for BCS and BCS was much smaller. Those days are long-gone. Everybody wants small, distributed schools and our growth/BCS situation demands flexibility. This points toward more numerous, smaller stand-alone campuses.
LASD resident January 15, 2013 at 04:50 PM
I think Bill Gates should pay for the 10th site. He should put his money where his mouth is. In a constructive manner and all those people asking LASD to pay legal fees should instead make their donations to build a school on a donated property in Los Altos Hills. Everytime I go there .. I notice so much vacant land belonging to various folks out there not doing much. I see vast fields. I see some with horses. Those horses are more important than the children all squeezed inside BCS because the people who own those lands would rather have LASD squeeze the rest of North Los Altos schools to make room for the people so that the horses can continue to roam in those large properties in the hills and the lonely kids of the hills can continue to be isolated in their mansions and vacant lands. If they had an ounce of respect for the children at LASD, They should take BCS into the heart of the hills where they belong and find someone who is passionate about their school and get it built. Be independent and be resourcesful. Not clinging on to Public Resources because they managed to get charter status at some point in their history. They are teaching the kids how to divide. litigate and conquer. It is history repeating itself and under our very noses. The 21st C version of medieval times. They should go to Sunnyvale. While they talk to about other people saving the world. they can jolly well drive to Sunnyvale and not disrupt whole neighbourhood schools. Grow Up BCS.
LASD resident January 15, 2013 at 05:32 PM
It is simple.. save the horses and study in Sunnyvale or find a property in the hills and either way pay for it. Get a couple of those horses to move over into a neighbour's property. Instead of spending time in court, BCS focus on getting a wealthy BCS supporter to donate their land and build it. Save LASD time, money, resources and all those anxious families who have been attacked by BCS litigious parents. BCS parents set an example to your children. It looks cooler to travel to Asia telling others how to behave and if LASD offers a school in Sunnyvale, drive to Sunnyvale! It is not a high crime area LOL! Wake up 15 min earlier for a freebee. LASD should also take this opportunity to stop basking in its API scores and offer enrichment programs, project style learning, more thoughtful essay style questions rather minimise work for teachers and create a SCANTRON style education. All these enrichment style programs are not exclusive to BCS We must enhance our programs. We have some of the most highly paid and qualified teachers. Lets put them to good use. If you seek input from parents as to what programs, we can all offer our suggestions and find a way to fund it. Our "advanced math" children are a year behind mountain view students in Math for starters. They have to catch up on their own somewhere. Why should they have to advance their own education outside school. We cannot only focus on special ed or completely ignore them. We need to offer a wide range.
Chuck B January 15, 2013 at 05:45 PM
I am prouf of you, Amanda. I totally agree with you, and we need a strong voice like you. I was getting worried when Duncan reported to the Los Altos council to move the NEC students out of Covington was a "good" solution for the short-term problem !!! I think your letter highlights that re-shuffling students to solve the current (and future) enrollment is not a long term solution. They will keep reshufling the students until the problem will be so acute that we finally get another site. At that time, will the interest be low ? Will the NEC be completely revitalize that no site would be available ? The time is now to get one more site (or may be two), at the beginning of housing resurgence.


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