Guest Opinion: Protect our schools — Speak up now | February 8, 2019 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Spectrum - February 8, 2019

Guest Opinion: Protect our schools — Speak up now

by Teri Baldwin, Nancy Krop and Meb Steiner

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.

This story contains 955 words.

Stories older than 90 days are available only to subscribing members. Please help sustain quality local journalism by becoming a subscribing member today.

If you are already a member, please log in so you can continue to enjoy unlimited access to stories and archives. Membership starts at $12 per month and may be cancelled at any time.

Log in     Join

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


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.

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

Due to violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are only visible to registered users who are logged in. Use the links at the top of the page to Register or Login.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.


Post a comment

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Stay informed.

Get the day's top headlines from Palo Alto Online sent to your inbox in the Express newsletter.


Sign-up now for 5K Run/Walk, 10k Run, Half Marathon

The 39th annual Moonlight Run and Walk is Friday evening, September 29. Join us under the light of the full Harvest Moon on a 5K walk, 5K run, 10K run or half marathon. Complete your race in person or virtually. Proceeds from the race go to the Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund, benefiting local nonprofits that serve families and children in Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties.