News

Menlo Park school board places two tax measures on May ballot

 

It's official. On Feb. 1, the governing board of the Menlo Park City School District unanimously approved putting two parcel tax measures on a special May 3 mail-in ballot.

The district says that without the new parcel taxes it will soon spend down its reserves. Enrollment is projected to continue increasing in the district through 2025, but because Menlo Park is a "community funded" district receiving most of its income from property taxes, it does not receive more funds when more students enroll.

Measure A is identical to a parcel tax set to expire in 2017 and Measure B is tied directly to increases in student enrollment.

Both measures propose permanent taxes, with no expiration dates. The maximum parcel tax if both measures are approved is $1,320.20 per parcel per year, adjusted for any inflation.

This year, property owners in the district pay a total of $851.60 in parcel taxes to the district, in four separate parcel taxes, which appear as one on the tax bill.

Three of the parcel taxes are permanent and one will expire at the end of June 2017. If the two new measures are approved, property owners will pay five separate parcel taxes, all of them permanent.

The parcel tax due to expire is currently $201.38 and provides about $1.58 million annually to the district. Measure A would make the expiring $201.38 tax permanent.

Measure B proposes a $2.20 per parcel tax for each student who enrolls beyond the district's current 2,938 students. If the student count in the district rose by 71 students, the increase predicted for next school year, the tax would be $156.20. The measure has a cap of 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 $1007.80, adjusted by the amount of inflation this year.

The proposal allows those 65 and older to apply for an exemption from the tax. The new taxes could increase annually with increases in the consumer price index as the existing taxes do.

Alex Evans from EMC Research, a consultant the district hired to helped craft the ballot measures, said his firm found that the district is seen positively by voters who participated in three focus groups.

"There's high satisfaction with Menlo Park in general," he said, and schools are seen as "a major contributor to the quality of life in Menlo Park." That opinion, he said, leaves voters willing to give the district the benefit of the doubt. "They start out saying, I'm probably going to say yes," he said.

"You're going to voters from a really good position about your brand," he said.

Only one member of the public spoke at the Feb. 1 meeting. The speaker, who identified himself only as Steve, from Delfino Way, asked why the district makes seniors apply each year for their exemption from the parcel taxes.

"A lot of your seniors are 80 and 90. Some have dementia," he said. "It seems like a somewhat harsh way of doing it."

Board members said they would look into how other districts handle the senior exemption and consider changing the application process.

The speaker also asked if commercial properties could be charged more than residential properties. Board members said that legal cases have shown that parcel taxes must be the same for each parcel and cannot differentiate between types of property.

Now that the district board has approved the parcel tax measures, all campaigning must be done privately and paid for with private funding. Jody Buckley and Scott Hinshaw are heading the citizen's committee that will campaign for the parcel tax measures.

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.

Comments

9 people like this
Posted by Trish
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 2, 2016 at 12:21 pm

Does this mean with low income families leaving the area due to high rents and higher home prices that the rest of us will be taxed out the hoo-ha now? Also, Steve has a point with making seniors reapply for an exemption each year.


17 people like this
Posted by JU
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 2, 2016 at 12:43 pm

Let me spell it out if both measure pass (assuming 2.5% CPI increase per year). Article implies new parcel taxes will take effect 2017. Using enrollment predictions from the article:

enrollment Parcel tax
2015-2016 2940 $851.60
2016-2017 $872.89
2017-2018 3009 $1050.91 (894.71+156.2)
2018-2019 3080 $1229.4 (917+312.4)
2020-2021 3151 $1408.53 (939.93+468.60)
2021 3151+ $1443.74

After 2021 (all parcels are permanent), we will be paying over $1440 a year.

They also conveniently left out the amount of increase in revenue from 2005.
Web Link

Revenue Students (ADA)
2005-6 $19885846 2087
2014-5 $38089792 2900

Enrollment growth of 34.3%, Revenue growth 191.5%. Why is that not enough to fund enrollment growth again?


9 people like this
Posted by JU
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 2, 2016 at 12:52 pm

Oops. Should read enrollment growth of 39%, revenue growth 91.5%.


10 people like this
Posted by Used to live in MP
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Feb 2, 2016 at 1:41 pm

Income growth exceeding enrollment growth is insufficient because you are talking about govt spending which is never sufficient irrespective of the amount already spent.


29 people like this
Posted by Tired of School Bonds
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Feb 2, 2016 at 1:50 pm

I am tired of money being spend uncontrollably by the 4 school boards serving the greater Menlo Park area. If they all combined and eliminated the administrative level of three districts, that would raise 5 x more money that another ill advised bond measure. Does it really take four fully staffed administrative sectors to manage a total of 9-10 schools?? The answer is not additional money but get people who mange the money they have more efficiently.

NO to any BOND MEASURE


15 people like this
Posted by Lets see
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 2, 2016 at 2:01 pm

Reduce redundant admin costs or put children's education at risk? It's a no brainer for the district. It's good to be in a position to frame the argument you can do no more without more money; especially in a wealthy district. No reason to look at staff and eliminate poor performing teachers and staff and replace with competent employees. Read this carefully, I am not saying all employees are subpar but I ask you when was the last time a truly incompetent teacher or staff member was fired and not just reassigned to a makeup position? I second No on any Bond Measure until the district can prove they have eliminated a good percentage of waste.


34 people like this
Posted by new guy
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 2, 2016 at 2:08 pm

For those of you who will vote yes to these without thinking, PLEASE drive by any of the schools in MP, the high school has a massive structure built recently (MPAC), Hillview looks as nice as a College campus (recently completely redone), and others. PLEASE see the teachers faces there, they are very happy to have jobs in our system.

So what does simply driving by tell you:

1. we have money for really nice things
2. people who work there are happy


So what are you voting yes for?


If you are a voting yes, please note that if you feel so strongly about funding MP schools, you can make a donation at any time to the school foundation.

If you are voting yes, because you want to tax others, please think about it, you are also taxing yourself. If you rent, the rent will increase.

If you are voting yes because administrators are threatening the schools, think about it harder, it is their job to manage, not the taxpayer to solve their issues. I am so tired of the comparisons to other school districts on spend per student. Please compare the parcel taxes of those districts as well.

This time, I don't think it is "about the children", its clearly about administrators not being able to solve their own management issues.

Oh, and the district has plenty of money to hire a firm to run a feel good survey stating how people cannot wait to tax themselves to support schools.




35 people like this
Posted by Bob
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 2, 2016 at 2:28 pm

I'll be voting NO.

While I'm pro education; I'm also anti uncontrolled spending and no financial accountability.


10 people like this
Posted by Retired Grandparent
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 2, 2016 at 4:15 pm

Even though I may no longer have children in the schools, I want to support our schools and support these measures. Even though I qualify for the over 65 exemption, I will choose not to opt out and contribute our share to support our schools. I think the single greatest thing we have in our community, other than its people, are our schools. Every day I drive by them and see the happy kids and many activities, I am proud they are in our community. I hope some day my grandkids will be able to go there and look at this as an investment in their and others futures.


20 people like this
Posted by Joan
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 2, 2016 at 4:23 pm

I will also be voting NO. The schools need to learn how to budget and stop scamming the taxpayers. Many in our area simply cannot afford more taxes. For once, think about them.



16 people like this
Posted by new guy
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 2, 2016 at 4:25 pm

Dear Retired Grandparent,

Since "you" want to support our schools, please do so I as do.

Donate to the Menlo Park-Atherton Education Foundation

Web Link

You do not need to wait for an election or vote or anything. They will accept your "support" anytime for the "single greatest thing we have in our community."

--- OR ---

simply be honest and say you want to vote so that other people have to pay more taxes and make Menlo Park an even more expensive place to live for everyone (well at least those who cannot apply for the waiver).










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

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

This is absurd. A huge NO vote here.


14 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Feb 2, 2016 at 5:39 pm


Vote No! No No, Does the board really not get it.

Can we get a list of all the board members. I would like to put a vote no for them for re-election.


17 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 2, 2016 at 6:49 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

resident:

it doesn't matter. They've gamed the system and no one that isn't an insider will get to run for the school board. Unfortunately, the voters of MP don't get it. Especially since it's "for the children." What a load of BS.


26 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 2, 2016 at 7:02 pm

Only one in ten California school districts has even one parcel tax and MPCSD wants to have FIVE!!! And very few of those are permanent.

This is totally irresponsible.


13 people like this
Posted by Menlo senior
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 2, 2016 at 7:13 pm

Not only will I be voting NO, I will also be using my right to an exemption from each and every school tax that provides for the over 65 opt out. Yet another tax is ridiculous. Just because we live in a wealthy area does not mean we all have deep pockets. Menlo kids will do just fine as they already are getting a great education. This is about staff, not kids.


15 people like this
Posted by district parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 2, 2016 at 7:29 pm

"Alex Evans from EMC Research, a consultant the district hired...said his firm found that the district is seen positively by voters who participated in three focus groups.

"...schools are seen as "a major contributor to the quality of life in Menlo Park." That opinion, he said, leaves voters willing to give the district the benefit of the doubt. "They start out saying, I'm probably going to say yes," he said."

Translation: voters are inclined to vote yes for an increase in the parcel tax, and therefore we should increase it.

Nowhere does this article give any concrete reason for increasing taxes other than the fact the district is projected to gain a few hundred new students (many not yet born) over the next ten years. If the revenue/cost differentials cited above by JU are even close to accurate (I haven't looked at Ed-Data), the district should be ashamed to be considering this increase.

The teachers I know personally have been complaining about the district wasting money.

