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School parcel tax ballots due next Tuesday

Original post made on Apr 27, 2010

Voters planning to mail in their ballots for the Menlo Park City School District or the Portola Valley School District parcel tax election need to act soon: Ballots must be returned by 8 p.m. Tuesday, May 4.


Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, April 27, 2010, 11:40 AM

Comments (60)

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Posted by Get Real
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 27, 2010 at 12:42 pm

Menlo Park residents already contribute $565 a year as a parcel tax for school operations. This tax grows with inflation and has no expiry date. We also are paying for the next 30+ years on over $110,000,000 of bond issues for school capital projects (taxed at a rate of 0.039% on assessed home value). Voting no on this additional school-destined parcel tax is not going to send up the red flag that Menlo Park does not adequately fund our school and cause a drop in home values. On the contrary---I think it will send the message that our city and constituents are fiscally responsible. The impact to school services is going to be negligible in my opinion---with some small increase in class size, and reduction of some Spanish and PE teachers.

The Yes on C supporters like to quote "only 50 cents a day". How about $5.00 a day/kid? That's how much it would cost 2/3 of the school parents to pay in extra contributions to the menlo park school foundation to cover the shortfalls in the projected budget. I pay to send my kids to private school as it offers a different syllabus and focus than the public schools. I'm willing to pay the substantially larger amount of annual cost since it is important for me---and let me tell you that it requires some financial sacrifice. If the programs on the cutting board are so important to Menlo Park school parents, let them make the relatively small additional financial commitment.

There are also some erroneous messages going out about how many teachers will be laid off. Currently, the maximum number would be 14, but this is likely going to be much less (as stated by Ken Ranella during a school board meeting). Note that these "teachers" also include librarians so the actual impact to kids in class is likely to be small.

The public taxpayers are the only people with a vested interest in keeping school costs to a reasonable amount. The school board and superintendent's jobs are to make sure the spend the funds efficiently---but not to minimize the total revenue.

Please join me in voting for conservative fiscal policy.

Please join me in voting NO on Measure C


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Posted by kids and schools supporter
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 27, 2010 at 1:04 pm

The school district has done an excellent job of being fiscally responsible. The fact is that enrollment is increasing, and our community does not get additional money from the state to cover this enrollment increase. Either we raise revenue to maintain the same quality of education given the enrollment increase, or we raise class sizes and cut services. It's that simple. This parcel tax will ensure we maintain a high quality of education for the children of our community. It will also protect our property values which any realtor will tell you are significantly affected by the quality of school district.


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Posted by Peter Caryotakis
a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Apr 27, 2010 at 1:05 pm

Hey, Get Real...
Who are you?
If you want to be taken seriously, and you want that given the number of times you have reposted your points, how about you come out with WHO YOU ARE??
Get Real. You aren't saying anything nasty or bad....

As for your costs for private school, I'd be happy to back legislation to make that tax deductible. That's only fair since the $5/day... which is $900 per year would be tax deductible for those of us with kids in the public school system. I guess it's easy to say that PUBLIC education now should cost the parents not just the $1000 (or more) that foundations are asking, but you think $2000 is reasonable. Great. That's the spirit that created America.

Hope you Get Real soon.


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Posted by elizabeth Ouren
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Apr 27, 2010 at 1:18 pm

Our wonderful public schools are a great asset to our community. Many families move to Menlo Park to send their kids to these schools. We want to keep our schools strong for the future. Our school superintendent and school board have shown fiscal responsibility by making tough choices to minimize costs. However with the decrease in funding from the state this year and the increased costs due to more children in the district has caused a big gap in our school budget.

Cuts were made last year and will have to be made again this year. The school board has already identified the cuts to be made. There are two levels of cuts. To prevent the more extensive cuts that would erode important programs and services, we hope that the community will support Measure C.

Our kids, wonderful teachers, and school community need your support. I hope you will join me in voting YES on Measure C.

Respectfully, Elizabeth Ouren


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Posted by Rebecca Bloom
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Apr 27, 2010 at 1:59 pm

At this point in the campaign, I would guess that most people have decided which side of the fence they are on. Though at times I've felt that the tone of discourse on this blog has been less than totally respectful, I'd still like to thank people who have posted because they care about the future of our schools, our children and our community. We may differ about how we think we should be moving forward in this world of shrinking resources, but at least we can come to the conversation with informed opinions and a desire to solve the problems that we'll otherwise certainly be handing to the next generation.


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Posted by Get Real
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 27, 2010 at 2:42 pm

Dear Peter:

The majority of children in Menlo Park are educated within the public school system. I encounter these children and parents quite frequently as I volunteer in the community sports programs and other activities. My position on this tax is to reject it, thus taking away a benefit (an unneeded one in my opinion) from the public school kids. My read on many public school parents is that they don't react rationally to this viewpoint, and I don't want to risk any collateral spillover to relationships my children have with their public school friends.

I distinguish in my posts what items are fact, and which are opinion. That should be sufficient to debate the necessity of this tax. My identity is irrelevant so WHY DO YOU CARE?

