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School district considers land swap for teacher housing

Original post made on Mar 8, 2018

Mountain View Whisman School District officials are considering a possible land swap with the city of Mountain View in order to build workforce housing for teachers and school staff.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, March 8, 2018, 1:57 PM

Comments (25)

21 people like this
Posted by William Hitchens
a resident of Waverly Park
on Mar 8, 2018 at 2:43 pm

William Hitchens is a registered user.

I'm repeat posting this idea. The City of Mountain View has offered to help the school district fund a school at the Safeway/Old Mill parcel at California and San Antonio roads. That location is about the worst place they could build a school due to traffic, student safety, noise, and pollution issues. Maybe, with MV help, the school district could use the Safeway/Old Mill parcel for teacher housing, which would be totally in character with existing housing, and find another location for the new school --- somewhere far more appropriate.

22 people like this
Posted by Graham Alum Family
a resident of Waverly Park
on Mar 8, 2018 at 3:02 pm

While I do like the idea of a land swap - there are much better locations for this type of housing downtown (along Shoreline near Eagle Park for example) The City should hold off making any deal with the current school board and Superintendent who by their actions have eroded community support and trust. Let's not make things worse. Moreover, why does the school need to invest $ in school subsidized housing? - Pay their staff more so that they can choose to live where they want to this will cost less than getting into the construction business - MVWSD should focus on what they do best - educating our youth and preparing them for HS and the world beyond.

7 people like this
Posted by Old Steve
a resident of Rex Manor
on Mar 8, 2018 at 3:23 pm

Old Steve is a registered user.

@Graham Alum, Since the District is now locally funded, paying teachers more reduces funds available for other program resources. Workforce housing construction funds get paid back over time by the below market (maybe 70% of current) lease payments. Usually individual units are studios or one bedroom, not intended as family housing. Employees are typically limited to a 3-5 year stay, and must be employed by the District to remain in the housing. Along Shoreline might be a better location, but the only City Owned lot there of suitable size would be Eagle Park itself (actually the former site of Mtn Vw High School, a different district and a different story).

13 people like this
Posted by Graham Alum Family
a resident of Waverly Park
on Mar 8, 2018 at 3:35 pm

@Old Steve. Thanks for the insight. Well the current leadership team just wasted good $ on a bogus study for subsidized housing construction site not to mention the math program that was scrapped. What won't our community children learn b/c these funds were misused?

14 people like this
Posted by Huh?
a resident of Bailey Park
on Mar 8, 2018 at 9:33 pm

What makes teachers more special than any other worker in Mountain View? Teachers provide a valuable service to the community but so do many other people. If subsidized housing is going to exist using taxpayer funds then the housing should be equally available to all residents, not just teachers.

7 people like this
Posted by Lars Stevens
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 8, 2018 at 10:00 pm

The school district should build this high-density housing on Cooper Park, rent out the units at market-rate, and use the proceeds to pay School staff. Why are we getting only developers profit from our land?

9 people like this
Posted by Seriously?
a resident of Waverly Park
on Mar 9, 2018 at 1:36 am

The school district doesn't have the mandate to become housing landlords to just anyone. The Teacher Housing Act of 2016 only allows the school district to facilitate housing for teachers and school district employees, not to become the next Prometheus Apartments.

But really the school district needs past school sites like the Cooper Park/School site to stay in their possession to become future school sites, which our community will definitely need.

4 people like this
Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 9, 2018 at 7:13 am

Share the community owned resources, the commons, the land. The Boards of the MVWSD, particularly since the time of Trustee Lambert/CAO Skelly, have been acutely conscious of The Value OF Land that the MVWWSD owns in this community. As Lambert put it: our land ownership is a resource, and we (the Board) should be sure we use that resource To The Best Effect for Student's Public Education. (fiduciary responsibility*)

TRADING LAND, Acre for Acre, with the City is a great idea (glad I thought of it and asked the Board last Oct&Nov)!

I would like, teacher housing, YIMBY. 7AC at the Questa Park Annex, directly adjacent to the paved parking lot, is a great "green, walkable community" choice. FOR ONE OPTION. It is a good use of community owned resources, the commons, our land IMO! In My Opinion! This is a Public Policy option that I wholy support. Others I know differ and do not want MV to change this much, or sometimes at all.

I love it that the Mayor is vocal in his support (now that not locked-to-Cooper). Lenny and I and the former teachers union president had several private discussion meetings on Teacher Housing on Public Lands. These were reported in my Communications in the Minutes of the MVWSD 2016.