Can someone from the district explain the real need? Or is this just a thinly-disguised desire to monetize community goodwill toward schools?


7 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Feb 2, 2016 at 7:48 pm

Voting no. As will the other 2 voters in my household.


10 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 2, 2016 at 9:00 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

"Can someone from the district explain the real need?"

Hell no! They won't explain because they won't have to. "It's for the children." How could you possibly vote against it?


6 people like this
Posted by JU
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 2, 2016 at 9:01 pm

@district parent

Direct links to the data.
2005-2006 Revenue
Web Link
2014-2015 Revenue
Web Link

I believe these are the same figures reported to the CA Department of Education as mandated by law. If they are inaccurate, then we have bigger problems.


14 people like this
Posted by It Never Ends
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 2, 2016 at 9:21 pm

Pretty buildings and huge administrative staffs don't equal quality education. Not even close. Think before you vote. Do you really think the fate of our schools is hanging in the balance as they are claiming with their typical fear tactics? Don't believe it -- it's entirely BS. They haven't been good stewards of our tax dollars and if they were they'd open the books and show people exactly where and how they spend money. Not generalizations -- facts and figures.

Please note that there is yet ANOTHER SPECIAL SCHOOL BOARD MEETING AT 8 AM this coming Thursday, February 4th. Convenient time, isn't it? They play this game constantly -- this Superintendent is the King of Special Board Meetings because he knows the more he breaks down issues into separate little meetings, the fewer people will show up and bear witness. The meeting on Monday (with very little public notice) was to discuss the two ballot measures but clearly it was a fait accompli, and now they are having a separate special meeting (with very little notice) to reword their parcel tax resolutions so they align with regulations from the assessor. They spend their time and our money to ask for more of our money, and this will be their number one priority from now to the election. That will be keeping their over-inflated administrative staff very busy. Tell your neighbors to vote NO. Work within the budget like the rest of us have to do.

SPECIAL BOARD MEETING
February 04, 2016
Thursday, 08:00 AM

III. DISCUSSION/ACTION

a. Technical Amendments to Parcel Tax Resolutions Nos. 15.16.11 and 15.16.12 (30 minutes) (D) (V)

RECOMMENDED ACTION: The approval of technical amendments to Parcel Tax Resolutions Nos. 15.16.11 and 15.16.12 to add required elements without making substantive changes as requested by the County Assessor­Clerk­Recorder to align with recent state legislation.


Like this comment
Posted by Big Surprise
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 2, 2016 at 9:36 pm

[Post removed. Same poster using multiple names on same thread.]


Like this comment
Posted by A School or A Brand?
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Feb 2, 2016 at 9:58 pm

[Post removed. Same poster using multiple names on same thread.]


3 people like this
Posted by Been There
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 2, 2016 at 10:24 pm

To reserve or not to reserve.

Here's how it works. Schools build up reserves so the district can fund various educational items and programs over time. BUT if there is a reserve, then the Teachers' Union wants the reserve for themselves, and they will bargain to the end of the Earth for it. So, schools throw their hands up, and spend the reserves in an attempt to keep faculty pay at reasonable levels in the budget. Now the reserve is gone, one way or the other, and the districts have to raise funds to support long term enrollment growth, maintain buildings, provide textbooks, supplies, etc.

I've been there, done that. This is, sadly, the truth.


16 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 3, 2016 at 7:16 am

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

been there:

sorry, but the facts don't support your premise. Tax income is forecast to rise more than enrollment. That should be more than sufficient to cover the costs of the added enrollment. The district doesn't need this money. It wants it.


23 people like this
Posted by Afraid to Post My Name
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 3, 2016 at 1:57 pm

I have kids in the district and I really don't want the goose-steppers to rain retribution on them so I am, begrudgingly, posting anonymously.

Please take a few minutes to digest the following infographic from an important 2011 study of spending per student by nation.

Web Link

Now ask yourself where you think all of this money goes. Here's a hint: think of all the top heavy highly paid staff in our district and at each school that do not directly contribute, in any notable way, to any student education.


22 people like this
Posted by Jenson
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Feb 3, 2016 at 2:08 pm

Ok, it's up to us. Vote No on these parcel tax amendments. The school can't say this is for the children anymore. The Menlo park schools have all had HUGE upgrades. This is about the school district trying to gouge the residents of Menlo park. They are shameless in their actions and it has to stop. My kids have been gone from the school district for 7 years. I don't want to pay these people anymore. The schools have built new buildings, new outside sport courts and fields, they have new computers,smart boards and furniture. The list goes on and on. Vote no and send them a message. If you don't they won't think twice about asking for more in two years. Don't be fooled by their claims... It's rubbish


9 people like this
Posted by No Easy Solutions
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 3, 2016 at 7:12 pm

Two permanent parcel tax. The key is permanent, that is pure greed. I'll be voting No and encouraging others to do so.


1 person likes this
Posted by Bob
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 4, 2016 at 7:36 am

Bureaucracy at it its finest -- there are about 25 public school districts in San Mateo County -- each has a governing board, superintendent, and staff; each school has a principal, teachers and staff. Some of these school districts have as few as 2 schools. Then there's the County Office of Education with its superintendent and staff. That's an awful lot of overhead -- it's no wonder where some of this money is going.

I believe that when the current superintendent for MPCSD arrived he was given a salary over $200,000 plus benefits just to manage 4 schools.

I rarely hear calls for more efficient ways to manage these funds -- only "it's about the children." Somebody's paying for this overhead....

Still voting NO and will continue to do so until the money is managed more efficiently.


12 people like this
Posted by JU
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 4, 2016 at 10:40 am

Taken from the 2015/16 Interim budget report:
Web Link
"The District has been operating with a planned deficit to spend down prior parcel tax balances in the Special Reserve Fund, Fund 17."
"Without the renewal of the Measure C parcel tax, the deficit would surge from a projected $2.9M to $4.6M in 2017/18, and reserves for economic uncertainty would drop from a projected 10.4% to 6.8%."
"Without a new parcel tax, the District must begin addressing the $4+ million operating deficit forecast by fiscal year 2017/18 without the revenue generated from Measure C."

Translation: MPCSD decided to spend all the surplus funds in Fund 17 (parcel tax account) with "planned deficit spending". The planned deficit will deplete the funds in 2017. Therefore, we must increase parcel tax to replete the funds we squandered. We will only address the $4+ million deficit if the parcel tax is not renewed.

And that, is why they need 5 parcel taxes.


15 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 4, 2016 at 11:05 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Thanks for the link to this timely MPCSD document.

Note " Enrollment is now projected to exceed 3,000 students by 2017/18 (an increase of over 1,000 students since 2010)."

As the Almamnac article states the District had 2,133 students in 2005 so 3000 students in 2017/18 would mean an increase of 867 students in 12 years - a 41% increase.

Property taxes over those same 12 years will have increased significntly more than will enrollment.

The Combined Property Assessment Roll for San Mateo wide increased 49% between 2005 and 2015.

Web Link

Menlo Park certainly did better than the County wide assessment increases and those increase do not yet include 2016/17 or 2017/18. The actual increase in property tax revenue for the District over the same period of2005 to 2017/18 will certainly be in excess of 60% compared to an enrollment increase of 41%.


There is no excuse or justification for these parcels taxes.


11 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 4, 2016 at 12:11 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Niche just released its listing of the top elementary schools in California.

"The 2016 Best Public Elementary Schools ranking provides a comprehensive assessment of the overall experience of a public elementary school. This grade takes into account key factors such as the strength of academics, quality of teachers, diversity, as well as the overall quality of the school district.

At the time of calculation, our database contained records for 53,705 public elementary schools. For the purposes of this ranking, a public elementary school is considered to be a school that: (1) is located in one of the 50 U.S. states, Puerto Rico, or the District of Columbia; (2) offers a grade between kindergarten through 6; and (3) has sufficient data. Schools were not included in the ranking process if they did not meet these minimum requirements. The final ranking results in 51,397 elementary schools receiving a grade, with 48,819 of those also receiving a numerical ranking."

Web Link

The top 11 elementary schools were ALL in the Palo Alto Unified School District and there was not a single MPCSD school in the top 100 California schools.

So what exactly are we getting for our tax dollars?


5 people like this
Posted by Alan
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Feb 4, 2016 at 1:50 pm

Please, just say "NO" as loudly as possible. Eventually the District will get the message that they need to be circumspect with our money.


14 people like this
Posted by Afraid to Post My Name
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 4, 2016 at 1:52 pm

We can all post as much as we like here and the audience will be primarily some small multiple of us.

Unless something occurs on a larger scale, this will never change.

Unfortunately, just the fact that we have ~25 school districts in San Mateo County, one the richest large urban counties outside of NYC (Web Link), tells you that there is zero economic pressure to make a change.

They keep asking, we keep paying, and nobody in the administrative hierarchy is held accountable because there is nobody to hold them accountable.

The more things change, the more they stay the same ...

I'm not a fan of lawyers, but this is where class action citizen lawsuits actually have value. I just don't know what kind of legal case can be made: not my domain of expertise.


10 people like this
Posted by Colleen
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 4, 2016 at 3:45 pm

I'll be voting no. There is not enough accountability of where the funds go, because it certainly isn't for the children. I resist the bloating of more executive salaries.


15 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 4, 2016 at 3:54 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

It took a while to find any of the MPCSD schools in the Niche 2016 ranking of California elementary schools:

Oak Knoll is #452

Encinal is #715

No sign of Laurel - perhaps it was not ranked.

So what exactly are we getting for our tax dollars?


