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School District Overcrowding – how bad is it?

Original post made by yet another parent, Escondido School, on Aug 30, 2007

As the school year begins, it's frustrating to watch this district become more and more crowded every year without a solution in sight. I'm trying to get a sense of what's happening at the elementary schools regarding overcrowding. Escondido, for the first time I'm aware of since at least the early 90s, is turning away neighborhood children. Is this happening at other schools?

How do we get the BOE and Superintendent Skelly's attention? Somehow I don't think 3 minutes at a Board meeting is going to do it. Why wasn't opening Garland approved, and why was Spanish Immersion recently increased? Neither decision makes any sense under the circumstances. I must be missing something.

Comments (146)

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Posted by growing daily
a resident of El Carmelo School
on Aug 30, 2007 at 10:35 pm

I do know that El Carmelo, Fairmeadow and Briones over-flowed children. Families have been split to different schools.


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Posted by Yet Another Concerned Parent
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 30, 2007 at 11:51 pm

I have had excellent results when I have sent email letters directly to the school board members. Every member was quick and courteous to reply to my email letter (when the MI program was initially being discussed).
It actually took me several days to compile my data and edit my letter to the board. They were very impressed and wanted to hear more from me.

I should mention that I did receive an "out of office" reply from one member, Camille Townsend. Otherwise, everyone else was very quick to respond and happy to receive my letter.

I am certain that I could not have expressed my views or presented my facts to the board in the alloted three minutes (and in such a tense environment).

Email is definitely the way to go.

Thanks for taking an interest in the overflow problem.

Bravo to all those who take the time to get involved in the community, whether it works or not.

Let's not talk about the MI program anymore. We all know what happened. No need to rehash it again - please.

There are other problems now that need to be addressed.

Good Luck


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 31, 2007 at 7:35 am

Well, unfortunately they've joined us at the hip to the MI program, and when you talk facilities and capacity, you need to have a discussion that includes MI (just ask the AAAG).

So we ALL want to stop talking about MI (sort of like we'd like to stop talking about homelessness, or teen pregnancy, or cancer.) But unfortunately, we have talk about these unsavory subjects, whether we want to or not. Just not prudent to just stop talking about these things just because they make us uncomfortable.


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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 31, 2007 at 7:40 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by yet another parent
a resident of Escondido School
on Aug 31, 2007 at 9:49 am

Concerned Parent, thanks for the reminder to contact our board reps. I visited pausd.org and was disappointed that it no longer displays which schools each board member represents.

As far as avoiding an MI discussion, I agree with Parent -- although I can see how all the MI conversations can become tiresome if you believe it to be a harmless program that doesn't affect you.

Perhaps if you knew more details surrounding Escondido's overcrowding you'd think twice about how harmless MI will be.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 31, 2007 at 9:54 am

YAP

The reason the website has taken down the info as to which board member represents which school may (emphasise may) be due to the fact that at the beginning of the school year this changes and although there is a list for the new school year which I have seen, it may need to be voted or something before being posted.


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Posted by terryg
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Aug 31, 2007 at 10:08 am

Hi yet-another-parent,
what "details around Escondido's overcrowding" do you mean?


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Posted by yet another parent
a resident of Escondido School
on Aug 31, 2007 at 10:28 am

terryg, the following is taken verbatim from another conversation (Web Link - it's a long thread so you might just search for my name.)

Last night Escondido had its back-to-school night where I learned of another factor that affects the continuity of the Neighborhood Escondido students' education. There was a major reshuffling of teachers that occurred last Thursday – FIVE DAYS before school started. A 4th grade teacher is now teaching 3rd grade; the 3rd grade teacher was displaced to 2nd, and a 2nd grade teacher is doing a 1/2 mix. One kindergarten teacher moved to another school this year because she was tired of the rotation to first grade every couple years. This is a long-standing pattern at Escondido.

I am in awe of these teachers who are expected to change their grade & curriculum on a moment's notice. Does this *routinely* occur at other schools (a small amount of shuffling is to be expected – hopefully with a bit more notice), or is this a problem unique to Escondido?

How can teachers be effective (and have job satisfaction) if they're not allowed to teach and perfect at their chosen grade level? Surely this affects the students, too.

Worse, they capped the second grade at 2.5 classes, making one group a first-second grade combined class. The reason? They didn't want this group of students to increase now or in the future because they need the classrooms for the Spanish Immersion expansion from 1.5 strands to 2. This has nothing to do with educational pedagogy. If they're capped at 50 students (20+20+10), this seems to imply that every year (3rd, 4th, 5th grade) this group of students will continue to have jury-rigged combined classes. I can't see how this is an equal education. A combined class isn't popular among these 2nd grade parents, but my guess is that they'll all have their turn "doing time" in the mixed class.

There's far more to Escondido's STAR test results than meets the eye. And there's more to these immersion programs than what's seen on the surface.


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Posted by Non W Hays parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 31, 2007 at 12:20 pm

I have just been driving up Embarcadero and was stopped by the lights beside Hays Elementary. I was shocked to see the kids sitting in lunch tables under a shade tent, packed in like sardines, eating lunch. The students nearest me were not in the shade at all, but in full sun on what is probably temps in the high 80s. The supervisors were all standing in full sun too.

It is not just classrooms that may be overcrowded, but when it comes to not enough shade for lunch tables, we know we are overcrowded.


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Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Aug 31, 2007 at 12:23 pm

My sophomore son, due to complicated reasons, did not get into chemistry which is the regular science class for 10th grade. He has been trying to transfer in but has been refused because there is no space. This is not acceptable when a student can't get into his core science class for his grade level.


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Posted by terryg
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Aug 31, 2007 at 12:30 pm

y-a-p
i was late last night so missed his speech but you're right about the churn being very disruptive. much of the churn is the normal comings and goings at Escondido due to the high percentage of students on the traditional side who come and go as their parents attend stanford then graduate. split classes suck but they happen. the SI has had them for years so i think they're happy the expansion of SI fixes some of that.
also expanding SI a little opens spaces at other schools to help keep some of the overflow down. of course, it's a shame that we had overflow from Escondido this year; we're usually spared that. but in a district we can't expect to have enough space to match the neighborhood populations perfectly; we'd surely have to overbuild to ensure enough space. personally, i favor the AAAG's suggestion to change school boundaries and eventually open another elementary school.
best,
tg


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Posted by terryg
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Aug 31, 2007 at 12:32 pm

y-a-p
by the way, i tried to read the thread to which you directed me but it gave me a headache.
happy friday,
tg


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Posted by yet another parent
a resident of Escondido School
on Aug 31, 2007 at 1:23 pm

"by the way, i tried to read the thread to which you directed me but it gave me a headache."
Agreed! That's why I suggested you jump down to the Escondido part of the conversation. Search for "yet another parent" and you can skip most of the MI stuff and get straight into the Escondido-related conversation, albeit in the context of MI.

"also expanding SI a little opens spaces at other schools to help keep some of the overflow down. of course, it's a shame that we had overflow from Escondido this year; we're usually spared that."

This is what bothers me, though. To claim that SI (and eventually MI) can help with overcrowding is odd. True, it functions as an overflow mechanism that draws students out of other schools. However, the traditional method of overflow is to move the child to a school that's LESS crowded. SI operated this way for a number of years.

Today's reality is that SI "overflows" children from all schools (crowded and uncrowded alike) to a school that is at capacity and turning away a significant number of its own students. Moving kids from, say, Duveneck or Barron Park into an expanded SI and then sending kids from Escondido to Barron Park or Duveneck to make space is just weird. The families involved probably have a stronger word for it. There is something seriously, seriously wrong with this picture.

Happy Friday to you, too!


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 31, 2007 at 9:17 pm

Yet another,

The SI issue at Escondido is even more of a factor in the overcrowding than it may seem. SI expanded last year to take in overflow from the north cluster. Families who wanted SI and were in the Escondido catchment area were told they wouldn't get spots.

So, given the huge sibling preference factor (making maybe five spots open on the original strand) and last year's preferential treatment of kids from the north cluster (and thus their siblings), you've got a situation where SI pushes out neighborhood kids AND offers almost no spots to kids in the neighborhood.


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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 1, 2007 at 7:04 am

So Tinsley is still the cause for overflowing schools about which we dare not talk.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 1, 2007 at 11:45 am

Walter,

Tinsley's been talked about here. It's a factor, but far from the only one. Economics is really the big one. We HAVE elementary school buildings, but we're not using them. Garland, LAH and Ventura are all there--reopening one of them would take care of overcrowding.

Another factor that's going to play a bigger role are the numerous south PA housing projects--clearly they'll attract families to areas that will then overflow if they're not doing so already.

Tinsley is, in my opinion, due for re-examination, but it's far from the only factor.


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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 1, 2007 at 1:00 pm

The refusal to approach that "just one factor" right now is dereliction of duty.


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Posted by greater factors
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 1, 2007 at 1:47 pm

To address that one factor at this time would be a greater dereliction of duty. There are bigger factors which 1) are easier to tackle; 2) create less rancor; and 3) would have a greater impact in relieving the overcrowding. Better to start with one of these.

But don't hold your breath, this approach relies on prioritizing. :-O


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 1, 2007 at 2:54 pm

Hardly derilection of duty. Opening another school is really, I think, the issue that has to be dealt with. Five kids per school per year isn't creating the overcrowding that we're seeing. It's been the same number for years, but only now are we seeing big overcrowding problems.

I think, though, that there is positive action here--how about thinking of ways for EPA to improve its schools. I think if EPA had one great elementary school, most EPA parents would love not having to drive across town.

Greater Factors,

Skelly seems to be paying attention. Now let's try to get a school board that can prioritize.


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Posted by Al
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 1, 2007 at 5:09 pm

"Five kids per school per year isn't creating the overcrowding that we're seeing."

That's one extra strand each four years, for each school, assuming that the extra kids are K-3.

"Overcrowding" is a matter of definition. The 800 lb. gorilla is the K-3 twenty kid/classroom restriction. Time to get rid of it. It is not effective, and it is very expsensive.

Tinsley (VTP) was supposed to be a an equal transfer of students from less privielged districts to more priviledged, AND vice versa. That didn't happen, because rich white parents are not about to send their kids to EPA schools. It is a broken promise. Get rid of it.

Get rid of ALL choice programs, and return to the sanity called neighborhood schools. The choice folks should be given vouchers to go set up their own programs.

I have watched PA education deteriorate for some time, but it is facing a critical stage now. If it doesn't get back to basics, it will fail. Oh, it will continue to have above average standard test scores, but those who can will remove their kids from the system (just like the middle class does in San Francisco).

Go back to solid neighborhood schools. It is the only way to save PA education.


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Posted by AAAG Member
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 1, 2007 at 5:29 pm

Be careful when you say that 20 kids per classroom is too expensive. There is funding from the State when we keep k - 3 20 kids or less. We lose this funding when we go over it. To increase this amount by one or two will cost more money than it saves on teachers. It will only save money when the classroom size goes up to about 25. After that we will save more in teachers than we will lose by not having the State funding. Yes, if you budget in opening another school for 5 kids per grade, it will make a difference financially. But, you do have to be careful on this one.


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Posted by Al
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 1, 2007 at 5:38 pm

AAAG,

When my kids went to PA schools, there were about 28 kids per class, K-3. They were not damaged by that tragic occurence. If fact, they did just fine.

When you talk about being careful, I agree with you. The move to 20 kids/classroom was VERY uncareful. Time to move back to what what works...at the lowest possible cost.


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Posted by wants to know
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 1, 2007 at 6:25 pm

Who approved increasing Spanish Immersion from 1.5 strands to 2? Principal? superintendent? Did it require BOE approval?


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Posted by p
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 1, 2007 at 6:43 pm

Marilyn Cook. For the 06/07 school year. And when the expansion was approved, they were told to make sure they got their enrollment from the overcrowded North area. So much for random lottery.


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Posted by frustrated
a resident of Meadow Park
on Sep 1, 2007 at 7:15 pm

Can we PLEASE have some accountability for this woman?


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Posted by KCM
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Sep 1, 2007 at 7:38 pm

How can anyone claim with a straight face that the school population increase is 5 kids per school per year, when in the next few months 181 families will move into the new housing at the Hyatt Rickey's site? Followed by 40 or more into the new housing at the Elks site? Most of the units are 3-4 bedrooms and larger in area than the surrounding older homes.


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Posted by yet another parent
a resident of Escondido School
on Sep 1, 2007 at 8:01 pm

"The SI issue at Escondido is even more of a factor in the overcrowding than it may seem. SI expanded last year to take in overflow from the north cluster. Families who wanted SI and were in the Escondido catchment area were told they wouldn't get spots."

OhlonePar, all the more reason to make these lotteries transparent!

KCM, that number was in reference to the Tinsley students, not the general school population. You're absolutely right about the imminent barrage of new students, and it *should* be plainly obvious to the district personnel, too, although it doesn't appear to be. I'm appalled at the series of bad decisions made in the last year or so. They'll affect us for years to come. I can't help wondering if Sup. Skelly will have the guts to correct any of those decisions.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 1, 2007 at 8:17 pm

KCM,

The five kids per grade per school refers to kids coming from Tinsley, not the growth of the district overall, which is way more than 60 kids a year.

