Posted by Get Real, a resident of the Menlo Park: other neighborhood, on May 4, 2010 at 6:19 pm
Looking forward to the result of what seems to be a fairly good turnout by MP voters.
There has been quite a bit of discussion on the measure C threads, much of it productive, some less so. Regardless of the outcome, I hope Yes and No groups accept the results with grace. Thanks to the Almanac for providing this forum that enables discussions of every viewpoint.
Posted by Grateful Neighbor, a resident of the Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park neighborhood, on May 4, 2010 at 8:46 pm
Hard times make digging deeper even harder. Many thanks to every taxpayer who voted against their immediate self-interest for the good of the community -- especially those who do not have children in the public schools. You are the real heroes. May the quality education you've supported repay you and yours many fold -- not just in a better educated electorate and in sustained property values, but also, as today's school kids become tomorrow's neighbors, with a well-grounded support system around you.
And many thanks to those who slogged through these comment sections, trying to add light to the heat!
Posted by Happy parent, a member of the Oak Knoll School community, on May 4, 2010 at 9:26 pm
Get Real, I must admit to being very pleasantly shocked by the tenor of your summation of the last few weeks. I'm delighted to belong to such a supportive (if occasionally combative) community. Congrats to all who put forth so much time and effort into helping this pass.
Posted by Mel, a resident of the Atherton: West Atherton neighborhood, on May 4, 2010 at 9:31 pm
Grateful Neighbor said it so well. Thank you so much to all of you who don't have children in the public schools yet voted for Measure C! I feel incredibly lucky and proud to live in a community that is so supportive of providing a top-notch education for all children, not only those with the means and desire to attend a private school.
Posted by Blue Collar Public Worker, a resident of another community, on May 4, 2010 at 9:38 pm
Never underestimate the power of a Community.
What an achievement for the community, students, parents, teachers and staff, but especially taxpayers of the Menlo Park City School District. Thank you for all your support and thank you for all your extra time and effort in an otherwise time of economic downturn. This only goes to show we can do it here in Menlo Park. Get Real, Don't you feel good about all the students and families who have been supported here, it is a good thing?
Posted by Downtowner, a resident of the Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park neighborhood, on May 5, 2010 at 1:15 pm
In our democracy, quorum rules. I resent paying over $700 per year, more than any other town, in a community that so ignores the needs & conveniences of residents.
Consolidating all middle school students at the Hillview campus has produced unbearable traffic congestion for downtown & central Menlo residents. We are overrun with cars transporting all 6-8th graders, plus most Menlo School and many St Jos.& SH Prep students. Needing 15 minutes to drive from Hesketh to El Camino on Valparaiso is horrible! Talk about road rage, exhaust fumes contaminating our air, noise, much less a pleasant stroll to town! If I'm not hit by a car while walking, I have to dodge bikes & skateboarders.
I hate paying to support this. Giving MPCSD all the money they ask for makes my quality of life worse. Maybe without it there'd still be traffic gridlock, but at least the extra $60 a month in my budget would let me keep a weekly breakfast out or cable service.
Posted by Blue Collar Public Worker, a resident of another community, on May 5, 2010 at 7:06 pm
You can count on my open and honest dialog and you can for sure count on it if it's only $175 bucks for 6 or 7 years we're talking about. Even if you are talking about coming after my retirement which is what I think you meant? That is with the caveat that I will fight fairly to the bitter end to protect that benefit for myself and my family. The voters have not spoken yet and you know that and I don't think they ever will, but we shall see, fair question.
Posted by Riff Wilkins, a resident of the Atherton: West Atherton neighborhood, on May 5, 2010 at 10:26 pm
I really believe Menlo Park schools needs the new parcel tax money. But every time I look at my property tax bill I am reminded of what I see as excessive and unnecessary spending on facilities funded by the last MPSD parcel tax. Some facilities are of course required to accommodate growth, but we taxpayers are footing the bill for far more than is really needed. I would have liked to see more money go toward improving actual education and less to buildings.
Posted by when will it end, a resident of the Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park neighborhood, on May 5, 2010 at 11:34 pm
Expect another parcel tax in about two years. Ken Ranella and the board will consider yesterday's overwhelming Yes vote a mandate to continue raising the taxes. I'm sure he wouldn't mind an excuse to hike his salary even more and to add more minions to his staff!
Posted by Property Tax Payor, a resident of the Menlo Park: Felton Gables neighborhood, on May 6, 2010 at 1:54 pm
Riff - I understand your concern, but knowing this budget intimately you can be rest assured that 85%-88% of the budget is being spent for what goes IN these building.(i.e. teachers and improving actual education) Ironically, most of the new building costs are the increase in space that we need for the enrollment growth, but also because these building will be MUCH more efficient, from a utility standpoint, than what we currently have. In addition, Hillview has plans to be taken off the grid. So, long story short, I think it's best we spend a little more for better, more efficient buildings, then continuing with the wasteful portables. Also, as we are seeing more and more, if we want to live in an expensive area, with a very high cost for housing, whether it's parcel taxes or some other property tax, it helps continue to keep the schools at a high level, and that DOES help you and I, and the value of our homes.
"will it end" - enough with Ken's salary, "it is what it is", cutting it by 10% would save us $23K, a negligible amount. This decision should not be about the emotion behind Ken, and his salary, it needs to be based on objective math, and concerns about wasted dollars. Again, being very familiar with the District, this District is run extremely well. You can blame the unions for the teacher salaries, that's another issue, but that is one of the chief reasons for high costs. I won't go there.
Posted by POGO, a resident of the Woodside: other neighborhood, on May 6, 2010 at 2:13 pm
Property tax payer -
I appreciate your comments but take issue with your comment regarding When Will It End's point about reducing the Superintendent's salary. You stated that such a reduction "would save us $23K, a negligible amount..."
True enough. When a family's household budget is deeply in the red and saddled with debt, it is pretty rare that cutting a SINGLE expenditure has much of an impact. But when we find ourselves in debt, we stop going out to dinner, stop going out to movies, buy fewer new clothes, etc. Similarly, you might ask, "will saving that 50 bucks really have an impact?"
You see, it's not the single expense that matters, it's the aggregate action that helps. It also sets a tone so every member of the family tightens their belt.
And government is no different. On the national scale, we're not going to find a single expenditure that is going to solve a trillion dollar deficit, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't cut small programs and try to get there. On the state level, we're not going to find a single program to cut that will restore fiscal solvency in Sacramento. So it is with this school district. No single cut or sacrifice looks impressive... that doesn't mean it shouldn't be implemented!
The local taxpayers just stepped up and approved the parcel tax. It would be nice to see the district's adminstration pitch in, too.
Posted by Property Tax Payer, a resident of the Menlo Park: Felton Gables neighborhood, on May 6, 2010 at 5:59 pm
All good points "POGO", I do agree with you, and I'm pretty fiscally conservative. I'm just trying to keep the emotional sensitivities out of this conversation. I understand where you are coming from, and I think you are right, it would send the right message. There are so many conversations that could be had about the superintendent's position, it just gets a little complicated, and off topic.(aka 1. Only 4 schools?? Why not 8? 2. Why haven't there been percentage cuts across the board on the administrative side? 3. Unions, and their control of the pensions, tenure, salaries etc. - that's probably most of the issue, that we can't solve here.) So, from my perspective I'm just trying to help solve, what we can honestly solve now, and quickly. I think the parcel tax solved some of the problem, now what needs to take shape are costs going forward, and continued cuts that don't hurt the education of the kids, or make our schools unattractive to outsiders.(still need to have MPCSD as a focused "good thing" to get people to buy our houses!)