News

Tonight: What's next for Menlo Park school district?

Board will consider staff cuts at March 14 meeting, starting at 6 p.m.

While voters in the Menlo Park City School District overwhelmingly approved a $360 parcel tax measure on March 7, the district's work to avoid a projected $5 million deficit is not over.

On Friday, San Mateo County released the semi-official results showing 79 percent voted yes on Measure X, well in excess of the 66.7 percent necessary for passage. A total of 5,747 voted yes and 1,531, no. Just 42 percent of registered voters cast ballots.

The measure authorizes the district to impose an annual tax of $360 per parcel for seven years.

Last May, after two parcel tax measures failed to gain the needed two-thirds voter approval, the district held a series of public meetings to discuss how to both cut expenses and increase revenues. The school board ultimately decided on a combination of the two, asking for a parcel tax purposely not designed to solve all its budget woes. Now the district must decide how it will cut spending.

On election night, Erik Burmeister, the district's assistant superintendent who will become superintendent on July 1, said the district's work is far from over. "I'm grateful that the community has given us this vote of confidence," he said, "and I'm committed to using not only their financial resources responsibly, but also their trust."

"I look forward to a continued conversation about the impact great schools have on our community," Mr. Burmeister said.

The school board's first task at this week's March 14 school board meeting will be to go over a list of resignations, retirements and job share requests received by human resources, "which will free up some space in the organization," he said. "We're still cutting" teacher positions, he said, but "we're likely not going to have to lay anybody off."

However, there may be a few layoffs of non-teaching employees, Mr. Burmeister said. Between two and four non-teaching positions will be eliminated, he said, but at least one of those is currently vacant.

The school board will meet Tuesday, March 14, starting at 6 p.m. in the TERC building, 181 Encinal Ave., Atherton.

Because kindergarten enrollment for fall 2017 recently closed, the district will soon be able to forecast what its fall enrollment will be, Mr. Burmeister said. That information will help to determine if the 13 temporary teachers on the rolls will be able to return in the fall, Mr. Burmeister said.

Details of other spending cuts will probably wait for the board's April meeting, he said, when the district is more clear on its staffing for the 2017-18 school year.

Comments

4 people like this
Posted by Observations
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 14, 2017 at 10:32 am

"Just 42 percent of registered voters cast ballots."

If it's important to have high voter turnout, the parcel tax vote should have occurred during the November election, which had 82% turnout.

Nonetheless, 42% is still better than than the 37% last spring. And the county is still tallying ballots. We'll know the final voter turnout numbers by the end of the week.


Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 14, 2017 at 1:52 pm

I bet MPCSD parents comprised of a large percentage of those voters.


3 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 14, 2017 at 4:10 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

From: Peter Carpenter
Subject: The District's future
Date: March 14, 2017 at 3:38:50 PM PDT
To: School Board <board@mpcsd.org>
Cc: Erik Burmeister <eburmeister@mpcsd.org>, Maurice Ghysels <mghysels@mpcsd.org>, Barbara Wood <bwood@almanacnews.com>, Kevin Kelly <kkelly@bayareanewsgroup.com>, jnowell@padailypost.com, price@padailypost.com

I will be unable to attend tonight’s meeting so I will provide my comments by this email.

The taxpayers have given the District a very short lifeline to make significant changes before you will simply run out of money.

The problem is simply that the District’s total payroll (over which you have total control) , when properly burdened with your pension liabilities (over which you have no control), exceeds your current and future revenues.

The only solution over which you have any control is to reduce your total payroll either by reducing the number of employees and or reducing the District’s average compensation.

All other saving and reductions will be insufficient to avoid a deficit situation.


Peter Carpenter


Like this comment
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Mar 14, 2017 at 4:55 pm

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

See: "Hiding the true cost of the government schooling system" Web Link
The District could ask for changes in SB 807 to include a revenue neutralizing element to offset the 4% to 6% benefit arising from teacher exemption from state income tax. An across-the-board salary reduction could effect that neutralization. This would make for a significant reduction in the unfunded liability of the CalSTRS pension fund.

Unfortunately, that does not address the issue of current retirees who are retroactively receiving subsidies to fund their 24K gold pensions.


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