News

Ravenswood may cut entire library staff

Trustees slash technology staff that provides computer services to students

Peering into a future of hard times, trustees of the Ravenswood City School District, which has schools in Menlo Park and East Palo Alto, voted Thursday to slash the staff that provides computer services to children and teachers, among other positions.

Trustees balked at laying off the district's entire library staff -- but were warned that if they do not do so within weeks, they'll be forced to make other, equally unpalatable choices.

The district, which serves children in East Palo Alto and Menlo Park, is planning for a $3.2 million -- or 17 percent -- cut to its $18 million unrestricted operating budget for 2011-12.

Class sizes this fall will rise to 25 in K-3 and to 31 in grades 4-8, officials said. Twenty-one teaching positions and two management posts are being eliminated by attrition, according to James Lovelace, director of human resources.

Officials also have said they'll have to close a school -- their preferred term is "consolidate."

The necessary cuts will get worse mid-year -- to the tune of $350 per student -- if California voters do not approve a five-year extension of sales and income tax and vehicle license fees sought by Gov. Jerry Brown, Board Chairwoman Sharifa Wilson said.

With her recommendation to eliminate the district's entire library staff of 3.5 full time-equivalent positions, Superintendent Maria de la Vega said libraries would remain open and the district would seek volunteers to staff them.

That plan was sharply criticized by current library volunteers -- several from outside of the district -- who said a professional staff is critical to maintaining the school libraries. The current staff of 3.5 is spread among seven campuses.

"Volunteers cannot run a library -- there's way too much that goes into that," said parent Dena Bloomquist, a weekly library volunteer in the Flood School library, where two of her three children attend.

Bloomquist said when she told her three sons of the plan to eliminate the library positions one of them asked, "Do they want us to read less?"

The technology cuts will "devastate the progress" Ravenswood has made in helping students with technology, said Susan Allen, a Palo Alto resident and former technology volunteer at Ravenswood who is now on staff.

"Our students have so much less than students in other districts around us, where they go to high school."

Allen said she moved from volunteer to staff status because, for legal reasons, only staff is permitted to have keys to equipment and network passwords.

"When a teacher says, 'I've got a virus,' or 'I can't put my grades in,' a volunteer can't fix that, Allen said.

But the layoffs of 3.5 full-time-equivalent technology positions most hurt Ravenswood students who go on to high schools such as Menlo-Atherton and Woodside, where other kids are more tech savvy.

"Please reconsider this for the sake of the students," Allen told the board.

De la Vega said after four years of cuts to the district, "it's difficult to know where to go."

"We have one more board meeting before we have to finalize our budget," she told trustees.

"We'll bring additional cuts in case these (library cuts) are not approved, but it has to be a yes or no. It's been very difficult on all the staff here because we've had cuts for the last four years, and people have taken on two jobs or three jobs."

Trustees, faced with making cuts for the fourth year in a row, tried to explain what they're up against.

"We're obligated by law to make sure we have a balanced budget, so we can't stick our heads in the sand and pretend like the money's magically going to come from some place," Wilson said.

In addition to its $18 million unrestricted operating budget, Ravenswood receives about $22 million in highly targeted federal and state "categorical funds" to address specific conditions, including poverty and the more than 60 percent of students who are English language learners.

But Lovelace said the district also anticipates a 10 percent to 15 percent cut in categorical funds.

Comments

Posted by Tim Goode, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 13, 2011 at 5:06 pm

The possible closing of the Belle Haven Library is the worst news I have heard in the last two years. The possibility of cutting educational and library choices for the Belle Haven community is as Draconian as it gets.

The kids are right on when they as,"Do they want us to read less?" From the actions of our State, the Ravenswood District and the City of Menlo Park, which has carried the burden of the cost of the Library and staff for the good of the entire community, the message is, "We can no longer afford it."

The closing of that library will certainly "save the Menlo Park Library more major cuts", but at the expense of those who need it most. It's like putting a dagger into the hearts of parents and students of that district, "The Tale of Two Cities", East Menlo Park and West Menlo Park." I am on the wrong side.

Tim Goode
Friend of the Menlo Park Library.


Posted by Ravenswood Volunteer, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 14, 2011 at 9:47 pm

Belle Haven, Willow Oaks, and seven other schools without libraries ... in a district where students are struggling with literacy (only 31% tested proficient or advanced -- vs. 85+% in the Menlo Park schools -- and 69% basic, below basic or far below basic)? Belle Haven & EPA parents do not have in-home libraries or time during the workday to ferry their kids to the public ones. This is a tragedy.

And a farce. The City specifically salted aside $200,000 from Redevelopment Agency funds for the following invaluable signage in February -- along with the other $18M ...