9 people like this
Posted by Apple
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 4, 2016 at 4:34 pm

@Afraid to Post My Name

You don't need a large scale organized effort to defeat these parcel taxes. The board needs 2/3 voter approval in a small turnout election. The No side needs just over 1/3. The board is expecting to turn out only their pro-tax constituency. That is why they picked a special election, rather than piggyback on the primary or general election. High turnout means the measures are going to go down in defeat.

Encourage your neighbors to vote. Then, remind them that their property taxes could increase by $700 or more based on this election result. That should provide enough encouragement.


4 people like this
Posted by JU
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 4, 2016 at 5:23 pm

Estimated cost of special election: $75,000
Web Link

Do they have to disclose how much these silly "focus groups" and consultants cost the taxpayers?


2 people like this
Posted by district parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 4, 2016 at 5:48 pm

Really, Peter? I'm surprised you're so easily swayed by a list compiled by a small for-profit company that's been accused (under its prior name) of engaging in some shady practices. Niche appears to be serving primarily as a vehicle for real estate agencies, and maybe they've gotten more traction with realtors in Palo Alto.

My kids have received a fine education through the MPCSD, and I've heard nothing about PAUSD to make me believe the education is any better across the creek. We have great teachers and parents. That's not the issue. The question is whether the administration, aided by the school board, is asking for new taxes because the funds are truly needed -- yet to be demonstrated -- or whether greed and misuse of funds are at play.

Thanks to researchers on this thread, we've seen comparisons of revenues and costs between 2005 and now. I'd love to see a similar comparison for overhead. So many high-paying admin positions have been added recently, some for very dubious reasons.


2 people like this
Posted by S. Skinner
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Feb 4, 2016 at 10:58 pm

As someone who works in education, a few of you are confusing apples with oranges. The new buildings were built using Bond funds, which is quite different from Parcel Tax funds. From readings in previous Almanac articles, the MP district has actually done a good job of managing its money for district residents by saving $$12 Million through smart re-financing (see below)

Web Link

As for the current Parcel Tax proposals, the Almanac said that at the last meeting only 1 person showed up to ask questions. Yes, the next meeting is inconvenient - so why not plan on attending the next regularly scheduled meetings. Any and all are welcome to speak at the beginning of every meeting. The Almanac reports on these so your viewpoints would get out into the community. Right now, all you folks are doing is talking to & at each other - the perfect Echo Chamber.

Complaining about shiny new buildings is silly. These will last 50-60 years. They look good now. Come back in 20 years and ask then....that is why there was a Bond election. Would you prefer that Menlo Park's middle schoolers still be taught in the row upon row of broken down portables that lived in the back of the old field?

This is a different kettle of fish.

When it comes to the Parcel Taxes, you want to ask about per pupil funding and where that money goes - whether it be to credentialed, administrative or custodial staff and then to on-site materials needed in the classroom.

With the emphasis placed upon new tech, especially here in Silicon Valley, there is lots of overhead for yearly tech upgrades, trainings, etc. Don't forget to budget for Tech Support. All of California's new state tests are now done on-line. Look at it this way....books and desks last 7-10 years. New computers and such last 4-5. iPads for kids last less than that....toss in the Common Core, where there's a lot of re-tooling and expenses associated with implementation - and the bill starts to creep up and up....
Regardless, the majority of any Parcel Tax funds will go towards staffing. With the new school, Upper Laurel opening up - there will be increased costs for staffing and on-going maintenance.

I also hope you realize that one of these Parcel taxes is ALREADY IN PLACE and the board is simply asking to continue something that YOU (MPCSD residents) are ALREADY paying for.
The second one is more unique in how it has been written. It has the ability to go up or down based upon the influx of new students. Rather intriguing if you ask me...

Joan states that she's tired of having the district "scam" the community. How is teaching kids "scamming"? If there are funding irregularities, such as what Portola Valley and Woodside dealt with regarding their former Business Manager/Superintendent - then call out the district for an investigation but don't just make blanket, baseless claims. It demonstrates an ignorance of the process.

If you really want to think BIG - throw-out the entire funding structure altogether and start over so everyone gets an equal slice of the State Ed. Fund pie. No more Parcel Taxes, ADA, etc. - just blow the whole thing up. ADA and Basic Aid funding structures preserve the boundaries of unequal funding across all districts and communities. For me, it is unconscionable that Ravenswood is so economically disenfranchised when compared to Menlo Park and Los Lomitas, yet all send their kids to Menlo-Atherton HS. How many Atherton residents have sent their kids to private schools - forking out the equivalent of a 4 year college tuition - in order avoid having their kids attend schools in Redwood City ( a district funded in the same way as Ravenswood) simply because the Redwood City School district border crosses over the northern part of Atherton. That is what is SHAMEFUL!

JU has been good about giving the comparison research with other districts. But beyond each community's ability to fund their own kids' education to whatever level they deem appropriate, what are the reasons why there continue to be so many small elementary districts that feed into the Sequoia High School District? All this does is create repetitive administrative overload. Case in point - the fact that Woodside Elem., a school of 475ish, has not only a Superintendent but an elementary principal AND a separate Middle School Principal is shocking. 15 years ago, Bruce Thompson covered it all as Principal/Superintendent. Never quite understood why Portola Valley and Woodside haven't combined and it would make perfect sense to have MPCSD, Las Lomitas and Ravenswood join as well. Perhaps there is a fear that each district would lose its distinct "character"?
But what, if I might ask, is that character anyways?.....

If you are really concerned, attend the board meetings, become educated, step up make your comments known, work to build consensus, affect change and be part of the solution. And run for School Board. Put your time where your heart (and maybe wallet) is....


10 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 4, 2016 at 11:09 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"you're so easily swayed by"

Actually I am not easily swayed by anything. I base my opinions on facts and objective analysis.

In this case I find the methodology employed by Niche to be persuasive:

"To compute our rankings and grades, we go through a series of steps. These steps are in place to ensure that our rankings are statistically sound and offer the most amount of guidance to those looking to make a school choice. In general, the process used to compute each ranking was as follows:

First, we carefully selected each ranking’s factors to represent a healthy balance between statistical rigor and practical relevance in the ranking.
Next, we evaluated the data for each factor to ensure that it provided value for the ranking. (The factor needed to help distinguish schools and districts from each other and accurately represent each one.) Because there are different factor types, we processed them differently:
Factors built from parent- or student-submitted survey responses were individually analyzed to determine a required minimum number of responses. After this, responses were aggregated. We logically have a higher degree of confidence in the aggregated score for schools with more responses, so a Bayesian method was applied to reflect this confidence.
Factors built from factual information were inspected for bad data including outliers or inaccurate values. Where applicable, this data was either adjusted or completely excluded depending on the specific data.
After each factor was processed, we produced a standardized score (called a z-score) for each factor at each school or district. This score evaluates distance from the average using standard deviations and allows each school's score to be compared against others in a statistically sound manner.
With clean and comparable data, we then assigned weights for each factor. The goal of the weighting process was to ensure that no one factor could have a dramatic positive or negative impact on a particular school or district’s final score and that each school’s final score was a fair representation of the school’s performance. Weights were carefully determined by analyzing:
How different weights impacted the distribution of ranked schools/districts;
Niche parent and student user preferences and industry research;
Each factor’s contribution to our intended goal of the ranking, as described in the introduction above.
After assigning weights, an overall score was calculated for each school or district by applying the assigned weights to each school's individual factor scores. This overall score was then assigned a new standardized score (again a z-score, as described in step 3). This is the final score for each ranking.
With finalized scores, we then evaluated the completeness of the data for each individual school or district. Depending on how much data the school had, we might disqualify it from the numerical ranking or from the grading process. Here is how we distinguished these groups using the weights described in step 4:
Schools or districts missing the data for 50 percent or more of the factors (by weight) were completely excluded. They did not qualify for the numerical ranking or a grade.
Schools or districts that had at least 50 percent of the factors (by weight) but lacked one or more of the required factors were not included in the numerical ranking but were assigned a grade according to the process outlined in step 7 below.
Schools or districts that had all of the required factors (by weight) were deemed eligible for both a grade and a numerical ranking.
Lastly, we created a numerical ranking and assigned grades (based on qualifications discussed in step 6). Here is how we produced these values:
The numerical ranking was created by ordering each school or district (when qualified) based on the final z-score discussed in step 5.
Grades were determined for each school or district (when qualified) by taking the ordered z-scores (which generally follow a normal distribution) and then assigning grades according to the process below.
Grading Process

Grades are assigned based on how each school or district performs compared to all other schools included in the ranking by using the following distribution of grades and z-scores. While most rankings generally follow this normal distribution, there are slight variances across each ranking, so the actual counts and distribution may vary.

Grade Final Z-Score Frequency Cumulative Frequency
(Score at least)
A+ 1.96 ≤ z 2.5% 2.5%
A 1.28 ≤ z < 1.96 7.5% 10%
A- 0.84 ≤ z < 1.28 10% 20%
B+ 0.44 ≤ z < 0.84 13% 33%
B 0.00 ≤ z < 0.44 17% 50%
B- -0.44 ≤ z < 0 17% 67%
C+ -0.84 ≤ z < -0.44 13% 80%
C -1.28 ≤ z < -0.84 10% 90%
C- -1.96 ≤ z < -1.28 7.5% 97.5%
D+ -2.25 ≤ z < -1.96 1.3% 98.8%
D -2.50 ≤ z < -2.25 0.6% 99.4%
D- -2.50 > z 0.6% 100%
Note that we intentionally did not assign a grade below D- to any schools in any rankings.