Yet another,

Even if the lotteries are transparent, I'm not sure it's going to help much, given that sibling preference is such a huge factor. With both Ohlone and SI (probably Hoover, though I don't know), sibling preference means there are only a few slots available to "outsiders".

It's a real shame, I think, that the expansion of SI, which should have given non-sibs a chance was fixed in other ways.

The language programs have another issue, of course, in that kids can't just transfer into them at a later grade. With Hoover and Ohlone, you can move up the waiting list and, say, transfer your kid in first grade. You can also move into the district and have a shot at getting an older child into one of those two programs.

It's weird we're essentially duplicating the situation of the least fair of the lottery programs.

From what I'm told, the overenrollment's not as critical in the north cluster as it was last year. But it sounds like the south is facing huge issues--particularly as that's where the housing is going. And Gunn's already turning kids away if they move in after May.


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Posted by balance
a resident of Gunn High School
on Sep 2, 2007 at 2:14 pm

My understanding is that Gunn has 180 more students than Paly does at this time. This impacts all aspects of the campus including adminstration, classrooms, clubs and facility overload. Shouldn't there at least be a balance of the number of students at each campus so that when new families move in during the school year they could go to their neighborhood school?


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 2, 2007 at 3:10 pm

I was told by someone at Gunn that new enrollment for Fall closed in May.

All the indicators are that we'll have the students for a third high school, but I expect reopening Cubberly would be fought tooth and nail. It's expensive, tons of groups use Cubberly and a lot of families move to south Paly specifically for Gunn.


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Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 2, 2007 at 3:28 pm

Is there any room at elementary schools to go back to the K-6th grade scenario that I had as a pa school student (years ago)? Three grades in high school would go a long way in alleviating overcrowding there - with a 13th elementary school could this work?




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Posted by Been there, done that
a resident of Southgate
on Sep 2, 2007 at 11:26 pm

When my kids went to PA schools, there were about 28 kids per class, K-3. They were not damaged by that tragic occurence. If fact, they did just fine.

When you talk about being careful, I agree with you. The move to 20 kids/classroom was VERY uncareful. Time to move back to what what works...at the lowest possible cost.
Posted by Al,

*****************************************************************

I agree with you Al and second your opinion. I had children in both configurations and I think that moving back to 28 kids/classroom in elementary school is just fine and a great solution to overcrowding.


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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 3, 2007 at 6:07 am

Drive past Costano school, where my kids started out, and you will see a large modern campus with many new buildings. Let them add their portables. Stop insulting EPA residents with the implication they are incapable of education unless they attend with their betters.


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Posted by yet another parent
a resident of Escondido School
on Sep 3, 2007 at 9:54 am

"Is there any room at elementary schools to go back to the K-6th grade scenario that I had as a pa school student (years ago)? Three grades in high school would go a long way in alleviating overcrowding there - with a 13th elementary school could this work?"

Not really. A 13th school could relieve other elementary schools by taking in about 480 students (6 grades X 4 strands X 20 students). The resulting 480 spots wouldn't be nearly enough space to house the 825+ 6th graders.

Even if it did work (or we were willing to cram that many more kids into our overcrowded elementary schools), the middle schools would be no better off by trading sixth graders for eighth graders. They (Jordan and JLS) are already packed beyond what's a reasonable middle school capacity.


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Posted by yet another parent
a resident of Escondido School
on Sep 3, 2007 at 9:56 am

Correction: middle schools would be trading sixth graders for ninth graders.


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Posted by Concerned Parent
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 4, 2007 at 3:08 pm

Why don't we, as parents, insist via emails to school board members, that more money be used to verify that those attending our schools actually live in Palo Alto and that the Tinsley settlement be reviewed by COMPETENT legal counsel to see if it is still valid. I believe that it had language in there that required 60 students every year ONLY if there was space available in the Palo Alto school system. Clearly, there is no space available at this time. It's time for Tinsley to go and time to verify that those in the Palo Alto classrooms, taking the place of Palo Alto students in their own neighborhood schools, actually live in Palo Alto and therefore belong in that classroom.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 4, 2007 at 3:27 pm

Concerned,

That's the first I've heard about Tinsley being limited to space available. Does anybody know?

While I think there are some people who game the system to get into the district, I think we've got honest-to-god, in-district overcrowding. And we'll have more as those housing developments are completed.

I attended one meeting re: the bayshore development at Loma Verde. The developer said that families wouldn't be buying these townhouses and so there'd be no effect on school enrollment.

Yeah, like seniors are going to spend a million for a townhouse facing the freeway . . . not to mention our wild swinging singles scene . . .


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 4, 2007 at 3:54 pm

OhlonePar

There is also the feeling that if seniors do decide to move into some of these townhomes being built they will be releasing their family sized homes into the market for more families. Another feeling is that townhomes are bought by one or other parent in a divorce to keep a home in Palo Alto to enable the kids to remain in the schools. Whichever of these plus at least some families will move in, it is definitely going to bring in more families to Palo Alto. I can't believe that seniors or empty nesters will move into Palo Alto from elsewhere, but it may make sense if they already reside in PA that they will choose to stay. And, the point about dinkys, is that they tend to have children sometime in the future so that it is possible that this is just a delay before the kids turn up.


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Posted by Jerry
a resident of University South
on Sep 4, 2007 at 5:40 pm

OhlonePar,

I did a little digging. Here is a link that suggests that the original Tinsley agreement was aimed at a specified number of students:

"The so-called Tinsley settlement order requires
the enumerated districts to allow a specified number of
Ravenswood pupils to attend their schools."

Web Link

Then comes the slippage into a wider agreement:

"Two years ago the Legislature enacted AB 19 (Quackenbush),
which authorized school districts to develop interdistrict
enrollment policies and thereby become "districts of
choice"."

Now, I wonder how many district parents and taxpayers realized that Tinsley had drifted from a "specificied number" to "districts of choice"?

Many parents are confused, even shocked, when they learn that Tinsley is an open-ended deal that has, and will continue, to displace neighborhood kids from neighborhood schools. Tinsley is GROWING, despite the overcrowding in PA schools. Even some threads on this post mention "five more per school per year".

When will PA parents wake up?
























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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 4, 2007 at 6:02 pm

Whoa Jerry,

When did Tinsley "grow" and to what did it grow? I haven't seen any numbers that show the Tinsley program to have gotten bigger.


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Posted by Jerry
a resident of University South
on Sep 4, 2007 at 8:01 pm

OhlonePar,

Tinsley grew from a "specified number" to an open-ended, non-defined program.

Simple question for you, OP: What was the "specified number" in the original 1986 agreement? What is the number now?

Did you read the link I provided?


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Posted by Terry
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 4, 2007 at 9:07 pm

Ok, Jerry, I'll play. I didn't see the "specified number" in your link, but I did find this in an article from the 1986 Merc:

"When the Ravenswood City Elementary School District agreed to allow an annual exodus of 206 children to other Peninsula school districts to settle a desegregation lawsuit, some predicted the district would steadily lose students and ultimately die. Instead, as the Nov. 15 deadline for the first group of transfers out of Ravenswood approaches, only 39 children have applied. In fact, six of the eight districts that have agreed to take Ravenswood students have not been listed by any Ravenswood student..."

And from the current PAUSD web site:

"Each year, 60 students from Ravenswood School District are assigned to kindergarten, first, or second grade classrooms in PAUSD. Terms of the settlement specify that only new students entering kindergarten, first, or second grade are eligible to enter the program. If VTP students transfer out of our District, PAUSD may be assigned more than 60 students per year. For example, PAUSD was assigned 77 VTP students for the 2002-03 school year because 17 VTP students transferred out of PAUSD during 2001-02."

I also read there are 66 VTA students at Jordon MS. Those might be most/all VTA'ers, since Jordon is closest to EPA. So, if it is ~20 kids/year x 13 grades, then that is ~260 kids. Not sure how many (if any) are going the other way. That's vs. the 209 outbound from 1986, not all of whom necessarily would have gone to PAUSD.

Has it grown recently? Does anybody know?


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Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 4, 2007 at 9:26 pm

There are about 600 VTP kids in PAUSD (all grades) per the website

Web Link


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Posted by Terry
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 4, 2007 at 9:36 pm

That's a lot of kids...


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Posted by Jerry
a resident of University South
on Sep 4, 2007 at 10:30 pm

Terry,

Good job of looking up some early soruces. That 206 number (across several districts) is similar to what I remember in 1986. However, it was supposed to be a desegregation solution, not a one-way street. In other words, an equal number of PAUSD (white kids) were supposed to transfer over to Ravenswood, as Ravenswood (black kids) transfereed to PAUSD. It was, truly, a black and white solution that was agreed to.

What happened to all the liberal white parents, who agreed to send their kids to Ravenswood? There was a trickle, but not much more. Given the hyprocracy, and denial that is so typical of PA parents, I am not surprised. However, there now seems to be an enrollment crunch. Will these same liberal white parents (next generation) agree to ship their kids across town, in order to make room for the asymmetric distribution of Ravenswood kids?

Like I said, this Tinsley agreement (VTA) has expanded, and will continue to expand. How many PA parents and taxpayers understand this situation? How many care?


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 4, 2007 at 11:34 pm

Jerry,

What the district site says sounds in line with the original Tinsley agreement--it's a defined number--i.e. 60 kids a year (five per elementary school), with allowances made to compensate for kids who drop out from the program early.

Terry,

It seems to me that 209 kids per year were allowed to go out, followed the next year by another 209, etc. The 60 kids, then, would have been Palo Alto's share of that 209.

So for Jordan, the 66 VTA kids would be a third of the Tinsley kids in PAUSD in those grades--i.e. 60 kids a year multiplied by three is 180, 66 is just a tad over a third of the expected number. The extra six could be explained by Jordan having the SI program--some of the native Spanish speakers in the program could be expected to come from heavily Hispanic EPA.

Anyway, I don't think the district's going to challenge Tinsley because it would look bad politically. A parent whose kid got bumped probably could. Or a group of parents. And I think there's an argument there, though personally I like the Tinsley parents and kids I know, so I have very mixed feelings about it. I don't like kids getting bumped from their neighborhood schools, but maybe this wouldn't be an issue if the board had spent less time on MI and more time on how to actually open a 13th school.

As for kids going from PA to Ravenswood, were there "white liberal parents" who claimed ahead of time that they wanted to send their kids to Ravenswood? Or is this just a case of pointless liberal-bashing? Liberals tend to be pro-education--so it's not like there's a long tradition of their wanting to send their kids to bad schools.

I think the hypocrisy charge might be more merited if there'd been huge protests over Tinsley kids coming into the district. My recollection is that there was not--but you may know better. There also hasn't been a huge cry, even with the overcrowding, by "white, liberal parents" to overturn Tinsley.

Or do you and Walter Wallis consider yourself liberals?


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 4, 2007 at 11:35 pm

Those last two graphs should be addressed to Jerry, not Terry.

Sorry.


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Posted by Concerned Parent
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 5, 2007 at 8:06 am

Bringing kids into our school district from outside of Palo Alto when kids within the district are being bumped from their own neighborhood school is just wrong and shouldn't be tolerated by caring Palo Alto parents. We as a community are continually talking about over-crowded schools, yet very few have the backbone to insist that Tinsley be challenged in the courts. It's not a total solution, but it is a step in the right direction.


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Posted by Palo alto mom
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 5, 2007 at 9:56 am

If the Tinsley agreement bothers you so much, gather your supporters and challenge it. Posting on this forum does nothing. I personally have enjoyed the VTP kids and their parents.


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Posted by Concerned Parent
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 5, 2007 at 10:42 am

Here are the email and street mailing addresses for current Board of Education members. If you want them to challenge Tinsley and to set up criteria that honestly and verifiably checks whether those attending our schools are in fact Palo Alto residents, then email or write them TODAY and let them know that you expect them to address these issues ASAP. Talking about it is fine, but notifying Board of Education members of your concerns is necessary for change to occur.

Board Members
Mandy Lowell
1423 Hamilton Avenue
Palo Alto, CA 94301
(650) 323-2742
mlowell@pausd.org
Term expires 2007

Gail Price
4082 Orme Street
Palo Alto, CA 94306
(650) 856-6260
gprice@pausd.org
Term expires 2007

Camille Townsend
2450 W. Bayshore Road #10
Palo Alto, CA 94303
(650) 493-3410
ctownsend@pausd.org
Term expires 2007

Barb Mitchell
550 N. California Avenue
Palo Alto 94301
(650) 328-6027
bmitchell@pausd.org
Term expires 2009

Dana Tom
1419 Hamilton Avenue
Palo Alto 94301
(650) 321-4506
dtom@pausd.org
Term expires 2009


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Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 5, 2007 at 10:45 am

Suggestion for Jay or Lisa (online editor):

Discussions about Tinsley come up every few months on PA Online. Not many of us know the whole history of the case and the agreement. I've tracked down a few of the documents relating to the case, but it would be great to archive somewhere on PA Online:

Original judgment: San Mateo County Superior Court October 7, 1976 File 206010
Text of original and amended agreements between the various school districts
Appeals: 91 Cal. App. 3d 871 April 13, 1979; 150 Cal. App. 3d 90, December 23, 1983

I think it would help frame the discussions better if we all know the circumstances, the factual findings and the agreements. Appeals are on Lexis/Nexis, but original judgment and agreements are not available online as far as I can tell.


