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By Erin Glanville

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Charter School Proposal Steeped In Unintended Consequences

Uploaded: Oct 17, 2014

When a group of parents submitted a petition to the Menlo Park City School District (MPCSD) to create a Mandarin Immersion Charter School (MMICS), they may not have been expecting the emotional firestorm of concerned opposition that met their request. This quick divide in the community is just one of the unintended consequences of a well-intentioned law. The "Charter Schools Act of 1992" opened the door to creating more charter schools in California and is an important tool for communities with underperforming school districts. For high performing districts, however, there are substantial costs to the establishment of charter schools. While the MPCSD evaluates whether or not the petition meets the legal requirements, the petitioners should consider the concerns raised by district leaders, parents and community members. Just because you can do something, doesn't mean you should.

To be clear, charter schools have an important place, but they are most successful when there is broad-based community support and careful planning?particularly about physical space?to ensure that other district students are not hurt in the process of establishing a charter school. If the turn out at Tuesday night's public hearing is any indication, broad based support is lacking; the vast majority of the more than 200 people who turned out seemed to be against the MMICS proposal. An online petition against the charter school garnered over 400 signatures within 24 hours and currently has around 1100.

Unintended Consequences: Costs To A Community
The MPCSD is currently struggling to deal with a student population that has grown steadily over the past decade while grappling with the economic pullback that impacted property tax revenue. Despite that, the district has highly ranked schools which are aided by parent donations and to the support of the community in the form of parcel taxes. This charter school proposal adds a number of additional challenges to the district.

? The adoption of a new charter school would legally force the district to fund students (@$6500-$7000 per student) from outside the school district (MPCSD would receive 70% of a funding reimbursement for students from Revenue Limit Districts (i.e., Redwood City, Ravenswood), but no reimbursement students from other Basic Aid districts like Los Lomitas and Palo Alto. There are likely to be many students from outside the district (by my calculation, the MMICS petition itself had over 20% of its signatures from interested parents outside the district, including from Los Lomitas, Palo Alto, Mountain View, San Carlos and Sunnyvale.)

? The redirection of resources to accommodate this specialized language immersion charter school would, ironically, likely indefinitely suspend the "Language For All" extension of the MPCSD's Spanish program. The district had intended to establish an early Spanish program for grades K-5 but had to suspend those efforts years ago due to the downturn in the economy. (Note: the district was successful in establishing a K-5th Spanish Immersion program that began six years ago at the K level with an additional grade level being added each year. )

? Perhaps most concerning, petitioners have stated that they intend to seek facilities from the MPCSD. Under Proposition 39, the district would have to provide "reasonably equivalent" facilities to the charter school if it enrolls at least 80 district students. (Ironically, the district had rented a campus location to a private language immersion school, the German American school, for years but because there is so much crowding within the district, the MPCSD had to forgo the rental income for that space and retain it as a campus to accommodate current student population needs.)

Learning Lessons
While the MMICS petitioners are pushing for a fast implementation, they need only look about 8 miles south of us to find an example of why this should not be rushed. The establishment of the Bullis Charter School began in 2003, but fast forward almost 10 years and a cost to the Los Altos School District of approximately 1.6 million in legal fees alone, and one finds that the issue is still a top topic in the current school board election and that tensions are still running high because of the realities of the new school.

"There are a ton of costs to a community that doesn't really need a charter school?that already has excellent schools. But if people are passionate about starting a school even in a place like Menlo Park, then they should absolutely learn from the 10+ year battle that we in Los Altos have gone through," says Los Altos School District parent Jennifer Doyas. "We have learned that starting a charter school needs to be carefully thought out and that space for the school needs to be clearly identified in advance." Mrs. Doyas's three children are a few of the many impacted. Her oldest daughter is a student at Egan Junior High School and her campus is split with Bullis Charter School. Her two younger children attend one of the seven high achieving elementary schools in the Los Altos School District. She laments that each year, parents in the district have had to worry about whether or not they would be the ones losing their "neighborhood school" to the charter school. Aside from the substantial legal costs, the LASD Board has had to spend much of its time and energy dealing with the charter school issue.

The upcoming election in Los Altos holds one more potentially negative unintended consequence of the charter school implementation: making the passage of bond measures at the ballot box more uncertain. The Los Altos School District is hoping to pass Measure N, which would provide bond funding to alleviate the overcrowding in their growing district by enabling them to update and add to their classroom space. Normally, there would be a confidence in the Measure's passage. However, given negative community sentiment about the charter school, many are greatly concerned it won't pass. While the LASD and the charter school boards have recently shown positive signs toward working together, the Los Altos community as a whole is very wary of supporting anything to do with the charter school.

Can that be avoided in Menlo Park? One certainly hopes so. One bright spot that came out of the public hearing on Tuesday is that there seems to be greater public support for incorporating a Mandarin language program within the district. If the goal is to seek greater language immersion programming?and there was nothing presented by the petitioners that criticized the current education being provided by the MPCSD other than the lack of a Mandarin immersion program?then those options should be exhausted before putting the education of a broader community of children at risk. Resources are not infinite, and if the district cannot prioritize a Mandarin Immersion program as quickly as the petitioners would like, they may have to consider a private school option like the
International School of the Peninsula.

I am hopeful that the petitioners of the charter school will rescind their petition and opt to work with the district to achieve something realistic given budget priorities. If a charter school is ever to be established, it should be done cautiously and with tremendous care. To not do so is to ignore the painfully obtained lessons readily available to us.
Local Journalism.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by MPCSD Parent, a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle,
on Oct 17, 2014 at 10:37 am

Thank you for raising many of the concerns our community is facing with this charter school petition. It is so important that we look at the big picture and find long-term solutions for a community looking to grow its district language programs, and not quickly rush to solve for a limited number of families whose children will age out of qualifying within the next year or two. I hope others who agree will continue to sign and share the petition to the school board to deny this charter school: Web Link

Posted by Amelia, a resident of another community,
on Oct 17, 2014 at 10:38 am

A well reasoned discussion of this complicated issue.

Posted by Cathy, a resident of Menlo Park: other,
on Oct 17, 2014 at 11:09 am

Thank you Erin for such a well thought out article and I strongly agree with your comments. I would like further clarify a point about Menlo Park MPCSD residents, funding out of district kids in the charter school. Actually if you refer to the public petition document at, it can be calculated from signatures that the number of out of district families could be even greater; 30 families (30%) of the 90 ELIGIBLE families who have 2015 incoming Kinder and First graders. Several of the families who signed the petition have aged-out of benefiting from the charter school. In addition, we know from the language in the charter petition, that minimally we will have to pay for 10% out-of-district children (children of founder's and the charter school's employees) which is already an excessive financial burden (up to $70,000 in 2015, then increasing each year as the charter enrollment grows) Menlo Park tax payers cannot afford.