"Other/Miscellaneous
City Entry Signage on Willow Road
$200,000
This arterial is one of the primary gateways into Menlo Park from the East Bay. Providing "Welcome to Menlo – Habitat for Innovation" signage identifies the entry point the City, positions Menlo Park as a friendly place to be, and furthers recognition of the area as a desirable place to live, work and play."

Seems to me we should put our money where our mouth is and fund the Ravenswood school libraries for a year instead.


Posted by Willow Oaks volunteer, a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Jun 15, 2011 at 12:43 pm

For the past few years, I have volunteered in the library at Willow Oaks School. It's run by an extremely talented and giving classified employee, I had assumed she was a credentialed teacher.

This librarian provides books for the students of the school, encouraging their curiosity, calming their fears, answering their questions and sparking their imaginations.

Kindergarteners adore her and teens trust her. I've seen students seek refuge from bullying in her library. I've seen teens confide in her. I've seen kids beg for books. The children clamor for books, rushing to the shelves, crowding behind the desk to ask for certain titles, and fingering their way through whole shelves to find "the one with the dog on it" or "el libro gordo."

I've seen hundreds of kids eager to open their books and read in that library. Most of them don't wait to sit down before they begin to read. I've seen kids argue over books too. She handles those like a diplomat, usually adding more of the contested title to the collection. Over four thousand books are checked out each year.

Last year, following budget cuts, the librarian took over the library at two schools, she only had half as much time for Willow Oaks. I saw half as many books checked out, half as many books opened, questions answered, fears calmed, ideas sparked and half as many smiles.

With no library, where will the students of Ravenswood City School District get their books?

If there is no library, there will be less reading. All the children in our county have a right to read and be served by a librarian at their school. A paid librarian.

The couple hours a month I put in is minute compared to Ms. Santana. I go because she is there providing such a wonderful environment already. She makes volunteering possible.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 15, 2011 at 12:49 pm

Willow Oaks volunteer states:"All the children in our county have a right to read and be served by a librarian at their school."

In fact all the children in our county have the right to a good basic education. The economic discrimination in the Ravenswood School District is immoral and probably illegal. The time has come to consolidate ALL of the local elementary school districts and to give every child the same opportunity for a good education.

See another Forum topic on this issue:

Web Link


Posted by Raymond Mueller, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 15, 2011 at 1:56 pm

If you are like me, the first time you read this article, you said, "that's awful. Someone needs to do something about that."

Others probably made a unflattering statement about government.

My guess is a large number of people said, "Someone should ask Facebook to do something about that."

Well, humbly I suggest, this is our community, maybe we should do something about it.

This is the website for the Ravenswood Education Foundation:

Web Link

Even if you only have time to volunteer, the more people involved, the better the chances a solution will be found.

I have seen what people in this community can do together when they are motivated. It's amazing.

Where the state government has failed, we can succeed.


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of another community
on Jun 15, 2011 at 7:46 pm

Ravenswood Volunteer, excellent post. Peter's as well & the other posts here have so much food for thought.

I survived kindergarten at Willow School & given the public schools at the time, that was a large part of why I was sent to private school.

The children of course deserve to be literate & the scores are in the toilet already, & now this. I am very upset about closing Belle Haven library. Getting across the freeway to the Main Library is not an option for everyone. EPA residents on the westside, thankfully, use the PA Main Library. So the eastside MP residents best option, if they can't get to MP Main, is the EPA Library.

Mr. Mueller, are you willing to approach Mr. Zuckerberg about this? I am not asking to challenge you, I am truly asking.


Posted by MJK, a resident of Atherton: other
on Jun 15, 2011 at 8:26 pm

Peter,

You said: ""In fact all the children in our county have the right to a good basic education. The economic discrimination in the Ravenswood School District is immoral and probably illegal.""

I agree that closing the library is absolutely the wrong thing to do. I agree that all children have the right to a good basic education. I do not disagree with your statement at all, but could you give some specifics about the economic discrimination. I am sure that you are right and would like for all readers to fully understand the issues. I think that many think that because of the special funding going to schools in that district that they receive equal daily education. It would be helpful to elaborate on this issue and maybe others will start talking seriously about consolidation.

Thanks


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 15, 2011 at 8:32 pm

I know that this is politically incorrect, but it is sad to see the continuing segregation of our elementary schools. Feel free to call my comments 'awful' and 'incendiary', but be honest enough to recognize the increasing segregation in our local schools.

Here are some of the facts:

Los Lomita Elementary K-8

% minority 29.5

Menlo Park Elementary K-8

% minority 32.1

Ravenswood City Elementary K-8

% minority 99.0

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?

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

See for more comments and facts:

Web Link


Posted by MJK, a resident of Atherton: other
on Jun 15, 2011 at 8:50 pm

Thanks, Peter.

