https://paloaltoonline.com/square/print/2019/04/16/over-simitian-objections-school-board-voices-support-for-stanford-agreement


Town Square

Over Simitian objections, school board voices support for Stanford agreement

Original post made on Apr 17, 2019

Palo Alto Unified School District leaders on Tuesday lauded a proposed agreement between the district and Stanford University -- a deal that includes an estimated $140 million in benefits from Stanford to the district as well as a provision that threatens to upend the entire approval process for the university’s expansion plan, rendering the benefits package moot.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, April 16, 2019, 10:12 PM

Comments

7 people like this
Posted by please explain
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Apr 17, 2019 at 12:44 am

Could someone please explain Simitian's concern. Is he worried that Stanford won't provide sufficient low-cost housing?


48 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Apr 17, 2019 at 5:42 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Some politicians simply don't like not being in control of everything.


38 people like this
Posted by Stand up to Simitian
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 17, 2019 at 5:51 am

Kudos to the school board for standing up for our students and for a high quality public education in Palo Alto.

The article has a mistake in it. It says that the agreement has a "provision that threatens to upend the entire approval process for the university’s expansion plan, rendering the benefits package moot." But it's not a "provision" that is threatening to kill the agreement. It's Joe Simitian.

Joe, it's time to stop having a tantrum and get back to work.


8 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 17, 2019 at 7:09 am

Posted by Stand up to Simitian, a resident of Community Center

>> Kudos to the school board for standing up for our students and for a high quality public education in Palo Alto.

Sorry, I still don't get why it is a good deal to get-- 1/2? -- of the marginal cost of adding a student. Nobody has explained that clearly yet.

>> But it's not a "provision" that is threatening to kill the agreement. It's Joe Simitian.

Well, Simitian did identify a specific provision that he thought was a huge error. So-- I don't know why you are denying that. Feel free to disagree with him, and, explain why that provision is OK after all.


33 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Apr 17, 2019 at 7:19 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Joe can't have it both ways:

First he states that he can't protect the school district:
"Simitian said the lack is a function of state law, which limits the county's ability to address school impacts as part of its environmental-review process.

"We don't have as many tools as we would like in the land use process to help our schools," Simitian said at the rally. "We can address traffic, we can address housing, we can address open-space protection, but what we don't have by virtue of state law is a lot of tools to help us help our local schools and the kids they serve."

And then he states that the school district cannot act to protect its own interests without his permission!

Looks like his objection is simply that he is not in total control.


7 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Apr 17, 2019 at 7:44 am

The schools deal with Stanford should not be in any way
tied to or conditioned by the mitigation’s and entitlements County allows.
Also wasn’t he school community demanding “full mitigation”?
That was the message I heard from the school community at the recent ally in King Plaza which preceded Simitian last GUP in Palo Alto, which he attended.


15 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Apr 17, 2019 at 8:00 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"The schools deal with Stanford should not be in any way
tied to or conditioned by the mitigation’s and entitlements County allows."

Why should Stanford accept an agreement with the school district that was not contingent on getting its development plans approved?
If no development plans are approved why should Stanford pay a penny to the school district?


"Also wasn’t he school community demanding “full mitigation”?"
Everybody starts a negotiation demanding more than they ultimately agree to - it is called negotiation!


50 people like this
Posted by Attitude Change
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 17, 2019 at 8:52 am

It’s interesting and disheartening to see that many of you seem to have no cognizance that we are One City, with One Supervisor for our County District 5 - Joe Simitian. Paly High grad and Palo Alto resident. Went to Stanford. His dad was a teacher at Paly. Was on the school Board. I say this to stress that Joe’s loyalty to the welfare of our schools and our town is in his DNA.

And if you don’t know, he is considered to be extraordinary in his intellect, experience and skill in his ability to resolve difficult issues.

We all should be in his corner now - it is only to OUR benefit. We don’t just have children in our schools, we live in Palo Alto that is ground zero to absorb the impacts from the biggest development proposal by far in County history. He is working in the best interests of us.

PAUSD has done what it has done. Clearly this changed things. Let’s now get behind seeing this through which means supporting Joe as he tries to figure out the next step.


48 people like this
Posted by Simitian's folly
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Apr 17, 2019 at 9:33 am

Attitude Change wants us to ignore what Simitian is actually doing, in favor of blind faith: "He is considered to be extraordinary in his intellect, experience and skill in his ability to resolve difficult issues."

That may well be Simitian's opinion. As a parent and involved PTA volunteer, I'm not seeing it. And sorry, I don't care that Simitian's dad taught at Paly 40 or 50 years ago.

