News

No teachers get ax in Menlo Park district

 

Teachers and other credentialed staff members of the Menlo Park City School District who received preliminary pink slips in March because of uncertainty over passage of a new parcel tax can shred their notices.

At a special May 10 meeting, the school board left intact the positions that were on the chopping block before the May 4 passage of Measure C.

The preliminary layoff notices had been sent to two librarians, an assistant principal, several teachers and other staff, and the district was also poised to reduce the hours for several other positions. The cuts would have affected 14 people, and a total of about 11.5 full-time equivalent credentialed staff positions, according to Superintendent Ken Ranella.

Measure C, which is expected to raise about $1.4 million annually, will be used to fund 7.5 of those positions, Mr. Ranella told the board.

Another two positions are expected to be funded by the Menlo Park-Atherton Education Foundation. Scott Lohmann, co-president of the foundation, said a grant of $137,000 to pay for two teachers is expected to be approved by the foundation board on May 27. The money was raised through the foundation's Fund-A-Teacher initiative.

Mr. Ranella said the remaining two full-time equivalent positions will be paid for with funds from Measure A, the district's existing parcel tax.

The district is still facing a $600,000 to $700,000 deficit, for the next fiscal year, said Mr. Ranella, who explained that the draft budget introduced this week will get a work-over before the final version is voted on June 8.

Although certificated positions were saved, there will be at least one layoff of a classified staff member, and another classified position will be trimmed 50 percent for the next fiscal year, according to the preliminary budget endorsed by the board this week. Mr. Ranella said it's possible that further cuts in classified employees will be made.

Comments

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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 12, 2010 at 12:18 pm

As predicted, IF you feed the beast of these government entities then they will continue to grow - and to demand more food. Watch for another parcel tax proposal about March next year just as they get ready to send out the pink slips in order to convince the taxpayers that they really do need more food/taxes.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 12, 2010 at 12:42 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"The district is still facing a $600,000 to $700,000 deficit, for the next fiscal year, said Mr. Ranella"

What private sector company, facing this magnitude of a deficit, would rehire workers who had been given layoff notices?

Is it impossible for the school district to live within its means even after getting a bunch of new money from the taxpayers?


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Posted by Just Wondering
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 12, 2010 at 12:46 pm

Peter,

76% of voters disagree with you so why don't you just take the hint already [portion deleted].


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Posted by Just Wondering
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 12, 2010 at 12:51 pm

And I dare say its equally irresponsible for the Fire District to be way in the black in these tough economic times. That just means you're been raking in excess from taxpayers over the years. IT'S TIME TO GIVE IT BACK TO THE TAXPAYERS, PETER. LET'S SEE YOU LEAD THAT PARADE AND THEN YOU'LL GET SOME RESPECT WHEN YOU TRY TO MICRO-MANAGE OTHERS.


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Posted by Hmmmm
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on May 12, 2010 at 12:54 pm

One could guess you didn't vote yes for the sake of the kids? And if there is not a parcel tax next March, what will YOU do? Will you write in next year and eat humble pie or continue your negative postings? This community is supporting the salaries of two much needed additional staff, not the property owners from Fund-a-Need, so please stop getting your knickers in a bunch. Enjoy your surroundings and be grateful you don't live where many families have children that can't go to school or where you have to duck whenever you hear a screeching car go by your home.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 12, 2010 at 1:02 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

You folks just don't get it - yes measure C was approved, but even with those new funds the school district still hires more people then its revenue will support. That simply is not reasonable financial stewardship. Is there no accountability?


