Parents, students rally to demand support from Stanford | News | Palo Alto Online |


Parents, students rally to demand support from Stanford

School volunteers organize event to demand 'full mitigation' as part of university's expansion plans

School Superintendent Don Austin talks to the crowd about the school district's newly launched negotiations with Stanford University about its expansion plans at the March 14, 2019 rally. Photo by Jenny Rodriguez.

With Stanford University and Palo Alto Unified School District preparing to launch negotiations, dozens of parents, teachers and school district volunteers gathered in front of City Hall on Thursday evening to demand that the university fully address the impacts of its expansion on local schools.

Holding signs that said "Full Mitigation" and "$tanford $hare the Costs," residents marched around King Plaza just before a scheduled Town Hall on Stanford's expansion plans and heard from Superintendent Don Austin, Palo Alto Mayor Eric Filseth and other city and district dignitaries.

Their message was consistent: Stanford should be held responsible for any impact that its expansion will have on the school district, which means contributing annual funding for new students and assisting the district with the construction of a new school. The district's Board of Education approved a resolution containing these demands last November but has not secured any enthusiasm — much less commitment — from the university.

Some expressed optimism on Thursday that this will change in the coming months, as the district and Stanford begin talks on community benefits that Stanford would provide as part of its General Use Permit, in which it's seeking permission to construct 2.275 million square feet of academic space, 550 housing units and 2,660 student beds by 2035. The county this week issued a recommendation that Stanford revise its plans to include at least 2,172 housing units for faculty and staff.

School Superintendent Don Austin was one of several officials who lauded the community organizers for mobilizing and getting Stanford back to the negotiating table. Austin called Stanford "a partner to the school district, a valued resource, a source of many of our parents and kids."

"We want to serve as many of their families as they possibly can. We just want to make sure that when there's an impact, that they do their part to mitigate it. That's all we're asking for.'

He called Stanford's agreement to engage with the district "a real positive step" but noted that there is plenty of work ahead.

"We're optimistic that the talks are going to remain positive and have substance and meaning and that we're going to strive toward making recommendations to the Board of Supervisors that we can both get behind," Austin said.

Board of Education President Jennifer DiBrienza, who recapped the GUP process that launched in late 2016 and described the board's resolution, lauded the crowd for showing up to the rally.

"Without a doubt ... a lot of reason why we're back in these talks has to do with all of you rising up and raising your collective voices," DiBrienza said.

Stanford, she said, has a history of making significant investments, whether it's commissioning award-winning architects to design new buildings or creating championship-winning sports programs.

"When Stanford decides to do something, they invest. And that's all we want. We want them to invest in the city and in the school district in the same way that they benefit from both," DiBrienza said.

After the event, Stanford issued a statement saying it looks forward to upcoming meetings with Austin and his team to discuss potential community benefits.

"The two organizations are taking this step to accelerate the process for developing a set of options to resolve an issue of great importance to the university and Palo Alto residents," Jean McCown, the university's assistant vice president and director of community relations, said in the statement. "Stanford remains committed to engaging with the county in comprehensive development agreement discussions and will seek to have the results of direct discussions between PAUSD and the university included as community benefits in the final agreement with the county."


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30 people like this
Posted by Dishonest
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 15, 2019 at 2:34 pm

If the County forces Stanford to build more housing to house SEIU members, then the County should pay for impacts to PAUSD.

The teacher's union and the SEIU have orchestrated a dishonest campaign to get the officials they elected to carry water for them.

County - do not force Stanford to build more housing - with the result more traffic and more unfunded PAUSD students.

28 people like this
Posted by Hypocricy Illustrated
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 15, 2019 at 3:06 pm

Hypocricy Illustrated is a registered user.

The District wants Stanford to "mitigate the impacts" of the new housing and holds a public rally. Yet, when the district is asked to mitigate the impacts of sexual assaults or even to provide a proper education for a special education student they have no problem hiding behind their own lawyers and making up inaccurate stories to avoid any mitigation.

10 people like this
Posted by Mike
a resident of another community
on Mar 18, 2019 at 8:31 am

Every single property owner in Palo Alto is a millionaire (and most are multi-) thanks to Stanford. Teachers are already paid more than instructors at Stanford.

Yet the whining continues.

18 people like this
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 18, 2019 at 9:30 am

[Portion removed.] I suppose the trend that every community around the country with good school districts also happens to go hand in hand with high property values is also because of Stanford? [Portion removed.] (Stanford is far too insular and stingy with the local community to have a positive impact on local property values.)

Are Stanford instructors eligible for all that low-cost BMR housing on Stanford land? Nicer than anything the vast majority can afford in the whole Bay Area?
What's the value of that in lieu of salary, huh?

We are not millionaires and neither are most people on our block. This area has always been expensive, and most ordinary people do not get into the market by walking off the street and buying a home with their income. The usual process has just been made almost undoable by the recent tax changes, so that's probably at an end and perhaps in the future, homeowners will be all millionaires and investment groups. But for now, it's mostly "house poor" and a few tech workers.

The other thing that you seem to not appreciate is that if someone takes the risk to make the kinds of sacrifices it takes to get into a home here (not just in Palo Alto), it usually means a lifetime of the ONLY asset they can contribute to, including retirement, is the home, with huge costs and loans. By comparison, my spouse's 401k has been a better investment.

Most people are not willing to make the extended, extreme sacrifice until they realize how horrible the rental market is here over time. It takes a lot of time and work and living in really substandard conditions (not in Palo Alto) for stages of life, and moving up when the market just heats up so that the lower end moves faster for a bit than the next tier up. And being willing to take what you can get over a huge geographical area.

But Stanford people don't have that problem, do they, their housing is nicer and BMR.