Posted by Another MPCSD parent, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows,
on Oct 17, 2014 at 2:11 pm

I agree with the author that I would rather not see a charter school in our district. But I also wanted to comment on two aspects of the article:

1) There appears to be some implication that the proposed charter school is being "rushed" through -- perhaps I am misreading that. It is my understanding that the MMICS folks already have been trying for two years to work with the community and school board on a possible immersion program in the district, and the board has declined even to take any action to evaluate whether or not such a program would be worthwhile.

2) In referring to the Los Altos situation, it would have been useful to have the perspective of a Bullis charter school parent as well. From what I've read, the LASD closed the neighborhood school in Los Altos Hills and when parents complained, a school board member suggested that the closed facilities might be used for a charter school. So I found the mention of LASD families "losing their 'neighborhood school'" to be ironic in that context.

I am confident that our MPCSD board can do better. Maybe they could at least start considering the in-district program that these parents originally proposed.

Posted by Journalism 101, a resident of Woodside: other,
on Oct 17, 2014 at 2:33 pm

I'm concerned that such a one sided article would be posted in the Almanac without a headline stating: Opinion piece.

Did the arguments FOR the charter school get represented? Who was interviewed? What facts were presented?

Posted by Erin Glanville, a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks,
on Oct 17, 2014 at 4:32 pm

Another MPCSD Parent,

You are correct that the petitioners have been working to try to get an immersion program WITHIN the district for some time. However, they are now focusing on the charter school. The MMICS petition is for the charter school's term to begin 10 months from now (July '15) with students beginning in the fall. Beginning in July, the petition is seeking 4 classrooms (10,000 sq ft) for the first year. The petition also states that facilities also includes office/ administrative space, restrooms, kitchen facilities, multi/ gym space and a playground. Given the current campus situations (crowding, construction, etc.), that is a very short amount of time to do facility use planning, in my opinion.

Journalism 101,
You may be unfamiliar with the The Almanac's Blog section which is relatively new (introduced in 2013) and features opinion blogs on a variety of topics. When my writing appears in the printed version of The Almanac, it is clearly headlined as "Opinion".

Posted by education lawyer, a resident of another community,
on Oct 17, 2014 at 4:40 pm

Just to correct one of the statements of this opinion piece:

Approved independent charter schools become Local Education Agencies (LEAs), and like districts, get their funding directly from the State through the Local Control Funding Formula, which would provide ADA funding for each student in the charter regardless of the neighborhood the student resides in. MPCSD would not be providing funding for the charter's students, regardless of whether they were former MPCSD students or from other districts.

That said, any student leaving MPCSD to enroll in the charter school would result in a loss of ADA funding for the district for that student; on the other hand, it would help alleviate the district's concerns about over crowding.

Posted by Erin Glanville, a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks,
on Oct 17, 2014 at 4:51 pm


Please see the Menlo Park City School District's FAQ on this issue which outlines how the funding is covered for Basic Aid districts like Menlo Park. (Link below).

It states:
"Who pays for a Charter School?
In a Basic Aid/Community Funded district such as MPCSD, the district is responsible to cover the cost for every student enrolled, regardless of whether the student resides in the district. The cost is calculated in terms of the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) and roughly equals $6500 - $7000 on average statewide for elementary charters. (Note: the State Superintendent ?s office will determine the exact amount MPCSD would need to pay the charter school on an annual basis in a complicated calculation which takes into account grade levels served and many other factors. For example, the MPCSD might
initially pay an amount on the low end of this range to the Mandarin Immersion charter for K-­‐1st grade students; as additional grades are introduced at the charter school, the funding formula includes higher rates for higher grade levels.) For students enrolled from another Basic Aid district, like Las Lomitas or Palo Alto, MPCSD would transfer funding to the charter for each student but would not receive any reimbursement. For charter students enrolled from other Revenue Limit Districts, like Redwood City or Ravenswood, MPCSD would transfer funding to the charter but could apply to receive 70% back in reimbursement. So, MPCSD would pay for the full cost for some out ofdistrict students and pay 30% for other out of district students?

Web Link

Posted by concerned resident, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks,
on Oct 17, 2014 at 5:13 pm

Thank you for this informative, well-researched article. I was told today that - if the residency of the signatories remaining on the MMICS are any indication of the enrollment in the proposed Mandarin Immersion Charter School - only 30% of the children attending the charter school will reside within the MPCSD! Why should the MPCSD bear the burden of funding a school where 70% of the kids are coming from outside of the district? This charter school would clearly be an end run around the residency requirement to attend a school within the MPCSD!!!

Posted by Erin Glanville, a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks,
on Oct 17, 2014 at 5:50 pm

Concerned Resident,

I do not know if what you were told is correct. I have a question into the district to see what I can find out. Please stay tuned.

Posted by Concerned Resident, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks,
on Oct 17, 2014 at 6:05 pm

Thank you, Erin. My original comment above begs the question of how MMICS came up with the estimate contained in its petition that 50% of the students attending the charter school will reside within the MPCSD. What method(s) was used for making such a conjecture? Based on the community outcry - 50% seems like a real stretch. Even if MMICS' estimate comes to fruition - that still leaves the MPCSD paying for a school where HALF of the students live outside of the district.

Posted by Stephanie, a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks,
on Oct 17, 2014 at 6:19 pm

Erin - I always appreciate your thoughtful blog posts and this one in particular. One thing that struck me about petitioners, even the ones who reside in the District -- most or all are new or not yet in the District. They haven't yet (or hardly have) experienced what our District has to offer or is about. As a parent in the District for 9 years and with 7 more to go, I feel like they haven't made any effort to see anything other than what they want. Like them, I would love to see more language in our schools -- language for all, different language options, immersion and electives. But I also understand that this District has a lot on its plate right now and is trying to meet a lot of different needs. None of us can get exactly what we want, when we want it, and exactly how we want it -- and we try to look at the big picture of what is best for all the students in this District. If the petitioners could step back for a minute and see that, they would be a lot better off.

Thank you again for looking into this issue and providing your opinion on it for the broader community. The more educated everyone becomes about it, the better off we will all be.

Posted by Erin Glanville, a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks,
on Oct 17, 2014 at 7:19 pm

Concerned Resident,

I have information to clarify what you were originally told. According to Joan Lambert, School Board president for the MPCSD: "Essentially 80 of the 100 students have to come from MPCSD for the charter to be eligible for facilities (space) under Proposition 39. That is a different requirement than the requirement to have a valid charter petition, which only requires signatures of 1/2 the number of students the charter intends to enroll in the first year of operation (or 50 signatures in this case). It is not clear right now exactly how many of the students would come from within MPCSD boundaries and how many would come from outside MPCSD boundaries."