I would have liked a joint-public meeting, but the Bd. President at that time, Wheeler - was Not at all interested in a public discussion, of the two publicly elected representative legislative bodies.

SN is a retired MVWSD Trustee
*the MVWSD board has directed to have leases like Google's and Primary Care Plus strongly move toward "market rate", this brings a much better ROA, Return Of Assets, into the General Fund of the MVWSD.

PS thanks "Old Steve" the finance you correctly mention is what Santa Clara USD used.

5 people like this
Posted by Lars Stevens
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 9, 2018 at 7:46 am

@Seriously?, that's a misinterpretation of SB 1413. Even before it's passage, several school districts had built and operated housing. What SB 1413 allowed was making the housing exclusively for teachers, rather than just an occupancy preference, in addition to making various tax credits available. Nothing bars the school district from building and renting out market-rate housing, which they should do on Cooper Park.

4 people like this
Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 9, 2018 at 7:46 am

@Huh? If you hate this idea of 'so special, public school teachers' you will surely HATE the City code that gives public school teachers the Second Highest Priority for BMR (Below Market Rate) housing for which their families qualify. I totally agree with that Public Policy, which the Voice has reported on in the instance of several Great MVWSD Teachers being able to settle locally.

If any of the multiple possible types of housing are built - the Board seems to be directing (I agree) to keep the Land in MVWSD ownership (similar to UCSC and Stanford, Santa Clara USD and a San Mateo Co. Community College district).

BMR financed housing has priorities for 'public teachers who work in MV' and not all the school workforce. For instance, any administrator is too highly paid for any BMR eligibility in Mountain View.

the link to the explanation of the MV BMR law, which the City Council controls:
Web Link

I think Old Steve can explain why teacher salary bumps are more expensive to operations (and have larger future repercussions) than using community owned land resources to help attract and retain teachers.

11 people like this
Posted by Graham Alum Family
a resident of Waverly Park
on Mar 9, 2018 at 7:52 am

With all the massive building that is going on all around Mountain View - why aren't we requiring developers to reserve some % of units for public service employees - whether they be in our schools, law enforcement, fire or health care. As more and more people come into Mountain View we will increasingly need our open spaces. Open spaces need to be protected and preserved.

17 people like this
Posted by MV Resident
a resident of Waverly Park
on Mar 9, 2018 at 7:55 am

The numbers on mortgage percentage and commute time quoted in the third paragraph seem on target for anyone one who lives in the Bay Area and works in another city. This is not unique to teachers.

9 people like this
Posted by Robert
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 9, 2018 at 12:29 pm

MV Resident - that was exactly my first thought also! Those numbers for mortgage/rent and commuting are very average and expected for this Bay Area for most people!

11 people like this
Posted by DK
a resident of Waverly Park
on Mar 9, 2018 at 2:59 pm

To all above, thank you for your community involvement, something that has been missing at the MVWSD Board Meetings saving an active neighborhood in the Cooper Park area. All input is important to arriving at a best solution for the community, not just the Cooper Park neighborhood. Regarding two comments from above regarding a possible land swap with the City: Acre for acre isn't always equal. If the City has a one acre lot downtown It is probably worth 4 to 5 times the value of one acre at Cooper Park. A more likely scenario would be a value for value swap. Secondly, for "Old Steve" a smaller lot can work if the zoning allows multiple stories. So if the City owned lot downtown allows for the same amount of high density units as the Cooper Park site, a smaller lot could work if it's allowed more vertical stories.

6 people like this
Posted by Christopher Chiang
a resident of North Bayshore
on Mar 9, 2018 at 3:07 pm

Christopher Chiang is a registered user.

Four pertinent facts:
1) MVWSD has increased pay as much as it financially can, yet there still exist a $18,000-$38,000 pay gap between Mountain View's K-8 MV-Whisman district and the HS MVLA district, and MVWSD continues to lag behind all nearby united K-12 districts. There isn't any more money to put towards salary.
2) MVWSD has record high turn over, especially at the middle schools.
3) Teachers report that housing is their greatest concern, reported even higher among those who are leaving MVWSD.
4) Second to proximity to jobs, schools have the greatest impact on home equity. Everyone has a stake in better schools.

If your teachers are still underpaid relative to their own local HS district and nearby unified K-12, and yet there's no money left to pay more, there's really only two options left:
a) utilize (build on or swap) the one resource MVWSD has in unique surplus: district-owned property that isn't being used for district operations
b) improve the non-compensation qualities of the workplace like respecting and inspiring educators

Wouldn't it be malfeasance for the district to not use all its resources to bring and retain the best teaching force, thereby, best schools? Anyone who works in MVWSD knows many talented educators who build their skills in MVWSD and get lured elsewhere.