As far as the spirit of America goes, I don't believe we were founded on a sense of entitlement and largesse. I don't understand why you (or parents) would be unwilling to consider donating $2000 / year towards schools to maintain what are in my opinion premium levels of service. If you include the capital infrastructure contributions, this is less than 15% of the annual cost of educating each child. I personally think it would be a great thing for making parents more involved and active in the choices their school make towards expenses.


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Posted by Peter Caryotakis
a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Apr 27, 2010 at 3:40 pm

Get Real,
Why would I care who you are? Hmmm. You seem to use this forum a lot for your opinion, so it would mean a bit more to me if I knew who you were.

As for this country, just you look at the history and figure out where "the American Dream" would be without Public Education.

Oddly if the majority think that the parcel tax is a good thing, then it will pass, and folks will just have to let democracy have its way. That is one problem with democracy. The founding fathers weren't all too keen on trusting the voters either, so your points are all important. Let's keep in mind that some will vote for or against this and can opt out of the parcel tax either way. I'm not sure how fair that is for either side. I do know that what is being offered to kids no days in terms of education is actually better than what we all had as kids, so it does make sense that we (as parents) pay more, but I would hate to see us slip into the 1800th century mode of just having the rich managing to afford a quality education.

Again... I'd be happy to let you out of your obligation to pay for this parcel tax if you are paying for a private education, just as I'm happy to avoid imposing taxes on those with fixed incomes. Having everyone feel they can turn their back on social programs or community organizations and leave it to someone else to handle is a road that I'd rather the nation doesn't venture down. Calling such things "socialism" (I know you haven't gone there) is pretty insane. We all pay for things together because it makes good capitalistic sense to do that.

Oh.. .but wait.......... we have to have MORE than 2/3 of us buying into this idea of community, so actually 1/3 of the people can stop the rest of from acting the way we feel we need to as a community.

So... $2000 a year........ ok...... we'll see if the community of parents, grand parents, alums, and school supporters think the added $900 a year is the way to go, or whether using their vote makes sense.

(Personally..... I'm getting to the point where I want to put the money into the other school feeding into the Sequoia District)


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Posted by Get Real
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 27, 2010 at 6:35 pm

Peter,

I've never used this forum before the Measure C parcel tax was proposed. I began using it in response to what I saw was an unfair push by a well-organized and vocal minority of the tax base that was supporting Measure C.

Typically most school-directed parcel taxes pass with only a small fraction over the necessary 66%. When you look back at past elections (feel free to review election results on shapethefuture.org), it turns out that the "yes" votes are about equal to the number of school district parents. So, in other words, a well-organized group of parents, benefitting from school-directed communications, phone lists, e-mail lists, etc., and who represent a minority of less than 1/3 the registered voters in the district are fully capable of passing a tax that devolves on the entire community. Is this a comment on the apathy of all the other voters? I don't think so---I think it's a question of fairly raising the issues before everyone. My hope is that we see a majority of registered voters mailing in the ballot. If this happens---and Measure C passes, I will be the first to post to the forum congratulating the Yes on C team.

And please don't intimate that I am against supporting public education. I'm not---I just think we are already providing excellent additional support (see my first comment) and that this parcel tax is excess. People tend to forget that the last decade has seen steady growth in funding/student each year---and this is the first year that there will be a decline. That's not a disaster---it just needs to be managed appropriately.


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Posted by Shari Conrad
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Apr 27, 2010 at 6:48 pm

I want to believe that we live in a community that cares about providing a great education to all our children. That's really what Measure C is all about. The parents in our school districts already subsidize the schools with contributions to the PTOs and the Foundation. The reality this year is that the growing number of children enrolling in the schools combined with the decreasing funds coming from the state have put the schools in a situation where the parents can't fill the gap. That's why we have asked the entire community to help keep our schools strong. This isn't an ask to make the schools better, just to try and preserve core education programs and teachers. I hope our community supports Measure C and shows that we do care about every child and when the need arises we pull together to come up with a solution. Yes on C!

On another note, I am trying to teach my children that it is OK to disagree with people, as long as you do it respectfully. The best ideas and solutions come out of open debate with a honest sharing of ideas. My underlying message is that it is fine to disagree. It is preferable to respectfully debate with someone than pretend to agree with them and not really believe it. I am new to on-line blogs, but I have found I much prefer to use my real name. If I am not proud of my beliefs, or not willing to be open, then I should not post.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 27, 2010 at 6:59 pm

Shari Conrad states:"I want to believe that we live in a community that cares about providing a great education to all our children. That's really what Measure C is all about."

We already provide a great education for our children - measure C is simply asking the taxpayers to pay even more because the school district cannot properly manage the very significant tax dollars that are already provided.

Those of us who are opposed to measure C are not opposed to a great education for our children but to an inappropriate and unnecessary tax.


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Posted by public school parent
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Apr 27, 2010 at 7:11 pm

There are people who have posted negative comments about schools and used their real names. They and their children have subsequently been subject to reprisals. Can you blame us for being anonymous?

Equating passage of Measure C to living in a community that cares about educating children is a logical fallacy. I think we all want our kids to be educated, but we don't all agree that the passage of Measure C is essential to achieve that goal. Many residents of the MPCSD, including parents, are not willing to roll over for another tax-and-spend measure.

