Almanac

Viewpoint - April 21, 2010

Guest opinions: Support pours in for Measure C

Math teacher, parent urges a 'yes' vote

Editor:

I'm writing to encourage all members of our community to vote yes on Measure C, the parcel tax for the Menlo Park City School District.

I am a math teacher and boys' lacrosse coach at Menlo-Atherton High School. I have a daughter who is a freshman in high school and two young boys who will be attending Oak Knoll in just a few years.

I have taught and coached over a thousand high school students in the past 14 years. Many of these students are well prepared for high school due to their experiences in elementary and middle school. Unfortunately, some are not well prepared. The students who come unprepared for the rigors of a high school like Menlo-Atherton will face an uphill battle to succeed.

A strong elementary and middle school education plays an integral role in a student's success in high school, college and beyond. Without the passage of Measure C, our schools — Laurel, Encinal, Oak Knoll and Hillview — will be under-funded. We cannot let that happen.

Steven Kryger

Doris Lane, Menlo Park

Board president explains the need for Measure C

Editor:

The city of Menlo Park is known for its award-winning schools, which have achieved national and state recognition because of the tremendous support of teachers, administrators, parents and community members.

We need Measure C to preserve our schools, which we have worked so hard to develop. The Menlo Park City School District faces a $2 million budget deficit next year due to growing enrollment and reduced state funding. Currently, we spend 87 percent of the budget on teachers and other essential staff. Future cuts will come at the expense of teachers.

In March, the school board issued 14 preliminary layoff notices to teachers that will be finalized if Measure C does not pass. Those layoffs mean more students will be added to each class, teacher preparation time will be reduced, programs will be cut, and students' classroom experience will be compromised.

I am voting "yes" on Measure C to give our district the resources it needs to maintain the quality of our children's education.

Jeff Child, president

Menlo Park City School District Board of Trustees

Ekedahl family is behind Measure C

Editor:

My parents and I have lived in Menlo Park for over 40 years. I attended both Oak Knoll and Hillview and my mother and father put in countless hours in the classrooms helping to make sure the schools had everything they needed.

Since that time, we have seen enrollment grow quickly at Oak Knoll and the other schools in the Menlo Park City district. While many things have changed, the one thing that has remained consistent is the support the Menlo Park community has provided to keep our schools strong and to provide the best education possible to our children.

This community has a history of offering support in times of need. By 2017, enrollment in our four schools is expected to have increased 44 percent over what it was in 2000, and because we are a "basic aid" district we receive no additional funding for each new student.

This month we are being asked to step up again by passing Measure C. As parents and grandparents of three boys at Oak Knoll, we are frightened that we may lose some of the very important educational programs that our schools have been able to offer, including art, PE, music, and a fulltime trained librarian.

Please join us in voting for Measure C.

Phil, Maureen, Robert and Diana Ekedahl

Bay Laurel Drive and Chateau Drive, Menlo Park

Pediatricians urge a yes vote on 'C'

Editor:

As pediatricians with children in the Menlo Park City School District, we support the passage of Measure C.

Without Measure C funding, enrichment programs and teachers, including our physical education specialists, will be cut. Physical activity is known to improve academic achievement and positively influence concentration, memory and classroom behavior, as well as improve overall health and well-being.

Our current skilled physical education specialists provide an enjoyable, organized introduction to physical activities, including individual and team sports, promoting basic skills, and fostering an enjoyment of physical activity that extends beyond the school day.

Please join us in supporting measure C to keep our children active and healthy.

Katrien Burlinson and Laurie Chiang, M.D.s

Community pediatricians and district parents

Comments

Posted by Publius, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 20, 2010 at 11:42 pm

The propaganda machine around this measure is just unreal. The countless flyers, mailings, opinions pieces from parents/kids; a passionate few running a very well organized PR machine.

We already pay an additional $565.14 now the district wants an additional $178 for seven year? However, how come these limited term parcel taxes never seem to end?