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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 5, 2007 at 1:37 pm

Tinsley was based on a lie. As we are often told in the case of illegally obtained evidence, a conviction based on tainted fruit is invalid. And, ohlonepar, the last time I checked I was an Adlai Stevenson liberal. Now I am an inconvenient old grouch, who inconveniently will not allow blant falsehoods to go unchallenged when they affect public policy.


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Posted by Terry
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 5, 2007 at 3:10 pm

I have no idea of what can or can't be done legally, but a 20 year old desegregation plan that shifts 600 kids x $10K/kid/year = $6M / year from one district to another seems ripe for the picking. (I imagine we are getting some state funding for those 600 kids, but the added cost is still likely in the millions - anybody know?)

VTP is 600 kids out of 11,000 - that is 5.5% and it is higher in the elementary grades (closer to 7%). That's a big nut.

Chances are it won't get done until a fiscal crisis looms (or is in full force).



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Posted by Casey
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 5, 2007 at 3:38 pm

Annonymous,

There are a lot of article in the SJ Mercury archives, going back to 1985. Each article will cost about $3, but it is worth the cost.

It is clear that the Tinsley deal was a shakedown of the school districts, including Ravenswood. The districts either did a deal, or they would have to go to trial (very costly).

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

It was a VERY contentious debate, especially in the Ravenswood district.

Jerry, above, is wrong about the cap. It is 60 kids per year in PAUSD. However, he is right that the numbers keep growing. There is a theoretical potential of 780 VTP kids thoughout PAUSD, K-12. That is about two full schools worth. If there are dropouts in the first two years, the cap can be exceeded. Thus, there were 77 VTP students one year. EAch VTP student comes at a net cost to PAUSD, because PAUSD, as a basic aid district, fails to receive the full cost of educating these kids.

Jerry is correct about parents who said they would send their kids to Ravenswood schools. Only a few did so, and it was only for a short period of time.

PAUSD has a waiting list of VTP kids, while other districts have open spots for them that are not taken. If the EPA parents thought that their kids were being damaged by de facto segregation (which was the supposed rationale for the suit), why woud they decide to stay in EPA schools, if there were alternatives?). Might it be that EPA parents just want a convenient free ride?

BTW, the Tinsley settlement is unconsitutional, based on the fact that it is racist. Poor white students from EPA are NOT allowed to apply. A recent supreme court ruling will at least toss this element of the agreement out the door. There will be many law suits coming on this, and similar, agreements across the nation.

As the overcrowding in PAUSD increases, and neighborhhod kids are forced out to other schools, Tinsley will probably be countered with a class action suit.


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Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 5, 2007 at 4:58 pm

The argument that was presented to the court 30 years ago was that (a) Ravenswood is majority minority while surrounding districts are not, and (b) Ravenswood district performance is substantially below surrounding districts. These two facts - that are still true today - were taken by the court as evidence for de facto segregation which the court found to violate the rights of the plaintiffs. The court looked at several remedy proposals and through a process I can't find on the record accepted the VTP.

Several appeals were filed including an appeal relating to Proposition 1.

If you want to overturn the rulings and settlement it will not be because the facts have changed. It will be because you have a new legal theory.

If you have an appropriate new legal theory to test, then budget $5M to $10M dollars and a minimum of five years. No firm will do this work pro bono. The lawyers you want to argue this do not work in Sunnyvale strip malls and they will bill $750 per hour. Expect that PAUSD will be a defendant, not a plaintiff, and will spend $750K to defend the status quo.

OR you could get over it. You could extend the same arguments about equality we see presented for North vs South Palo Alto to East Palo Alto. You could think how we can sustain our Basic Aid funding model - not in the face of the VTP, but in the face of anything that enrolls a child without a $1.5M real estate transaction: rentals, BMR housing, townhouses, Prop 13 house bequests to children and grandchildren, commercial real estate that never changes hands. You could consider what fraction of school costs parents pay through property taxes today vs what fraction parents paid 30 years ago. You could think whether you are paying your fair share of property taxes to support the schools if your neighbor pays 10x what you do. You could work to pass a bond to build some 21st century schools. Or you can continue to whine about Tinsley because it's an easy target.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 5, 2007 at 5:25 pm

Does Stanford University reimburse the school district for the children of graduate students who are attending school here?

I know a family with children who have been in the school district since elementary school and now they are in senior high school.

The father has changed his original thesis and advisor to prolong their stay. It worked, and added more years for them here.

Two years ago, he went back to his country to do "research" and is now working for the government of his country in a Ministry position that is completely unrelated to his area of study.

Stanford granted his visa and acceptance based on his original area of study.

He has been gone for nearly 2 years, but his wife and children stayed here. They moved out of Stanford housing.

The mother recently rented an apartment, and the children continue to attend Palo Alto schools.

This is only one example of MANY Stanford families that I have met within the school district.

I have wondered (for years) if Stanford is paying PAUSD back for these children attending school here.

Most of these families do not pay property tax, and reside in subsidized housing on campus.

If someone knows the answer, please let know.

If not, I will call the school district tomorrow and find out how many students are from Stanford University students.

I am not referring to employees of the University that are homeowners or renters in the Palo Alto tax zone.



















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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 5, 2007 at 5:38 pm

Walter, so you're saying that you were a liberal once way back in your 20s, somehow . . . well, let me put it this way, Reagan once supported FDR, but I don't think that means he was a liberal president.

My recollection of Tinsley was that it was a compromise to avoid a hefty lawsuit.

I think with the change in the laws, that parts of it could be successfully challenged--because some ethnicities aren't eligible.

Don't expect the BoE to go to court to overturn Tinsley. If you guys care enough, then you need to organize--I'm all for (obviously) tossing ideas back and forth in the forum, but it's no substitute for what would be required to actually change Tinsley.

But, frankly, I think Anonymous is right--we're looking a much bigger issue that Tinsley and that's the real issue. I mean, as Nancy's pointed out, we actually *have* extra school buildings. We're just not using them as public schools.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 5, 2007 at 5:51 pm

Parent,

I'm not sure why Stanford would be obliged to reimburse the district more than other employer. Stanford's not hiring the kids or the mother.


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Posted by 14k/yr
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Sep 5, 2007 at 6:47 pm

I am in complete agreement with anonomyus. If anything, he understates the likely costs of trying to undo the settlment. An award of attorneys' fees against PAUSD is likely. The Tinsley litigation had at least 5 parties, all capable of intervening. Getting out of a settlement is very difficult, absent a showing of fraud. Mr Wallis, stopping spitting in the wind and think about changing what is possible to change. Tinsely may be the most predictable part of the PAUSD planning process. New houses, new births, rental units, inheritance of homes, housing sales, are much more unpredictable. Of course, the problems could be reduced if PASUD decided to give up its basic aid status, but not great for housing prices.



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Posted by Casey
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 5, 2007 at 8:13 pm

"The argument that was presented to the court 30 years ago was that (a) Ravenswood is majority minority while surrounding districts are not, and (b) Ravenswood district performance is substantially below surrounding districts. These two facts - that are still true today - were taken by the court as evidence for de facto segregation which the court found to violate the rights of the plaintiffs."

Annonymous,

Could you please provide a reference for the above quote? Several SJ Mercury articles, leading up to the trial, indicated that the court REFUSED to stipulate such a finding. However, maybe I missed a crucial article.

Thanks


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Posted by JJJ
a resident of Gunn High School
on Sep 5, 2007 at 8:17 pm

Stanford owns land that some of our schol sit on, so PAUSD has an obligation to educate kids of Stanford students.


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Posted by Parent citizen
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 5, 2007 at 9:04 pm

One of the greatest assets of our local schools is the class size. I don't care that some of you survived walking 12 miles to school in the snow with your bare feet and went to school with 28 kids, it's a different time, different age of discipline at home. We've done the 28-kid classroom this year elsewhere, there is no comparison to 20. People may not be arguing about it here, but if it comes up, expect a gargantuan fight. (I speak for many an elementary parent when I say that.)


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Posted by Terry
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 5, 2007 at 10:14 pm

I'm not sure how much if any cost defrayal comes with the VTA kids from the state or elsewhere. But if it is none, that's $6M / year in costs - in which case $5-$10M in legal fees to seek relief seems like a good investment if there is a reasonable chance of winning. If indeed Tinsley is a race-based program (is it?), it does seem to be under a constitutional cloud...


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 5, 2007 at 11:14 pm

Come now, aren't there any Tinsley advocates out there who can twist around the money argument to make it "cost neutral"? We've got Tinsley kids in our classroom, they definitely add a lot of intangibles by way of "diversity" (sorry, there must be a better word, but it'll do for now) - they are definitely contributing more to OUR school and educational experience than, say, MI ever will.

That said, the race basis is pretty dubious, when we have white VTA Spanish speakers, but poor just-plain-white kids wouldn't be able to apply?


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Posted by Comparing apples and apples
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 6, 2007 at 12:59 am

To Parent citizen:


1) It was not in a foggy far-distant past that Palo Alto had 27/28 students per class in elementary school. It was about 10 years ago.

2) It seems that your experience with 28 student classrooms is a different school district. May I suggest that other differences than class size affect the difference in experiences in two distinct school districts (socio-economic factors, parent involvement, presence or absence of instructional aides etc.)

I guarantee you that I saw no difference whatsoever in the quality of education received by my oldest child who had 28 students in his class throughout elementary school (in Palo Alto) and his youngest sibling, who had 20 students in her class throughout elementary school (likewise in Palo Alto).


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Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 6, 2007 at 8:36 am

For Casey: good memory about a legal detail. As the quote below shows the plaintiffs simply sought a remedy for the situation on the ground without alleging causation. I am not a lawyer and I don't have the original San Mateo County Superior Court rulings (available at the courthouse in RWC). Mea culpa.

For those who think the decision is reversible by playing the race card; consider that Ravenswood is still a low performing system even though it's majority (58.8% in 2000!) Latino now.

VTP kids bring (I believe) 70% of their funding with them and leave 30% behind at Ravenswood. They bring about half the PAUSD per pupil average spending. To be blunt, financially they're a better deal than someone who just inherited her grandmother's house under Prop 13 and enrolls her kids in PAUSD.

Finally, for those who want to do something tangible: match your PIE and PTA gifts dollar for dollar with gifts to Ravenswood or other schools serving the Ravenswood district like East Palo Alto Charter School or Eastside Prep.

===========================
From Tinsley v. Superior Court (150 Cal. App. 3d 90 December 23, 1983, available free on Lexis/Nexis)

Appellants are guardian ad litem parents and their children, the latter of whom either attend or are eligible to attend schools operated by the respondent school districts. They filed a petition for writ of mandate ( Code Civ. Proc., § 1085) on October 5, 1978, alleging interdistrict segregation of respondents' schools and seeking an order compelling respondents to submit a reasonably feasible plan to alleviate racial segregation in schools within the named school districts.

After a third amendment to the petition, respondents' demurrer to the petition was sustained without leave to amend and an appeal from that order taken to this court. On April 13, 1979, we decided, in Tinsley v. Palo Alto Unified School Dist. (1979) 91 Cal.App.3d 871 [154 Cal.Rptr. 591], that appellants' third amended petition did state a cause of action under the equal protection clause of the California Constitution (art. I, § 7) for interdistrict relief from de facto school segregation, and the case was remanded.

Thereafter, on July 13, 1979, a fourth amended petition was filed, which in pertinent part alleges the following:

The student population of respondent Ravenswood City School District elementary schools is predominantly minority, while the student populations in the elementary schools of the other respondent school districts are predominantly white. Because of the interdistrict racial imbalance in student enrollment, minority students are realistically isolated, and so a segregated school system exists.

In the "mid-peninsula community" -- which includes the area contained within the borders of the named respondent school districts -- the schools in the Ravenswood City School District, known as the "black schools," are considered as inferior schools. The State Department of Education test scores for students in the Ravenswood City School District are "markedly lower than those of other schools in the mid-peninsula area . . . ." n2 Although respondents "have had actual knowledge of the existence of . . . racially segregated schools" and poor test scores within the "black schools," they have failed and refused to take "reasonably feasible steps" to alleviate or eliminate segregation in the schools.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - Footnotes - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


n2 They were, in fact, and continue to be, abysmal.


- - - - - - - - - - - - End Footnotes- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

The petition specifically excludes any allegations of "de jure" or "de facto" or any acts of any respondents which may have contributed, significantly or insignificantly, to the present situation of racially segregated schools in the respondent school districts.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 6, 2007 at 9:43 am

The recent relevant Supreme Court decision tears apart the notion that race can be used to displace other students of any race.