Get Real is correct in that the MPCSD strategy has always been to keep most of the voters ignorant of the election and to hammer on the supporters to ensure that they vote. As a result, very few people have voted, and the taxes/bonds have passed. And Measure C may well pass too, but there are many of us--including parents--getting the word out and explaining what lies beneath the rhetoric. Voters should be exposed to all facets of an issue.

I don't believe the ends justify the means. That's sure not what I tell my kids, and it's too bad the district has historically engaged in subterfuge to get these taxes and bonds passed.


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Posted by Get Real
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 27, 2010 at 7:11 pm


I encourage everyone who feels they have something to offer to this discussion to join in. Please don't feel that you need to use your real name, or that not using one somehow diminishes the point you have to make. We readers can make our own judgements based on the facts or opinions you present. Unless I am mistaken, most of we Almanac readers are not world-recognized leaders in education, tax policy, or the like, so there is little use in sharing our names. Oh---and unless it appears as a "registered user", all of the names appearing here could be entirely fictitious.

I encourage my children to be independent, not ask for handouts, and not be browbeaten into silence.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 27, 2010 at 8:58 pm

Already mailed my ballot. Voted no. If the district can't get by with the parcel tax they've already hit us with why will this one be any different? If this one passes, and maybe even if it doesn't. I'm betting they'll be back with another parce tax "for the children." Because they roll over to the teachers union. Where are the pay reductions? I've taken a 20% cut in the last year and a half. I don't see Menlo Park Teachers Union offering to take any pay cuts. They'll forgo their next raise? Wish I could have done that. It beats the hell out of the cuts I've taken.

Property values are not soley dictated by how good the schools are. Ours are very good and a few less teachers aren't going to make them any worse.


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Posted by Nancy
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 28, 2010 at 1:58 pm

Vote NO on Measure C!

We are talking about passing another parcel tax for the Menlo Park Schools. Here are some facts to think about:

1. The superintendent of only 4 Menlo Park schools earns over $230,000, and has not offered to take a pay cut.

2. Experienced, tenured teachers earn over $100,000.

3. In recent years, class size has been reduced from a manageable number of 24 - 26 students to 18 - 20 students per classroom. Fewer students would come close to private tutoring.

4. High costs of administration costs taxpayers for miniature school districts, which could be consolidated into one district:
Menlo Park: 4 schools;
Los Lomitas: 2 schools;
Woodside Elementary: 1 school;
Portola Valley: 2 schools

When the last expensive parcel tax was passed, I thought there would be no more. Now, the school board is coming back to us for more tax money. When will we have the next parcel tax? Is there any end?

Vote a strong NO on Measure C, and let the school board know that there is an end to which taxpayers are willing to put up more money!


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Posted by Growing Population
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 28, 2010 at 2:10 pm

You can argue about taxes, but it's pretty hard to argue with population data. Please look around and notice how many retirees and empty-nesters are at the point where they are ready to downsize. Menlo Park houses have been steadily turning over to young families with school-aged children. Add to that the new, higher density develoments being built such as the one in Linfield Oaks and you can see why it's hard for even the best-managed school district to accommodate the growth. Even the demographers can't keep up -- at Laurel School, the projected growth in enrollment has already overgrown the new building in progress. The school district expects that this will level off in about 7 years, which is the time limit on Measure C. Until then, they are just trying to keep the teacher:student ratio at or near what it is now so class sizes don't increase to 30+. This is especially dangerous for children who need extra support -- not even the most gifted teacher in the world can give every child adequate attention with classes that large. The parcel tax isn't about making new strides in student achievement -- it's about keeping achievement at its current levels and not losing ground. Please, please consider the burgeoning student population and vote YES.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 28, 2010 at 2:18 pm

Growing Population states:"Menlo Park houses have been steadily turning over to young families with school-aged children. Add to that the new, higher density develoments being built such as the one in Linfield Oaks and you can see why it's hard for even the best-managed school district to accommodate the growth."

Both the sale of existing homes to new owners and new higher density developments generate MUCH more property tax revenue for the school district than the cost of the increased student population, particularly since many new home owners do not add to the student population but all of them add increased property taxes.

All of the proponents arguments fail upon very simply analysis like this - when measure C fails our schools will not stop producing quality education and our property values will not fall.


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Posted by new guy
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 28, 2010 at 3:36 pm

Its all our fault.

We paid fortunes to the old people who are leaving to downsize, making most if not all of them millionaires. How dare we do this!

Since we paid so much and now pay wonderfully huge property tax bills how dare we ask where all our money is going, and why there does not seem to be enough.

Linfield Oaks homes were at least 1M each.

What we are being asked to pay for is guaranteed raises, and no cuts to those who make the most. Remember, they are entitled based on how great they are.


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Apr 28, 2010 at 5:03 pm

One other thing.

Those $100,000 salaries that some teachers earn all include THREE full consecutive months of vacation (they get paid for nine months of work).

That's the equivalent of making $135,000 a year for us mere mortals (non-teachers). Nice work, if you can get it.

I don't begrudge teachers their pay - I just think they should be honest about it. Our teachers are not underpaid... hardly!


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Posted by Concerned
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Apr 28, 2010 at 5:22 pm

Apparently you do begrudge teachers their pay! I, for one, would gladly pay them more...try teaching your kid all day or spend a few hours with 25 of them...they are not paid enough in my opinion.