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 21, 2010 at 2:12 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Before you believe the headline on this topic about 'support pours in' for Measure C, go to a much longer thread on this Forum which raises fundamental questions about Measure C and the level of support for it:
Web Link
Voting starts for parcel tax election in Menlo Park, Portola Valley school districts


Posted by Publius, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 21, 2010 at 7:22 am

I guess The Almanac is the local version of Fox News.


Posted by propaganda plus, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 21, 2010 at 8:36 am

The amount of propaganda accompanying this measure is surreal and makes me wonder what my kids are learning in school! I've discussed the measure with a number of people who aren't parents -- and therefore aren't that familiar with the issues -- and explained why it makes the most sense, and is long-term best for our schools and community, to vote no.

This tax needs 2/3 support to pass, and I hope it doesn't even come close!


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 21, 2010 at 8:48 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Any unit of local government which needs a parcel tax is, by definition, not balancing its budget.

Deficits mean that revenues are less than expenditures - simple.

Since it is properly difficult to arbitrarily raise taxes that means that expenditures have to be cut. Agreeing to increase salaries and benefits is not cutting expenditures. Failing to properly amortize unfunded pension liabilities as a current year's expense is not cutting expenditures. The Sherson Lehman hit was totally avoidable if the district had practiced sound financial management and pulled its funds from the badly managed County pool.

The taxpayers should not have to pay for poor management.

A family, faced with fixed or falling income, has to reduce its expenditures. In a family only the children have recourse to the parents when they need more 'revenue'. It is time that all units of local government stopped behaving like children and stopped treating their taxpayers as parents with bottomless financial resources.


Posted by Publius, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 21, 2010 at 8:49 am

Propaganda Plus. Make sure that you continue to education those that are not parents and encourage them to vote. Sometimes it is the apathy of the majority that allows the vocal minority to pass these measures as those passionate about an issue tend to vote.

We only need 1/3+1.


Posted by Mom of 2, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 21, 2010 at 12:12 pm

I suspect that support is not "pouring in" and therefore the all out assault on the media to print stories that are Pro Measure C.

As one of the posters above mentioned - we need to stop adding parcel tax upon parcel tax to fund the Menlo Park schools. It is is egregious and not financially viable in the long term. Nearly 2/3 of my current property taxes go to fund the local schools. I am already supporting the local schools to the tune of $20,000/year. I've had enough! Vote NO on C


Posted by Get Real, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 21, 2010 at 12:27 pm


Surprise -- several district parents would like the entire community to help foot the bill for more funds for the local schools.

Little mention is made that the budget / student has seen steady growth over the last decade except for the forthcoming year. Nor that Menlo Park residents agreed to a greater than $110,000,000 35-year bond measure to fund school capital programs.

Menlo Park will continue to boast of having an excellent school system with Measure C failing. The community is already clearly behind providing extra support for schools---there are just some of us who feel the limit has been reached.

As Peter Carpenter points out---please check the other thread for more details.

Please join me in voting NO on Measure C


Posted by Get Real, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 21, 2010 at 4:11 pm

Please let your neighbors know to look for this prepaid mail-only ballot. Participation IS important. School districts generally use this format for parcel tax elections since they can count on reaching all school parents via concentrated messaging at schools and part of the general population can be counted on to overlook the ballot. So far, there are less than 5,000 ballots that have been received.

Please VOTE!


Posted by Publius, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 22, 2010 at 10:30 am

As Posted On: Guest Opinion: Support for Measure C Seriously Divided

Ms. Luskin,

Thank you for posting your argument for supporting Measure C. However I would like to challenge some of your comments/assumptions.

First, please stop using Prop 13 as the wows for all the states and local financial problems. In fact, Prop 13 has done what it was intended to do – stop the state and local governments from raising property taxes at will. Yes, there are loop holes in the current law, however to think we can solve our fiscal problems by just raising taxes on the back of businesses is short sighted. We do not need to make this state more business unfriendly than it already is.

