News

Schools to expand residency verification efforts

Board grapples with planning space to accommodate enrollment growth

Palo Alto school officials plan to expand residency verification efforts to weed out students who may be attending schools illegally.

Superintendent Kevin Skelly told the Board of Education Tuesday night he plans to extend this year's ninth-grade "residency verification" to other grades next year.

The ninth-grade program -- which required every freshman this fall to submit fresh proof of residency, even if the student had been enrolled in Palo Alto since kindergarten -- resulted in 30 teens being dropped from school rolls after their parents could not provide documentation.

Skelly said he intends to "have a good discussion about expanding this program to other grades, how to do it, what the best grades are, what our enforcement officer thinks."

The district for several years has employed a part-time "residency officer" who follows up on tips about suspected non-resident students, including calls to the district's Residency Tip Hotline at 650 329-3700 ext. 7385.

Skelly's remarks came during a board discussion of district-wide enrollment projections from consulting demographer Shelley Lapkoff.

Lapkoff said kindergarten and first-grade enrollment this fall were "surprisingly high," far exceeding previously reliable indicators such as data on local births and housing turnover.

Births to local residents have been relatively stable at about 600 to 700 each year, "but kindergarten enrollment has been growing substantially over time," Lapkoff said.

Where in the past, enrollment was roughly 109 percent of births from five years before, this year it was 120 percent, she said.

"This predictive power (of local birth data) really broke down this year," she said.

An increasing number of enrolled students come from rental housing, the demographer said, explaining why enrollment continues to grow even with low housing turnover rates over the past three years.

"I analyzed the registration data to evaluate who's in rental versus owner-occupied housing and I found big increases in the last few years of students in rental housing," Lapkoff said.

Another possible source of the added headcount, though harder to pin down, is that more families are living with grandparents, she said.

New housing developments in Palo Alto also have contributed to enrollment growth. As of this fall, 606 Palo Alto students came from housing constructed in the past 10 years. But that will increase sharply when new housing still in the pipeline is completed, she said. The estimates are that 1,051 students will be coming from new housing by 2014 and 1,452 by the fall of 2020, Lapkoff said.

School board members said they want to schedule a study session for early next year to evaluate the growth projections and try to plan for new space, possibly including a fourth middle school.

District-wide enrollment, at 12,024 this fall, has been on a steady upward trajectory since a post-Baby Boom nadir in 1989.

At its historic high in 1968 – when Palo Alto had three high schools and more than 20 elementary schools -- enrollment reached 15,575. Currently there are two high schools, three middle schools and 12 elementary campuses.

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by JA3+
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 15, 2010 at 10:42 am

A wise and prudent idea.

Do other districts disclose the 'targeted grade (or grades)'? Or do they keep 'em guessing?


Like this comment
Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 15, 2010 at 10:52 am

It would make sense to verify residency when the kids change schools (middle and high school). It would also make sense to me to verify kids with one parent in PAUSD and one very local in another city. I know many kids who live outside of the District but use the non-custodial parents address.


Like this comment
Posted by Book-em-Danno!
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 15, 2010 at 10:56 am

> Do other districts disclose the 'targeted grade (or grades)'?
> Or do they keep 'em guessing?

This is mostly a problem in the Basic Aid school districts (about 60--scattered about the state).

When the cost-to-educate-per-student starts to push $20K/student, the idea of "open boards" (which has been a big Camille Townsend theme) is simply crazy.

The District should become proactive about this. No reason they shouldn't record the license plate numbers of people dropping their kids off at school, or for cars parked in the parking lot, and determine the addresses of the registered owners. If the cars aren't registered to Palo Alto/LAH/Stanford addresses, then this would be a good candidate for more investigation.




Like this comment
Posted by Book-em-Danno!
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 15, 2010 at 10:58 am

"open boards"->"open borders" (sigh)


Like this comment
Posted by outside
a resident of another community
on Dec 15, 2010 at 11:02 am

While Carmel is a smaller district, we require that each student prove residency every year.


Like this comment
Posted by Gunn parent
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 15, 2010 at 11:04 am

It's about time! As a parent and taxpayer, I'd support checking residency status every year, every grade.


Like this comment
Posted by It's about time
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 15, 2010 at 11:54 am

long overdue.
This has been a perpetual problem in our schools.
Proof of residency should be annual and part of the student registration package.


