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.
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.