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Teachers struggle with skyrocketing housing costs

New homes for middle-income families virtually nonexistent in the region

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Faced with one of the most expensive housing markets in the nation, local teachers say they are hanging on by a thread and wondering whether it's worth it to work in the Bay Area.

While kids played outside on a recent sunny afternoon, teachers in Mountain View and Los Altos schools were in the Almond Elementary School library sharing personal stories of tight budgets, long commutes and doubts about the future. Buying a home with a yard, to them, felt like a goal utterly out of reach on a teachers' salary.

"I'll definitely be moving if I cannot buy a home in the next five years," said Los Altos High teacher Megan Blach. "I do want to stay here, but it's not worth it at the end of the day."

Others described how they grew up in the South Bay at a time when middle-class families could afford real estate at least within driving distance of work, and lamented that the same opportunity won't be available to anyone who isn't making well above $100,000 -- unless they get a boost from wealthy parents.

"It's amazing to look at the childhood home that my mom lives in, that I always thought I would have, to know that's not a possibility," said Natalie Cannon, a sixth-grade teacher at Santa Rita Elementary.

Teachers shared similar stories throughout the Peninsula Teacher Town Hall event, hosted by Bay Area Forward and an initiative called Support Teacher Housing on Tuesday, March 27. The meeting marks the latest in a regional campaign to shore up community support and political will for housing affordable to middle-income families.

At the core of the problem is that middle-class families making between 80 percent and 120 percent of the area's median income have few options for renting and buying homes with anything less than an hour-long commute each way. A family of four earning $90,000 a year, for example, makes too much to qualify for deed-restricted affordable housing units on the market, but doesn't make nearly enough to save for a down payment after paying for expenses like food, rent and health care.

The result is that middle-income residents like teachers and social workers, who play an essential role in the community, are on the ropes, and face either living paycheck to paycheck or leaving the area entirely, said Sarah Chaffin, founder of the Support Teacher Housing initiative. She argues that tax credits incentivize the creation of affordable housing, and big developers are happy to reap the benefits of market-rate rental costs, but there's nothing out there for teachers and what she calls the "missing middle."

"There's this whole class of people who make too much money to qualify for low-income housing but not enough money to ever buy a home in this area," Chaffin told the Voice after the meeting. "I'm trying to build as many allies as possible to raise awareness for housing and the missing middle."

Patricia Hsuan, an art teacher at Blach Intermediate and Egan Junior High schools, told the crowd that the housing crunch affects both her and her students. She recalled an architecture assignment in class where a student mistook a living room design for a bedroom, and later learned it was because the child was sleeping in a living room.

Hsuan could sympathize -- she said she slept on her couch for four years so her son could have the only bedroom in their apartment. She was able to buy a house after receiving financial help from her mother, but the monthly payments are huge and eat up a large portion of her paycheck each month.

"The mortgage is pretty scary, half of my salary, and I have a child to feed too," she said.

Even teachers in the Mountain View-Los Altos High School District, who are among the most well-paid in the state with an average salary of nearly $130,000, say they are struggling. District Teachers' Association president Dave Campbell said a recent survey found 38 percent of teachers commute more than 30 minutes to get to work, 21 percent spend well over one-third of their paycheck on rent, and 45 percent of the teaching staff is renting a home.

"If our employees are struggling to make ends meet and struggling to purchase homes, then for the rest of the teachers it's got to be worse," he said.

Campbell said many teachers in the district are facing a frustrating situation: they spent tons of time and money earning master's degrees and even doctoral degrees and are experts in their fields -- whether it be math or science -- and yet their salaries make it difficult to buy a home in the area. Some opt to buy in a more affordable community like Gilroy or Concord and endure the long commute, he said, but others decide it's just not worth it and either move away or change careers.

Perhaps the most important thing to remember, Campbell said, is that half of the district's teachers devote at least 10 hours to adjunct duty each week, such as coaching or chaperoning dances, and pour hours and hours into grading. Throw a long commute into the mix and there's simply no time left to do anything else, which he said is enough to dissuade strong teaching candidates from joining the district.

Plenty of high-cost housing

The city of Mountain View, like several Santa Clara County cities, has done a good job paving the way for developers to build new market-rate housing projects. The latest update on the city's housing development, reviewed by the Environmental Planning Commission last month, shows that the city issued permits for 2,328 homes over the last three years. Nearly 90 percent of these new units are going for market-rate, which is considered affordable to those making at least 120 percent of the region's median income -- or about $136,000 for a family of four.

When weighed against the city's housing needs, through a process called the Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA), Mountain View is trouncing its goals for creating market-rate housing, nearly doubling the units needed through 2022 in three short years.

But virtually no housing units have been added to the market that are affordable to lower-income families, particularly the moderate income bracket that many teachers fall under. The city's RHNA allocation, which serves as an important benchmark for housing needs relative to job and population growth in the region, calls on the city to issue permits for 527 moderate-income housing units between 2014 and 2022. The city granted zero permits for moderate-income housing from 2015 through 2017.

