Goals of starting a multi-city, county and district group that could help spread needed funds to the Ravenswood City School District are one step closer to reality after the Menlo Park City Council appointed two of its members to an "education equity" subcommittee on Aug. 23.
The Menlo Park City Council by consensus appointed council members Ray Mueller and Catherine Carlton to a subcommittee that will meet with representatives from Palo Alto, East Palo Alto, the Ravenswood City School District and San Mateo County to consider starting a joint powers authority focused on educational equity.
The Ravenswood district is based in East Palo Alto and has two schools in eastern Menlo Park.
Such a multi-city agency, which would likely be the first of its kind to focus on promoting equality of facilities and resources among neighboring school districts, could help the Ravenswood district fund facility renovations considered "critical," and other projects.
According to previous Almanac reporting, the school district, which recently conducted a master plan to study its aging facilities (most of which are more than 55 years old), identified more than $330 million in costs associated with bringing the facilities up to code, addressing hazardous materials and modernizing classrooms.
However, under the law and based on valuations of property in the district, the district can ask voters to support school bonds adding up to only $51 million.
Mr. Mueller has proposed starting a joint powers authority, similar to the San Francisquito Creek Joint Powers Authority, with the purpose of promoting educational equity.
A recent legal opinion by attorney Eugene Clark-Herrera from Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP said that forming such a group would not be illegal.