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How new regional agency could help Ravenswood schools

Menlo Park City Council will discuss idea at Aug. 23 meeting

A lot remains to be done before the idea for a regional agency to ease disparities in public education on the Midpeninsula becomes a reality.

Menlo Park City Councilman Ray Mueller, who put forward the idea, said that when the Menlo Park City Council meets Aug. 23 to discuss the concept, he will ask the council to form a subcommittee and give it "authority to officially reach out on the behalf of the city of Menlo Park."

Mr. Mueller said the agency's members which could include the cities of Palo Alto and East Palo Alto, as well as Menlo Park and the county of San Mateo would individually decide how to provide funds to the Ravenswood City School District.

Menlo Park could impose impact fees on new development or use public benefits negotiations with developers, especially those in the city's M-2 zone, most of which is in the Ravenswood district, as a way to raise funds for the school district.

A legal memo, prepared for Mr. Mueller by attorney Eugene Clark-Herrera, says the regional agency, by putting funds into the Ravenswood district, could be seen as not only improving educational equity but also helping prepare a highly trained and well-educated regional workforce that could stimulate economic development.

The memo says that in addition to giving money to the district for new school facilities, the agency could help finance construction and improvement projects or make the improvements for the district. "Other functions could include funding of educational programs or acquisition of educational tools and equipment," Mr. Clark-Herrera's memo says.

To form the agency, each member would have to hold a public hearing and adopt a resolution authorizing the formation and bylaws, the memo says. Members would not have to contribute or receive funds, it says.

The agency, the memo says, could provide "a mechanism for ensuring regional economic development positively impacts educational opportunities for all children irrespective of socio-economic conditions."

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Related story: Proposal aims to narrow the educational equity gap in local schools.

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