Mountain View may be doing its part to solve the housing shortage in the region, but it doesn't tell the whole story, said planning commissioner Robert Cox. He said affordability remains a huge problem for middle-income families, and that it feels like an intractable problem without some kind of massive region-wide commitment to subsidize housing or fix the imbalance between job and housing growth.

"You'd have to get the nine-county Bay Area to agree to put a moratorium on offices, because if it doesn't happen in one city, it'll happen in another one," he said. "We always say it's a regional problem -- that's the kind of regional solution it would take."

Steve Levy, a local economist and a panelist at the town hall meeting, told teachers that they are a part of a growing contingent of people who really ought to be called the "forgotten middle," disregarded by local policymakers who create the road map for future development. He said teachers need to get politically involved, and rally behind strategies that reserve housing units for middle-income families and make it easier for developers to put lower-cost housing on the market.

"Absolutely nobody is thinking about the stories you told," Levy said.

For Chaffin, the battle to build affordable housing for teachers is personal. She owns a small piece of property in San Jose, just under one-third of an acre, and last year approached the city of San Jose with a proposal to construct 16 affordable units reserved specifically for local teachers. She said she figured it would be a slam-dunk proposal that would glide through the planning process, given that she owned the land and was prepared to finance the whole project.

The city's planning staff recommended against the proposal, which would have required a general plan amendment, arguing that it would be a blow to the city's already-anemic commercial land-use zoning. Despite overwhelming support from teachers and housing advocates, the San Jose City Council shot down the proposal in August last year.

Rebuffed but not discouraged, Chaffin said her effort to build housing on her property revealed that the need for teacher housing ran deep, and that a huge number of teachers and community members were prepared to rally behind the cause. More than 1,000 people were on her mailing list, she recalled, and hundreds were ready to testify on her behalf. She launched the Support Teacher Housing initiative shortly after, and has since hosted three teacher town hall events like the one at Almond last month.

"I realized that I have to keep going, that this is bigger than my project," she said.

Small solutions for a big problem

None of the panelists and attendees at the March 27 meeting came armed with a single solution to help teachers afford a home, instead floating a medley of ideas that might at least take the edge off the housing struggle.

Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian, who moderated the event, pointed to his recent effort to create a teacher housing project on county-owned land in Palo Alto. The 1.5-acre site could support between 60 to 120 units, according to his initial pitch, and could prove to be a vital resource for North County school districts struggling with teacher recruitment and retention each year.

The Mountain View Whisman School District is also exploring ways to leverage publicly owned land in Mountain View in order to build workforce housing, but recently backed off an idea to develop district-owned land at Cooper Park following intense opposition from nearby residents. Simitian told the Voice that the school district is exploring another option for teacher housing in Mountain View but declined to name the location. Superintendent Ayinde Rudolph confirmed that district staff had a new location in mind, but also declined to reveal where it is.

Karen Parolek, a panelist at the town hall and an urban design consultant, said the solution may lie in housing growth that strikes a balance between detached single-family homes and tall stack-and-pack apartments. Existing, historic neighborhoods in suburban Bay Area cities have lots of options for housing growth without a jarring shift in the character of the neighborhood, with modest two-story structures that can support more families in a smaller area. A great deal of the existing affordable housing options in the region are available in buildings with eight units or less, she said, but recent development seems to cast the idea of mid-sized housing projects aside.

Other panelists and teachers suggested that new startup companies like Landed, which creates a pool of money to help teachers afford a down payment in exchange for equity in the home, could prove to be a useful resource for teachers looking to buy a home. Campbell said he knows of a few teachers who had some traction with Landed, but ceding a portion of the home's equity is not exactly ideal.

"We're not looking to flip houses or anything ... but you're not going to get a good chunk of it, which has to go to the people who fronted the money," he said.

Teacher housing projects like the one Simitian proposed would also help out, Campbell said, but it feels a little like a strategy that only picks around the edges of a much larger problem.

"It's basically a drop in the bucket," he said.

Despite it being a problem with no clear solution, Chaffin said she wants to send a message to city and county officials, along with major employers in the region, that more needs to be done to keep teachers and other middle-income earners in the community. Growing up dyslexic, she recalled how much it meant to her that teachers were able to stick around outside of school hours to help her, and said it's difficult to imagine losing that kind of support because teachers can't afford to live here.

"The most important learning goes on outside the classroom, and when people are commuting two hours or living four teachers to an apartment, they can't help kids the way they helped me," she said. "What kind of a society are we to allow this to happen?"

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135 people like this
Posted by What is the salaray
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Apr 6, 2018 at 3:59 pm

I hear how all these teachers are not making enough, how much do they make?

10 people like this
Posted by school mom
a resident of Waverly Park
on Apr 6, 2018 at 4:34 pm

easy, just google "teacher salary" and the name of the district.

what is sometimes confusing is that there are 3 school districts. LA and MV each have a school district and MV-LA together have a high school district.

keep in mind that school districts and city/county governments are different government entities. the cities of MV and LA are not involved in running the schools.

also keep in mind that school funding is extremely complicated! it's well worth having at least some understanding of different sources of funding, designated funds, and the concept of equalization in school funding.