*Note: State Assessment Proficiency represents 15 percent of the weight in the Best Public High Schools ranking since it accounts for 25 percent of the Academics score, which is weighted at 50 percent in the Best Overall ranking, and 25 percent of the Teachers score, which is weighted at 10 percent in the Best Overall ranking."

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

Even if Niche's methodology has a margin of error of 10% or even 20% there is no way to reconcile the fact that MPCSD schools are ranked as 452nd and 715th in the state vs Palo Alto schools which are the top 11 schools in the state.

Please feel free to post alternative methods for ranking our local schools.




Like this comment
Posted by S. Skinner
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Feb 4, 2016 at 11:41 pm

Peter,

Given that Palo alto is a K-12 Unified District and Menlo Park is strictly an elementary district- perhaps it would make more sense to compare MP with San Carlos. Having direct contact with the high school can make developing articulated curriculum much easier. Does the Niche survey take this into account?


4 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 4, 2016 at 11:48 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Niche only evaluates K-6 - as noted above:

"At the time of calculation, our database contained records for 53,705 public elementary schools. For the purposes of this ranking, a public elementary school is considered to be a school that: (1) is located in one of the 50 U.S. states, Puerto Rico, or the District of Columbia; (2) offers a grade between kindergarten through 6; and (3) has sufficient data. Schools were not included in the ranking process if they did not meet these minimum requirements. The final ranking results in 51,397 elementary schools receiving a grade, with 48,819 of those also receiving a numerical ranking."

Hence the comparison to the ranking of PAUSD K-6 schools is totally appropriate.


15 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 5, 2016 at 7:25 am

"If you are really concerned, attend the board meetings"

Apparently you haven't read all the comments or you would know that is a pointless exercise met with disdain and downright hostility from the board members.

"And run for School Board."

they would be a great idea if the system wasn't rigged. New board members are hand picked from a group of insiders. No one outside the select group ever gets elected. In fact if someone outside the group tries to run, the whisper campaigns start and the board and their cronies start doing everything possible to trash that person in the community. Running for the board here is another pointless exercise.

If this board was truly interested in "educating" the citizens they would open the books and let us all have a good, transparent look. But they won't. Because we would figure out how our money is being wasted.

"I also hope you realize that one of these Parcel taxes is ALREADY IN PLACE and the board is simply asking to continue something that YOU (MPCSD residents) are ALREADY paying for. "

Actually, only one of them is already in place and due to expire. We currently have four parcel taxes. If both of these pass we will have FIVE.


4 people like this
Posted by concerned with tactics
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 5, 2016 at 7:48 am

An article has just surfaced regarding especially school districts using taxpay funds to advocate for bonds:

see:

Web Link

Is our district violating the laws? probably...


Like this comment
Posted by district parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 5, 2016 at 9:17 am

Peter, how about using actual data from the state? Web Link

You'll see that MPCSD looks fine!

Niche is a for-profit organization that relies on surveys for information. How do they choose whom to survey? With four kids in the district, I've never gotten a survey. Anyone else? Remember, their goal is to sell houses.

In any case, adding $500/year in parcel taxes is not going to make us more like Palo Alto, nor do most of us want to be more like Palo Alto. If we did, we'd have bought a house in that district! PAUSD a lot of problems with the district playing favorites -- some schools getting better treatment than others -- which we have never had. But on the other hand, they do have actual school board elections and real people can serve on the board, so that's to theiir credit.

If we voters pass the parcel tax, will the board agree to open elections for board positions?


7 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 5, 2016 at 9:23 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

District parent asks "Peter, how about using actual data from the state? Web Link"

Fine. Please post the comparative results from that report for the MPCSD schools and the Palo Alto and other district that are "comparable"


11 people like this
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 5, 2016 at 11:06 am

S. Skinner wrote:
> the MP district has actually done a good job of managing its money

People and organizations can be good at some things and not good at others.

In my opinion, this is where Americans make there biggest mistake when talking politics/policy/taxation/etc: proponents espouse the perfectness of the people/action/organization they're protecting and find them faultless, while opponents vilify the same people/action/organization, with no redeeming qualities.

MPCSD is a district offering a very good...even excellent...education. Even as a fierce opponent of this excessive taxation, I see no reason to not acknowledge the obvious. (in fairness, though, the district was effectively "born on second base"; that said, it deserves some credit for creating a school environment that most people agree is excellent).

The issue, however, is that the parcel taxation advocated by the district is higher than comparably-sized elementary school districts, and many of these districts are objectively better than MPCSD even with lower parcel taxes. Just looking at the parcel taxes of nearby elementary school districts makes this clear.

So, clearly there is no justification for 5...FIVE...parcel taxes for over $950-$1300 (and higher) per parcel when other high-scoring districts get comparable or better scores with $200-$300 per parcel. There is no way to spin around those facts.


> the last meeting only 1 person showed up to ask questions.

Puuleeeze! Friday night they announce a Monday meeting. Monday night/Tuesday morning they announce a Thursday 8am meeting. It wouldn't surprise me if they scheduled the meeting in the basement...behind the furnace...with signs directing visitors to go to the Laurel campus.

And their budget numbers and documentation found online already assume the passage of at least 1 of the parcel taxes. There was NO WAY they weren't going to put this on the ballot.

Please, try making plausible points. This one is not one of them.


> With the emphasis placed upon new tech, especially here in Silicon Valley, there is lots of overhead for yearly tech upgrades, trainings, etc.

EVERY district is faced with that, yet other comparably sized elementary districts make due with lower parcel taxes than MPCSD.

This is NOT unique to MPCSD. You are not making MPCSD's case...at all.


> one of these Parcel taxes is ALREADY IN PLACE

I believe JU already addressed this. But let's review.

Measure C passed in 2010 because:

1) the state was cutting back school funding due to the huge state budget deficit (remember when the state was in a fiscal crisis?);

2) local property tax revenue was dropping (remember the real estate collapse?);

3) the parcel tax was TEMPORARY;

Under those circumstances, even I think a TEMPORARY parcel tax is a reasonable stopgap measure.

Note that NONE of the above apply to what the district wants to do now:

1) the state has restored funding;

2) Local property tax revenues are beyond even the peak levels achieved before the '08 collapse;

3) the district wants Measure A to be PERMANENT.

MPCSD is abusing the generosity of the district residents. The district needs a wakeup call.


> throw-out the entire funding structure altogether

This, we agree.


> For me, it is unconscionable that Ravenswood is so economically disenfranchised when compared to Menlo Park and Los Lomitas

Ravenswood's revenue per student is far higher than the state average, and is higher than many elementary school districts that have significantly higher API scores. I agree Ravenswood needs to be better, but even-higher funding isn't going to do that.


> How many Atherton residents have sent their kids to private schools...in order avoid having their kids attend schools in Redwood City

And applying excessive parcel taxes on already generous Menlo Park+Atherton residents does NOTHING to address the discrepancy you're describing.


> If you are really concerned, attend the board meetings, become educated, step up make your comments known, work to build consensus, affect change and be part of the solution.

I believe that is what is happening here, right now.


9 people like this
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Feb 5, 2016 at 11:14 am

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

I am gathering facts regarding the parcel tax decision making process. I sent the following to the MPCSD:
"Superintendent Ghysels, pursuant to the Public Records Act, I hereby request an electronic copy of the EMC Research consultant report which resulted in the decision by your school district board to place two parcel tax measures on a May 3 mail-in-ballot. I also request a copy of the solicitation, RFP request or other instrument from which a contract was made with the consultant, as well as a copy of the contract itself. I expect this information by return e-mail or in links to it on the district website."
Their response:
This email is to acknowledge we received your request for records on February 2, 2016 (request below). We are processing your request and will respond within the required timeframe.

Thank you,

Lanita Villasenor
Executive Assistant to the Superintendent
Menlo Park City School District

On Thu, Feb 4, 2016 at 4:33 PM, I wrote:
Lanita, please e-mail me a copy of the final Parcel Tax Resolutions approved at todays meeting.

Her timely response was:
Good afternoon Mr. Hickey,

Please click the link below to view Resolution Nos. (including the amendments) 15.16.11 and 15.16.12.

The Resolutions were approved on Monday, February 1 and the Amendments (first four pages of each document) were approved today, Thursday, February 4.

Web Link

Included in that link, were links to recent meetings at which the parcel tax was discussed. Below I have combined relevant excerpts from those meeting agendas.

I am awaiting their response to my original request which will include the addition of Consultant Brad Senden mentioned in the agenda for the December 15, 2015 meeting.

BOARD OF EDUCATION REGULAR MEETING
November 10, 2015 05:00 PM
Superintendent Ghysels will lead a discussion with the Board about the current Measure C Parcel Tax set to expire June 2017. The discussion will include Measure C background information, student enrollment, District financials, and an overview of MPCSD's commitment to excellence.

BOARD OF EDUCATION REGULAR MEETING
December 08, 2015 06:00 PM
At the November 10 Regular Board meeting Superintendent Ghysels led a discussion with the Board about the current Measure C Parcel Tax set to expire June 2017. The discussion included Measure C background information, student enrollment, MPCSD financials, and an overview of MPCSD's commitment to excellence. Superintendent Ghysels will provide the Board with an update regarding the Ad Hoc Parcel Tax Committee's ongoing presentations to stakeholder groups, as well as plans to review Parcel Tax focus groups and stakeholder feedback at the Special Board meeting the evening of December 15.

SPECIAL BOARD MEETING
December 15, 2015 06:00 PM
Superintendent Ghysels and the Long Range Financial Ad Hoc Committee will update the Board on the possibility of a Parcel Tax election. Consultant Brad Senden will also be discussing focus group results related to the expiration of the Measure C Parcel Tax.