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Posted by Blue Collar Public Worker
a resident of another community
on Apr 28, 2010 at 5:49 pm

POGO and Peter,
Drive by one of the schools you will see teachers there from 6:30-7:00am till 4:30-5:30pm. Then those same teachers take work home and grade papers till late into the night. Go look and see how many are there on a Sunday. Studies show that teachers in high achieving Districts work about 2400 hours a year. The private work year is 2080 hour per year. We are getting our monies worth.
BCPW


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 28, 2010 at 6:03 pm

IF BCPW and the proponents for measure A want to make it a referendum on teachers pay THEN you will lose.

Drive by the homes of people who have lost their job, or the homes of people being paid 1/2 of what teachers are being paid, or the homes of people without any retirement program and ask them to fund $80k plus teachers salaries plus additional benefits totaling over $100k.


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Posted by Peter Caryotakis
a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Apr 28, 2010 at 6:32 pm

Can someone please post the amount that the state may or may not pull from the Menlo Park district.

The numbers that were shared for the Las Lomitas district were jaw dropping. Apparently they will complete a drop of 92% funding in two years. Next year, they are projecting a drop to $85,000 from $1,100,000. If that's really the case, then you all aren't alone in your feelings about not wanting to fund our neighborhood schools. So I guess the foundations had better get busy doubling their efforts since that will take them to paying for about 12% of the budget. All of you who think this parcel tax is not needed can hope that the foundations are successful in just maintaining things as they are. Should the unions give back? Yes. Should the administrators? Yes. Everyone has to give. Hopefully the increases in medical insurance will level off soon. That would also help. We can't turn away the extra kids, so there will be higher costs even with everyone giving more... oh... except the State..

If you feel bad about not saying yes to the parcel tax, then maybe you'd feel better about just signing up for escrip and let your local businesses donate the money that they would like to be donating for the honor of handling your business.


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Posted by Blue Collar Public Worker
a resident of another community
on Apr 28, 2010 at 8:00 pm


It is a fact that this Parcel Tax is needed, the facts are the money is not there from the state and from the County. As a mater of fact here's some inside info from the County. It does not look good for taxes either next year,the expected amount was about 2.5% and it's coming back at about 1.5%. Lets not forget the cuts the District made the two years before and what they will have to cut this year and next year. Here is an example of the good management the District has provided the taxpayer. They have cut all District staff development, work shops, classes, supplies for new learning. Increased class sizes in 4th and 5th grades and much more. even if the Parcel tax passes they will still cut the budget this year. So $175 is too much to ask?
BCPW


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 28, 2010 at 8:10 pm

BCPW states:"here's some inside info from the County. It does not look good for taxes either next year,the expected amount was about 2.5% and it's coming back at about 1.5%"

Hello, this is not inside info - this was forecast in 2008!!

Web Link

The economy is in the tank and property tax revenues are NOT increasing at 5-10% as they have in the past and anyone who was alert knew that months ago.

When a business sees a drop in revenues it reduces its expenses, it doesn't raise prices. Times are tough, get use to it and rise to the challenge - don't expect the already impacted taxpayers to bail you out.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 28, 2010 at 8:36 pm

Blue Collar:

it is clear you have never run a business. Had I been able to simply raise prices to offset reduced revenues, I'd be in great shape. Get a clue! The real world doesn't work that way. Only civil service SEEMS to work that way. Civil servants need to take pay cuts like the rest of us. The fact that you don't seem to understand that just confirms for me that you are [portion deleted] or at worst you feel you are entitled to be paid more than the private sector.


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Apr 28, 2010 at 9:15 pm

I definitely don't begrudge teachers their money, but saying they earn $80 or $100 thousand a year and leaving out the little fact that they get 3 consecutive months off is a bit disingenuous. Try asking your boss for the same pay and telling him or her that you also want June, July and August off. That time off has a value.

I actually have taught (admitedly for a short time) and enjoyed it immensely. Saying children are a difficult part of their job is like a waiter complaining that they have to handle food. That's the job. Teachers SELECTED their profession - I don't think they thought kids wouldn't be involved.

BCPW - Coming early and staying late - even as late as 5:00pm? OMG! I'm sure no other employees at other jobs ever do that. I drive by three schools at 7:15 every morning on my way to work - it's rare that there's even a single car there. On the other hand, my office parking lot is usually pretty full by the time I arrive at 7:30am and still reasonably full when I leave at 6:00pm. Lots of people work hard. That's not reserved for teachers.

And unlike my office (and every other business), if you drive by those same schools any time - early or late - between early June to late August, they are completely empty and dark. No teachers there early, later or otherwise.

Teachers earn their pay and I don't begrudge them a nickle of it. But be honest about their pay (which is quite good) for nine months of work.


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Apr 28, 2010 at 9:27 pm

BCPW, you often challenge others to DO THE MATH. You said that teachers often "work about 2400 hours a year."

So I did the math!

Teachers work five day a week for 36 to 40 weeks a year. I've even included the two weeks before and after the official school year and I'm not taking any reductions for sick days or vacations. The math: 2400 divided by those 200 days comes to 12 hours a day.

