City agrees to share $50 million with schools | June 21, 2013 | Mountain View Voice | Mountain View Online |

Mountain View Voice

News - June 21, 2013

City agrees to share $50 million with schools

by Nick Veronin and Daniel DeBolt

An agreement to share the property taxes of the likes of Google with local schools has been approved by the City Council and the local high school district — a win for Mountain View students, school and city officials say.

Under the "joint powers agreement," schools would receive an estimated $50 million over 10 years from Shoreline Community property taxes, or $5 million a year, slightly up from the $4.9 million a year received since 2011, when parents demanded the city share the revenue.

"It's very positive for both Mountain View Whisman and our school district," said Joe White, associate superintendent of business services for MVLA. White said that having a planned funding source locked into place is a big deal, especially considering how tumultuous the past five years have been. It isn't common to get a 10-year agreement and having one means the district can make plans well into the future. "It's going to be a great benefit."

. As the Voice went to press on June 19, both the Mountain View City Council and the Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District had signed the three-way agreement, leaving the Mountain View Whisman School District as the only party yet to approve the contract, which would lock in a revenue-sharing structure between the city and the two local districts for a decade. The MVWSD board of trustees was scheduled to vote on approval of the JPA at its June 20 meeting.

The city's schools would receive at least $4.7 million a year until 2023, possibly more, depending on property tax revenue levels, determined by the property values of companies like Google, which have been rising as the area redevelops rapidly.

"The school district shares some of the risk of property tax fluctuation," said assistant city manager Melissa Stevenson Dile.

Under the agreement, the Mountain View Whisman district is guaranteed a minimum payment of $2.87 million per year for 10 years and the high school district is guaranteed a payment of $1.84 million over 10 years. The money is to come from tax revenue generated in the special district known as the Shoreline Community, similar to a redevelopment agency but created under special state legislation in 1969 to funnel property taxes north of Highway 101 toward maintenance of Shoreline Park and its landfills as well as infrastructure projects in the area, home mostly to office buildings.

Dile said the agreement was worth "six times" the original agreement the city had with schools before a group of parents started a campaign to "Share Shoreline." The parents had read an article in the Voice in May 2010 which reported that the elementary school district alone was missing out on over $5 million a year in property tax revenue because of the existence of the special tax district.

City officials say the funds continue to be earmarked for technology-related programs in schools, intended to create a link to the original purpose of the funds for the Shoreline area, now populated with companies that need highly skilled workers.

Craig Goldman, superintendent of MVWSD said he was grateful to the city council and the city manager's office.

Without their priority of serving the children of Mountain View the arrangement would have never been possible," Goldman said. "We're very excited about a long-term agreement that ensures a substantial and stable revenue source for both the elementary and the high school district."

Both Goldman and White said the money would undoubtedly be used to start phasing in new curriculum in line with the the national Common Core standards.

Goldman said the guarantee of money comes at a time when education is changing rapidly. In addition to getting his district ready for Common Core, Goldman pointed to new educational trends that his district is currently exploring, such as project-based learning and blended learning. Plus, he said, his district is focused on closing the achievement gap.

"These funds supplement what we would otherwise get from the state and give us the best opportunity to do all of those things," he said.

Approving the agreement at the end of a very long meeting, council members had little to say about it Tuesday night, with members thanking the city and school officials who drafted it.

"Our staff and the school districts have worked hard to come to an agreement," said council member Margaret Abe-Koga. "The key is that it's been a collaborative effort. There is no question that it is helping our schools create a better prepared workforce for the future."


Posted by parent, a resident of another community
on Jun 21, 2013 at 7:53 am

Why not share it with LASD too since Mountain View residents also attend those schools? Some Mountain View kids are getting the benefit of this additional money and others are not.

Posted by MV - LASD Parent, a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Jun 21, 2013 at 8:07 am

@parent - The shared revenues come from the Shoreline Community District which is not located in the LASD Boundaries but in the Mountain View Whisman and MVLA Union High School boundaries.
City Council should be applauded for this generous and voluntary sharing.