I know that the minority numbers are correct for the districts. Are there more specifics that can be put up that highlight the economic discrimination? (Maybe test scores, inferior teachers, lack of resources-either like books, materials or teachers aides, lack of funds, lack of parent involvement, lack of foundations to provide extra money, etc.) I don't actually know myself, but as I said before, would like to give specific reasons for this economic discrimination so that others can be aware and join in efforts to resolve these inequities.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 15, 2011 at 8:53 pm

Everything that you might want to know is on this web site:

Web Link

Feel free to excerpt what you feel is important and post it here.


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of another community
on Jun 15, 2011 at 8:55 pm

Yep, you got it, Peter. I am not sure how well your suggestion of combining schools would work, being a survivor of Menlo-Atherton. I felt there was too much racial divide which also fell along socio-economic lines. Perhaps, if kids started to socialize & be educated together at a younger age, the problems that we had at M-A wouldn't occur so often.

I also have an un-PC point to make: the lack of assimilation I see amongst non-whites living in EPA & MP is problematic. I've experienced true hostility & bias towards me from these non-whites. While it's useful to walk a mile in their shoes, that's another subject. The lack of a common language is evidence of this, incl the lack of trying that I witness all the time. My father isn't a native English speaker, so I'm not trying to be divisive or nasty here. It's a real issue that causes problems. I also saw this in my private school, before M-A. So change definitely has to come from both sides.

But given that so much of the socioeconomic power comes from people on the west side of 101, perhaps these are the ones, who like you, should look for real changes to make if they're willing to risk their own offspring's test scores.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 15, 2011 at 9:00 pm

If you want to understand why the current school funding situation is not understandable then here is a great collection of articles:

Web Link


Posted by Bob, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 16, 2011 at 12:42 am

Peter your stats for MP and Las Lomitas districts are totally inaccurate when it comes to showing the true racial socio economic differences. Las Lomitas is only 13.5% disadvantaged minorities not the nearly 30% you state and MP is only about 16%.
The diff - the stats for asians in MP and Los Lomitas include folks who are at the same avg socio economic level as the "whites". The same goes for the two or more races which in the vast majority of cases in those two districts includes a white or an asian with other ethnic groups. Also a good number of the "black' and "latino" in those two district fall w/i the socio economic avg of the whites and asians if they live in the geog area of those two districts - thus actually lowering the percentage of "disadvantaged" even more.
This gives a much more graphic and drastic truer picture of the have and have not school districts.


Posted by Ravenswood Volunteer, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 16, 2011 at 8:05 am

Shared misery seems to be the only reason to consolidate the school districts, if one reads the detailed comments on Peter's other thread -- a loss of $14M+ of state and federal funding vs. a gain of, at most, $4M if two of the three district offices are eliminated vs. a loss of $3M+ for the transport costs to actually integrate the schools (integration of bodies, rather than of statistics). Given that there is no winner from consolidation, voters will not vote for it.

Could we redirect, therefore, our efforts towards helping the Ravenswood kids this fall rather than debating a political non-starter?

Clearly, $200K is needed to save the 3.5 librarian headcount PLUS pay Menlo Park its $40K subsidy for Belle Haven Library. I vote that the Menlo Redevelopment Agency delay its signage plan until economic conditions improve.

Or I would, if I had a vote, except that Redevelopment Agencies aren't elected, except indirectly; and that taxes supporting these agencies aren't and weren't voted upon, even though they consume 10%-and-growing of our local property tax revenue.

Do I hear an alternative proposal? That might actually help these kids, for whom we profess such concern, in August?


Posted by MJK, a resident of Atherton: other
on Jun 16, 2011 at 8:08 am

Thank you Peter for the web links. I am still searching for specifics in regards to the Ravenswood School District and how consolidation could help them. I am for consolidation of local districts because of the money that could be saved from the duplication of superintendents and staff that now exists. I would like to be able to add reasons this would benefit the kids of Ravenswood.

I know that Ravenswood would lose the current Federal funding they receive. Would this be made up by consolidation? The teachers there feel their qualifications and skills are equal to those of Menlo Park. Is this correct, or an issue that would need to be addressed? The Tinsley program would most likely go away, so the kids currently being integrated into Laurel, Encinal and Oak Knoll would no longer go to these schools. Would there be an end to the free lunch programs at Ravenswood? I think there is a free after-school program as well. Would this go away? I'm pretty sure that class sizes are smaller in Ravenswood than in Menlo Park. Would this change?

As public school attendance is based on geographical locations, the kids would attend the schools closet to their homes. Right now kids from Encinal and kids from Oak Knoll never participate in any activities together, so assume the same would happen if Ravenswood were a part of the district. So it looks like there would be no integration of kids in a classroom setting.