Thank you.

Posted by Charter Dood, a resident of Atherton: other,
on Oct 17, 2014 at 7:22 pm

The author seems to start from a rather pointedly-biased position. Specifically, she seems to think that the property, income, and sales taxes we all pay to support public education somehow inherently "belong" to the school district and that charter schools are "taking" the district's money.

The chartered schools concept upends this narrow thinking, instead generally allowing for public education funding to "follow the student" rather than automatically go to the school district's accounts.

One could easily turn the author's logic (or lack thereof) 180 degrees, noting that opponents of the charter school simply want to keep the charter school's money. This sort of debate is fruitless.

Should we wring our hands with guilt if we spend our grocery dollars at Costco rather than Whole Foods or Safeway? When I cut my cable TV and subscribed to Netflix, should I bemoan the loss to Food Channel? Traditional hospital versus Kaiser? No.

Instead, we should be focusing on whether parent and students in our communities have access to a reasonably broad and diverse range of high-quality education options. If the proposed charter school is based on sound planning and a sufficient number of parents want the option for their kids, the charter law says "yes." The charter concept is a long-overdue reform to our generally-stagnant K-12 system.

Posted by Against Charter, a resident of Menlo Park: other,
on Oct 17, 2014 at 7:55 pm

I get it, "Dood" does not have a child in our district yet, and does not understand our funding. Many families do not until they are met with the reality of public education funding. Fortunately we have wonderful board members and an amazing group of parents who volunteer day in and day out to raise funds throughout the year to support our fantastic programs. Sorry "Dood", I have to say you don't have the facts correct. Stagnant? ....Come to our STEAM fair, Fine Art Show, see our gardens grow, watch the children engage in fundraising activities, discover our very innovative learning environment at MPCSD, including a fantastic Spanish Immersion program, Distinguished Schools of California, all with our highly credentialed teachers. Apparently MMICS does not feel that sub-par salaries in their budget will impact the quality of a teacher...I think the board will disagree. MMICS propose $55K for Mandarin teachers who are expected to deliver not only the highest standards MPCSD achieves, but also adding common core, new math programs, etc. Huh? Sorry, you will get what you pay for..$55K is what an average teacher in Wyoming makes! This salary is below even the entry level teachers in our district and is insulting, about $40K LOWER than the average teacher's salary! Did you not attend the public hearing and listen to some of our finest teachers speak? Some of whom may lose their funding and jobs if this charter becomes a reality? There is lots of public information, so I suggest you go to the site, read the meeting minutes, study the petition and educate yourself on the facts. Bottom line is MPCSD is community funded and cannot afford kids from out-of-district. This is the reality of public schools. I would appreciate it if you would please be enlightened at and read...

Posted by Charter Dood, a resident of another community,
on Oct 17, 2014 at 8:34 pm

Whoa "Against Charter"--you may need to dial-back a bit on your espresso.

No, I don't live in Menlo Park (a bit pricey for me). Not sure what that has to do with the issue.

And I do have a deep understanding of the interaction of funding between charter schools and "basic aid" districts like Menlo Park. In fact, the district is extremely well-funded. Menlo Park is an ultra-rich district spending nearly $14 thousand per student each year, WAY above what most California school districts get--and it has a parcel tax too.

The state funding laws for charter schools, however, only provide charter schools with the average funding and don't require rich districts like Menlo Park to share their extra funding. Perhaps if Menlo Park were willing to offer a fair share to the charter school it could match the very high salaries that the district pays its staff.

While it was unfair of me to use the "stagnant" terminology in the context of Menlo Park's riches, what seems clear here is that existing district staff have gotten accustomed to living high off the hog, fiercely protect their high salaries and generous benefits, and are whipping the community into a frenzy.

Posted by Stephanie, a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks,
on Oct 17, 2014 at 9:27 pm

Dood: MPCSD spends roughly $11,200 per student, which includes all money received from property and parcel taxes, state and federal sources, and the MPAEF (our District's education foundation). This is above the state average (only because of the community funding provided via the MPAEF) but well below what is spent in our surrounding Basic Aid districts (Las Lomitas, Woodside, Portola Valley, Palo Alto, etc.) -- the very students who may then attend any charter school in the MPCSD if there is space and the MPCSD will have to fully fund. I agree with you that there is a need for charter schools in many districts and in some situations -- but there is no need for a language immersion charter school in our district. To have one would most likely benefit the students who need it the very least.

Posted by BCS parent, a resident of another community,
on Oct 17, 2014 at 9:49 pm

Love our Charter School and couldn't be prouder that in just over 10 years we are recognized as a National Distinguished School. Amazingly, so were two other schools in the district. Anyone who says that competing for students with one of the best programs in California hasn't improved the other local public schools is lying. High tides raise all boats...and that is the exact intent of Charter Schools.

Good luck to you all in Menlo Park. It is has been a long and difficult journey (one that could have been much easier if the District hadn't been so combative and punitive) in Los Altos but one that has been worth every step--especially to watch my kids flourish in the unique program Bullis offers--and despite what detractors say--their kids have received the numerous benefits as a result as well! Come tour our program--we are happy to share best practices!

Posted by Charter Dood, a resident of another community,
on Oct 17, 2014 at 10:02 pm

Stephanie wrote: "Dood: MPCSD spends roughly $11,200 per student . . ..:

Dood notes that the district's adopted 2014-15 budget says "Expenditures per student are budgeted at approximately $13,700."

Posted by BCS Parent 2, a resident of another community,
on Oct 17, 2014 at 10:33 pm

Yes, Ms. Doyas, it helps if the space for a charter school is clearly identified in advance. Perhaps she forgets that the "clearly identified space" that the BCS parents requested was the perfectly good campus that the Los Altos School District had CLOSED. For five years, BCS requested this EMPTY campus and for five years the district denied them. Pretty spiteful to shut these district families out of their former campus that was now EMPTY, and instead locate them several miles away, in a parking lot with 15-year-old portables that had a shelf life of 10 years.

When the campus reopened in 2008, Ms. Doyas' children were shuffled from their neighborhood school to the newly opened school. The redrawn attendance areas went deep into Santa Rita territory as a way to fill the reopened campus, and LASD started admitting PAUSD students to fill that campus as well. (Even so, that Hills campus still has the smallest enrollment of any LASD school.)

And about Measure N? The reason its passage is iffy has more to do with our community's distrust of **LASD trustees** and the vague wording of the bond measure than it does with BCS. Even our local, normally pro-district weekly paper could not bring itself to endorse Measure N because of these weaknesses, which it clearly spelled out in Wednesday's issue.