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Posted by Susannah
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on May 12, 2010 at 1:13 pm

Menlo Pk schools have to serve every kid, and in the past few years there have been several hundred more kids. Property tax money that pays for serving those kids stayed the same. So when new money comes in, it goes straight to paying the teachers for those kids. Hiring back the laid off teachers is what the schools should do. (And since these kids are the ones who will be paying our Medicare and social security when we retire, I want to see them as well educated as possible! :-)


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Posted by Menlo Parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on May 12, 2010 at 1:14 pm

Peter,
When Ken Ranella laid out next year's budget in the fall, he showed a total unfunded need of about $2.5M. Throughout the parcel tax process, he has been clear that his first priority was to maintain teaching staff, since he felt that they are the hardest resource to re-build and have the highest value-add to the children.
Given the tough economic times, however, the school board did not opt for the $250/parcel tax they'd originally considered, but cut it down to the $178 that was passed. This has funded about $1.8M of the $2.5M originally laid out.
You can argue that the $600-700K of non-personnel cost reduction areas (staff development, replacement of aging technology, custodial and site maintenance, etc.) should have been given precedence because they're more "cut-able" in the case of further bad years, but, frankly, that's not what parents 'took to the streets' for ... so perhaps you can accept that we're all doing the best we can for the kids.
This might not be the best place for the "feed the beast" message, unless you want to argue with the choice of food.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 12, 2010 at 1:20 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The school district runs over budget this year, revenues remain relatively constant but expenses will continue to go up and then next year there will be an even bigger shortfall. And this is without funding the unfunded retirement liability.

Doesn't anybody understand that this is a recipe for disaster?

A bankrupt school district won't provide a very good education for any of the children.


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Posted by E, Moritz
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 12, 2010 at 1:29 pm

The citizens of Menlo Park have shown they value education and have generously voted for yet another parcel tax. So now it's time for Mr. Rennella and the School Board to invite the final party into the contribution ring. The teachers and their union now should step up. It's great to keep all the teachers working. I'm all for that. But what's their contribution?

For the past two years reductions in base wages have been the norm in the private sector. reductions of 20% or more have been imposed. A 5 or 10% wage reduction in the wages of teachers and the school staf would surely wipe that deficit out. And then every part of the Menlo Park education "community" can say they've contributed.

Hey there School Board. Have Mr. Renella do the calculation and publish it. What would happen if EVERYONE, from Mr. Rennella on down, took a 5% or a 10% pay cut? What would the budget look like. The citizens have given you the cards with their vote. Now let's see if you truly represent them and are willing to play those cards.

The salaries are generous.
The taxes have been increased.
Let's go teachers. Be part of the "community"


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Posted by Outlandish
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 12, 2010 at 2:03 pm

E Moritz and Peter - Where is the cry about the police department, or the fire department?
I am utterly amazed that we scream this loud about our schools, which yes they are the foundation for our future with our kids, but they also add to the value of our homes! Fat cops that give out tickets do NOT add to the increased value of our homes - I know the argument about safety, but let's face it, how many murders, rapes etc. have Fat Cops making $100K+ prevented, over and above cops making half of that? And exactly how much did you take the budget down, or lobby to take that budget down for the Fire District Peter? C'mon give us a break, and stop throwing rocks from that glass house you live in. Decrease in state and local revenue, increase in enrollment, and you guys are calling for "tightening their belts"?? This argument makes no sense, unless we had an inordinate number of houses being built that caught fire over the past 10 years in MP, I can now understand your logic for increasing that budget. Crazy talk, crazy talk.



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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 12, 2010 at 2:33 pm

The Fire District has a balanced budget, has reserves which are appropriate to it's unfunded pension liabilities and the depreciation reserves necessary to upgrade old fire stations and has refused to give into demands by the firefighters union for a new labor agreement which is both unreasonable and which would cause a structural deficit.
And all of this without a parcel tax in spite of even larger increases in population served than the school district.

Now why can't the school district do the same?


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Posted by Blue Collar Public Worker
a resident of another community
on May 12, 2010 at 5:20 pm

Peter
Good then PERS will be fine, as long as the Fire District has enough funds to continue their obligation. That's what I've been saying all along, I finally got you to say it. OK now that I have had a chance to beat you up a little LOL the School District has cut and is cutting and will continue to cut. Check out last Mondays board meeting minutes.
BCPW


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 12, 2010 at 6:28 pm

BCPW:

are you really that dense? Pers will be OK because the fire district can fund its share of their retirement obligations and therefor Pers is in good shape. If you believe that you are truly a fool.