As Peter Carpenter points out, Simitian's main objection seems to be that the school district took him seriously: Simitian couldn't deliver what was needed, so Simitian told the district to negotiate with Stanford to get the money needed to protect students against large per-student funding cuts. I guess Simitian expected the district to fail, so that he could "negotiate" with Stanford for a pittance, and then sell himself as the hero for getting anything. Instead, the district came back with $140 million, and got the back of Simitian's hand.

I think we're seeing a politician with a wounded ego who believes his own press releases. I expect him to do his job and work with the district, Stanford, and his constituents to get to an outcome that delivers what we all need. Otherwise he'll have a short future tenure in local politics, despite having graduated from Paly.


15 people like this
Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 17, 2019 at 9:38 am

To be clear, PAUSD hasn't done anything yet - they are considering a negotiated agreement that neither side has signed. Simitian is trying hard to submarine it.

Whether that's in the interest of Palo Alto and its students remains to be seen. Remember Simitian represents several other towns, not just Palo Alto, and has ambitions to serve in Congress - so most of his current and desired constituents live elsewhere. The school board members, on the other hand, have a single focus - the current and future students of PAUSD - they are technically their "trustees."

Clearly Simitian hasn't been able to persuade the school board (whose three non-recused members he all endorsed for election). I'm still waiting to hear why Simitian's way is better for us, not just for Joe.


14 people like this
Posted by Jim H
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 17, 2019 at 9:48 am

Jim H is a registered user.

If Stanford is allowed to build at the higher limit of housing units, PAUSD would most.likely need a new campus. This does not allow for any funding for that.
It's possible that Simitian is ensuring that PAUSD does not close the door on getting funding or land from Stanford by signing this agreement.
PAUSD is drooling over this agreement but they have no idea what the final impacts will be since the county hasn't approved anything. And remember, the county is the one pushing for more housing.


44 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Apr 17, 2019 at 9:48 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

If Stanford has a limit of how much it is prepared to spend to get a development agreement, as I suspect it does, then Simitian's concern may be the $140 million the school board took off the table means that much less that Simitian can get for other purposes.

So that begs the question - does Simitian want the school district to get less so that he can get more for other purposes? If not then why complain about this agreement?


25 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 17, 2019 at 10:18 am

@Peter Carpenter - exactly. Stanford doesn't care what its money goes for (housing, traffic, schools), it just wants to get its building permit. Say the maximum "permit fee" they can stomach is $250M - ok, now $140M is spoken for, oops.

Joe's plan was always to trade away school money to get more housing - housing = votes outside of Palo Alto. The challenge was how to make that look ok to his Palo Alto school-focused base. The school district has now made that much harder.

But Joe's resilient - at some point, I expect he'll stop his tantrum and go back to work negotiating a deal.


30 people like this
Posted by We don't know all the facts
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 17, 2019 at 10:58 am

We don't know all the facts is a registered user.

One critical "condition of approval" that county staff has proposed for the development agreement is phased approval of the growth stanford wants. That phasing would allow the county to assess actual impacts on the community every five years before green lighting the next big chunk of development. This is important because local conditions change (and could change quite significantly if state housing mandates create rapid population growth without transportation and school facility investments). If the PAUSD agreement requires approval of the entire stanford build-out up front it flies in the face of this very important backstop. No way to make adjustments if current forecasts severely underestimate actual impacts (on PAUSD *and* the community at large).

We can't know all the details behind Joe Simitian's concerns regarding delicate and high stakes negotiations with Stanford. But Joe is more expert and experienced in navigating land use negotiations with Stanford than anyone. He has masterfully managed the GUP process thus far to maximize leverage for the county to serve the interests of this community (including pressure to get Stanford to the table with PAUSD. He's earned the benefit of the doubt and we need him on our side. We and the school board should respect his informed concerns and support him in addressing them.


9 people like this
Posted by No to St. Joe
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 17, 2019 at 11:17 am

"We and the school board should respect his informed concerns and support him in addressing them."

If that means the school board should pass on this deal without any cogent explanation from Simitian beside, "Trust me," then I must disagree. They have a responsibility to the Palo Alto students and the community which is different than Simitian's. Clearly he hasn't convinced them yet, but the school board people aren't dumb, so let him explain to them again (or to all of us). But it's crazy to follow a politician blindly, even St. Joe.


7 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 17, 2019 at 11:25 am

Posted by No to St. Joe, a resident of Adobe-Meadow

>> If that means the school board should pass on this deal without any cogent explanation from Simitian beside, "Trust me," then I must disagree. [...] but the school board people aren't dumb, so let him explain to them again (or to all of us). But it's crazy to follow a politician blindly, even St. Joe.

