Tuesday, August 21, 2012

BCS Facilities on Day 1

Well, it has finally arrived.  The beach towels are packed away, the camping gear neatly stowed, and backpacks and book bags have been brought out of storage.  The first day of school is upon us.

This summer hasn't been much of a break for District personnel.  Getting the new BCS facilities ready has been quite a journey.  We have been working at it all summer, determined to avoid last minute delays such as what we encountered last year.  Still, nothing is ever perfect, and there have been just a couple of last minute adjustments.

The Appellate Courts ruled last year that the District can't count the BCS Mutli towards our Prop 39 obligations.  The reasoning was that BCS had purchased the Multi at their expense, so it was considered unfair for LASD to consider that in our facilities offer.  This meant that the 2012-13 offer needed to include some sort of multi-use space for BCS.

The original plan was that we would share the City gym, and that the District would eventually build a new MPR for BCS in between the Egan Multi and the City Gym.  Indeed, we specifically drew the BCS map to include that space for that specific reason.  The interim plan was that BCS would use half of the city gym.

The LASD Board has to balance the needs of all students, however, not just the needs of BCS.  As we met with staff late this summer, we began to see that carving up the city gym would have a substantial negative impact on the Egan PE program.  Additionally, close followers of our budget would know that we only have about $100,000 in our capital fund right now- and we've received estimates from $300,000 to $750,000 for a new MPR.

Fortunately there is a solution.  Two years ago, LASD build a brand new music room (about 2000 sq ft) in between the city gym and Egan- exactly where we considered placing the BCS Multi.  By vacating that multi, we could provide that space to BCS.  That's part 1.

Part 2 has to do with space the District already provided, but BCS isn't using.  The Appellate ruling instructed LASD to provide BCS with child care facilities, similar to what we have on other district sites.  However, BCS did not respond when the District asked whether it would using the allocated child care space for that purpose.  That leaves us with another large building that can be used.  (One of the things we did win in the 2009-10 ruling was that we don't have to provide space for programs BCS doesn't intend to offer -- in that case, seventh grade).

It is important to note that BCS middle school students have access to all appropriate PE facilities.  They have use of the gym at Blach, along with tennis courts, track, and other specialized space.  The District is in no way impacting the PE program- but we are maximizing use of the various gymnasiums we own by allocating them for use by middle school students in each program. 

I attended the BCS board meeting last night, and was there when this news was delivered to the BCS Board.  (A copy of the letter is here.)  Audience members didn't have to be mind readers to know that the BCS board was unhappy with this latest development.  However, the LASD Board and Administration need to maximize the use of facilities for all students.  One might wonder if BCS intends to litigate over this change.  It will be interesting to see if they really intend to try to use the courts to force LASD to spend $300K that we don't have.  Hopefully calmer minds will prevail.  I recognize that the late timing of this news will cause last minute adjustments, and that is always a challenge.  For the inconvenience that this causes the BCS staff, I am truly sorry. However, we're all supposed to be the grown-ups.  Egan and Blach staff are also dealing with a number of last minute changes brought on by the sharing needs.  As the adults in the room, we all have to adjust and do our best to adapt to these types of situations.

I look forward to a successful school year for both LASD and for BCS.  Maybe with a little bit of luck, the waters will calm a bit and the storms can subside, allowing us all to focus on the children.