I am agreeing consolidation is a good idea, but searching for arguments to make to others as to why this is a good idea for the kids at Ravenswood. It could help in efforts for consolidation. I am doing research on this, but would appreciate any specifics, as it relates directly to Ravenswood.

Thank you.


Posted by Willow Oaks volunteer, a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Jun 16, 2011 at 1:45 pm

Will Ravenswood School District receive any funds from taxes paid by the new Facebook headquarters?


Posted by willow oaks volunteer, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jun 16, 2011 at 1:56 pm

Reading is fundamental to achieving the kind of education a student needs to become a thoughtful and considerate citizen of the United States. As a mother of a child with a strong reading disability I know first hand how difficult it can be to interest a child in books without having someone in the school able to sit down and read to them. School is not something children have a choice about--so we need to make sure it is good for them.

Thanks


Posted by Willow Oaks volunteer, a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Jun 16, 2011 at 4:07 pm

I would second Ravenswood volunteer's motion to delay signage and re-direct money to Ravenswood and Belle Haven libraries. If I could.


Posted by MJK, a resident of Atherton: other
on Jun 16, 2011 at 4:52 pm

To Willow Oaks Vounteer,

In response to your question about Facebook tax money: I believe that the new Facebook offices will have a Menlo Park address (old Sun Micro buildings). So, tax money generated would go to Menlo Park. Ravenswood School District has an address of East Palo Alto. I'm not sure, but this would imply that Ravenswood would not get any of this tax money. I don't think they did, either, when Sun was there.


Posted by MJK, a resident of Atherton: other
on Jun 17, 2011 at 7:59 am

to Peter Carpenter,

I am trying to put together a case for consolidation of Ravenswood with Menlo Park, Las Lomitas and Woodside. I believe that you agree. You said that ""The economic discrimination in the Ravenswood School District is immoral and probably illegal."" And as I said before, I need specifics as it relates directly to Ravenswood. Granted they are a higher minority group. This is due to the fact that public schools are based on geographical locations (you go to the school you live nearest). Exceptions would be something like Tinsley. You gave me a link on funding, which points out the multitude of issues and different ways of looking at this component. There is a group that will say that funding per student is actually higher in Ravenswood, due to the federal money it receives.

So, can you provide any assistance with specifics? I mainly interested in the "economic discrimination," but would also like to hear about why you think it is "probably illegal."

Thank you.


Posted by Willow Oaks volunteer, a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Jun 17, 2011 at 9:43 am

Willow Oaks also has an address in Menlo Park, as do some of the kids who go there, I believe. So, I don't understand why the money from Facebook would go to some kids in Menlo Park and not others.


Posted by MJK, a resident of Atherton: other
on Jun 17, 2011 at 9:47 am

to Willow Oaks volunteer,

You might be right. I don't really know for sure, but think it goes by district as opposed to schools. Why don't you call the Ravenswood School District this morning and get the superintendent on the phone and ask the question directly? I know that they are still in their offices. When you find out, let us know here.

(If money from Facebook were to go to Willow Oaks, that would mean that this school is also already getting other money from Menlo Park.)


Posted by peter carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 17, 2011 at 9:52 am

peter carpenter is a registered user.

MJK - Brown vs Board of Education established that separate but equal schools are unconstitutional. We have de facto segregation in our local elementary schools and the only answer is to consolidate all the local elementary school districts and then make sure that the facilities, classes and other resources available to every child are the same. The very fact that Ravenswood is considering closing its library facilities is proof enough that, regardless of funding levels, the children in this school district are not receiving the same quality of education as those in adjacent school districts.

A great example of how do do this is Raleigh North Carolina which expanded its single school district to encompass a broad diversity of students and improved the educational outcome in the process.

Read Hope and Despair in the American City: Why There Are No Bad Schools in Raleigh by Grant. "He compares the problem-ridden public school system of his native Syracuse, N.Y., with the superior schools in Raleigh, N.C., arguing that the disparity exists because the Syracuse school district has remained confined to the core city, while Raleigh merged city and suburbs in 1976, creating the Wake County district."


Posted by MJK, a resident of Atherton: other
on Jun 17, 2011 at 10:21 am

to Peter Carpenter,

Thank you. I have read Hope and Despair.

One factor in the case for consolidation is the library issue. But it has to be the library in a Ravenswood school, not one run by the city.

You say ""Brown vs Board of Education established that separate but equal schools are unconstitutional. We have de facto segregation in our local elementary schools...."" The argument I get back here is that attendance at public schools are based on where you live. If an area is predominately minority, then the kids attending the schools there will also be minority.

