News


Menlo Park school board may put two parcel tax measures on ballot

Board to vote Feb. 1 on possible parcel tax measures for May ballot

Instead of asking voters to approve one new parcel tax that is larger than the tax set to expire, the Menlo Park City School District's governing board is considering asking voters to approve two separate parcel tax measures in a special May election. One tax would be at the exact rate of the expiring tax and another would be tied directly to changes in student enrollment.

The board is scheduled to meet at 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 1, to vote on putting the measures on the ballot. If the board approves what was presented Jan. 21, both measures would propose permanent taxes, with no expiration dates.

Property owners in the district now pay four separate parcel taxes – three that are permanent and one that 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 and provides about $1.58 million annually to the district.

One of the two measures the board has proposed putting on the ballot is for a $201.38 permanent parcel tax.

A second measure on the same ballot would ask voters to approve a tax of $2.20 per parcel for each student who enrolls beyond the 2,938 students currently in the district. For example, if the student count in the district rose by 71 students (the increase a consultant has predicted for next school year), the tax would be $156.20, or $2.20 times 71. If enrollment increased by only 50 students, the tax would be $110. The measure would be capped at 213 additional students, or $468.60, adjusted for inflation.

Because the second measure is totally dependent on enrollment, the parcel tax total could vary year to year. If the 7l student prediction is correct, and both measures are approved, the 2017-18 tax bill per parcel would be $961.60, adjusted by the amount of inflation this year.

If the second parcel tax hit its maximum of a 213 student increase, which is the number of students predicted in five years, the parcel tax in the district would total $1,320.20 per parcel per year, adjusted for any inflation.

The board does not plan to choose one measure or the other, but wants to put both measures on the ballot for voter approval.

In the proposal shown to the board on Jan. 21, as with all the district's existing parcel taxes, those 65 and older would be able apply for an exemption from the tax, but must do so each year. The new tax could also increase annually with increases in the consumer price index.

Comments

15 people like this
Posted by Reader
a resident of another community
on Jan 23, 2016 at 6:06 pm

"We want two taxes, more than what we had asked before."

Gee, I'll go out on a limb and predict that this strategy will fail.


25 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 23, 2016 at 8:11 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Two?

I won't vote for ONE!

The board needs to be fiscally responsible. No more taxes. Property taxes are going up, they shouldn't need one damn dime more. Screw them!


24 people like this
Posted by Jenson
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jan 23, 2016 at 8:17 pm

This is ludicrous. I guess the MPSD really does'nt look at the small sample of negative comments on this site. The people on this school board need to be sent a large dose of reality. Clearly after squandering previous monies they have not learned their lesson. The School board members need to be replaced as soon as possible.


26 people like this
Posted by JU
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 23, 2016 at 9:00 pm

MPCSD is holding a special mail in election in the hopes of staying under the radar. The strategy is to mobilize only their supporters to vote and hope everyone else forgets about it.

Remember to vote NO NO NO in MAY (one month before the primary in June).


21 people like this
Posted by Strategy
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Jan 23, 2016 at 9:59 pm

As one who has been involved in MPCSD parcel tax campaigns, the strategy never varies: they will poll the voters, and if you support the taxes they will remind you to vote; otherwise, they will hope you forget about the election.

They know there is opposition but they use the same logic the city council does, ie everyone who isn't posting here must support the taxes. Therefore, the taxes will pass by 12,000 votes to 20.


13 people like this
Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 24, 2016 at 12:40 pm

Mail vote only? Disenfranchised rears it ugly head.


34 people like this
Posted by Regressive
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 24, 2016 at 2:51 pm

There is no place for more regressive taxes like either of these. How about something for the commercial properties fat aren't contributing their fair share for educating our kids?


29 people like this
Posted by Volunteering
a resident of Encinal School
on Jan 24, 2016 at 2:56 pm

I'd like to volunteer to write an "Argument against" when this ballot measure is created. However, I have no experience with submitting a letter with...well...whatever agency is responsible for receiving ballot arguments.

I recall a few years ago an "argument against" letter wasn't submitted on time (I forget which measure it was), so the "argument against" didn't make it on the ballot. I'd like to avoid the same mistake.

Does anyone have any knowledge of the process for submitting arguments to ballot measures? I'd be interested in knowing. Thanks!


18 people like this
Posted by JU
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 24, 2016 at 6:01 pm

@Volunteering
Instructions for filing arguments for or against ballot measures:
Web Link

MPCSD needs to file for the parcel tax election by 2/5. You probably need to contact county clerk (registrar@smcare.org or mchurch@smcare.org) for the actual deadline for submitting the argument. I believe it is due shortly after they file for the election.
Information from Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association on defeating parcel taxes:
Web Link

Never filed one myself. Hope it helps.


14 people like this
Posted by Bob
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 25, 2016 at 9:09 am

This doesn't surprise me -- if it's not one educational system asking for more money it's another. MPCSD must think that money grows on trees to have the temerity to potentially ask for not 1 but 2 parcel taxes. This demonstrates marginal leadership by Maurice Ghysles, who had his own share of controversy when he was hired, and the school board.

2 suggestions -- 1) vote NO, and 2) contact the superintendent and board directly and voice your concerns -- Web Link.


4 people like this
Posted by Marjorie McCracken
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 25, 2016 at 12:54 pm

Our public schools need and deserve adequate funding. I will vote for both parcel taxes for the benefit of all the kids in the community!


15 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 25, 2016 at 12:59 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Ms Mcracken:

with all due respect, our school district is one of the best funded in the area. If the funds they received were better managed, NO new parcel taxes would be required. I'll be voting no and I suggest rather than blindly falling the "it's for the kids" nonsense, you actually look into the finances of this district. You'll find they don't need the money.


19 people like this
Posted by Contact the School Board?!
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 25, 2016 at 1:07 pm

Contact the School Board???! Save your time by talking to your palm. The school board is a tone-deaf cheerleading club that rubber stamps everything for the Superintendent they put on the throne. They don't even pretend to be interested in what you have to say -- go to a school board meeting and see how smug and condescending they are to speakers. And you know what? They have history to back them up -- no one wants to make waves so every ballot measure has been approved. They make sure of it by every means available to them, including mail-in balloting, massaging the numbers to look like the school district is on the brink of bankruptcy and there will be 40 kids in every class, and shaming friends and neighbors, and you name it. No one wants to appear to be anti education. So they get the money and then toss it around like the dot-com millionaires they are. Who dares organize a taxpayer revolt? You will be vilified and ganged up on, just like in middle school.


