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Palo Alto firms up stance in Cubberley negotiations

Original post made on Jun 10, 2014

After publicly declaring its intention to stop paying the school district annual fees in exchange for a commitment not to sell property, the City Council on Monday night put its money where its mouth is by stripping the payments from the city's budget.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, June 10, 2014, 1:01 AM

Comments (14)

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 10, 2014 at 8:14 am

I don't pretend to understand any of this, but it sounds like robbing Peter to pay Paul. PAUSD and City of PA are just bookkeeping differences, this is one town and we have to do what makes sense, not have scraps between siblings.

PAUSD is in the business of educating children, not Real Estate.

Cubberley should be reopened as a school asap to counteract all the new building in this part of town and prevent our schools from getting too big.

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Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 10, 2014 at 8:51 am

Good. Now I can stop paying the extra fee on my utility bill which was supposed to pay PAUSD.

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Posted by Kocziusko
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 10, 2014 at 9:15 am

Sounds like a bunch of bull-oney to me.

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Posted by Wayne Martin
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jun 10, 2014 at 9:38 am

Measure B (1987) Ballot Language For Utility Tax:
Web Link

The ballot language presented to the voters that resulted in the authorization of the Utility Tax does not mention the purpose of the tax. Many people have claimed many things about why the tax was proposed, and why the voters saw fit to agree to the tax. However, the ballot language is legally binding on the City, and that language says nothing about giving the money to the PAUSD.

The Utility Tax could be revisited by placing it one the ballot again. The City seems intent on trying to tax people's cell phones, and it would probably come as no surprise if they tried to tax people's Internet connections at some point. Having this tax reauthorized by the voters every ten years, or so, would seem like a democratic thing to do.

> In dissenting, Klein argued that "funding charities is not one
> of our main purposes." The city has many long-term financial
> challenges, including employee pensions and retiree health care,
> and he said increasing the grant program would send the wrong
> message to the labor unions at a time when the city is involved
> in negotiations.

Finally, Larry Klein gets one right. I hope he sticks to his guns on this one.

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Posted by Cedric de La Beaujardiere
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 10, 2014 at 10:56 am

Cedric de La Beaujardiere is a registered user.

Around about the 1970's or so, Palo Alto's demographics had shifted to an aging population and fewer children, and the school district was selling off school properties to be typically (always?) redeveloped as housing. My mom was one of the people going to Council and I suppose School Board meetings protesting this practice and the plan to sell off Jordan, arguing that it was short-sighted and foolish to ignore the likelihood that the older generation would die off and be replaced with school age children again. Fortunately those espousing this argument won and Jordan was not sold, and now it is a bustling middle school again.

Admittedly, I have not studied the financials of the district to take a fully informed position. However, understanding the origin of this covenant, I'm a little nervous to hear of it being rejected. Yes the district earns income from leasing unused campuses, but it would also get a lot of money from selling them. How do these options balance out say over 30 years? Will there be a financial incentive for the district to sell excess campuses, and could we get Palo Alto into a pickle again in a future ebb and flow of student population? I'm concerned of our loss of leverage, as well as our reduction in support for the school district, whose quality is one of the main draws for families to move to Palo Alto.

I am sympathetic to wanting those payments to be used for needed capital improvements, but then the logical action would be to put that money into a fund for capital improvements, sending the message to the district that we are serious in our desire for these improvements. It doesn't make sense to me to put the money anywhere else, at least given my constrained knowledge of these affairs.

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Posted by Chris
a resident of University South
on Jun 10, 2014 at 11:09 am

The school district does not have the same boundaries as the city. PAUSD includes Stanford and part of Los Altos Hills, plus some other smaller differences. PAUSD also educates some students from East Palo Alto.

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Posted by anon
a resident of Monroe Park
on Jun 10, 2014 at 11:58 am

and not all of Palo Alto is in PAUSD. Some of us are lucky enough to pay taxes to LASD while also paying the utility tax that was sold primarily as a way to pay the Cubberley lease.

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Posted by Wayne Martin
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jun 10, 2014 at 12:55 pm

> I am sympathetic to wanting those payments to be
> used for needed capital improvements, but then the logical action
> would be to put that money into a fund for capital improvements,

There is no legal authority to do this, although presumably the City could pass whatever ordinances it deemed necessary to allow the depositing of these funds into some sort of account that would be targeted only for infrastructure use.

> It doesn't make sense to me to put the money anywhere else,
> at least given my constrained knowledge of these affairs.

What makes sense, and what is legal, or likely, are more often than not two difference things. The money the City owes the PAUSD comes from the general fund. The fact that the UUT revenue is about 50% larger than that owed the PAUSD is fortuitous, but none of the UUT money is legally bound for use in infrastructure. If the UUT were to somehow exact less than the amount due the PAUSD, the difference would have to come from the General Fund. No doubt some of it does get used for infrastructure, but the City does not track expenditures based on partial revenue sources.

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Posted by Judy
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 10, 2014 at 3:15 pm

This is a good deal for both the City and the School District. The School District wants to expand Terman Middle School into the Bowman International School site and make Terman the same size as JLS and Jordan. The Bowman School wants at least 8 acres somewhere else in Palo Alto.

If Cubberley isn't tied up in a covenant not to develop Bowman could then be relocated to the Cubberley site and the School District hopefully could get the Bowman site back.

Many years ago the PAUSD sold the Bowman site to Bowman now they want it back. Selling off some of our valuable School sites was a dumb move.

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Posted by anymouse
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jun 10, 2014 at 5:22 pm

Cubberley High School. Repair, re-open. If the property is ever sold off to developers, another site will never be found should school enrollments increase. We are not completely aware of the details of this article, yet we are not oblivious to the idea regarding Jordan's almost demise and now up and running again. Many former students of Cubberley know the school is in poorly maintained, so spruce it up and allow for various schooling situations to enjoy the grounds. Don't get us started on how the pool was covered by asphalt.

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Posted by Cur Mudgeon
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jun 10, 2014 at 7:59 pm

anymouse, I well remember when the pool was filled and paved over. A loss for recreation, although at the time it was said extensive repairs were needed.

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Posted by please
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jun 10, 2014 at 11:34 pm

Bring back the pool. :)

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Posted by Cougar
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 11, 2014 at 7:28 am

Cubberley is the essential asset here. Getting it up and running again in time for the impending high school enrollment peak is the essential goal. PACC and PAUSD can agree on that much.

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Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 11, 2014 at 6:22 pm

Building a new competition pool (presumably for the new HS) will cost $2mil. Then you have to heat it, clean it and manage the chemicals. Not a trivial undertaking.

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