Both the Seattle and Louisville school districts used school assignment plans to maintain racial diversity, though the plans varied slightly.

The 98,000-student Jefferson County district, which includes the city of Louisville, formerly was under a court-supervised desegregation plan, but in 2001, it was declared to be "unitary," or free of the vestiges of past racial segregation.

After that, Jefferson County voluntarily adopted a "managed choice" plan that allowed race to be considered as a factor for some student assignments to schools. The plan sought to maintain black enrollment at no less than 15 percent and no more than 50 percent at each school.

The 46,000-student Seattle school district was never ordered to desegregate. But in 2000, it adopted a plan that weighed race as one of several "tiebreakers" in deciding admissions to the district's 10 high schools when there are more applicants than spaces.

Both school districts' plans were challenged by parents as a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. A majority of the Supreme Court agreed that the plans were unconstitutional.

In Jefferson County, the district's race-conscious plan was challenged by a white parent whose son was denied a transfer to his neighborhood school in 2000 because of his race.

The Seattle policy was challenged in 2000 by several white families whose children were denied admission to a new neighborhood high school. The white families were later joined in the suit by black families whose children were denied assignment to traditionally black-majority high schools.

Both plans previously were upheld by federal appeals courts as being narrowly tailored to achieve racial diversity.

Sounds familiar doesn't it?


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Posted by Palo alto mom
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 6, 2007 at 11:48 am

Based on the 2004-2005 school year, the VTP kids cost about 3.8 million not 6 million - their funding is about 45% of ours.


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Posted by sohill
a resident of another community
on Sep 6, 2007 at 2:00 pm

I would have prefered an informed chit chat about the main and many causes of overcrowding in the PA schools.

I am old enough to remember well when the Willows area of Menlo Park left

Ravenswood SD to become part of the MPSD and the Tinsley resolution. It took Margaret

Tinsley about 20 years to see the fruits of her original complaint when her children were

no longer possible beneficiaries: it came in the form of an agreement. After many

challenges in sucessive courts in which the school districts (defendants) lost

their cases there would be one last appeal and to preclude its possible results (and since

they had lost sucessive appeals) the school districts settled the issue with the agreement

we call Tinsley . I was then a Palo Verde parent. The school was already overcrowded

(about 25 children/class) even before it welcomed (yes, we did in fact welcome those

children) its first Tinsley transfer. At about the same time the school district had decided

to sell school sites for housing ( thereby unprecedently increasing the number of

students and unrecoverably loosing schools and sites). Those school sites were actively

being used for educational purposes (day care, after school care, extra curriculum

activities) and provided rental income to the district.


There are many causes of overcrowding. The venom that I see exhibited towards the

Tinsley kids is unseemly, unfair and a gross exaggeration of the negative effects of their

presence in the PA schools. I am all for discussing the Tinsley "effect" but only without

rancor, divisiveness.

What about proposition 13 which benefits some people while unfairly saddling others

with high taxes and whose application cuts direct educational funds so sorely nedeed to

aleviate overcrowding in every school in the State? Is this not more of a priority? Or is it so

painful having to pay one's fair share ($916.46/year in taxes is a fair share?) that the usual

ugly thoughts of scapegoats become an attractive argument?


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Posted by Parent citizen
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 6, 2007 at 2:03 pm

Comparing apples,
Yeah, it's not quite apples to apples as the larger classroom experience I am comparing is of kids from a higher socio-economic sphere than in PA. I personally don't think they were individually that different than PA kids in terms of disposition, though, although I suppose you could argue that richer kids get less discipline at home and are more spoiled? (not sure I'd, but I could see arguing it).

There definitely is a difference when you go from 10-12 kids to 20, and a noticeable difference going from 20 to 28-32. The difference that I notice in terms of classroom management, the ability to engage in meaningful differentiated instruction, etc., is enough that I will fight any attempts to increase class size tooth and nail. Our schools are public schools, and I can see that we can still offer a great education with inferior physical facilities (compared to well-funded private schools). I'm willing to compromise on that long before I'd compromise on class size. Sorry. If you go after that one, expect a royal fight.


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Posted by 20 vs 28
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 6, 2007 at 2:21 pm

Hey, apples, that's nice that your kids had a similar experience to each other. We had the opposite experience.
I guarantee you that I do see a difference between the quality of education received by my oldest and youngest children. One consistently had over 25 classmates and the other had less than 20. They both attended the same PAUSD school. Younger child's kinder class frequently had an adult-student ratio of 1:5. Not bad! Classroom management was, by necessity, vastly different: older child had miserable class discipline experiences that shaped his behavior for years; younger child's classrooms were privileged in this area. Younger one had a much better experience with learning to read and write. It's hard to tell whether this is due to class size or evolving teaching methods. There are indisputable differences - ask any teacher...or parent--if you're worried about the teachers being biased.
Does this justify keeping the class size at 20 while schools overflow and send neighborhood students elsewhere? Probably not. 28 is excessively large, but I think 24 is entirely doable without losing significant quality.


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Posted by Casey
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 6, 2007 at 2:23 pm

"After many challenges in sucessive courts in which the school districts (defendants) lost their cases..."

sohill, could you please provide the references on your assertion? I am not aware that the defendants lost any court cases.

Thanks.


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Posted by Terry
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 6, 2007 at 3:12 pm

Sohill - I didn't see anybody slinging venom at the VTP kids - it's the cost/impact of the VTP program that causes issues. Any VTP kid/family that wants to can come rent in PA and get the schools, anytime they want (as many similarly situated families in fact do). If they prefer the rents/house sizes/value for money/neighborhoods in the Ravenswood district - that's ok, but not sure why PA should want to subsidize that choice.

Thanks PA Mom, for clearing up the cost of the VTP program, i.e, about $3.8M / year. Still a big number and still worth fighting over - both on principle (what is the reason PA pays $3.8M to educate non-PA kids again? help me out...) and on practical grounds (overcrowding, neighborhood school displacement, parcel taxes, etc.).

You'd have to judge your chance of success, but spending 2x that to litigate it seems like it could be a good investment.


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Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 6, 2007 at 3:31 pm

If the "What's a fair share question" is asking "How much property tax for each household to contribute equally to fund PAUSD," then the answer is around $3000 per household. The fact that the majority of households pay less than this is one of the reasons we have school crowding.

We can't change the underlying cause (Prop 13), but as a community that has chosen to fund schools with a Basic Aid formula we can agree to allocate the costs more equally among all households with local overrides. In today's world we ask five neighbors - one with kids paying $11000 per year property taxes, and four without paying $1000 per year to pay more, and they both say no for understandable reasons.

Ironically for all the uproar, under the current inter-district funding formula Tinsley kids bring more per-pupil money into the district than PA kids. If they moved here to rent it would actually cost us money!

Another data point: we spend a lot per-pupil by California standards. However the PIE benchmark study showed we spend less per pupil than comparable national districts. Go figure.

Analysis:

PAUSD collected $75M from property taxes in FY05/06. Residential pays (a guess) 70% of property taxes due to higher turnover than commercial. 60% of property taxes go to PAUSD. 29,000 households. So each household's share is $1800 ($75M x .7 / 29000). To get $1800 per household we need to collect $3000 total property tax ($3000 x .6 = $1800).


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Posted by Casey
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 6, 2007 at 3:53 pm

Anonymous, are you including parcel taxes in your analysis?


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Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 6, 2007 at 3:58 pm

Casey: good question. No because I don't have any data on how the opt-out clauses work in practice. The parcel taxes are probably slightly biased toward younger taxpayers and taxpayers with school kids. There's a lot more fiscal analysis worth doing if we can get the raw data!


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Posted by sohill
a resident of another community
on Sep 6, 2007 at 4:44 pm

I have a lot of responses due (sorry I had to work a bit) so let's see:

Casey,

Where you in PA when the Tinsley suit was in its final stages (it took about 20 years of court decisions and appeals) and an agreement took place ? If you were you remember as well as many of my age that the last challenge would have been the Supreme Court and the school districts* were anxious to avoid a court imposed solution. You can go to the Library and check the reputable newspapers of that time. Also, the main argument of the plantiffs was that when the neighboring communities were incorporated (into PA for example) East Palo Alto was either purposely- as many tought- or by omission excluded and the reasons for exclusion were Inconstitutional, they argued.

*included in the suit were all communities south of San Carlos and San Carlos itself and I cannot remember which ones south of PA if any. PA's bounderies were very different than today's and many of you would have been living in Mayfield instead of PA ,for example, if PA had not integrated those other communities.

In any case:

there was an agreement, not a court mandate solution so it would all go back to the terms of the agreement. I do not remember the details of the duration of the agreement, but certainly there was a meeting of the minds because the Tinsley plantiffs didn't obatin it under duress and specific performance has been going on for about 20 years. So, unless the court declares the agreement invalid (what would be the arguments?- your honor we didn't know that the students would not arrive by BMW-an agreement is an agreement, is an agreement, is an agreement. Tough...

There may, however, be clauses that wouldn't stand in court by but I don't know the chances of the courts breaking an agreement that has been entered into freely by the parties?


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Posted by Casey
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 6, 2007 at 4:52 pm

Anonymous,

I also do not know how many people opt out. I am still in, though I could opt out. Actually, I think most eligible people stay in, if only because they think it holds up their home price. I am protected by Prop 13 but, with parcel taxes, I am well over your $1800 figure.

I think there are micsconceptions about the Tinsley deal. None of the districts were found to be actively discriminatory. The judge could not even stipulate as to what "Mid Peninsula" means. Ravenswood SD, under extreme pressure, voted 3-2 to accept the deal. The RW citizens demanded a re-hearing, etc. Ravenswood lost its school/community identity, as predicted, by many citizens in EPA.

This deal was not a smooth deal. The most accurate definition of the deal was extortion. With many activist lawyers willing to provide pro bono services, they could simply wait out the school districts, which had to actually pay their lawyers. The districts got worn down. The interesting thing is that the pendulum swings both ways. The recent Supreme Court decision was supported by lawyers that also provided pro bono serivces. It would not surprise me a bit if such lawyers also take on the Tinsley case (not predicting, just suggesting the possibility).

The Tinsley case never met constitutional criteria. With the recent Supreme Court decision, I would think that it is very vulnerable.

Nevertheless, I will continue to pay my parcel tax...for now.


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Posted by sohill
a resident of another community
on Sep 6, 2007 at 5:05 pm

Terry, you say

Sohill - I didn't see anybody slinging venom at the VTP kids - it's the cost/impact of the VTP program that causes issues.

my answer:
Really?

if it was only the cost/impact why would the program be singled out when in fact it's but one, and not a big one one at that, of the many overcrowding factors.

let's see :

"So Tinsley is still the cause for overflowing schools about which we dare not talk.
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 1, 2007 at 7:04 am"

my answer:

That for me is venom.

again from you Terry,

"Any VTP kid/family that wants to can come rent in PA and get the schools, anytime they want (as many similarly situated families in fact do). If they prefer the rents/house sizes/value for money/neighborhoods in the Ravenswood district - that's ok, but not sure why PA should want to subsidize that choice"

my answer:

Many people who cannot afford to live in Palo alto ( many people working for the city cannot for example) still have the same hopes for their children's education you have for yours and I had for mine and since they can enforce their choices with the Tinsley agreement they do. Good for them. Agreements are made to be abided by (by all sides).
Unless you are somewhat disconnected from the financial realities of life ( wonderful, enjoy)you do know that it is disingenuous to afirm that the choice of many could be to rent in Palo Alto. PA entered in an agreement with others. People who choose to send their kids to Palo Alto schools under the Tinsley agreement, as they are legally and morally entitled to do, shouldn't have to have their choices questioned. It was PAUSD's choice not to enter into the agreement and now it's stuck with it.

I will be pleased to answer the last part of your posting tomorrow

You'd have to judge your chance of success, but spending 2x that to litigate it seems like it could be a good investment.


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Posted by Casey
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 6, 2007 at 5:11 pm

sohill.

The Tinsley deal never went to trial in the first place. The Supreme Court never received the case, nor would it, except after several levels of appeal. If you are suggesting that PAUSD (and other districts, incluidng Ravenswood) were extorted by the potential costs, I agree with you. That is exactly what it was.

BTW, I have lived in PA since 1965, thus I remember the case very well. If the Tinsley 'soultion' was put to a vote back then if would have been defeated, as it would, I suggest, today. It is also an ethical nightmare, because it suggests that black kids can only be smart if they are among white kids. The Ravenswood parents got it, but the PAUSD BoE (along with the PA elite) did not. I wonder if those elites ever thnik about the damage they have caused to EPA. Do you?




