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Las Lomitas district faces $1.2 million in cuts

Original post made on Feb 9, 2010

Las Lomitas School District officials are recommending cost reductions that include a hiring freeze, larger classes, cuts in or elimination of some enrichment programs, and shrinking the summer school program to mandated classes only.


Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, February 8, 2010, 4:34 PM

Comments (23)

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Posted by Sassi
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Feb 9, 2010 at 1:32 pm

And they just gave the teachers a raise.......


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Posted by Ihateunions
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 10, 2010 at 1:07 pm

Thank god for St. Josephs!!


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Posted by LLSD Concerned
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Feb 10, 2010 at 1:34 pm

So are some of the teachers complaining again and sending letters to parents and board members?


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Posted by Las Lomitas Parent
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Feb 10, 2010 at 9:38 pm

I'm thinking that those of you responding with your snarky comments obviously don't have kids in the district. The Las Lomitas School District is the number ONE elementary school district in the state. Because it is a basic aid district, there is very little additional money coming in from the state. And, this year more of it will be taken away.

Thanks to an incredible staff, dedicated teachers and concerned parents who volunteer time and money, the school district has continued to thrive despite many challenges along the way.

You should be thankful that you live in a highly sought after area where property values are higher because of the good schools.

I, for one, couldn't imagine sending my kids anywhere else. I feel fortunate to be able to live in this neighborhood and send my kids to such great schools with amazing resources and teachers.


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Posted by No Sugar Coat Here
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 16, 2010 at 10:10 pm

Your property values are assessed higher for taxes, the sales currently and into the next few years look flat to lower as people realize that this is the beginning of what's worst to come. Read the news about your surrounding number ONE schools and you'll know what's to come. Never say number ONE when you're negotiating salary contracts.


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Posted by Kyle
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Feb 16, 2010 at 11:52 pm

I have an idea to help offset the budget cuts. How about a luxury suv/car tax? Formula below;

If parent donates < 5K/child AND drives a 2005+ (bmw, mercedez, lexus, audi, acura, porsche) THEN tax = $3K/child + Current contribution

Say we have:
600 X $3K = $1,800,000
500 X $3K = $1,500,000
400 X $3K = $1,200,000


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Posted by Tom
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Feb 18, 2010 at 8:40 am

This is an unfortunate circumstance, and the real problem is that Menlo Park, and this state needs to choose between:

- Keeping the legacy idea of Proposition 13 which pushes the costs of common services onto to the new residents, OR....

- Reducing common services and using private alternatives (private schools, outsourced local gov't functions)

Here is something I did recently, and I would encourage each of you to do the same.

Using www.zillow.com and Web Link I looked at a property taxes paid by residents in a certain neighborhood in Menlo Park. What did I find? Three or four of the residents on the block paid close to 45% of the property taxes for that block !!! One person paid close to 4 times higher for property taxes than their neighbor (in same type of home). As you would imagine, they happened to purchase the homes in the last decade.

Since about half of property taxes go to schools, the "newbies" are effectively paying for the schools, but everyone benefiting from the perception of good schools. This is unjust!

How do we make it fair ? I think their is a simple two part solution:

Part 1. If you pay more than the median in taxes for your community, you are granted a voucher for your own "use" - for a private school OR to directly allocate to the public school of your choice. I would allow this for up to the full amount of the difference (your tax basis - median town tax basis).

Part 2. If you own a commercial property (multi tenant) - Your subsidized Prop 13 tax basis is eliminated, or you are assessed a "true up" tax so that your apartment units contribute accordingly to the common public good. There are too many "free riders" in the Apartment/Rental business, and this was never the intention of Proposition 13.

Good luck folks !




Is there a downside - yes


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Feb 18, 2010 at 10:10 am

You make a good point about Prop 13 with regard to commercial property assessments because they are almost always refinanced and rarely are "officially" sold (which triggers re-assessments).

But I do not agree with you (nor, I suspect do the vast majority of the residential owners) with regard to private residence assessment and taxation. Most of us have to stretch pretty hard to purchase our home and barely get by for the first few years. Just because someone's property value may have increased 20% a year - as they did from the late 1990's to about 2008 - doesn't mean their income increased proportionately. Most people couldn't afford to pay the taxes and they shouldn't have to move because of taxes. That was the entire idea behind Prop 13.