At the November 10 Regular Board meeting Superintendent Ghysels led a discussion with the Board about the current Measure C Parcel Tax set to expire June 2017. The discussion included Measure C background information, student enrollment, MPCSD financials, and an overview of MPCSD's commitment to excellence. At the December 8 Regular Board meeting Superintendent Ghysels provided the Board with an update regarding the Ad Hoc Parcel Tax Committee's ongoing presentations to stakeholder groups.

BOARD OF EDUCATION REGULAR MEETING
January 11, 2016 05:00 PM
At the November 10, December 8, and December 15 Board meetings Superintendent Ghysels led discussions with the Board about the current Measure C Parcel Tax set to expire June 2017. Discussions included Measure C background information, student enrollment, MPCSD financials, and an overview of MPCSD's commitment to excellence. Following the Board update on January 11, the Board will continue to discuss the possibility of a Parcel Tax election at a Special Board meeting on the evening of January 19.

SPECIAL BOARD MEETING
January 21, 2016 07:30 PM
Superintendent Ghysels and the Long Range Planning Ad Hoc Committee will continue their discussion with the School Board on the possibility of a Parcel Tax election.

The Board may take action at a Special Board meeting on February 2, 2016 at 6:00 p.m. to place a Parcel Tax election on the May 2016 ballot.

Following the Board’s initial discussion at its November 10, 2015 meeting, Superintendent Ghysels and staff held thirteen informational meetings with parents, staff and the community in December. The informational meetings included Measure C background information, student enrollment data, District’s financials, and an overview of MPCSD’s commitment to excellence. Superintendent Ghysels and the Long Range Planning Ad Hoc Committee continued their discussion with the School Board on the possibility of renewing and/or increasing a parcel tax as Measure C expires on June 30, 2017 at the December 8, 2015, December 15, 2015 and January 11, 2016 Board meetings.

SPECIAL BOARD MEETING
February 01, 2016 07:00 PM
The public will have the opportunity to comment on Resolution No. 15.16.11 prior to action taken by the Board.

Superintendent Ghysels and the Long Range Planning Ad Hoc Committee will update the Board on the proposed Parcel Tax measure and will present for action Resolution No. 15.16.11 Calling for a Parcel Tax Election "Measure A".

With adoption of Resolution No. 15.16.11, the Board places a parcel tax measure on the May 2016 ballot. The Board will consider the following provisions:

Resolution No. 15.16.11 Calling for a Parcel Tax Election "Measure A" (see attached for abbreviation of Measure A and Resolution).

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

The public will have the opportunity to comment on Resolution No. 15.16.12 prior to action taken by the Board.
Superintendent Ghysels and the Long Range Planning Ad Hoc Committee will update the Board on the proposed Parcel Tax measure and will present for action Resolution No. 15.16.12 Calling for a Parcel Tax Election "Measure B".

With adoption of Resolution No. 15.16.12, the Board places a parcel tax measure on the May 2016 ballot. The Board will consider the following provisions:

Resolution No. 15.16.12 Calling for a Parcel Tax Election "Measure B" (see attached for abbreviation of Measure B and Resolution).

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

SPECIAL BOARD MEETING
February 04, 2016 08:00 AM
RECOMMENDED ACTION: The approval of technical amendments to Parcel Tax Resolutions Nos. 15.16.11 and 15.16.12 to add required elements without making substantive changes as requested by the County Assessor-Clerk-Recorder to align with recent state legislation.


2 people like this
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Feb 5, 2016 at 12:26 pm

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

Here is more parcel tax related information provided to me by the MPCSD:
Consulting Agreement
DATES & PARTIES. Effective on September 2, 2015, the Menlo Park City School District ("MPCSD") and The Center for Community Opinion ("CCO"), mutually agree and promise as hereinafter set forth.
PURPOSE. MPCSD desires and CCO is qualified to provide
consulting services.
TERM. The term of this agreement shall commence on
the effective date hereof.
SERVICES. The services to be provided hereunder shall include consulting assistance to MPCSD with the steps involved in preparing to place a proposal to renew one of the district's existing local special taxes before voters in 2016. This consulting assistance shall include non-legal assistance in the preparation and review of all of the documents, electronic communications and other community contact materials required or desired as part of the process of placing a proposal on the ballot, the review of all legal documents prepared as part of this process, a report to the district on the demographic characteristic of the population that approved the district's existing local special taxes and on any changes in the demography of the district. These services shall be provided to the District until March 31, 2016.
CONSIDERATION & PAYMENT. For the services rendered by CCO hereunder, the MPCSD agrees to pay CCO a monthly fee of $2,500.


Like this comment
Posted by S. Skinner
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Feb 5, 2016 at 4:20 pm

@ Train Fan

As a non-resident, I wasn't trying to make the case for them either way. It is up to the MP district voters to decide. I'm rather looking at the whole picture and seeing lots of problems. I will say that it would be interesting to see how many parents would still send their kids to a school other than M-A if there was a unified school district that included M-A and the three feeder districts. Palo Alto doesn't suffer nearly the attrition from their middle schools from public to private/charter- but perhaps that discussion is left for another thread....
As for the meeting question - there are a number of normal, non-special meetings where one can talk. I agree that the short announcement timing of these "special" meetings makes it difficult, if not impossible, to schedule but there are 3 months (Feb., Mar., Apr.) of regular meetings where you can show up and have your say.
Shouldn't "puuleeeze" have an 'h" in it?
The main issue is that rising enrollment that doesn't result in added funding per child. This is the fundamental crux of the Basic Aid model vs. ADA (Average Daily Attendance) argument. From my recollection of history, the current Parcel Taxes were all designed to help fund special programs that fall outside the shadow of the General Fund. These included maintain small class sizes, science labs, librarians, arts, etc.
How monies are spent and what the community and district determine to be the established baselines for what is needed is part of the process. The result of this election will tell a lot to the board about the desires of the community. If you go to the board meeting and explain your concerns, go with ideas about where to make specific cuts.
@ Menlo Voter - I really don't understand how you can say the process is "rigged". People get elected because they care about education and the community. It is a volunteer job with lots of hours and not a lot of glory. I have friends who have been on the boards in Woodside, Palo Alto, Half Moon Bay and Menlo Park. The point for them was to do something good and lasting...not to make a buck or have something named after them...(obviously they are not on the current WESD Board considering the Sellman name change). The one thing I do think has been strange about MP is the way board members retire in the middle of their terms and then others are "appointed" and then run un-opposed in the general election. If that is considered being "rigged", then find someone to run against them. Simple.
Again, I have no skin in this game but I do care about education our community and what is best for the kids as a whole.
Education does take a village.


15 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 5, 2016 at 4:26 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"The main issue is that rising enrollment that doesn't result in added funding per child. "

I disagree.

In my opinion the main issue is that property tax revenues are increasing faster than enrollment is increasing and that does create more funding per child.


15 people like this
Posted by JU
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 5, 2016 at 6:07 pm

@ Skinner
It's true that rising enrollment does not automatically result in added funding per child, being that MPCSD is a basic aid district.

However, I think it's established that real estate is a limited quantity on the peninsula. That means when these children move into the community, either their parents purchase a new home (not that many) or existing home. The new home adds a new unit to the property tax roll. The existing home purchased presumably at market rate, steps up the property tax value. Both of these increase property tax basis.

The point I (and other posters) are trying to make, is that the property tax revenue increases has far exceeded any enrollment growth. Look at the numbers I posted. 2005-2014 (increased revenue ~$18 million/813 new children), that’s over $22,300 per child for the additional 813 new students.

Let me show you an extreme example.
Belmont-RWS, also a basic aid district. From 2005 to 2013, students (ADA) increased 2304 to 3618 (55%). Revenue grew from $21.9 to $33 million (51%). Expenditure per student actually dropped from $9345 to $8900. API scores? They went from 843 (2005) to 919 (2012).

Belmont-RWS shows that money isn’t the whole story.

I can tell you that MPCSD's revenue growth has far outpaced enrollment growth. MPCSD’s revenue growth, let’s just say is probably the envy of other districts.

Menlo Park has MORE THAN ENOUGH money from rising revenue to fund growth. There is no justification for this parcel tax.


10 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 5, 2016 at 6:22 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

" I really don't understand how you can say the process is "rigged". People get elected because they care about education and the community. "

Maybe because you don't live here and have never run for the board here?

"The one thing I do think has been strange about MP is the way board members retire in the middle of their terms and then others are "appointed" and then run un-opposed in the general election. "

ding, ding, ding! we have a winner! The appointee is ALWAYS hand picked from the group of insiders.

"If that is considered being "rigged", then find someone to run against them. Simple."

Not "simple" Those who have run who were not insiders were trashed by the board and their cronies. Like I said, a non-insider announces a run for the board and the whisper campaign trashing the candidate starts. Questions regarding mental stability and other nasty things start to be passed around and any chance they may have had is destroyed.

"The point for them was to do something good and lasting...not to make a buck or have something named after them"

You're right about part of that it's not about making a buck or have something named after them. You're wrong about their wanting to do something good or lasting. It's about CONTROL. These people think they know better than anyone else how to run the district and they will not tolerate anyone questioning or challenging that. As I said, go to a board meeting and watch what happens when someone stands up and questions the board. They are met with hostility and derision. Yeah, they're trying to "to do something good and lasting." NOT. They're trying to maintain CONTROL.

Again, if the board really isn't trying to conceal anything, why not open the books. Don't hold you're breath waiting for that to happen.