You also say that '''the only answer is to consolidate all the local elementary school districts."" What districts and what rationale is used in determining which districts? Should that be Menlo Park, Ravenswood, Las Lomitas, Woodside, Redwood City, San Carlos, Palo Alto?

Also, there has also been a proposal and discussion about combining the Palo Alto School District with the Ravenswood School District. This could be a very good idea.


Posted by MJK, a resident of Atherton: other
on Jun 17, 2011 at 11:00 am

The libraries and staffs at schools in the Ravenswood School District have not yet been cut, but it doesn't look good. Technology staff is being reduced, also not good.

But technology staffs and librarians have unfortunately been cut and reduced at all of our local schools. Maybe consolidation and saving on having only one superintendent could shuffle some money in that direction.

It is also looking like the possibility of a Palo Alto District / Ravenswood District consolidation is more feasible and father along that that of Menlo Park. Either way, Ravenswood would win. But specifics are still needed to make this case.


Posted by EPA Resident, a resident of another community
on Jun 17, 2011 at 12:18 pm

@Willow Oaks
Our school money comes from EPA business. Four Seasons Hotel, DLA Piper building, Home Depot, IKEA and on and on.

@Mr. Peter Carpenter
Love our schools and teachers. Don't want anything to do with Menlo Park School District or Woodside. Never even go there. But do go to Palo Alto. Idea of being part of Palo Alto schools not bad. Stop calling us minorities. In some places we are the majority.

@MJK
Work on putting us with Palo Alto not Menlo Park


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 17, 2011 at 12:31 pm

EPA resident - I never "called" anyone minorities. I spoke to the clearcut economic discrimination that exists between our local elementary school districts. I cited State of California data on ethnic makeup which uses a category that the State, not me, describes as percentage minority.


Posted by EPA Resident, a resident of another community
on Jun 17, 2011 at 12:45 pm

@Mr.Peter Carpenter
Our teachers are as good as yours are. We get more Federal money than you do. Give me details about economic discrimination. Don't think we have discrimination here.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 17, 2011 at 12:53 pm

"Give me details about economic discrimination."

How about closing the library and two schools?

How about dramatically different educational outcomes for the children?

Web Link

How about not having private parent foundations which pump millions of extra dollars into the schools?


Posted by from EPA, a resident of another community
on Jun 17, 2011 at 12:55 pm


As a renter here in EPA, I would not support rolling our Ravenswood District into another district. Just what I need.... Making the whole area into a mirror of Palo Alto so that a bunch of rich kids can move in and drive us out of the last affordable homes on the peninsula.

If you are going to do it, at least rename the whole district to be Ravenswood so we can maintain our identity.


Posted by EPA Resident, a resident of another community
on Jun 17, 2011 at 1:26 pm

@MR.Peter Carpenter
Those test scores mean nothing. Some schools teach to them. We don't so no big deal there. Because we merge with you we are then supposed to join your private parent foundation and donate all our money to be divided between all of these schools???? Our libraries have not closed yet. Maybe Ravenswood doesn't want to be part of your school district. We get federal money that is more than what your kids get.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 17, 2011 at 1:28 pm

"Maybe Ravenswood doesn't want to be part of your school district"

Any consolidation would require the approval of the voters in the affected districts.


Posted by Ravenswood Volunteer, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 17, 2011 at 1:48 pm

The Facebook property (ex-Sun Microsystems) sits in that portion of Menlo Park that falls within the Ravenswood School District, but also in the Menlo Park Las Pulgas Redevelopment Agency. Since the Sun Microsystems campus was developed after the Redevelopment Agency began in 1981, the vast majority (95%+) of the property tax for that property goes to the Redevelopment Agency. When the Redevelopment Agency renegotiated agreements with the local school districts in 1991, preparing to issue a new tranche of bonds, it granted Ravenswood a much higher proportion of the new Sun site funds (8.6% for 2000-2010, 10.3% for 2010-2020, 11.9% for 2020-2031) than in the rest of the redevelopment area. (But still much lower than the 35.5% allocation the school district would have received normally.)

Since Facebook is only leasing the property from Oracle (which bought Sun), it is unlikely that the assessment will change -- indeed, the concern was that the property might be reassessed downward, particularly if no tenant could be found, now that Sun is gone.


Posted by EPA Resident, a resident of another community
on Jun 17, 2011 at 2:00 pm

@EPA
Agree with you. Other parents here do too.


Posted by Ravenswood Volunteer, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 17, 2011 at 2:26 pm

MJK, fascinating to learn that PAUSD and Ravenswood are closer to a merger than MPCSD/LLSD and Ravenswood ... I would have thought it was less likely for two reasons: financial and logistical.

