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.

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