8 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Feb 5, 2016 at 6:59 pm

Thank you Ju,

While a lot of posts make some points, Your last post made it succinctly, easy to read, and understand.

Thank you for all your hard work,

P.S. My kids went to all MP schools kindergarten to High School and did just fine with the old facilities, cirriculum, and staff.



43 people like this
Posted by district parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 5, 2016 at 8:06 pm

I considered running for the board at one point and talked to the board member I knew best, asking how they selected people for the board. She described the pedigree they were looking for, and since I didn't (and don't) fit that model, I decided not to pursue the job.

Elections are only held when someone not chosen has the audacity to run. The last time that happened was a number of years ago, maybe 8 or 10. Because I was friends with several of the incumbents, I was invited to their campaign fundraiser. Menlo Voter has it right -- the scene was straight out of Mean Girls, with all the venom targeted at the renegade candidate (who was of course not present).

I understand that in some other districts, the teachers' union decides who will be on the board. I think that's even worse.

Why put so much emphasis on the board? Because I think if we had real representation, we wouldn't be talking about five parcel taxes. It's not about what the district needs but rather, what the market will bear.


36 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 5, 2016 at 8:45 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The next time there is an election for the MPCSD Board I pledge $5000 to support a well qualified candidate who is an independent, concerned citizen willing to represent the interests of all the taxpayers of the school district.

The Board should serve the entire community not just the interests of parents of current students or the teachers or the administration.

We all pay for the schools and we should all be represented on the Board.


3 people like this
Posted by Scott Lohmann
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 6, 2016 at 5:45 pm

A few observations:
* There is NO conspiracy for School Board elections. It's a public election, if you're interested, attend a meeting or two or three. "Hand chosen" only happens if someone has to resign for a legitimate reason. I believe this may have happened twice in the last 10+ years? The individual chosen is typically someone already knowledgeable about the school community. If you really want a hardcore volunteer job, then get involved. This is not high stakes politics, the Koch Brothers aren't manipulating elections here. :)
* Again, MPAEF contributes an estimated $3.6M every year to MPCSD. Imagine if the parents of these kids did not donate? (parents typically donate north of 80% of the dollars collected) So, YES typically the school board members are those that have been involved with PTO and/or MPAEF. These two organizations play a HUGE part in our success. I believe that those that aspire for a board position, would be better suited if they were involved in some way, and PTO and/or MPAEF are two perfect opportunities for someone to get involved.
* I say it over and over and over again. I HATE taxes, BUT as long as there is a teachers union that drives many of these difficult costs/expenses aka pensions, we have to bite the bullet and contribute to the success of the District. It again, IS an investment, and thank God I own a home here!
* I don't know why the emphasis continues to be on "how many" or "how much" the parcel taxes could be? Again, this is the latest chart (that I could find, replacing the other that I had cited) on PER STUDENT FUNDING. In my opinion, THIS and the average class size (which I could not find) are the most important stats:

Woodside Elementary: $19,458
Portola Valley Elementary: $18,153
Palo Alto Unified School District: $14,700 (to the immediate south of us)
La Honda-Pescadero Unified: $14,579
Hillsborough City Elementary: $14,447
Las Lomitas Elementary: $14,270 (to the immediate west of us)
Menlo Park City Elementary: $13,006
Brisbane Elementary: $11,841
Ravenswood City Elementary: $11,510 (to the immediate east of us)
Statewide Average All Districts: $11,076
Redwood City Elementary: $9,360 (to the immediate north of us)
San Carlos Elementary: $9,215
Belmont-Redwood Shores Elementary: $8,900

MPCSD is NOT too far out of whack, in fact it is $1,694 short of Palo Alto's # and $1,264 short of Las Lomita's #. MPCSD is above $1,496 of Ravenswood's #, and $3,646 above Redwood City's #. These four communities share a border with MPCSD. Ironically, on a side note, there are many MPCSD parents that have gotten involved in the Ravenswood community, with fundraising and helping their foundation.

If you still take issue with the amount, or the number of parcel taxes, how about offering suggestions of where to cut back expenses or costs in MPCSD. Be careful of the Per Pupil Spending dollars and/or the Average Class Size dollars, or better yet, see if your suggested reduced salaries could actually attract quality teachers to MPCSD. I would caution to not cut off the hand that feeds US. Good schools = Appreciating Homes. I'm fairly certain this is the world we live in, in MPCSD


12 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 6, 2016 at 8:22 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" I believe that those that aspire for a board position, would be better suited if they were involved in some way,"

This is exactly the problem because such a standard only permits insiders to run for the Baord.

We need someone to represent the taxpayers and to provide fiscal discipline for the school district.


9 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 6, 2016 at 9:41 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Scott:

[part removed.] The board is only open to insiders. Read the comments here. Those who are on the outside have told you just exactly what happens when an outsider tries to run for the board.

Again. [part removed.] if you really want to walk the walk, get your buddies to open the books for all to see if the board is truly being a good steward of our tax dollars (they're not). [part removed.]
I will vote NO


11 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 7, 2016 at 8:27 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Here is what the "experts" say about the proper roles of a school board:

"The Role of School Boards

The local school board is a critical public link to public schools. Whether elected or appointed, school board members serve their communities in several important ways.

1 -First and foremost school boards look out for students. Education is not a line item on the school board’s agenda—it is the only item.

2 - When making decisions about school programs, school boards incorporate their community’s view of what students should know and be able to do.

3 - School boards are accessible to the public and accountable for the performance of their schools.

4 - School boards are the education watchdog for their communities, ensuring that students get the best education for the tax dollars spent.

- See more at: Web Link"

In my opinion the MPCSD Board focuses primarily on #1 and does poorly on #3 and even worse on #4.

The community needs taxpayer representation on the school board, not just members of a special interest group that has little appreciation for fiscal discipline.

The taxpayers without children who are or have been in the school district are currently totally unrepresented on the board yet those taxpayers pay well over 60% of the cost of the school district. Clearly this is taxaxtion without representation.


11 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 7, 2016 at 8:49 am

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

"Good schools = Appreciating Homes."

And with that appreciation comes rising property taxes. It's been repeatedly pointed out Scott, that those taxes will exceed the increase in pupil counts. Yet you continually ignore that. It's not about per pupil spending, it's about how the money is being spent. The board spent down a surplus and is now asking for more money. That's like me spending all my savings and then going to my boss and telling him he has to give me a raise because I "need" it. I think we both know how well that would go over. That's why the board won't be getting my vote on these parcel taxes. They need to open the books and show me they are practicing fiscal discipline because it sure as heck doesn't look like it.


18 people like this
Posted by JU
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 7, 2016 at 9:39 am

@Scott

The board has shown a lack of fiscal restraint. There is no excuse for having a ballooning deficit when revenue increases have far exceeded enrollment growth and inflation. When the parcel tax fund generated a surplus, what did the board do? They could have paid down debt, or pension obligations. Instead, they decided to spend it all, and used it to fund their "planned deficit spending." A fiscally responsible plan for deficit spending would have a finite date where deficit spending ended, and a balanced budget emerged. Except MPCSD grew accustomed to spending money WITH NO PLAN to balance the budget when Funds dried out (Funds will be exhausted in 2017/18). Since 2000, this is now the SIXTH parcel tax (plus 2 bond measures) that they've asked for. So far, their tax and spend strategy has worked, and that's why they're back, with 2 new PERMANENT parcel taxes that will total $700 when it fully kicks in in 2020.

Sorry, but unions are not solely to blame in MPCSD's escalating budget. Every other school district is dealing with the same unions. MPCSD has the HIGHEST average teacher salary in San Mateo and Santa Clara county among K-8 districts (high school teachers are paid more since many have advanced degrees in their subjects). Average salaries for 2014-15: MPCSD $100890, woodside $91719, Las Lomitas $94104. It's even higher than PAUSD $95811, which is a K-12 district. It does show our board is either too chummy with the union, or is doing a poor job negotiating with the union. If you cut their salaries we’d still be very competitive compared to other districts. But thanks to unions, that's not going to happen.
Link to teacher salary
Web Link

You've being naive in thinking the public can go in and suggest cost cutting/efficiency measures to the district. MPCSD’s posted numbers don’t tell you anything about where the money is going (look at PAUSD’s budget book for comparison). That’s why posters here are calling for them to open the books. If they want others to help (and they don’t), first step is more transparency.

Re MPAEF. It’s great they’re trying to help the schools. But if MPCSD spent more efficiently, MPAEF would not need to raise all this money.

We don't mind investing in schools and education. However, we are against a complete lack of fiscal discipline, wasteful spending, and unreasonable taxation. Pro-tax people treat us as if anti-tax = anti-school. Ridiculous.


26 people like this
Posted by district parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 7, 2016 at 10:50 am

I was on the MPAEF board a few years ago. The board used to be a real clique, but it's become more inclusive and raises a lot more money. Which it hands over to the district to spend -- the MPAEF board has no oversight. So, it's great that people are donating, but that does not change the issues which so many have already outlined.

The amount of $ spent per student is not and should not be a measure of quality. For example, look at Las Lomitas, which outspends the MPCSD per student. Many students from both districts end up in high school together at M-A. I have seen no evidence that the LLESD alums are better prepared than their MPCSD peers in any way. And you can't compare to Palo Alto because they are supporting high schools, which are by their nature more expensive.

The question is how that money is spent, and whether it's being spent effectively. Without access to the financials, we can't answer any of those questions. And without that access, you can't justify an increase in taxes simply because "people love the schools and will vote yes."