The "St. Joe" thing doesn't add to your argument. If Stanford is being transparent, then, why not drop the blanket DA contingency, and, create specific student population growth milestones instead? Making this all-or-nothing ties the DA and the PAUSD agreements together without knowing what it will really entail for PAUSD.

And, leaving the contingency out of it, I -still- haven't seen any explanation for why the $5800 figure is in any way justified or adequate.


12 people like this
Posted by Revolving door
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 17, 2019 at 11:28 am

Jean McCown is a former City Council member who has taken the revolving door to work for developers, including Stanford, versus her former city connection.

[Portion removed.]


4 people like this
Posted by Green Acres parent
a resident of Green Acres
on Apr 17, 2019 at 11:30 am

Green Acres parent is a registered user.

"If Stanford is allowed to build at the higher limit of housing units, PAUSD would most likely need a new campus."

Just a reminder that the county is pushing for more (affordable) housing, not Stanford. Stanford is stuck in the middle here. The fight is really between the county and PAUSD.


10 people like this
Posted by No to St. Joe
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 17, 2019 at 11:47 am

"If Stanford is being transparent, then, why not drop the blanket DA contingency, and, create specific student population growth milestones instead?"

I don't know if Stanford is being transparent (about what?). But the school board's job isn't to evaluate Stanford's intentions, it's to protect and promote the interests of the students. If Simitian thinks they would do better with a different deal, he should explain it. So far, it has just been "it's complicated; you should just trust me." Not good enough.

The district got exactly what it asked for - a per pupil annual payment based on the actual number of pupils coming from rental housing. I imagine they feel well-protected. Their biggest risk is having their interests traded away for something else in the closed room DA sausage factory.

On the DA contingency, I'm sure the school district tried to get Stanford to drop it. I gather they wouldn't, which is why things are where they are.


22 people like this
Posted by The Real Facts
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 17, 2019 at 12:17 pm

The Real Facts is a registered user.

For the Real Facts - read the agreement:

Web Link

The details
There are some very complicated and almost certainly critical details about how the number of students that Stanford will pay a supplemental fee for. From my reading, Stanford's obligation is directly linked to the amount of housing that will be required in the 2018 agreement.

a) This will significantly increase Stanford's incentive to avoid agreeing to build family appropriate housing.

b) Stanford is not obligated to pay the school fee on any housing it constructs that is tax-exempt if it does not explicitly fulfill the 2018 agreement requirements. This makes the negotiation of the specific language around what type of housing is required crucial.

What is Stanford?

When it comes to transportation and other impacts, Stanford has insisted that the academic campus is independent of the Research Park, the mall etc. It is interesting to see that when it comes to the benefits, Stanford would prefer an inclusive approach.

From page 3:

"H. Stanford contends that it financially supports the District’s schools through
payment of state-mandated school fees and property tax revenues generated by its lands devoted to commercial uses and long-term residential ground leases."

Stanford seems to once again be shirking their responsibilities


16 people like this
Posted by Where's the beef, Joe?
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 17, 2019 at 12:47 pm

How is Simitian proposing to meet the need for dollars to educate students? I haven't heard a word from him on that but it's the crucial point.


31 people like this
Posted by United We Stand
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 17, 2019 at 1:00 pm

I applaud Supervisor Simitian's decision to terminate the negotiation due to Stanford's divide and conquer tactics. PAUSD impact is just one of the many issues created by the Stanford expansion. Therefore, there should be a comprehensive agreement to mitigate ALL negative impacts created by this project, not just creating piecemeal agreements to leverage one group over another group thus alienating them. I have seen institutions such as Castilleja which uses similar tactics to sell their multi year expansion plan to other Palo Alto residents while bypassing the objections of the immediate neighbors of the school campus. I completely support supervisor Simitian's action to protect the overall quality of life for Palo Alto. United We Stand!


5 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 17, 2019 at 2:20 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

Whew!!

I've read all the comments so far and I'm totally drained by the experience, although I learned a lot about the various opinions and sides taken on the issue. I'm not getting into this fray. I'm hopeful it will work it's way through the whole process to a good conclusion for all sides.

The process: Lots of early on posturing, back and forths (or, if you prefer, forth and backs), pros and cons...give and takes. There are words to describe that process. 'Negotiations' and 'negotiating' come to mind. They are words used in every day life business communities to get deals made and contracts signed. This is no different.

Of course Joe would have liked to have had a voice at those meetings. He didn't, but he sees a few things that could be problematic. Let's hear him out on those and listen to both sides and then decide...online if you insist or prefer, as a media forum, to voice your opinions. There are better ways!