9 people like this
Posted by Scott Lohmann
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 25, 2016 at 1:09 pm

I would argue that parcel taxes for schools are a much better investment than our never ending, and continually increasing, property taxes. You can thank our school district for the excellent schools, and more than likely, this has had a direct effect on your home. Your home, over the past several years, has more than likely appreciated, significantly. Is this appreciation due to the city services you receive, or is this because many people move here for the schools?
I know my answer: The Schools. Hands down.
I find it a bit odd, and alarming, that while our city council continually battles with requests for over reaching pension plans, and requests for more employees at the city level, no one seems to debate these issues quite as vehemently? The school board is potentially asking for a few hundred dollars from property owners, the city demands thousands of dollars to maintain the services we have in Menlo Park. Are our services better than RWC or Mountain View or our other neighbors? I would say our schools ARE better.
I do not enjoy more and more taxes, I question every one and make sure there's a decent ROI. School unions, although not my "favorite cup of tea", are very strong in California, you have to work with them. And, in my opinion the aggressive union is one of the reasons school costs are expensive, hence the parcel tax request. However again, this is a MUCH better INVESTMENT, and whether you like it or not, as a property owner, you ARE benefitting from our great schools. We should all be THANKING our School Board and Superintendent!


10 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 25, 2016 at 2:17 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Scott:

you miss the point that with rising property taxes the money flowing to the district is also going up. If the district properly managed those monies there would be no necessity for my "good investment" to supply them with money to mismanage. Yes, "it's only a few hundred dollars," but like boiling a frog jacking up our taxes ever higher is done in small increments.


16 people like this
Posted by E. Moritz
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 25, 2016 at 2:18 pm

There seems to be some important information about funding that the School Board should provide the voters as they propose more parcel taxes.
The San Mateo County County Controller report on Property Taxes for Fiscal Year 2014 / 2015 reported that property taxes rose 7.7%. Let me repeat that..... 7.7%
That means the MPSB will be getting a raise of approximately 7.7% to use in its budget. That's before asking for any additional funds. Most of that increase comes from the increases in taxes as homes sell to new owners and the "2% creap" allowed under Prop. 13. This year the property tax amount going to MPSD will be $23.67 million. The metrics in the "Almanac" article would indicate the current parcel tax generates about $6.7 million.
Not arguing one way or the other on this issue, but full disclosure to the voters would seem to beg the question..... "Why is it not possible to live with a 7.7% increase coming from property taxes?"


18 people like this
Posted by Apple
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 25, 2016 at 2:50 pm

I don't mind investing in our children's education, but I do mind if taxes are wastefully spent. We should not give elected officials a blank check. We should ask them to open their books and justify new taxes. Right now, I haven't seen much of a case.

MPCSD revenues are growing much faster than enrollment. Let's take a look at the last ten years.

2004/05
Enrollment 2089
Revenue Total $20,464,237
Expenditures $20,464,237

2014/15
Enrollment 2940
Total Revenue $38,089,792
Expenditures $39,282,570

We see student enrollment increased by 41%, but revenues increased by a whopping 86% in the last ten years.

Let's look to the future. MPCSD's budget projects 8.5% increase in secured property tax for 2015/16. The current budget expects enrollment to increase about 60 students next year, for a total enrollment of approximately 2,960.

We see an 8.5% property tax increase to support a 2% enrollment increase this school year.

MPCSD will already receive more money in the future as our parcel taxes rise at the same rate as inflation. Regular property taxes go up 2% every year in this economy. New home construction and renovation assessments provide a big bump up in school funding. I would imagine increases in enrollment is primarily happening due to the planned new construction and renovations. In a convenient way, these new taxes fund the new students in the area.


7 people like this
Posted by Tenant
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jan 25, 2016 at 2:54 pm

Vote No on any new taxes,

My landlord said they have tries to keep my rents low and they have but will have to raise them if new taxes keep getting raised.


3 people like this
Posted by Regressive
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 25, 2016 at 4:31 pm

i support schools but not more of these very regressive taxes. Commercial property owners need to do their share


27 people like this
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 25, 2016 at 7:55 pm

Scott Lohmann wrote:
> Your home, over the past several years, has more
> than likely appreciated, significantly.

Real estate has appreciated in the Ravenswood Elementary School District at a greater rate than MPCSD. Using your logic, those poor-API-scoring schools are the reason Belle Haven and EPA homes have appreciated at a greater rate than MPCSD schools.

Clearly, this is false.


> Is this appreciation due to the city services you
> receive, or is this because many people move
> here for the schools?

People move to the region, and particularly to the peninsula, for THE JOBS.

School district quality is without a doubt an important criteria for people with children, and the API scores of MPCSD clearly keeps homes within the MPCSD district under considering for those who want to move to the peninsula. However, those families have MANY school districts with similar API scores to consider.

And ALL of those local elementary school districts have lower parcel taxes than MPCSD.

ALL OF THEM:
Las Lomatas SD: lower parcel taxes than MPCSD
Portola Valley SD: lower parcel taxes than MPCSD
Woodside SD: lower parcel taxes than MPCSD
Palo Alto U SD: lower parcel taxes than MPCSD
Belmont-RWC SD: lower parcel taxes than MPCSD
San Carlo SD: lower parcel taxes than MPCSD
Los Altos SD: lower parcel taxes than MPCSD
Burlingame SD: lower parcel taxes than MPCSD
Hillsborough SD: lower parcel taxes than MPCSD
Cupertino Union SD: lower parcel taxes than MPCSD

Searching through the parcel taxes of other districts, I cannot find a single district that even comes close to MPCSD's goal of $1000 per parcel. Many of the above districts are in the $250-$300 range.


> I know my answer: The Schools. Hands down.

ALL other school districts in the area with comparable API scores (or higher) have LOWER parcel taxes than MPCSD. And MPCSD wants to go EVEN HIGHER.

That takes some serious audacity.


> The school board is potentially asking for a few hundred dollars from property owners

No. WRONG. They're asking for $950 to over $1300 from property owners. And that's in current dollars. All FIVE parcel taxes would be indexed: they'd INCREASE from those numbers, even if attendance stayed flat.


> Are our services better than RWC or Mountain View or
> our other neighbors? I would say our schools ARE better.

Is MPCSD "better" than RWCESD or Mountain View ESD. I'd agree, yes. Ravenswood as well.

(Keep in mind that part of Mountain View is in the Los Altos SD. And MPCSD is most decidedly NOT better than LASD. And part of RWC is in the Belmont SD, and many of its schools score above 900 in the API, an excellent score by any reasonable standard)

Is MPCSD" "better" than "our other neighbors"? No. MPCSD is most definitely not "better" than many of the nearby elementary school districts. Is it as good? Yes. Comparable? Yes.

And ALL of those school districts have lower parcel taxes. Yet they get comparable education quality.

You are not making a good case for the current FOUR parcel taxes, let alone the FIVE parcel taxes MPCSD wants.


Mr. Lohmann,

I respect your contributions to this community and the school district. If you are the same Mr. Lohmann that participates in the Menlo Park-Atherton Education Foundation, I appreciate your efforts with the Foundation.

However, I think your participation blinds you to reality: MPCSD has far higher parcel taxes than every other elementary school district in the area, including districts that have even higher API scores than MPCSD.

Other excellent school districts are able to create excellent schools with $250-$300 parcel taxes. MPCSD does not need a $1300 parcel tax to do the same.