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Posted by Outlandish
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 12, 2010 at 6:52 pm

I guess Peter the problem is that you value the Fire Department's outrageous expense budget, over the schools. I guess that's because you believe having a great fire district helps the value of our homes, and educates our future tax payers. I remember seeing an ad run by a realtor that said, "Buy here in Meno Park, we have a great fire district". My point is that the Fire District's "budget" is already outrageous. Every time there is an opening we receive 100's of applications, why? Because it's an overpaid, much easier job, no other reason. To hire, train, motivate, and keep a hired teacher........MUCH harder, but cheaper with respect to the firemen. I know this topic is taboo, the firemen are our heros, but their union gets about half the amount of exposure to this expenditure atrocity than the teacher's union. Teachers deserve higher salaries, they DON'T deserve their ability to not hold themselves accountable. THAT'S the issue, and that's something the small little district of MPCSD cannot solve on it's own, unfortunately. A statewide focus needs to be placed on tenure, and other ways to rid ourselves of bad teachers. I DO think you could have solved the tremendous tax payer drain from the fire district, that would have helped all of us. I guess it's a good thing that we have FOUR firehouses in the District, each firehouse per MPCSD school, nice to see. NOT.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 12, 2010 at 8:21 pm

The critical point is that the Fire District performs its responsibilities within the budget provided by the tax payers. The school district does not.

The Fire District and the school district have both had significant increases in the populations which they serve and have benefited from the increased tax revenues from those populations.

The Fire District has NEVER had to resort to a parcel tax to balance its budget.


Why can't the school district be equally responsible


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Posted by Blue Collar Public Worker
a resident of another community
on May 12, 2010 at 9:01 pm

MV
Of course not, I am being flippant, I find it interesting that hundreds of posts from Peter keep saying PERS is unsustainable in reference to the City of MP worker. But because the Fire Department balances it's budget and funds it pension obligation that PERS is now OK in Peters mind. The facts are that PERS is and will be fine. The Menlo Park School District and the City are also funding their obligations as required by PERS. The Menlo Park Fire department does a very good job especially in the area of fire prevention. By the same token the Menlo Park City School District does a great job teaching children.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 12, 2010 at 9:27 pm

BCPW states:". But because the Fire Department balances it's budget and funds it pension obligation that PERS is now OK in Peters mind. The facts are that PERS is and will be fine."

CalPers will only be fine because it can simply assess the Fire District for any shortfall in CalPers ability to fund the Fire District's pension obligations.


Like this comment
Posted by Outlandish
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 13, 2010 at 9:32 am

The Fire Department has "never had to resort to parcel taxes to balance their budget's" Peter because they have not had a 10%+, 20%+, 30%+ increase in enrollment, and have not had to build new schools after the devastation of Prop 13. You are arguing apples and oranges. My point in this conversation is that I, amongst others, feel that your beloved fire district employees make WAY too much money, have WAY too much equipment and have a budget that should not be as big as it is, it should have a major cut, and push that money to the schools. Then, as a community, we probably would not need parcel taxes. This is my entire point. You keep saying "never had to resort to....." because you have no need to pile on more equipment, more employees, and more bloated salaries, you already have this! I know the union tries, every time contracts come up, which is almost laughable. Someone that is looking out for the community as a whole, and not just the fire district, should compare the two budgets, school v. fire, and develop a public argument for this, it's shameful.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lloyden Park
on May 13, 2010 at 10:02 am

Outlandish states:"Someone that is looking out for the community as a whole, and not just the fire district, should compare the two budgets, school v. fire"

I urge you to do exactly this.

Note that the Fire District's served population over the last twenty years has increased even more than the population served by the schools and yet there have been no new stations added since 1998. Of the 110 authorized positions six have been frozen in order to keep expenditures below revenues -i.e. to have a balanced budget. And the Fire District accomplishes a balanced budget even after contributing $3.4 million to the schools through the Educational Revenue Augmentation Fund (ERAF) - more than 10% of the Fire District's revenues. Why can't the schools provide the same level of fiscal responsibility and control?

I look forward to your analysis.


