Financial support for local schools
Of the 12,000 students enrolled in the Palo Alto Unified School District, about 6 percent live on the Stanford campus because their parents work at the university or are students themselves. About three-fourths of these Stanford families reside in homes that generate property taxes.
The $30.3 million in tax revenues generated from university lands contributed about 17 percent of Palo Alto Unified School District’s revenue in 2018, or $41,380 per Stanford-generated student living in university housing.
Increasing tax revenues
Stanford’s active management of its commercial lands and the renovation and construction of buildings result in greater tax revenue for Palo Alto Unified School District as properties are reassessed at higher values. Over the past 15 years, property taxes from the Stanford Research Park have increased by 6 percent annually.
A balanced approach to housing
Stanford has asked the county for permission to build 550 apartments for faculty and staff on campus through 2035, which is estimated to produce up to 275 additional school-age students living on the Stanford campus and enrolled in Palo Alto K-12 schools. According to Santa Clara County’s environmental analysis, based on forecasts showing declining enrollment, “sufficient capacity…would likely exist to accommodate Stanford’s estimated new students” in Palo Alto schools.
Expanding Educational Equity
For years, Stanford has partnered with teachers and local public schools to help them provide equitable, accessible and effective learning opportunities for all students.
A Graduate School of Education program places teachers in neighboring communities – most of them in public schools and more than half in schools with large concentrations of low-income students.
Frequently Asked Questions About Stanford’s General Use Permit and Palo Alto Schools
Key takeaways about Stanford’s partnership with PAUSD
- Stanford is a community of people dedicated to the advancement of knowledge and learning, and the university is committed to supporting the future success of Palo Alto schools.
- Stanford has been in discussions with PAUSD, and the university intends to offer additional support for Palo Alto schools as part of a development agreement for the new General Use Permit.
- Stanford’s proposed housing is estimated to produce no more than 275 students enrolled in Palo Alto schools – not 1,446, as has been mentioned in some public forums.
- Stanford lands generated 17 percent of PAUSD’s property tax revenue and only 6 percent of student enrollment last year.
Stanford has operated for nearly two decades – since 2000 – under its current long-term land use permit (called a General Use Permit) with Santa Clara County. As the life of that permit winds down, the university has applied to Santa Clara County for a successor General Use Permit that will last nearly two more decades, until approximately 2035.
This permit will authorize specified amounts of new facilities, within Stanford’s already-developed core campus, for academic purposes and housing. It also will specify a variety of conditions Stanford will have to meet on an ongoing basis, with annual reporting to county officials.
Yes. Stanford has been in discussions with PAUSD since last summer to understand the school district’s concerns about future enrollment of new students living on Stanford lands. PAUSD subsequently passed a resolution articulating the district’s requests as Santa Clara County and Stanford negotiate a possible package of community benefits, known as a development agreement. Stanford is continuing to meet with PAUSD officials as development agreement discussions take place with the county.
Stanford has also engaged Palo Alto’s school communities through discussions and information sharing with the Palo Alto Council of PTAs.
The development agreement process provides opportunities for community input, both online and at public meetings. There will be additional opportunities for public comment as the General Use Permit application moves forward.
To begin with, all of Stanford’s new and expanded facilities, regardless of tax-exempt status, are subject to state-mandated school fees. Stanford estimates that over the course of its new land use permit, the university could pay approximately $4.2 million in school impact fees based on today's rates. These fees are assessed by PAUSD at the time that each new building is constructed based upon the results of PAUSD's impact fee studies.
Stanford’s active management of its commercial lands also yields greater property tax revenues for PAUSD compared to other commercial properties. Property tax revenues from the Stanford Research Park increased 6 percent annually over the last 17 years.
Stanford intends to offer additional support for Palo Alto schools through an agreement with the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, which is responsible for overseeing land use on Stanford’s academic campus. The form this additional support will take will be one of many subjects negotiated between the county and Stanford as part of a development agreement. The negotiated development agreement will be included in the public approval process when county decision-makers consider the 2018 General Use Permit application. Stanford has also been in discussions with PAUSD since last summer to understand the school district’s concerns about future enrollment of new students living on Stanford lands.
Stanford lands (all Stanford-owned property on and outside the campus) generated 725 school-age children in 2016, representing 6 percent of PAUSD enrollment. Of these 725 students, 569 (78 percent) lived in homes that paid property tax. Meanwhile, Stanford’s lands generated more than $30 million in tax revenue to PAUSD in 2018 – approximately 17 percent of PAUSD total property tax revenue. As a result, last year university lands generated $41,380 per Stanford-generated student living in university housing.