3 people like this
Posted by Swap or Sale
a resident of another community
on Mar 9, 2018 at 3:44 pm

This land is worth $15+ Million per acre. With 9.5 acres, it could be sold for $150 Million.

I hope the "swap" involves land worth at least that much.

28 people like this
Posted by Voter
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Mar 10, 2018 at 5:57 am

Mr. Chiang makes a valid point that has not been discussed here. His point b). “Improve the non-compensation qualities of the workplace like respecting and inspiring educators.”

Pay and housing are critical, but expecting the teachers to work in a culture of fear will override the material assistance. The events of the last week where 4 schools have abruptly lost their leaders, the community outcry has fallen on the deaf ears of the Board, and now, apparently some teachers have been involuntarily reassigned to new grade levels for next year, does not bode well for retaining high-quality teachers. Why work in a culture of fear and low morale when districts all around you will also be hiring?

46 people like this
Posted by Exactly
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 10, 2018 at 7:22 am


You are spot on. Superintendent Rudolph and his sidekick HR head Carmen Ghysels has indeed instilled as culture of fear and retaliation in from the district office all the way down to the pre-schools. It was been confirmed by district staff that he makes long-term staff and administrators stick knives in the back of their fellow team members or risk losing their job. He is only interested in looking good and deflecting negative attention onto other staff. He knows NOTHING of how to pull people together to unite around whatever vision he has. We do not know his vision of course because their is no communication or community input, let alone if he even has one. Just as with TTO and here with teacher housing he has blown tens of thousands of dollars on a consultant while the school board only now figures out that maybe it would be best to first make overtures to the community of the city! It's all going to blow up just like it has in Palo Alto.

And then there are the likes of school board trustee Jose Gutierrez who thinks compensation in the form of some hot yoga classes is the solution. Seriously? Mr. Gutierrez, please stop with you nonsense. We've read and heard plenty already about how you handle yourself and your conflicts of interest. Your ego and sense of importance and knowledge of education is way out of control. Go out and actually earn respect first before pushing your half-baked ideas on the community!

12 people like this
Posted by badgolfer
a resident of Waverly Park
on Mar 10, 2018 at 7:37 am

badgolfer is a registered user.

The School Board should educate the kids, the City should manage development issues. If the SB wants more affordable housing built for teachers, submit your request to City Council through normal channels. The time task for set aside units for teachers is when approving development requests for large projects like the Google request. You should have conserved your $42.5k as downpayment for the talent search you will need to do to find replacements for the 4 Principal positions you opened up, or to find a new Superintendent after he is released due to the uproar.

5 people like this
Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 10, 2018 at 9:05 am

The school board can be proactive in its approach. (BTW, Chiang and I are in agreement on the validity of ALL the points he makes above) The MVWSD is the PROPERTY OWNER and the Board directs the policy of MVWSD. The PROPERTY OWNER needs to be proactive, not the City. The Mayor BTW 'knows at least 5 ways' he told me to put together a BMR financing scheme for this type of thing. We have been talking about this since before he was elected.

A few years ago when I "priced" single family residential land on Eunice across from the MVWSD site, it was about $4,000,000 per AC. (you can use recent sales and Assessor's information on improvements $PSF to do that). One open AC of City owned land in Cuesta Park Annex- is to all intents, of equivalent worth to one open AC of MVWSD land adjacent to Cooper Park.

VTA land? In the city center? It might be of interest to a few teachers to live there (rental studios and micro-units), But IF Neither the City, or the MVWSD owns the land? Too complicated! ... it will take as long as HSR, and be as bungled IMO.

$16M per acre is ONLY commercial land adjacent to Google, that GOOGLE wants to control at-any-cost in North Bayshore. @Swap or Sale, it is totally unrealistic to think Cooper MVWSD site could bring $150M.

Where else, North of El Camino, could City swap Acres? (I'm persistently on record as YIMBY - 5-7 AC in undeveloped Questa Park Annex). Shoreline North of Church St? Shoreline across the street from Eagle Park? Both of these long thin sites might be just fine - for small 2 story apartment buildings. CITY OWNED LAND, unused, and a number of neighboring homes ARE 2 story already. If you can see behind the RVs, you can check these community owned Acres yourself. Shoreline the El Camino/railroad stretch already has residential use.

The City Council and the School Board can have a JOINT MEETING to discuss this issue as a community issue. Mayor Lenney can provide the push on the City side - but can Board President Laura provide That Kind of Leadership on the MVWSD side ?????