Last, it is laughable to write that the Los Altos community as a whole feels negatively towards BCS. Every year for the past several years, over half of all five-year-olds here submit registrations to BCS. That's 11 Kindergarten classes, enough to fill four district schools plus BCS. Be careful how you define "community."

Posted by Stephanie, a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks,
on Oct 17, 2014 at 10:46 pm

Dood: I stand corrected - I was looking at older numbers. That said, the per-student spending in the MPCSD is still well below our surrounding Basic Aid Districts and whose students MPCSD residents would have to pay for should they attend the charter school. Might not seem like a big deal except for the fact that it is highly likely that a significant portion of the charter school students would come from outside the District since there is a little support for it here. And MPCSD is on the hook, albeit for less, should the non-MPCSD students come from our surrounding Revenue Limit Districts.

Give your comments about this being an "ultra rich" district, I am curious why you would support a "pet project" program that is clearly not aimed toward helping the students in our district who are performing below grade level, who speak English as a second language, or who may need additional educational support to do well in school.

And, finally, unless you personally know the teachers in this District, it is very demeaning for you to accuse them of "living high off the hog, fiercely protect their high salaries and generous benefits, and []whipping the community into a frenzy." As I understand it, a Charter School is supposed to provide new opportunities for our existing teachers. I don't imagine many of them could teach in a Mandarin-immersion program (or any language-immersion program for that matter)and, even if they could, would necessarily want to. Further, despite the fact that teachers in this area are paid above the industry standard, it is hardly a "good living" for those who live here. My experience with the teachers here is that they love what they do and want the best for all kids in our schools. They have a right to stand up for what they believe in and it isn't surprising to me that they and the majority of our community feel the same way about the proposed charter school.

Posted by peninsula resident, a resident of Menlo-Atherton High School,
on Oct 18, 2014 at 10:25 am

> In fact, the district is extremely well-funded. Menlo Park is an ultra-rich district

LOL. I think you have MPCSD confused with LLSD, Portola Valley, Woodside, etc (all fine school districts, but their spending per-student is significantly higher than MPCSD).

> spending nearly $14 thousand

Wrong, the the spending per-student in MPCSD is $11,200.

You should really try doing some very, very, very basic research before spouting off incorrect information and embarrassing yourself.

> and it has a parcel tax too.

That parcel tax is INCLUDED in the above $11,200, not separate as you imply here.

Again, try educating yourself. You might learn something!

> living high off the hog

Troll. Move along please, the adults are trying to have a reasonable conversation.

Posted by Yet Another MPCSD Parent, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park,
on Oct 18, 2014 at 1:52 pm

Dood- If you think it's expensive to live in Menlo Park, you should see how expensive it is to send your kids to the "free public schools" in our city. Each family is asked to donate thousands of dollars PER CHILD in order to get to the number you stated. While not all families can afford to do so, others donate even more to make up for it because they believe in raising the bar for all children to create innovation and competition.

We're protective and proud of our schools because we are deeply invested in them ? well beyond our tax dollars.

I absolutely understand where and why the divide is. Almost every person I've heard speak out on behalf of the charter school either doesn't live in our community or hasn't yet had a child of school age in our district. Before our kids were in school, I had NO idea (though people spoke of it and I shrugged it off) how much people give of themselves to make our district run the way it does. Parents invest their time, money, and expertise to ensure excellence.

It's not that we think our programs are so great we couldn't do even better that people are opposed to this charter. It's because we think our programs are so great and we're working / funding ourselves as much as we possibly can to make our programs *even better* that we're opposed to this charter.

Our district needs to focus on the thousands of students it is already working to educate. Not the few who won't even be held accountable to it.

Posted by BCS Parent 3, a resident of another community,
on Oct 18, 2014 at 3:18 pm

Good luck to everyone in Menlo Park working through these issues! I agree with BCS Parent that our school is amazing and I would do it all again for my child and for others' children. But I also think adding a charter school to any community does not have to be so stressful, if everyone agreed to a few basic ground rules. Here are a few (from a seasoned Los Altos resident):

1. Be civil to each other. This means: no snide remarks in the press or at school board meetings. No name calling. Some specific examples: District officials should not publicly support anti-charter proponents who encourage violence (such as kidnapping) against charter officials. Physical intimidation and assault should be forbidden. If district officials think their supporters have crossed the line to be uncivil (like depicting charter board members as Nazi's or name-calling charter parents a**holes), they need to speak out against the behavior rather than condone it. It is never EVER okay to vandalize the homes of charter supporters or officials, or the charter school campus. It is never okay for district kids to tell charter kids that their parents want to burn down the charter school. It is never okay to scream at charter children or exclude them from little league or soccer teams.

2. Be honest with each other. This means: give honest reasons for your actions. The district telling BCS founding families that it couldn't have the closed campus because it "wasn't reasonably equivalent and we're afraid you'll sue us if we give you that campus" was disingenuous and only lead to distrust. The district telling BCS nine years later that its kids couldn't play on idle grass fields for "safety" reasons was also disingenuous.

3. Be honest about charter schools. This means: understand that charter schools are public schools authorized by the legislature to operate under different statutes. They are not private schools and should never be called that. Understand that charter schools were not created solely for impoverished or failing districts. True that most charter schools have been started under those conditions because those parents are the most frustrated and motivated, but even high-performing districts can improve. Realize that high test scores often mask fault lines in public school districts, such as poor teacher quality or inflexible administrations or inability to add innovative programs. Los Altos Hills parents tried for years to add foreign language to district curriculum, but the district refused. When they founded BCS, foreign language was top priority.

4. Agree to ignore anonymous vitriol. Enough said.

5. Believe that public education, even in high-test-scoring districts, can be so much more than it is now. Really. Truly. Believe it. Hold fast to your beliefs that EVERYTHING can stand to benefit from innovation, fresh ideas, new energy, and change. Even an institution as big as public education is not beyond improvement. (If your community has 40% enrolled in private schools like Los Altos Hills did when BCS was founded, there is room for improvement.)

6. Remember, above all, that it's about the children.

Posted by MPCSD parent who wants to avoid repeating history's mistakes, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows,
on Oct 18, 2014 at 3:38 pm

Thank you for writing your thoughtful article. You raised some great points.

This is a high-stakes situation for both sides, and there is a lot of uncertainty and conjecture.
Given the charter school battles that have taken place recently in Palo Alto and Los Altos, I'm really surprised that they aren't mentioned more in the current Menlo Park discussions.
I would think we could learn a lot from those examples.

One of the best comments at the public hearing from someone experienced with charter schools was that facilities space is commonly a major issue. We know space is very scarce in Menlo Park. We have already outgrown our classrooms and just passed a bond measure to build a new elementary school.
As with Los Altos, if the charter school gets approved, I fully expect contention over space resulting in lawsuits and large legal bills.
I don't see how charter school advocates or the school district could responsibly proceed with a new charter school without a well-thought out facilities plan.