Like most of us, if I did sell my home at a wildly inflated price, I could only afford to buy a remarkably similar home in my same neighborhood... but would not be able to afford the new property taxes on what was essentially an exchange purchase.

We may disagree, but I don't think we have a tax problem - our marginal tax rates (all in) in California are now approaching 60% of personal income. We have a SPENDING problem and the sooner our elected officials (Democrat, Republican or otherwise) learn that, the better we'll be. We can't possibly tax our way out of this.


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Posted by Tom
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Feb 18, 2010 at 11:31 am

I totally agree with you that taxes are completely and totally out of hand in this state and in this country. Our progressive tax code is too penal for successful/productive people and we need a state and national flat tax. Personally, we have paid millions of dollars in taxes over the last decade - not a trivial sum of money! With all the money we have paid - we have pathetic public schools. I simply ask, where is my money going?

Proposition 13 has tremendous benefits and you have listed a few, unfortunately it has some serious down side consequences. The biggest being that it reduces the inventory of available homes (people stay in homes longer even when it makes sense to move) which drives up prices during peak periods, and it allows people to inherit homes at ridiculous cost basis (free riders).

My point is that we need to make a choice, do we want public schools (and lots of spending) or not? Personally, I tend to side with private alternatives but I am in a minority. If we want public schools, then the dollars must be spent as close as possible to where the costs are incurred. I would trust 100 involved parents with vouchers to drive a school budget better than 1000 Administrators in Sacramento with CTA pushing on them.

We have hit the breaking point now. Imagine if you paid over $ 2 million in Menlo Park in the last two years and you find that the schools are sliding down hill. How is that for a reality check? Probably should have bought in RwC instead. Why do houses in Woodside sell at a higher price than Woodside Hills - the perception of better schools. Now that the perception of schools is starting to waiver, look for a broader decline in the home prices in the area.

All the best !



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Posted by The Commish
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Feb 18, 2010 at 12:13 pm

To Tom:

Regarding the effects of Prop 13 and disparity of property taxes paid to the district:

It may also be the case that the old timers have already had their kids through the school system at a time when they were the higher RE tax payers. Now the newer tax payers may have their kids in the school system. So maybe that is fair in a sense to pay more if they're the current users of the resource.

While the school district does influence value of a home, so does the city's zoning. Less dense areas are more valuable too. The arguments lose sight of the purpose: the schools exist to educate, not to prop up property values. Perhaps more can be done to lower your property by having high speed rail within 2000 feet, or upzoning, than by the school district.


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Posted by Uramohron
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Feb 18, 2010 at 6:34 pm

Quality of Redwood City schools is declining rapidly, especially because of the fact that there are not enough residents to support a parcel tax.

Parcel taxes are needed because Prop. 13 went way too far in protecting senior citizens and corporations.

Pray your district passes the measly parcel tax. You'll regret it if you don't. Cutting services will not help your child or your home value.

Check out plummeting prices in Redwood City as opposed to stable markets--namely those in districts that support parcel taxes.

You get what you pay for!


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Posted by Leonard
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Feb 18, 2010 at 8:49 pm

Tom from sharon heights: I agree with a lot of your proposal.

I in fact pay the majority of the taxes in my neighborhood since I moved to the area most recent. I would love to send my kids to the local public schools but the school district I am in is RWC and nothing against spanish speakers but when the majority of the kids are spanish speaking in the school it's kind of unrealistic to send my kids there. A voucher to allow me to send my kids say to another school in another district makes sense, this is how things are done in other States. Not perfect but it does help fix some of the problem areas. Here in CA it's about protecting the districts turf and tax revenues. I talked to some people I know who tried hard to work with the school adminstrators from both districts and it was a waste of time. Essentially, they want your tax dollars but not care if your kids get an a decent education. Unfortunately, that is a turn off and many and you loose a lot of support from people who can give above and beyond their real estate taxes. If you pay 7M for a home and pay 70K in taxes and the school districts treat you like a beggar, you'll think twice when the schools send you letters or the neighborhood kids from these schools call you for donations. Thank God for the nice selection of private schools (all reasonable at annual tuition for what they provide) in the area. I always though people who only chose to send their kids to these private schools were snobs until I realized that it's their best and only realistic option in this area. It's about spreading our tax dollars for the few who control the budgets.