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Posted by sohill
a resident of another community
on Sep 6, 2007 at 5:17 pm

Anonymous,

Thanks for the clarification. However, I disagree we can't change proposition 13. Not in one fine swoop, I think , but little by little, maybe we can diminish some of its catastrophic
consequences by imposing or readjusting other taxes. It is just simply not possible to conduct the business of education properly without adequate funds and the kind of magical thinking that believes that education resources can be extracted from a full moon when dogs bark is also unfortunately not paying a fair share. I take your point that those who can should consider donating their fair share. I would if I lived in Palo Alto, but since my tax bill close to 10 K I think I am not a freeloader ( I have no children at home anymore, but that'sneither here nor there-I believe that we all are responsible for "our" (America's) children's education)


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Posted by Crowded Schools
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 6, 2007 at 5:51 pm

Does the building of thousands of new housing units have anything to do with overcrowding in our schools? Imagine what will happen when all the dense housing under construction in south Palo Alto is filled with family with children. (Often people move into that housing without children, but several comes over the next few years. It's often 7-10 years before the full effect is felt by kindergarden enrollment.)

Before the 1970's, PAUSD used to have well over 20 elementary schools. About 10 where sold off and turned into housing or leased. At one point the school district went to one middle school and was going to go to one high school. Greg Schmid won a school board seat with the platform of not closing more schools, but reopening them instead. So Wilbur was reopened as JLS.

Your anger at the school board is partly misplaced. The school board is responsible for educating every student who enrolls in the district. It is the city council that decides how much housing is to be built. Recent decisions of the city council include approval of 84 housing units at 195 Page Mill Road and approval of 51 housing units (with 37 detached housing units and 14 below market rate housing units above a grocery store) at Alma Plaza along with a lot less retail space than has been there historically.

We have a city council race with 4 seats up for election and no incumbents running. ABAG says we need to build another 3500 housing units. Imagine what that will do to crowding in our schools. And state law prevents the school district from charging developers the full cost of building new schools to pay for that new housing. This is the time to ask candidates for city council how they feel about building more and denser housing in Palo Alto.

The city council does have the legal right to charge developers the full cost of all impacts (based on periodic calculations). But because of "competition with other cities," Palo Alto chooses to charge developers of new housing about a third or less of that full charge. So the rest of us residents get stuck paying for new or expandeds libraries, parks, community centers, etc. You can ask city council candidates how they stand on who pays the costs that developers cause.

If city council member listen at all, they listen most during election time, particularly when they are up for election. Use your power to vote and question candidates wisely.


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Posted by Anna
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 6, 2007 at 5:52 pm

Growing Daily,

Besides the schools that you listed, Addison also overflowed. My child was sent to WH.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 6, 2007 at 5:53 pm

We're responsible for our own kids first and foremost, period...this includes parents who reside in East Palo Alto. When our schools become overcrowded, we are entitled to look at ALL of the reasons why that is happening...including the Tinsley settlement. We as a community should also be evaluating how well our school district is protecting the students from anyone outside of the district who feels entitled to attend our schools. There is no justification for cheating the kids that actually live in the school district. I don't care who is doing the cheating or where they are from....it's wrong.


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Posted by sohill
a resident of another community
on Sep 6, 2007 at 5:59 pm

casey,

I do not think it caused any damage to EPA kids . To begin with "those" kids are not today's kids. I have seen many EPA kids graduate and be productive people. But the fact is that EPA was very poor (not today if you judge by housing prices) and by and large uneducated. They wanted better for their children and they were not getting it in Ravenswood, just as the Willows neighborhood wasn't. But the Willows were allowed to transfer to Menlo Park SD, if I am not mistaken in 1984. Why was EPA not allowed also?

The TInsley case took close to 20 years to come to a settlement, (but the suit itself was filled in 1976) if I am not mistaken.

You are a little confused on this. Do you mean that there were 10 years of discussions between plantiffs and defendants without legal intervention?

As you yourself say:
"The judge could not even stipulate as to what "Mid Peninsula" means. Ravenswood SD, under extreme pressure, voted 3-2 to accept the deal"
So the case went to court right?

I didn't say at all that the Supreme Court received the case. I said that the fear that the Supreme court could make a ruling was perceived as a reason for settlement.


There are many sources about this including newsapers to refresh one's memoty)

It is shameful that in the 50's and 60's many (together with realtors, mortage companies) of the new communities West of 101 protected their caucasian composition with racial convenants (inconstitutional, as we saw later). Those inconstitutional convenants were the cause of the separation of the Ravenswood school district from the other caucasian districts and that was the underlying base for the Tinsley suit.

So, you assertion that had it been put to a vote the Tinsley agreement would have been defeated wouldn't surprise me. The same people who bought into those shameful convenents would have been voting.

Again, this case was settled by agreement not court mandated. This has NOTHING to do with constitutionality.

you say:

Anonymous,
I also do not know how many people opt out. I am still in, though I could opt out. Actually, I think most eligible people stay in, if only because they think it holds up their home price. I am protected by Prop 13 but, with parcel taxes, I am well over your $1800 figure."

Yes, it does hold your home price. great for you but it's still unfair to others.


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Posted by sohill
a resident of another community
on Sep 6, 2007 at 6:02 pm

Resident, The EPA kids attending Palo Alto schools are NOT cheating. They are legally entitled to attend those schools.


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Posted by Tinsley comment
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 6, 2007 at 6:04 pm

Tinsley was adopted at a time of declining school enrollment.

There's been room for many years, but now PAUSD is filled to the gills.

How much of the achievement gap is Tinsley students? PAUSD spends a lot of money on closing that gap.

Does Palo Alto receive money from elsewhere for educating the Tinsley students? We're a basic aid district, with all money coming from Palo Alto (and Stanford and part of Los Altos Hills) property taxes, parcel taxes and donations. At one point in time, was a revenue limit district that received extra money from the state for every additional student. Now it doesn't. Instead every extra student slices the pie ever thinner.

Ravenswood is a revenue limit districts. So the 600 Tinsley students directly reduces funding for the Ravenswood School District students who remain.


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Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 6, 2007 at 6:12 pm

Parcel taxes paying for buildings don't count toward the annual operating budget. So Casey, you may or may not be paying your equal share. (Let's call them "equal" and "non-equal" rather than "fair" or "unfair" shares) If new facilities are part of the overcrowding solution, then there's another $25K per household to spend on facilities. Over 20 years with interest that's an additional $2000 per year.

Anyone who really wants to sunset Tinsley: go make Ravenswood a showcase school district. Palo Alto isn't a moral category; for years we've heard arguments that equal funding for all PA kids is a moral obligation, while any funding for non-PA kids is moral problem.

I donate as much to EPA schools as PA. I challenge the rest of you to do the same.


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Posted by sohill
a resident of another community
on Sep 6, 2007 at 6:25 pm

It is a pity that [some] don't feel that [they] have some responsability for America's other children. After all, other Americans (including some who barely got out of teenagehood) defend your interests as an american are you going to ask if they are from EPA and if so tell them they do not need to represent you and your interests? [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Let's get onto a more analytical mode: Lack of money ( prop), lack of physical resources and lack of equilibrium in housing density are the major causes of overcrowding.There are some minor ones, which would be palatable (like the Tinsley and others - except for those who still lament the lack of convenants) if the major causes are addressed.


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Posted by sohill
a resident of another community
on Sep 6, 2007 at 6:39 pm

Tinsley you are right:

you say:
Tinsley was adopted at a time of declining school enrollment.
There's been room for many years, but now PAUSD is filled to the gills.

Nevertheless, in Palo Verde classes were very large (there was an aide per classroom-there was money for it) and that's one of the complains now.

Tinsley will disappear slowly just because EPA is now getting expensive/more educated and therefore will improve necessarily its school district little by little. But PAUSD will become even more crowded due to housing options.

Why are some people spoiling for a fight on Tinsley with very little chance of succeding through the courts ( or even getting a stay if it was winable at some point) instead of getting together and trying to for a moratorium on more construction for which there will be no adequate resources ( for its residents)?


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Posted by Casey
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 6, 2007 at 6:39 pm

sohill,

Your assertion of racially discriminatory real estate practices was never accepted by the judge, in the Tinsley case. In other words, the judge was not willing to stipulate your assertion as a fact...it would need to be proven at trial. Do you have references that prove racially restrictive real estate contracts, following WWII (when the mojor influx of black people moved into EPA)? If so, and they were part of a pattern, please provide.

EPA was a white comminity of small farms, at the beginning of the 20th century. It slowly became occupied by Japanese farmers (flower production), then by black WWII workers, following WWII. It is now becoming brown and white. It will continue to change, as the housing market changes.

Sohill, when you say that the case went to court, you are really saying that a lawsuit was filed. At that point, it is always "in court". However, that means next to nothing. Frivilous lawsuits are filed all the time, and they are "in court". The critical question is whether the case goes to trial, following various judicial rulings. In the Tinsley case, the judge was unwilling to provide major remedies to either side, and he was quite willing to go to trial. It was seen as an extremely complex and expensive case, thus the schools districts caved, because they could not afford the court costs. The plaintives' side had no resources to begin with, thus they had nothing to lose (with pro bono lawyers). Bottom line: It was a shakedown.

A case can be made that the real reason for the Tinsley deal was to break down the identity of Ravenswood/Nairobi/EPA. It had the effect of dispersing the kids of the most activist parents, leaving behind a less potent cadre to help develop the future.

There have been several posts on this link that suggest that EPA schools are just as bad now, as they were back in the day. If so, how can one say that the Tinely deal improved the situation? My view is that transporting kids out of a bad neighborhood is not the way to solve the problem. My first approach would be to give educational vouchers, so that each parent can attempt to save his/her own kid.


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Posted by sohill
a resident of another community
on Sep 6, 2007 at 7:48 pm

Casey,

It IS a fact that there were convenants in what is now midtown whose stipulation was that you couldn't transfer title but to caucasians. My old house had had such convenant well before I bought it. It is a fact that non caucasians were NOT allowed to buy in those areas of PA (even when they were not yet PA) . Are you disputing those facts?

I am sorry but a forum is not a term paper by which I have to index references aand footnotes ( even if you would not dispute those which would be unlikely) . YOU provide me whith those references which contradict my assertions? Most of my statements of fact are based on my recolections which I then cross check with other documentation of the time.


I am aware that what is now EPA was before WWII a mostly caucasian, mostly farming community with some industry, for example Menlo Pharmaceuticals. We differ obviously in the interpretation of the basis for the Tinsley suit and its consequences. We probably always will and there is no need to discuss Tinsley anymore.

If Tinsley disappears tomorrow there wouldn't be any noticeable difference in the school's quality and resources.

I am interested in a better PAUSD. It's not done with divisiveness and a new Convenant.

What about any ideas about the housing trends in PA? How can they be be steered so that PAUSD can have less crowding?

One idea: Flip tax. 4%00 of the value of any building sold going to the city coffers to a special education fund?

It happens in plenty of cities why not PA?



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Posted by Casey
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 6, 2007 at 8:19 pm

sohill,

I don't dispute that were historical racial convenants in PA, like most of the rest of the country, but when were they last enfored? EPA became majority balck, because that is where the cheap land was post WWII. In fact, there were a number of black families (who could afford it) that moved into PA in the post-war period. PA has generally been quite tolerant of racial diversity. I think you are barking up the wrong tree on this one.

If you want to see a fairly interesting time line of the Tinsley case, 1985 forward, go to the SJ Mercury archives. I think you will find that many of your assertions are not true, in terms of the actual case.

As to how to address the current situation, going forward, I think that Tinsley should be grandfathered away, and educational scholarhips (vouchers) be given to every parent who wants one in EPA.

I am not against new housing in PA, as long as it is not state mandated. I know that the market will settle the basic issues, if it is not strangled by an ideological noose. Let people decide, on their own, where to live, in order to satisfy their own needs. Supply and demand will come into balance.


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Posted by anon.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 6, 2007 at 10:46 pm

you guys should get a room somewhere and really hash it out!


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Posted by yet another parent
a resident of Escondido School
on Sep 6, 2007 at 11:21 pm

"I would have prefered an informed chit chat about the main and many causes of overcrowding in the PA schools."
Same here. For starters, these are few of the causes in no particular order:
1. <b>Class size reduction to 20 students for grades K-5.</b> (We could discuss the merits of increasing class size for all vs. some (upper) elementary grades, and what a reasonable class size might be.)
2. <b>Not enough schools.</b> The board voted down opening Garland even though they were aware of the population increase. Middle schools are packed; high schools are packed.
3. <b>Expansion of Spanish Immersion at Escondido</b> where classrooms are being taken from neighborhood students to accommodate two SI strands, and neighborhood students are overflowed elsewhere. (Should the expansion continue, or should we admit that it goes against district guidelines that choice programs shall not displace neighborhood students and take corrective action?)
4. <b>Mandarin Immersion.</b> (We could discuss whether Sup. Skelly should revisit this board decision based on the hard realities of a) Overcrowding; b) Displacement of other students; c) The resulting increase in attendance that the district is anticipating from families outside the district as well as those attending private schools within the district; d) The lack of space for expansion after the 3-year trial, e) How MI complicates future crowd mitigation options.)
5. <b>Being an attractive school district and drawing in more families.</b> (Not sure we want to mess with this formula, except that it bothers me that with MI we're catering to the highest achievers and exacerbating the achievement gap. I'd rather be known as the district that cracked the racial divide with most of our students doing well regardless of ethnicity or race.)
6. <b>Recent housing boom.</b>
7. <b>Poor demographic studies, poor communication</b> between the city hall and school district, and/or poor decision-making when provided with the population increase estimates.
8. <b>Lack of adequate funding.</b> See previous posts.
9. <b>VTP program.</b> This one is intentionally last. Let's clean up our house (policies, personnel, priorities, and all things which we have some control over) before we resort to kicking students out.
We've covered 8 & 9; anyone want to discuss items 1 through 7 or other causes?


