Thursday, December 9, 2010

BCS Presentation

This past Monday, BCS came to present to the LASD Board about the BCS growth plan. For too long, we've been reacting to the annual facilities request without any meaningful visibility into how they're planning to grow over time (which would have a significant impact on the long term facilities solution.) We invited them to present to us so that we could understand their near-term plans and how that will change ove the coming years.

BCS Board Chair Ken Moore reviewed their enrollment history, and showed the stats for where they're planning to go. With this most recent facilities request, they're moving toward a plan of 3 classes in each grade level. In lower grades, it is common to have smaller class sizes than in upper grades, so they plan on addressing that by admitting extra students at the fourth grade to fill the classes out. I'm not sure how many parents will move their children at the fourth grade level, having formed friendships over the K-3 school years, but we'll get a chance to see that this year for the first time.

What was really surprising to me is the overall size of their plan. When BCS was first formed, they positioned themselves as a "small school". Even last night, when I attended a BCS K-6 recruiting night, their presentation stressed that they are a "small school". Their Monday projections, though, put them over 600 students in the very near future. This is larger than any school in the Los Altos School District. I'm not sure that I'd describe that as "small". Mr. Moore acknowledged this contradiction, and recognized that their Board seems to be a bit divided on whether to remain true to their founding principle, or whether to "address the demand" that they see.

Mr. Moore also outlined scenarios that would take them well beyond the 600-student figures. Knowing that, it's even more pressing that we solve the question of where they'll locate. They did hold out one carrot- that they might be willing to cap the size of the school if we resolve the space question. I actually don't have any particular issue with the size of BCS, except that as they grow, we may need to adjust LASD attendance areas if we have to change facilities to accomodate the BCS plan.

Overall I would say that the discussion on Monday was another positive step. It is the first time that we've engaged in a dialogue like this since their inception. I hope that we can continue to work together on this issue, and how it fits into the LASD Blueprint process.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Coming Events: Monday Meeting

This Monday's Board meeting should prove interesting for a couple of reasons:

1) BCS is presenting to our Board.
By far the most difficult part of our relationship with BCS is predicting their facilities needs. When they originally filed their charter 6 years ago, they told everyone they were aiming to be a "small school" of fewer than 300 students. They are now 381 students, and their recent facilities request for 2011-12 asks for space for >450 students. The LASD Board is required t provide facilities each year, but it's difficult to do this without an understanding of what their plans look like. A few weeks ago, we approached the BCS Board and invited them to come share their longer term plans with us so that we can make better decisions about how we'll meet our Prop 39 obligations.

I'm excited about this discussion, because it's the first time we've done something like this. I hope it is another step on a journey of working well together, and I look forward to ths discussion.

2) The Blach Water District project is on the docket.
We'll be hearing from the Santa Clara Water District about their request to use the Blach athletic fields as a flood basin to provide protection in the event of a 100-year flood. Their "pitch" is that we provide access to the land, and in the process, they'll be providing substantial improvements to the fields (new synthetic turf, etc.)

Along with the Water Board, we'll also be hearing from some neighbors who are opposed to the project. I'm glad to have the chance to have both groups in one place, and have the chance to hear both sides together. Weighing a project like this involves measuring the benefit to the community and weighing the impact that has on a different group. It's not an easy discussion, but it'll certainly be interesting.

I look forward to seeing many of you on Monday! Also, feel free to drop me a line with your thoughts on either of these issues.