MVWSD = Mountain View Whisman School District (K-8 elementary and middle schools in Mountain View)
Web Link

LASD = Los Alto School District (K-8 elementary and junior high schools in Los Altos)
Web Link

MVLAUHSD = Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District (high schools in Mountain View and Los Altos)
Web Link

8 people like this
Posted by school mom
a resident of Waverly Park
on Apr 6, 2018 at 4:40 pm

@what is the salary

it's not so much that teachers don't make enough, it's that they (and many others who work in MV) don't make enough to rent or buy HERE and can't live near their place of employment. Did you read the entire story above?

"At the core of the problem is that middle-class families making between 80 percent and 120 percent of the area's median income have few options for renting and buying homes with anything less than an hour-long commute each way."

95 people like this
Posted by William Hitchens
a resident of Waverly Park
on Apr 6, 2018 at 5:02 pm

William Hitchens is a registered user.

Maybe if we could "clean house" and eliminate many highly paid, excess administrators in our schools and school districts, we could afford to pay teachers better wages? There is too much administrative waste in all of our public schools in CA --- K-5 through the UC System. One key way to achieve this would to eliminate all of the wasteful non-educational political mandates heaped upon our schools by politicians and --- overpaid government bureaucrats.

14 people like this
Posted by gcoladon
a resident of Slater
on Apr 6, 2018 at 5:27 pm

gcoladon is a registered user.

@William Hitchens,

Do you have particular "wasteful non-educational political mandates" in mind?


15 people like this
Posted by An Interested Observer
a resident of another community
on Apr 6, 2018 at 5:28 pm

An Interested Observer is a registered user.

@William Hitchens: this is a tired argument. Find out the facts and print those instead of useless and misleading statements.

167 people like this
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 6, 2018 at 5:33 pm

This is a free and open society. Whoever wants to move here is free to do so. The same is true in reverse, you can leave anytime you want. We do not have a government that tells us what to do, thank GOD.

If we will not have enough teachers then their salaries will go up until there is a new equilibrium of salaries and number and quality of teachers. It is not complicated. Just let the open market play itself out.

New housing will do very little as it does not really lead to a housing cost reduction as you can see clearly in Mountain View.

The crux is the complete lack of planning around infrastructure in the bay area. This has lead to a total dependence on cars as the only way that folks commute. In most other civilized places on earth is their a functioning publicly funded alternative to car traffic that allows people to reliably and efficiently reach their work destinations from where they live, even it is 50 or 100 miles away. Here you are lucky to move 5-10 miles in an hour during commute hours, no matter anymore where you live...

Public infrastructure in the bay area is just for the poor... If you work for Apple, Facebook or Google you can use their private buses, but if you are Teacher Sally or Joe Hardworking you will have to get by public transit for the poor.

283 people like this
Posted by Tiresome Teachers
a resident of another community
on Apr 6, 2018 at 8:28 pm

I tire of the constant assertion that public sector employees deserve special consideration over the rest of us. I have numerous coworkers in the same boat who commute from Tracy, Pleasanton, Gilroy, ... I fail to understand why teachers making, on average, above the San Mateo and Santa Clara county median salaries (in the case of MPCSD, for example) deserve special consideration for housing and are somehow better than us private sector workers. All this while reaping approximately a 16X advantage in employer/employee retirement contribution ratio. And yes, the mortgage is close to 50% of salary around here. Welcome to the club and quit whining for special consideration and a shorter commute than the rest of us.

13 people like this
Posted by Honor Spitz
a resident of another community
on Apr 6, 2018 at 8:36 pm

The sad and ever looming irony will be when there are no teachers, first responders, service industry people, etc. who will be able to live here and teach, tend to emergencies and otherwise serve the local communities.

38 people like this
Posted by I agree
a resident of Rex Manor
on Apr 7, 2018 at 8:31 am

"Buying a home with a yard, to them, felt like a goal utterly out of reach on a teachers' salary."

Um, buying a home with a yard is utterly out of reach for most families here. I'm speaking from a family with both parents working in high-tech, one of them at Google. If we can't afford a house with a yard here, I'm not sure why others would assume they can. Only people who can afford that moved here long ago, or got financial help from their parents.

On the bright side, we live in a townhome complex and it's absolutely lovely. No need for a yard. We have a cute little patio, great neighborhood parks nearby and lovely neighbors (who mostly work in high-tech themselves). Everyone has to sacrifice something to live here.

7 people like this
Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 7, 2018 at 9:57 am

Steven Nelson is a registered user.

many small solutions, over decades, start to solve BIG PROBLEMS. @I agree I think former Trustee Chris Chiang and I would agree with that, which is why we both supported exploring Santa Clara Unified School District public-land/teacher-housing (apartments) type solutions. Small is Beautiful? Yeah, I can buy that for "starter teacher" housing solutions. There are many, many types of places where "public owned land" in our community can be used for "public teacher" (or workforce) housing. Our current city BMR (Below Market Rate) housing program has allowed several MVWSD teachers to keep their families here - and kept our Public school students in classrooms with good, well experienced teachers. Hooray for BMR program!