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Posted by sleepy parents galore
a resident of Meadow Park
on Sep 7, 2007 at 6:19 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by sohill
a resident of another community
on Sep 7, 2007 at 7:55 am

Thank you "yet another parent" for summarizing the issues. Perhaps now we could focus on separating the ones in which a possible solution can be achieved short term, the ones medium term and the ones that are a distant but achievable goal.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 7, 2007 at 9:28 am

It would be extremely interesting to hear what all the school board candidates have to say on all these issues - and I mean all of the issues.


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Sep 7, 2007 at 9:49 am

sohill,

why don't you take a shot at separating the issues?


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Posted by Casey
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 7, 2007 at 9:57 am

"Parcel taxes paying for buildings "

Anonymous, where do you get this information? Last I heard the parcel tax was to pay for teacher salaries, and specifically NOT to pay for buildings. The bond issue about 10 years ago was specifically to "build for excellence". I could be wrong, but that's what I though I voted for.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 7, 2007 at 10:23 am

Sohill,
You obviously are not looking at all the reasons why our kids are in fact being cheated. My post included a reference to the short-sighted Tinsley settlement AND those students from outside of the district who are attending under false pretenses. You really should start defending the kids from Palo Alto and stop defending All sources of individuals who take advantage of our school district who don't live in Palo Alto. Think for a moment about whether Tinsley was a fair and equitable decision for the kids who live in Palo Alto. Most people on this forum don't think so. I for one do not want anyone, from any race or nationality, taking advantage of our school system, if they don't legally belong here or are here because of a bad decision on the part of a school district a long time ago. The bad decision on the part of the school district, also known as the Tinsley settlement, can be changed. Also, students attending the district illegally can also be addressed...that's the job of the Board of Education and school district. They're just not doing it.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 7, 2007 at 10:26 am

From PAUSD "Did You Know" document regarding the parcel tax..

Web Link


PARCEL TAX FUNDS WILL BE USED FOR ESSENTIAL EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS. The parcel tax measure on the ballot will provide funds to maintain essential programs and preserve academic performance. Specifically, it will provide funds to avoid teacher layoffs; maintain manageable class sizes; attract and retain teachers; preserve courses that help students struggling with basic skills like reading, writing, or math; and prevent reductions in honors and advanced placement courses that enable our high school students to qualify for college.

(The same document purports as the premise for the parcel tax request that district staff had been cut to the bone and therefore no further resources were available, hence parcel tax need. Now, maybe someone can tell us how they have all these extra staff hours lying around to spend years worth of district staff time studying and developing and implementing a new, start up, choice program?) I wonder how this bare bones staff has time to jaunt off to China...


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Posted by Long-term lessons
a resident of Stanford
on Sep 7, 2007 at 11:20 am

Casey, you are right on in how you separate facts from emotion.

Sohill- feel free to live on the streets and give everything you have to everyone else, and you will have my tremendous admiration. But don't fall into the trap of thinking that everyone has to be legislated or guilted into giving in the same way you do or don't give. I don't try to do that to you..

re: Prop 13..sigh. I guess you really want to return us to the days of people being forced out of their homes because of taxes. Think long-term...the more people in California paying taxes, be they income or property, the more money is in the coffers, even if each pays "less" than you believe is fair. Drive up property taxes, and you drive out taxpayers,which means fewer homes sold for fewer dollars, and fewer employees paying taxes, which lowers the levels of the coffers.

Note that we have more State money to spend on education now..and housing prices continue to rise and people BUY them..think long-term, 5 year, effect of policies, not just short-term effects.

I know it galls some people that they pay more than their neighbor in taxes, but it was a choice.


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Posted by Terry
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 7, 2007 at 11:57 am

Long-term, let me take a wild guess - are you one of the people paying the low taxes today? I'm sure you don't think that impacts your view, right?

Prop 13 is an abomination, pure and simple - rent control for homeowners. Note that no one else has ever followed California's bold example on this one - and yes, housing prices do go up elsewhere but people aren't living on the street.

Changing Prop 13 is not a solution for PAUSD (since we can't control or wait for it), but let not pretend that its a good idea :=)


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Posted by Casey
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 7, 2007 at 12:14 pm

Terry,

The longer you own you home, the better you will feel about Prop 13! Prop 13 did not cut my property taxes, it just reduced the rate of increase of those taxes. The tax base in PA already provides for way-above-average per pupil spending, compared to the state average.

The three major items that are currently casuing overcrowding in PA schools are:

1. 20 kids/room (it should be at least 25)

2. Tinsley

3. More kids are in PA now, compared to 20 years ago. The kid population is creeping back to historical norms.

Prop 13 did not contribute to any of these.


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Posted by sohill
a resident of another community
on Sep 7, 2007 at 12:43 pm


The big issue long, medium and short term is funds. You can talk all you want about opening schools, decreasing class size, students' academic options but without money won't do any good.

So my first issue would be funds. It is a MAJOR issue, because it his very hard to convince people to part with their money and because of the logistics involved.

Last two times I moved not in CA, my house settlement costs included a 4% city tax on title transfer ( it was costumary to divide the 4% between the seller and buyer). Why not such tax for education in Palo Alto? Homeowners already have numerous tax brakes on housing costs ( mortgage deduction up to 1m dollars, property taxes deduction and a whooping 250k/person for each title change under the applicable law). Why not give a tiny back bit of this as to make a "more equal" "gift" from the Feds to those who can't buy for whatever reason? It would be only fair.

The second would be housing which besides all other non-PAUSD issues will be a vehicle for overcrowding and would use land that would be unrecoverably lost to any other use, including new schools. That, I think can be pressed upon the city more and more forcefully. The city controls zoning, so it really is up to the good people of PA who they vote in and how the issue is impressed uon city council.

There is no doubt that someone goofed as far as demographics projections
so to put a correction on that could developers pay a special one time fee for education?

Other issues are more short term: The SI and MI and the alternative schools.I loved Olhone which one of my children attended ( yea,he is a productive person and graduated from an Ivy league school) but I think it would make more sense to redistrict since bounderies are a little bit messed up because of it (The SI and MI and the alternative schools). This would level class sizes and distribute students in a better way. I am not sure that the SI and MI programs are a good use of public funds but I am not sure which other restrictive programs are. we could certainly discuss that.

There is nothing that can be done about class size otherwise or that perhaps needs to be done immediately.

There is nothing that can be done about the Tinsley children, the city and PAUSD employees children that would have any immediate effect (even assuming that it would be even worth to do anything about it).

Money, that is funds, is very underrated specially by those who rate it highly for themselves, but money is the major issue here and will become even more in the future.

Now for Long-term lessons: I never said I give anthing to anybody- which post did you get that from?

I agree that property taxes before prop 13 were badly structured and were rampantly going up, but there should be a solution that puts some equilibrium on public funds obtained from those taxes- they are simply too low for the costs that generate ( that includes senior centers, libraries etc ( portions that are applicable). Sitting pretty while other pay your costs is not fair. Somebody payed for your children. It's your turn now. We can choose differently and again.


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Posted by yet another parent
a resident of Escondido School
on Sep 7, 2007 at 1:01 pm

Casey, If we're down to the top three, I'd drop Tinsley from the list. Pull ALL the Tinsley students out and we'd still have problems housing the remainder.

There are a couple of ways to go about finding solutions: sort out the causes which have the greatest impact; sort out the causes which are the easiest to fix.

Changing the VTP agreement doesn't make either list -- it's not a PRIMARY cause of overcrowding and it's a contentious issue that won't easily be fixed. Changing the parcel tax would likely have a great impact, however it's very challenging to fix.

Are there other causes which meet both criteria? I favor the "easy to fix" criteria. Let's reduce the crowding in nibbles & chunks, in the same way that the overcrowding occurred bit by bit.

Sure, the complex issues can/should be worked on in parallel but they tend to overtake the discussion, drowning out smaller but viable solutions. Although these issues are interesting (and important) to debate, what can we realistically do TODAY that can make an immediate difference?


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Posted by Casey
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 7, 2007 at 1:11 pm

"The big issue long, medium and short term is funds"

sohill, that's always the case. Ask any program, public or private, if they have enough funds, and the answer will be "NO!". A better way to understand the funds issue is to announce a 10% cut in next year's budget, then ask for a list of prioritites. For instance, a return to historical class size (e.g. 28) could easily reduce the crunch in a major way.

PA taxpayers already provide for an opulent per student funding base. That is why we are a 'basic aid' district.

sohill, let me ask you what you would do, independent of increased funds, within the PAUSD? You mentioned something about redistricting, but I couldn't follow your argument. Please clarify and expand.


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Posted by A parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 7, 2007 at 8:34 pm

I'm paying $16k a year in taxes to live in a teeny-tiny house so my kid can attend PA schools. Keep your mitts off the small class sizes!


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Posted by Apples
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 7, 2007 at 8:55 pm

Parent,

You make a very good point. How come our district is in such a "crisis" yet can still afford all kinds of extra things such as trips to China ?

I have lived here 17 years, and let me tell you something: Ever since I moved here there has been a "crisis" of one type or another in this school district. In years when tax revenues were not as high as hoped for, well, it needed more money (ie: bonds, parcel taxes, donations etc) to "maintain" education excellence. But wait, what about the years when we did have lots and lots of money (eg late 90s)? Well then we still had "crises"... we needed to add more programs, we needed to pay teachers more, lest they run away from Palo Alto, etc. etc.

My first few years here I bought into this whole "crisis" idea. I voted FOR bond issues and parcel taxes, I donated money.

Then one day I realized that we were in a permanent "crisis" mode and I suddenly realized it smelled very fishy.

So, now I no longer donate money, and I vote no on all tax increases (I still have children in PA schools mind you). Too much is too much.

Let's get more accountability and better management from PAUSD and less "crises".


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Posted by Parent Squared
a resident of Meadow Park
on Sep 8, 2007 at 12:44 am

From A Parent: "I'm paying $16k a year in taxes to live in a teeny-tiny house so my kid can attend PA schools. Keep your mitts off the small class sizes!"

Oh boy, sooooo may of us are in that same boat.

As a parent of 2, I must say reduced class size benefited my own children enormously. They originally started school in another district with 28 children/class (and no aides), and seemed to be always 'falling through the cracks'. It was too much for the teacher to keep track of whether every child fully understood the lesson material, and as parents we had to scramble to tutor them supplementarily at home, despite our full-time jobs.

Now they are in middle and high school, but I still fully support reduced class size as the preferred option for the younger grades.

"New Housing Developments / PA Population Increase" and "Not Enough Schools" seem to me to be particularly discussion-worthy in the overcrowding issue (I do not wish to discuss what I see as the Tinsley "red herring" in this subject.)

I particular, I have always marveled at the remarkable shortsightedness of selling off school properties during the temporarily-reduced-enrollment "baby bust" years, without acknowledging that sooner or later the "baby boom" would inevitably produce a "ricochet boom".


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Posted by Long-Term
a resident of South of Midtown
on Sep 8, 2007 at 10:28 am

FYI: to those who think I am one of the beneficiaries of Prop 13 - yes, we all are if you live in a house more than a couple years. The difference is that I made the full and free choice to buy my house at $500,000 and pay those taxes, just like anyone who buys a house..when my neighbor was paying taxes on $50,000..yet same house. I didn't buy, then try to force a change because I couldn't accept the choice I made. I haven't felt one bit of resentment or envy. I feel sorry for those who do.

My neighbors are still there in their 80's..hope I will still be here in my 80s also.


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Posted by Long-term
a resident of South of Midtown
on Sep 8, 2007 at 10:31 am

Or, at least, I hope I can afford to still be in here in my 80s.

Now, paying a bit of of premium to the local school fund out of my increase in house price when/if I sell, THAT I completely agree with and have long advocated.. That has minimum impact on ability to continue to live in a home, and minimum long term impact on employment, taxes, housing prices etc.


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Posted by 14k/yr
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Sep 8, 2007 at 12:20 pm

The Prop 13 shibboleth has been spoken! I'm always bewildered by defenses of Prop 13 that assume that the alternative to Prop 13 is a return to the taxation system that existed prior to 1978. Nonsense, this is a classic false dichotomy fallacy. There is no reason a property tax system cannot include some form of protection for those of limited means without providing large windfalls for those who do not need it. The extension of Prop 13 to commercial property (including rentals) is shear idiocy and needs to be reformed ASAP. Palo Alto school funding system makes the city acutely sensitive to any lack of correlation between increases in school enrollment and funding. Prop 13 in it current form will eventually end, it only a matter of when and how. A return to the high inflation of the late 70's and early 80's will put an unbearable strain on the PAUSD. It is better to modify Prop 13 in an orderly manner now, than wait for a future crisis.


