News

'Share Cubberley,' advisory committee says

Long-awaited recommendations say there's room for new school and community center

A new high school -- as well as a comprehensive community center -- at Cubberley are possible if the Palo Alto school district and city governments work toward a common vision, a community advisory committee says.

In its long-awaited report, the Cubberley Community Advisory Committee urges the city and school district to develop a joint-use "master plan" over the next seven years with the potential to accommodate community-use needs as well as the possibility of a third public high school in Palo Alto.

The committee will present its findings to a joint study session of the City Council and the Board of Education this Thursday, March 14, at 7 p.m. in the Cubberley Theatre, 4000 Middlefield Road.

The committee penciled in the cost of a new high school -- which it said should come with an agreement for joint use -- at $100 million to $150 million, possibly to be financed through a school district general obligation bond in 2024.

The school district has been vague as to when or whether it will need Cubberley for K-12 use. But citing recent enrollment growth the district says it may need part or all of the 35-acre campus in the next 10 or 20 years.

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Though unanimous on most questions, the committee was split on whether the city should renew its lease of Cubberley from the school district for five years or for 10 years.

"The arguments for a shorter (five-year) lease typically revolved around the need to create pressure to get the long-term planning done in a timely manner...It was felt that a shorter lease would have the effect of 'putting the collective feet of the city and school district in the fire,'" the committee said.

The group said it is premature to include any financing for a long-term plan for Cubberley in a 2014 ballot measure contemplated by the city.

The 28-member committee, co-chaired by former mayor Mike Cobb and former school board president Mandy Lowell, worked over a nine-month period to generate a lengthy, multi-volume report. Committee members included other former council members and school board members as well as a range of community activists.

Besides Cobb and Lowell, advisory committee members were Ken Allen, Jerry August, Susan Bailey, Bern Beecham, Michael Bein, Lessa Bouchard, Brian Carilli, Damian Cono, Tom Crystal, Penny Ellson, Sheri Furman, Jennifer Hetterly, Claire Kirner, John Markevitch, Pam Radin, Diane Reklis, William Robinson, Rachel Samoff, Jim Schmidt, Tracy Stevens, Greg Tanaka, Susie Thom, Tom Vician, Lanie Wheeler, Jean Wilcox and Anne Wilson.

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Each of four subcommittees -- on school needs, community needs, facilities and finance -- generated detailed reports, which are included in the full committee's final report.

The committee studied public joint-use project in a number of other communities and concluded such an arrangement would be the best solution for Palo Alto.

It recommended that any development be scheduled in phases to preserve public use of at least part of the site through the process.

The advisory committee stressed a sense of urgency on joint, long-term plans for Cubberley, whose nearly 60-year-old buildings are in need of replacement or significant upgrades.

"Kicking the can down the road" (by renewing the lease with no long-term plan) is clearly not a solution," the committee concluded.

"In fact it could have the consequence of eliminating possible solutions and exacerbating the existing problems."

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'Share Cubberley,' advisory committee says

Long-awaited recommendations say there's room for new school and community center

Uploaded: Mon, Mar 11, 2013, 9:50 am

A new high school -- as well as a comprehensive community center -- at Cubberley are possible if the Palo Alto school district and city governments work toward a common vision, a community advisory committee says.

In its long-awaited report, the Cubberley Community Advisory Committee urges the city and school district to develop a joint-use "master plan" over the next seven years with the potential to accommodate community-use needs as well as the possibility of a third public high school in Palo Alto.

The committee will present its findings to a joint study session of the City Council and the Board of Education this Thursday, March 14, at 7 p.m. in the Cubberley Theatre, 4000 Middlefield Road.

The committee penciled in the cost of a new high school -- which it said should come with an agreement for joint use -- at $100 million to $150 million, possibly to be financed through a school district general obligation bond in 2024.

The school district has been vague as to when or whether it will need Cubberley for K-12 use. But citing recent enrollment growth the district says it may need part or all of the 35-acre campus in the next 10 or 20 years.

Though unanimous on most questions, the committee was split on whether the city should renew its lease of Cubberley from the school district for five years or for 10 years.

"The arguments for a shorter (five-year) lease typically revolved around the need to create pressure to get the long-term planning done in a timely manner...It was felt that a shorter lease would have the effect of 'putting the collective feet of the city and school district in the fire,'" the committee said.

The group said it is premature to include any financing for a long-term plan for Cubberley in a 2014 ballot measure contemplated by the city.