Financially, Palo Alto Unified School District runs a sizable Revenue Limit Surplus, $13M of which would be instantly transfered back to the State after a merger with Ravenswood. Thus, right out of the gate, every PAUSD child would lose about $1000/year of educational funding. Spreading the remaining property-tax funds over the expanded population (and assuming that state and federal sources would continue their low-income-district subsidies -- which seems questionable), it appears Ravenswood students would get about $640/student more, while PAUSD students would drop by $320 on top of the $1000 for a total loss of $1320/student.

It's interesting to assume, but hard to imagine, that PAUSD residents would sign up to this. Even if the entire Ravenswood administration budget were saved, the $2.3M would only add $210/student back to PAUSD coffers, leaving Palo Alto students down over $1K/apiece.

And, logistically, East Palo Alto (which makes up over half the Ravenswood District) lies within San Mateo County while Palo Alto lies in Santa Clara County. Do other cross-county school districts exist? The related challenges would involve transferring all Ravenswood high school students from Sequoia Union High School District to PAUSD where, if memory serves, there is already a great deal of population pressure on the two high schools.


Posted by My Objection, a resident of another community
on Jun 17, 2011 at 2:41 pm

I agree with your financial analysis, RV, but would note that the same arguments can be made for both the MP Elem District and most especially for the Las Lomitas District.

But my objection to the specific proposal is not just that overall revenue would be reduced. My complaint is that Peter is not going to be satisfied with financial parity (since after all the Ravenswood District is already receiving more than both MPE and I think the PAUSD on a per student basis).

No, he wants to reallocate resources (read move additional moneys out of the better schools) until all of the "disadvantaged" schools are just as attractive. But since the "good" schools also come with parents who have been able to afford to send their kids to preschool, have had the luxury of time to read to them every night, and have the advantage of education being a cultural priority, there will never be enough of a reallocation to be able to satisfy his purposes.




Posted by Ravenswood Volunteer, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 17, 2011 at 4:50 pm

My Objection -- there does seem to be an agenda here that I just can't fathom. There certainly doesn't seem to be any interest in saving the libraries in two months, given the "let's look at an impossibly big picture" feint.

Pragmatically, there isn't enough money in any of the three school districts (PAUSD, MPCSD or LLSD) -- or maybe all three together -- to even the economic playing field for Ravenswood kids, given the disparity in parental education, home language and environment, and socioeconomic status. And, given the way California school finance works, this argument (which seems to get restarted at every slim opportunity) just seems like an ongoing effort to either:
(a) complain about 'privileged' MPCSD/LLSD children or, since consolidation won't ever come to pass, try to irritate any parents who read this.
(b) push an anti-administration agenda -- either blindly against administrative costs in general or specifically against the members of the Ravenswood School Board.
(c) derail any effort to shine a light on redevelopment costs to the schools, and how those pockets should be examined.
or
(d) to drive East Menlo Park property values up, even if it means driving the current residents out.

Based on watching the parents of Ravenswood kids at book fairs (admittedly, a slim sampling -- but, perhaps, broader than many people's), fair wages for a hard day's work might be a better starting point than consolidation. It is heartbreaking to see them pull out small wads of single dollar bills, then count them out carefully, to buy their child a slim book and a glittery pencil. Whenever I see it, I am reminded that illegal immigration because "Americans won't do these jobs," really means "save a nickel on the backs of the poor."

But, I've just realized, the librarians are union workers at Ravenswood -- is this why we keep going through this silly debate, rather than working on the problem as an online community? To punish and reduce a union?

I hear lip service being paid to the kids, but all the solutions are aimed at destroying the Ravenswood administration. Perhaps an explanation of why that end is so useful would help the rest of us.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 17, 2011 at 5:10 pm

"There certainly doesn't seem to be any interest in saving the libraries in two months, given the "let's look at an impossibly big picture" feint."

Short term solutions to a long term problem are seldom worth doing. The short term problem is not only saving the libraries but also that two schools that are going to be closed.

The long term problem is providing equal educational opportunity for all of our children and that problem is difficult and tough and political dynamite. I prefer to take on the tougher task of finding a long term solution to a long term problem - others may choose to work on short term solutions.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 17, 2011 at 5:22 pm

I would note that no one on this thread has proposed even a short term solution to the library closures.


Posted by MJK, a resident of Atherton: other
on Jun 17, 2011 at 5:50 pm

to Ravenswood Volunteer

You make some good financial points, but as My Objection points out, the scenario would be the same in Menlo Park or Los Lomitas.

What I heard about consolidation with Palo Alto is just discussion at this point, but it's more than Menlo Park. There are 4 fairly small elementary districts that all feed into the Sequoia High School District: Menlo Park, Los Lomitas, Woodside and Portola Valley. There is absolutely no concurrence that these schools should consolidate. In fact there is widespread opposition to any change. Just go to any district PTO meeting or any Foundation meeting and you will see that the schools in the individual districts can't agree with each other.