Like this comment
Posted by KinderParent
a resident of Southgate
on Dec 15, 2010 at 12:40 pm

Is there any penalty when a student is discovered to be attending PAUSD fraudulently? Several years of being overlooked at $15k/year is a lot of money.


Like this comment
Posted by Anonymouse
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 15, 2010 at 1:03 pm

I would recommend ANONYMOUS WHISTLE BLOWING provision.
People can just put the name of cheats into a box at the district, without any consequences. It would tip the district as to who to go and look up.

I personally know at least 2 families which cheat. One has a rented business address in Palo Alto that they have used to put 3 kids through K to high school. Another uses an uncles rented apartment. They live in fremont. Another moved away but uses old address for past two years of middle school but will switch for high school.

These are all nice people. I dont want them to know that I would dob them in. HOwever it is only fair and it should be done without anyone knowing.


Like this comment
Posted by Anonymouse
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 15, 2010 at 1:08 pm

And PAUSD should also penalize the realtors who SELL CHEATING.

If you go and look at a small house or condo as we did, the realtors will say ...you can use this address for the schools you know, as if they didnt expect us to live there full time.


Like this comment
Posted by Fair opportunity
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 15, 2010 at 2:00 pm

Why is this such a big deal?

We all know that Palo Alto has some of the best schools around. We also already know that Palo Alto is one of the most affluent cities in the country. Is it really such a big deal if a few parents go the extra yard to give their children the opportunity to have a future just as bright as all the other spoiled rich kids that can afford to have an actual PA address?

If we limit the highest quality education to only those who are wealthy enough to live in Palo Alto, what kind of society are we creating? What ever happened to equal opportunity and the pursuit of a better life?

I'm only trying to show the other perspective. I'm trying to show that this is about more than just money, we're also talking about the future generations.

What do you guys think? Am I wrong, is it really just about the money?


Like this comment
Posted by Parent
a resident of Community Center
on Dec 15, 2010 at 2:03 pm

"About time" is right. I also heartily support "whistle blowing" hotline to report cheaters. Can't people figure out that illegal students are basically just stealing resources that they (or actually their parents) did not contribute to, since they don't live in the district and pay taxes like the rest of us do?

Look folks, we don't live in the land of milk and honey where everyone has free and unfettered access to all resources.... wish we did. But we don't, and so boundaries must be set. Enforcement of such boundaries is ABOUT TIME. What has the school district been doing all these years? Why does it take a kick in the pants for them to do something?


Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 15, 2010 at 2:09 pm

Whereas I don't like cheating, I feel that if someone is paying to rent a home or apartment then basically they are paying their property tax to get into PA schools. What I think is wrong is when they are using their business address or the address of a family member just to get in. But in the case of divorce, If someone is spending some of their time with one parent and some of the time with another, then the parents are both paying their property tax and they should be able to come here.

As I said, I don't like cheating. But every child has to be educated somewhere and what if both districts decided they were cheating, where would the kids stand?

Don't blame the kids or make them feel bad. But if the parents have no legitimate home in Palo Alto and are just using accommodation addresses, the kids shouldn't be in our schools.


Like this comment
Posted by Mom
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 15, 2010 at 2:23 pm

I called three times last year about my child's classmate at Hays who lives in East Palo Alto and is not part of the Tinsley program. Nothing happened.
Once someone is admitted to the district as a kindergartner, there is no effort made check residency for the next six years...and families from surrounding communities know this.


Like this comment
Posted by Parent
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Dec 15, 2010 at 2:40 pm

Gunn High's school newspaper, The Oracle, published a story featuring students who live out of Palo Alto--fascinating read, and manages to remain neutral. It really is about educational opportunities.

Web Link

check it out if you have a few min. to spare.


Like this comment
Posted by another parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 15, 2010 at 2:52 pm

"I analyzed the registration data to evaluate who's in rental versus owner-occupied housing and I found big increases in the last few years of students in rental housing," Lapkoff said.

Now that you have the data regarding rental it would make sense to "check" those rentals to see if anyone is really residing in the rental. I know many cases of families from Portola Valley, Woodside and Fremont who rent in the PAUSD area and commute every day for the four years of high school. I am not talking about folks that can not afford to live in Palo Alto. These are families that have said that if their child does not get into the private school of choice then they will simply rent a place near the PA school that they are interested in attending. This issue is bigger than most people are willing to believe.


