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 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.
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 email@example.com. Teri Baldwin is a teacher and the president of the Palo Alto Educators Association and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.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 email@example.com.