I would disagree that ""all the solutions are aimed at destroying the Ravenswood administration."" To the contrary. The intent in combining school districts is to provide a better education for ALL children and to save money by eliminating multiple superintendents. This money could then be directed to the classroom. It could well be that the Ravenswood administration would be the new leaders for whatever new district would be created.

But as mentioned, this would require a lot of consensus and approval by voters. That appears to be a long ways off.

So, in the meantime. yes, some immediate attention to budget issues affecting next year is in order. Your concern are the libraries. I know a lot of this might sound trite, but given the short timeframes and need for immediate action, it's almost back to the "bake sale approach."

A couple of suggestions: Make sure that your district administration has someone who is actively working on applying for grants. You would be amazed at the money that is out there. The grants are often only require a very simple application. (This was done in a district south of our area with great success). That could be your biggest source of immediate revenue.

Next, apply to every joint school/business program you can find. These can range from "deals" with such businesses as Four Seasons, Home Depot and DLA Piper, to places like Staples, Office Depot or local stores (don't have to be in East Palo Alto).

Go over to someplace like Half Price Books in Fremont. They daily receive books (many for children and lots of textsbooks) and see what is being given away. They receive truckloads of books daily and donate the majority. Many of these books are brand new.

Make sure that you have escrip in every school and help sign up every parent, grandparent and relative. It's easy and no out-of-pocket cost to anyone. But you get money back. Great group and very helpful.

Facebook is moving in nearby. Why not contact them and get some kind of a program going? Tell them what you need. Zuckerberg would probably love to help out.

Put an all out plea in the local papers just asking for donations, letting people know that it's for the libraries for the kids. There just might be one person out there that has some money to donate.

I would leave no stone unturned. The worst that can happen is that someone can say "no." The best is that funds roll in to help the kids. Just do it in a nice, respectful way.

Work with the district to put a plan together and then get it out on the street and hopefully other residents will step up to help out.









Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 17, 2011 at 5:54 pm

" I am reminded that illegal immigration because "Americans won't do these jobs," really means "save a nickel on the backs of the poor.""

This is utter nonsense. Illegal immigration has totally destroyed the trades in this country. They are not doing jobs that "Americans won't do." They are doing jobs Americans won't do for less than what they are worth. Illegals will do work that Americans rightly think is worth $20/hr for $10/hr. THAT is the problem. That and the scum that employ them. I have no problem with LEGAL immigrants. Legal immigrants pay income taxes, social security taxes and other payroll taxes. Illegals pay none of these, yet we are required to educate their children for free and give them medical care for free. I'm sorry, illegals are a net DRAIN on our economy. I have never employed illegals, nor will I ever employ them.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 17, 2011 at 5:59 pm

"My complaint is that Peter is not going to be satisfied with financial parity"

What I seek is an equal educational opportunity for every child which may or may not be achieved with financial parity but requires that each child have access to the same quality of education. How each child then takes advantage of that opportunity will depend on the child and on their family.

I do not believe in equal outcomes but rather in equal opportunities.


Posted by MJK, a resident of Atherton: other
on Jun 17, 2011 at 6:27 pm

Very interesting article in today's San Jose Mercury News. It is on the front page title: Education-Racial Divide at Schools Spurs Policy Changes


Posted by Ravenswood Volunteer, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 17, 2011 at 10:14 pm

Menlo Voter, my point exactly.

Peter, congratulations. You've threadjacked successfully. I have no more time to waste seeing if people are willing to approach the Redevelopment Agencies ... perhaps MLK will set up some bake sales and use them as an opportunity to actually research the on-the-ground reality at Ravenswood.

I leave you with one quote, your own, as reported in the Almanac, referring to your time at Stanford Medical Center. "That was probably the least successful job of my entire career," Mr. Carpenter says. Their cultures were too different, and "culture makes all the difference in the world."




Posted by MJK, a resident of Atherton: other
on Jun 17, 2011 at 10:30 pm

to Ravenswood Volunteer

My intent was only to give some thought starters on potential ways to get some immediate funds to help save the libraries.

As for your comment on my doing "research," I understand more than you will ever know. I grew up in a home considered below poverty. After putting myself through college while working and supporting my 5 siblings, I taught in one of the most disadvantaged areas in the Bay Area---and not particularly safe either. The subject was ESL and history. I wanted to truly help other kids.

I continue to help however and whenever I can. Any money I donate goes to schools in Ravenswood. I have also chaired several projects for Willow Oaks. I do not have kids in or live in that District.

I'm sorry you did not feel my suggestions were helpful.