Like this comment
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 15, 2010 at 3:07 pm

Dear Fair: We have the Tinsley Program - that's doing plenty for kids who live outside our school district. And at least they are coming in via a process that is legal and above-board.

It is about the money. We have major budget issues as it stands. And get ready for another round of state budget cuts (see Jerry Brown's announcement yesterday). With limited resources - it is only right that we allow only the students who are legally attending our schools - including Tinsley and employee/staff children.


Like this comment
Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 15, 2010 at 3:41 pm

Dear Fair Opportunity,

There are plenty of non-wealthy families in Palo Alto, including families that live in a much smaller home than they could afford in just about any other community. If a student does not live here, they should not being attending school here, with the exception of the VTP and perhaps teachers kids. BTW, the abillity to send your child to PAUSD is not limited to the teaching staff, you just have to be a PAUSD employee.


Like this comment
Posted by Curious
a resident of another community
on Dec 15, 2010 at 3:50 pm

A related issue is that where you live in Palo Alto determines which high school you go to. What would happen if students and their families were free to choose Gunn or Paly, regardless of where they lived in the city? In the Palos Verdes Peninsula school district, they allow free choice, so students can live anywhere (as long as it's within the district boundaries) and choose whichever of the two high schools they prefer. I wish that were the case in Palo Alto.


Like this comment
Posted by Exacerbating the problem
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 15, 2010 at 3:52 pm

"If we limit the highest quality education to only those who are wealthy enough to live in Palo Alto, what kind of society are we creating? What ever happened to equal opportunity and the pursuit of a better life?"

Why don't those families focus their efforts on improving their own school district? If all of the education-emphasizing families leave a school district (legally or otherwise), that will only increase the disparity between the education-haves and education-have-nots. Shouldn't equal opportunity mean that everyone have access to a quality education? It seems to me the best way to accomplish that is to improve the quality of all schools, not just over-enroll the ones that are already good.


Like this comment
Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 15, 2010 at 3:58 pm

Another parent -I also know parents who live in Woodside and Portola Valley who sent their kids here when they didn't get into Menlo, Sacred Heart, etc. This is especially true for high school students. Perhaps we should pay particular attention to kids coming from a local non-PAUSD elementary or middle school.


Like this comment
Posted by David Pepperdine
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 15, 2010 at 4:36 pm

Last year, I personally found out that a student who was attending Gunn, actually lived up the peninsula, outside the PAUSD district but was using a relative's address in Palo Alto. I reported this to the Residency Officer's voicemail (650) 329-3700 ext. 7385 with specific instructions. No action was taken. Why are we paying this guy a salary?


Like this comment
Posted by Frank
a resident of Ventura
on Dec 15, 2010 at 4:39 pm

To Curious - a student can attend any school they want to if there's room for them. You need to request a transfer. I imagine there are some years when not everyone get's into the school they want but I do know several kids who have transferred (my kids are HS aged). Actually you can transfer in Elementary or Middle School too (assuming there's room).

To Crescent Park Dad - the Tinsley Program is hardly a dent in the number of outsiders who want to come in. It is for under privileged children and comes nowhere near to the numbers who want to come here.

I used to work for PAUSD, I can recall children being removed from school several time; I don't think I can recall a single time when the children in question were disadvantaged; I suppose sometimes there were but often their parents just wanted them in our schools.

I don't blame them, our schools are very good.


Like this comment
Posted by Jan
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 15, 2010 at 4:42 pm

I hope all of the people who cheat are at least paying some kind of PiE donation!


Like this comment
Posted by A concerned resident
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 15, 2010 at 4:55 pm

This is long overdue-- lets hope this arrangement actually has teeth. It's the cheapest way for us to reduce costs in this district and it is the only fair solution for those of us paying extraordinary property prices for tiny homes in this town. The district should be pursuing fraud lawsuits against families whose children are in the district illegally.


Like this comment
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 15, 2010 at 5:05 pm

Frank - I know all about Tinsley. The point is that we are doing something about letting non-residents attend - and it is based up on an agreement. Families apply and there is a lottery. Those lucky to be selected attend PAUSD schools.

"Fair" was arguing that we should essentially let anyone come in and attend our schools because they want to come.

We can't afford that, nor should we be "guilted" into thinking so.


Like this comment
Posted by all that glitters
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 15, 2010 at 5:09 pm

"No action was taken. Why are we paying this guy a salary?"