19 people like this
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 7, 2016 at 2:25 pm

Scott Lohmann wrote:
> as long as there is a teachers union
> that drives many of these difficult
> costs/expenses aka pensions, we have
> to bite the bullet and contribute to
> the success of the District.

No, wrong. Neither the Union, nor the Board nor the MPAEF nor the PTO "decide" on financial contributions. The taxpayers do.


> [rehashed list of school districts]

This has been discussed ad nauseum:

* MPCSD has the highest parcel taxes for any elementary school district in the state of California.
(source: Web Link 2013-2014 is most recent data available)

* For comparably-sized elementary districts and higher (1500+), MPCSD has the second highest expense levels in Northern California (Hillsborough is first. Note that Hillsborough is almost half the size of MPCSD)
(source: Web Link 2012-2013 is the most recent data available. Note that does not include San Joaquin, which shows an insane expenditure of $204,632 per student. Donation?) There are only 6 elementary districts in the entire state that exceed MPCSD, which includes Hillsborough and the outlier San Joaquin.

* You are including Unified districts and very small districts (the cherry picking I've repeatedly pointed out invalidates your comparisons), which is an unreasonable apples/oranges comparison to make. Unified districts include high schools, which historically cost more per student on average. And very small districts have scaling issues that drive up costs.


> how about offering suggestions of where to cut back expenses or costs in MPCSD

There's no reason to cut ANYTHING.

The increases in property taxes will more than make up for the projected increase in enrollment. Please read Mr. Carpenter's previous posts on the matter.


18 people like this
Posted by Mike Keenly
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Feb 8, 2016 at 9:57 am

A school board should use the opportunity of a good economy to not deficit spend, but instead to put away money for the next contracting economy. Then, when the economy is down, they can dip into reserves to maintain quality.

Rhetorical question: If the district is deficit spending in a rising economy, what do they expect to happen when the next recession hits?


17 people like this
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 8, 2016 at 12:56 pm

I wish I could like Mike Keenly's post 1000 times.

To echo one of Mr. Carpenter's comments, the Board is clearly lacking some representation that factors in fiscal prudency.

Mr. Keenly is absolutely correct: saving during good times allows you to ride out bad times. The Board doesn't see it this way because:

1) they feel they control your pocketbooks. They think they can ask for money, and get it, whenever they want;

2) they have no experience in being fiscally prudent;

3) they NEVER HEAR NO.


They need to hear a NO.


5 people like this
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Feb 8, 2016 at 4:09 pm

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

The District should stop collecting the current parcel taxes, which hurt low income homeowners the most. JU said: "After 2021 (all parcels are permanent), we will be paying over $1440 a year." If JU is correct, some homeowners would see their property taxes more than double their Prop. 13 tax base with the addition of the new parcel taxes.


1 person likes this
Posted by Oak Knoll parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 8, 2016 at 4:32 pm

We have a choice before us about whether or not to maintain the quality at Oak Knoll, Laurel, Encinal and Hillview as enrollment in our District has grown and continues to grow. Without Measures A and B, funding per student will decline, and our schools will have no other option than to raise class sizes and cut programs to balance the budget. Given that our District already spends less per student than comparable communities with comparable programs such as Las Lomitas, Palo Alto and Hillsborough, I would hate to see this happen. I support maintaining the current programs and will therefore be VOTING YES on Measures A and B for our schools.


8 people like this
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 8, 2016 at 5:04 pm

> Without Measures A and B, funding per student will decline, and our schools will have no other option than to raise class sizes and cut programs to balance the budget.

(part removed.)


It was already proven in previous posts that the rate of increase in property taxes exceeds the rate of increase in new students.

MPCSD will see an increase in funding even after Measures A and B are defeated.


15 people like this
Posted by JU
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 8, 2016 at 6:05 pm

>Without Measures A and B, funding per student will decline, and our schools will have no other option than to raise class sizes and cut programs to balance the budget.

Nothing but scare tactics.

Funding/student 2005-->2013
Belmont-RWS $9345-->8900 API 843-->919 class size 24.2-->27
Burlingame $7340-->7747 API 850-->911 class size 25.9-->26
MPCSD $10289-->$13006 API 903-->940 class size 22.8-->23
Ravenswood $11152-->$11510 API 614-->712 class size 24.1-->25

So what exactly did we get for 26.4% increase in per student expenditure?

Better scores? Other districts had much improved scores without massive increases in student expenditure.

Smaller class sizes? Nope.

It's not about how much you spend. It's about whether the money is spent effectively.


3 people like this
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 8, 2016 at 6:15 pm

I would like to very slightly amend my previous post.

Change: "This is a lie."

To: "This is fiction."

My main reason is that, as much as I think the pro-5-parcel-tax crowd is completely wrong and either uninformed, misinformed or disinforming, I do want to keep some level of civility in the conversation.


16 people like this
Posted by Apple
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 8, 2016 at 6:53 pm

@Oak Knoll Parent

Train Fan is correct. If the argument is to maintain programs and class sizes, the new parcel taxes are not needed. Property values are rising much faster than inflation, which leads to fast growing property tax revenue without requiring more parcel taxes.

Plus, the board promised us back in 2010 that the previous parcel tax increase was temporary due to the poor economy. Now, the economy is doing extremely well in this area and they want to make this parcel tax permanent. Huh? Either they misled us in 2010 and/or they are misleading us now.

They have exhausted voter goodwill. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

I want our children to be well educated, but I also want schools to be run with fiscal discipline. Rubber stamping tax increases without question often leads to budgetary waste and inefficiency.


2 people like this
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Feb 9, 2016 at 11:22 am

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

I am not a resident of the District. I am a proponent of choice in education with alternative venues. I do have an interest in seeing the measures defeated.
To defeat these parcel taxes, a ballot Argument Against the measures is IMPORTANT. The deadline for submitting arguments is 5 P.M. this Friday, Feb. 12.
Up to five voters can sign these arguments. I am hoping that posters on this topic can create and submit compelling arguments(not to exceed 250 words) to support a NO vote on the measures.
I would be happy to add my name to responsible arguments against the measures.

The language of the Measures can be found here:
Web Link


2 people like this
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Feb 9, 2016 at 11:24 am

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

There is no cost involved in submitting arguments, which if accepted, will be published in the Sample Ballot.


4 people like this
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Feb 9, 2016 at 11:55 am

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

I have just received copies of arguments against these measures from SMC elections.
MPCSD should cancel the election.


3 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 9, 2016 at 6:42 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Every public agency is required to produce a Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR).

Here is the CAFR for the Fire District:

Web Link

The Fire District's CAFR is 101 pages long and it provides tremendous detail on the operations and financial affairs and financial health of the Fire District.

Where is MPCSD's Comprehensive Annual Financial Report?

Why is it not available on the District's web site?


Like this comment
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 9, 2016 at 7:41 pm

> I have just received copies of arguments against these measures from SMC elections.

That's good news! How did you find this out? Is there a website to check, or do you have to email them requesting the status on any filed "arguments against"?

I was considering writing one myself, but if there are already multiple ones already submitted, then I look forward to reading them.


8 people like this
Posted by concerned
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 10, 2016 at 1:43 am

The district just received their 2nd AAA bond rating. The only district in the state to receive such ratings.

The good news is this allows them to borrow at a lower rate and they paid off some old bonds from the mid 2000's,

Bad news is they replaced the ones they paid off with new higher bond amounts, (higher loans). It's a ponzi scheme, keep borrowing and pay off the last guy by promising bigger returns to the next guy and using his money to pay off the last guy.


2 people like this
Posted by feeling ripped off.
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 10, 2016 at 1:50 am

Go to the district web site there are 38 people listed as staff, not including teachers, but including board members,
This district could probably if run efficiently get by with half that amount. Suggest an audit by an outside agency for review of needs for all those positions.


2 people like this
Posted by Ballot Argument
a resident of another community
on Feb 10, 2016 at 9:24 am

I have drafted a ballot argument and been in contact with a couple people from the Menlo Park District

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 (this is a forwarding email address)

PLEASE reach out if you'd like to sign on our argument against Measure A & B, we have a few I would like to get to 5 the maximum


Like this comment
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Feb 10, 2016 at 9:33 am

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

Train Fan: Contact
Michael Lui
Elections Specialist, Candidate Filing Officer
Phone: (650) 312-5238
MLiu@smcare.org


4 people like this
Posted by current parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Feb 10, 2016 at 4:38 pm

Our district spends less per student than comparable neighboring districts with comparable class sizes and programs, so it's pretty obvious that our district's finances are being managed very well. I will be voting YES on A and B because I want to maintain the existing small class sizes and comprehensive programs for students.


1 person likes this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 10, 2016 at 4:42 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Our district spends less per student than comparable neighboring districts with comparable class sizes and programs,"

Please provide the data to support this claim - I do not think it is true.


3 people like this
Posted by current parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Feb 10, 2016 at 5:27 pm

Data from the California Department of Education on spending per student for 2013-14 for comparable communities nearby -- these are all districts with comparable class sizes and comparable breadth of program to MPCSD:

Woodside $19,548
Portola Valley $18,154
Palo Alto $14,955
Hillsborough $14,448
Las Lomitas $14,270
Menlo Park $13,006


3 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 10, 2016 at 5:40 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Current parent - Your list looks like a little cherry picking.

What about these schools?

Belmont-RWS $8900
Burlingame $7747
MPCSD $13006
Ravenswood $11510


4 people like this
Posted by current parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Feb 10, 2016 at 5:52 pm

Mr. Carpenter, The Districts you listed have larger class sizes and lack the breadth of programs. If you want to argue that our schools should also spend less by raising class sizes and cutting programs to be on par with Ravenswood, Burlingame, etc., that is another matter. I would disagree with you as I want our schools to maintain their current programs.


