Officials from Mountain View's primary and secondary schools agree that the newly approved amendments will provide much needed relief during trying times.
"It could not have come at a more opportune time for us," said Barry Groves, superintendent of the Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District. The new deal between the city, his district and the Mountain View Whisman School District will bring about $10.8 million to local elementary, middle and high schools over the next three years.
At a March 28 meeting, Groves and the MVLA board of trustees were the last of the three "powers" in the joint powers agreement to approve the amendments to the tax sharing structure of the unusual special district in north Mountain View.
Earlier this month, both the City Council and the trustees of the Mountain View Whisman School District signed off on the new arrangement.
"From our standpoint, we're extremely grateful that we can rely on this funding to help out with the economic crisis," said Craig Goldman, superintendent of Mountain View Whisman. "Not knowing what types of cuts will be coming down from the state, it's comforting to know that we have this safety net."
The new joint powers agreement, or JPA, is intended to more equitably mete out tax revenues generated in the Shoreline Community — a special district encompassing most of Mountain View north of Highway 101.
Because of the Shoreline Community's special designation, the vast majority of taxes generated by the companies that operate within its boundaries end up being earmarked for Shoreline-specific projects, and only a small portion end up in the coffers of local schools.
Groves and other education officials had been aware of the issue for some time, but only recently a group of concerned parents, calling themselves Share Shoreline, began showing up at school board and City Council meetings demanding that changes be made to the distribution of funds.
Members of that group clapped and gave a cry of jubilation as the MVLA board of trustees approved the new agreement, which will bring about $6.8 million to local elementary and middle schools, and roughly $4 million to local high schools. The first payment is scheduled to come to schools before the end of June.
"We're ecstatic that we were able to secure this interim agreement with the city," said Jim Pollart, the leader of Share Shoreline.
Pollart, a Mountain View Whisman parent, stressed the word "interim," noting that the new agreement is only scheduled to last three years and does not provide local schools with the amount they would get if the Shoreline Community were to be dissolved entirely.
He and the rest of Share Shoreline plan to work with they city to come to a permanent arrangement. "Shoreline should provide full funding to the schools unless there is a demonstrated financial reason why they can't," Pollart said.
Groves, who along with Mountain View Whisman's superintendent, Craig Goldman, has always maintained a more diplomatic tone, said that the agreement was "the first step in coming to a long term solution."