You cannot argue with math. The math says FIVE parcel taxes are a huge overreach. That is a fact.


12 people like this
Posted by Good night
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Jan 25, 2016 at 8:54 pm

More taxes????. Why do we send so many of our kids to private schools in our area. More money does not solve the problem. Good $$$$ management does....which,this school system management does not possess.

NO NEW TAXES AND NO NEW DOUBLE Assessment TAXES.....don't waist our time....


15 people like this
Posted by Claire
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jan 25, 2016 at 9:32 pm

Why doesn't the school board look to trim the fat of the district's administrative team before they continue to ask homeowners for more money. Look at how many new administrative positions have been added since Mr. Ghysels' appointment. Because of his incompetence, several HIGHLY paid positions have been added to do the work that any other superintendent in a district of this size would do. But he prefers to go out to lunch every day on the district's dime (or taxpayers' dime) and create new positions to do the work for him.


5 people like this
Posted by Scott Lohmann
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 25, 2016 at 10:45 pm

Wow, I wrote a long rebuttal, and then the verification code was wrong. Erased everything. So, in the interest of my time, here's a quick summary of my opinion:

* If our real estate is not one of the main reasons individuals settle in MP, then let's make sure all realtors are not allowed to use the statement in their ads of "In the Menlo Park City School District", or something to that effect. Saying that people come here for the jobs, is a REGION comment, not specific to Menlo Park.
* You cannot compare other towns expense line or revenue line or parcel tax percentage or amount. This makes no sense. Every budget is different, it started, continued and ends differently. In addition, what are the other sources they derive revenue for their districts, perhaps it's more than MPCSD?
* MPCSD consists of many C-Suite all-stars, inventors, scientists, tech investors and professors. This population is EXTREMELY intelligent, and wants more, and believes it deserves more, which I agree. If you have a family within this district, and you choose to go to public school, you have paid a premium to live here and more times than not, you are willing to pay for it.
* I trust, unequivocally, the leaders of this district. Ghysels included, and with the addition of Burmeister, I have become an even bigger fan. This school board is made up of several conservative fiscally prudent individuals. The challenge again is the union, the cost of bringing a teacher to the district and paying them, again meeting the expectations of a challenging school/parent group, maintaining the new physical plant with additional services and costs added (again, keeping our investment from the bond measures solid), paying for the continued increase in the student population and insuring our schools are continually updated with the latest technology trends of educating our youth for the 21st century.

These are my main points, don't have time to type the rest.

I


14 people like this
Posted by JU
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 26, 2016 at 12:12 am

“Conservative fiscally prudent individuals” who run up a “planned” deficit of $1.2 million this year (projected to increase to >$4 million by 2017/2018), who then ask for a 233% increase in parcel tax?

The last parcel tax in 2010 (Measure C) was sold to the voters as a temporary 7 year tax proposed due to budget cuts. In San Mateo County, 61% of our property tax dollars go towards school districts. Last I checked, economy is doing well, and property values have skyrocketed, with 7-8% increased revenue per year.

Let's look at numbers from MPCSD.
Web Link
Web Link

2009
Revenue $25,436,546
Expense $26,877,598
Students 2436
Dollars/Student $11457
API 931

2013
Revenue $32,341,123
Expense $36,437,512
Students 2802
Dollars/Student $13006
API 940

From 2009-2013, I see a 27% increase in revenue, 36% increase in education expense, 15% increase in enrollment, 0.9% increase in API.

MPCSD likes to cherry pick their statistics. Notice how they only pick for comparison districts that spend more than us? I can play that game too.

MPCSD has average class size of 23 (data from 2011-2012, more recent data not available). The rest of the data is 2013-2014 figures.

Portola Valley- Dollars/student $18153, API 940, class size 19
Cupertino Union- Dollars/student $8083, API 959, class size 27
Belmont RWS- Dollars/student $8900, API 913, class size 27
Saratoga- Dollars/student $11628, API 944, class size 23

Btw, Cupertino Union district has nearly 7 times as many students as MPCSD. Can we hire their board?


14 people like this
Posted by Mike Keenly
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 26, 2016 at 9:05 am

The MP School Board has the appearance of being completely tone-deaf.

Putting two tax measures on the ballot will probably create voter confusion. If a voter is confused, they're likely to vote NO on both measures.

The School Board should go back and rethink what they're attempting to do, and come up with a clear, concise message that makes sense and addresses the type of issues described by the variety of posters on this topic.


9 people like this
Posted by Doing Their Work
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 26, 2016 at 5:24 pm

First, I'd like to join those who have thanked Scott Lohmann for the tremendous amount of time and effort (and probably money) he's donated to the MPCSD. Unfortunately, I can tell you first-hand that once you get sucked into the alternative universe of the MPAEF you no longer have an unbiased perspective. The group (like the rest of us) only get partial truth from the district and partial truth isn't the same as truth. So they walk away thinking the sky is falling and it's up to them to save our school district from the brink of financial ruin. Not to say the money they raise doesn't make a huge difference, but the state of our finances is fairly solid in the absolute.

Here is something I witnessed first-hand. When the last parcel tax rolled around -- Measure C in 2010 -- there was actually dissent on the board! Gasp! Jeff Child believed that asking for more than $200 per parcel would jeopardize the passage of the measure, and he prevailed. That measure passed by 76% which was far more than necessary, and as a result Child was ridiculed by the other board members who thought they should have asked for much more. The bottom line is that when Ghysels took office there was such a large "Rainy Day Fund" that he immediately set to work spending it down.

Financial reporting and transparency are a unique art form in the Menlo Park schools and Dr. Ghysels didn't invent it although he has made his mark in taking advantage of and perpetuating it. One used to be able to go on the website to see a listing of the administrative staff -- probably under twenty. Now the shiny new technology staff has designed a website that looks lovely but is nothing more than a PR facade. It gives an overview for each department but no list of the people who work there. The one exception is finance, and this department has gone from two employees to five. Either the retired Diane White was a workaholic genius (well, probably some truth to that), or the job got a whole lot more complicated. Guaranteed Ahmad Sheikholeslami makes twice what Diane made, and he still needs more people to help "manage" the books.

That's how things work here. Forget about need and reason, because you can ask for as much money as the market will bear even if it creates a huge hardship for folks barely affording to stay in their $750,000 houses.


1 person likes this
Posted by Menlo Park Parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 26, 2016 at 6:29 pm

Without wading in to the debate of the value and need for a new parcel tax it looks like some clarification is needed in regards to the all-mail ballot election. As apposed to the strategy to disenfranchise voters and hide the election as suggested by "JU" and "whatever", an all-mail ballot election has already proven itself to increase voter turn out in the county by 15%. A full analysis can be found in this Almanac article from November 17.

Web Link


19 people like this
Posted by JU
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 26, 2016 at 6:46 pm

If MPCSD were truly interested in getting widespread votes and greater turnout, then put it on the ballot with the June primary or November election. This also saves taxpayer money by not having the additional cost of putting on a special election. History will show you that parcel taxes are nearly always conducted by these special elections.


