From: Dave Cortright <email@example.com>
To: Ken Moore <firstname.lastname@example.org>; Peter Evans <email@example.com>; Andrea Eyring <firstname.lastname@example.org>; Anne Marie Gallagher <email@example.com>; Janet Medlin <firstname.lastname@example.org>; John Phelps <email@example.com>; Francis LaPoll <firstname.lastname@example.org>; Wanny Hersey <email@example.com>
Cc: Joseph Di Salvo <firstname.lastname@example.org>; Michael Chang <email@example.com>; Anna Song <firstname.lastname@example.org>; Grace Mah <email@example.com>; Julia Hover-Smoot <firstname.lastname@example.org>; Leon Beauchman <email@example.com>; Craig Mann <firstname.lastname@example.org>; Charles Weis <Charles_Weis@sccoe.org>; Cary Dritz <Cary_Dritz@sccoe.org>; Lucretia Peebles <Lucretia_Peebles@sccoe.org>; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
Sent: Sunday, April 29, 2012 8:12 AM
Subject: RE: 2012-13 facilities, transitional kindergarten, and model of accountability
Members of the Bullis Charter School Board,
Greetings! I wanted to send you this letter as a part of the most recent outreach effort to show both SCCOE and BCS how critically important this issue is to our community, and what we expect both SCCOE and BCS to do to improve the situation. Know that I stand behind the points in the message template even though I am choosing not to repeat them here. Instead, I have several other points I would like to raise.
First and foremost: facilities. As predicted in my letter to you last December, the offer from LASD is indeed portables split across 2 sites. Since the preliminary offer in late January, I've heard a lot from the BCS community about how BCS' integrated K-8 curriculum is critical to its success. I do wish that LASD could help you out here, but sadly they do not operate any K-8 facilities in the district. And as you are intimately familiar with charter law, you know "The district is not obligated to pay for the modification of an existing school site to accommodate the charter school's grade level configuration." (§11969.3(a)(1)).
So if you need to house your entire school body integrated on one site, I am afraid that leaves you with only one option for next year: self-site. Charter law even suggests "funding in lieu of facilities in an amount commensurate with local rental or lease costs for facilities reasonably equivalent to facilities of the district." (§11969.1(b)). Grace Mah from your chartering authority told me "The SCCOE is in no position to ‘offer up’ property to this situation." Thus, it seems that self-siting is the only viable way you will be able to get the integrated facilities that your program requires for 2012-13. I hope you do so for the sake of the integrity of your program, and to honor the commitment you made to each and every BCS parent and student when you promised them an integrated curriculum.
But if you decide that a split school is sufficient and you accept the facilities offer from LASD, I want to help you work with the district to ensure those facilities meet the needs of your kids. One BCS parent said that the four square court is too close to the street, so that the ball is often knocked over the fence into traffic. I think we should ask LASD to install safety netting above the fence there. I have also heard parents worried that the close proximity of the lunch tables to the street put their kids at increased risk from an errant vehicle. I have looked at this section of the road myself, and there are some good-sized trees between the street and the fence that I think do well to protect. However, the safety of our kids is paramount. And if it takes the investment of a few thousand dollars to install bollards here for peace of mind, I think that is money well spent.
I'm sure you have other places where a small investment in facilities would yield large returns (I've heard mention of a summer bridge program, and of course there's the ongoing issue of ensuring share middle school facilities are executed as written). I encourage you to open that list to the public and have the entire community help get things like this implemented.
Next: what are BCS' plans for your transitional kindergarten next year? I am concerned that I see no mention of this on the BCS website, and the time before it has to happen is rapidly dwindling.
"Citing California Education Code, officials at the California Department of Education are reiterating charter schools’ obligation to offer transitional kindergarten."
"Mary Autry, CDE education program consultant, has affirmed that charter schools are obligated to offer transitional kindergarten. 'The direction of the department is that transitional kindergarten is a requirement for charter schools that offer kindergarten,' she said. 'For charter schools that don’t offer kindergarten already, we recommend they contact their legal counsel or charter authorizer. If their authorizer is the state board of education, CDE is in the process of developing guidance for them.'"
Finally, I ask you to voluntarily adopt the Oakland Unified model for Charter School Accountability. Jennifer Carlstrom—a Gardner parent with a graduate degree in education policy from Stanford—has been urging SCCOE to adopt this model for all of their charters. I think it would show great initiative if BCS took the lead here and set the standard for the rest of the charter schools in Santa Clara County to follow.
Thank you for your time and consideration.