Of course nobody should let this online palaver sway their vote. Joe is accessible...at a Farmers' Market and other venues if you want to speak to him directly. Is he just looking for and positioning himself for a higher office? I don't know and I think that is pure speculation, but he could add a little shine and polish to the disturbing politics going on in Washington right now.

@Simitian's folly...you might be right. He has done so much good for us at the local level, although I have been critical of some of his ideas before...so maybe it's time for him to move on...to a higher level.


14 people like this
Posted by chris
a resident of University South
on Apr 17, 2019 at 2:29 pm

I’m glad to see the school board stand up to Simitian.

Now it’s time for the Weekly to pull its assumed support for his future congressional campaign. This would bring fresh air into local politics and roll out the career politicians. This would open the way for competition among new voices in tune with the current times.


4 people like this
Posted by Gunn mom
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 17, 2019 at 3:14 pm

Gunn mom is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


12 people like this
Posted by Longtimer
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Apr 17, 2019 at 4:30 pm

Stanford agreed with the County that they would NOT negotiate with any other entity during negotiations over the development agreement.

Those ground rules expired at midnight Monday. And a deal with PAUSD was announced the following day?

Sounds like STANFORD is the one not playing by the rules here.


13 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 17, 2019 at 5:02 pm

@Longtimer - factual correction - the ground rules expressly allowed talks with other parties, so long as they didn't result in an agreement during the Negotiating Period, which ended on April 15 (per the ground rules). Everyone knew, including Simitian, that Stanford and PAUSD were negotiating a deal. Simitian just doesn't like how it came out.


17 people like this
Posted by Let the attacks begin
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Apr 17, 2019 at 5:48 pm

[Post removed.]


31 people like this
Posted by @Peter Carpenter
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 17, 2019 at 8:26 pm

Peter Carpenter wrote: "If Stanford has a limit of how much it is prepared to spend to get a development agreement, as I suspect it does, then Simitian's concern may be the $140 million the school board took off the table means that much less that Simitian can get for other purposes."
>This is the only explanation that provides a plausible explanation of Simitian's response IMO.


1 person likes this
Posted by Longtimer
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Apr 17, 2019 at 9:17 pm

@Resident - Oh, I got my info from a different local news source. Where can we see the ground rules? Maybe the Weekly can share them with us?


11 people like this
Posted by PAUSDwatcher
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 17, 2019 at 10:26 pm

Web Link

11. Negotiation of the Development Agreement will take place only between the County Negotiating Committee and Negotiating Team and Stanford Negotiating Committee and Negotiating Team as identified by these Ground Rules. During the Negotiation Period, no official, employee, representative, or agent of Stanford will contact any County elected or appointed official, employee, representative, or agent who is not a member of the County Negotiating Committee or Negotiating Team for the purpose of negotiating the Development Agreement, unless agreed to by the County Point-of-Contact. Similarly, during the Negotiation Period, no elected or appointed official, employee, representative, or agent of the County will contact any Stanford official, employee, student, representative, or agent who is not a member of the Stanford Negotiating Committee or Negotiating Team for the purpose of negotiating the Development Agreement, unless agreed to by the Stanford Point-of-Contact. Notwithstanding the foregoing, during the Negotiation Period both parties may communicate within their own organization on the negotiations as long as such communications remain within each organization. This provision does not preclude the parties from contacting or being contacted by interested parties, including, but not limited to, public agencies and local governments in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties, non-profit organizations, community members, and Stanford students, employees, and residents, to discuss potential Development Agreement terms, as long as the parties do not disclose to such interested parties the positions taken during the negotiations by the opposite party to the negotiations or engage in discussions resulting in a deal between the party and interested party that would be presented as a proposal during the Negotiations Period.

That last sentence seems to indicate that Stanford violated the ground rules.


4 people like this
Posted by Stephen
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 17, 2019 at 10:34 pm

I see that Anon has inserted his/her marginal cost of $12,000/student that he/she made up on the first thread to do with this issue. Let's be clear that this is a made up number. The cost of operating the school district is nearly $20,000/student (nearly 2x the state average but half the tuition at a place like Castilleja). As pointed out on the previous thread, this is not the cost of adding a student, i.e., the marginal cost. It would be helpful if that number could be estimated - perhaps it is the $5800/student that Stanford is offering? The $5800 number is "un-round" enough to make me wonder as to how it was determined. Is anyone privy to the methodology involved?