14 people like this
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 26, 2016 at 6:47 pm

Reading the insiders perspectives in this discussion is revealing. Thank you.

There are a few comments from Mr. Lohmann that I feel are worthy of a response...(I'm interested in keeping the conversation civil, so I'll limit my rebuttal)

> MPCSD consists of many C-Suite all-stars, inventors, scientists, tech investors and professors.

MPCSD is definitely NOT unique in its residents' backgrounds. Los Altos ESD, Palo Alto USD, LLSD, Portola Valley ESD, for examples, have residents that are "C-Suite all-stars, inventors, scientists, tech investors and professors" as well.

All of those school districts have demanding parents.

All of those school districts have comparable quality teaching and API scores.

All of those school districts, and others, have lower parcel taxes than MPCSD.

That is a fact.


> the continued increase in the student population

The previously-discussed school districts (and others) are reporting projected increases in student populations as well.

All of them have lower parcel taxes than MPCSD.

That is a fact.


20 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 26, 2016 at 7:25 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Can somebody please explain why the significant increase in property taxes does not more than compensate for any growth in student population?

Web Link


And this year will see an even bigger increae.


3 people like this
Posted by Scott Lohmann
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 26, 2016 at 8:54 pm

I find it very difficult to argue, again, parcel tax increases or non-increases or percentages or dollars from a completely different town and/or school district. It makes no sense, again, their budgets are different, they may derive revenue from other sources. That is a fact.

I think perhaps to compare, you may want to measure Per Student Funding. The numbers below were researched from online sources, and I grabbed the most recent numbers, 2013-2014. These are all school districts that completely surround MPCSD, again this may be a better way to compare aka "apples v. apples":

MPCSD = $13,006
Redwood City = Somewhere between $9K and $10K
Portola Valley = $18,153
Woodside = $19,458
Palo Alto = $13,376
Ravenswood = $11,510
Los Lomitas = $14,270

So, it does not look like MPCSD is so out of whack, in fact the Per Student Funding only surpasses RWC, and Ravenswood. On a side note, did you know that California ranks between #47 and #50 in Per Pupil Spending across the U.S.? And, I am SURE California is a much more expensive state to live in, versus most other states.

Argue the point that you don't like taxes, I argue it all day long. However, the reality here is our schools need money, like it or not. And again, this is a MUCH better investment in the long run for our homes, our future leaders, and our communities.

I will be voting "YES".



7 people like this
Posted by Former MPCSD parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 26, 2016 at 9:10 pm

Agree fully with Train Fan that Palo Alto, Las Lomitas, Portola Valley and Los Altos are comparable communities with comparable expectations regarding class sizes and breadth/depth of programs offered (music, art, etc over and above the 3 RS). I would add Woodside and Hillborough to that list as well. The issue our schools face is that MPCSD does not get as much revenue per student from our regular property taxes and other revenue sources, so the only way for our schools to maintain comparable class sizes and programs is if we provide our schools with sufficient additional funding via parcel taxes to make up for this deficit. MPCSD spends less per student than all of those comparable districts and will continue to spend less even if the additional funding is approved by the voters. The increase in assessed values in our district is not sufficient to maintain current programs as enrollment has grown and continues to grow. How is it that Las Lomitas, for example, is able to spend significantly more per student than MPCSD despite having a lower parcel tax? It's because they generate more regular property tax per student than MPCSD, and they also generate significant rental income off the properties they lease out to Phillips Brooks and Woodland School. The income to student ratio in each district reflects the unique circumstances of each district. The parcel tax amounts in each district reflect what each community decides it wants to do in light of its unique circumstances. I'm glad that our community has voted in the past to provide the funding needed to keep up. My own children have graduated from MPVSD, but I plan to vote yes this time as well because I value the excellence that has been built and want to see it maintained.


9 people like this
Posted by I will Vote
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 26, 2016 at 10:11 pm

It looks like a 10 to 1 ratio of opposed as to for the parcel tax, at least on this forum. I sent my kids to MPSD schools k-12, starting over 20 years ago, both going to excellent colleges, and going on to be successful contributing human beings. I remember the facilities as being adequate and the teachers as being excellent. Look at the campuses now. Hillview looks like something out of a tv show. Is that really necessary for a good education? My guess is and I would like to hear from our teachers or anyone who knows there are probably more qualified applicants than openings.

And Mr. Lohman throwing in the comment about state funding compared to money spent on local kids is a red herring.

Like most government entities they will never stop asking and spending more money. A lot of times we are told the new tax is for a limited time period but never stops.

Please vote No on any new school taxes.


4 people like this
Posted by Scott Lohmann
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 26, 2016 at 10:24 pm

Please explain your comment about "Red Herring"? I wish it were NOT true, I wish our funding WAS up to par with other states, and I wish our state WAS less expensive than most states. Sadly, this is not true. I'm proud of what our schools look like now, much nicer learning environment, and much more pleasing to the eye versus our mobile units!
Still voting YES, and the 1 to 10 ratio you use is thankfully not a good representation of our city.


3 people like this
Posted by resident voter
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 26, 2016 at 11:34 pm


I am making a commitment to not only campaign against the tax increase but to also to campaign against board members who support it.


2 people like this
Posted by I vote
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 26, 2016 at 11:44 pm



A red herring is something that misleads or distracts from a relevant or important issue.[1]

You are misleading people by scaring them in to thinking we do not spend enough money on our students in Menlo Park, compared to other states

Suggest you look at facilities, teachers, test scores and deplorable conditions in other states,

Besides Our campuses already look like Stanford knock-offs,


1 person likes this
Posted by Scott Lohmann
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 27, 2016 at 12:09 am

I know what "red herring" means, I just don't understand why you would use this with my comment. I mentioned the word "states" and California, it's obvious I did not just mean Menlo Park. I have looked at many of the scores given to the states. We are #37 as far as School System Quality and #49, as far as Safety.(per WalletHub) We're the 10th worst overall grade for state scores of 69.2, again Per Student Spending #6 lowest, 8th graders that are proficient in math or reading @ 27.6% = 8th lowest. (per 247wallst.com) It doesn't matter what site you go to, California is not even close to being the best at anything. Ironically, much of the per pupil spending comes from Foundations, that many school districts across the country do not even have, or need. California schools derive more of their dollars thru parent run Foundations, than anywhere in the country. So, just think what your parcel tax would be without $3.5M+ from the MPCSD School Foundation, funded by mainly parents of those school children.


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Posted by Regressive
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 27, 2016 at 6:34 am

Please explain why regressive taxes are bein proposed. Those with the most pay proportionately less than those with the least.

Please explain what is being done by commercial enterprises (not just the few exceptions) to support mp schools.


11 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 27, 2016 at 7:41 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" The increase in assessed values in our district is not sufficient to maintain current programs as enrollment has grown and continues to grow."

Facts please - the District's increase in property tax revenues last year was 6%+ and this year will be even greater than 6%. Has enrollment increased by more than 12% in the last two years?