How about we just settle this as quid pro quo. Why doesn't Stanford make reciprocal low-cost or free college spots available for qualified local students? Same number as they send to the district? Especially if students do first two years at the community college and transfer, we get double spots? No? We educate your kids, you won't educate ours?

7 people like this
Posted by $$$$deeppockets
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 19, 2019 at 5:42 am

This pro PAUSD community has no idea how shameless and elitist you all have become. You just want MORE! MOre money for you AP classes and pay.

You don’t do anything about the bullied and raped. You don’t care about the poor, learning different, or minority students because it takes effort, costs money and it’s how you want to see your school. You want to pretend everyone is perfect and easy.

You are no different than the cheating parents to get their kids into schools they didn’t earn. YOU CHEAT to keep kids out if school services they are required to have by law. If I had a dollar for every time someone wrote, said they would do something only to make it LOOK like they were doing something I would be rich by now and if I had another dollar for every time they made up something or lied - I might be rich enough to get your attention.

I trouble for things I don’t start but end up defending myself from. Teachers make promises they don’t keep over and over.You share my private information making me a pariah. I used to invite kids to my birthday and we would plan for months hoe to make it clever and fun because we all knew kids didn’t want to come because I have autism. Kids only hang around me to try to trigger me, I know that now but I guess I should have excepted it when a bunch tried to push me over the balcony when i happened to be somewhere that a group was having a birthday party. These were my classmates that I saw and sat next to, I became the prey, and they chased me until I got lost and was alone. they started hitting me with sticks until they broke, then kicked me. I screamed for help and only one parent, opened the door and yelled for us to keep it down and closed the door again. Did they really not care or did they just not even check what was going on? When the police questioned the families, the school vice principal called me to the office, and said I couldn’t make the police report because I fell down when they hit and kicked me and I couldn’t be sure I identified my classmates correctly. This was the beginning of my PAUSD nightmare. I was made a target by 2 teachers, the worst was the class where all 9 kids who beat nw were in. This teacher would make fun of me nearly everyday that I made it to class. This immoral money hungry ignorant and arrogant School system has ruined my family’s life. The school board are no stewards, they lattack and damage in a number of ways. They don’t ask questions just sic the lawyers like pit bulldogs then have the citizens parrot their juicy gossip about how WE are the ones that can’t get enough no matter how supportive they are. I can’t imagine being that ruthless and selfish. Maybe they’ve lived here too long and it seems normal, just like a CEO paying $250,000 to get their kid into college, even after all the tutors, privilege, nannies, 2 parents
Never missing a meal because you didn’t have anything to eat. Just seems like you wouldn’t need to cheat to get the scores they were paying for. I was turned into a straight F student by your special ed “promises” that are vaporware. I literally did not receive any worthwhile education but u did teach me about humiliation and that you have to pay the price for what others do since I lget blamed,

The modern lottery. Throw stones until the weak and non-tutored imperfect not cool hip or rich and powerful leave before the incompetence show. Everything is so biased that the money grubbing lying cheating staff and lawyers. You have the same lawyers that attack over and over. If a parent did what your lawyers do they would be I trouble for abuse yet you people do it all the time. You are my $&ll. I got the message, I don’t matter to you.

2 people like this
Posted by JR
a resident of Palo Verde
on Mar 19, 2019 at 7:22 am

"You just want MORE" - false. Public schools are funded through property taxes, and if Stanford continues with its insane expansion, then the number of students will rise dramatically without any appreciable increase in funding. That means LESS funding for schools, LESS teachers, LESS quality of education. Good for Palo Alto residents for taking a stand.

Here's a simple, reasonable solution: At the end of the year, PAUSD takes their total actual expenditures, divides it by the number of students in the district to get a per-student cost. Multiply that by the number of students living at Stanford and then send Stanford the bill. Completely reasonable, there's no reason anyone should disagree with that. Stanford has a $26 billion endowment so there is no excuse for cheating PAUSD. NONE.

3 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 20, 2019 at 1:06 pm

Crescent Park Resident is a registered user.

@JR. Why would they pay the “full” price when basically no one else does? Has anyone determined how many homes in Palo Alto are paying $45K annually in property taxes? Because that’s what you’d have to pay annually to contribute almost $20k a year to PAUSD. Should Palo Alto residents receive a bill at the end of the school for the difference between what the cost per student was and 45% of what that household paid in property taxes? Why not? Does anyone else see the absurdity of that number? Average household contribute in PA is much closer to $4k/year if I remember Steve Levy’s blog correctly. Why not start at that number for kids who live in properties that don’t pay property tax? And let’s not forget that Stanford homeowners do pay property taxes.

Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 20, 2019 at 2:19 pm

If the average household contributes $4K, that would be fine - instead of paying $20K per student, Stanford could contribute $4K for every apartment, dorm room, graduate residence, house, etc., that they own. It would probably come to a larger amount that way, but that's fine.

Stanford's situation is unique - they own by far the most multi-family rental properties in the area, and most are tax exempt, plus they have the largest collection of tax-exempt property in the state. So comparing their situation to a residential home owner is kind of silly. Instead, it make sense just to calculate their fair share and have them pay it, as many other high-end universities do.

So far, according to the schools, Stanford hasn't made any payment proposals at all - not even a nickel.

BTW, agree that Stanford homeowners pay taxes like everybody else; that's fine. It's Stanford itself, as a landlord, that is the problem here.

14 people like this
Posted by The Public Interest
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Mar 20, 2019 at 3:10 pm

We have a legal system in place already, and Stanford is tax exempt.

If PAUSD and PTAC want to claim Stanford isn't paying its fair share, then what's to prevent them from saying Palo Alto homeowners not paying at least $45,000 in property taxes (45% of that amount goes to PAUSD) also aren't paying their fair share and must pay up?

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