8 people like this
Posted by Oh me
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 17, 2019 at 10:47 pm

Thanks @BoardWatcher. That is the right text, but I think your conclusion is incorrect. The "Negotiations Period" ended April 15, per section 3 of the document you linked to. That's why this proposal was announced on April 16. So, parsing the last sentence for readability:

This provision does *NOT* preclude the parties from contacting or being contacted by interested parties, including,... public agencies [the school district] ... to discuss potential Development Agreement terms ... as long as the parties do not ... engage in discussions resulting in a deal between the party and interested party *that would be presented as a proposal **during the Negotiations Period.***

So in this case, Stanford and PAUSD discussed potential terms (actually they discussed terms of their own agreement, but whatever), which was specifically NOT precluded by the ground rules. And it did NOT result in a proposal during the Negotiations Period, which ended on April 15. So Stanford did not violate the ground rules.

The Negotiation Period might have been extended by mutual consent, but I haven't seen that announced, and Stanford certainly would have known. They waited till April 16 for a reason.


2 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 17, 2019 at 11:08 pm

For what it’s worth, the PAUSD-Stanford deal was announced on April 15. And the deal includes explicit ties to approval of the development agreement between Stanford-County.


34 people like this
Posted by Oh me
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 17, 2019 at 11:17 pm

FWIW, the "deal" is simply a proposal, neither approved nor signed by either side. So not a deal. And it wasn't "presented as a proposal" to the County, since the parties were not meeting.

I'm no Stanford fan, but I don't see how they broke the rules here, they just read them carefully. Perhaps Simitian should have done the same.


29 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Apr 18, 2019 at 2:18 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Stanford is a very smart, very patient and very skillful negotiator. Those on the other side of the table usually lack at least one of those essential skills and in most cases it is their lack of patience. I guess it is hard to be patient if you are driven by your next election date.


9 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 18, 2019 at 7:22 am

I would think one sign of a skillful negotiator is not to piss off the people who have the authority to give you what you want. Whether Stanford violated the ground rules or not, they took a step back in achieving their goals.


49 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Apr 18, 2019 at 7:41 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"piss off the people who have the authority to give you what you want"

Simitian is only one of five supervisors and it matters little if he is upset. [Portion removed.]


2 people like this
Posted by Fred Balin
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 18, 2019 at 9:46 am

Fred Balin is a registered user.

[Post removed due to deletion of referenced comment.]


6 people like this
Posted by Gunn neighbor
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 18, 2019 at 9:50 am

[Post removed due to deletion of referenced comment.]


8 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Apr 18, 2019 at 10:32 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

[Post removed due to deletion of referenced comment.]


3 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 18, 2019 at 10:56 am

Posted by Stephen, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis

>> I see that Anon has inserted his/her marginal cost of $12,000/student that he/she made up on the first thread to do with this issue.

Yes, please, what is the real number. For most school systems teachers and staff salaries and benefits would be 80-85% of the total. (Google this-- general agreement on the 80-85% range.) That would be $16,000-$17,000 spent in the classroom. Palo Alto salaries are likely higher than most systems because of the number of Honors and AP classes taught, which tend to cost more: Web Link

What is much harder to see is how that $16,000-$17,000 will be funded marginally. State and Federal payments and any other grants. When we add an actual student from Stanford, what is the -net- cost to the district minus that other funding?

>> this is not the cost of adding a student, i.e., the marginal cost.

There is a gross marginal cost, which, I estimate at $16,000-$17,000, and, a net marginal cost, which I don't know how to estimate. I'm hoping that the necessary information will come out when the $5800 number is justified. But, no one so far has offered a rationale for $5800.

>> It would be helpful if that number could be estimated - perhaps it is the $5800/student that Stanford is offering? The $5800 number is "un-round" enough to make me wonder as to how it was determined. Is anyone privy to the methodology involved?

Exactly what I would like know.


10 people like this
Posted by Reaident
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 18, 2019 at 11:04 am

@Peter Carpenter
I agree that Stanford has very skillful negotiators, although perhaps too clever by half in trying to use an agreement with PAUSD as leverage against the county and other community interests. And Simitian is no pushover in negotiating.
On the other hand, you misrepresent the county response. The country negotiating team and the key two supervisors on the Development Agreement sub committee have suspended those negotiations, not just Simitian. Also, Simitian was reappointed as board President this year, an apparent nod by his colleagues in support of his lead role in the GUP process. Lastly, whether or not one agrees with the suspension of the DA process, it does not appear to benefit Simitian politically.


12 people like this
Posted by Fact check
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 18, 2019 at 11:21 am

Previous poster says: "The country negotiating team and the key two supervisors on the Development Agreement sub committee have suspended those negotiations, not just Simitian."

Is there evidence for this? I haven't seen anything from Cindy Chavez, the other supervisor, or any County staffers. The only one who has said anything is Simitian. It looks to me like he acted on his own.

