Although measuring the precise return on investment is difficult, it’s clear that residents of Los Altos Hills contribute generously to public education – a tax-dollar total that averaged $27,529 per student last year.
According to the Los Altos Hills Education Committee’s 2012-2013 Enrollment Report, 930 students from Los Altos Hills are enrolled in K-12 public schools in the Los Altos School District, which includes elementary and junior high schools; the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District (MVLA); and the Palo Alto Unified School District, which includes elementary, middle and high schools. Los Altos Hills is split geographically between the two elementary school districts.
With an overall decrease of 22 students, there was no major shift in public school enrollment from the previous year.
Because Bullis Charter School declined to provide enrollment data, Heather Rose, chairwoman of the Education Committee, reported that some statistics – including small decreases in the number of students enrolled in Los Altos schools between eighth and ninth grades – may not be as accurate as they could be.
Although the Los Altos School District enrolls 4 percent more elementary students than the Palo Alto Unified district, the reverse is true for high school enrollment – Palo Alto enrolls 12 percent more students than MVLA, with 183 attending Gunn and 145 attending high schools that include Los Altos Hills within their boundaries.
Rose attributed the reversal in enrollment figures during the transition to high school to private school students entering Gunn. During a committee report to the city council, she noted that the Palo Alto district had a higher concentration of students attending public middle schools than the Los Altos district for the 2012-2013 year. She alluded to possible concerns from residents about the stability of local elementary schools as one explanation.
In addition to highlighting the number of students that attend each public school in the districts, the report provides a breakdown of the taxpayer cost per student in each district.
Students in MVLA receive the highest total revenue at $39,495 per pupil – $36,291 from property taxes and $3,204 in bond-issue revenue for facility expenses. The Los Altos School District’s receives $30,226 per student and the Palo Alto Unified School District averages $26,866.
Property and parcel-tax contributions in 2012-2013 increased nearly 9 percent, or $3,629, per student across all school districts serving Los Altos Hills compared with 2011-2012.
For the complete Los Altos Hills Education Committee 2012-2013 Enrollment Report, visit losaltoshills.ca.gov/documents/committees/education/2013-2013_enrollment_report_presentation_citycouncil.pdf.