How do you know? The Residency Officer has no obligation to follow up and tell you the reasoning and evidence behind the decision. The most likely result was that it was checked out and you were wrong; the student was legally a student in the district.


Like this comment
Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 15, 2010 at 5:30 pm

I believe the District gives any "cheating" student time to actually move to PAUSD before they ask them to leave (seems reasonable).


Like this comment
Posted by Curious
a resident of another community
on Dec 15, 2010 at 5:52 pm

Thanks, Frank. This is still different, though, than what Palos Verdes allows--there, it's completely free choice. It doesn't matter where you live--you just say which high school you want to go to, and the enrollment numbers don't matter (in fact, one school is now considerably larger than the other). In Palo Alto, Gunn and Paly each have specific boundaries. I know that if, say, you live in the Paly area and want to attend Gunn, you can apply to transfer, but that's not the same as having students simply choose which of the two they want to attend. What do people think would happen if PAUSD allowed that, with no restrictions on enrollment at either school?


Like this comment
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 15, 2010 at 6:11 pm

Given that both high schools are bulging at the seams - I don't think it is practical to allow students to pick their school. There's only so much room at each campus.

Perhaps if you give priority to those students that live in that school's zone, it might work.

It would be very complicated if transfers were allowed after freshman year. Especially if the student is an athlete - the CIF administrators would require paperwork and it is more than likely that the student would have to sit out an entire year of eligibility.

I think Mtn Vw/Los Altos has a similar program, but it is for freshmen and is based upon available space - with priority given to those students who live closest to each school.


Like this comment
Posted by Book-em-Danno!
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 15, 2010 at 6:19 pm

> the Tinsley Program is hardly a dent in the number of outsiders
> who want to come in.

True.

> It is for under privileged children

Not true. There is no requirement of "economic disadvantage" to qualify for the VTP program. The only requirement is that the student must live in East Palo Alto.


Like this comment
Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 15, 2010 at 7:30 pm

Fair,

I don't think you get how severe the overcrowding is at the schools. Is it "fair" for a legal resident to get bumped across town because there's no room at the neighborhood school?

Is it "fair" to live in a nicer house than you could afford in Palo Alto and then not pay Palo Alto bond money to sneak your kid into Palo Alto?

A lot of people living here sacrifice a lot to send their kids to the public schools here. Many of us are far from rich. I know families that live in rentals for 15-16 years in this district instead of buying elsewhere and then trying to cheat the system.

There are slightly different rules for divorce situations, by the way.

By the way, given the low property tax of most rental prpoerties, no, renters aren't paying their "share" of school taxes. Not that it's not completely legal--just pointing the facts.


Like this comment
Posted by Book-em-Danno!
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 15, 2010 at 8:38 pm

> given the low property tax of most rental prpoerties

Rental properties, like residential properties, fall under Prop.13's "regulation". Remember, properties are assessed only at the time of being built, or whenever they change hands through a sale. So, older rental properties that have not changed hands for a while would have lower tax assessments than newer properties.

The assessed value for each parcel in Santa Clara County is on-line at the Assessor's web-site, and the actual tax paid is on-line at the Tax Collector's web-site.

The last transaction date for a parcel indicates how long ago the property was reassessed. Keep in mind that some rental properties in Palo Alto, like Webster Woods, or The Opportunity Center (which introduce kids into the PAUSD) are tax exempt. So too are upscale senior housing complexes, like Channing House, and Lytton Gardens.

The financing model for the PAUSD is probably the most complicated in the state, since there are so many tax exempt properties in this district (Stanford has a $6+B exemption.)

If school district were to fully model the cost of education/child (to include the cost of property and buildings, etc.) the cost-per-child would be well over $30,000 a student--which is paid for from base property taxes, and the never ending extra parcel and building taxes which are not paid for by the tax exempts. The idea of opening up the district to anyone who wants to go to school here would have to be paid for with new building/parcel taxes of thousands of dollars per parcel. That is insane--particularly for people without children in the school system.


Like this comment
Posted by Disequilibrium
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 15, 2010 at 10:39 pm

The ability of rental property owners to pay low property taxes and place an endless stream of students into the schools will eventually cause the PAUSD funding system to collapse.

The renters are doing nothing improper if they reside in the rental properties. The property owners for free riding; taxing their rental profits at the local level (and using the proceeds to fund schools) would be more logical than giving the rental profits to Sacramento or DC.


Like this comment
Posted by another parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 15, 2010 at 11:01 pm

"The renters are doing nothing improper if they reside in the rental properties."