What about the claim that Stanford may add 1,446 new students to the Palo Alto schools, producing a $34 million shortfall for the school district?
It simply is not true. Stanford has proposed adding 2,600 student beds and 550 employee housing units on its campus. Santa Clara County’s independent environmental analysis estimates this would produce no more than 275 additional school-age students living on the Stanford campus and enrolled in Palo Alto K-12 schools through 2035. This is a conservatively high estimate, as the student generation rate used in the analysis is a higher rate than has occurred in similar housing elsewhere on Stanford’s lands.
Separately, the county conducted a theoretical analysis of the effects of building much more employee housing than the university has proposed. That is the source of the 1,446 number. Stanford is not proposing this level of housing expansion.
Is there enough capacity in Palo Alto schools to accommodate new students from Stanford’s proposed housing?
PAUSD enrollment declined by 292 students in just the current school year, more than the number of K-12 school-age students (275) projected to come from new Stanford housing over the next 17 years under the proposed General Use Permit. Santa Clara County’s independent environmental analysis concluded that there is sufficient capacity in PAUSD’s existing schools to accommodate Stanford’s estimated new students that would be generated by the proposed General Use Permit. Even if an increase in enrollment occurs, PAUSD has many options, including reopening unused school sites, to address capacity.
Stanford is proud of its long association with families and schools in our local community. As an academic institution whose primary mission is to advance education and learning, Stanford supports a range of programs in the community that serve educators, students and families. Among them:
- Stanford is helping early career teachers, nearly half of whom leave the classroom within five years, stay at their schools, develop professionally and continue making a difference in their students’ lives. Through the Hollyhock Fellowship Program, 80 to 90 early career high school teachers, many from the Bay Area, come to campus each summer. They experience professional development opportunities, connect with experts and peers, and then stay connected through monthly online sessions with their Stanford instructional coaches and peers each month throughout the school year.
- Parents and other community members attend workshops and lectures on current topics in education.
- The Stanford Teacher Education Program places teachers in neighboring communities – most of them in public schools and more than half in schools that have large numbers of low-income students.
- The Center to Support Excellence in Teaching bridges research and practice, and empowers teachers to become transformational leaders in their schools and districts.
- Stanford’s community partnerships in education connect faculty and students together with local educators and students through summer programs, on-campus professional development, research projects, speaker series and lectures.
- The Stanford-Sequoia K-12 Research Collaborative with local school districts focuses on the experiences and progress of English language learners.
Stanford’s summer camps, athletic partnerships for youth, performing arts venues and free art museums and outdoor installations are also an important part of Stanford’s contribution to the school-aged community. A new General Use Permit will enable the university to add facilities and pursue additional programming that further supports local education and youth engagement.
Because Stanford is a nonprofit educational institution, lands that are devoted to academic uses are tax-exempt under the California Constitution. This means that land used for academic buildings, student housing, and some rental housing for Stanford employees is exempt from property tax. Housing on land leased to others by the university under long-term ground leases is not tax-exempt and generates property taxes. Of the 725 students enrolled in Palo Alto schools from Stanford families in 2016, 569 (78 percent)lived in homes that paid property tax. Land used for commercial development, such as the Stanford Shopping Center and much of the Stanford Research Park, is not tax-exempt and generates property taxes.
As a result, much of Stanford’s housing is generating property taxes that support the Palo Alto schools – including the 960 residences in our on-campus faculty neighborhood, the 628 rental units in the Stanford West complex along Sand Hill Road, and the new University Terrace neighborhood. Most of the tax-exempt housing on Stanford land is for undergraduate and graduate students and is treated the same as similar properties in the community, such as affordable housing.
In addition, Stanford has devoted significant portions of its land in the Stanford Research Park and at the Stanford Shopping Center to commercial uses that also generate tax revenues for Palo Alto schools. In fiscal year 2017-18, these commercial properties on Stanford lands generated about 10 percent of Palo Alto Unified School District’s income.
Stanford’s active management of the Stanford Research Park has led to a 6 percent annual increase in property tax revenues over the last 17 years:
The following are some recent and pending Stanford Research Park redevelopments with their increase in property tax revenue to PAUSD:
As part of its General Use Permit application, Stanford has proposed adding 2,600 student beds and 550 employee housing units on its campus. Santa Clara County’s independent environmental analysis estimates that over the next 17 years this would produce up to 275 additional school-age students living on the Stanford campus and enrolled in Palo Alto K-12 schools.