So, BCPW, you're telling me that teachers work TWELVE hours a day, FIVE days a week... EVERY DAY, EVERY WEEK? Really?

Yes, teachers work hard, but they don't work 12 hours a day every day. You don't even need to respond, BCPW, I'm glad to let anyone reading this post decide if your's is a reasonable point.

Yours is just part of that same exaggeration that conveniently forgets to mention the fact that teachers have a 90 day vacation.

I did the math, BCPW.


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Posted by Blue Collar Public Worker
a resident of another community
on Apr 28, 2010 at 9:34 pm

The District did all four of your suggestions still not enough because the enrollment growth outweighed the income. Feel fee to take a look all the schools are in construction and the rest of the projects are being bid and done this summer, Hillview excepted it starts this summer.The District did reduce expense see the post above. Not enough for the growth so again is $175 too much? Remember the District is mandated to provide educations to students the question is can you or do you want a District with 940 test scores. You don't but most do we will see next week.
P.S. Menlo Voter why so angry?
BCPW


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 28, 2010 at 9:37 pm

Blue Collar:

when those teachers are at work by 6:30 am and don't leave unitl 5:00 pm and then do an hour or two of work at home like I do, I'll buy your argument. Oh, and if I can get 90 days off a year at my current sallary, that would be great too. I'm not holding my breath.


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Posted by Blue Collar Public Worker
a resident of another community
on Apr 29, 2010 at 7:12 am

Here you go keep in mind that MPCSD teachers work 189 days

We often hear people say things such as:

Teachers work form 9 to 3, less than bankers.

Teachers work 9 months, and then get the summers off.

Teachers themselves say:

Teaching is the only job where you work three times per day. First you teach a full day, then you work at school in the afternoon, and then you take work home to do at night.

The average teacher works a minimum of 8 hours and 37 minutes each day. 8:37 multiplied by an average school year of 180 days is 1551 hours a year. That is the minimum required for their daily tasks. Teachers also have supplementary tasks that they must complete on an irregular basis. These tasks such as pre and post school year activities, meetings, and continuing education add up to an average minimum of 318 hours per year. This adds up to a grand total of 1869 hours per year! Check out these statistics:

- A teacher works a minimum of 1,869 hours per year to perform his/her

minimum required work.

- The average number of hours per year worked by teachers is 2,108

- The average number of hours worked by first-year and second-year teachers is

2,534. It appears to be anecdotally-accepted that the stress of this

workload often leads to illness, and that this workload at least partially accounts for the 30%+ of new teachers that leave the profession.

Compared to other Americans:

- The Bureau of labor Statistics reports the average veteran worker works an

average of 34.6 hours per week, for 46 weeks, for a total of 1591.6 hours per year.


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Posted by public school parent
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Apr 29, 2010 at 8:50 am

That's some pretty fancy footwork, Blue, especially that leap from 1869 to 2108. As for the private sector, you fail to note that the BLS numbers include part-time workers! I have personally never had a "full time" job that averaged less than 50 hours a week, and I suspect most on this board would say the same. That's 2500 hours a year, in case you're doing the math. Three months off in the summer sounds heavenly.


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Apr 29, 2010 at 9:26 am

Yes, only teachers stay late and take work home. Please tell my wife and kids.

Again, I do not begrudge the teachers their pay. It's just dishonest not to mention that they get 3 months off.

BCPW, by your own admission, teachers are required to work 1,551 hours for their annual salary... the rest of us are required to work 2,080 hours for that same salary.

BCPW, it's not your math that the problem, it's your logic.


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Posted by JD
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Apr 29, 2010 at 12:38 pm

Could one of you knowledgeable folks clarify the "3 consecutive months" that teachers get off? By my school calendar, they work until June 14th and come back August 19. And that doesn't count any professional development they do over the summer. And for the record - that time off is UNPAID. Don't say it if you can't verify it. Its not the only misleading piece of information I've seen in this debate.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 29, 2010 at 12:55 pm

As I said before, if you turn this into a referendum on teachers' salaries then measure C will lose regardless of the merits of the measure.


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Posted by Downtowner
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 29, 2010 at 3:34 pm

Correction, please? Teachers get 2 months summer vacation, not 3 as they did many years ago. They are in school until mid-June & return usually August 16-19, as they have on-campus work days prior to students returning to campus Aug. 22-26 or so.

Thanks to their union, they also get extremely generous retirement benefits, which should be addressed with school boards. (As should fire & police depts. retirement packages)


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Posted by public school parent
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Apr 29, 2010 at 4:05 pm

Nine weeks in the summer. Two weeks in the winter. Two (non-consecutive) weeks in the spring. Adds up to 13 weeks, or approximately three months. Approximately 11 weeks more than most of us get.

I don't begrudge them the salary, just pointing out that they are very well paid for what they do, and for their average skill level. You won't see it mentioned by any of the Measure C supporters, but there are some teachers who should have been taken out of the classroom years ago! The savvy parents know that there are some teachers that you absolutely do not want your child to get and that the children of key volunteers will get the better teachers. (One mother brought up this issue a few years ago, thoroughly documenting her complaints. As far as I can tell, the system hasn't changed...but her kids have gotten the most popular teachers since then!)

Of course, this system will continue whether or not C passes. And if C fails and some teachers are laid off, they will probably not be the worst teachers.