This is only true if the renters are residing in the rental but many properties in PA are rented year after year to people that are using the address to be able to attend the schools.


Like this comment
Posted by Narc
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 15, 2010 at 11:16 pm

To those who reported cheats and nothing was done, I have a different story. A few years ago I left an anonymous message on the Central Attendance Line about a neighbor who was renting their house yet living in a larger house in a neighboring city. I gave them the Palo Alto address. The family was caught and moved back to Palo Alto. The children were relieved because they were tired of the commute and living the lie.

Thank you to Skelly for cracking down. I'm in favor of showing proof of residency every year, if that's what it takes. Following students home would be fine too. Folks, life is not fair.

I read that Tinsley (VTP) accounts for 600 students in PAUSD.

Here is the contact info for reporting:
Central Attendance at (650) 329-3707 or centattendance@pausd.org

Residency Requirements: Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by Mom
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 16, 2010 at 5:55 am

To the person above who said that the residency officer must have checked out the tip and determined it was wrong, let me tell you more about the family I reported. They openly joke that they have "created their own Tinsley program" because their child did not get in the Tinsley program through the lottery. They know they are cheating and so do many, many people.


Like this comment
Posted by Sarah
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 16, 2010 at 7:22 am

Fully support it to the fairness to our Palo Alto residents.


Like this comment
Posted by Curious
a resident of another community
on Dec 16, 2010 at 7:29 am

Crescent Park Dad, thanks. The capacity issue is different in the Palos Verdes Peninsula high schools, so I can see why allowing students to choose their school might not work well in Palo Alto. On the other hand, students (and their families) might self-select--Paly and Gunn are quite different in certain ways, and they might end up with approximately the same number of students if there were free choice. It would be interesting to see how that would shake out--what do people think?

outside, what's your high school like in Carmel, and do you face issues similar to those in Palo Alto?

I think PAUSD should require proof of residency every year (and follow up on tips), but I'm wondering how many people really rent a place (not just a room or mailbox, but a full-sized apartment or house) in Palo Alto and live elsewhere. I'm guessing not very many--the rents are exorbitant, and most people would find renting in Palo Alto and living elsewhere way too expensive. People who can afford to own a nice 3-4 bedroom home in other communities may only be able to afford to rent a 1- or 2-bedroom apartment in Palo Alto.

Unfortunately, the real problem is Proposition 13. I remember when it was passed--it was a disaster then, and it's responsible for many of California's problems today. Maybe it's time to replace it with something that works better.


Like this comment
Posted by Are you kidding me
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 16, 2010 at 8:22 am

PAUSD schools are NO longer the best one. Students are being bully, discriminate. Look down when they do not make good grades and even worst they are dying. There is a lot of things going on at Gunn and this is why all the suicides had ties to it. I am glad kids are going to be sent back to their district. That will save their lives. Parents are probably sending them because they also believe that the schools are good and they are blind and have not realized that kids are dying. Gunn is a depressive place to be.


Like this comment
Posted by Parent
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Dec 16, 2010 at 8:30 am

Does proposition 13 cover long time business/commercial property owners too?

There are many who own numerous large tracts of commercial property on some of the most expensive parcels of land in this city.

Many have inherited it, or purchased it many years ago, and made few improvements.

I'm just wondering...


Like this comment
Posted by Curious
a resident of another community
on Dec 16, 2010 at 8:51 am

Are you kidding me, can you please say more about this and provide more details (not about the suicides, but specifics about the "things going on at Gunn" and why you think it is a "depressive place to be")? Is the situation any better at Paly, and if so, why?


Like this comment
Posted by Mom at Paly
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 16, 2010 at 8:54 am

Does proposition 13 cover long time business/commercial property owners too?

Yes


Like this comment
Posted by Book-em-Danno!
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 16, 2010 at 8:54 am

> Does proposition 13 cover long time business/commercial
> property owners too?

Yes, but as the years roll on, these properties change hands and are reassessed at market rates. For instance, Rickey's/Hyatt was a large parcel that was reassessed from mid-1970s assessments when it sold a few years back, being replaced with housing. Stanford Plaza was sold to Simon Properties, and it too was reassessed at that time.

The information about the assessed value of a parcel is public domain information. However, it does take some work to look up all of these properties and to make lists of them.