I also understand that Bullis has been divisive to the Los Altos community. At the hearing, several savvy parents see that a charter school in Menlo Park would very likely result in similar divisiveness in our community.

Thanks again for your article.

Posted by peninsula resident, a resident of Menlo-Atherton High School,
on Oct 18, 2014 at 7:40 pm

Why not use James Flood Elementary School for Mandarin Immersion????

It is my understanding that James Flood Elementary in Menlo Park is EMPTY. Here's an article that mentions it:

Web Link

Based on google searches, it appears the students that used to go to James Flood were moved to East Palo Alto around 2009 due to budget issues, and this school has been empty since then. (I welcome clarification).

I see a scenario were everyone can win here, if the Mandarin Immersion proponents would be more flexible.

Proposal: Setup a Mandarin Immersion Charter school in the Ravenswood District, requesting James Flood Elementary as the location for the Charter.

This has numerous advantages:
1) (and it's the BIG one) Ravenswood has an EMPTY school; they have the room for 80-100+ students, even if most came from out-of-district (which appears to be very likely the case if early indications are correct).

2) Since Ravenswood is not a basic aid district, they'd GET EXTRA FUNDING; the funding would follow the student in this case, unlike MPCSD.

3) Ravenswood would get what I suspect would be a high academically performing school. It needs it, desperately.

4) Parents would still be sending their kids to west-of-101 Menlo Park, in the safe Flood Park neighborhood, and not far from MPCSD's Laurel Elementary. For all practical purposes the commute for parents would be very similar to what a commute to O'Connor (future Laurel 2.0) Elementary would entail.

Everyone wins: parents (both pro-MI and con) win, Ravenswood wins, parents get the same commute, and the overcrowding concerns from MI in MPCSD are addressed.

Posted by Ken R, a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks,
on Oct 19, 2014 at 7:55 am

Great blog! You stated at the end that you hope the charter folds will withdraw their charter. If only we were dealing with people that were looking for the best of the community. From all their actions, it is clear to me that this group is looking to maximize their benefit at the cost of the community, getting their children, in their window, a alternative luxury good, that they desire, at the cost of all. I don't know how that isn't selfish, so if that is name calling then I am guilty.

I agree with your hope and conclusion, and would love to be proven wrong and see the charter withdrawn.

Posted by Beth, a resident of another community,
on Oct 19, 2014 at 7:57 am

Learn to spot the unions in action.

This is not a grass roots community battle. This battle is orchestrated by the National Education Association, the California Teachers Association, and your local teachers association. They are working hard to keep the status quo and keep any type of educational reform from happening. That shouldn't be surprising, the goal of teachers unions is to maximize pay,preserve seniority and keep as many members as possible, memembersm=dollars. Teachers at Charter Schools are not members of the CTA or the NEA. A few charters have their own local union but is the exception rather than the rule..

Here is how it works:

1. Identify a few parents/board members who have a vested interest in keeping the current school system - this includes PTA presidents, Foundation presidents, school board members, sort of the incrowd. These people all have a vested interest in keeping your child at their current school.

2. Get the identified group all riled up, convince that the world will come to an end if parents are allowed to make a choice in public education.

3. Make up stuff about the group that wants to start the charter school, and get it out in the media.

4. Keep up the treats and rumors.

5. Destroy the community, its worth it, as long as the teachers union doesn't loose any members.

Seems to me that Menlo Park is well into the process.

Think where we would all be if unions controlled Silicon Valley, we wouldn't be here, none of us would be here. Charter Schools are starts ups. They do some great stuff. Give them a chance.

Don't give up parents, you deserve the best education for child. You deserve a choice. It's worth it.

Posted by Beth, a resident of another community,
on Oct 19, 2014 at 8:53 am

If a charter is approved in a Basic Aide district then the district has to pay the ADA amount to each student attending the charter school. It does not have to pay the ADA for out of district students unless they also reside in a Basic Aide district. The District does not have to provide any facilities for out of district students.

Do the right thing Menlo Park. Get the facts. Charters are a positive force. Don't make it a negative one.

Menlo Park is very similar to Los Altos. Before BCS there wasn't any choice. You went to your assigned, "neighboorhood" school and put up with it. If you didn't like it, or wanted something different you left for a private school, it appears, from her bio, that Ms. Glanville already did this.

When a district reaches Basic Aide Status, they actually benefit from having as few students as possible. You get the same amount of money, regardless of the amount of students you have. Fewer students result in fewer employees getting higher pay and millions more for retirement benefits. It works great in a k-8 district like Menlo Park or Los Altos, where you can end up with high test scores without doing much.

Posted by Jenny Doyas, a resident of another community,
on Oct 19, 2014 at 12:02 pm

When asked to post a comment on this blog, the "Name" section says "We prefer that you use your real name," so "BCS Parent 3" when you say "4. Agree to ignore anonymous vitriol. Enough said." perhaps you should take your own advice?

I note that the three BCS posts above are considerably hostile toward non-charter public schools. I believe the point of Erin's article is that the community learn lessons from others so as to have the best outcome for the community. With ten years of battle/pain/experience in nearby Los Altos, with blame on both sides, Menlo Park would be crazy not to talk with LASD and BCS representatives.

And I should have used a different word than "identified" in my quote. It seems that the norm for the charter school model is to actually have an approved space for your school before you start. LASD never agreed to give the Bullis campus to the charter school. The Bullis campus was closed, yes, and now the campus houses Gardner Bullis School, one of seven thriving schools in the LASD. The Bullis site has been welcoming students for 8 years. When I say we fear that our campus or one of the other 6 campuses could be closed down in favor of BCS, this is a real fear, as BCS has been requesting this very thing since its inception. This fear is still very real.

Again, the blog we are currently discussing aims to have Menlo Park learn from the mistakes of others. While I completely understand that BCS parents are proud of their successful school, no one can deny that the LASD/BCS feud has severely hurt the community. LASD and BCS have made mistakes in the past, but there are signs of mending of fences, which is spectacular. Let's have Menlo Park talk to both sides and see where they are now, rather than how they were 10 years ago!

Posted by Beware , a resident of another community,
on Oct 19, 2014 at 3:03 pm

Beware of people who say it's about the children. They usually mean their children.

BCS Parent 2,
I am assuming you havenâ??t spent much time doing polling calls on behalf of Measure N? The majority of the Nos during these calls are the people that say they flat out will not vote to give money to the charter school. Be careful how you define community? The community that favors BCS is made up of BCS parents and families brand new to the area--Iâ??d venture to guess that the huge amount of kinder applications comes into BCS due to its massive marketing campaign. LASD doesnâ??t advertise but year after year posts among the best test scores in the country and far outperforms BCS if you consider that LASD has no say on who it lets in. Menlo Park should be cautious when hearing about how much a community needs a charter school.