Posted by psr, a resident of The Crossings
on Jun 21, 2013 at 8:41 am

With regard to what MV-LASD parent said, I think you are not seeing the big picture.

The Mountain View City Council has approved MANY building projects in the NEC (North of El Camino) area. These projects have the potential to bring hundreds of new students into those areas. All of of these projects are within the LASD boundaries, yet the MVCC has yet to address the strain that puts on LASD. As a matter of fact, when they were asked by LASD to help deal with the effect of projects THEY approved, they, in effect, said it wasn't their problem.

As a resident of Mountain View with a child that attends LASD schools, I find this callous attitude toward dealing with a problem that they largely created very disturbing. It is embarrassing to have my city causing problems for the district my child attends.

If the MVCC was concerned with the issue THEY helped create, I would expect they would put some effort into solving it. Rather than approving more and more high density housing, they should work toward assisting LASD in obtaining an appropriate school site in the NEC area.

As parent stated, why should some MV kids benefit from this sharing and others not?

Posted by MV - LASD Parent, a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Jun 21, 2013 at 9:11 am

@psr - I agree with you and have been pushing for the City Council to do more to help the MV Kids attending schools in LASD (in particular for facilities).

That said, if the Shoreline Community District didn't exist, the property taxes would flow into the Mountain View Whisman and MVLA Union High school districts NOT into LASD. Hence it just seems fair that these revenues be shared only with those districts.

Posted by psr, a resident of The Crossings
on Jun 21, 2013 at 9:56 am

I think the main point is that MVCC should be using city resources to deal with city problems. They have created an issue in the El Camino/San Antonio area, yet they won't deal with the problem. The more of us that voice that to them, the better. I'm glad ANY school will benefit, but ALL MV kids should benefit because they all have parents that have to deal with the MV city government.

I find the second-class treatment that my area (which is actually Monroe Park, although the MV Voice doesn't recognize that as an area in MV, although it exists) receives from the city upsetting. I used to do more shopping in MV than I do now because of it. I now tend to shop in Los Altos because my own city direct resources away from my area, choosing to use it only as a cash cow.

I hope that changes, but until it does, I will continue to spend in Los Altos as much as possible.

Posted by LASD parent, a resident of another community
on Jun 21, 2013 at 10:46 am

Perhaps all MV children should be in MVWSD. That way the city would not have any conflicting motivations toward funding them and providing them with adequate facilities.

Posted by psr, a resident of The Crossings
on Jun 21, 2013 at 8:43 pm

@LASD parent : Although that might be a nice idea from 50,000 feet above, do you really think that is fair to the people that bought into the area for the schools and, in some cases, a particular school? I'm sure you remember the uproar a few years ago, when LASD changed the district lines and sent some kids from Almond to Springer. Would you really want to recreate that on a massive scale? Wouldn't getting a few city officials to agree to work together for everyone's benefit be a LOT more reasonable? Why should those funding the schools be made to suffer?

Posted by MV Mama, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 21, 2013 at 11:37 pm

Oh, there it goes. that suggestion that the MV kids should be bumped from the LASD. Predictable.

The fact is, it isn't the MVCC's responsibility to provide space for schools. It is up to the LASD, which serves parts of MV and LA. Just like it isn't the responsibility of the LACC to provide school space in South Los Altos for the Cupertino School District.

Posted by Seven Nelson, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 25, 2013 at 3:38 pm

Missing $4,363,322. According to the "County of Santa Clara Compilation of Tax Rates & Information" for 2012-2013 (pg. H-10), the QUASI Redevelopment agency property would have paid MVWSD $7,237,322.40 in this tax year. That's of factor of 2.5X more than offered (and accepted 4-1). Or 40 cents on the property tax dollar.
Long live the Gov. who eliminated general statute RDAs! With the LCFF school funding reform, MVWSD will in future years be getting the old Castro Street RDA $$.

Posted by Longtime MVer, a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jul 9, 2013 at 7:52 pm

This issue was first reported by the Mercury News. Look up 2004 stories -- "Mountain View’s Shoreline sees rising tide of prosperity: Tax District’s proceeds stay at home" and "Mountain View's haves and have-fewers."

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