Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Shared Space at Blach

2013-14 Facilities Offer

I received a very thoughtful letter from a BCS parent about the shared space at Blach.  Since I think this is an area where others may have some questions, I thought I'd share my personal thinking with a wider audience.  Again, this doesn't take place of official Board action, but it should help folks understand what I'm driving at.

The offer is premised around BCS 6-8th grade located at Blach.  I believe this can minimize the amount of duplicate space we need to build out.  I've advocated for an approach that "generally" allows 6th graders to have access to Specialized Teaching Space (STS) at Blach, but not "always". You can think of it in three buckets:

1) I don't have any concerns about giving 6th grade access to some areas, like the drama & music space. That's the same as an MPR they would have at Loyola or Santa Rita anyway, so no problem there.

2) Somewhere in the middle, 6th graders aren't really "entitled" to access to the track, the gym, soccer field, and tennis courts. However, I lean towards providing them that access. The big driver is because that access is in lieu of other STS that we might otherwise build out. The LASD Board can make a determination as a Board that providing this access creates a reasonably equivalent experience. BCS kids have more PE facilities, but maybe they don't have a small group space. it's not exact- but it is within the discretion of the Board.

3) There are some spaces, like the science labs, that aren't appropriate for 6th graders. We use chemicals there, and Bunsen burners, and we have made a determination that it's just not smart to allow access to younger kids in that space, so we don't share that with the 6th graders.

The parent also asked about building space where we can't provide enough shared access. If we can't provide reasonable access to shared space, then we would build it out. For example, the servery- we need it at the exact same time BCS would need it, so we can't really say we'll share. (Who gets it from 11:30-1pm while the other party gets it from 9:00-11:30? Not really fair, so that doesn't work. So we build a second servery.) But really, I want to minimize the amount of duplicated space. These portables cost a small fortune, and I'd rather time share than build out more buildings where we can. But for a lot of other space, we can work out sharing arrangements, and we are doing just that.

We have a plan for sharing PE space, including on rainy days. We really aren't barbarians. I don't want to see a scene with kids standing out in the rain while other kids have PE inside a warm, dry gym. I met with the Blach principal this morning, and she and her PE staff had just wrapped up a discussion about this.  It will be included in the final proposal. We really wanted Wanny to interact with Sandra more, but that hasn't happened. C'est la vie. We will have a specific offer in the final offer, in order to comply with the court rulings (that said we have to be specific). However, if the BCS staff is willing to collaborate, we can certainly entertain "swaps" etc.

So in the long run, I think we'll have a final offer that creates a very workable solution for both parties.  It won't be the whole "pony list" that BCS asked for, but it is reasonably equivalent and certainly workable and functionally equivalent. 

I also want to tip my hat and thank the Blach Principal and her staff.  We've had a number of conversations to pull together this offer, and their attitude was consistently one of partnership and fairness.  They are, pardon the pun, a class act.