Jan 2016 Adventist Web Link
Mar 2016 MVWSD Web Link
Oct 2016 teacher housing "skeptical" board candidate (defeated)
Web Link

MVWSD is in competition with LASD, Santa Clara, and particularly MVLA HSD for STEM teachers in particular. Like the newly permitted private teacher housing development on Shoreline, for the private Adventist school, MVWSD needs "to compete". Just like Gooble does - with it's fleet of busses, and Facebook does with it's (policy) of new employee housing perks (? $K for within 10 mi ?).

Palo Alto USD gave a $2,000,000 housing perk to it's last Superintendent. I hope MVWSD (BOARD) focuses on using it's surplus public lands for a well distributed (important) teacher housing Public Policy. The BOARD sets and approves the direction of Public Policy (not the Chief Administrative Officer, Dr. Rudolph).

13 people like this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Apr 7, 2018 at 1:07 pm

"The sad and ever looming irony will be when there are no teachers, first responders, service industry people, etc. who will be able to live here and teach, tend to emergencies and otherwise serve the local communities."

A small price to pay to keep the priceless Suburban Neighborhood Character of Mountain View.

210 people like this
Posted by Ted Bundy
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Apr 7, 2018 at 7:24 pm

Ted Bundy is a registered user.

There is plenty of room in the hills. Hitch a ride to Los Altos Hills. Pitch a tent. Then, you can use your lines on the sheriff's department. Try: "Woe is me YIMBY"

18 people like this
Posted by it's a problem for everyone
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Apr 7, 2018 at 8:48 pm

it's a problem for everyone is a registered user.

The problem with Santa Clara Unified's teacher housing "solution" is that teachers can only live there seven years and there is a huge wait list to get into that housing. But when the seven years are up, those teachers still can't afford to rent or to buy so they move to a different district where they can.

For all those people wanting "data driven" decisions, Santa Clara Unified has ZERO data to share on the "success" of their program.

Rather than making such a risk huge capital expenditure that sacrifices future school sites, it would be better to put the money into teacher salaries. Less money should go into coaching the superintendent and administrators that they just end up firing (oh sorry, "reassigning"). And less money should be spent on outside consultants for marketing purposes. And maybe a little more money should be spent on making sure the kids in our schools actually live in our district.

And yeah, double income tech workers still can't afford to buy in Mountain View so they don't get to live near their work either. Why do you think Google shuttles run so far afield and the 85 is a parking lot during rush hour. Not many people get to actually live in Mountain View and there are trade offs EVERYONE has to make.

8 people like this
Posted by Christopher Chiang
a resident of North Bayshore
on Apr 7, 2018 at 9:17 pm

Christopher Chiang is a registered user.

No doubt MV's high school teachers are experiencing hardships, just as Googlers are as well, but MV residents must not confuse MV's high school teachers (highest paid in the state) with MV's K-8 teachers.

MVWSD (K-8) has made leaps in bounds to pay more (K-8), but it is still $20,000 less than MVLA (9-12) and at the upper range, that pay gap grows to over $40,000, and the gap will grow wider with MVLA's 2018 salary update.

Teachers report housing as their greatest compensation concern second to salary. MVWSD does not have the funds to pay more, but it does have underutilized land. Fixing housing may be an even more valuable tool in retention than salary.

No single solution will fix the housing issue, but a concert of solutions at address teachers across the income range:
1) Upper Range: participation on the "Landed" program being supported by Zuckerberg's foundation to help teachers with down payments.
2) Middle Range: Identify underutilized district parcels to build or swap with the city to build (budget neutral, but moderately affordable) teacher housing.
3) Lower Range: Where space exists, allow for tiny home communities on school property. These teacher-bought tiny homes allow for teachers to build equity to go up the housing ladder, all the while, don't lock down district land, nor do they cost the district anything, and can be setup as attractive and cute pocket communities on campuses.

MVWSD has land, unlike MVLA, LASD, or other city workers. Solving the teacher housing crisis for MVWSD will improve retention and teacher recruitment, thereby adding great value to both children and home prices (before anyone asks why teachers should get extra help, consider the outsized external benefit the entire community gets from having even stronger schools).

Housing may out of place for a school district, but when land is its most significant underutilized resource, and housing your teacher's greatest complaint, then it makes sense.

14 people like this
Posted by Local Teacher
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 7, 2018 at 9:35 pm

Dear Republican,
If education were like other businesses, there would be a shortage and then we would get better pay and retain quality teachers. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. The education budget is generally the first to get cut. Then districts increase class size, which is why we no longer have class size reduction. They’ll just add more kids to the classes. We have had several raises to be competitive with surrounding districts and still it’s not enough. There is simply not enough money in education to pay the teachers what they need to teach near the community they live in. Many new teachers live with their parents and to live on their own would require them to move out of the area. There is no easy answer. Everyone struggles here in the Bay Area, but communities need their public servants to keep the infrastructure working. Since the government isn’t going to step up, it looks like the tech companies will need to step in financially to retain their employees that have families. We’re moving. I can make the same money in a more affordable community without the grueling commute.

