A possible parcel tax election is the subject of a special meeting of the governing board of the Menlo Park City School District on Thursday, Jan. 21. The meeting starts at 7:30 p.m. in the district's TERC building at 181 Encinal Ave. in Atherton.
A portion of the district's current parcel tax expires in 2017, and the board is scheduled to decide on Feb. 2 if it wants to put a parcel tax measure on a special May ballot.
Property owners in the district now pay four separate parcel taxes three that are permanent and one will expire at the end of June 2017. All four taxes can rise each year by the amount of any increase in the Bay Area Consumer Price Index.
The total for all four parcel taxes, which appear as one on tax bills, is $851.60 for the 2015-16 tax year. The parcel tax due to expire is currently $201.38.
The district has previously said it is considering upping that to $550, which would make the annual parcel tax total about $1,053 per property.
Those 65 and older can apply for an exemption from the tax, but must do so each year.
The district, like the Las Lomitas, Woodside and Portola Valley districts, is funded almost entirely from local sources including property taxes, parcel taxes and donations. Such schools used to be called "basic aid" districts but are now labeled "community funded."
Community funded districts do not get more money when they get more students. In the Menlo Park district, enrollment has grown 38 percent since 2005, when it had 2,133 students. This year the district has 2,940 students. A consultant recently projected that the district will have 3,151 students in 2020 and 3,280 in 2025.
According to a presentation at an earlier meeting, the district gets only 8 percent of its budget from state and federal funding, 9 percent from donations and 16 percent from the parcel tax. Most of the rest comes from property taxes.
Statistics from the California Department of Education show that the Menlo Park district spends less per student than many other local districts including Woodside, Portola Valley, Las Lomitas and Palo Alto Unified.