If this were not a Basic Aid school district, this sort of thing would not matter too much. Unfortunately, the PAUSD gets about 70% of its funding from local property taxes; the other 30% comes from other State, Federal and private sources.

Another thing to remember about rental property in Palo Alto is that it is very expensive. Past demographics studies have shown that rental properties in Palo Alto introduce fewer students into the school district than one might think.

Worrying about older rental properties not paying their "fair share" is probably not as productive as worrying about the Tax Exempt properties, like Channing House, not paying its "fair share".


Like this comment
Posted by PAUSD Mom
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Dec 16, 2010 at 8:55 am

The increase in rentals should not be a surprise at all. Some years ago Greenmeadow residents did a study of census data that showed a large increase in households occupied by residents over the age of 75. These folks had not had children in the school district for thirty years.(The census data showed the # of owner occupied households decreasing by 2.5% in the 94306 zip code area while households age 75+ GREW by 41%--from 581 in 1990 to 821 households in 2000.) This was an indicator of future higher rates of turnover, and likely influx of families. Many seniors opt to rent rather than sell when they move, so it is no surprise that rentals to families have increased. Coupled with the production of new housing, factors have combined to create a "bubble effect." What surprises me is that the district is surprised. They knew this, and the L&G demographers dismissed the data, preferring their narrow linear analysis.

Much of the new housing now being built is for seniors. That is a good thing. We want our long-time neighbors to be able to stay in our community. However, as our good neighobrs move into this new housing they will sell or rent their current single family homes. Few people who don't have children will pay premium Palo Alto prices to rent or buy homes if they don't need access to our excellent schools. L&G needs to find a way to incorporate this phenomenon in their analysis.


Like this comment
Posted by Mom at Paly
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 16, 2010 at 8:58 am

@ Curious

Gunn has the reputation of being much more competitive than Paly. Not that Paly is a "bad" school, far from it. I've had two children at Paly, the younger one a freshman this year. They are very happy at Paly even while being in the high lane classes.


Like this comment
Posted by Narc
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 16, 2010 at 9:29 am

Many Asian immigrants choose Gunn due to the higher Newsweek rankings. The blame for stress does not lie solely on PAUSD, although teachers are teaching a lot of college-level material in electives and core classes. Many students are being pushed by their parents to achieve academically and in more than one extracurricular also, plus learn their native language.

Yet, I know of Asian immigrant parents who do not subscribe to that lifestyle for their children, so don't stereotype.


Mom, report that cheating family to Central Attendance. You can do it anonymously. They are laughing at PAUSD for not catching them: (650) 329-3707


Like this comment
Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 16, 2010 at 10:19 am

The District does follow up with people who are not living here. A family that was using the mom's office address as their home address lived in San Carlos or Redwood City. The principal of one of the students was notified, the family moved into a rental in Palo Alto.

While apartments are definitely not cheap in Palo Alto, they are much cheaper than private school tuition, especially if you have multiple kids. So live in Portola Valley in a big house, rent a one bedroom apt in Palo Alto for 1300 a month (hey, sublet it and get some income too!) and send your children to school in Palo Alto!


Like this comment
Posted by JA3+
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 16, 2010 at 12:04 pm

An obligation to fully document and prove residency each and every year seems wise.

In addition, it may be wise to implement a 'random test date' every so often (once every other year?), obligating each family of a student to provide proof of residency at a date and time randomly announced by the PAUSD with very little notice.

Given the stories recounted above (and those I've heard from certain friends over the years here in Palo Alto), I hope the PAUSD makes some substantive changes in this program this year.


Like this comment
Posted by Throw-the-Book-at-then
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 16, 2010 at 12:05 pm

Since Proposition 13 will never be repealed, it's a waste of time and energy to belabuor that issue.
Non-residents with kids in PA schools ought to be fined substantially, and their names made public. Maybe they could be given the option of completing the current school year if they pay the prorated cost of $1,500/month per student enrolled.
These would be effective deterrents to others considering trying the same thing.


Like this comment
Posted by Curious
a resident of another community
on Dec 16, 2010 at 4:06 pm

Thanks, Mom at Paly and Narc.

In some cases, Palo Alto apartments are more expensive than sending a kid to private school, especially if you have only one kid. It's hard (maybe impossible, even) to find a 1-bedroom apartment in a good area of Palo Alto (not right by the train, El Camino, or 101) for $1300 a month--$1700 is pretty much the minimum for a 1 bedroom, and imagine if you're a family of 3 or 4 moving from a 3- or 4-bedroom house into a bare-bones 1-bedroom apartment in Palo Alto for $1700 a month. If you multiply that (again, bare minimum) by 12, you get $20,400, which will go a long way toward paying private school tuition (covering the whole thing at some schools).


