The prospect of local schools losing $1.8 million in annual payments from the City of Palo Alto as part of its lease of the Cubberley Community Center did not sit well with school board members or school supporters Tuesday.
Members briefly referred to Monday's City Council vote to support eliminating a $1.8 million "covenant not to develop," one of the guidelines for negotiating a new city lease of the Cubberley Commuity Center, which expires at the end of this year.
In the 1989 covenant, the city agreed to pay the school district for promising not to sell or develop five school sites that had been shuttered due to declining enrollment Jordan, JLS, Ohlone, Garland and Greendell. The agreement came when the district was in desperate financial straits and had been selling off shuttered schools to housing developers.
But with all five of those campuses now back in use or leased out by the school district, City Council members said the rationale for the $1.8 million annual payment no longer applies.
Several school board members said Tuesday they would like to discuss the issue in a future open session.
Noting that $1.8 million could pay for 18 teachers, board Vice-President Melissa Baten Caswell said losing that amount of money "would be really hard."
Nancy Krop, vice-president of advocacy for the Palo Alto Council of PTAs, said Palo Alto's current spending of $13,000 per pupil lags far behind per-pupil spending of other high-performing school districts and states.
"The top-performing states now spend $16,000 to $22,000 per student," Krop said. "New York spends $19,000 per student.
"I'd tell the Palo Alto City Council that we're not rolling in money in fact, we're millions behind. I think it's a crime to take that money from children in our schools."