Second, I would make an argument that districts like Menlo Park has done better in the long run with its current status as a basic aid district (or better named "excess revenue" districts).

Many do not remember (as most living in the Menlo Park area with kids are not natives) that in the 1970's there were a series of California Supreme Court cases starting with Serrano v. Priest, (Web Link) which found that California's education budgeting system of using local property taxes inheriting lead to unequal access to education based on race and social economic status. This lead to the state passing legislation that moved the funding model to the state rather to the local system. Somewhere over the years however, this model has shifted back to the system of basic aid and state funded districts. This has lead to the exact same unequal access to educational opportunities as before Serrano vs. Priest with wealthy districts like Menlo Park, Portola Valley, Palo Alto, leveraging the wealth of the property values to fund their schools at a MUCH higher per student cost than those districts with lower property values and lower incomes. And low and behold we are back to racial and social economic discrimination.

Third, regarding lack of Federal Education dollars, California was INELIGIBLE for hundreds of millions in federal grants issued by the Obama administration because of current state laws and teacher union contracts and recent attempts by the Governor to amend the education laws was met with VERY STIFF resistance by the CTA. Everyone is welcome to read the following press release (Web Link).

Fourth, the cuts proposed by Ranella are not catastrophic by any stretch as compared to other districts in the area. Credentialed teachers as librarians are a luxury, paid class room aides are a luxury, Vice Principals at the smaller schools are a luxury. 20 student class size is a luxury. When the economy improves, maybe some of those cuts can be restored. Our children will NOT SUFFER. They will go to college and be successful in what life they choose.

Finally, California's rank being lower than 21 other states, for a state with the diverse population and thus educational issues related to such a diverse population, being 22 out of 50 states is not a bad achievement given the challenges. Now if you at the MPSCD with regards to per student spend as compared to all the other districts in the state, I would venture to guess that MPSCD ranks in the top five percent for spend.

Now for my questions that have not been answered by the Measure C supporters:

1. Has the MPCSD Teacher Union and the district administrators made any real concessions? During these times, asking for a 5% or 10% salary reduction and a 15% reduction for administrators would be a good faith effort on the part of the district. Cities and municipal agencies are asking this of their employees.

If the district is asking for a seven year tax, then a seven year salary reduction seems to be reasonable. To counter the argument that we need to pay some of the highest salaries to attract the best teachers, with 23,000 teachers across the state laid off, I doubt any reduction in salary or benefits would cause teachers to leave when there are zero jobs other places, not to mention there are a lot of excellent teachers looking for work.

We already contribute an additional $500 plus in school parcel taxes, (which in my opinion is contributing to the growing disparity in equal access to education). It is time to stop coming to the public well with another $178 parcel tax which although positioned as seven year tax in reality never seem to drop from the tax roles

I urge all undecided voters to consider adding another tax that will go to support the status quo. Please join me and other concerned residents to vote NO on Measure C.


Posted by anotheryesvoter, a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 22, 2010 at 11:07 am

Undecided voters please learn more about why it is so important to vote yes on Measure C at www.keepourschoolsstrong.org

Vote Yes on Measure C!!


Posted by Plubius, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 22, 2010 at 11:35 am

Yes voters, please do look at the site and see all the fear mongering that has been posted. If you read the "what will failure of Measure C mean" one would think our children will fail. Remember voters this site is hosted by a very vocal group of Menlo Park parents that want to retain what they have even though just about every other school district, city, and municipal agency is being required to tighten the belt.

Please send a message to the district by voting No on Measure C. Stop coming to the public well each time you need money.


Posted by Plubius, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 22, 2010 at 7:40 pm

I noticed that in the FAQs on the support Measure C site, it states

"Measure C would add $178 to this amount for only the next 7 years. The cost is adjusted annually to reflect inflation."

Question:
Does this mean that the $178 is only for the first year and will be adjusted for inflation each of the next 6 year? If so, what will this inflation rate be based on?


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