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Posted by Casey
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 8, 2007 at 12:42 pm

"There is no reason a property tax system cannot include some form of protection for those of limited means without providing large windfalls for those who do not need it. The extension of Prop 13 to commercial property (including rentals) is shear idiocy and needs to be reformed ASAP"

14k/yr, your argument is to increase taxes, instead of identifying priorities. It it always easy to just say, "Increase funding, and take it from the rich!", but that answer won't fly anymore. Too many of us have been there, done that...which is why Prop 13 was passed in the first place. Ask any new home owner: Do you want your property taxes to increase at the rate of home inflation? That was the argument of the teachers' union in PA in the late 70s. Prop 13 provided the overwhelming answer: "NO, but I am willing to see my taxes increase 1-2% per year."

14k/yr, you say you want to tax commericial properties. PA is desperate to ATTRACT business! How, exactly does your tax the rich scheme contribute to the overall economic health of this city? I am befuddled.

Let me try one more time: Assume that next year's PAUSD budget will be cut by 10%. Now, define your prioities....


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Posted by 14k/yr
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Sep 8, 2007 at 4:14 pm

Excuse me Casey, but your argument that taxing commercial properties at market value would interfere with attracting businesses to Palo Alto is befuddling.

(A) Modification of the property tax system for commercial property at the state level would have no differential effect on Palo Alto because all commercial properties statewide would be affected to the same degree. No new disincentive to locate in Palo Alto is created.

(B) Commercial businesses don't need Prop 13 protection because they are able to pay for increased property taxes by charging market rates for their goods and services.

(C) Prop 13 adds a market distortion to the competitive environment. A business owning its property for a longer period of time gains an advantage over a newer business that must contend with higher property taxes.

(D) Businesses that are highly shielded by Prop 13 can afford to survive on lower sales than a comparable unshielded business. Since Palo Alto is highly dependent on sales taxes, the city is hurt by the market distortion. The taxes on the higher retail profits go to Sacramento, not Palo Alto. Given the current dependence of the city on sales taxes, it is in the interest of the city to attract businesses with high sales rates and get rid of businesses that are just limping along. Of course, the Prop-13-created dependence of local government on sales taxes has some pretty bizarre effects. A new mega-size adult book store would add money to the city, but renting the same property out for a suite of physician offices would not contribute one cent.

As for cutting the PAUSD budget 10%, my first priority would be to move out of this jerkwater burg.


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Posted by Casey
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 8, 2007 at 5:13 pm

14k/yr,

Your only valid point is D (but only partially).


The rest of them do not meet a basic test of rationality, if one considers the entire nation, not to mention the global economy. In fact, if one factors in other states, many businesses can relocate in them. For instance, Henderson, NV, one of the few places left in this country where a high school diploma can still get a middle class lifestyle.

You claim that the high cost of business in PA can be covered by passing through the costs. Really? Then why are so many businesses leaving PA? You also claim that older PA businesses are suppressing sales tax revenue. Please provide a couple of examples...I mean those firms that are, by design, keeping their sales low, because they are "protected" by Prop 13. I will agree with you that currently hot companies (to the extent that they still exist) do not particularly care about property taxes in PA, because they are making money, and can always decide to move out, but this is a very rare thing these days. Companies that are hanging on by the skin of their teeth would be tossed over the edge by increased property taxes.

If PAUSD were to take a 10% budget cut, overnight, it would still be a basic aid district, because it provides so much money for the students that live in PA. If you care to move out, that would be your choice, but you might be moving to a much less privileged district.

The essential issue in PAUSD, today, in terms of overcrowding, is that the number of students is heading back towards historical norms, and the number schools is less, compared to the historical norm. This problem has been exaccerbated by 20 kids/class and Tinsley, both of which can be eliminated. Once these two uber issues are resolved, we can start to talk about increased funds.


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Posted by a parent
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 8, 2007 at 5:54 pm

".....But the fact is that EPA was very poor (not today if you judge by housing prices) and by and large uneducated. They wanted better for their children and they were not getting it in Ravenswood, just as the Willows neighborhood wasn't. But the Willows were allowed to transfer to Menlo Park SD, if I am not mistaken in 1984. Why was EPA not allowed also?"-quote from sohill That theory sounds so much like a robber's theory: I don't have it at my house, I got to get it from your house. And that's what you are 'morally entitled to' ... I don't think the 60 students being displaced from their own place feel that way.


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Posted by sohill
a resident of another community
on Sep 8, 2007 at 9:38 pm

A parent,
No, of course it's not a Robin Hood theory: it is just an explanation that has to be taken together with the know facts of the hstorical background and documentation. (EPA had been effectively denied admission into the PA schools on the account of their race).

BUT

How many times is it necessary to speak about the background of Tinsley? And how many times is is it necessary to mention that to focus on tinsley is not just controversial and divisive UNDER this discussion but it does fragment the issue. That fragmentation takes
us to deal with individual "trees" and not with major parts of the "forest" ( a thread to discuss just Tinsley would be fine ) . A very effective way to achieve nothing with any issue is fragmenting it in tiny bits, minor parts of a whole. This is a sure way not to come to a consensus.

And again:
Pa and the other school districts made a deal: as far as it is still a deal (no party in an agreement can unilateraly decide not to abide by it) Tinsley kids are not cheating anybody and your sentence ".. I don't think the 60 students being displaced from their own place feel that way" seems absurd. NO CHILD in Palo alto has been denied an education and unless parents start instilling in their children that they have been somewhat displaced by the Tinsley kids it would be strange for child to feel that way: is it because they are "different"? . Just one more question for A parent and all that would like to see tinsley lynched: why would you not also speak about the Los Altos students that attend Nixon- are those also not displacing PA students? Your focus on tinsley is unseemly, grossly overstated and until you start speaking against the Los Altos students too, quite biased ( to put it midly but you can biased if you want-it's a free country and if that's the contribution you want your children to inherit that's fine with me)

all attending PA schools under any agreement (that includes the Los Altos kids) are fine by me- they are doing nothing wrong. If you don't like to abide by agreements you can start proceedings to declare them null and void.

My oldest child's classes in palo verde pre-tinsley had 25/27kids (thanks dear Miss milligan and Mrs. Carleton). The children of that class are now grown up.The many I keep in touch with are sucessful and the sucessful product of those " overcrowded " classes. Different students consume different amounts of school/teacher/ time.
Are we going to say that since some (non-tinsley) consume a lot of time they are cheating others? That if many students do well in a class of 40 and yours don't, yours are cheating others?
So let me stress again ( since I will be disappearing from this forum- I have to work ) :

To get new schools which are the only sure way to deal with overcrowding now and in the future with all it entails ( physical, personnel resources and covered operational costs) California, not just PA, need to address prop 13 . Here I agree entirely with Long-term, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, and 14k/yr, a member of the Jordan Middle School community.

Casey, if there was a better distribution* of students per school some schools would indeed better their numbers but the special interests (alternative schools, SI and MI immersion would have to go)
A "floating" redistricting for example by which every year bounderies would be ajusted for new students would be very easy to do (grandfathering existing students and siblings attending at the same time).

be in peace


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Posted by sohill
a resident of another community
on Sep 8, 2007 at 9:48 pm

yet another parent also has very good ideas and nicely summarized. Perhaps you could discuss it further.

Here is the post again (by yet another parent):
Casey, If we're down to the top three, I'd drop Tinsley from the list. Pull ALL the Tinsley students out and we'd still have problems housing the remainder.
There are a couple of ways to go about finding solutions: sort out the causes which have the greatest impact; sort out the causes which are the easiest to fix.

Changing the VTP agreement doesn't make either list -- it's not a PRIMARY cause of overcrowding and it's a contentious issue that won't easily be fixed. Changing the parcel tax would likely have a great impact, however it's very challenging to fix.

Are there other causes which meet both criteria? I favor the "easy to fix" criteria. Let's reduce the crowding in nibbles & chunks, in the same way that the overcrowding occurred bit by bit.

Sure, the complex issues can/should be worked on in parallel but they tend to overtake the discussion, drowning out smaller but viable solutions. Although these issues are interesting (and important) to debate, what can we realistically do TODAY that can make an immediate difference?


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 9, 2007 at 1:43 am

Sohill,

While I'm not up in arms about Tinsley, a couple of notes. The LAH kids who attend Nixon do so because they reside within the PAUSD. Tinsley kids don't.

I don't think, frankly, the argument that EPA kids were denied admission to PAUSD schools because of race holds much water. Why? Because there's a county line. One of the weirdest things about the Tinsley settlement is that it provides cross-county transfers. School districts don't cross county lines, so PAUSD not containing part of San Mateo County isn't proof of racism, it's simply standard.

I don't mind the Tinsley kids; I think there's a lot to be said for some economic variety. However, I think there are some fundamental weaknesses to its legal grounds.


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Posted by Pay what others pay
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Sep 9, 2007 at 7:19 am

Do Tinsley folks pay the "add on" parcel tax.

For starters we must make them pay that amount. It is definitely not discriminatory.








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Posted by Terry
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 9, 2007 at 9:24 am

Casey, I don't know if you are trying to twist logic to make your points, or your thinking is really quite that muddled. If retail stores, hotels, etc (the generators of sales tax revenue) want to relocate to Henderson, NV to serve the PA customers, well, good luck to them. Defending Prop 13 for commercial prpperty is about as nutty as ... defending Prop 13 ;-)


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Posted by Casey
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 9, 2007 at 9:39 am

Terry,

Sure, they can move to Henderson, and take their orders via the Internet. Lots of mercherts are doing that now. Henderson is a good shipping point. If PA stores are forced to pay property taxes proportional to their current market assessment, PA stores will be at a competitive disadvantage, because of the high land values in PA.

We don't have overcrowding in PA schools because our taxes are too low. In fact, our taxes provide way above the state average per pupil funding. Raising taxes in PA, especially commercial taxes, will hurt the local economy, and possibly result in lower tax revenues.


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Posted by sohill
a resident of another community
on Sep 9, 2007 at 10:37 am

As I said I am out of this forum, but I will make this last exception to answer PAY OhlonePar. And this will really be my last comment- I have other things to do.

To OhlonePar:
you say:

"Sohill,
While I'm not up in arms about Tinsley, a couple of notes. The LAH kids who attend Nixon do so because they reside within the PAUSD. Tinsley kids don't."

I thought that those who object to the VTP do so because as they say" these are not Palo Alto kids". We should educate only our own" but as I had suspected that's not what they really want : they don't mind educating kids from other towns (los altos,for example) it's just the VTP they object. Why?
Care to give a good reason why people who have a good school system as LA a should ask PA to let "their" students be part of the "overcrowding"

Is what is good for the goose not good for the gander? are the los altos kids "more" equal than others?

The point you make that the LA kids are within the PAUSD catchment area is precisely what is objectionable (not per se but in the sense that what are arguments for keeping out non- PA kids should also apply to them). So, what we have here is circular reasoning: the LA kids (those attending PAUSD schools) are in the PAUSD because we allow them. But we don't want to allow the VPT kids.

How's this for a nice unsconstitutional argument? Believe what you want but there are no convenants anymore and being that PA is not a private community it has to abide by state and federal regulations.

You also say:
"I don't think, frankly, the argument that EPA kids were denied admission to PAUSD schools because of race holds much water."

I have NEVER said that the argument was race I said it was bias,
but what I or you think is completely irrelevant on this matter or just as opinion has no effect of gravity on celestial bodies. The question is what are the facts. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

I remember that a group called "parents for neighborhood school (or schools i can remember exactly)" had precisely the same arguments as we've seen we see here.That was in 70's.
When the Tinsley suit was resinstated by the courts in 1979 (california court of appeals)
the court accepted the argument that the california constitution (which encompasses more rights than the US Constiution) should be used in deciding the outcome of the suit. And concluded that cross county schooling was the permited remedy.

There are no" legal" grounds per se. This was a SETLEMENT entered in by consenting parties just as it was by agreement that PAUSD sold school properties for housing (are you telling the people who bought those properties "sorry, get out. we want to "undo" the settlement" Blame the parties if you wish.... There may indeed be parts of the Tinsley agreement that could be challenged perhaps on other grounds in the same way as other agreements (comercial, personal, business etc) can be challenged.

Pay says:
Do Tinsley folks pay the "add on" parcel tax.
For starters we must make them pay that amount. It is definitely not discriminatory.

my answer:
I don't think so, neither do the LA folks. There was a Settlement. The terms of the settlement would spell out obligations and rights. Is PA paying those folks who couldn't get in into Palo Alto schools because they weren't allowed to live in the city, for the irreparable harm it did to them and their childrens' education?

btw, would you all care to how disclose much you pay in "school" taxes?
where is the poster paying $916.46/year and complaining?

bye to all


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Posted by Palo alto mom
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 9, 2007 at 11:22 am

Los Alto Hills kids attend PAUSD - its a different town than Los Altos.