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Posted by Knowledgeable Parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Apr 30, 2010 at 9:34 am

I just want to respond to a couple of assertions that "Get Real" made in regards to teacher layoffs if Measure C doesn't pass.
Get Real says that only a couple of Spanish and PE teachers would lose their jobs, and also that, per Ken Ranella, probably less than 14 teachers would be laid off. This is NOT correct. Classroom teachers will most definitely be let go; in fact they've already been pink slipped. 14 teachers (this figure includes 1-2 librarians, who are also credentialed teachers) have been notified that their contracts will not be renewed, and the only way these teachers will return next year is if Measure C passes.
Unlike Get Real, I know these teachers, and the school district can ill afford to lose them. They're the kind of bright, energetic, dedicated professionals that are so crucial to the positive educational experience of all our children.
And as to class size ~ an increase of a few students per class might seem negligible to some, but if you've spent any time in the classroom you know that an increase of just 5 students has a huge impact on the quality and quantity of time that a teacher is able to spend with each child. And if, due to budget cuts, classroom aide hours are cut, teachers will be hit with a double whammy: more students AND less staff per classroom.
Even if you don't believe that enrichment programs like PE, music, and art are important, surely you must see how critical it is that we maintain our current teacher:student ratios and continue to build on the educational excellence of our Menlo Park schools. Let's not dismantle what we've worked so hard to build ~ for the sake of our kids and our community, please join me in supporting Measure C.


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Posted by Get Real
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Apr 30, 2010 at 1:47 pm


Semi-Knowledgeable Parent:

We are both partially correct. I agree that some classroom teachers may be laid off--however, it is also true that some of the "teachers" are librarian/other positions that are not classroom teachers. I did not intentionally mean to say that no classroom teachers had received pink slips.

However, I am also correct (and you are wrong) in reporting that Ken Ranella mentioned at a board meeting that fewer teachers may actually be laid off than received pink slips. This may be due to extra budget cuts found elsewhere or more revenue from other sources(e.g. school foundation MPAEF). You are incorrect to suggest that the only way all of these teachers will keep their jobs is if Measure C passes--it is only possible to say that the largest possible number of layoffs would include the teachers already pink-slipped. To quote the MPCSD website directly:

"When the state faces a difficult or uncertain budget, school districts must prepare for the worst and hope for the best. They have to adopt their preliminary budgets by June 30, regardless of state action or inaction. They are also required by law to provide notice by March 15 to most employees, particularly teachers, if layoffs are a possibility. Yet they may not know the exact amount of revenue they will be able to spend until months later. This is why teachers sometimes receive layoff notices (or "pink slips") but ultimately keep their jobs."

I remind everyone that Measure C ballots can still be dropped off at Menlo Park City Hall on May 4th and also returned directly to the Tower Road Election Office (40 Tower Road, San Mateo) up to 8pm on May 4th.

Please check the facts. Menlo Park will continue to have an excellent school system with Measure C failing. Conservative fiscal policy is needed everywhere in California now. Please join me in voting NO on Measure C.


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Posted by Hey Greedy Get Real
a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 30, 2010 at 2:10 pm

Get Real
You are amazing here you suggest it's OK for parents to give $5 to $10 a day here in your post and then you tell people to vote no the parcel tax for $.50 a day. I understand completely that you are asking parents to support their schools. But at the same time you are taking the benefit to. This is a School district with test scores among the highest 3 to 5 %. The value of your home is evidence of that, no wait I bet you live under a bridge right? What a set of body parts you have, the ultimate in deception and greeeeeed!


April 24: School foundation hosts auction to help offset district deficit

Posted by Get Real, a resident of the Menlo Park: other neighborhood, on Apr 23, 2010 at 1:12 pm

Congratulations to the MPAEF for their volunteer efforts to manage fundraising for the Menlo Park schools. I sincerely hope that all school parents recognize what a valuable community resource their children are benefiting from and feel some personal onus to contribute something on the order of 15-30% of the budget the schools are receiving per child---it works out to a pledge of only about $5-$10/day.

Please Support Your Children's School


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Posted by Get Real
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 30, 2010 at 2:38 pm


Hey Greedy:

My contributions to the MPCSD include:

$565 annually for the parcel tax
$800 annually for the bond measure
$13,000 annually (portion of my property taxes)

I also live in Menlo Park but have chosen to send my children to private school, thereby not incurring any burden to the school district. So I think you can say I *do* pay for the benefit of living in a community with an excellent school system.

There is no deception here. I believe MP parents should step up and contribute time and money towards their children's school, if they think all of the services they have are worth it, and I have said so on this thread and others. I'm sure it would help tremendously in encouraging parent oversight of school expenditures and motivate them to volunteer at the school. I personally volunteer over a 100 hours at my school.

I am not calling for a repeal of the existing parcel tax. I believe the community should support public schools. I just believe we are doing a fantastic job of that already. The amount of the additional parcel tax is relatively small, but I believe our communities and government are sadly in need of practising more conservative fiscal policies, and so that we need to make a NO choice on Measure C.

It's not greed, it's good sense.