Like this comment
Posted by choose your poison
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 16, 2010 at 4:36 pm

Paly has the higher API scores, Gunn has more AP classes.


Like this comment
Posted by narnia
a resident of another community
on Dec 16, 2010 at 6:58 pm

Prop 13 benefits everyone who owns a property, not just rental owners. A couple making say 250,000/year, paying 10,000 in parcel/property tax, who have 2 children i the local schools is benefitting in the same manner as the rental owner. For that matter an elderly owner consuming services and paying very little in prop tax is benefitting fro the same prop 13.
Most of us benefit from someone else's taxes, that is the minority who pay more than us and those childless person's as well, so skip the holier-than-thou attitude as if only "others" are freeloaders. Most of us are.
What are you going to think of next? That only those who own property should be able to vote?


Like this comment
Posted by Meredith
a resident of Walter Hays School
on Dec 16, 2010 at 7:32 pm

Thanks for the warning.


Like this comment
Posted by business
a resident of Mountain View
on Dec 16, 2010 at 7:58 pm

There is an apparently thriving business for PA residents without school-age children. They charge non-PA-residents to use their Palo Alto address for school. This is especially desired for Palo Alto high schools, because they are seen as helping to obtain admission to elite universities.

This fraud strikes me as something that could be prosecuted.


Like this comment
Posted by Book-em-Danno!
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 17, 2010 at 9:18 am

> There is an apparently thriving business for PA residents
> without school-age children.

A number of schemes have been identified from the posters in this thread so far. This is the first time that this particular scheme has been suggested. If it's true, then the PAUSD should be doing some investigation to see how wide the practice has become.

As to prosecuting the residents, that would probably require a new law. Given the bleeding-heart nature of this town, it's difficult to believe that there would be a lot of support for it. However, the School District could publish the names and addresses of those involved--when it comes to light that such a fraud has been perpetrated.


Like this comment
Posted by tracy
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 17, 2010 at 10:18 am

I went to Gunn when they first opened My older Daughter graduated 4 years ago from Gunn My other Daughter still goes to Gunn I'm sick of the traffic!!!!!! Gunn and Paly are busting out of the seams in students!!!! and no the renters do not pay the parcel tax which is all the bond money that goes to the PA schools!!!!! So the parents that work in PA and do not live in PA they should have to pay extra for the parcel taxes WE in PA have to pay on our property taxes!!! Sorry NO!! why should I have to pay for someone elses child to go to
Gunn because their parent works in PA they should be lucky they have a job in PA !! And yes their is alot of False addresses given to the PA District so their child can go to Paly or Gunn!! Hey Life is not Fair!! Stay in your own District. Because I'm sick of the non-residents that do not live here! Good job skelly! who happens to live right around the corner from me! Go back to Cupertino, Sunnyvale, or where ever you came from and have your child go their!!
Because you are right you could NOT afford the proprety taxes here!


Like this comment
Posted by Paly Alum '82
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Dec 17, 2010 at 10:29 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Like this comment
Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 17, 2010 at 6:44 pm

I'm going to make this easy on myself and just cut-and-paste from Wikipedia to explain the benefit to corporate land owners from Prop. 13.

_______________
Effects on commercial property owners

Owners of commercial real estate have also benefited: if a corporation owning commercial property (such as a shopping mall) is sold or merged, but the property stays technically deeded to the corporation, ownership of the property can effectively change without triggering Proposition 13's provisions.[4] Since many properties owned by large companies are nominally owned by shell companies the sole assets of which are the properties in question, this has caused situations that many commentators, such as Steve Lopez and Michael Hiltzik of the Los Angeles Times, consider absurd and unfair, with companies having a lesser percentage of the overall tax burden than private homeowners.[4] Smaller-property owners do not have the "shell company" advantage that large property owners do.[4] Critics of Proposition 13 have argued that this situation unfairly benefits commercial property owners and should be changed,[4] but recent attempted ballot initiatives have not succeeded in altering assessment formulas.
________________________________________-

Single family home rentals tend to belong to long-time property owners, though not necessarily corporate by any means. That means the assessed taxes are wayyyy below the market value of the home.

