Bullis Charter School

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Bullis Charter School
Logo - Bullis Charter School.jpg
102 West Portola Ave.
Los Altos, California 94022
United States
Coordinates 37°23′48″N 122°06′56″W / 37.396800°N 122.115499°W / 37.396800; -122.115499Coordinates: 37°23′48″N 122°06′56″W / 37.396800°N 122.115499°W / 37.396800; -122.115499
Type Public Charter
Established 2003
School district Santa Clara County Office of Education
Grades K - 8
Enrollment Approx. 700
Campus type Suburban
Color(s) Yellow & Blue
Mascot Bear

Bullis Charter School (BCS) is a public charter school located in Los Altos, California, USA, for grades kindergarten through eighth. As the Santa Clara County Office of Education charters the school, BCS operates independently of the Los Altos School District (LASD). BCS differentiates itself from the LASD schools by providing "Focused Learning Goals", full-time teaching specialists in the arts and sciences, a Mandarin language program, and optional after-school activities. The school is funded in approximately equal parts from state funding and parent donations.[1]


BCS was founded by local residents as a reaction to the decision of 10 February 2003 by the Los Altos School District (LASD) Board to close Bullis Elementary School in Los Altos Hills (this school later re-opened as Gardner Bullis School in 2008).

Because of the nature of the school's origin, the background and motivation behind the school's creation are an important part of its history. The Los Altos School District ran a parcel tax campaign in 2002, Measure A, and indicated the money was necessary to maintain the current schools and their quality. There was no mention of a school closure if the measure passed. Within one week of achieving a 70% passing vote the LASD Board of Trustees began the process of selecting a school to close. Many in the Los Altos Hills and University Avenue area of Los Altos felt betrayed by the District and its board. It was this more than anything else that began the process of distrust and disengagement of many of these parents. A citizen's committee from across the community was formed to select which school to close. From their perspective, the Los Altos Hills school was the smallest and easiest to close. The result was essentially three factions of disgruntled parents. One faction simply accepted what happened and moved on. Another faction worked with the District for several more years to re-open the closed school, which eventually succeeded five years after its original closure. A third faction opened Bullis Charter School.

After the school's original charter application was twice rejected by the local school district, the school is now chartered by the County of Santa Clara.

The school now resides in two locations shared with Egan Junior High School (K-8) and Blach Intermediate School (K-5).

The school exists alongside of the original school it was intended to replace and reportedly draws many more applications than spots that are available, although now only approximately 25% of the school's attendees reside in the attendance area of the temporarily closed school which this school was created to replace.

While many parents are apparently interested in the "alternate" approach of the school (as evidence from the school's application numbers which are reported by the school itself), many have raised questions for the need for this in a district which is already considered high performing.


On September 3, 2003, the Santa Clara Office of Education approved the school charter and became the sponsoring agency of BCS.

On March 15, 2004, the LASD offered the portable classrooms at Egan Junior High School to BCS beginning on May 1, 2004.[2] BCS accepted and has been located there ever since.

On February 21, 2007, the Santa Clara County Board of Education approved the renewal of the BCS charter for five more years in a 6-0 vote.[3]

On April 9, 2008, BCS was given a California Distinguished School Award.[4]

In 2008, BCS was granted WASC Accreditation.[5]

In November 2008, the Santa Clara County Board of Education ruled that BCS can add a 7th and 8th grade.[6]

In August 2010, BCS opened its doors to their first ever 7th grade class.[7]

Academic performance[edit]

Since its inception, BCS has consistently been the highest-scoring charter school of over 650 in the state of California. By the end of 2006, BCS was also ranked among the top 1 percent of all schools in the state.[8] BCS' California Academic Performance Index (API) scores* since 2005 have remained consistently above average (the lowest being 960). Although this is outstanding performance, it is not significantly better than the public schools in LASD (see chart below for comparison with to the Los Altos School District average).

Year BCS Score LASD Average Differential
2005 970[9] 949[10] ~2%
2006 960[11] 960[12] (none)
2007 972[13] 954[14] ~2%
2008 967[15] 956[16] ~1%
2009 971[17] 959[18] ~1%
2010 988[19] 965[20] ~2%
2011 984[21] 969[22] ~2%

* The API is a number ranging from 200 to 1,000, with a higher number being better.

