Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Facilities Allocation and BCS "Fab Lab"

I received a thoughtful question from a commuity member recently.  With his permission, I'm publishing the question because I think it is of interest to a nubmer of folks.

You probably heard about the "FabLab" that BCS plans to establish next school year.

I was wondering how adding new specialized space plays with Prop 39:

- If LASD had been first to open a FabLab, would it had been obligated to inventory it under Prop 39 rules... and then share it (or duplicate it if sharing is not practical) with BCS?

- If LASD followed suit and opened a FabLab after BCS did, would it have the same Prop39 requirement for inventory and share/duplicate (even if BCS already had its own FabLab)?

- Would it be any different if LASD's FabLab was procured via the PTAs, LAEF or a generous donor?

And I guess that, there is no requirement under Prop39 for BCS to share or even inventory that FabLab, regardless how that space is funded?

Here is my response:

This is part of what the cross-complaint asks the court to address. "Does the District have a right to consider the impact of BCS' private fundraising when allocating facilities?"

The regs deal first with classroom space and real estate. There is a follow-on treatment of equipment that also applies.

If we have building space allocated for a particular purpose, and we have it on only one site, the regs are pretty clear we don't have to make it available to BCS. We would argue that not every student has access to that space. However, if all of our students in a particular grade level have access to something (i.e. a gymnasium) then we have to make the same facilities available to BCS. It is important that we consider this in the totality of the offer, though. "Reasonably equivalent" means that we balance the totality of the offer, not just individual components.

When it comes to the equipment, it generally follows the same path. If we have a fully equipped science lab on most or all of our sites, we make the same equipment available to BCS also. If the District built a large capital project like the fab lab, (and we built one on both Egan and Blach, for example) we would have to make the same equipment available to BCS.

We share any equipment purchased with public funds. However, the law permits us to exclude equipment or facilities purchased with private donations. For example, schools have desks and book shelves, and those were purchased with public funds, so we share them with BCS. On the other hand, the PTA's purchase nearly all of the computers and iPads we use. (Others have been donated privately to the schools). Since they were privately financed,we do not need to purchase computers for BCS.

I'm not aware of any specifics in the law that might allow us to approach BCS and require that they share their privately acquired facilities with LASD students. But to be candid, I haven't spent a lot of time looking at it. It is one of the questions raised by the Appellate judges during oral arguments a little while back. However, they didn't address it in their ruling. Up until now, the only capital equipment BCS has procured has been their MPR. That building is still subject to LASD regulations, since it is located on District land. Whether the District should pursue this with respect to the Fab Lab hasn't really crossed my mind until now. I generally think of it as being part of the overarching question of the cross-complaint.

It is worth pointing folks, once again, to the disclaimer at the right side of this page.  This is my personal opinion, and not a substitute for board policy or action.  Nothing here precludes board action in any way, nor binds us to a particular position.  But it's worth sharing my thoughts anyway...