You can have two identical homes side by side and one landowner will be paying ten times the property tax of the other.

That's Prop. 13 at work.


Like this comment
Posted by narnia
a resident of another community
on Dec 18, 2010 at 3:45 pm

Tracy, Someone else pays for your children since your property taxes do not cover their tuition . Skip the part that arrogantly assumes that only "others" are freeloaders. You are too, unless you pay parcel taxes ( a part of your property taxes going to the PAUSD) that are astronomical . Most people don't and rely on the childless and the high tax paying citizens to provide at least part of their children's schooling. How hypocritical to speak about renters (who pay indirect property taxes) and the Palo Alto working population who provide this city with plenty of revenue.


Like this comment
Posted by Hesitant Whistler
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 20, 2010 at 2:20 am

Resident wrote: "Whereas I don't like cheating, I feel that if someone is paying to rent a home or apartment then basically they are paying their property tax to get into PA schools."

What do you all think of a family with 3 kids who buys a tiny old 2/1 fixer upper and pays property tax, yet they live in a very large, comfortable house in the next city over? Should they be reported?


Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 20, 2010 at 9:14 am

In answer to the previous question, then yes, they do appear to be cheating. However, if you look at it another way, they are paying their property tax - twice.

Theoretically speaking, all homes in Palo Alto are entitled to send kids to PA schools. If one home is sending one family to our schools then that fits the theory. On the other hand, if one home is sending more than one family worth of kids to the schools then a huge problem exists outside that theory. I have a big problem with someone allowing extended family(ies) to use their address or an obvious business address being used to get kids into our schools and an even bigger problem with someone charging a fee for the use of their address.

Ethics, morals and fairness may vary between what people feel is right and proper. I personally would not like to be in the position of having to make the decision. After all, what about a family who have been displaced by a fire or are remodling and have moved in with relatives in say Mountain View? Should their kids be thrown out the schools too?

As for blowing the whistle, each individual has to look to their own conscience. Blatant fraud is one thing, paying double property tax just may be another.


Like this comment
Posted by Hesitant Whistler
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 20, 2010 at 9:44 am

I look at it this way: they are paying the absolute minimum of property tax to ease their conscience, but they never had any intention to fit their family of 5 into this tiny 2 bedroom 1 bath fixer upper. They have a lovely, spacious house in a neighboring city. On the fraud spectrum, they’re doing better than most since 1) they’re paying property tax; 2) they’re not renting the place out.

You could argue that some frauds are more acceptable than others, or you could conclude that ‘fraud is fraud’ and call them on it. Three kids’ education for the price of a (relatively) cheap mortgage which can eventually be sold is a bargain compared with private school times 3.


Like this comment
Posted by Curious
a resident of another community
on Dec 20, 2010 at 7:37 pm

Interesting dilemma. The property tax on even a small 2/1 has to be pretty hefty in Palo Alto, though--maybe a minimum of $8K or $9K (not that that's relevant). I'd be inclined to report them, because the policy is that the kids and parents actually have to be living in Palo Alto, not paying property tax there. In the case of families that have been displaced by fire or something else and are temporarily living elsewhere, the most fair thing would probably be for the district to give them a time limit (e.g., the kids can stay in Palo Alto schools for the rest of the school year, but by next fall, they must be living in Palo Alto again).


Like this comment
Posted by Mom
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 4, 2011 at 11:24 pm

When I refinanced, I received a report showing the property tax paid by other homes in the neighborhood. I was shocked to see that even though I have one of the smallest homes in the neighborhood, I pay almost the most in property taxes, despite having lived here for 10 years. Proposition 13 just isn't fair - it adds insult to injury. Those who made a lot on their homes pay the least??? Old money wins by either passing a home down through the generations or having long held investment property, paying very little tax. REPEAL Prop 13 Now!!! If we can't do it now (when the masses are under water), we never will be able to.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Mountain View's Hangen Szechuan to close after 25 years
By Elena Kadvany | 1 comment | 2,253 views

Populism: A response to the failure of the elites: Palo Alto edition
By Douglas Moran | 12 comments | 2,007 views

Let's Talk Internships
By John Raftrey and Lori McCormick | 1 comment | 1,479 views

Couples: Sex and Connection (Chicken or Egg?)
By Chandrama Anderson | 1 comment | 1,300 views

Zucchini Takeover
By Laura Stec | 5 comments | 1,021 views