News


Menlo Park: Burmeister tagged for assistant superintendent

Hillview principal would move into new position next fall

Hillview Middle School principal Erik Burmeister will become the Menlo Park City School District's assistant superintendent next fall, if a proposal made by district Superintendent Maurice Ghysels on April 14 gets final school board approval. The position doesn't exist in the district, but has in the past.

Saying that the district has a lot of work ahead, including hiring the staff for the new Upper Laurel School, and several new programs, Superintendent Ghysels proposed to the board that the new assistant superintendent's job would include the strategic parts of the district's human resources job, including recruiting, evaluation, collective bargaining and personnel matters.

In addition, the assistant superintendent would also supervise the human resources manager, the director of curriculum and instruction, and the director of student assessment. Superintendent Ghysels said total compensation, including salary and benefits, for the position would be just under $215,000.

"My recommendation is that we appoint Erik Burmeister as assistant superintendent," Superintendent Ghysels said. "What I want to do is make sure that he's fulfilled in his career path," he said, "and simultaneously keep him."

While the item was not on the school board's April 14 agenda for a vote, board members were very supportive of the concept.

Board member Terry Thygesen said she is "enthusiastically in favor" of the promotion. "In this role, Erik will have even more impact in our district by leading curriculum and instruction efforts across all four of our schools," she said. "This is a great move."

"I don't need further convincing," said board member Joan Lambert. "I think it makes a lot of sense."

Mr. Burmeister, who came to Hillview from the Union Middle School in San Jose in August 2012, said that while he will miss working at Hillview he wants the new job.

Working at Hillview, he said, "is the best job I've ever had." One reason he is willing to leave, he said, is because Hillview is well organized to continue the work he began there. He will still be around to "make sure Hillview continues exactly in the direction in which it is already headed," he said. "We have put the infrastructure in place" to keep the school going forward."

The school board plans to vote April 27 on Mr. Burmeister's appointment and new job description so the district can formally begin the search for his replacement, Superintendent Ghysels said. In addition, the district will be hiring a new human resources manager as current manager Kathryn Christopherson will be leaving the district to attend law school, it was announced at the board meeting. The job description for the position will change, he said.

Superintendent Ghysels said he hopes to have a candidate for the Hillview principal post ready for board approval by early June.

"The process will start with input sessions with parents, teachers and staff, and the posting of the position; qualified candidates will then interview with a committee comprised of members of the Hillview community before I make the final selection for board approval," Superintendent Ghysels said in an email sent to district parents on April 15.

The proposal was part of a study session on staffing for the 2015-2016 school year.

Other changes recommended by Superintendent Ghysels include a $10,000 increase in total compensation for the district's director of curriculum and instruction; a little over $9,000 increase for the director of student assessment; a decrease of $15,660 in the total compensation for the human resource manager; and the addition of a half time instructional technology coach for teachers at each elementary school, with total compensation of $180,000. The changes, including the new assistant superintendent add up to close to $398,000.

Comments

16 people like this
Posted by What?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 15, 2015 at 12:30 pm

You have a Superintendent that needs help to manage an HR Mgr. for a 1 time hire of teachers at a new school? 3 elementary schools were upgraded and a new middle school built without this extra layer of costs. If Mr. Ghysels is not up to supervising get rid of him and put Mr. Burmeisterin to do the job. Stop wasting school funds on district overhead. Spend money on the kids.


14 people like this
Posted by Wow
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 15, 2015 at 7:08 pm

Really? A brand new position is needed, paying more than $200,000 to keep the Hillview principal happy and take on some of the supervisory duties of the superintendent? That sounds like a fantastic use of the district's funds! There is clearly something else going on behind the scenes, because everyone in power sounds supportive of this idea, which has very little justification. Who comes up with these ideas?


15 people like this
Posted by Diane
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 15, 2015 at 8:04 pm

Yes there used to be an asst superintendent, but that was before there were TWO curriculum directors! How many people does it take to run the school district? Interesting that the main reason for bringing in this $200,000+ salary is to hire for the upper campus at Laurel. How many teachers will that be? 5? 6? Is that really justified?

Perhaps if there was a focus on quality over quantity, then we wouldn't be continually asked to pay more money in parcel taxes to keep up with the payroll.


14 people like this
Posted by Employee
a resident of another community
on Apr 15, 2015 at 11:24 pm

If memory serves, the last Assistant Superintendent was Jo Mitchell, the first person Superintendent Ghysles forced out of their position when he arrived a few years ago....only to change the title to Learning Leader and basically appoint Allison Liner, who then resigned a year later.
Ghysles didn't need the position then, why now? Staffing at the District Office has ballooned. Where is the money coming from?


13 people like this
Posted by District Insider
a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 16, 2015 at 6:01 am

"The assistant superintendent would also supervise the human resources manager, the director of curriculum and instruction, and the director of student assessment, activities board members say have been part of the job of past assistant superintendents." Yet another untruth coming from our Board. When we had an assistant superintendent, she was responsible for curriculum, instruction and student assessment. Ken Ranella, the former superintendent, supervised the HR Manager. The director positions did not exist prior to Ghysels' tenure in the district. If the assistant superintendent position is approved; there will be no need for the 2 director positions that Ghysels created.

The proposed salary for the assistant superintendent position is higher than the salaries of many superintendents.The Board's priority should be to establish an efficient, cost-effective and ethical administrative structure for the district. To do so, the Board should dismiss Ghysels and appoint Erik as the superintendent at the salary proposed for the assistant superintendent position.


14 people like this
Posted by Judyann
a resident of another community
on Apr 16, 2015 at 7:14 am

Get rid of the current supt. he has done nothing but spend money on unneeded projects, like his new office furniture and forcing long-term and dedicated employees out the door.
What?... the secretary to Supt. doesn't answer the phone and sometimes is allowed to work from home and receives a hefty salary said receives, could not say " earned "
What is going on....?......