School districts don't follow town/city lines, a few kids from Palo Alto attend Los Altos Schools, some parts of Menlo Park are Ravenswood, some are Menlo Park, some are Los Lomitas district. VTP kids are not part of districting, they are transfers, funded in a different way.


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Posted by PA resident
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 9, 2007 at 2:29 pm

Sohil,

The parents of Los Altos Hills (LAH) kids who attend PA schools pay taxes to the PAUSD just like any other Palo Alto family. This includes parcel taxes. As far as I know, there are no Los Altos (LA) kids attending PAUSD schools.






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Posted by Casey
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 9, 2007 at 2:30 pm

PA mom,

Correct. Those members of PAUSD in Los Altos Hills DO pay the parcel tax. At least that is my understanding.

You are also correct that VTP students are funded in a separate way, one that does not (directly) involve PAUSD property taxes or parcel taxes. There is a negative effect to PAUSD tax base, because the VTP students do not bring a 'full ride' voucher with them (it is about 70%). Frankly, that does not bother me as much as the coercive agreement that created the program in the first place. Basically, it was blackmail.

If PAUSD was not, currently, facing overcrowding, I would probably not be as critical of VTP (and 20 kids/class), even though I disagree with both on philosophical/legal grounds. But we ARE facing overcrowding, and I am not hearing any tough choices being discussed...just more of the same old "tax the rich" / musical chairs littany.

I have lived in PA for a long time, and I know how long it takes to get the pendulum swinging in the other direction (about a generation and a half). However, I sense that it has started. Voices that have been out in the wildnerness for years are now starting to be heard, again. PA is beginning to wake up to the fact that it cannot have it all. It must say "no" to some social programs, and "yes" to business. It is time to say "no" to Tinsley and "no" to 20/class.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 9, 2007 at 3:12 pm

Sohill,

You're missing the main point. What's now Los Altos Hills has long been a part of the PAUSD. Same with Stanford. If you look at the district map, it's all pretty contiguous. My recollection is that the district boundaries were drawn before LAH was incorporated, so PAUSD was simply incorporating some county lands.

County lines rather than "bias" (and what does that mean here, except racism--c'mon) look like they determined the district boundaries. I think the argument is different for Menlo Park and Atherton. In other words, Palo Alto was party to the Tinsley suit because of what was going on in San Mateo.

I don't mind Tinsley, but I think that there is something wrong with accepting transfers at schools that are bumping kids from the neighborhood. It's not clear to me that it's even helping racial balancing--there are Asian Tinsley kids, so you could, conceivably, have one Asian kid bumping another. In fact, given that many of the families moving into PA are Asian and thus don't have sibling preference guaranteeing them a spot at the local school, I'm willing to be this has happened.

You can also have a family that owns a home in one of EPA's newer, nicer developments bumping a family renting an apartment in Palo Alto (remember, almost half of PA rents). In other words, a richer family bumps a poorer one.

Tinsley is a crude instrument and I don't think it was originally intended to bump kids from their neighborhood schools. I suppose at some point, it will bump the kid of an underemployed lawyer and we'll get a lawsuit.


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Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 9, 2007 at 5:07 pm

From Above:
"I'm paying $16k a year in taxes to live in a teeny-tiny house so my kid can attend PA schools. Keep your mitts off the small class sizes!"

Oh boy, sooooo may of us are in that same boat.

As a parent of 2, I must say reduced class size benefited my own children enormously. They originally started school in another district with 28 children/class (and no aides), and seemed to be always 'falling through the cracks'. It was too much for the teacher to keep track of whether every child fully understood the lesson material, and as parents we had to scramble to tutor them supplementarily at home, despite our full-time jobs."


This is exactly why hurting class size would hurt Palo Alto. Your overpriced home is maintaining its value through the latest real estate crisis because so many people are in Parent Squared's boat -- and they chose it because of the reputation of the schools.

Regardless of what you really think would happen if the classes were enlarged, many people (like me) would perceive it as a significant hit to Palo Alto schools and their reputation. Raising class size is probably the single most clear and effective way to ruin the reputation of the schools. It should be a last resort, period. (If you thought the fight over MI was bad...)


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Posted by Apples
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 9, 2007 at 9:21 pm

Anon and all,

Well, class size reduction has not been proven to make that much difference in the educational outcome of children but I do not dispute it made a difference for yours.

However, when there were 27/28 children per class in Palo Alto (10 years ago), there were also more aides and more aide hours for the teachers.

It is not a choice between the status quo and 27/28 children per class with no aides. If class size were to increase, it would have to be and would be with increased aide time. This would greatly help deal with the problem of space limitation.

As someone else mentioned above, I too know kids who graduated from Palo Alto school a couple of years ago, after having 'survived' elementary school class sizes of 27 or 28 - gasp !- Guess what, they are doing wonderfully well at Yale, Princeton, Stanford, NYU, Washington University, the UCs. etc.


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Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 9, 2007 at 11:36 pm

My school has no full-time aides. It's pretty much one teacher, 20 kids. Hiring aides would mean doubling staff size, essentially. Overenrollment isn't going to disappear next year or the year after. This is a problem we need to deal with by opening a new school, and re-examining boutique language programs that are set up to use maximum space, attract people from outside, and can't take most student transfers.

Los Altos has afternoon kindergarten -- better that than the alternative.

Changing class size would be penny-wise and pound foolish -- except that it isn't even penny wise given the huge increase in staff we would need to bring the ratios of instructors to students to that of Apples' rosy tales. (Since you are so keen on comparing apples to apples, perhaps you'll consider that not all kids from PA go to ivy league schools and that your sampling is skewed -- the kids you know probably would have done well regardless. Although, given that they had more aides in the classrooms then, their instructor to student ratio was better than today's.)


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Posted by Simple Solution
a resident of another community
on Sep 11, 2007 at 12:19 am

heres the simple solution

STOP HIGH-VOLUME HOUSING PROJECTS


thats the real problem.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 11, 2007 at 12:37 pm

Simple,

Just how would that simple solution take place?

I think we need, somehow, to tie housing developments to opening another school--elementary.

We have the buildings, it can't be that impossible to open an elementary.


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Posted by yet another parent
a resident of Escondido School
on Sep 11, 2007 at 1:47 pm

A few facts from the AAAG report:
- Increasing class size from 20 to 22 in grades K-5 creates 476 additional seats.
- Increasing class size from 20 to 24 in grades K-5 creates 952 additional seats.
- Increasing class size involves:
- Loss of State funding
- Loss of District need to supplement state funding

A few observations: They're not suggesting that we go from 20 to 28 – there's no need to. Opening a 13th elementary school creates 480 seats (20 students x 4 strands x 6 grades). That's an even tradeoff between opening a school vs. increasing class size by 2.

And, a few questions: How much does the District lose, and how is it calculated? How much is the supplemental funding the District would no longer have to pay, and how is it calculated? Does the loss of State funding apply to ALL elementary grades, or just the lower grades?

Have they ever discussed increasing class size just for the upper elementary grades? 24 fifth graders are more manageable than 24 kindergarteners.


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Posted by BJ
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 11, 2007 at 3:10 pm

20 students is mandated by CA only for K-3.


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Posted by A Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 11, 2007 at 4:49 pm

The real solution is to open Garland as a neighborhood school, taking in students from both sides of Middlefield but not from either side of Oregon Embarcadero. Then, make Ohlone 4 strands of Ohlone, not MI. Allow MI to become a charter and give them Greendell.They can share it with Young 5s and the rest, and then when they need more space, move to Ventura.

The real problem is that PAUSD wants income from both Garland and Greendell.

PAUSD is in business to teach and educate children, not generate rental income.


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Posted by LEO
a resident of Ventura
on Sep 11, 2007 at 5:11 pm

school overcrowding.
how bad is it?
why, it's so bad you could call it day care,
and with all the folks going through the motions,
you could also call it a farce


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Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 11, 2007 at 6:49 pm

I wonder if we could open Garland as a K-3 only school. Then increase class size in 4-6 only, as is necessary to match the spaces for the Garland kids - though personally I would not like to see classes larger than 22 or 23 even in 4-6. That still makes a few hundred spaces, going by "yet another parent"s numbers. Then we maintain 20 kids in K-3, keep our state funding, and use all space to maximum effect.

Allow MI to become a charter as it should have been in the first place. MI will be better for it, Palo Alto will be better for it. As much as Los Altos bellyached about Bullis, frankly, Los Altos is now overcrowded, too, and glad for the space to put the kids. Bullis is still in those moldy old portables, which was the reason for all the rancor. As long as we don't put MI in a bunch of old portable buildings slated to be torn down, we shouldn't have the same problems..

We should only increase class sizes at all if it will save opening a school indefinitely, not if it will only buy some time.


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Posted by Pro-Kid
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 12, 2007 at 10:57 am

I have kids at Escondido, Fairmeadow and Jordan (blended step-family). Each of our schools (and all the others in the District) could easily double its student population by building 2-story structures, wtihout sacrificing on-site open space or high-quality education. I wonder how many adult Palo Alto residents attended multi-story schools in their youth? I did.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 12, 2007 at 11:31 am

Pro Kid - you are dreaming. Its not just the amount of space you need for buildings. Its the amount of open space you need for play, (fields and blacktop), sports fields and courts for the secondary schools, space for picnic tables, space for MP room, bikes, parking and driveways, etc. There is not a chance in heck that Fairmeadow could double in size, even with two story buildings. JLS couln't either. I doubt Jordan could. I have no idea about Escondido - I think its about 10 acre campus, wheras Fairmeadow is a 4.5 acre campus. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Besides are you the neighbor across the stree that would deal with the traffic loads, etc.?

No one is in 'moldy' portables anywhere - but there are plenty of kids in portables. In fact PAUSD has shown this year that they have very low standards for the conditions for housing elementary kids in portables. So I think portables, crammed in the back of one of our campuses is a PAUSD standard, and is an excellent 'on par' idea for an MI charter school.

The solution is to take ALl the choice programs off the table - to redraw the district boundaries based on residency -for the whole district - and place the choice programs wherever there is space remaining. The only logical thing to do rather than shuttle neighborhood kids all over the district. If there is room for another choice program, then tell us where that is, after you fulfill all the neighborhood school needs.


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 12, 2007 at 11:47 am

the two-story idea comes up occasionally - I have suggested it and many others have - it's clear though it would take forever and a day to get approval owing to the extensive "processes" we have in place nowadays in government, especially here. It IS clear than land is scarce and valuable.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 12, 2007 at 11:51 am

Pro-Kid,

Building two-story buildings is an expensive option--the district *has* school sites it's renting out. Tearing down buildings and replacing them is an expensive and time-consuming options. We're earthquake country and that comes with its own slew of regulations.

The best option I've heard so far is to open Garland as a neighborhood school, expand Ohlone to 4 strands of Ohlone and move MI to Greendell where it can take over the JCC portion of the site, since the JCC is moving anyway.

Everybody gets what they want--more spots in the Ohlone lottery, a neighborhood school that kids between Oregon and Embarcadero can actually walk to, an MI enclave for the MIers at a site that's already working as a school site. It would mean a one-strand program, but, frankly, given the numerous language options in and around Palo Alto, I don't think that that's that big a deal.

Sigh, this it too simple a strategy isn't it? Can't have any longterm planning, now, can we?


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 12, 2007 at 12:28 pm

Guess what - the school district doesn't have to adhere to any City of Palo Alto "procesess". They have free reign to do whatever they please to their sites - no approvals needed. AND they have power of emminent domain. Scary? Yep. Think again about who you vote in for BOE.

(I know because I asked officials if PAUSD had the right to cut down the redwoods that line JLS and Fairmeadow - or if they had to get permits to cut down those trees from the city. Nope, no permits needed, the district can do whatever it wants with its trees, its buildings, its traffic congestion, etc.


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Posted by Older Citizen
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 12, 2007 at 12:36 pm

OhlonePar,

I admire your interest in our community and in the future of our schools.

I think that there are a large number of people in the community who are in agreement with you on many issues.

If you ever decide to run for City Council or School Board, you have my vote.

Please consider this seriously, we need you!

If there are no good people running for these positions, then the future of our city and our schools may be at risk.

Thanks for all your posts.

Did you grow up here by chance?

We seem to think along the same lines.

I grew up in Palo Alto, and am worried about what I see happening now in our schools and in our city.



 +   Like this comment
Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 12, 2007 at 3:27 pm

Older Citizen,

Thank you for the compliment. I don't feel qualified at this time, though I've given some thought as to what I think would make me a good school board member. (I'm not big on committees, but I think a good board member should have some hands-on experience in that area.)

I did not grow up in Palo Alto, but have lived here for more than 20 years. I did grow up in the Bay Area. I was in school when Proposition 13 passed and saw how devastating and demoralizing those cuts were. I value Palo Alto's commitment to public schools because of it.

As for the city council--yikes!


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