3 people like this
Posted by JC
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jan 27, 2016 at 8:49 am

I have the same question as above on why the growth in property taxes does not fund the growth in enrollment. And if even if it doesn't, are we sure that this growth in enrollment will continue? There have been reports recently (e.g. Web Link) that this may have been overestimated in Palo Alto, which we may assume to be facing similar issues.


5 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 27, 2016 at 9:52 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Many school districts have impact fees for new construction:

"Developer Fees On behalf of districts in El Dorado County, EDCOE collects developer fees associated, are the district fees, which include both the elementary and high school districts rates, as of, November 23, 2015: Residential Fees for New Construction School District NameFee Per S. F. of Dwelling, added to an accessory building will be subject to school fees. Commercial/Industrial - $.47 - $.54, per s.f."

"Pollock Pines Residential fees are $3.36 per s.f"

That is over $10,000 for a new 3000 s.f home.

Does MPCSD have such fees? If not, why not?


9 people like this
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 27, 2016 at 10:25 am

> Many school districts have impact fees for new construction ...
> Does MPCSD have such fees? If not, why not?

This is an excellent question.

Los Alto ESD, for example, definitely has these fees (I read their financial web site yesterday. I'll be using their information in a future post as additional evidence for discrediting the need for FIVE parcel taxes).


7 people like this
Posted by JU
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 27, 2016 at 10:29 am

From ed-data.org and MPCSD web site

Revenue % change
2009-10 $25,436,546
2010-11 $25,984,491 2.15%
2011-12 $25,906,292 -0.3%
2012-13 $29,464,452 13.7%
2013-14 $32,341,123 9.76%
2014-15 $38,089,792 17.8%

Expenses % change
2009-10 $26,877,598
2010-11 $29,048,509 8%
2011-12 $30,340,565 4.4%
2012-13 $32,801,285 8.1%
2013-14 $36,437,512 11%
2014-15 $39,282,670 7.8%

Enrollment/ % change
2009-10 2436
2010-11 2535 4%
2011-12 2611 3%
2012-13 2700 3.4%
2013-14 2802 3.8%
2014-15 2900 3.5%

When Measure C was passed in 2010, it gave the district a nice influx of funds and allowed them to build reserves (now over 25%). Instead of saving it for a rainy day to weather any economic downturn, they decided there was too much money sitting around and began deficit spending. The property tax increases are not keeping up with their rate of spending (but definitely higher than the growth in enrollment).

Hence, they need more money (parcel tax #4 and #5) to allow them to continue their deficit spending.


11 people like this
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 27, 2016 at 10:46 am

Scott Lohmann wrote:
> Per Student Spending #6 lowest

Ummmm...excuse me, but you are the same name that wrote this:

> I find it very difficult to argue,
> again, parcel tax increases or
> non-increases or percentages or
> dollars from a completely different
> town and/or school district. It
> makes no sense, again, their
> budgets are different

Do you see the contradiction in these 2 statements?

According to you, comparing nearby districts (<10 miles) with lower expenses and comparable or higher API scores "makes no sense".

But comparing states with districts that are 2,500 - 3,000 miles away...that's totally reasonable in your book.

Wow. Just wow.

And I'd like to know your source for "6th lowest". Searches on governing.com don't appear to support this number.

(FWIW, I'm actually a supporter of making the state fund public schools at a higher level; the state has had a huge windfall from higher income and sales taxes and prop 30, and it should send more of those dollars to the schools. Separate topic. I'm not against well funded schools, I'm against unreasonable taxation. 5 parcel taxes at $950-$1300+ (and HIGHER) is unreasonable taxation in comparison to other districts. That's an indisputable fact supported by the mountains of evidence you've been unable to refute)

That's a fact.


9 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 27, 2016 at 11:23 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

JU - Thanks for the facts.

Given those facts I will vote against these parcel taxes.

I recommend that the MPCSD Board start engaging in fiscal discipline to live within its income and to immediately consider Impact Fees for all new construction.

Clearly existing properties are, because of property reassessments due to change of ownership, contributing significantly more than the cost of living is increasing.

If new construction had to pay for the impact of their construction on the schools then the reasonable needs of the school district would be easily met.


2 people like this
Posted by MPCSD Parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Jan 27, 2016 at 2:05 pm

> Many school districts have impact fees for new construction ...
> Does MPCSD have such fees? If not, why not?

It's an excellent question, and one that should most definitely be asked of MP City Council and Planning Department. I'd hazard a guess that the answer has a lot to do with the cozy relationship between our city government and developers like Bohannon and Arrillaga.

Like @Doing Their Work, I've experienced some of the nitty gritty of the District from the inside, and I'm ambivalent about this parcel tax. I'm in absolute support of MPCSD maintaining and building on its demonstrated excellence, but I'm not sure I feel good about levying 2 parcel taxes, which could potentially total in excess of $1000 per year, on every homeowner, some of whom can ill afford the added expense. I'll continue to read, research, and educate myself about the parcel tax proposal and its ramifications, and I encourage everyone to do the same before making a decision. I appreciate reading the comments here; lots of good information and food for thought.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 27, 2016 at 2:45 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The imposition of an Impact Fee by the school district does not require the consent of the City of Menlo Park:

"EDUCATION CODE
SECTION 17620-17626

17620. (a) (1) The governing board of any school district is
authorized to levy a fee, charge, dedication, or other requirement
against any construction within the boundaries of the district, for
the purpose of funding the construction or reconstruction of school
facilities, subject to any limitations set forth in Chapter 4.9
(commencing with Section 65995) of Division 1 of Title 7 of the
Government Code."


1 person likes this
Posted by Oak Knoll alum
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 27, 2016 at 3:23 pm

JC, the District is propsing that they will not be able to collect any new funding unless and until the additional enrollment enrollment materializes, and then only in proportion to the actual new enrollment. And if the enrollment materializes and later goes away, the new finding automatically goes away. I appreciate that they are setting it up this way.

JU, Measure C was designed to build up a surplus in the early years that would be spent down in the later years. The District has done exactly what they promised. The issue is that enrollment continues to increase. The property tax increase figures you are quoting only apply to a portion of the District's revenue. The fact that our District spends less per student than neighboring districts with comparable programs demonstrates the fiscal responsibility being exercised. If our voters don't want our schools to maintain comparable programs, our District will have to raise class sizes and cut programs. I want to see our kids have comparable programs to Palo Alto, Las Lomitas, etc, so I plan to VOTE YES to maintain the excellence that had been built.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 27, 2016 at 3:33 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"The property tax increase figures you are quoting only apply to a portion of the District's revenue. "

Over 60% of the District's revenue comes from property taxes.


Web Link


11 people like this
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 27, 2016 at 4:06 pm

Oak Knoll Alum wrote:
> our District spends less per student than neighboring districts

There are a few things that should be pointed out, regarding the references to "neighboring" districts:

1) The pro-"FIVE parcel taxes" posters heavily cherrypick what they consider a "neighbor." Looking over prior posts, Hillsborough counts in their eyes, but Burlingame, Belmont, and San Carlos do not, even though they're generally geographically closer to MPCSD than Hillsborough.

