CUSD IS IN REAL FINANCIAL CRISIS
There's a LACK of property tax income and development in Cupertino to support the schools.
CUSD is a LCFF (Local Control Funding Formula) school district in which the State of California sets the target funding on a per-student basis uniformly. This is because Cupertino does not generate enough property tax to meet the target funding level on its own. Palo Alto, by contrast, is a “Basic Aid” district because they collect enough property tax to exceed its per-student funding target, so they keep all the locally collected property tax AND a small amount of State funded "Basic Aid”.
As an LCFF district, CUSD receives the base funding amount that is about $7500 per student. By contrast, Palo Alto’s per student spending is around $14,000 per student. Since Cupertino has a very low percentage of special needs and/or low-income students, CUSD does not qualify for any additional funding. As a result, CUSD is in the lowest 25th percentile of spending per student as compared to other school districts in California.
Add to the low spending per student a declining enrollment in Cupertino and that means even less money to the schools. From the District’s website:
“For the past two years, student enrollment in the Cupertino Union School District has been declining. Our recent demographer's report, which was presented at the January Board Meeting, shows our enrollment will decline by another 1,000 students over the next five years, with the largest decrease in the southern portion of our District (neighborhoods surrounding Muir, Regnart, Dilworth, Meyerholz, and Blue Hills).”
Add to the low per-student funding and the declining enrollment, the fact that the State of California is also shifting the pension burden away from the State and onto School Districts. In CUSD, over the next 4 years, this financial requirement will increase from about 8% to 19% by 2021 and 29% by 2024 (roughly $30 million dollars more per year).
Why do Palo Alto, Sunnyvale, and other neighboring school districts qualify as basic aid? They have this status because they have much more vigorous commercial development in their communities. A new office building generates jobs and new property taxes for the schools but doesn't add new students.
Even in the case of Apple Campus 2, most of the complex sits in the Santa Clara Unified School District area, so the property taxes go to SCUSD, NOT the CUSD. Cupertino’s only other way to make up the CUSD shortfall is to either significantly cut costs, create more parcel taxes on the community as advocated by the newest Council Member Scharf, or lobby in Sacramento for a higher target funding amount per student.