Bullis Charter School will take a different approach in Mountain View

BY ALLISON LEVITSKY
Daily Post Staff Writer

Leaders of a Los Altos charter school that has used wealthy parents’ donations to supplement public funds say they wouldn’t ask for money from parents if allowed to expand into the more mixed-income Mountain View Whisman School District.

Bullis Charter School, which has been a high-achieving but divisive program in the Los Altos School District since its start in 2003, is planning to submit a petition to Mountain View Whisman this fall with the hope of opening in time for the 2019-2020 school year.

“We really want to target a diverse demographic,” Bullis Assistant Principal Jennifer Anderson-Rosse told the Post yesterday. “We know that there is demand, because we have about 200 kids on our waitlist that live within the Mountain View Whisman boundaries.”

Whisman students who qualify for the free and reduced-price lunch program would get priority for enrollment, as would siblings.

She added that the new elementary school would launch in a lean “startup mode” and seek grant funding to supplement the funds it receives from the school district.

If it’s allowed to open, the school would initially serve 168 students between transitional kindergarten and second grade. It would grow over time to serve 320 students through fifth grade.

Each class would have 24 students and be tuition-free and open to the public. The school would use the same curriculum as the current Bullis Charter School, which is housed on campuses shared with Egan Junior High and Black Intermediate schools.

Superintendent’s reaction

Mountain View Whisman Superintendent Ayinde Rudolph said he had met with Bullis leaders twice over the last 18 months to discuss their goal of expanding, but didn’t know they had immediate plans to open a school in his district.

“They did not express any desire to open a charter school in the coming year; instead they stated that they were looking for a partner district to further their goal on expansion,” Rudolph told the Post in an email.

Rudolph said the district would have to respond to the petition by Feb. 1 in order to open next year. That gives Bullis until early December to submit the petition.

The petition will likely be about 150 pages long and include, essentially, a business plan, according to Santa Clara County Office of Education trustee Grace Mah.

Bullis has to include a three-year budget, a list of its founding board members, a commitment to being an equal opportunity employer and a plan for special education and English Language Learners.

Other requirements for the petition include an expulsion policy, a safety plan, and a plan for staffing and salaries.

Facilities may become an issue

If the district says no, Bullis can appeal to the Santa Clara County Office of Education, which it did in 2006 when the Los Altos School District denied them a charter, Mah said.

The Mountain View Whisman school board will likely consider the possibility of declining enrollment, how many families are interested in sending their kids to Bullis and whether they have the facilities available.

“That’s what the highest frequency of charter school lawsuits are about: facilities,” Mah told the Post. “That’s the main thing, because there’s no question that the quality of the program will be good.”

At the same time, Los Altos School District is seeking to relocate Bullis’ Los Altos campus to a new site in the San Antonio area of Mountain View, but Anderson-Rosse emphasized that the two issues are separate.

That site is within the Los Altos School District boundaries, while the Mountain View Whisman school would be in that school district’s area.

4 Comments

  1. “Choice in public education is important”, esp around here where the parents are savvier than the average bear. I don’t think anyone would deny this statement, except perhaps the knuckleheads running the Los Altos School District. I applaud BCS for finally realizing what they had done for public education needs to be shared. I am not saying every district needs to have a big corporate charter school, but diversity and specialization in educational offerings is critical for kids growing up in the 21st century. BCS is still a relatively small charter with a boutique model. We need well-rounded critical thinkers and one size no longer fits all. That model worked 100 years ago. I wish them success with this noble effort.

  2. >the parents are savvier than the average bear…
    >the knuckleheads running the Los Altos School District.

    Pity Henry Moisina can’t put two and two together to understand those very parents that are savvy are the ones that elected the LASD Trustees…and therefore, those trustees can’t be the “knuckleheads” Moisina claims they are.

    So telling of the BCS community…and perhaps it also reveals their agenda (“My Way…OR ELSE…”) and inability to be coherent when dealing with others.

    Mtn View: you are forewarned and have every reason to put up your guard and see through the BCS ideology and dogma.

  3. @LosAltan, the average bear to me is a generic term – I don’t use it to refer only to residents of LASD. I live in Palo Alto for example which has several choice programs offered by our district, PAUSD. MVWSD also offers several choice programs. Last I checked, LASD is the ONLY district in Sucon Valley that has no choice or magnet programs. (BCS is a county program, not a District choice program.)So yes, LASD is run by a bunch of knuckleheads. Had they authorized BCS and taken control early on, they would not be in this mess today of shrinking enrollment because everyone prefers to go to BCS.

  4. As can be expected from a BCS camper…Moisina’s “explanation” for engaging in ridicule, name-call, and bullying of those that don’t buy into the BCS ideology and dogma is only self-serving, disingenuous, and indicative of how divisive and vitriolic BCS is in Los Altos and will be in Mountain View.

    “Average bear is a generic term”…sure, sure, nice attempt to answer what was not asked and avoid being accountable for what was asked. If there are “knuckleheads” around there are more likely found among your BCS cohorts, Moisina, not in the rest of the Los Altos community.

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