Laura - you have not buried that 'dead horse' that you publicly complained of being kicked. See how it keeps on being a 'tripping point' for many in this community? COMMUNICATION with constituent parties- not OPACITY should be your leadership style (just IMO).

6 people like this
Posted by Graham Alum Family
a resident of Waverly Park
on Mar 11, 2018 at 7:25 am


Per the MVWSD website,

"The Board of Trustees generally meets the first and third Thursday of each month, except the month of July. Meetings are held at the Graham Middle School MUR, 1175 Castro Street. Please check agenda for actual start time. Members of the public are encouraged to attend these meetings.

The Governance Calendar shows items that will be considered or discussed at Board meetings during the school year. Please note that items may be added, removed, or changed to a different date."

Board meetings notes are archived and even recorded so you can stay up-to-date.

Web Link

If my Thursday counting is correct - that would mean there s/b a board meeting this Thursday? 15-March - Who else is planning to go?

4 people like this
Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 11, 2018 at 12:58 pm

On the 15th Agenda, 6:00 PM don't be late
"Public Employee Discipline/Dismissal/Release"

" Any person wishing to speak will be granted up to three (3) minutes at the time the item appears on the agenda. Comments will be taken for up to 10 minutes, with extra time allowed for translation, as needed." ... At the conclusion of remarks or after 10 minutes has elapsed, the public comment portion is closed for that item and the Board will return to their own deliberations..."
in this case, in Closed Session.

have fun. :) we could have been in Russia, China or the Philippines.

33 people like this
Posted by Seriously?
a resident of Waverly Park
on Mar 11, 2018 at 4:07 pm

How much patience will the MVWSD taxpayer have for a badly managed housing project?

As far as I know, we have never rejected any parcel tax measure when asked. But MVWSD board and staff should look at Menlo Park City School District's experience with rejected parcel tax measures. Interestingly that occurred when Maurice Ghysels was their superintendent. Lack of communication from the board and superintendent with the public was cited as a big contributing factor to the failure. Sound familiar Ayinde Rudophe et al?

41 people like this
Posted by @Seriously
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Mar 11, 2018 at 5:33 pm

Spot on with your projected assessment of what's in store for Mountain View Schools as long as Maurice Ghysels is behind the scene and coaching Rudolph. Ultimately, the subject of addressing teacher housing is just eye candy in any newspaper that echos with warm feelings. If it ever gets past serious review, it will be years before any tough decisions and costly commitments are made. You can't lose even though you've blown $42,000 on it with no track record of using large amounts of capital in construction and housing schemes.

Otherwise Rudolph is following the classic Ghsyels rule book:

1. Come in with a splash and much fanfare while you push to control message and perception. You're a God, make sure everyone knows it. It's all about vanity. Get people to worship you.
2. Get the trustees sucked into your strut, message and hype. Make them feel powerful and important more than anyone. Wheeler will be the easiest to convince. To hell with the rest of the community.
3. Mismanage construction and raid the general funds to satisfy everyone. Just be sure that no one figures out the real damage to future budgets until you are ready to bolt simultaneous with a new bond measure--1st big FAIL
4. Reinvent the wheel and push a new program and curriculum like TTO-- 2nd big FAIL since it blew up on you.
5. Ignore community input and ride rough shod over school boundary issue-- 3rd big FAIL.
6. Asses your leadership based on loyalty to you above all else and at all costs versus experience and sacrifice and qualifications and commitment to students and the community
7. Make your big bold move, you only get one so the bolder the better. It doesn't even have to make sense. Just make it big. In this case 4th huge FAIL by displacing half the district's leadership by surprise and with no community outreach or input.
8. Stack the principalships with your YES men and women who will all creep up to the district office, just as with the current crew, to cement a legacy of weak and dysfunctional leadership for years to come.
9. The average tenure for a Superintendent is five years. You are half way there now, so announce you are moving on in a year and a half, that it's been a great ride before the failure of it all hits home.

3 people like this
Posted by Old Steve
a resident of Rex Manor
on Mar 12, 2018 at 6:17 pm

Old Steve is a registered user.

@Seriously: I have never been a big fan of certain moves made by Dr. Ghysels (both Personnel, and Personal). However, going out of your way to link him to Dr. Rudolph makes no sense. As a Coach, who has learned from his failures, Dr Ghysels might be just fine if your insinuation is accurate. What is clear, is that Dr. Rudolph makes his own decisions. Believe it or not, that is what a school board hires a Superintendent to do, make decisions to implement Board Policy. If you wanted to pick on Craig Goldman as following in Ghysels footsteps, the facts might be on your side. Just from what is in the Public Record, I doubt they are in this case

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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