I agree though that torpedoing an agreement that benefits the schools is a boneheaded move politically. Now Simitian is on the hook for delivering at least as much benefit as the district got on its own, otherwise he can kiss his political aspirations goodbye. Not that an elderly undistinguished white guy is a particularly good bet for Eshoo's seat anyways, when she finally vacates it.


7 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 18, 2019 at 11:43 am

@Fact Check
You just have to check the facts in the article above and the other press reports to see that the suspension of the Development Agreement was done by ”the county”.
As others have noted, the challenge is to negotiate an agreement with Stanford that addresses the school needs, as well as housing, transportation, environmental and other issues related to Stanford’s very large expansion. That is the job of Simi, Chavez and the other county super.
As far as your name calling toward Simitian, whether we agree with him on this issue, he is one of the most capable and distinguished elected officials we have in our region. The electorate has overwhelmingly endorsed his service for over thirty years as a PAuSd board member, city council member and mayor, state assembly member and senator, and county supervisor. Unfortunately, as our president hpas shown, it is easier to cast aspersions than to do the hard work of governing.


9 people like this
Posted by Fact check
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 18, 2019 at 12:58 pm

@Resident: You don't have any evidence that anyone besides Simitian was involved in this decision. Simitian didn't say that he had consulted with anyone else at the County, including Chavez, and they haven't spoken.

As to my description of Simitian as an "elderly undistinguished white guy": you've established the elderly part with your recitation of his long history and presumably don't disagree that he's a white guy. We can agree to disagree about "undistinguished".

I agree with you that "Unfortunately, as our president has shown, it is easier to cast aspersions than to do the hard work of governing." But I think that's a good description of Simitian on this issue.


3 people like this
Posted by Jim H
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 18, 2019 at 1:00 pm

Jim H is a registered user.

@Anon,
The distict should be able to figure out the marginal cost. However, even that will be a challenge to them. It all depends on capacity and where the students attend school. As an example, all high school students take English. If there is capacity in the English classrooms, then the marginal cost per student could be a $6K. But, let's assume that all English classes are at capacity and adding another student means that PAUSD needs to higher another teacher. Now, the marginal cost for that student is somewhere closer to that teacher's salary. If adding all of these students means the opening of a new school is needed, the cost/student goes up exponentially.


4 people like this
Posted by Leland S.
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 18, 2019 at 2:16 pm

[Post removed.]


6 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Res
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 18, 2019 at 4:03 pm

Crescent Park Res is a registered user.

School Funding is complex. There really isn't a number per child. A few things have happened to make PAUSD want to state the cost as high as they possibly could.

"Changes to state pension systems have required districts to direct an increasing share of their budgets to pension contributions. In 2013, school districts were required to pay 8% of their teacher payrolls for pensions. By 2020, that contribution will rise to 19%, requiring districts to pay about $1 billion more over each of the next three years. Also, state funding for special education has not kept up with the cost of living and the increased costs of disabilities."

Web Link

If PAUSD participated in state program, they would get about $11K per student. But, our tax base gives us a much higher amount than that, so we chose to be a "basic aid district." We contribute to state school funds, but do not take much from them.


10 people like this
Posted by Delay Voting on Deal
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 19, 2019 at 8:01 am

I watched the school board meeting Tuesday and was surprised at the Pollyanna attitude expressed by the 3 Board Members and the Superintendent as they extolled the merits but didn’t showed little critical thinking about the agreement or it’s relationship and impact on the rest of the negotiations and our town - their town.

Nothing was mentioned about it only being agreed to having a discussion in 2032 about a new school, not on the west side of campus as wanted but on the north side next to the Menlo Park border. And it’s only a discussion - not an agreement for a school. That seemed to me worth at least some questioning - but no. It’s a shame that Collins and Dauber are conflicted out on this.

And now and then, Jean McCown would pop-up to clarify and reinforce the fabulous munificence of Stanford - not.

None of this was a good model of critical thinking for our kids by adults who are to be in charge of their schools.

I sympathize with the District in wanting something more than the insulting $4 million from Stanford, but it cannot let itself be used in Stanford’s shameful game to now try to short shrift our town and in the rest of the agreement. The impacts of Stanford’s proposal has terrible consequences for us if not hugely mitigated - which is what Simitian is trying to negotiate. All of us must back him as it is all in our interest.

PAUSD must not rush to a vote on the deal. Stand united with Supervisor Joe Simitian.


7 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 19, 2019 at 9:00 am

I find it quite telling that the supporters of this agreement are unable to articulate how the proposed deal makes financial sense for PAUSD. About the only argument they can muster is that they don't like Joe Simitian. But, when it comes to adding up the numbers to show that the deal is good, they can't do it. Sounds to me like the expert negotiators at Stanford have done a great job for Stanford-- at the expense of PAUSD. I expect nothing less from the Stanford experts, but, I expect better from the PAUSD negotiation team.