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Posted by Hey Greedy Get Real
a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 30, 2010 at 3:38 pm

[Post removed; stick to the topic and don't attack other posters]


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Posted by Hey Get Real
a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 30, 2010 at 5:27 pm

Sorry there is deception in tone and content, say whatever you like. The point here is schools and children, we all benefit when we support our schools. This is not a District that just takes the money and gives nothing in return, I can say you for sure get your monies worth. Here is the litmus test, your children are in private school do they have 940 test scores? Well maybe they would never test that high but I bet they would get better scores in the MPCSD!


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 30, 2010 at 5:32 pm

Vote NO on C.


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Posted by Knowledgeable Parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Apr 30, 2010 at 6:25 pm

Get Real, it's all well and good to say that everyone should support the public schools with their time and treasure ~ our family does, via direct financial contributions of about $6K this past school year, as well as approximately 200 hours of volunteer time on my part ~ but the simple fact is that not all families are in a position to contribute in this fashion. Many parents work full-time and cannot volunteer, and many families simply don't have the resources to contribute financially to their childrens' education. You're being disingenuous to present increased parental participation as the solution to our current budget challenges. This ballot measure will close the shortfall that the Foundation, no matter how generously it's supported my member families, simply can't bridge ~ and it will do so in a fair and equitable way. You have the means to send your kids to private schools, and it's entirely your right to do so, but you need to recognize a) that you absolutely benefit from the continued excellence of your public schools; and b) that public school students shouldn't be denied the high quality education that your children receive in private school, when there exists a sensible and achievable means to provide them with that education.
As my grandma used to say, don't be a dog in the manger, i.e. don't deny others what you yourself have in abundance!


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 30, 2010 at 6:40 pm

Measure C does not guarantee the 'continued excellence of your public schools", it simply guarantees that the school district will have more money to spend and will be able to create an even higher demand for the next parcel tax.

Hopefully the voters will send a very strong message - live within your revenues just as do all of the families in your school district.


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Posted by Get Real
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 30, 2010 at 6:44 pm


"Hey":

At some point the argument that we should be willing to support the public schools regardless of what they ask for becomes ridiculous. If the parcel tax were for $2000, I'm sure there would be widespread outcry.

It's not, it's only $178/yr, which is not much. However, it is my opinion that with the consistent growth the district has seen in revenue/child except for this coming year; with the tremendous support the community has already provided for capital developments (and I know the bond money cannot be used for operations); and with my own assessment of the impact on the schools outlined by Ken Ranella that we should not support measure C.

As far as your personal attacks on my children's test scores I will have to go to sleep knowing that my oldest has a full academic ride to MIT. Try to stay on topic please.


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Posted by Get Real
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 30, 2010 at 7:45 pm


Knowledgeable:

"Dog in the manger" --- that's a new one for me, thanks for the edification. :-)

First, I applaud your contributions to the Menlo Park schools. In fact, anyone can go the MPAEF and see the donor list there---and there are some truly impressive philanthropists who also volunteer on the school board and other organizations. I didn't mean to imply that such giving individuals didn't exist in the Menlo Park school community.

I don't expect everyone within the Menlo Park schools to contribute $2000/yr to the foundation---but if ~1/2 - 2/3 did, then the shortfall would be met. If one watches the parade of luxury vehicles dropping off kids, (not to mention the affluent community we are part of), I think it would be hard to argue that the wherewithal is not there. We're not talking about a huge shortfall here, so I don't think I'm being disingenuous.

I do have a minor bone to pick about your fair and equitable description of Measure C. It would in fact have been possible to make the tax proportionally based on parcel area --- but instead it is a flat tax. Multimillionaies on multi-acre lots pay the same as someone on a 4,000 sq. ft. lot.

As far as public vs. private go, when we were looking where to place our kids, the choice was very hard. In our view the education was going to be excellent whereever we sent them, and it came down to differences in size, continuity at one location, and some focus on the syllabus. Cost was less for public, but not that much since we budgeted in contributions to the foundation. But class size was larger in the private. So I simply don't agree with your implication that C is somehow necessary to maintain comparable education levels for public and private school children. I think the children are going to be excellently served regardless of the outcome.


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Posted by Mom of 2
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 30, 2010 at 9:51 pm

To Knowledgeable parent:

Your statement:

"that public school students shouldn't be denied the high quality education that your children receive in private school, when there exists a sensible and achievable means to provide them with that education."

Since when is the public required to provide an education equivalent to what is available in private schools? Those schools provide additional academic opportunities as well as state of the art classrooms and facilities at a price. No one is denying your child that - if you want it, you have the option of applying to these schools and paying the tuition IF they are admitted.


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Posted by Dialing for Dollars
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 30, 2010 at 10:51 pm

Pretty straightforward. Proponents want private school facilities and staff quality at taxpayer expense, without paying private school tuition. Unfortunately, it comes at much greater expense than just added tax bill increments. Unlike private school campus building locations respectful of neighbors, these sanctimonious "Save our Public Schools" sheeple have run roughshod over local neighborhoods. Look at what they have done in shadowing Oak Avenue houses with the new Oak Knoll School buildings. Practically right up against the street, no common decency to observe city setbacks of at least 20 feet.
Pay attention, the worst is yet to come. Oak Knoll 2nd phase. Hillview Increment 1 and the Big 2.
I'm a downtown renter and I'm appalled at the lack of community stewardship of previous open space areas. There seems to be a build it bigger, get more money from the sucker public taxpayer, mantra that infects all the local governing bodies, city council, school board, and yes, even the Almanac. NO sense of historical resources worth preserving.
Vote NO on C. It will only indulge their insatiable lust for overdevelopment of campuses to justify their misguided mission of Quality Education. Buildings do not make great students. It's parental involvement, regardless of the buildings. Great message for their kids, destroy neighborhoods and pave over community open space so MPCSD can become the little Stanford prep school.


