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Guest Opinion: Protect our schools — Speak up now

 

Stanford University and Santa Clara County are now negotiating the next 17-year Stanford general use permit ("GUP"). Stanford's proposal is the largest land development application in County history.

Unless Stanford fully mitigates the impacts on Palo Alto schools of such massive development, PAUSD faces annual budget shortfalls in the millions of dollars, forcing increased classroom sizes, program reductions and staff layoffs.

In the new GUP, Stanford could add up to 1,445 new students to Palo Alto schools. To the extent Stanford builds tax-exempt rental properties for these students' families, PAUSD receives no property-tax revenues to cover the cost of educating the new students. Adding hundreds of students, without adding revenues, means irreparable harm to PAUSD schools.

We welcome every new student. All we ask is Stanford fully mitigate the impacts of any approved development.

Historically, Stanford and PAUSD worked together to accomplish their common goal of maintaining excellent PAUSD schools when Stanford added students living in Stanford tax-exempt rental homes.

Your voice is needed now. At the end of this column are quick and easy ways to message Stanford and the County to continue this long-term partnership and protect our schools.

Stanford's 100-Year financial partnership with PAUSD

As a valued partner of PAUSD, Stanford has

* Contributed $10 million to PAUSD in the last GUP (2000 GUP) for the cost of educating new Stanford students

* Paid about $460K annually for Stanford West residential property tax (covers 7 percent the cost of educating those students, according to PAUSD)

* Sold land to PAUSD — at full market value — for four schools when Stanford created neighborhoods

* Paid property taxes on its non-exempt commercial properties (less than $2 million a year, covering less than 10 percent the PAUSD cost of educating Stanford students living in tax-exempt rental housing, according to PAUSD)

Stanford's proposed GUP

Stanford proposes to build 550 tax-exempt rental homes on Quarry Road, generating 275 students. Because Stanford is exempt from paying property taxes on its rental properties, these students generate no property tax revenues to cover the cost of their education.

Stanford also proposes to develop 2,275,000 square feet of academic facilities. Estimates range up to 1,445 new students (generated by this new workforce), adding no property tax revenues if Stanford builds them tax-exempt rental homes.

PAUSD costs

PAUSD spends about $20,000 per student. The district currently absorbs $8 million annually to educate students living in tax-exempt Stanford-owned rental properties. When the GUP is approved, for the next 17 years, PAUSD will face annual additional budget shortages ranging from $5.5 million (275 new students) to $28 million plus (1,445 new students).

A PAUSD brief on the GUP states: "Adding hundreds of students with little or no additional property tax revenue would result in significant and permanent PAUSD budget shortfalls, class size increases, and program reductions which would irreparably damage the quality of education for all PAUSD students, including those coming from Stanford."

In addition to the GUP students, more students are coming to PAUSD. After 25 years of continuous growth, PAUSD enrollment declined about 4 percent over the past five years. Going forward, PAUSD anticipates increased enrollment as the city, county and state address our acute housing-to-jobs imbalance. The Palo Alto Comprehensive Plan sets a goal of at least 300 new housing units a year for the next 12 years.

Other private universities financially contribute to their local school districts. As Stanford did in the prior GUP, Stanford could contribute revenue for PAUSD to educate students living in Stanford tax-exempt rental homes.

New elementary school precedent

Stanford's proposed Quarry Road homes are miles from any PAUSD school site. Plus, almost 300 elementary school students currently live along the Sand Hill corridor, primarily at the Stanford West rental community. These nearly 500 Sand Hill/Quarry Road students live 2 to 5 miles from the nearest school.

Historically, when Stanford created a new neighborhood, PAUSD purchased Stanford land at full market value and built a school for the additional children. In 1958, when Stanford built Escondido Village, PAUSD built Escondido School across the street. When Stanford developed Frenchman's Hill in 1968, PAUSD built Nixon in the middle of the new neighborhood.

