Governance Questions

  • What is the governance model at BCS?

    As a public school, BCS is evaluated and overseen by federal, state, and county authorities, a Board of Directors, and local parents who have exercised their choice in public education.
     
    BCS is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, in the same category as the local Second Harvest Food Bank, Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health, Los Altos Community Foundation, and Los Altos Education Foundation.  Such nonprofits perform “public benefit purposes” and are mission-driven.  BCS’s Articles of Incorporation are filed with the California Secretary of State. 
     
    When BCS founders were researching governance models and how to hold the board and administration accountable for student achievement, research found that appointed boards are the best practice in charter schools and nonprofits. All of BCS’ seven board members decisions are deeply rooted in the BCS mission:
     
    “BCS offers a collaborative, experiential learning environment that emphasizes individual student achievement and inspires children, faculty and staff to reach beyond themselves to achieve full potential. Using a global perspective to teach about the interconnectedness of communities and their environments, the BCS program nurtures mutual respect, civic responsibility, and a lifelong love of learning.”
     
    Dedication to this mission has kept the school focused on student achievement and innovative programs, contributing to BCS’s position as the highest performing public charter school in California today.
     
    When there is a BCS board vacancy, a committee is formed to find candidates with needed complementary skills. A careful selection process followed by a board vote ensures continuity of the BCS mission.
     
    Appointed boards are the norm at nonprofits, as seen at The American Red Cross, The Nature Conservancy, Habitat for Humanity, and most successful independent charter schools. Many nonprofits, including BCS, also receive public funds. However, non-profit boards do not have powers such as those vested in traditional elected school boards, such as the ability to levy taxes, issue bonds, exercise eminent domain, or otherwise seize private property from citizens, only elected boards can have such powers.
     
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  • What are the responsibilities of the BCS Board? 

    The School is governed by a non-profit board of directors, whose major roles and responsibilities include, but are not limited to, establishing and approving all major educational and operational policies, approving all major contracts, approving the School's annual budget, overseeing the School's fiscal affairs, meeting corporate requirements, and selecting and evaluating the administrative staff.
     
    The BCS Board of Directors has ultimate responsibility for the operation and activities of the School. Board members have a responsibility to solicit input from, and opinions of, the parents of BCS students regarding issues of significance and to weigh the input and opinions carefully before taking action. The primary method for executing their responsibility is the adoption of policies that offer guidance and interpretation of the charter, and procedures to assist the staff in facilitating the implementation of such policies.   
     
    The Board consists of seven members with one member serving as Chairperson, one as Treasurer, and one as Secretary. 
     
    The Board meets at least once a month and additionally as needed.   For recent and upcoming school board meeting dates, please see our Board meeting agendas and minutes page.
     
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  • How are BCS Board members selected?

    The BCS Board operates based on a not-for-profit model proven as a best practice for mission-driven organizations. Board terms are three years and are staggered. Term ending dates are listed by each member’s name on board agendas. When a term is about to expire, an ad hoc committee is created to identify potential new board members. This committee is designed to represent the breadth of the BCS community and is composed of individuals independently selected by each of their respective groups, as follows:
     
    • 3 BCS Board Members 
    • 1 Bullis Booster Club (BBC) Representative
    • 2 Bullis Purissima Elementary School Foundation (BPESF) Representatives, and 
    • The Superintendent/Principal 
     
    The committee strives to find willing volunteers with the qualifications necessary to support and enhance the mission, structure, and function of BCS. The committee Chair announces its nominee(s) in a public board meeting, at which time other persons also may be nominated. The BCS Board of Directors votes on nominees at a subsequent public meeting.
     
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  • How does the BCS Board ensure transparency? 

    The BCS Board complies with the Brown Act. Except as otherwise permitted or required by law, its meetings are open to the public, and have been tape recorded and are often “live streamed” by a local news organization (Los Altos Patch). The League of Women Voters regularly sends an “observer” to monitor the meetings, and has reported in the LWV Newsletter that the Board complies with the Brown Act (linked here).
     
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  • What are some unique aspects of Charter school governance and accountability versus traditional public schools? 

    Creation of charter schools is authorized by the State of California.  They are an integral part of the public education system.  BCS, like most other charter schools, is established as a nonprofit public benefit corporation.  As such, its Board of Directors must meet certain requirements including a commitment to the best interests of the entity.  Board members must act in the best interest of the organization at all times. 
     
    Charter schools are established with a different paradigm than traditional public schools.  Traditional public schools rely on regulations and processes.  Charter schools tend to focus on specific, measurable results.  Charter schools are accountable to their chartering authority and, ultimately, to those families that have chosen a charter school.
     
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  • How is BCS held accountable by its chartering agency, the SCCOE? 

    All public schools, including BCS, must meet federal and state accountability requirements (e.g. California's Standardized Testing and Reporting program).
     
    BCS is overseen by the Santa Clara County Board of Education (SCCBOE), an elected body, and the Santa Clara County Office of Education (SCCOE), based on the structure set forth in their charter.
     
    SCCOE conducts rigorous oversight and monitoring of BCS, including:
    1. Monthly financial monitoring; 
    2. Regular site visits; 
    3. Independent annual financial audit; and 
    4. Detailed review of all aspects of the charter every five years, including achievement of state standards.
     
    SCCOE, with an elected board, is completely independent of the charter school administrations that it oversees. This independence ensures that their charter school oversight is rigorous and unbiased.
     
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  • Who provides financial oversight of BCS? 

    BCS uses a private back-office service firm to administer financial matters including payroll, vendor payment, and revenue collection. This ensures that industry best practices are employed in BCS’ back-office activities, and provides external review on an ongoing basis.
     
    The BCS Finance Committee (a subcommittee of the BCS Board of Directors) reviews the school’s financial position and budgets and makes recommendations to the BCS Board.  It also completes financial studies to help the BCS Board make decisions regarding the financial direction of the school. 
     
    BCS undergoes an annual independent financial audit by a certified public accounting firm.  The firm reviews school records on site as well as records at the back-office firm.  It examines various records to ensure that BCS’s financial statements are accurate and that BCS’s processes are in compliance with the law.
     
    Finally, BCS provides monthly financial reporting to the SCCOE, which also completes its own financial auditing of the school on an annual basis.
     
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  • What other accountability mechanisms exist at BCS? 

    In addition to being accountable to the SCCOE, BCS is accountable to its families who actively decide each year whether BCS or another public school will best serve their child. As a public charter school, without a captive attendance area, BCS only exists if there is a demand for it. Since opening in 2003, there has been overwhelming demand for a BCS education, with now more than six students applying for each available seat.
     
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  • How do constituents give input at BCS? 

    The BCS Board and leadership are highly invested in obtaining constituent input, and do so through a variety of mechanisms:
     
    • Annual Strategic Planning sessions include BCS teachers, staff, parents, community members, Charter School and education experts, and Santa Clara County Office of Education (SCCOE) staff. The results of these sessions are conveyed to other parent/teacher subcommittees for further refinement and recommendations for action plans.
    • BCS conducts an annual constituent opinion survey. The results are presented publicly to the BCS Board for evaluation and action.
    • BCS holds regular public board meetings, each with a public comments portion.
    • The BBC holds forums on topics of parent interest.
    • Input for the Principal and Board Members can be submitted by email.
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