Posted by Steve, a resident of another community,
on Oct 19, 2014 at 3:11 pm

Not mentioned here but relevant to many of us is that the same group of people simultaneously submitted a charter school proposal in the Moreland School District in West San Jose. We are presently faced with many of the same issues regarding space and financial impact. If approved, both the Moreland and Menlo Park charters would be run by the same company. While each school would have its own board, the exact same people would sit on both boards.

Posted by Teri, a resident of another community,
on Oct 19, 2014 at 11:07 pm

Beware of beware

Beware is floating the classic lies that have spread by the pro union anti school choice folks. They use scare tactics such as suggesting that parent that support education reform are actually not residents of the community. Another favorite is to suggest that charter schools can select their students which isn't true. Charters take everyone and when they fill up they hold a lottery. When charters get better results the anti choice crowd tries to explain it away with the selection myth. Here are some truths about the situation in Los Altos:

1. Many of the parents at bcs are in fact second generation residents of Los Altos not new residents.
2. Many parents try year after year to get their kids in, bcs added added an additional class of kindergartners, third and forth graders this year, all them were students from inside the school district.
3. The charter school haters have been very vocal, the events described above are all true. There really are some crazy people out there that do not want you to have a choice in public schools.
4. Having two systems actually spurs the traditional system to do more, in the past two years lasd has added all day kinder, stem, and geometry.

Posted by Beth, a resident of another community,
on Oct 20, 2014 at 7:34 am

Parents and others in the LASD really conducted themselves badly. Some of the tactics that were used by the anti-charter groups included:

1. A BCS parents as Nazi's Video.
2. A fake BCS website that used the same graphics as the actual BCS website. This website was full on lies and other nasty material. The website was viewed, accidentally, by many BCS students.
3. The school board voted to confine BCS students - punishing students - to a small 1 1/2 acre area on a junior high campus with no room for PE or exercise at recess, even though most of the facilities on the campus were empty.

Posted by Common sense, where art thou?, a resident of another community,
on Oct 20, 2014 at 11:07 am

Why on Earth do these upstart parent groups impose charters on an entire community over what is essentially an extra-curricular program? If you want your child to learn Mandarin, enroll them in Mandarin lessons, by all means. But don't use charter school laws to rape your school district and tear your community apart

Posted by Another MPCSD parent, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows,
on Oct 20, 2014 at 11:57 am

Ms. Glanville, thanks for the clarification regarding your article's intent in using the word "rushed." I don't really see it the same way, because I think we might not be where we are today if the MPCSD school board had at least agreed to consider an MI program -- and they could easily have done so in the context of re-evaluating the SI program. Instead, they essentially said, "we don't have the bandwidth even to think about this right now." What were the families supposed to do, just sit and wait? For how long?

Regarding some of the other posts regarding the community division seen in Los Altos, I don't think a MMICS charter school has to be as controversial as Bullis. Couldn't the MMICS school be chartered with the thought that at the end of 5 years, the program could be absorbed back into district schools (assuming the school board has the bandwidth to deal with it by that time)? Seems like something that might be a win-win for all. But, I don't see it happening unless the community makes clear that we want these kids and their families to stay.

I'm hoping the charter school doesn't happen. But if it does these families still are our neighbors and friends, and it would be great if they "came back" to the district some day.

Posted by palo alto parent, a resident of another community,
on Oct 20, 2014 at 2:10 pm

Erin - I actually think the disruption was an intended consequence of the threat to open a MI charter school. Using Palo Alto as an example, some parents asked for a MI program, the BOE said no, then they threatened to open a charter school. The PAUSD board then caved in and there is a Mandarin Immersion program at Ohlone school. The first "graduates" of the MI program are now in 6th grade and ironically, not enough parents were interested in continuing the Mandarin instruction after school. (PAUSD doesn't have world language classes until 7th grade).

Posted by MPCSD Parent2, a resident of Menlo Park: other,
on Oct 20, 2014 at 2:40 pm

I love how many of the pro-charter people posting here (e.g. Beth) ignore or downplay the fact that for the approximately $7000 in per pupil funding that MPCSD would pay for the proposed charter MPCSD would get
(1) $0 reimbursed for every out-of-district student from another Basic Aid district (e.g. Palo Alto), and
(2) only 70 cents reimbursed for every out-of-district student from a Revenue Limited District (e.g. Redwood City).
These figures are especially troubling since at least 30% of the parents who signed the charter petition are from out-of-district.

I also love how Beth is quick to reprimand the LASD on how to properly conduct civil political discourse, but has no problem assuming that the opposition in MPCSD to the proposed charter is part of some teachers' union cabal (it is not), rather than a grass roots movement (it is).

If anyone has hijacked an existing (and flawed) power structure to achieve their own interests (interests of a very few), it appears to be the charter school proponents.
The charter school proponents seem to have no problem going outside of the MPCSD community to push through the reform they were not able to achieve by working within the MPCSD community (on a reasonable, albeit not necessarily rushed, schedule).
The charter school proponents seem willing to do this at whatever cost.

As reported in the San Jose Mercury News, at the October 14th MPCSD public hearing, Thomas Suedoff, a Nobel Laureate and a founder of the proposed charter school, said that he "believed by creating this opportunity offered... that this would be constructive." However, Suedoff then recognized that "Clearly it [the proposed charter school] is not seen so.... This is truly not what we want...." See Web Link

Despite the concession that the MPCSD community does not see the charter foisted upon them as "constructive," and the acknowledgment that the MPCSD community's reaction "is truly not what we [the charter school proponents] want" are Suedoff and the other founders withdrawing the charter school petition and seeking to provide the MPCSD community with an approach that is actually viewed as "constructive"?
Or, are Suedoff and the other charter school proponents moving full-steam ahead with utterances of "Oh well, don't worry, it will be good for you"?

Posted by Collaborate, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown,
on Oct 22, 2014 at 5:21 am

Wow, way to stoke up a community and drve page views for your advertisers. Hope it was worth it. How about sitting down with the proponents and concerned parents for some reasonable debate on the issues. How about a charter that only permits district residents? And is based on existing campuses as a 5 year pilot? As a parent who applied for my child to the spanish immersion and was rejected because there were around 90 applicants, and most spots taken by siblings of other immersion kids, it's obvious our parents want more than the district is able to give. Give it a chance. Teach your children that we can collaborate for the greater good.

Posted by MPCSD Parent2, a resident of Menlo Park: other,
on Oct 22, 2014 at 12:07 pm

Dear Collaborate:

At the recent MPCSD meeting there were repeated invitations from charter school opponents to collaborate in order to expand foreign language/immersion offerings within MPCSD.