PAUSD identified 42 potential sites for a new elementary school on Stanford land. Stanford could sell land to PAUSD for a school for the 500 Sand Hill/Quarry Road students.

Common-interest solutions

Fortunately, PAUSD and Stanford share a common interest in Stanford fully mitigating its impacts, and have a history of working together to maintain excellent public schools.

To further our common interest in maintaining excellent schools, there are several ways Stanford and PAUSD can partner up. Possible full mitigation solutions include

* Stanford mitigating the annual PAUSD budget shortfalls via annual payments to PAUSD, based on the number of students residing in tax-exempt Stanford-rental properties

* Stanford selling a 4-acre parcel to PAUSD to build a neighborhood school

* Stanford mitigating the PAUSD cost of building the school

* Stanford mitigating the City Safe Routes to Schools costs

* Stanford allocating some new housing for PAUSD teachers and staff, many facing incredibly long commutes to serve our children

* Stanford funding the expansion of oversubscribed after-school childcare on PAUSD campuses for additional students

Be part of the solution

Your voice is needed. Speak up now and be part of the solution. Message the County and Stanford for full mitigation, necessary to protect PAUSD schools, teachers, staff and programs.

* iPhone users: speak up with a tap on your phone. Download the free Click My Cause Two-Tap App, select Palo Alto PTA Council, and tap on any "Act Now" button.

* Android users, sign a petition at clickmycause.com/2019/01/13/protect-pausd-schools

* Learn more at ptac.paloaltopta.org: Read the School Board Resolution, PAUSD Briefing Book, PTAC Fact Sheet, and Safe Routes to School Letter.

Nancy Krop is a PAUSD parent and advocacy consultant for the Palo Alto PTA Council and can be contacted at nancypta@kroplaw.com. Teri Baldwin is a teacher and the president of the Palo Alto Educators Association and can be contacted at tbaldwin@pausd.org. Meb Steiner is a special education instructional aide and president of California School Employees Association Palo Alto Chapter 301 and can be contacted at mrsteiner@pausd.org.

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Comments

27 people like this
Posted by Protect the Students
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 8, 2019 at 8:43 am

Protect the Students is a registered user.

It would be nice if PTA, PAEA and the classified union reps would come out and speak up against the district treatment of sexual assault victims in PAUSD. They've been VERY quiet for the past decade. They only seem to speak up when a decision is going to affect their income or increase their workload.

When you all start truly caring about the students, I might be more receptive to your concerns.

I agree that Stanford needs to pay its fair share for their students. Have them pay the same fee a developer would pay plus a property tax similar to what current rental properties pay. But, I would almost guarantee that the apartment owners of most PAUSD families that rent do not pay anywhere close to $20,000 per student in property taxes.


17 people like this
Posted by Wayne Martin
a resident of Professorville
on Feb 8, 2019 at 12:17 pm

The article in today’s [Weekly] about Stanford not paying its “fair share” of the cost of operating the PAUSD rang a bell with me. I started researching this topic over ten years ago. While the issue of Stanford’s being a “part of the PAUSD” goes way back into the history of the PAUSD, those in charge never seemed to believe that a financial model of operating this school district was important. So, Stanford provided some resources, since the children of the teaching staff were being educated in Palo Alto schools. However, no actual costs were ever considered.

Fast forward to about 10 years ago, when the school district decided to reopen the Terman site, and needed some extra money to help out. The PAUSD Board effectively sold out the future finances of the District by agreeing to the Stanford/Terman Agreement whereby the PAUSD accepted $10M from Stanford for Terman reopening, and agreed never to ask for any more money in the future. If memory serves, this Agreement implied that between 1200 and 1400 new students could be introduced into the PAUSD “someday”.

Jean McCown’s comments have been trotted out every time it’s pointed out that Stanford’s yearly multi-billion dollar exemption from property taxes are causing pain for the local agencies that depend on property taxes. She continues to claim that the Stanford Research Park generates enough tax money to offset growing needs of the District. HOWEVER, she NEVER produces any numbers to prove that claim. Currently there is no evidence that the growth of new students from Stanford, and any growth in property tax revenue will equal each other. Stanford’s spokeswoman is blowing smoke, in my opinion.