12 people like this
Posted by Time to Clean House
a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 16, 2015 at 12:26 pm

I would encourage as many people as can attend to go to the School Board Meeting on 4/27 and ask for Mr.Ghysels immediate resignation. This insanity has to stop and it starts with Mr. Ghysels' departure. How many $200K people does it take to run this small district?


7 people like this
Posted by Brown Act Compliance?
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 16, 2015 at 1:16 pm

Here is the text of the agenda item for this discussion:
"Study Session: Superintendent Ghysels will provide information for Board discussion regarding the addition of the position of Assistant Superintendent, the reorganization of Educational Services and Human Resources, and additional certificated positions for teacher professional development and training in instructional technology."

The agenda does not mention that Principal Burmeister is being recommended for this position. It does not mention that the proposed salary for the position is “just under” $215,000. It does not mention of what duties the new Assistant Superintendent would take on. Putting these details into the agenda would have provided the public and press with much better information prior to the meeting. Better and more informed questions and comments might have come forth. This may violate the Brown Act (which prohibits discussion of items not on the agenda as well as discussions between a majority of the Board outside of noticed meetings). As it is, the decision appears to have already been made - it was clearly no surprise to Mr. Burmeister (and Burmeister is clearly being groomed to succeed Ghysels). Given how fast and loose the MPCSD board plays with the Brown Act, it would not surprise me if most/all new about this ahead of time.

For years, the MPCSD Board has had a patronizing, we know best attitude toward public input and outreach. Ken Ranella was terrible and Ghysels’ and this Board appear to be following his lead. Too bad. The Board might actually learn something if they started listening to the public input they receive.


2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 16, 2015 at 1:24 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Sadly the Almanac has acted as the third party in an illegal polling of the Board members that shows a consensus on a matter being reached outside of an properly agendized public meeting with opportunity for public comment. This is a serial meeting and as such it is prohibited by the Brown Act.

This clear Brown Act violation can only be "cure" by agonizing the topic for a public meeting and then permitting public comment before the Board makes any decision on the matter.

Editor's note: The Almanac didn't poll the board members. Almanac reporter Barbara Wood attended the meeting and took notes. While the board members didn't vote on the item (since the meeting was noticed as a study session), they were in consensus for the superintendent to go ahead with the plan. As the story notes, they will vote on Mr. Burmeister's appointment and job description on April 27.


13 people like this
Posted by District Insider
a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 16, 2015 at 6:48 pm

Why Does Ghysels Want to Increase Costs for District Office Personnel by $398,000?

"Other changes recommended by Superintendent Ghysels include a $10,000 increase in total compensation for the district's director of curriculum and instruction; a little over $9,000 increase for the director of student assessment...and the addition of a half time instructional technology coach for teachers at each elementary school"

Historically, administrators in the MPCSD have received the same % salary increase as the teachers. The teachers received a 3.5% increase this year. The directors' total compensation is approximately $150,000 each; significantly higher than directors in other districts. It is fiscally irresponsible to provide them a 6.0-6.5% salary increase, especially given the fact that the last assistant superintendent was able to complete the same amount of work that it now takes 2 directors to complete.

Two years ago, the district had a talented Instructional Technology Coordinator who possessed a high-level of experience and expertise. Ghysels eliminated her position; stating that the position was not needed. Now he wants to hire 2 new "instructional technology coaches."

Last year, Ghysels added 3 new clerical positions and one director position to the District Office staff. Now he wants to add at least 3 more positions? He will probably also add a secretary for the new assistant superintendent. When will it end?

The chaotic management of the district, and the loss of valuable staff members, has negatively impacted our teachers and the children they serve. It is time for new leadership.


Like this comment
Posted by confused
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 17, 2015 at 1:44 pm

Peter, what do you mean by the Almanac acting illegally in taking a poll of board members? As I understand it, these quotes were taken from the discussion at the board meeting on Tuesday, April 14. I believe the Almanac was reporting on what happened in that meeting.


4 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 17, 2015 at 1:51 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Peter, what do you mean by the Almanac acting illegally in taking a poll of board members?"

What I stated was - Sadly the Almanac has acted as the third party in an illegal polling of the Board members that shows a consensus on a matter being reached outside of an properly agendized public meeting with opportunity for public comment.

What in my opinion was illegal was the Board members THEMSELVES reaching consensus on an issue that had not been properly agendized and before giving the public an opportunity to comment on in such a properly agendized meeting.

The Almanac did nothing wrong - as the Editor posted above the Almanac just reported the facts. The illegal "polling" took place by the Board members themselves.


8 people like this
Posted by lessons learned
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Apr 17, 2015 at 3:14 pm

lessons learned is a registered user.

Because of the schools' high performance, no one asks a lot of questions (present company excluded) but the core of the problem is the school board. A self-selected and smug group -- you cannot get on the board unless you are anointed -- they are way too cozy with the sup when they should have an arms-length, not to say adversarial, relationship.

Many here have already pointed out the bloated headcount in the district office. But didn't we have advance warning about Ghysels? Burmeister is topnotch -- I'd make him sup and send Ghysels on to his next sinecure. But that will never happen with this clique of a board.


Like this comment
Posted by Ash
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 21, 2015 at 9:45 pm

Personally I find it pathetic that the superintendent office looks out onto the fire lane and yet on any given day there are between 1-3 cars parked there and they can't manage that despite a full school of kids. I have been utterly unimpressed as a parent with Mr Burmeister [part removed. Please don't use Town Square to accuse someone of misconduct.]


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

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