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Posted by Marie
a resident of Portola Valley: Portola Valley Ranch
on Feb 18, 2010 at 9:10 pm

Looks like the government is letting the revenue limit school districts die off. Basic aid school districts will survive longer but unless there's a major overhaul (not going to happen soon), they will have serious cuts or keep asking for parcel taxes or bonds to support the young families moving into their "great" schools.

As these new taxes get added, affordability becomes an issue for new home buyers. So many will try to get in with the least investment (apts or lower end homes). Problem is when you're trying to sell your home say in a revenue limit school district or a less desirable school, you take a hit on valuation and than have to folk up the markeup in these "desirable areas".


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Posted by An Old Geezer
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Hills
on Feb 18, 2010 at 9:25 pm

I live in Woodside but the schools are linked to Redwood City School District, a revenue limit system. Most people here have strong incomes and assets. However, young families looking to move into my area won't move here because of the schools. This limits buyers and thus values are not as strong as other better school areas. The young families don't want to pay say $40,000-60,000 in property taxes and can't send their kids to the schools. They tell themselves, well I'll have to spend another $20,000-30,000 per child to send the kiddos to private schools that puts them out of their budget to buy in my neighborhood.

You would think that the Redwood City School district would come up with a student exchange program for the affluent areas in their district, but they would rather fight with the parents. Woodside School District have an exchange with East Palo Alto for diversity and etc. It's not perfect and probably a tad extreme but it's an idea. Why force an unrealistic situation onto your strongest (highest tax payers) potential customers? Help them achieve their personal goals (most of them would be happy to pay or donate to RWC for the option to exchange or voucher) and perhaps there is less resentment. You only need a few percentages to pass your recent parcel tax, I wonder if anyone in West Atherton, Woodside Hills, Emerald Hills, Woodside Heights, and etc cast a positive vote. These people could be a strong asset for RWC but the leadership is too short-sighted, and obviously the people in Sacramento and DC agree.


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Posted by Jackson Mo
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 18, 2010 at 9:35 pm

Old Geezer, even if the Redwood City school district approves a transfer, the better school district will NEVER have room for the kids since they wont' benefit from adding students w/o alot of incentive.

Excuses they will use is: we don't have room for anymore, we're OVERCROWDED. In the board room, they whisper, "this might open up for a flow of mexicans wanting to transfer into our district and it'll lower our API"s and scare off the caucasians who moved here to get away from them".

Even with incentives to both the bad and good schools, it will never work unless it's shoved down their throats from the State, which won't happen since it's their buds from way back in Education that is now a legislator or a Dept of Education head.

It's sad but a reality. But this "spread the wealth" movement is strong and the so called rich schools will be like Cal Berkeley, only those that can afford will learn. Bye bye middle class. Everyone on my road sends their kids to private schools since they don't want to deal with the system.


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Posted by Tom
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Feb 18, 2010 at 9:40 pm

Leonard has it nailed. It is very unfair to hold a party and lump the majority of the costs of the party onto the last person to arrive. I am originally from the east coast and the idea that your neighbor would pay 1/8 of what you pay for same level of services would be considered ludicrous.

Take the schools out of the equation and do the math. Police, Fire, Sewer, water, Roads, Emergency Response, special transportation for the elderly, etc. All these local services cost money to provide. Why should the last person pay a higher percentage of the bill?

The new arrivals to the state are often the people that are driving the economic growth of the area by developing start up companies (Facebook, Google, etc, etc), and these companies drive up the demand for the real estate here in the Bay Area. Every property owner benefits from that via higher housing demand. We thank those people by having high housing costs and sticking them with a higher percentage of the bill for common services.

Look at my two ideas (re-posted below), and think about them in terms of fairness and accountability on spending, I am thinking about a possible ballot initiative - anyone in? :)

Part 1. If you pay more than the median in taxes for your community, you are granted a voucher for your own "use" - for a private school OR to directly allocate to the public school of your choice. I would allow this for up to the full amount of the difference (your tax basis - median town tax basis).

Part 2. If you own a commercial property (multi tenant) - Your subsidized Prop 13 tax basis is eliminated, or you are assessed a "true up" tax so that your apartment units contribute accordingly to the common public good. There are too many "free riders" in the Apartment/Rental business, and this was never the intention of Proposition 13.

All the best.