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Posted by Hey Greedy Get Real
a resident of Atherton: other
on May 1, 2010 at 10:19 am

Get Real
FYI that was not meant as an attack on your children my point was that we have excellent schools and we need to support them. This is not just about you and your children. It is about our community, you are part of the community right?


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Posted by Knowledgeable Parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on May 1, 2010 at 3:33 pm

Mom of 2, I'll tell you what: if my kids were in private school I'd feel exactly the same way. I believe very strongly that all kids should have access to a high quality education, regardless of where they live or how much money they have. This is why I strongly support the Tinsley Program; because it enables kids from disadvantaged circumstances to be on an equal educational footing with their more affluent peers. My family actually can afford private school, and my kids are very high achieving academically, so resources and ability aren't germane to the conversation. The issue isn't that I envy private school families, but rather, that I choose to support the public school system and want it to be as good as it can possibly be.

Get Real, I think we've reached the agree to disagree point, but I will make one final point. Our family is actually one of those on a 4000sf lot, and I have no problem with us paying the same amount in additional parcel tax as a millionaire on a multi-acre lot. People would scream and yell and jump up and down, I think, if the parcel tax were based on land value, and a flat tax seems eminently fair to me.

Lastly, Dialing for Dollars, I see your point about some of the new school building initiatives over the top, and I agree that school campuses shouldn't encroach on neighborhoods. But what's the solution? Parental involvement won't solve the problem of overcrowding ~ our schools just have more kids than they have space right now, and as school-age families continue to move into the District, there's no relief in sight. So putting up new buildings seems to be a necessary evil, as far as I can see.


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Posted by Knowledgeable Parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on May 1, 2010 at 3:38 pm

Get Real, there was just one more thing in your most recent post that I wanted to respond to.
I totally agree that everyone who's in a position to give, should give to the Foundation as generously as possible. There are many families who simply can't afford to make a substantial gift, or perhaps any gift at all, but you're right; if all of the families who have the resources to make their $2000 per child annual contribution did so, it would go a long way towards bridging the budget shortfall. I don't think it would close it entirely, though. That's why we still need Measure C.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 1, 2010 at 5:07 pm

Knowledgeable Parent and everyone else in favor of measure C talks about"bridging the budget shortfall" with new revenue.

Whatever happened to the basic concept of balancing the budget by cutting expenses? The measure C proponents talk about the fact the all the new building were built with bond funds but no one talks about the operating expenses of those new buildings which is one of the reasons the budget has a shortfall.


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Posted by Get Real
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 2, 2010 at 1:16 am

Knowledgeable:

Thanks for the polite debate. It seems from the numbers that the county office is reporting that there is going to be a pretty fair response by Menlo Park voters, certainly more than just the school parents, so whatever the outcome, at least it can be said that it reflects the total community.

For those who haven't voted, pro or con, there is still time to drop it off at a number of locations. Check shapethefuture.org for details.


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Posted by Plubius
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 3, 2010 at 9:11 am

If there are any residence in the MPCSD that would like to Vote NO on measure C but have not sent in your ballot, you can still drop them off at the following locations by the end of business on May 4th.

REMEMBER, IT ONLY TAKES 1/3 + 1 TO DEFEAT THIS TAX. EVERY "NO" VOTE COUNTS.

You cannot complain about your property tax rates if you don't vote.

Menlo Park City Hall
701 Laurel St.
Phone: 330-6600
Hours: 7:30 - 5:30 M - Th

Atherton City Offices/Post Office
91 Ashfield Rd.
Phone: 752-0500
Hours: 9 - 5 (closed for lunch between 12-1)


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Posted by I voted yes
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 3, 2010 at 11:18 am

I voted yes, as did my spouse. Why? Higher student population, Less state funding. Simple math. I don't want the school system to be able to offer any excuses in providing the best possible education. Special needs, PE, art, language, ESL, technology... these are requirements in my book, not extras.

Teacher salaries are not the issue. Trust me, few families can live on $100k in Menlo park. It takes $300k annual income to by an entry level house in this rediculous town. And to rent one too.


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on May 3, 2010 at 11:33 am

I voted yes -

Judging from your post (above), I presume you support paying teachers $300,000 a year? How about the cashiers who work at the grocery store - they have to live here in this rediculous (sic) town, too?


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Posted by Blue Collar Public Worker
a resident of another community
on May 3, 2010 at 6:56 pm

So far 9,200 votes are in for measure C


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 3, 2010 at 9:11 pm

Thank goodness that this will soon be over.


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Posted by Blue Collar Public Worker
a resident of another community
on May 4, 2010 at 9:16 pm

It is good, what a positive comunity.
Bcpw


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