I have researched this matter for many years. I found, for instance, that of the three “residential communities” feeding children into the PAUSD, that: Los Altos Hills paid the most, Palo Alto paid less, and those tax-paying residential properties on the Stanford campus paid the least. Of course, Stanford itself is exempt from any property taxes for property dedicated to “education”.

At one time, I had set about to build a tax-generating map of the PAUSD, based on actual parcel numbers. I brought this idea to the Finance Director (a PhEd) who rolled his eyes and said he had no idea what I was talking about. It became clear to me at that time that there was nothing like a concrete financial model for the District that would provide Staff and elected officials any view of the future that was based on “hard numbers”.

I believe that it is long past time for the District to stop playing “footise” with Stanford, and to do the work necessary to determine the cost of educating each child, correlated with the revenue sources that are likely to exist in the present and hopefully in the future.


Posted by Dishonest campaign
a resident of Community Center

on Feb 8, 2019 at 2:45 pm


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24 people like this
Posted by Dishonest
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 8, 2019 at 4:43 pm

This is a dishonest campaign being run for the benefit of the Teacher's Union and the SEIU. I'm tired of it. The claims in this opinion piece are distorted and dishonest.

Stanford has proposed building 3150 units of housing and projects generating potentially 275 new PAUSD students over 17 years. PAUSD's enrollment declined by 292 students last year. So 275 over 17 years is not a huge number. Any potential PAUSD students from Stanford do live in PAUSD's district, so PAUSD is obligated to educate them. And, Stanford University is tax-exempt; this is no surprise.

At the same time that the authors of this guest opinion want to make financial demands of Stanford, for educating students who live in PAUSD's district and the District is obligated to educate, the District is educating 251 out of district teacher's children at a cost of approximately $5 million/year ---- without getting any $$, $0, to support it. Yet no one demands that they contribute financially --- why not?

The city and county, at the behest of their patrons, the teacher's union (the most powerful political entity in Democratic politics in California) and the SEIU, are pushing Stanford to build more affordable housing than it proposed in its GUP application. (Part of the PTA Council's (PTAC) position on this issue is for Stanford to build subsidized rental housing for PAUSD teachers.) The additional housing units that the City and County and the teacher's union and SEIU want Stanford to build will generate potentially many more students for PAUSD (up to 1445) than Stanford's actual proposal (275) --- with no guarantee it would bring the corresponding property taxes to support the cost of their PAUSD education. So, after pushing Stanford to build more affordable housing to benefit their members, the teacher's union then pushes Stanford to pay/$$$/per head to PAUSD for the students that would be generated due to the teacher's union and SEIU's campaign to force Stanford to build more affordable housing, so that the teacher's union can then maintain or increase the current salary level of their members, which otherwise would be diluted due to having to hire more teachers to educate the additional children that came from the housing that the teacher's union pushed Stanford to build.

They want to get Stanford coming and going, and the officials they helped elect are trying to help them do it. And so is the PTA, which they have co-opted.

And they want to change the character of our community, and blow up our public school's budget.

It's dishonest. And shameful.

And it's time everyone should know it.

Take a look at the authors of this guest opinion piece --- Teri Baldwin is the head of the Teacher's Union for PAUSD and co-wrote this guest opinion.

County and City ---- stop pushing Stanford to build more housing. More housing, more traffic, more students, negative effects to the PAUSD budget, negative effects to the community. Accept Stanford's GUP proposal.


23 people like this
Posted by Tell the truth Teri
a resident of Gunn High School
on Feb 8, 2019 at 5:38 pm

I don’t believe a thing coming from Teri Baldwin’s mouth. She is the teacher’s union president, and has only shilled for more money, ignoring the need to lead professionals to stand up for students. She has protected too many questionable teachers, and has shown that she is too willing to blame administrators or someone, or something else, in this case Stanford. Teri, lead for a change.