Drop the ad hominem attacks and dig into the PAUSD -proposal- details. We need to backtrack and examine this deal carefully. I also agree with Simitian that the deal should not be contingent on SCC. Stanford's agreement with PAUSD should stand on its own with respect to PAUSD cost recovery. There is no possible upside for PAUSD in including the SCC contingency.


10 people like this
Posted by PAUSD Parent
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 19, 2019 at 4:58 pm

It may be good to step back to look at the big picture. I am not going to quote any numbers since that is just diving into the weeds. I am not going to comment on the politics of this either because that really isn't relevant. The big story is that Stanford is using the PAUSD system as a pawn to broker a deal based on only one piece of the puzzle. This is all smokes and mirrors to mask the enormous impact that the proposed Stanford GUP will create on the City of Palo Alto, on its resources, infrastructure and the citizens who have to endure those impacts now and long into the future. Instead of responsibly addressing the impacts from theses proposals they wave a magic number to entice the PAUSD board who is falling for the sleight of hand. These numbers will not support the extra staff, extra students and extra impact to the Palo Alto School System. This deal will not help alleviate the extra burden on the entire infrastructure of Palo Alto.

Kudos to Supervisor Simitian for having the foresight, skill of negotiation and intellect not to fall for their crafty tactics.


8 people like this
Posted by Simitian non-fan
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Apr 19, 2019 at 5:16 pm

It's become obvious that Simitian's plan for the schools is for them to take less. How about some honesty from him on that point. Then we can all decide whether we think that's a good idea.

Oh, I think I understand why we're not getting honesty from him on that point.


8 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 19, 2019 at 5:21 pm

@PAUSD Parent,so do you think Simitian will somehow get the schools more? Why? In fact, as many have pointed out, it will only be less, and in the face of more housing and more kids to serve. That may be fine with you, but why should it be ok with school board Trustees? When someone can explain how the schools can get more, I'm all ears.


2 people like this
Posted by Mary
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 20, 2019 at 10:43 am

Maybe we need to overturn the state law that allows Stanford to have tax-exempt housing.


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Posted by Rebecca Eisenberg
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 20, 2019 at 11:19 am

Rebecca Eisenberg is a registered user.

Yes - that law, plus Stanford's (legal) use of Prop 13 to avoid paying its fair share truly harm our community.


2 people like this
Posted by Basis for comments
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 20, 2019 at 3:44 pm

Basis for comments is a registered user.

@PAUSD Parent. Did you read the County commissioned Final EIR that details in great lengths the project itself and impacts on everything from traffic to water resources to housing? Do you know that Palo Alto does not support the infrastructure of Stanford Campus? That they maintain all their roads, road signs, sewers, utilities, etc? Yes, of course, many people who work for Stanford will use a Palo Alto road to get to their job, but that's about it. Yes, congestion is an impact (discussed in EIR), yes air quality associated with an increase of traffic is an impact (discussed in EIR), and so on. But, your comment indicates that you didn't read the EIR and that you may not be clear on who maintains Stanford's infrastructure.


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Posted by Stanford traffic impact
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 21, 2019 at 12:01 am

@Basis for comments. I think you missed the point. The issue is how Stanford has and will impact Palo Alto's infrastructure. In section 5.15 Transportation and Traffic of the DEIR, it states that the traffic problem will still be "Significant and Unavoidable" even after mitigation. Your comment seems to indicate you have read through the entire final EIR. Does the final EIR state that Stanford will be able to find ways to fully mitigate the traffic problem on the major streets of Palo Alto? If not, then I have great concern with any expansion that will create even more traffic and I think you should too. Given that you live in Crescent Park, you should know how bad it is on University and that many streets in Crescent Park are used as cut-throughs during commute hours. If you don't, I am sure many of your neighbors in Crescent Park do.


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Posted by got a bridge to sell you
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 21, 2019 at 7:54 am

Y'all,

During the last 20 year Stanford-PAUSD go around, the school district got $10 million total. Per student funding increased > 100%.

For some reason, this time PAUSD's elected and PTA leaders riled parents up with claims that the sky would fall if Stanford didn't hand over 70 times that amount. Web Link

They misled us because the only negotiating chip PAUSD had with Stanford was a threat to sic parents on the university armed with their false narrative that Stanford is the evil empire and because only fear motives people to do irrational things like that.

The proof was at last week's School Board meeting.

Board members and the Superintendent gushed effusively over the Stanford agreement despite it missing the community's "full mitigation" demands, laid out by those leaders, by a mile.