18 people like this
Posted by it's a problem for everyone
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Apr 7, 2018 at 10:10 pm

it's a problem for everyone is a registered user.

I think there is money to pay the teachers more and yes the teachers of Mountain View Whisman School Distric. MVLA pays their teachers more than MVWSD. Right now the administrative bloat in the central office is high and they still can't seem to communicate clearly with the public and parents who are extremely puzzled not just by decisions made, but why they are made. But hey I guess the Public Information Officer still deserves their six figure salary.

ISP is a cost savings Choice Program that the district capped enrollment and then said there weren't enough kids in it to keep around. MVWSD spends $9000+ per student in school/year, while ISP spends half of that. Not sure why that program should go.

Yet MVWSD is implementing a new full-time preschool program that serves a pretty small population with questionable long term benefit. Yeah studies don't show preschool (even high quality preschool) has long term benefits.

Superintendent gets a big raise too, but we have to spend tens of thousands of dollars for coaching for him. And don't forget these consultants to develop these land use proposals also cost money.

Let's not even start on the TTO fiasco. MVWSD could have saved money there.

On and on and on... so it's kind of galling when a former trustee says there is no money and a current trustee asks where we could save money, on a public forum no less?

5 people like this
Posted by Christopher Chiang
a resident of North Bayshore
on Apr 7, 2018 at 11:43 pm

Christopher Chiang is a registered user.

"@it's a problem for everyone," I was and continue to be supportive that MVWSD shifted its tone towards teachers, and started to pay them more. Yet MVWSD shouldn't go further on salaries in its current round of negotiations. The combination of rising CalSTRS pension cost and the inevitable end to California's economic expansion mean that the district should be far more cautious. All the while, it should be more aggressive and innovative in helping with housing.

Agreed, it's difficult to watch the district try to spend down its reserve on special projects and outside contracts. Nor should any savings be rewarded as extra superintendent compensation. That money will one day be needed to protect MVWSD's teachers from the future economic downturn. Pink slipping skilled staff that a district has already invested in is a preventable tragedy, but not without pressure on the board to be more fiscally conservative.

Regarding preschool, it makes little sense, that if schools are in the business to help kids, that it places artificial barriers on what age that help starts. If a at-risk MV child can be identified for help earlier, why not? Extra money spent on services for children and their families is rarely a waste, it's the very purpose of a school. It's spending away from that child that is questionable.

Agreed, it's why it's equally sad to see the board cut funding for district supported home school (ISP), all the while, it approves outside contracts that cost dollar for dollar more than the entire home school program. I've met some of those families that have medical reasons why they are home schooled, so has the current board, so it's baffling to make a cut that so directly hurts some very vulnerable kids.

30 people like this
Posted by Fed Up Parent
a resident of Jackson Park
on Apr 8, 2018 at 7:22 am

The bottom line is that it is not worth it to work in Mountain View schools. The area is too expensive and the school board and district office dysfunctional. As such it's the double whammy with prices too high and a work environment that lacks stability, predictability and appreciation of staff. The school board doesn't recognize the loyalty and hard work and commitment of staff. They are joined by a superintendent and district office staff that is vindictive and pushes all blame down. Such a toxic mix makes Mountain View schools a mere stepping stone temporary work place for the best teachers and principals.

At this point and going forward until teacher and principals are mere scapegoats and victims of a much larger corporate racket and take over of our schools based on highly sophisticated network that includes The Broad Center, Mott MacDonald and Cambridge Education. Unfortunately our school board has been far too naive and poorly qualified to see this coming under Board President Gutierrez last year, who is woefully unqualified to lead, and followed by Board President Blakley this year who constantly seems to be in a state of complete surprise and unpreparedness.

@Steven Nelson,
@Christopher Chiang

You both allowed corporate education interests to slip by under your noses into our school communities. It's clear neither of you or anyone on the current board saw it coming. You both fell hook, line and sinker for the Broad Center agenda, a slick and incestuous group of self-proclaimed leaders selling corporate education reform and completely against community partnerships. Think not? Check out the links. They paint a very dark picture. We are all being played.

Web Link

The problem is they target districts like ours and it's a racket designed purely to build on the nation-wide careers of the people who sign up for their residency course. Superintendent Rudolph's coach (and former boss) and current district consultant is one of them. The scam funnels hundreds of thousands of dollars into other corporate groups and think tanks that support them. For this district it began with the "search firm" hired that "found" Rudolph and Rudolph's former superintendent boss, Peter Gorman, who continues three year later on the pay-roll of our district as a consultant. No big surprise there.

Web Link
Web Link

Neither of you made public the Gorman-Rudolph conflict of interest before, yet you both constantly are found accusing Wheeler of not being transparent? You also fail to mention that the Cambridge Education study found the board, on which you both sat, as the root of the school district's problems. Can you explain Cambridge Education's link to the Broad political agenda?

Web Link
Web Link

Don't you both find it odd that Cambridge Education, according to the MV Voice, had "nothing but good things to say about Superintendent Ayinde Rudolph. Wow! Again no big surprise there because it was Rudolph who proposed the audit by Cambridge Education, a company he's worked with previously." That's right. He's worked with them previously. There's another potential conflict of interest. A $275,000 conflict of interest!

