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About this blog: I grew up in Los Angeles and moved to the area in 1963 when I started graduate school at Stanford. Nancy and I were married in 1977 and we lived for nearly 30 years in the Duveneck school area. Our children went to Paly. We moved ...  (More)

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The Connection Between Buena Vista and Measure A

Uploaded: Apr 25, 2015
I support finding a way for the middle and high school students who live at Buena Vista to complete their education in Palo Alto. I feel this way not because Palo Alto has the only school district that can offer a good education but because I believe that continuity has both academic and social benefits for the students and their families.

Palo Alto allows non-resident children to attend school in the District in certain situations so the issue of continuity of education is separable from where the Buena Vista families end up living. Most parents who send their children to private school face the transportation to school challenge and solve it.

I am willing to contribute to cover any transportation costs associated with having Buena Vista students finish their education in PA. We could have special buses or subsidize Lyft rides or pay parents. This will cost far less than paying PA rents for the families to remain in PA.

Personally, I think this is our responsibility in terms of funding, not the BV park owner's. I view this as similar in some ways to the Tinsley students that we finance as a District. Both our children attended class with and had in our home many Tinsley students and the experience was positive for them and us. We were and are happy to contribute to this solution to maintaining more diversity in our schools.

How does this relate to Measure A and raising the parcel tax. I see two major connections—one positive and forward looking and one likely to disappoint many residents who care about the BV students.

If the park closes and the residents move away and if we want the middle and high school students to finish school here, that will take extra money. The parcel tax could help in that funding. If the park closes and the students move away and still attend school here, it is likely that the land will be used for more housing and students so additional funding will be needed.

I am surprised that no one so far that I have seen has mentioned the potential negative impact of defeating Measure A given the rhetoric on Town Square. Assuming that all the people speaking against Measure A have identified real problems, does that not undercut the idea that a PA education is so special it needs extra monetary compensation in any settlement.

Isn't it likely that the owner's attorneys can make a good case to the appraiser and council that the District's reputation is under attack, citing a negative Measure A vote in addition to New York Times articles.

Or will the BV supporters who also feels strongly that the District is in disarray then turn around and say "we were just kidding", this is a really, really great District.

The more you take the no voters seriously and value their experiences, the more it makes PA a more ordinary district with many problems and lowers the value of a PA resident for schools and the value of a PA education.

I am a Measure A supporter but respect the experiences reported by the no voices as their real experiences.

With regard to the BV settlement my own middle ground solution is to approve the settlement mostly as is and then raise enough money to buy the site and then build up to code and modern subsidized housing on the site for the BV residents but also for more new families to share.

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Posted by Bunyip, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on Apr 26, 2015 at 10:22 am

Raise money to buy it and fix it up? What utopia are you living on?
Get out of the way. Highest payer wins, put some offices on it and move on. If you can't afford to live somewhere move!
You have no right to live in a district if you can't afford it. Go somewhere affordable and don't seek out short cuts.

Posted by Jan, a resident of Midtown,
on Apr 26, 2015 at 12:55 pm


I think you have, inadvertently, added to the "no" vote on Measure A. Many PA residents who support our schools do not support public money being spent on BV issues, including education legacy. I am one of those. I was raised in a military family, and I moved many times. I didn't always like it, but it made me stronger.

BV should not be confused with Measure A, but you are doing your best to make it so.

Posted by stephen levy, a resident of University South,
on Apr 27, 2015 at 10:34 am

stephen levy is a registered user.

In response to the two comments above.

I believe BV and Measure A are related, both in a practical immediate sense and in a longer term sense about providing more funding as we encourage additional housing for low income families.

I believe the voters who feel strongly about voting no on Measure A bu also feel they would like the BV families to get more compensation face a difficult choice knowing that their arguments against Measure A would lead a reasonable person (such as the appraiser or city council members) to place a lower value on the specialness of being in a PA school as opposed to one in a neighboring community. The reasons people cite for opposing Measure A cast doubt on the clear superiority of a PA education.

For the longer term people who favor more diversity and opportunities for subsidized housing in PA, we need to be aware of the funding implications for these additional students.

To the poster who asks "What utopia are you living in", I live in Palo Alto where the city and county have pledged money to do "something" to help the BV residents remain in Palo Alto. I agree they have no "right" under law but that is a different issue.

With regard to the current efforts to raise money and spend it wisely for the BV residents I make two personal suggestions.

One, as far as allowing some students to finish their education here, I can see some justification on continuity grounds and suggest that a low cost answer is to pay for their transportation to PA schools from their new residences--surely a fairer and less expensive solution that paying PA rents for all those families with children.

And in terms of keeping the BV families in PA, my suggestion is to combine this with building new up to code housing on the site for them AND other families as part of our adopted commitment to expand subsidized housing for low income households in our city.

Posted by Bunyip, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on Apr 28, 2015 at 6:46 am

So for a select group of people you want to form a welfare system paid by the PA collective? What about the homeless in PA, what about the poor Hispanics living 20 to a household? Or is your selective liberalism just restricted to a caravan park?

Put your money were your mouth is and sell what you have and donate all of it, or open your house to the homeless and have them use it as a drop in center. One person can do a lot. Instead of telling others to pay more, you do something active.

Posted by Concerned Resident, a resident of Old Palo Alto,
on Apr 28, 2015 at 8:42 am


Are you proposing to use Measure A funds to help educate these kids? provide transport, etc. to make this possible?

I am not even sure this is legal in the language of the Measure. Is this money just a big pot that anyone can decide how to use on whatever?