The 28-member committee, co-chaired by former mayor Mike Cobb and former school board president Mandy Lowell, worked over a nine-month period to generate a lengthy, multi-volume report. Committee members included other former council members and school board members as well as a range of community activists.

Besides Cobb and Lowell, advisory committee members were Ken Allen, Jerry August, Susan Bailey, Bern Beecham, Michael Bein, Lessa Bouchard, Brian Carilli, Damian Cono, Tom Crystal, Penny Ellson, Sheri Furman, Jennifer Hetterly, Claire Kirner, John Markevitch, Pam Radin, Diane Reklis, William Robinson, Rachel Samoff, Jim Schmidt, Tracy Stevens, Greg Tanaka, Susie Thom, Tom Vician, Lanie Wheeler, Jean Wilcox and Anne Wilson.

Each of four subcommittees -- on school needs, community needs, facilities and finance -- generated detailed reports, which are included in the full committee's final report.

The committee studied public joint-use project in a number of other communities and concluded such an arrangement would be the best solution for Palo Alto.

It recommended that any development be scheduled in phases to preserve public use of at least part of the site through the process.

The advisory committee stressed a sense of urgency on joint, long-term plans for Cubberley, whose nearly 60-year-old buildings are in need of replacement or significant upgrades.

"Kicking the can down the road" (by renewing the lease with no long-term plan) is clearly not a solution," the committee concluded.

"In fact it could have the consequence of eliminating possible solutions and exacerbating the existing problems."

Chris Kenrick

Comments

dean
Midtown
on Mar 11, 2013 at 11:04 am
dean, Midtown
on Mar 11, 2013 at 11:04 am

It would be interesting to know how many of those named on the committee are Cubberley graduates.


Most of us (and again in the interest of full disclosure I am a former Midtown resident) who are Cubberley grads live in other cities for work and economic reasons.

BTW, I recently rented from Amazon "Lesson Plan", the award winning documentary by Phil Neel, Cubberley '69 about the Ron Jones "Third Wave" dust-up. It definely was the incumbator for the United Student Movement Jones kicked into high gear. Would highly recommend the film to anyone interested in the roots of Palo Alto and Cubberley.


Palo-Alto-Can't-Afford-Itself!
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 11, 2013 at 11:35 am
Palo-Alto-Can't-Afford-Itself!, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 11, 2013 at 11:35 am

It's interesting that a number of names associated with PAN (Palo Alto Neighborhoods) are on this committee. Wonder how many people were rejected from serving on the committee because they didn't support the continuation of poorinng vast sums of public money into this site?

Will be interesting to read the report and see just how "fair and balanced" it is. Given that several of these people pushed the Library Bond (Measure N) through, even though the sift from paper-based information distribution digital information distribution was clearly under way--these people used their wealth, and social standing, to marginalize those who believed that this huge library complext was unneeded. Now, just a couple of years later, they are back--pusing another $150M-$300M bill on the table for a huge expansion of the community center--which is used heavily by non-residents (Foothill and non-profits).

The so-called Infrastructure BRC focused heavily on the Cubberley Center in its report—while generally ignoring the rest of the low-level infrastructure needs that the City will have to deal with in the coming decades. The Cubberley rehab price tag now jumps from $40M (2000s approx.) to perhaps $300M (cited by Daily Post). This amount needs to be added to the $500+M that the City has previously identified, and the 100+M (cost to be shared jointly with several parties), and operating the Palo Alto Airport primarily for non-residents, and the golf course, also for non-residents.

The School District has well over $400M in Measure B and Measure A (some debt not yet incurred) that must be paid off. Additionally, the District has previously claimed that it has another $375M in spending that it would like to take to the voters.

How much does all of this come to, once financing charges are added in? We have to be looking at well over $2B—which will have to be paid for with 20,000-25,000 parcels of Palo Alto taxpayers, and 3,000 to 4,000 additional PAUSD taxpayers (LAH and Stanford). And this $2B is just an estimate, because there is no obligation for either the PAUSD, or the City, to provide the taxpayers will all of their proposed projects for even the next decade.

Somewhere between 15% and 25% of the joint City/PAUSD properties are paying less than $1,500 a year in taxes. The rest of the newer property owners are carrying the burden of property taxes that are generally 10x more than their older neighbors. Paying for all of these grandiose ideas will become quite a burden on the newer residents.