Add them up and your hire Rudolph has been costing us a lot of money for the chaos we have received in return. But what's really going on is that we are victims of one-size-fits-all Eli Broad corporate agenda and initiatives.

$250,000-$500,000 TTO disaster
$275,000 Cambridge Education Study
$57,000 1st year Gorman get
$57,000 2nd year Gorman gets
$57,000 3rd year Gorman gets another +/- contract, time to train district office staff and the remaining principals.

Why didn't your board just hire Gorman outright? Why don't you admit our schools are now pawns to the Broad agenda? How difficult would it have been to have hired a consultant not associated with Rudolph? And what about all the other studies and surveys undertaken by Rudolph? Has ANYONE on the board PAST OR PRESENT ever bothered to look out for signs of potential conflict of interest links? From where I'm sitting I would have to agree with the saying now circulating in OUR community and made famous by a public comment at the 15 March Board meeting: "Something doesn't pass the sniff test"

Looking ahead, do either of you honestly believe there is no form of patronage or an organized racket or quid pro quo at work here based on all the links that point back to Gorman and the Eli Broad Center? Rudolph will be gone in 5 years, if he lasts that long, because that's what superintendents do. Gorman will reward him with his next job through his network. That's how it works if you look at the article links. That's how this racket works.

Or follow the Ghysels 5-year model (5 at Mountain View, 5 at Menlo Park) or the Gorman model of bouncing around from 5-year superintendency stint to superintendency. Let's not forget that by comparison ours is a small school district. We should be getting boutique services from the superintendent and board similar to what Los Altos has had for years with a home-grown local boy and career educator. Instead we have gotten the never-ending mess we are in.

@Steven Nelson,

You shamelessly attempt to deflect and unfairly blame Kim Thompson saying she "was on my radar for several years as Academically UNDERPERFORMING." Like Trustee Gutierrez you seem set on attacking administrators where you both had students attending. The dismissals and your and Gutierrez's latent anger appear to be nothing more than personal vendettas at play.

Also take a look how poorly Landels was doing under Carmen Ghysels. Look how poorly Castro, Therakauf and Monta Loma are performing and then tell us what to think of the pattern of dismissals.

Also explain why one-third of Landels teaching staff is headed to the doors right now. Coupled with an appointed principal with no previous link to Landels, how will any of this be good for the Landels community?

@Christopher Chiang,

Since you are offering up an hypothesis on the inter-political working of the school board, please then explain why there was no dissenting vote or abstains from the move to can almost half the principals. Since you profess to know quite a bit about the inner workings of the school board, explain the Gutierrez link to MVLA trustee Fiona Walter and City Council Member Margaret Abe Koga. He has been vocal about it to parents. What does it mean? How does any of it serve the school communities or the needs of teachers?

Gutierrez has also told parents he is actively supporting candidates to unseat Ellen Wheeler and Greg Coladonato this fall. But what good will it do if Wheeler remains, as you perhaps correctly predict, along with Wilson and Blakleiy who both seem gullible and caught in the headlights? Are we destined for two more years of the same Wheeler/Rudolph regime if Wheeler is not unseated? Will this chaos ever cease?

I'm more inclined to believe nothing will change in this district until the entire board is recalled and replaced and the superintendent and his cronies sent packing.

22 people like this
Posted by Fed Up Parent
a resident of Jackson Park
on Apr 8, 2018 at 9:04 am

And BTW, the newly appointed superintendent of Boston Pubic School, Tommy Chang, is a Broad Center graduate just like Peter Gorman who is Mountain View Superintendent Rudolph's paid mentor.

And both Rudolph and Chang implemented the disastrous Teach to One middle school math program at the same time.

Web Link

Web Link

Coincidence? Or an organized corporate assault and shake down on our community?

Web Link

Time to follow the money to find out what has really been going on in Mountain View schools.

18 people like this
Posted by it's a problem for everyone
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Apr 8, 2018 at 10:31 am

it's a problem for everyone is a registered user.

The teacher housing is only a solution when you think of teachers as expendable human resource/capital. They only expect teachers to teach in our schools for periods of 5-7 years and then move on.

Why should our community invest money in teacher housing and professional development only to lose the teachers in the end? We need experienced teachers and teacher housing doesn't help retain teachers only attract the ones fresh out of college that would want to live in this type of housing.

If pensions are a concern, there are alternative ways to give teachers compensation like housing stipends etc.

Solutions should value quality teachers and be equitable to all teachers. Most teachers I've spoken to do not want to live in this type of teacher housing unless it's the only alternative they are given. We need to give our teachers choices, because it's about respect.

This push for building teacher housing is a sham and and only is going to serve to make consultants and developers richer, while the superintendent and trustees and other government officials can make themselves look like progressive saviors. But the end result sucks for our community, our teachers, and our kids.

14 people like this
Posted by it's not the same problem for everyone
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Apr 8, 2018 at 11:28 am

@it's a problem for everyone
I agree with you that providing specific teacher housing projects have a lot of problems and am generally unsupportive of it but, c'mon...