4 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 8, 2019 at 6:02 pm

As part of this discussion, does anyone know how many jobs Stanford's new space will entail, and, where the employees are expected to live? I don't have a good picture of how many staff there will be, and, of those, how many will live in Stanford housing and how many will live elsewhere.


16 people like this
Posted by The Public Interest
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Feb 8, 2019 at 6:05 pm

Fact check - actually PAUSD own enrollment projections show future declines - the statement in the opinion above is inaccurate.


5 people like this
Posted by Independent schooling
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 8, 2019 at 11:08 pm

I have a suggestion for a way PAUSD could innovate, reduce the cost of educating some kids while better meeting their needs, and create the capacity for Stanford students without any further pain or costs.

If Stanford education department was willing to be involved and provide the space for a pilot — so that PAUSD doesn’t have to be in charge of something that will thus never get off the ground — and was willing to create a physical center of independent learning for students of 9-12 grade and eventually K-12, they could develop a pilot program for independent learners. Stanford already runs the private Stanford Online High School and there are many faculty who understand the value of independent education.

A center for independent education wouldn’t be a school, but could be almost like a lab school for the district without the district having to take any responsibility for it. Independent learners could remain independent but still get the benefit of being connected to the local schools, getting counseling, working with teachers interested in independent education, etc. Education researchers could get the benefit of better understanding these hybrid models that are becoming more popular nationally.

This would be basically a community center for independent learners with institutional guidance (and some institutional resources such as for plays and lab classes) for students who need more independence in learning. Middle college programs, for example, are regularly full, turning away many more students than they can serve. The district got rid of it’s GATE program years ago and recent events have made clear they do a terrible job serving 2e students. Those families have just as much of a right to expect a fair education as anyone else. Providing a program for independent learning could reduce the physical attendance at the schools by as many as are being added from this Stanford proposal, while also doing a far better job educating the students who need it at significantly lower cost than on-campus students.

I am personally not as worried about the impact of Stanford as the companies who have taken over and ruined our two main downtown areas, and the many negative impacts they've had without contributing financially to the City.


16 people like this
Posted by Mary
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 9, 2019 at 11:12 am

This is shameful, dishonest and completely misleading. FACTS MATTER.

First, she neglects to write that the EIR commissioned by the County found that the additional students that MAY be added will not cause an impact that requires mitigation. Why do we commission expert, science based reports if we don’t “believe” them? When did Palo Alto start making decisions based on beliefs and not facts???

Second, by the standard the author is stating of $19,200 per student then very few households are “paying their fair share” since that means a household would have to pay almost $45000/year per child since 45% of one’s taxes go to PAUSD. This single misleading statistic should make EVERYONE suspicious of everything else she writes.

Third. Stanford West is NOT part of Stanford. It is in Palo Alto, was developed under a City permit, and pays FULL TAXES JUST LIKE EVERY OTHER RENTAL PROPERTY in Palo Alto. It is just WRONG to include it. Unless their argument is that the landlord of any unit rented anywhere in Palo Alto to a Stanford employee should pay $45,000 per unit. Really egregious this is in here.

What is the origin of the less than $2M paid on non-commercial properties? What is she talking about?

Stanford commercial properties generate almost $24M in property taxes. This counts because Stanford annexed the lands into the City’s jurisdiction. A deal was made in the 1950’s. The city gets the wage, property and sales tax; Stanford retains ownership of the lands and gets the rents. Let’s not discount the amazing efforts of people who worked together and created the “engine that drives Silicon Valley.”

STANFORD CANNOT sell their lands so I don’t know why she says PAUSD paid full market value for lands for the school. Where’s the reference?

Stanford did pay $10M in 2000 to mitigate impacts for an estimated 550 students that the EIR for that development conservatively estimated would generate. How conservative? About 50 new students were added. 50 - not 550!

I could tear apart every point. But hopefully that’s enough.

i think an online petition called, “Facts Matter,” needs to be started.


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