It’s really time to have a moratorium on all of this “planning”, and spend some time coming up with a sound financial plan for both the City and the PAUSD.


jardins
Midtown
on Mar 11, 2013 at 2:00 pm
jardins, Midtown
on Mar 11, 2013 at 2:00 pm

@ Palo Alto Can't Afford Itself!:

The newer (more recently arrived) property owners in Palo Alto invariably have more financial assets than "their older neighbors." They are the people who really pushed for the new Mitchell Library.


palo alto parent
Palo Alto High School
on Mar 11, 2013 at 2:05 pm
palo alto parent, Palo Alto High School
on Mar 11, 2013 at 2:05 pm

For all those criticizing the volunteers - the reason you see the same names on this committee and many others is that these volunteers are willing to spend their time working on City and School related issues. (Remember, they are volunteers as in they don't get paid for this).

As in any community, a small number of volunteers show up for most of the work. Unless you are willing to put in the time, don't criticize people for volunteering.


neighbor
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 11, 2013 at 4:52 pm
neighbor, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 11, 2013 at 4:52 pm

This is incredibly valuable land and location - VERY central and optimum for a major high school.
I oppose letting minor community groups and racially-based daycares from having some sort of priority in such a major public site.
Thoughtful long-term planning will benefit the entire city.
Go Cubberley!


Move Forward PAUSD
Midtown
on Mar 11, 2013 at 7:04 pm
Move Forward PAUSD, Midtown
on Mar 11, 2013 at 7:04 pm

In the foreseeable future high school learning will be "on-line". Is Palo Alto going to lead the way with this concept or are we going to leave it to the Europeans to develop an on-line curriculum.

In the future we will not need costly "high school" buildings. Palo Alto should be leading the way not hanging back with old style expensive buildings.


NO MORE BRICK AND MORTAR
Midtown
on Mar 11, 2013 at 7:21 pm
NO MORE BRICK AND MORTAR, Midtown
on Mar 11, 2013 at 7:21 pm

I have always liked the idea of the online universities, free education for all. Why not online high school? Then the poor kids could get the sleep that teens need before starting school, since they have later sleep patterns than most of us. For once, let PA lead the way....why is it always Europe.....what happened to Yankee Ingenuity?


Disappointed teacher
Greene Middle School
on Mar 11, 2013 at 7:48 pm
Disappointed teacher, Greene Middle School
on Mar 11, 2013 at 7:48 pm

As a PAUSD teacher, I am disappointed that the CAC committee was chaired by Mandy Lowell. Ms. Lowell and her husband, Charles Munger, Jr., contributed $35 million to oppose Proposition 30. If Prop 30 had failed schools in our state would have been devastated with the cost here in PAUSD at least $5 million annually. The CTA had to spend $12 million to respond to Ms. Lowell and Mr. Munger's expenditures to defend public funding for education here and statewide.
There are many possible people who could chair the CAC. There is no reason for the district to provide Ms. Lowell an opportunity to pose as a friend of public education in our community and our state.


Palo-Alto-Can't-Afford-Itself!
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 12, 2013 at 11:01 am
Palo-Alto-Can't-Afford-Itself!, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 12, 2013 at 11:01 am

>As a PAUSD teacher, I am disappointed that the
>CAC committee was chaired by Mandy Lowell.
>Ms. Lowell and her husband, Charles Munger, Jr.,
>contributed $35 million to oppose Proposition 30.

It’s called “democracy”. Ever hear of it?

>If Prop 30 had failed schools in our state
>would have been devastated with the cost
>here in PAUSD at least $5 million annually.

What a crock!!! The District’s yearly expenditures have been slowly moving up to the $200M per year level. At best, a $5M reduction in State provided funds would have come to only 2.5%-3% of the yearly budget. How in the world can anyone be teaching our children who can not perform simple arithmetic, and understand the results of those calculations. There is no way, in this life or the next, that a 3% reduction in spending would “devastate” the PAUSD.

Most school districts spend about 85% of their budgets on salaries and benefits. At the worst, some people in the publicly-funded education industry would not see bigger raises in the near term. A lot of unnecessary State-mandated instruction could be terminated with absolutely no impact on the quality of the schools academic performance.

This poster has proven once again, that too many of the unionized educational professionals in this country don’t understand what America is all about.


Pro-democracy
Charleston Gardens
on Mar 13, 2013 at 9:52 pm
Pro-democracy, Charleston Gardens
on Mar 13, 2013 at 9:52 pm

I agree with the teacher about Mandy Lowell. It's a free country, if she wants to spend $35 million trying to defund public education in California, no one can stop her. (Anyone forgetting the impact, it was $6 billion annually to education). Palo Alto doesn't have to help her launder her reputation though.


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