You wrote: "And yeah, double income tech workers still can't afford to buy in Mountain View so they don't get to live near their work either. Why do you think Google shuttles run so far afield and the 85 is a parking lot during rush hour. Not many people get to actually live in Mountain View and there are trade offs EVERYONE has to make."

You are equating the choices someone making 60k has to make with someone making *far* more. The choice to affordably live near MV isn't the same for these people. Some tech workers prefer living in SF and take the buses - they can choose to live in a place that's still expensive. Their choices aren't as strictly bound as someone trying to live (eat, sleep, grow) on a teacher's salary, and live on a teacher's schedule, and pay for resources their employers don't (or can't).

MVWSD isn't a tech company. They can't just turn around and pay for all of their employee's lunches and dinners, they can't pay for car repair services to come to their site parking lots, they can't just give $10k bonuses whenever they want, teachers aren't ever growing their financial resources so they become rich enough to pay cash to buy a home... It's NOT the same problem for everyone.

Just where is the money coming from for districts to spend on teachers? Not from selling the students' data to advertisers. The sources of income are very different. The laws under which schools and other government entities receive funds and work are different. The composition of diversity in schools is different (no bro culture in schools). What's the pay differential between a first-year tech employee and the CEO compared to the differential between a first-year teacher and the Superintendent? Who was more involved in creating the income imbalance in Silicon Valley, the tech companies and their managers, or the school district and its managers? It's not even the same historically: going back these issues of getting by weren't as monumental a problem in previous iterations of growth in Silicon Valley - only with this last bunch.

Just because two people have jobs in the same city doesn't mean they have the same choices/trade offs affecting them. There are too many material, structural differences to logically make the argument that they are remotely the same.

12 people like this
Posted by it's a problem for everyone
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Apr 8, 2018 at 1:01 pm

it's a problem for everyone is a registered user.

@ it's not the same problem for everyone

You're right, but I wasn't trying to say it was the *same* problem rather that it is a problem even for the much caricatured tech worker. But tech workers aren't actually the problem.

39 people like this
Posted by Teacher advocate
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 8, 2018 at 5:54 pm

Why would teachers want to work at the MVWSD when the school board ( Jose Gutierrez) succinctly with the school admin, calls out specific grades at specific schools for their one time dip in benchmark performance? This is public shaming. Considering these were beloved teachers of his own children. The disappointment in this board hits to the core. If they were the second lowest, who was the first lowest? And the third lowest? Name that one!
The lady commenting after Jose G. Made way more sense than anything the board has ever said.

25 people like this
Posted by Fed Up Parent
a resident of Jackson Park
on Apr 8, 2018 at 7:59 pm

Jose Gutierrez should be recalled. He is arrogant and lacks poise and class the way he runs around stirring up one group of parents against another. Watching him pontificate or attempt to ask insightful questions is sad. He has no professional background in education, other than his spouse's experience as a substitute teacher, yet he waxes and wanes about what he thinks needs to happen. He can never seem to keep quiet when other board members are talking and always feels the need to make clarifying statements that are not necessary of relevant. It's all ego. He should be building community not tearing it apart with his rants. He is an embarrassment to the community he represents and is out settling scores for something he feels he is owed rather than what he should be working for. How dare he call out grade levels. He is the one that should be called out. What are his great accomplishments, achievements. Name them! How is his job performance? Who is calling him out?

9 people like this
Posted by it's not the same problem for everyone
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Apr 9, 2018 at 9:43 am

@it's a problem for everyone
If it's not the *same* problem then why bring it forth for comparison?

You've put forth a lot of solid points about the problems of equitably providing teachers with housing, just don't muddle it with comparisons to the self-inflicted woes of the gentry. If you want to debate a 'caricature' vs the well-documented truths of the lives/careers of tech workers and their partially unintended yet still efficacious influence on the local economy, we can do that, but it would be a huge distraction from your otherwise fair arguments.

Returning the discussion to teachers/staff:
Solutions must not rely heavily on distance. The entire area is in a substitute shortage. One traffic jam can delay groups of teachers arriving from their distant, affordable housing in a timely manner. Unless the district (and its parents) are satisfied with sites being worked heavily by substitutes, having all certificated workers at the D.O. leaving their desks to cover classrooms often, or at its worst just cancelling the school day - distance to work needs to be considered in compensation. It is unreasonable to ask the already taxed teachers and staff to start their commute day in the wee hours of the morning just to guarantee they reach their sites with time to spare - especially on days that are extended by open house, fund raisers, meetings, professional development, etc. What happens when they need to go to a doctor's appointment for themselves or meet with their child's teacher? Distance must be a factor. Whose community do we want teachers/staff to be a part of? If they live far away, they won't be a part of ours. The more desirable districts are becoming the closest ones to home.

26 people like this
Posted by Support Schools by Paying Taxes
a resident of Waverly Park
on Apr 9, 2018 at 5:46 pm

When I was a newly minted college grad I did not have the expectation that I would get a job a buy a house. I rented a room in several private homes for a few years and later moved in to a group house with 4-6 other young career professionals like myself. We didn't ever imagine that we would start buying until we had all saved - and living frugally like we did - we all did save and eventually split off and buy our first homes - many of which where town homes with no yard.

