“We compromise [all] factors for education."
Former East Palo Alto resident seeks educational opportunities in Cupertino
Back when he used to live in East Palo Alto, Gowthaman Ranganathan would cross the threshold from his house to the sidewalk with a certain sense of vigilance. His attentiveness wouldn’t fade until he returned to his home again, safe behind lock and key.
Gowthaman, his wife, Agila Ranganathan and their daughter — attending elementary school at the time — had never actually been victims of any crime in the East Palo Alto. Having lived in East Palo Alto for ten years without incident, Agila immediately refutes any allegation that East Palo Alto is very different from Cupertino. East Palo Alto’s reputation for being dangerous, Agila argues, is an exaggeration.
But on the road in East Palo Alto, Gowthaman would still retain caution in a there’s-no-smoke-without-fire kind of way: East Palo Alto’s reputation did exist for a reason, even if it had been distorted and inflated over the years by people and the media.
But now, the Ranganathans have moved to Cupertino, where the crime rate is not at all a part of the city’s reputation.
It is now the Ranganathan’s second year in Cupertino. They moved to the leftmost house of the cul-de-sac most recently constructed on Bollinger, rounding out the parade of five Tudor-style home imitations with an imposing black gate, faint yellow roses and an issue of the Cupertino Courier on the stone driveway. A home they paid at least $2 million for.
The Ranganathans, like many of their immediate neighbors in the five-house cul-de-sac, moved to Cupertino purely for the education system. In Agila’s mind, there’s no other reason to pay the high living expenses and property tax to live in Cupertino. The competition is fierce, she recalls, for a $2 million house in Cupertino. She would have to offer nearly $1 million more to beat the competition.
Before moving to Cupertino, the Ranganathans’ daughter attended a private school in Palo Alto. Although they lived in East Palo Alto, Agila and Gowthaman handpicked their daughter’s elementary school based off of the school’s grades and score cards, choosing a school that required them to cross the freeway into a different city. Upon entering middle school, however, the Ranganathans decided to move somewhere with a better reputation for education.
Agila’s and Gowthaman’s daughter currently attends Kennedy Middle School, and will most likely continue with the MVHS academic track until she graduates. Then, Agila says, she and her husband will make their decision.
“I said, ‘I’m going to be here [ten years],’” Agila said. “‘Then I’ll think about whether to move out of this place, or to stay.’”
Apart from the high living expenses and excessive property taxes, the Ranganathans’ other major complaint about Cupertino is the traffic and the crowding.
“Here we feel it’s more crowded. [There are] more conditions,” Gowthaman said. “But we compromise all of those factors for education. We want to get [our kids] to good schools. We really want to assist kids with additional extracurricular opportunities.”
Those additional extracurricular opportunities range from Kung Fu and dance classes to math tutoring. Everything that the Ranganathans need for their daughter is within a one-mile radius from their home, a convenience that they felt was lacking in East Palo Alto.
“There are a lot of opportunities...,” he said. “Everything’s available [here].”
The promise of success is practically stamped on the price tag. And with the price they’ve paid, they believe it certainly ought to be.