Differentiation from Surrounding Public Schools[edit]

Bullis Charter School personnel say that "innovation has always been a part of the fabric of school". One differentiation is its Individual Learning Plans which later became known as "Focused Learning Goals". Another is full-time teaching specialists in the arts and sciences, and a Mandarin language program taught as a requirement from kindergarten onward, and a curriculum featuring co-curricular classes and optional after-school extra-curricular activities.

Unlike traditional public schools (and like other Charter schools), anyone in the state of California can submit an application to attend BCS each academic year. If there are more applications than there are spots available for students, then, by law, there is a lottery to determine who is admitted.[23] According to the school's enrollment procedures found on their website, enrollment preferences (which are authorized by the Santa Clara County Office of Education) are applied based on a prescribed hierarchy within each grade level.[24] This preference also gives children from affluent parts of Los Altos and Los Altos Hills special priority, which has been a source of some controversy.[25]


  1. ^ http://www.bcsfoundation.com/
  2. ^ Acuff, Kathleen (2004-04-07). "Egan camp LASD's final offer to charter school". Los Altos Online. Los Altos Town Crier. Retrieved 2010-12-26. 
  3. ^ "February 21, 2007 minutes" (PDF). Santa Clara County Board of Education. 2007-02-21. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-03-06. 
  4. ^ "Bullis Charter School named California Distinguished School". Los Altos Online. Los Altos Town Crier. 2008-04-23. 
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-24. Retrieved 2009-12-31. 
  6. ^ Weiss, Casey (2008-11-23). "Bullis allowed to expand". Mountain View Online. Mountain View Voice. Retrieved 2010-12-27. 
  7. ^ Newell, Traci (2010-09-14). "Bullis offers alternative seventh-grade experience". Los Altos Online. Los Altos Town Crier. Retrieved 2010-12-27. 
  8. ^ "BCS chosen for public awareness campaign". Los Altos Online. Los Altos Town Crier. 2006-11-29. 
  9. ^ http://api.cde.ca.gov/AcntRpt2005/2005APRSchAYPReport.aspx?cYear=2005-06&allcds=43104390106534[permanent dead link]
  10. ^ http://api.cde.ca.gov/APIBase2006/2005Base_DstAPI.aspx?cYear=2004-05&allcds=4369518&cChoice=2004BApiD
  11. ^ http://api.cde.ca.gov/AcntRpt2006/2006APRSchAYPReport.aspx?cYear=2005-06&allcds=43104390106534[permanent dead link]
  12. ^ http://api.cde.ca.gov/AcntRpt2007/2006Base_DstAPI.aspx?cYear=2006-07&allcds=4369518&cChoice=2006BApiD
  13. ^ http://api.cde.ca.gov/AcntRpt2007/2007APRSchAYPReport.aspx?cYear=2005-06&allcds=43104390106534
  14. ^ http://api.cde.ca.gov/AcntRpt2008/2007Base_DstAPI.aspx?cYear=2007-08&allcds=4369518&cChoice=2007BApiD
  15. ^ http://api.cde.ca.gov/AcntRpt2008/2008APRSchAYPReport.aspx?cYear=2005-06&allcds=43104390106534
  16. ^ http://api.cde.ca.gov/AcntRpt2009/2008Base_DstAPI.aspx?cYear=2008-09&allcds=4369518&cChoice=2008BApiD
  17. ^ http://api.cde.ca.gov/AcntRpt2009/2009APRSchAYPReport.aspx?cYear=2005-06&allcds=43104390106534
  18. ^ http://api.cde.ca.gov/AcntRpt2010/2009Base_DstAPI.aspx?cYear=2009-10&allcds=4369518&cChoice=2009BApiD
  19. ^ http://api.cde.ca.gov/AcntRpt2010/2010APRSchAYPReport.aspx?cYear=2005-06&allcds=43104390106534
  20. ^ http://api.cde.ca.gov/Acnt2011/2010Base_DstAPI.aspx?cYear=2010-11&allcds=4369518&cChoice=2009BApiD
  21. ^ http://api.cde.ca.gov/Acnt2011/2011GrowthSch.aspx?allcds=43104390106534
  22. ^ http://api.cde.ca.gov/Acnt2011/2011GrowthDstApi.aspx?cYear=&allcds=4369518&cChoice=2011GDst2
  23. ^ "California Charter Schools Association: Understanding Charters - FAQs". 
  24. ^ "Bullis Charter School - Enrollment FAQs". Archived from the original on 2012-01-30. 
  25. ^ "Taxpayers Get Billed for Kids of Millionaires at Charter School". Bloomberg News. Archived from the original on 2012-02-01. 

External links[edit]