Please clarify the money usage you are proposing.

Posted by Stephen levy, a resident of University South,
on Apr 28, 2015 at 10:13 am

@ concerned resident.

Thanks for the question.

I am on the way to the airport and will respond more when I can.

I am not proposing earmarking measure A money for the BV kids.

I am suggesting for discusion the possibility of using District funds to provide transport for middle and high school BV kids, if they wish, to finish school in PA if and when they move elsewhere. That proposal is on,y feasible I suspect if funds from the district where they move can be transferred to PA for the bulk of the school funding.

I suggested what I think is a much less expensive middle ground to Judge Cordell's proposal to pay PA rents so the families can stay.

But I acknowledge that'all choices to help the BV students are complicated and people have alternative perspectives.

More later.

Posted by Concerned Resident, a resident of Old Palo Alto,
on Apr 28, 2015 at 10:29 am

Steve - if the new site houses new students, then we have more total students to educate with your plan.

I thought the point of Measure A was to maintain smaller class sizes, pay for some mental health services...what I voted for.

If you spend money elsewhere to educate these extra kids, isn't that just running away with my measure A money under some different program?

There is some accountability that goes along with measure A. We didn't vote for this to just disappear into any pet project that is fungible.

I feel for these kids, but the landowner and parents have to fund this.

Posted by Jan, a resident of Midtown,
on Apr 28, 2015 at 12:05 pm


Unfortunately you have convinced me. I just sent in my 'NO' vote on Measure A. This is largely based on your notion that BV students must be preserved in PA schools, that PAUSD should pay for some complicated transportation scheme. A real pity, because I wanted to vote for Measure A...this will be the first school funding measure that I have voted against.

Posted by Me, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on Apr 28, 2015 at 2:21 pm

As soon as I read this, i sent in my NO vote on Prop A. Enough of the shenanigans

Posted by Marc, a resident of Midtown,
on Apr 29, 2015 at 7:11 am

Why do all the people that want to save BV always want to do it with other people's money? They only want to save BV as long as it costs either the owner or the public money, never ever do they want to commit any of their own money.

If Stephen wants to "I am willing to contribute..." then let him personally commit to spending the money. Let him personally raise all the funds necessary. Not from Measure A. Not from the City. Not from the County. Not from any public source.

No whining. No claiming that the community owes it to them. Walk the talk. Put your own money where your mouth is. Let Stephen Levy and LaDoris H. Cordell (who wrote an editorial on the same topic) put up their own personal money. In fact they could let some of the BV residents move into their homes and live with them. Then they wouldn't need to be bused to PA.

Let all the people who claim to be BV supporters each take in one BV family into their homes. That would solve the problem.

Posted by Carla, a resident of another community,
on Apr 29, 2015 at 3:16 pm

Hey Steve,

Last year I moved my family from Palo Alto to Santa Clara due to the unaffordable high rents which was unsustainable for my husband, me, and my children (4 of us in a 1 bdrm apartment on Alma).

My kids will now be "forced" to attend Wilcox High instead of Gunn. Where were you when this happened to us? What happened to our right to attend school in Palo Alto. Can you now give us money to move back to Palo Alto or force to district to let my kids back into the schools plus free transport every day?

Posted by HR, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive,
on May 1, 2015 at 4:56 pm

I'd rather see that money spent for field trip transportation. As it stands now, parents are asked to provide transportation for field trips. (Think about that carbon footprint). The buses that are purchased and maintained are to provide transportation for Tinsley( Web Link As it stands now, with the Asian influx, I would think that the districts minority requirement has been met and we can begin to opt out of this program.

Posted by palo alto resident, a resident of Crescent Park,
on May 2, 2015 at 10:10 am

@HR - The Tinsley agreement is not something that PAUSD can just "opt out" of, it was a settlement based on an old court case. Ironically if you are asian (or any minority) and you live in EPA, you can ask to be part of the program no matter what your economic background is. I think both Ravenswood District would have to agree to stop the program, as would the other school Districts AND they would need to start a high school in the Ravenswood school district (kids now attend Paly, Gunn or Menlo Atherton, with some at Sequoia or Woodside high, but those two are being phased out).

I personally think that the Ravenswood district would benefit from the families that are part of the Tinsley agreement coming back to their District they tend to be quite engaged with their students learning. And Ravenswood would definitely benefit from having a middle school and high school rather than K-8 schools. A middle school would allow better electives for the students and having a local high school would help build an even stronger community.

Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park,
on May 4, 2015 at 12:08 pm

I've mentioned this before in other threads - PAUSD cannot just throw open the doors and let non-residents attend school. The district charter is the first stopping point. Each child would have to apply for a transfer in...which leads to:

Wherever the BV residents end up...their children would be part of that city's school district. If a child wants to transfer into PAUSD, the new school district has to say yes. This does happen for older students, junior or senior year HS students for example, but is not guaranteed. And not so much for younger students. Why? Because the new school district doesn't want to give up its share of State education funding that comes with each registered student.

And before anyone says it - I don't think a majority of tax payers would want non-residents attending PAUSD schools strictly on our dime (i.e., without the transfer of State funds to PAUSD). BTW that's how Tinsley works - State monies transfer to PAUSD.

There are already several PAO stories about how bad it is for the Tinsley kids when it comes to transportation and the amount of time it takes. If you offer special private transport to BV kids, then I would expect Title 9 would say that PAUSD would have to do the same for Tinsley. Down the tunnel we go...

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