Posted by Ms. Watkins, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jun 18, 2011 at 11:02 pm

I can't believe Menlo Park is turning its back on the Belle Haven Community once again! It's time, no it's past time for the citywide community to stand up and demand more from our City Government! Come on city entry signage instead of books for kids, what's wrong with this picture?


Posted by MJK, a resident of Atherton: other
on Jun 19, 2011 at 10:57 am

to Ms. Watkins,


Yes, it does seem wrong. Have you written your city council? You can email them individually and as a group. You can go to a City Council meeting and speak up. You can get together friends and neighbors to speak up as well. That's at least doing something proactive and give visibility to the situation and maybe some change.

I don't live in Menlo Park but have volunteered in Ravenswood schools and have emailed your City Council.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 19, 2011 at 11:34 am

"I can't believe Menlo Park is turning its back on the Belle Haven Community once again!"

The best way to deal with this divide is to simply remove it. All of the local elementary school districts should be consolidated into one with the objective of giving every child the same educational opportunity.


Posted by MJK, a resident of Atherton: other
on Jun 19, 2011 at 12:51 pm

to Peter Carpenter

I agree with you but consolidation seems like light years away. There is so much opposition from all sides: very vocal opposition from Ravenswood families (as shown here from EPA, EPA Resident and Ravenswood Volunteer) and from MP/Atherton/Woodside families (not as vocal, but it is there).

That is why I have tried to make a very solid case on why consolidation is specifically a good idea and needed in our area.

Some have asked for short term help for things like the libraries. I know you are not in favor of short term fixes, but might just at least keep the libraries going until something like consolidation is a reality. Unfortunately suggestions given for that have been rejected by Ravenswood families.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 19, 2011 at 12:59 pm

MJK - you and I are in total agreement. I worry that focusing only on short term solutions allows people to avoid the long term problems.

Just imagine what would happen if we organized a group of people who brought the interested parties (parents, teachers, administrators, students, school boards and other local elected officials)from all of these local elementary school districts together and they made a commitment to work together - both for short term issues like the library and mid term issues like share services and long term issues like consolidation.


Posted by R.Gordon, a resident of another community
on Jun 19, 2011 at 3:41 pm

[Post removed. Please focus on the topic and avoid attacking other posters. ]


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 19, 2011 at 3:50 pm

Some people curse the darkness and others light candles.

I prefer to light candles.


Posted by Raymond Mueller, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 19, 2011 at 7:06 pm

Neighbors, I met with the director of the Ravenswood Education Foundation on Thursday. There are ample ways concerned community members can start volunteering and contributing right now. The families in the Ravenswood school district and the Foundation have already accomplished so much, it is inspiring. I attached the web link for the Foundation above in an earlier post. Debating the issues, writing letters, etc, all serve a public purpose, but you can start physically making an immediate difference right now.


Posted by Joan, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 20, 2011 at 8:04 am

Mr. Mueller, Thanks for your suggestion. It took me awhile to find the link in your earlier post, so I'm posting it again to make it easier.

Web Link


Posted by Raymond Mueller, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 20, 2011 at 9:02 am

Thank you Joan.


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of another community
on Jun 20, 2011 at 2:58 pm

Seriously, go to Mark Zuckerberg. See if he'll put $$ towards the area he is calling home. He's living not far from the MP/EPA border, his new offices are in MP & he allegedly cares about education. I normally wouldn't suggest hitting up a rich guy, but time is of the essence here.

Peter? Might you suggest it? One of the Ravenswood volunteers who already do such good work?


Posted by Willow Oaks volunteer, a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Jun 20, 2011 at 5:08 pm

@Ravenswood volunteer, or anyone who knows:

1. How much money, in your estimation, is the Ravenswood School District losing per year on the Oracle property/Facebook assessment?

2. Why is it unlikely this could be re-assesed? Are other commercial properties paying 35% to other local school districts?

3. What does it take to re-asses a commercial property?

I like the local character of small schools districts, and think parents and teachers do too. Having taught in a large, unified school district, I have seen that inequities exist between each individual school in those districts. I do not think consolidation will solve our problems, or be feasible. But, I could be wrong.

It seems to me that – at the very least – we should eliminate any economic discrimination that may exist between districts, such as unfair assessments, if they, indeed, exist.

As for a short term solution to the libraries, I did see a suggestion on the table: ask the City Council to re-direct signage funds to Ravenswood libraries.

To me, this has been a fruitful dialogue. I have learned a lot and have more reading to do. Thanks to everyone who has participated.



Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 20, 2011 at 5:22 pm

Under Prop 13 there is zero chance of either a property reassessment of the Facebook property - because Facebook did not buy the property but leased it. One more example of Prop 13's and its bizarre implementation's fatal flaws.

And the redevelopment agency has no incentive to change the existing agreement.


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