If we are having trouble attracting teachers (or other public service employees) why can't the city:
1. require a certain # of units be held for as low income units for critical employees.
2. cut-back on approving permits to big employers who drive up the cost of housing by bringing in outside labor further complicating our housing shortage - unless these employers help to solve the housing crisis they are helping to create (leaving their employees w/out the public service infrastructure (employees) that are needed for our quality of life?

One problem I see is how would the school district grant subsidized housing to district staff? - Would this really only be reserved for teachers? - what about the school janitor or site secretary or other district support staff that probably get paid less than teachers with college degrees? What would be the long term impacts of granting housing to some staff and not others on the overall morale of district staff?

I just don't think having the school district getting into the housing business will solve the problem.

11 people like this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Apr 9, 2018 at 6:51 pm

We could also build more housing, addressing both the housing shortage that's driving up housing costs, and using the property taxes to help fund the local school system.

12 people like this
Posted by Robyn
a resident of another community
on Apr 10, 2018 at 3:17 pm

A sad irony is that the very things that attract people here - like peace and quiet, some open space, nice views,- are destroyed by them when they arrive. These are quality of life issues that should be addressed to keep peace in the neighborhoods.
No, we are not all old people. Some were fortunate to buy houses during the last recession and rode it out. Interest rates were much higher. We have paid our fair share.
I remember the County Assessor telling us to pay our prior, higher, assessments during the recession.

5 people like this
Posted by @Yimby
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Apr 11, 2018 at 8:10 pm

Don't you get it, the more we build the more Corporations will bring in workers from around the world. It will never stop. The bay area is becoming a destination for Upper management workers.

Well the schools will soon be obsolete and computerized training/teaching will be the way.

5 people like this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Apr 12, 2018 at 10:26 am


Not building certainly hasn't prevented people from moving here. It's just made housing incredibly scarce and expensive.

4 people like this
Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 13, 2018 at 1:32 pm

Steven Nelson is a registered user.

Thanks Christopher Chiang! Do people really remember that YOU ARE A LOCAL TEACHER and you have had experience trying to stay here, and own a home? Chris and I had, I think it was 72 Superintendent Applicants to instruct our outside search consultant to order, based on criteria developed, based on extensive community input meetings.

We had about a dozen, semifinalists, 6 finalists (one dropped), and we, the full board, made our decision working with those people (men and women, California and cross country candidates, Anglo and people of Color). If the public back bench doesn't like that process - TOUGH! That is exactly how representative democracy works.

Other than the totally avoidable SAVECOOPERPARK.org debacle (I or Chris never said or promised democracy was smooth!), the MVWSD is muddling through this. Mayor Lenny Siegel, I personally know from my earlier discussions with him, is now fully behind this type of (small - partial) solution. School public employee housing on community property (probably related to under/un-used MVWSD land). If employees are not interested - they can live where they want! (Santa Clara teacher retention years when up in a measurable way, in the years after they opened their new-teacher-rental housing.)

Rantings on Eli Broad have no place in this discussion! really? :) :) :)

3 people like this
Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 13, 2018 at 1:48 pm

Steven Nelson is a registered user.

@Fed Up Parent (Jackson Park) It would be nice if all districts, like Los Altos did, could hire a superintendent who inherited the Prop 13 multi decade, multi-generational residential tax break of their parent. That is a truly stupid next-generational tax break! Life and politics is just not fair. Live through it!

Here is a recent (2016) newspaper article update on the effect of the Santa Clara public teacher rental home program. If anyone is willing to do the newest update research (I did my own several years ago), this SF Chronicle piece is a good place to start. (secondary source however!). (SB141 passed and now is statute law).
Web Link

SN is a retired MVWSD Trustee

6 people like this
Posted by @Yimby
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Apr 16, 2018 at 10:38 pm

The solution is not to keep building, it is to invest in public transportation infrastructure. It is simplistic and short-sighted to say the solution is simply to keep building housing when we know that whenever the city adds housing it adds some multiplier of jobs. It is a vicious cycle. We either have to invest in state of the art public transportation so people can live further out but get to their jobs efficiently OR we have to put a freeze on commercial development. And guess what - no-one wants to do the latter.

It is just puerile to keep saying just add housing and it will become less expensive. It assumes there is only one variable in the equation.

3 people like this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Apr 16, 2018 at 10:56 pm

What you mean to say is that the solution isn't to build new homes in Mountain View, but to build public transportation further out and build homes there so people can commute in. If that's not what you're suggesting then your solution solves nothing, because either way, housing needs to be built somewhere, and if everyone is going to start funneling into some other area connected by mass transit to commute in, that area is going to fill up just as well.

Housing supply is quite a massive variable in the equation. Even without building a lot of new housing, I'm sure you'll note that jobs are still being created here, and people are still moving into the area, cramming into less and less space and paying more and more for it. So if jobs are going to still be made even if you don't build new housing, then there goes your argument for why building housing more is useless.

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