Like this comment
Posted by JD
a resident of Oak Knoll School
on May 13, 2010 at 12:43 pm

I'm curious if you KNOW that MPCSD is not addressing its unfunded liabilities. I've listened to the budget process at board meetings, and I'm pretty sure MPCSD was on top of this before the state required it. Maybe you know something I don't, but I'm just curious if this is just your soapbox assumption or an assertion based on real knowledge.


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Posted by E. Moritz
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 13, 2010 at 12:46 pm

Dear Outlandish:

I'm with you!!! But the police compensation has to be dealt with on a different discussion string and within a different government entity..... the city Council.

Mr. Carpenter has respondent to your concern about the Fire District. And I'm not sure what glass house you're talking about. I'm a resident of Menlo park who lives in a regular house on which I pay taxes. Oh! And I am also willing to state my name on this board.

This is not about throwing bricks at poor teachers. It's about math. And I learned that from my teachers when I was attending school. The point of my post was that everyone in the "community" should make a contribution. In this process that is a negotiation, the residence of Menlo Park have been willing to be the first to step up and throw a very substantial contribution into the pot to solve the budget imbalance.

The role of the School Board is to perform a fiduciary responsibility for the citizens who elect them. All I ask is that they now ask Mr. Renella, his staff, and the teachers union to show good faith and be part of the community.

The salary levels from the last MOU are on the School Board web site. The salaries are for 9 months, so don't forget to gross them up to an equivalent 12 months. The benefits are for the full year. We're not talking about impoverished people. There has been no layoffs during the economic down-turn. These folks have been living a very sheltered life. And good for them. We can debate the appropriate percentage of salary they should contribute, but something should be contributed. Otherwise, we're right back to our other point of agreement..... this is just like the police.... gimme, gimme, gimme.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 13, 2010 at 12:56 pm

JD asks:"I'm curious if you KNOW that MPCSD is not addressing its unfunded liabilities"

There is not a single mention of the unfunded liabilities in the District's current budget. If they were paying down their unfunded liabilities then there would be an expense item showing this paydown.

Interestingly the district's web site does not include its auditors report which might shed some light on this matter.


Like this comment
Posted by Scholar
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on May 13, 2010 at 1:10 pm

Rescinding the layoffs does make it look like handing out the teacher pink slips was a drama move to get the parcel tax increase approved by the frightened voters in the audience.

My experience with kids in the district was that its teacher quality was mixed, not super-great like their reputation which always seemed to be a perpetuated parental delusion


Like this comment
Posted by Where Were You?
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 13, 2010 at 3:22 pm

Where were you Outlandish, Peter, E.Moritz during the last Presidential election, and before we voted this spendthrift administration into office!? This guy is in LOVE with unions! Unions like the SEIU and Teacher's Union are the issue. We can yell about Ken and the schools 'til the cows come home, but he has no control over this crazy union. I also question if any council could handle the SEIU and the police unions? Electing Mr. Obama, will keep the unions alive and well. Until we push back on their compensation requirements, this will never change, or it will get worse. I'm not a union buster, I know where they are coming from, it's just that the pendulum has swung too far!


Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: other
on May 21, 2010 at 8:12 am

In 2008 I predicted that "Housing prices and hence property taxes will be depressed for at least another two years".

Well now the FACTS are available for Santa Clara County, and the data for San Mateo County will be available shortly, and the REAL TRUTH is:

"The crash in once high-flying Silicon Valley home prices came into sharper focus Thursday when county officials announced a new record in the number of properties that have dropped in assessed value.

All told, 118,440 houses, condominiums, duplexes and commercial properties will see their assessed values lowered by a total of nearly $21.4 billion. To put that in perspective, just 4,442 properties in 2006 saw assessed values drop, with losses totaling less than $3 billion.

Assessor Larry Stone called the numbers "historically off the charts."

Stone expects total assessed values in the county to fall by 1.5 percent this year compared with last."

There is no reason to believe that the San Mateo County figures will be substantially different and now is the time for local agencies to revise their revenue estimates DOWN from their currently projected 1-3% increase in property taxes to a more realistic zero to minus 1%.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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