State law governing charter schools does not let charter schools to accept only in-district students, and, as noted above, state law nevertheless forces Basic Aid chartering districts (eg MPCSD) to bear (i) 100% of the ~$7000 per pupil funding for out-of-district students from other Basic Aid districts (eg Palo Alto) and (ii) 30% of the ~$7000 per pupil funding for out-of-district students from Revenue Limited districts (eg Redwood City).

In large part because of the way state law governing charter schools currently exists, the proposed charter school simply creates more problems than the solutions.

More foreign language/immersion programs is something our community wants. Key parts of collaboration, however, are patience and looking out for the greater good (not running off and going it alone whenever you don't get your way).

Posted by Charter Parent, a resident of another community,
on Oct 22, 2014 at 9:27 pm

I suggest you stop spreading misinformation. Your school district will only have to provide space to the students that live inside it"s boundaries. In fact that is its job. The public school students in your community are legally required to have equally equivalent facilities regardless of what program they choose to attend.

Here is my advice to to you, embrace freedom. Being a control freak only leads to community destruction. Parents want the best education possible for their kids. Charters are a great option as they can innovate and try things out much easier than traditional public schools. Only one way of doing things leads to stagnation.

All kids would benefit from some language instruction in the lower grades, after all that is when they are most able to learn it. It will never happen in traditional unionized schools in a K-8 district. Programs like foreign language, Visual and Preforming Arts and STEM means that the district will have to employ more specialists teachers, which really mucks up the seniority system. You end up with teachers that are more qualified to teach certain subjects, a big no no for the unions because in a K-8 district theoretically every teacher is qualified ie credentialed to teach every class and every grade level. Everyone has a generalist credential. When a new position is open it is filled by seniority.

A fourth grade teacher that has always wanted to teach 7th grade math can go right ahead, even if the last math class they took was remedial pre-algebra If they are the senior teacher applying and that job is open, it's theirs! Regardless of qualifications. If, however, you start adding in a bunch of specialist programs, that require certain skills, like actually speaking a foreign language, or actually understanding the scientific method then you have teachers that are no longer cogs. It just really messes everything up. Best to keep everything basic that way the seniority can rule the day.

Am I wrong? I bet this is exactly how things are operating in Menlo Park.

Posted by MPCSD Parent2, a resident of Menlo Park: other,
on Oct 22, 2014 at 10:39 pm

Dear Charter Parent:
Yes, you are wrong.
1. There is no misinformation in my posting.
A. Diistrict charter schools (eg the proposed MMICS) can give preference to in-district students, but otherwise they must be open to out-of-district students.
As noted, this is a real concern because more than 1/3 of MMICS petitioners' kids are from out-of-district.
B. with respevt to "space," while Prop 39 may only require reasonably equivalent facilities for in-district students (which still raises serious practical and finacial concerns in a district with limited facilities), that facility/space issue is seperate and apart from the issue of per pupil funding.
As noted, "state law forces Basic Aid chartering districts (eg MPCSD) to bear (i) 100% of the ~$7000 per pupil funding for out-of-district students from other Basic Aid districts (eg Palo Alto) and (ii) 30% of the ~$7000 per pupil funding for out-of-district students from Revenue Limited districts (eg Redwood City)."
2. Your generlizations/speculation about "stagnation" in unionized scool districts" is simply not accurate with respect to MPCSD. While there is always room for improvement, "[p]rograms like foreign language [Spanish Immersion], Visual and Preforming Arts and STEM" are all alive and well in MPCSD.

Posted by Stephanie, a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks,
on Oct 22, 2014 at 10:45 pm

Charter Parent: Are you saying that if a charter school has 200 students and 100 of those are MPCSD students, MPCSD only has to provide facilities for those 100 students? Do the 100 non-MPCSD students then not get to enter the facility to attend "their" school? I don't think so.

Also, you mention that "[a]ll kids would benefit from some language instruction in the lower grades" . . . the community agrees and that is what we are pushing for . . . language for all students. An immersion program, whether Spanish, Mandarin, French, etc., with limited enrollment, which is what we currently have with Spanish immersion and what the charter school proposes, is not language for all. It is language for a select group.

Your post also presupposes that the opposition to the charter school is driven by the teachers or the administration. It is not -- it is driven by the parents and former parents in the District.

As for your question "[a]m I wrong?" Yes, I think you are. Is the MPCSD perfect? No, but I doubt any school is regardless of whether it is public, private or charter. But the families who have come through our schools and who are currently in them feel strongly that the proposed charter school is not what is in the best interest of the student population as a whole.

Collaborate: I too was not able to get my children in the Spanish Immersion program. But that is life -- we don't always get what we want. And language immersion is certainly not something we are entitled to within a public school system. If that is your biggest disappointment with a school system, consider yourself lucky.

Posted by Wen, a resident of another community,
on Oct 22, 2014 at 11:36 pm

Yes charter parent is correct. They only need to provide for the I district students. You might not think so but you are wrong.

Posted by Wen, a resident of another community,
on Oct 22, 2014 at 11:47 pm

What I don't get is why you are so against it? You are getting all stressed out just because of a little competition. Choice is good it works unless you are an authoritarian and want to control the world or at least menlo park.

Posted by Mpcsd parent2, a resident of Menlo Park: other,
on Oct 23, 2014 at 12:10 am

1. Again, there is a difference between (1) what MPCSD must "provide" in terms of space/facilitites, and (2) what MPCSd must "provide" in terms of per pupil funding. You should take the time to learn about both, and you would realize that both will likely have serious adverse effects on MPCSD schools if the proposed charter school (MMICS) is established.
2. Again, I love how you (and others from outside MPCSD) seem to know what is best for MPCSD.

Posted by Charter Parent, a resident of another community,
on Oct 23, 2014 at 7:01 am

MPCSD only needs to provide those funds if:
1. They do not grant the charter and the charter is granted by SMCOE or another chartering agency.
2. If the student is coming from another basic aide district.

The likely hood of having many out of district students from basic aide districts is really low. Grant the charter and you end the problem all together.

I know you thought this was a smoking bullet, a great way to get everyone all riled up but the reality is that choice lifts all boats, except the teachers union.

Posted by Mpcsd parent2, a resident of Menlo Park: other,
on Oct 23, 2014 at 8:51 am

Both of your points are incorrect.
1. The Prop 39 facilities requirement and the $7000 per pupil funding requirement apply regardless if district (MPCSD) or county (SMCOE) approves the proposed charter school (MMICS).
Neither MPCSD nor MMICS dispute this.
2. As noted three times now, 1/3 of the proposed charter students are from out of district -- both from basic aid districts (no reimbursement for $7000 pet pupil funding) and revenue limited districts (only 70% reimbursement).
These are figures strsight from MMICS\' own petition.

