Thursday, June 25, 2009

Congrats to the Town Crier

I've made no secret when I'm disappointed with coverage in the Town Crier. Often I've felt that they too easily are swayed by what the Charter School has told them, and they don't spend enough time digging into the story. In last week's editorial, though, they did get it right. The editorial says, in a nutshell, "this isn't the time for lawsuits."

Good job on this one, folks.

Sadly, the Charter School looks like they're moving ahead anyway. Stay tuned for more disturbing news.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Bullis Charter School Threatens Suit... again...

Call me the Great Oracle. As predicted, BCS is threatening litigation... again. It's amazing how this happens so frequently. There appears to be very little give and take in this relationship.

I've read the BCS letter with their threat to litigate the assignment of their facilities. The letter cites five areas of disagreement (The Town Crier reported only three)

(1) facilities offered do not include seventh grade
(2) the offer letter (from LASD) apparetnly lacked a square footage description for each LASD school. (This would serve as a basis of comparing BCS facilities to LASD facilities)
(3) unsatisfied with the proposed shared use of the turf space with Egan
(4) a complaint about the inclusion of the BCS-provided multi in space calculations
(5) a complaint that the LASD offer sought a response by a May 1, 2009

I'm not going to disect every one of these arguments -- tit-for-tat isn't the purpose of my blog. I still believe what is at play is a move for a campus that is not co-located with Egan. Apparently the BCS has continued to request facilities for a seventh grade even though they have made statements to the effect that they won't be offering seventh grade this fall. The underlying purpose of a request may be to force comparison of the BCS campus to Egan, which does not have any portables for their students.

Really, folks... if we were all focused on quality education, do you think we could come to a long term agreement that takes into account the near-term economic realities? As someone who watches the district struggle to balance our expenditures with the current budget situation, I can't help but wonder wha the cost of the BCS litigation is, and what the impact is on kids within the district and at the Charter School. Wouldn't both groups of kids be better served by spending that money on education?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Board Meeting Results

At last night's LASD Board Meeting, Gardner Bullis was well represented by a number of GB parents. I addressed the board on the topic of the BCS offer for our campus, and let them know that the LASD is not served by an offer such as this. As a parent, I'm also proud that my daughter, who is president of the Gardner Bullis Student Council, also addressed the Board on this important topic. I have attached the text of my speech below for those who are interested. After the meeting, I discussed the issue informally with several board members. They are grateful for our public support, and welcomed the comments both at the board meeting and via email. Two Board members confirmed to me that the feedback will be extremely valuable during the litigation which is nearly certain to occur. Note that if you were too shy to speak last night, or simply couldn't make the meeting, you can still email comments to the Board.

On a broader note, the Board of Trustees recognized a number of high-achieving students, of which we should all be very proud. LASD had 10 students qualify for the finals in the State Geography Bee, and they placed exceptionally well. Blach received an award from Walden West in recognition of their outstanding efforts for the environment. The Egan Chess Club won at state competition recently, and their students and faculty sponsor were also recognized. Congratulations to all of these big winners!

Comments for the LASD Board Meeting, 1 June 2009

My name is Doug Smith. I am an incoming member of the LAEF Board, but tonight I’m speaking only as a Gardner Bullis parent.

The Bullis Charter School has made a public issue of their proposal to lease the Gardner Campus. I felt that this public “offer” required a public response. I applaud the LASD Board of Trustees for their swift rejection of this offer. The financials of this offer look more like a low-ball offer to a distressed home owner, but that isn’t what troubles me. No, plain and simple, this is an existing school community. The BCS offer would displace over 200 local Gardner students in favor of BCS students. I find it hard to comprehend that a group founded in specific response to the closing of a neighborhood school would believe that they can further their objectives by displacing another group of neighborhood kids. Apparently not all children are equal in the eyes of the BCS Board.

For whatever reason, the media has chosen to serve as the PR wing to the BCS. This offer can have no practical purpose other than generate publicity for the Charter School, or to serve as a precursor to coming litigation. No thinking journalist could believe that this offer would do anything other than irritate the Gardner community.

I come here to make known my opposition to any arrangement whereby the Gardner Bullis students would be removed from the campus they have come to call their own. They have undergone the challenges of moving schools in the fall of 2008, have formed new friendships, and have established themselves in their own community. Likewise parents are volunteering tens of thousands hours and helping to ensure the success of our neighborhood school. The Gardner Campus is not some abstract piece of vacant land. It is our school, our community. Those who might try to usurp our use of our neighborhood school for their own purposes, no matter what their goals justifications, will discover that Garnder parents will vigorously defend our children and their right to their own neighborhood school.