This week on Town Square | October 26, 2007 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Notes & Comments - October 26, 2007

This week on Town Square

Survey says…

Posted Oct. 24 at 7:24 a.m. by Interested, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood:

"I sure would like to read the (schools) survey. Seventy-two percent agreeing the district needs more money is not the same as saying 72 percent would pay more bond money to give it to the district. I would like all of us to have more money, but I am not going to give you some more of mine unless I know exactly why it is necessary and what you will do with it."

A matter of capacity

Posted Oct. 24 at 8:33 a.m. by Carol Mullen, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood:

"Depending upon capacity, the new school will bring the district more money, because the City Council is increasing the school population. It won't be equal to the cost of opening Garland unless the assessment is raised on new construction. I think your reaction to the bond issue will be widely shared. Many people who would otherwise support it don't want the demolition and construction the council has planned all over the city, and they will vote against it to discourage council from pursuing the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) quota. I think they'll tell you what they plan to do with your money, but not why it is necessary. The school district believes that each new student means more money, but that's only true when the new students can fit into existing facilities."

The right direction

Posted Oct. 24 at 9:12 a.m. by Parent, a resident of another Palo Alto neighborhood:

"At long last, a move in the right direction. It is interesting to see that AAAG was ahead of the Board of Education on this one."

Haphazard growth

Posted Oct. 24 at 9:34 a.m. by Carol Mullen, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood:

"Parent: You mean ABAG? Ah, but who will bell the cat? ABAG can't increase the assessment on new construction, the council is unlikely to do so, and streets, electric power increase, storm drains, police, fire, etc., are ahead of schools on the council's list of infrastructure needs.

If parents don't get off their duff and talk to the council and the county about more money for schools, the residents who aren't parents won't fund growth the school district should have been saving for, caused by growth many residents (myself included) see as environmentally destructive, ill-sited and haphazard.

The argument about jobs/housing imbalance is simply green-washing. That's why there's no data supporting it. Demolition, dumping and new construction are among our most environmentally unfriendly industries. Then the expansion in school population will have to be funded by cutting programs and increasing class sizes. You'd better start lobbying for increased school fees from new housing — now."


Posted Oct. 24 at 9:47 a.m. by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood:

"No, I don't mean ABAG. I mean AAAG. The AAAG was the Attendance Area Advisory Group set up by the Board of Education over a year ago to discuss the boundaries. The AAAG advised the board that a 13th elementary school was necessary. The board (in its wisdom) voted that down and has now changed its mind — perhaps Dr. Skelly changed it for it.

I am not sure exactly what your posts are getting at. As a Basic Aid district, we do not get more money for more students. I think you should read up on the facts before you post again as you may have some good arguments if you knew exactly what you were saying. :-)"


Posted by Carol Mullen, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 29, 2007 at 3:38 pm

If I'd known it would end up in forum, I'd have been more explicit.

Of course, I meant gross income. More gross income is not the same as more net income. There is an assessment now for schools on new construction, but it's not high enough to cover the cost of opening a new school. In any case, the school district hasn't been banking the funds for new classrooms, so the growth in residential housing the City Council intends is an even more serious threat to the schools. I doubt that the district can handle the growth already approved without degrading the quality of education, but it must do what it can.

Non-parents like me are not close enough to the short-term problem of the school district to have seen this coming.

Only the parents can have influence with the school district AND the City Council, and both are affecting your child's educational future. Make them acquainted with the overlap of one governmental function on another. No one else will do it. They're not paying attention to each other.

Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 29, 2007 at 5:30 pm

That is me quoted above.

Carol, yes, you are quite right. The school district and the city council do need to pay attention to each other. There is definitely an overlap in the minds of the voting parents, but it seems that the candidates and the present city council do not recognise this fact and the school board is ignoring it.

Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 29, 2007 at 5:31 pm

Parents don't have any influence on the school board with BOE members like Townsend who disregard the community overwhelming feedback she receives, and goes ahead with her own agenda anyway. Time for three new board members who are listening and understand the issues.

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