Why do they exclude those districts from their comparisons? Because those districts all have significantly lower parcel taxes and have comparable API scores and quality teaching.

2) Palo Alto is a Unified school district. Looking over high school district finances, high schools have generally higher per-student costs. Including it in comparisons to MPCSD is pointless.

3) Portola Valley, Woodside and Las Lomitas (and Hillsborough) are substantially smaller districts than MPCSD. Looking over the financial data for other school districts, smaller districts generally have higher per-student costs, likely due to scaling issues.

A better comparison is to compare MPCSD to all elementary school districts with at least 2000 students; that is much more enlightening. MPCSD is one of the highest-spending elementary school districts in the state.

MPCSD does not need FIVE parcel taxes. It doesn't need $950-$1300 in parcel taxes, when other districts with comparable API scores are able to do well with $250-$300.


6 people like this
Posted by JU
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 27, 2016 at 5:25 pm

>The property tax increase figures you are quoting only apply to a portion of the District's revenue.

The figures I provided above from 2009-2015 show that total revenue is up 50%, while enrollment is up 19%.

>Measure C was designed to build up a surplus in the early years that would be spent down in the later years. The District has done exactly what they promised.

Let's look at the text from Measure C in 2010:
Web Link

California’s precarious financial situation has already resulted in drastic cuts in State education funding, and the worsening State budget situation threatens ongoing funding of the Menlo Park City School District’s programs in the foreseeable future. The Menlo Park City School District will experience steep reductions in State revenue for the 2010-11 school year and thereafter in subsequent years.
The student enrollment in the Menlo Park City School District has increased by 26% in the last six years and is conservatively projected to grow between 13 to 18% in the next seven years, requiring a substantial increase in funds to employ additional teachers to maintain small class sizes.

Nowhere does this mention that Measure C was designed to produce a surplus to be spent down. The language implies that the district was losing all this funding due to budget cuts and needed that money to maintain class sizes. Now we find out after the fact that they planned to collect a surplus all along and are happily spending it all.

>The fact that our District spends less per student than neighboring districts with comparable programs

It's not a race to see who can spend the most per student. Train fan already addressed this. Cherry picking stats to make it seem like MPCSD spends less than other districts is disingenuous. Declaring only those districts that spend more than us as comparable is intentionally misleading.

Burlingame $7747 API 910
Belmont-RWS $8900 API 913
San Carlos $9215 API 915
Cupertino $8083 API 959
Saratoga $11628 API 960
Los Altos $10856 API 965

Furthermore, I don't see anything wrong with learning from other districts that are similarly excellent while spending less money per student. If you can achieve the same results with less money, wouldn't that free up more money to spend elsewhere? Isn't that a win-win situation?

We all support our schools. Some of us are also interested in the long term fiscal health of the district so we can weather any economic downturn. Asking for new parcel taxes every 3-5 years does not indicate sound fiscal management.

MPCSD is using scare tactics by threatening larger class sizes and program cuts to get you to vote for the parcel tax. But seems to me to be really another surplus fund generating mechanism. The voters have been more than generous and have shown they will give schools money if needed. Don't abuse that goodwill.


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Posted by Educational Discussion
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Jan 27, 2016 at 7:12 pm

This has been an informative thread. Thank you to all participants. I've learned a lot.

I have a question about impact fees. Per Peter Carpenter's post, these fees can be imposed, "for
the purpose of funding the construction or reconstruction of school facilities". I read this to be "for capital costs." My understanding of the proposed parcel taxes is that they would be for operating costs. These are two different buckets that I don't believe can be mixed.

Experts - what do you say?


1 person likes this
Posted by Willows mom
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 28, 2016 at 7:29 am

JU: I support our schools having the funds necessary to maintain their current excellent programs. Sounds like you should move to Belmont or Burlingame or San Carlos or one of the communities you are holding up as examples of what you want our schools to be. I moved to Menlo Park because I wanted THIS community and the educational environment being provided here, not there. The schools here are excellent because they have small class sizes and excellent programs for the whole child taught by great teachers. Everyone that I know in this community feels the same way.


2 people like this
Posted by Laurel dad
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Jan 28, 2016 at 7:42 am

I am grateful that our community has such excellent public schools. I have friends in San Carlos who are trying to move either here or Las Lomitas so their kids can attend our schools.


4 people like this
Posted by Bob
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 28, 2016 at 8:27 am

JU makes a good point -- "We all support our schools. Some of us are also interested in the long term fiscal health of the district so we can weather any economic downturn. Asking for new parcel taxes every 3-5 years does not indicate sound fiscal management." The funding sources for schools is confusing sometimes and piecemeal.

Not only is it MPCSD, but there's also Sequoia Union, the college district, etc. asking for supplements. This is a POOR way to finance education. I'm surprised that in this thread no one has surfaced the funding that comes from ERAF (Education Revenue Augmentation Fund). I wonder what percentage of MPCSD's funding comes from ERAF has been diverted from city, county and special district funding?


2 people like this
Posted by school supporter
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 28, 2016 at 9:17 am

My kids went to Oak Knoll and Hillview, and I'm really grateful for the fabulous experience they had. I don't have kids in MPCSD anymore, but I want our schools to have the funding necessary to maintain the high quality education my kids received. I wish that our state income taxes were benefiting our schools more, but they are not. The state needs to put that money toward communities like Ravenswood instead of MPCSD. The high quality of our schools is the reason that everyone wants to live here in Menlo Park. The fact that we already spend less per student than comparable communities such as Las Lomitas, Hillsborough and Palo Alto makes it clear that our schools don't have enough funding to keep up if we don't support them. I intend to keep supporting them and will vote yes.


10 people like this
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 28, 2016 at 9:49 am

You know you're winning when the opposition's retort effectively boils down to "Love it or leave it."

JU, and the others, are clearly winning.


Willow mom wrote:
> I support our schools having the
> funds necessary to maintain their
> current excellent programs.

They already HAVE parcel taxes in excess of every other elementary school district in the region, including districts with superior API scores.

We are ALREADY supporting the district with enough funds necessary to maintain excellent programs. The avalanche of data previously posted proves that's indisputably true.


> you should move to Belmont or Burlingame or San Carlos

And there it is. The white flag of surrender.

"Moving" goes both ways: using your logic, if you want to be overtaxed for no measurable benefit, then you should move to a community that taxes at amounts you deem appropriate.



6 people like this
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 28, 2016 at 10:36 am

Laurel dad wrote:
> I have friends in San Carlos who are trying to move either here or Las Lomitas so their kids can attend our schools.

Well, what part of San Carlos? That matters.

Just like Menlo Park, San Carlos is within the boundaries of more than 1 elementary school district: some Menlo Park residents are in Ravenswood; some San Carlos residents are in Redwood City ESD.

