A new neighborhood school is necessary to accommodate a planned influx in Stanford faculty and staff and prevent further traffic problems, according to the district. The two Palo Alto Unified elementary schools that currently serve Stanford students, Escondido and Nixon, are at capacity. To have new students attend Palo Alto Unified campuses farther away would increase traffic at peak hours, the letter states.
Opening a new school on the university's campus "is the only solution that preserves reasonable school-enrollment size and avoids the very poor alternatives either making enrollment at Escondido/Nixon larger or dispensing with the value of a neighborhood school and creating an unacceptable travel burden for parents and students," the letter states.
Stanford has proposed building 2.275 million net new square feet of academic buildings, 3,150 housing units and 40,000 net new square feet of child care centers between 2018 and 2035. Of the planned housing, 1,700 are for undergraduates students, 900 units are for graduates (mostly singles or couples) and 550 for faculty and staff, according to the university.
The letter argues that more on-campus housing will be necessary to prevent Stanford from purchasing residential properties in Palo Alto to lease to faculty and staff — properties that would be tax-exempt. This would have a "negative impact" on the school district, which relies heavily on property tax revenue, the letter states.
"The university should be required to provide additional on-site housing to accommodate the full population increase," the letter states.
The board also requests that Stanford commit to not seeking exemptions for new developments under the new general use permit that would house students attending Palo Alto Unified schools.
The board is asking Stanford to more directly consider the impact of its proposed expansion on the district. If the university realizes more than 550 family housing units will be necessary to accommodate growth, for example, the district requests that school capacity be a "formal part of the discussion and consideration."
The board approved the letter 4-0, with board President Ken Dauber, whose wife is employed by Stanford, recusing himself.
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