Residents OK transfer of 25 townhouses from Ravenswood to Menlo Park school district

Residents of 25 townhouses at 600 Willow Road in Menlo Park will be able to send their children to Menlo Park City School District schools after approving a ballot measure transferring their parcels from the Ravenswood City School District.

The mail-in ballot was counted on May 3; out of 35 voters, only one was opposed to the school district transfer. There are only 36 registered voters on the parcels, known as Pacific Parc.

The ballot measure -- Measure D -- was the last step in a four-and-a-half-year effort by Pacific Parc residents. Both the Menlo Park and Ravenswood school districts opposed the transfer, but the state Board of Education cleared the way for it in June 2010, pending approval of voters in the small area affected, according to Peter Burchyns, special adviser to the San Mateo County Board of Education and superintendent.

Although the transfer won't take effect until July 2012, Superintendent Ken Ranella of the Menlo Park school district said four children from the transfer area are likely to be enrolled in his district's schools this August through interdistrict transfers, which parents of the children have already applied for.

He said he believes all four children will be in kindergarten in the fall, and "now that the decision (to transfer the parcels) into the district has been made, we welcome the children and families to our district."

The Menlo Park and Ravenswood districts had convinced the San Mateo County Committee on School District Organization to reject the transfer application submitted by Pacific Parc residents in September 2006. The residents successfully appealed the decision to the state Board of Education.

With the transfer, Pacific Parc residents are getting more than access to schools with far more modern facilities and an academic program that produces significantly higher test scores and other measures of student achievement. They're also getting higher tax bills. Annual parcel taxes in the Menlo Park district total nearly $753 per parcel, compared with $196 in the Ravenswood district -- a difference of $557. They also will pay an additional $28 toward general obligation bonds.

Superintendent Ranella noted that while the district will receive an additional $18,818 per year from parcel taxes, revenue from the transfer won't begin to cover the cost of additional students in the district's schools. That's due in part to the fact that all property tax revenue generated by Pacific Parc goes into Menlo Park's redevelopment district rather than other agencies, such as school districts, that normally benefit from property taxes.

"This is not a good financial deal for the Menlo Park City School District," Mr. Ranella said. "It isn't like funding is coming with these children."

The district opposed the transfer, too, because it "wasn't interested in (further) increasing enrollment" at a time enrollment was already skyrocketing with children living within the district's existing boundaries, Mr. Ranella said. Although there will be only four additional students next school year, that number is likely to grow in the future. He acknowledged, however, that the increase "is not going to be the straw that breaks the camel's back" in terms of overcrowded classrooms and campuses.

Another factor in the district's opposition was the fact that the Pacific Parc townhouses are adjacent to Willow School, which, although located in Menlo Park, is part of the Ravenswood district. The children will now have to be transported to school rather than attend classes within walking district, Mr. Ranella noted.

The lead petitioners for the transfer were Maria Kaval, Rob Ultan, and Kelly Blythe, according to Mr. Burchyns. The Almanac was unable to reach any of them by deadline.


Posted by Seymour, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 6, 2011 at 12:31 pm

Yes, now the beautiful people will have some genuine inclusion and Pacific Parc property values increased. Got to love equality.

Posted by peter carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 6, 2011 at 1:45 pm

peter carpenter is a registered user.

I know that this is politically incorrect, but it is sad to see the continuing segregation of our schools.

Feel free to call my comment 'awful' and 'incendiary', but be honest enough to recognize the increasing segregation in our local schools:

Los Lomita Elementary K-8
% minority 29.5

Menlo Park Elementary K-8
% minority 32.1

Ravenswood City Elementary K-8
% minority 99.0

Maybe it is time for another Tinsley-like lawsuit with consolidation as the requested remedy.

Posted by Central Menlo, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 6, 2011 at 6:21 pm

Peter, America has changed (but still agreeing with your point).

Los Lomita Elementary K-8
% minority 70.5

Menlo Park Elementary K-8
% minority 67.9

Ravenswood City Elementary K-8
% minority 1.0

The larger factor may be that this is segregation by wealth, not minority status (that America is rife with income disparity is another story...)

Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 6, 2011 at 10:23 pm

Racial segregation of children in our elementary schools even if based on the wealth, or lack thereof, of their parents is both illegal and immoral. This is an injustice that begs for both recognition and remedy - why the silence? Or do we save our outrage for injustices which don't benefit ourselves?

Posted by two sides to every story, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on May 9, 2011 at 11:48 am

I like the idea of segregated schools, not so excited about the idea of placing the mandate for funding that on just my shoulders. As Superintendent Ranella pointed out, the district isn't going to see the revenues to support these students. It's "only" 4 students this year (which is works out to a cost to the district of about $50K in return for $18K of parcel tax increase).

But the reason the number is so low is that few families would want to do transfers midway through the program since relationships are established. Plan on the eventual number being between 15 and 30 students, each with a price tag of $12K/yr but only $18K of total revenue increase (NOT per student).

It's hard as an effected parent to get too excited about placing the burden directly on the school district even while supporting lofty ideals....

Posted by two sides to every story, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on May 9, 2011 at 11:51 am

> It's hard as an [sic] effected

While I may be effected, I pretty much really meant to say affected.... :-)

Posted by peter carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 9, 2011 at 12:17 pm

peter carpenter is a registered user.

Two sides.. states:"I like the idea of segregated schools, not so excited about the idea of placing the mandate for funding that on just my shoulders."

The answer is to consolidate all three elementary school districts - providing equal education regardless of race or income level and with all of us sharing the responsibility and the burden.

Posted by two sides to every story, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on May 9, 2011 at 2:37 pm

argh, that's embarrassing.

Of course I meant to say I like the idea of __desgregated__ schools. Yikes!

Posted by resident, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on May 13, 2011 at 7:03 am

Given that the folks in Pacific Parc won't be contributing to MPCSD with their tax $$ as their development is zoned in the Redevelopment Agency area, I hope that they become significant contributers to the MPAEF! They can think of it as a Thank You! to MPCSD for the increase in their property values.

Posted by They knew, a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on May 13, 2011 at 3:20 pm

When these people bought their homes they were zoned for Ravenswood and got to pay a much lower price accordingly. Now they get to come in and freeload over the objections of both school districts? Just how bribed who on this state board to allow this travesty?

Posted by Jenny Redo, a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on May 19, 2011 at 12:25 pm

Another advantage of combing districts would be to reduce the cost of admistrative overhead. A higher percentage of funds need to go to children LEARNING in our public schools.

I also believe the state really needs to fix the 2-district system. It is crazy that the districts in lower income areas receive less monies per student than the districts in higher income areas (who also have parents donating into them).

For information on California Education Policies and a way to get involved, please check out: Web Link

Posted by Carol Smith, a resident of another community
on May 19, 2011 at 2:03 pm

The objective of public education should be to help educate as many children as possible to their fullest potential. Decisions should be about maximizing the school's ability to leverage resources to achieve this goal.

Decisions should not be, in my opinion, about what's best for the adults, teachers, administrators, property values or other such issues.

It's about our children and what's best for them. They are our future.

Posted by Richard, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 19, 2011 at 2:06 pm

Yes, but these 25 townhomes can help pay for the superintendent's $205,000 annual salary to run four schools! Awesome!

Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 19, 2011 at 2:09 pm

And these 25 town homes have just taken badly needed funds from the Ravenswood District as well as further segregated our local schools.

Posted by nope, a resident of another community
on May 19, 2011 at 2:56 pm

These 25 townhomes WON'T pay the superintendent's salary because their addition to the MP Elementary district does not add a single dollar of revenue to its coffers since the local property tax revenue is already allocated (jeez, read the article).

OTOH, it will COST the Ravensdale district significant lost revenue because their district funding is based on ADA numbers.

Of course the state school board wasn't exactly an objective third party. From their perspective any time you can get students out of a Revenue Limit district they come out ahead.....

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of another community
on May 20, 2011 at 7:49 pm

Peter, thank you for your heartfelt opinions and ideas re this issue. I lived in The Willows for many years and lousy schools were part of why I had a private school education, which meant of course, my parents really put their money where their mouths were.

It makes me sad to see such snobbery & elitism trump more thoughtful, fair solutions for everyone. I can imagine the fight ahead for those who want to combine school districts. Quelle horreur to have The Willows children or other westside of 101 residents' kids cheek by jowl with poorer kids!

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