For a family that values a high-API-scoring district, moving from RWCESD to MPCSD/LLSD is understandable. But if they live in SCESD...well that's a very questionable move from the perspective of education quality.

Most San Carlos residents have what we (MPCSD and LLSD) do not: the best high school in the Sequoia High School district. Carlmont is superior to Menlo-Atherton HS, and most San Carlos residents have a pre-k-to-12th-grade public education experience that Menlo Park residents cannot match unless they send their kids to private school.

If your..."friends"...are attempting to move from SCESD+Carlmont to MPCSD+M-A for the education quality...well, I question whether your..."friends"...have done any research to justify the move.


So, San Carlos families pay lower parcel taxes than MPCSD resident, and get excellent pre-k to 12th grade public education.

And we get excellent k-to-8th grade public education, at a significantly higher cost.



11 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 28, 2016 at 10:45 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Property taxes are designed to support the continued provision of existing services to existing populations.

Impact Fees are designed to support the capital improvements needed to support any additions to the current population.

Any taxpayer supported institution should have a balanced budget that is designed to provide services to its existing population using its property tax revenues.

If a taxpayer supported institution predicts increased demand on its services as a result of increases in the population then that institution should develop an Impact Fee to accomodate the capital needs to serve that expanded population.

Once new development/homes/residences have been built then those properties will annually pay property taxes to maintain the new level of services.

If MPCSD assserts that they need more taxes because of increasing enrollment then they need to establish an Impact Fee NOW. Parcel taxes are an illogical and unfiar way to bear the capital costs of increased enrollments.


17 people like this
Posted by JU
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 28, 2016 at 10:57 am

I feel like I'm being run out of town with pitchforks for daring to criticize the school. I hope that's not the way our children respond to criticism.

All I wanted to know was why does MPCSD need the money. So I did my own research, and what I uncovered was disappointing.

They're just fulfilling the motto "spend as much as you can get your hands on."


20 people like this
Posted by Check the Source
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Jan 28, 2016 at 1:04 pm

If you're interested in this issue and the upcoming ballot measure, be very sure to get your facts from a credible source and NOT from the public relations spin masters in the Menlo Park City School District. They are experts at massaging the numbers to make it look as if the sky is falling. In the past they have hired an EXPENSIVE OUTSIDE CONSULTING FIRM to help them craft the ballot measure, and I'm sure they're working with one for this election. There's where your money goes. If they weren't so busy paying for that BS and building up an administrative staff that could run an entire regional school district, they'd have more than enough to pay for quality teaching and educational materials.

Ask for a County or State audit or demand that the City hire an outside accounting firm and demand that the MPCSD publish full, detailed audited financial figures before approving any more school taxes. A parcel tax may make you feel good about supporting education but what you're really supporting is wasteful spending.


34 people like this
Posted by Apple
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 28, 2016 at 2:20 pm

@Check the Source

I would go further than that. I would ask MPCSD to open the books and have the same detailed budget numbers that their internal finance people see. In this way, anyone can review how the budget has been spent. Right now, they only provide aggregated numbers. It's very hard to tell if money is currently well spent or poorly spent just based on that.

Transparency will convince the doubters that more money is really needed. Who knows? Maybe someone in the public can find areas for improved financial management.

The problem with an audit is that the organization being audited can play games with how it's done. The organization paying for the audit is the one being audited. There's an immense conflict of interest. Moreover, the audit costs money, something MPCSD says they need more of. Opening the books costs virtually nothing. These numbers are already compiled internally. They just need to publish it on the web.

So what say you MPCSD? Will you open the books to show your detailed budget, not just aggregated numbers?


18 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 28, 2016 at 3:47 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Here is the kind of budget that a public agency should have and should publish:

Web Link

128 pages for a $37 million budget.

Here is the MPCSD published budget (which is not provided on the MPCSD web site except by doing a word search):

Web Link

13 pages for a $41 million budget

And this MPCSD budget "Assume renewal of Measure C parcel tax ($1.6M)".


4 people like this
Posted by Mike Keenly
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 29, 2016 at 1:11 pm

Thanks Peter. Full transparency in government/public agencies is important. Otherwise, citizens then wonder what they're trying to hide.


2 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 29, 2016 at 5:05 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Thanks for the observation and the unstated: MPCSD is trying to hide something.

Vote NO on these bogus taxes.


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Posted by Act Now
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 29, 2016 at 6:14 pm

There will be a special MPCSD Board of Eduction Public Hearing on MONDAY, FEBRUARY 1st at 7 PM at the District Office on Encinal Avenue. The Board will be discussing the parcel tax election -- now being called Measure A. This is a sure sign they are going forward with at least one parcel tax measure; it remains to be seen whether they have the audacity to try for a second one. Either way, without public involvement up front to insist they open the books and let the taxpayers see exactly where the money has been going, it will continue to be business as usual in our town and we will all pay the price.


4 people like this
Posted by Act Now
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 29, 2016 at 6:17 pm

* Please note that the district waited until Friday at 5 p.m. to send out notice of a supposed "public meeting" the following Monday. Timed for the least possibility of having people attend -- this is how they hide in plain sight.


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Posted by Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 29, 2016 at 6:30 pm

What is best way to get involved to keep measure off ballot


1 person likes this
Posted by Scott Lohmann
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 29, 2016 at 6:59 pm

I think it would be best if the conspiracy theory stuff stops,. MPCSD is not trying to "hide something", or "hiding in plain site" or "massaging numbers" etc. If you are this interested, go to the meeting ask questions and do factual discovery. The numbers and examples above are not so far out of whack with regard to per pupil spending, let's be honest. If our stellar Board was as bad as some of the unsubstantiated comments, again our per pupil spending would be way out of bounds. It most definitely is not.


7 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 29, 2016 at 7:20 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

These measures usually pass because:
1 - most voters are not well informed
2 - the Yes side actually votes and the No side does not bother to vote

So let the issue go to the voters and then make sure that:
1 - the voters are fully informed
2 - everyone votes

The result will be that of a well informed democracy.


5 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 29, 2016 at 7:29 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Elections to vote on parcel tax measures must take place on what are known as "established election dates." In even-numbered years, these are in March, April and November. In odd-numbered years, these are in March, June and November. However, if the election will be held by mail only, the election dates can also be set in May or August (odd or even years) and June (even-numbered years).

Notice that a parcel tax election will occur must be given at least 90 days in advance of the date of the election."

**************

"Between 1983 and November 5, 2015, elections took place on 625 school district parcel tax requests. Of the total, 361—57 percent—of the school district parcel tax measures were approved."


7 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 29, 2016 at 7:49 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Scott:

please stop schilling for the school board. You looking for a spot there? We all know how getting a place on the school board works. Why do you have a problem with the district opening the books? (no conspiracy theory here, just a request for HONESTY) Because they're not telling the truth perhaps and you are blinded by your ambitions? The fact is the district doesn't "need" the money. They've done nothing that is clear that shows they "need" the money. Their game is that they can ask for as much as they want because it's "for the children" and it is to keep the district API scores at the top. Funny thing, as others have shown there are other districts that spend a lot less money per student yet achieve equivalent scores. How could that be?