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Posted by Bart S.
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Feb 24, 2010 at 4:07 am

Tom from Sharon Heights wrote:
"We have hit the breaking point now. Imagine if you paid over $ 2 million in Menlo Park in the last two years and you find that the schools are sliding down hill. How is that for a reality check? Probably should have bought in RwC instead. Why do houses in Woodside sell at a higher price than Woodside Hills - the perception of better schools. Now that the perception of schools is starting to waiver, look for a broader decline in the home prices in the area. "

Tom made some good points and the informed folks will agree with you. Unfortunately, the people in charge of running the schools, state gov., local gov. don't and the problem got to this breaking point. I also own a place on the East Coast and it's also in a desirable area. Yes taxes are higher in general but this area we're in has very low taxes but since it's an affluent area, the public schools welcome any students from our Town. It's not a voucher system but the people understand that happy taxpayers means more support when schools are raising money. Although, my kids may not end up going to these very desirable public school (K-8 and 9-12 grades also rated as one of the best in the State and US where they spend 75% more per child compared to CA) for whatever reason, I would definite support any fundraisers or parcel taxes measures that come up for election.


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Posted by Mr. VC
a resident of Atherton: Lloyden Park
on Feb 26, 2010 at 5:48 am

Perception of "good" schools will deterioate and so will the premiums demanded for these homes. Assessments will be heading down or stay flat, thus more students with less tax dollars to support, and a spiral downward. Prop 13 is a nice shelther for those families who inherit and keep their taxes low while sending kids to the schools. Renters also have lower over head than those recent homebuyers (for those paying 20K a year in taxes for a good school home will get a crude a wakening in the next few years).


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Posted by Ann M
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 26, 2010 at 3:16 pm

On the plus side, the state with the help of fed dollars and some private investment dollars are funding a $43 billion HSR project so the kids will be able to go down to Disneyland in two hrs. Speaks volumes re: the priorities in Sacramento and in Washington DC.


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Posted by Homer
a resident of Menlo Park: Stanford Weekend Acres
on Feb 26, 2010 at 3:21 pm

Thanks to Prop 13, everyone gets off cheaper than recent home buyers. That's the nature of the idiotic system we have. People with small, inexpensive older homes or who rent in older apartment buildings get off cheaper than newbies with $2.5 million homes. This is not exactly news.


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Posted by Number One
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Heights
on Apr 15, 2010 at 5:23 am

Our beloved school is number one in a state that is 47th. That kind of concerns me.

My best friend who have been in the real estate business for 30 plus years told me something I already knew. The "premium" paid for homes in "good" school districts are making it unaffordable for those that care about public schools. Those that need a mortgage and public schools are getting smarter with their money. The herd affect was the bubble. The bubble is deflating the toxic loans first, now the commercial real estate, and next the built in "premiums".

I am okay since I have lived here for ever and have little taxes. But can the next buyer who care about schools really afford 4M plus the taxes at the new levels? That buyer that can probably don't care about our number ONE school district and will probably send their kids if any to a private school. For the lower end homes that "premium" might stay longer but as taxes and parent contributions expected keep going up they diminish.

Basically you're in bad shape if you expect people to pay 2M for a starter home with good schools. That might be a problem.


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Posted by More cuts to come
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jun 11, 2010 at 9:48 pm

Economy and real estate not recovering anytime soon. Therefore tax revenue is not going up anytime soon. You can squeeze more out of taxpayers but at some point something gives. Hospitals are closing due budgets, you people are naive to think your schools are safe. We'll see in a few years. Maybe the new law makers and governor will consolidate the school districts so that they are all "good" with "improving" api scores.


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Posted by Stanford Hills Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Stanford Hills
on Jun 19, 2010 at 9:21 pm

I believe we have a spending problem. That problem is driving the counties and state to put in programs to get tax revenues up. So we have a spending and taxing problem. As more find better pockets to raise their families outside of this area, the tax burden will be mostly on the new people moving into the area with their "great" tech jobs. 1.5 M for a modest 2300 sq ft on a tiny lot with "great" public schools, better hope those stock options and co. will pay for retirement. It use to be a great place to raise a family in these so called great school district areas like palo alto, los altos, menlo park, etc., when your grandparents bought their homes for 100K. Run your finances at 20-25K/yr taxes, you're just middle class living close your your rich neighbors in atherton woodside portola valley etc..

Traffic tickets, high assessments (note they make sure your assessments don't go down as real estate properties are down).


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