No new school? No problem.

$6,000 not $20,000? It turns out that according to Superintendent Austin $20,000 is not the cost to educate new students. $6,000 is.

The agreement? "Full mitigation" of the impact Stanford's building plans will have on our schools and on us, the taxpayers who pay for them, for 40 years.


9 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 21, 2019 at 8:42 am

@got a bridge to sell you, sounds like you are unfamiliar with how negotiations work. You always end up with less than what you start out asking for. Given that the floor was about $4 million, I can see why they were pleased.

In terms of the new school site, they slipped in a term expressly retaining the schools' right to use eminent domain. I expect that isn't in there by accident.


2 people like this
Posted by got a bridge to sell you
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 21, 2019 at 10:21 am

Parent,

PAUSD representatives embellishing facts at the negotiating table is not the same as them lying to parents and students about what full mitigation involves and prodding them to spread PAUSD's lies. It's unethical.

The right to take land through eminent domain doesn't seem like a good trade either. According to Google, PAUSD has to buy that land. So, instead of free, PAUSD probably needs to find $100+ million to get it.


2 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 21, 2019 at 11:55 am

@got a bridge to sell you, sorry that you were surprised. If you look at the school board's resolution from last November (Web Link), you will see it doesn't mention any dollar amounts, just a per pupil annual formula, which is where they wound up. Nor does it mention that they wanted land for free; in earlier cases, like Gunn, Nixon, and Escondido, the district used eminent domain and paid for school sites. I think you over-estimate the cost by quite a bit.


9 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Apr 21, 2019 at 12:42 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Go to Google Earth and look at Stanford's land vs Palo Alto.

Look at the amount of open space in each.

Look at the development density in each and remember that the Shopping Center, the hospitals and the Research Park were all annexed to Palo Alto before those parcels were developed and their development was controlled by Palo Alto.

Clearly Stanford has been a much better steward of its lands than Palo Alto.

And then consider how much Palo Alto earns every year from property and sales tax on Stanford lands occupied by the Research Park and the Shopping Center.

And then consider the Palo Alto lands which are closed to Stanford residents vs the Stanford lands which are open to Palo Alto residents.

Think twice before trying to strangle to death Palo Alto's Golden Goose.


5 people like this
Posted by Basis for comments
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 21, 2019 at 2:33 pm

Basis for comments is a registered user.

@Stanford Traffic Impact. I am extremely aware of the congestion in Crescent Park - we're right at the edge of Crescent Park closer to downtown than the highway. Facebook traffic has impacted our neighborhood far more than Stanford. We're in what's considered a high density block with lots of rentals. we;ve experiences a ton of changes in our neighborhood since the mid-1980's. We've watched these rentals transition from Stanford graduate students, visiting scholars and post-docs; local musicians and artists; school teachers; social workers; vet techs; nurses;, etc. to Google and Facebook employees. They're all wonderful neighbors, but they now drive to and from Google, Facebook and other places whereas the former neighbors rode bikes or walked or took shuttles. I think PAUSD parent overstated the "impacts." Stanford does not use our natural resources. They drive over our streets. That is the sole impact to infrastructre - more wear and tear on the streets. Again, tech companies increased traffic far more than Stanford ever did. I'd rather see a university expand than see Apple, Facebook or Google expand more.


2 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 22, 2019 at 9:29 pm

Posted by got a bridge to sell you, a resident of Another Palo Alto

>> The proof was at last week's School Board meeting.

>> $6,000 not $20,000? It turns out that according to Superintendent Austin $20,000 is not the cost to educate new students. $6,000 is.

Where was the calculation for that figure? It just doesn't add up for me.


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Posted by Bill
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 26, 2019 at 6:52 am

Dr. Don Austin, Superintendent of PAUSD School board, arrived May 2018, and is already pulling similar stunts as the prior Superintendent Max McGee.

It's no different that Max McGee keeping the parents in the dark about the sexual assaults at Palo Alto High School. Shame on you Don Austin.

Keeping the community in the dark and conducting meetings without the public's knowledge. What else has Don Austin done that the Palo Alto Community is not aware of.

Shame on the existing Palo Alto School Board for approving "the Agreement" with Stanford, which isn't an agreement. Would any of these Board members, and Don Austin agree to an agreement to purchase a house, with the provision that the agreement will only be good if it rains on April 30, 2019? Sounds ridiculous, doesn't it, well, this is essentially what the school board agreed to and it's an embarrassment. These school board members need to be fired.

Also, Ken Dauber and Todd Collins both supposedly recused from deliberations... REALLY... there have been many, many, meetings, discussions about the Stanford issue, each have spoken about it. We all know how these things REALLY work.