Please spare us your BS. The facts speak for themselves and they don't support you view.


2 people like this
Posted by Scott Lohmann
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 29, 2016 at 8:03 pm

No one is "schilling" for the school board Mr/Ms Anonymous poster, I have NO ambition for the school board, and would not run if asked, Mr/Ms Aonoymous poster,and I am fairly sure that NO where in my posts have I advocated NOT opening the books Mr/Ms Anonomous poster. However, I do take offense to unsubstantiated claims from anonymous posters. Again, if you struggle with this issue, show up Monday, ask to see the books, and ask questions, and quit spewing your anonymous "bs". How 'bout you start being a neighbor and debate the issue in front of the board, and not behind your anonymous keyboard. :)


13 people like this
Posted by Strategy
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Jan 29, 2016 at 8:50 pm

As a former member of the MPAEF board and a close friend of a former school board member (and acquaintance of most of the others) it has always been pretty clear that the board -- although comprising caring, smart individuals -- really can't stand any public scrutiny. I was told that they conduct most of their real business outside the meetings (how this is not a violation of the Brown Act, I do not know) and that they hate to have people show up at meetings.

I cannot say I've felt welcome at meetings, though I have only attended as part of a group of parents.

I have also observed what happens to people who try to stand up to the board: the whispering campaigns, hints of mental illness and other scandal. If those of us who post in opposition prefer to remain anonymous, there is a good reason for that.

I would love to see this election change the character of the board from a hand-selected clique to a body that's truly representative of the community, but that is a fantasy!


3 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 30, 2016 at 8:30 am

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Thank you strategy.

Scott: as you can see, the board doesn't like scrutiny. I've been to meetings. People that address the board and question them are met with condescension at best and out right hostility at worst.

Everyone knows how the board works. Everyone knows what it takes to get on the board. You have to be hand picked by the existing board to fill an open seat. No one that isn't an insider is ever elected to the board. Outsiders that try to get on the board are ridiculed and attacked. Great way to run a school district eh, Scott?

You don't advocate not opening the books? Then how about you go to a board meeting and advocate for opening the books so we can all see the TRUE numbers? You seem to bean insider, they might actually listen to you. Given past experience however, I doubt it.


24 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 30, 2016 at 9:40 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The MPCSD Board should realize that if there is any indication that they have engaged in private discussions amongst themselves in violation of the Brown Act then any decision which they make in public session can and will be challenged.

"Any interested person, including the district attorney, may seek to invalidate certain actions of a legislative
body on the ground that they violate the Act.1 Violations of the Brown Act.

Before filing a court action seeking invalidation, a person who believes a violation has occurred must send a
written “cure or correct” demand to the legislative body. This demand must clearly describe the challenged
action, the nature of the claimed violation, and the “cure” sought. This demand must be sent within 90 days
of the alleged violation or 30 days if the action was taken in open session but in violation of Section 54952.2,
which defines “meetings”.2 The legislative body then has up to 30 days to cure and correct its action. If it
does not act, any lawsuit must be filed within the next 15 days."

Thus a substantive Brown Act challenge could significantly delay any proposed mail ballot election.

I suggest the MPCSD Counsel publicly ask each member to disclose any prior conversations with other Board members, either directly or via intermediaries, on this matter before they vote on it. If three or more Board members, a majority, had engaged in prohibited discussions then theywould then be required to recuse themselves from the vote and the matter rescheduled to another properly agendized public meeting.


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Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 2, 2016 at 10:47 am

I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that they approved putting Measures A and B on the May mail-in-only ballot.

I'm correct, right?


4 people like this
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 2, 2016 at 11:14 am

Yep, the MPCSD voted to approve a parcel tax election for Measures A and B:

Web Link

'RECOMMENDED ACTION: The Board adopts Resolution No. 15.16.11 Calling for a Parcel Tax Election "Measure A".'

'RECOMMENDED ACTION: The Board adopts Resolution No. 15.16.12 Calling for a Parcel Tax Election "Measure B".'


For a district that has the highest parcel taxes in the state of California (even if both measures were to fail), this is a brazen move.


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Posted by Barbara Wood
Almanac staff writer
on Feb 2, 2016 at 3:33 pm

Barbara Wood is a registered user.

Train Fan - I would like to follow up on the comparison of parcel taxes in other school districts. Can you contact me to share where you found the information? Please email bwood@almanacnews.com


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Posted by fwiw
a resident of Woodside: other
on Feb 2, 2016 at 5:46 pm

> I would like to follow up on the comparison of parcel taxes in other school districts.

Tax records are public on the SM & SC Tax Collector sites. Just enter an arbitrary address within each district, and you can see the tax breakdown on each tax bill.


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Posted by resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Feb 2, 2016 at 6:03 pm

There is also a thread on the Top News section of the online Almanac

Most all oppose the new taxes.

While on the subject of taxes, how about,

Federal Income Tax
State Income Tax
Medicare
Medicaid
SSI
Sales Tax 8.75% of the gross amount on everything purchased
Social Security, now raised to being taxed 13+% of gross income up to the first $118,000
Vehicle registration tax
Gas Tax
Property Tax
Add on special parcel Taxes, now proposed
I now get an add on my restauruant bill for Obama care to help cover their employees
Speaking of which my monthly health premium went up 50%
and on and on and on.
Feel free to add any I missed


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Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 5, 2016 at 10:11 am

Barbara Wood wrote:
> Can you contact me to share where you found the information?

fwiw wrote:
> Tax records are public on the SM & SC Tax Collector sites. Just enter an arbitrary address within each district, and you can see the tax breakdown on each tax bill.

Yep, this is what I did. Yep, it was tedious. Yep, anyone can do it. Some school district sites are helpful as well (though rarely do they break out parcel taxes in their revenue numbers).

I should clarify that we're talking about *elementary* school districts in our comparison. For example, I did find 1 (and just 1) district with parcel taxes greater than MPCSD: Piedmont, a Unified school district. As previously discussed, including Unified districts in comparisons to MPCSD is apples/oranges (even pro-MPCSD-tax have made the same case); costs per high-school student tend to be higher than elementary school. A look at the financials of high school district will bear this out.


1 person likes this
Posted by Ballot Argument
a resident of another community
on Feb 10, 2016 at 8:25 am

I have drafted a ballot argument as a bona fide organization.

I need FIVE individual signers in this district to sign the ballot argument to make the argument look strong.

My email is menlotaxsucks@forward.cat

PLEASE reach out if you'd like to sign on our argument against Measure A & B


Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle

on Jul 27, 2017 at 8:26 pm

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Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle

on Jul 31, 2017 at 3:44 pm

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a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle

on Sep 21, 2017 at 3:36 am

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a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle

on Sep 23, 2017 at 4:39 am

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a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle

on Sep 24, 2017 at 5:20 am

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