Posted by Mpcsd parent2, a resident of Menlo Park: other,
on Oct 23, 2014 at 10:27 am

CORRECTION: My last post should have been to "Charter Parent" (not "Wen").

Also, FYI the following is from the proposed charter school (MMICS) website regarding providing per pupil funding:
--"The District [MPCSD] will not receive per pupil funding for out-of-District students who come from a Basic Aid District (i.e., Palo Alto, Las Lomitas, Woodside)"
--"The District [MPCSD] will receive 70% of the LCFF amount for out-of-District students who come from a Revenue Limit District (i.e., Redwood City, Ravenswood)"

And the following is from the CCSA (California Charter School Association) website regarding providing Prop 39 facilities:
--"A charter school may request facilities from each district from which they project [Average Daily Attendance] of at least 80 students, even if the district is not the charter authorizer."

Finally, apologies for typos in prior posts -- using an iphone...

Posted by Another Charter Parent, a resident of another community,
on Oct 23, 2014 at 12:35 pm

You are wrong. Charter students are public school students they don't take away money from other students, they are just in a different program. Just like children at another school MPCSD or in another classroom don't take away money from your child. Stop trying to spread misinformation. I know the union contacted you and gave you that talking point but it is wrong.

Posted by palo alto parent, a resident of another community,
on Oct 23, 2014 at 1:33 pm

@ Another Charter Parent - Charter school students that come from OTHER basic aide districts WILL take $$ away from MPCSD because they are entitled to attend the charter school, but no funding follows them. So if I want to send my PAUSD student to the MI charter, its a bonus to PAUSD since they no longer pay to educate my child, but MPCSD has to pay for them.

You would be correct if all the students in the Charter come from Menlo Park, then they are simply educating their current students at a different location.

And in theory, if 80 or more students came from PAUSD (or Ravenswood, or Las Lomitas) to the MI Charter, PAUSD would be responsible for funding their facilities.

Posted by Mpcsd parent2, a resident of Menlo Park: other,
on Oct 23, 2014 at 3:16 pm

Another Charter Parent:

I donâ??t know how I could be any clearer.

The factual support for information I provide about (1) per pupil funding for out-of-district students and (2) Prop 39 funding for facilities came directly from:

(A) the MMICS website
(B) the pro-charter CCSA (California Charter School Association) website.

None of that information came from the teachersâ?? union (which I have never spoken to).

Also, the support I provided for the real concern that the proposed charter school will have a significant number of out-of-district students comes from the MMICSâ?? petition â?? which shows that 1/3 of the expected enrollment for next year would be for out-of-district students (from both Basic Aid and Revenue Limited districts).

Simply repeating that information is â??misinformationâ? do not make it so. For each assertion I have made, I have provided factual support. I suggest that you (and â??Charter Parentâ? and â??Wenâ?) do likewise and refrain from making unwarranted and unsupported accusations.

You also may want to stop speaking about charters generally and instead consider that in this specific instance the proposed MMICS charter school (with its significant out-of-district enrollment) will actually create significant problems for MPCSD (a small, facilities-limited, Basic Aid district).

Posted by Charter Parent, a resident of another community,
on Oct 23, 2014 at 5:41 pm

Oh please, have to give all you chicken littles a giant eye roll. @@ Do you realize that you are arguing about the few out of district students that MIGHT be part of the new school? At most these students will cost the district a few thousand dollars. You will gain thousands more in ADA revenue when the number of students you are educating on the fixed pot of basic aide money is reduced by the existence of your new charter, In a basic aide district the students benefit every time the enrollment is reduced.* The simple solution is to grant the charter, then you DO NOT HAVE TO PAY THE OUT OF DISTRICT BASIC AID ADA. Its a penalty, that basic aide rule only kicks in when the district rejects a charter bid and then that charter is granted by someone else.

*In the Los Altos School District, Bullis Charter School actually increases the LASD ADA amount by 800 dollars for each student in LASD programs.. BCS gets about 6,000 dollars from LASD. LASD gets almost $12,000 ADA so they pocket about $6000 for each LASD that choses BCS. An additional benefit is that existence of BCS has kept the growth in enrollment at other district very low. All the growth in LASD has pretty much been absorbed by BCS.

Posted by Mpcsd Parent2, a resident of Menlo Park: other,
on Oct 23, 2014 at 6:51 pm

Charter Parent:

Please provide authority to support you saying "The simple solution is to grant the charter, then you DO NOT HAVE TO PAY THE OUT OF DISTRICT BASIC AID ADA. Its a penalty, that basic aide rule only kicks in when the district rejects a charter bid and then that charter is granted by someone else."

I have never seen anything supporting the "penalty" system you describe above.

As I have noted, the following is from the proposed charter school (MMICS) website regarding providing per pupil funding:
--"The District [MPCSD] will not receive per pupil funding for out-of-District students who come from a Basic Aid District (i.e., Palo Alto, Las Lomitas, Woodside)"
--"The District [MPCSD] will receive 70% of the LCFF amount for out-of-District students who come from a Revenue Limit District (i.e., Redwood City, Ravenswood)"

And from the MPCSD webiste:
"For students enrolled from another Basic Aid district, like Las Lomitas or Palo Alto,MPCSD would transfer funding to the charter for each student but would not receive any reimbursement. For charter students enrolled from other Revenue Limit Districts, like Redwood City or Ravenswood, MPCSD would transfer funding to the charter but could apply to receive 70% back in reimbursement."

Posted by Parent, a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights,
on Oct 24, 2014 at 7:23 am

This debate is an example of someone stirring the pot to get mostly decent folks arguing with one another. Education is presented as a zero sum game: if the Charter School is created, then those attending win at the cost of the rest of the district. Well done.

Posted by Mpcsd parent2, a resident of Menlo Park: other,
on Oct 24, 2014 at 4:13 pm

Respectfully, the "pot was stirred" when the community reacted to the charter petition being filed (not as a result of some blog-post).
While the charter proponents may be very well-intended, the proposed charter raises very real issues that the community is responding to.
This community concern/debate/etc. was evidenced by the large numbers attending the Oct. 14 MPCSD hearing (well before this blog-post).

Posted by Parent, a resident of Atherton: other,
on Oct 24, 2014 at 10:27 pm

These people who want a charter school should just home school. It is not that hard and there are ways to connect with other home schoolers with similar interests. It is easy to get the resources. Lots of parents who have kids attending the local schools get teacher's editions of books to help their children get that extra advantage so if you home school you should be able to get those same materials. You know your children better. Why fight with all these people who don't want you to have a charter school?

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