4 people like this
Posted by alumni parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 10, 2016 at 5:59 pm

My children had a very good experience at Oak Knoll and Hillview. I will support maintaining our quality schools.


Like this comment
Posted by No Easy Solutions
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 10, 2016 at 6:04 pm

Here is the link that both "current parent" and scott l are referring to: Web Link. Refer to 2013-2014 year.

The cost is not spending per student but cost per ADA. ADA = total days of student attendance divided by the total days of instruction.

Palo Alto is a unified school district so includes high school. Other comparable school districts
San Carlos, $9216
Cupertino, $8083


4 people like this
Posted by current parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Feb 10, 2016 at 6:22 pm

San Carlos and Cupertino are not comparable communities and their schools do not have comparable class sizes and programs. I certainly do not want MPCSD to raise class sizes and cut programs. I want to maintain the quality that we have.


15 people like this
Posted by Former MPCSD Parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Feb 10, 2016 at 6:26 pm

Our children received excellent K-8 educations. We routinely voted yes on bond measures and parcel taxes, and were generous donors to the Foundation. However, based on these threads, we are concerned that the current measures fall short of their predecessors in terms of actual need and the integrity of the district's argument. We are concerned that prior temporary rainy-day measures are becoming permanent, and that rising tax revenues from surging housing prices are being discounted. In order to support the new proposals, we will need to feel that the district has been open with its books and forecasts. We have always bought the "for the kids" argument, but with future annual assessments nearing $1,500/parcel, the district's ask has become too great to vote yes without a very detailed financial rationale. We respectfully ask the district to open its books and projections, and to also initiate a written, public Q&A forum, so that the community can feel that all of it's questions are being addressed with full disclosure, and that we are adequately prepared to make informed decisions.


5 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 10, 2016 at 6:28 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Why is the only answer increasing tax revenues far beyond the already huge increase in property tax revenues?

Who on the Board is speakng on behalf of the taxpayers?

What is the District doing with its current reserves?


2 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 10, 2016 at 6:31 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

"We respectfully ask the district to open its books and projections, and to also initiate a written, public Q&A forum, so that the community can feel that all of it's questions are being addressed with full disclosure, and that we are adequately prepared to make informed decisions."

I hope you're not holding your breath. this board has shown nothing but disdain toward anyone asking them to be transparent.


4 people like this
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 10, 2016 at 6:48 pm

current parent wrote:
> I want to maintain the existing small class sizes and comprehensive programs for students.

This is fiction. Property tax revenue is going to increase due to property appreciation. The district doesn't need 2 MORE parcel taxes.

Ugh, these people post the same baseless statements over and over.


4 people like this
Posted by current parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Feb 10, 2016 at 6:48 pm

Menlo Voter, All of the district's finances are a matter of public record. The district also has a finance and audit committee which includes members of the public and whose meetings are publicly noticed open to the public.


Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 10, 2016 at 6:49 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

No Easy:

so what is the current ADA for MPSD?


Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 10, 2016 at 6:51 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Current parent:

the school districts finances are a matter of public record, BUT what is published is a scrubbed version of the actual books. Think I'm wrong? Put up a link to their books, NOT their published numbers. Those AREN'T there books.


6 people like this
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 10, 2016 at 6:53 pm

* MPCSD has the highest parcel taxes for any elementary school district in the state of California.

(source: Web Link 2013-2014 is most recent data available)

* For comparably-sized elementary districts and higher (1500+), MPCSD has the second highest expense levels in Northern California (Hillsborough is first. Note that Hillsborough is almost half the size of MPCSD)

(source: Web Link 2012-2013 is the most recent data available


7 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 10, 2016 at 7:00 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"The district also has a finance and audit committee which includes members of the public and whose meetings are publicly noticed open to the public."

So why aren't the minutes of those meetings on the MPCSD web site?

Why are the attachments to the finance and audit committee's agendas not included with the posted agendas?

Why is the latest set of minutes for the MPCSD Board that is posted on the web site is for December 15, 2015?

Why is the MPCSD's CAFR not posted on the web site?

Why is the MPCSD Audit Report not posted on the web site?

Why do you have to do a search to find the MPCSD budget on the web site?

Clearly MPCSD has no interest in an informed community and simply wants to operate behind closed doors.

Unless the District dramatically changes its behavior regarding full transparency these parcel taxes will FAIL.


4 people like this
Posted by current parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Feb 10, 2016 at 7:13 pm

Train Fan, MPCSD has higher parcel taxes because it has lower regular property taxes per student than communities with comparable quality schools. Our schools cannot maintain smaller class sizes and comprehensive programs without maintaining the per student funding required to do so. If our community wants our schools to raise class sizes and cut programs, then just vote no on the parcel taxes, and that's what will happen.


11 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 10, 2016 at 7:31 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"MPCSD has higher parcel taxes because it has lower regular property taxes per student than communities with comparable quality schools"

Really? Atherton probably has the highest assessed property values per parcel in the entire nation and Menlo Park's total assessed property values are certainly higher than those of Woodside, Portola Valley, Burlingame etc..


Menlo Park's total assessed property values last year was $12,015,719,121

Atherton's total assessed property values last year was $8,057,517,997

So the total assessed property taxes for Atherton and Menlo Park was over $20 million !!!

And schools get 45% of the property taxes PLUS ERAF !!!

Woodside's total assessed property values last year was $4,979,973,955

Portola Valley's total assessed property values last year was $2,801,883,642

Burlingame's total assessed property values last year was $8,409,524,618

Hillsborough's total assessed property values last year was $7,820,616,340


7 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 10, 2016 at 7:36 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

current parent:

you're drinking the MPSCD koolaid. Read all of the posts above and look at the links. Property tax revenues are rising FASTER than student enrollment. There will be plenty of money to cover increased enrollment. In the mean time, can you explain why the board spent down reserves when common sense would dictate, given a healthy economy, they should be doing the opposite? If they were fiscally prudent that is.


7 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 10, 2016 at 7:38 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The MPCSD Policy states:
"The Superintendent or designee shall annually publicize the issuance of the SARCs and notify parents/guardians that a paper copy will be provided upon request. On or before February 1 of each year, the Superintendent or designee shall make the SARCs available in paper copy and/or on the Internet. (Education Code 35256)"

Why are the SCHOOL ACCOUNTABILITY REPORT CARDS (SARC) not on the MPCSD web site?

What were the Feb 1, 2016 SARCs for each of the MPCSD schools?

Saying "Its for the children" is no longer sufficient - the Board's unwise proposal of these parcel taxes has awakened an angry public and the questions will keep rolling in.


14 people like this
Posted by district parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 10, 2016 at 7:45 pm

Having been on earlier parcel tax committees, I am sure the word is getting out to "post in support of these measures on TownSquare." Most of the people who are posting in response to that request -- spouting the same propaganda, almost verbatim -- are well-intended but poorly informed. As are we all. Why can't we see the true financials? Is this the kind of fiscal responsibility we want to teach our children? What a poor model our district is setting.


5 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 10, 2016 at 8:51 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

" Most of the people who are posting in response to that request -- spouting the same propaganda, almost verbatim -- are well-intended but poorly informed. As are we all. Why can't we see the true financials? Is this the kind of fiscal responsibility we want to teach our children? What a poor model our district is setting."

Thank you district parent. You are exactly right. Parroting the school board line is just intellectually lazy.


9 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 10, 2016 at 8:53 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

3382 Views. If most of those "views" vote NO these measures they should be toast. Let's hope.


7 people like this
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 10, 2016 at 9:00 pm

current parent wrote:
> MPCSD has higher parcel taxes because it has lower
> regular property taxes per student

Addressed and refuted by Peter Carpenter. Thank you, sir.


> Schools cannot maintain smaller class sizes and
> comprehensive programs without MAINTAINING the
> per student funding [emphasis mine]

To MAINTAIN existing programs and sizes, MAINTAIN the existing taxes! You do NOT need more to "maintain."

The State restored funding it took away during the 2010 state budget crisis. So MPCSD already has three rising, PERMANENT parcel taxes, on top of restored state funding, on top of rising property tax funding.

MPCSD does not need FIVE parcel taxes. No other elementary school district in California has that many parcel taxes.

No other elementary school district in California charges more in parcel taxes than MPCSD. And it wants EVEN MORE.


10 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 10, 2016 at 9:06 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The arrogance of the School Board with regard to not providing full disclosure and their totally disregard for the interests of the taxpayers (Hint - read their Mission, Vision & Core Values) who pay their bills will doom these parcel taxes.

I welcome their "post in support of these measures on TownSquare." because they will then be faced with a demand for answers.

Outstanding questions:

The top 11 elementary schools were ALL in the Palo Alto Unified School District and there was not a single MPCSD school in the top 100 California schools.

So what exactly are we getting for our tax dollars?

Where is MPCSD's Comprehensive Annual Financial Report?

Why is it not available on the District's web site?

Why is the only answer increasing tax revenues far beyond the already huge increase in property tax revenues?

Who on the Board is speakng on behalf of the taxpayers?

What is the District doing with its current reserves?

So why aren't the minutes of finance and audit committee meetings on the MPCSD web site?

Why are the attachments to the finance and audit committee's agendas not included with the posted agendas?

Why is the latest set of minutes for the MPCSD Board that is posted on the web site is for December 15, 2015?

Why is the MPCSD's CAFR not posted on the web site?

Why is the MPCSD Audit Report not posted on the web site?

Why do you have to do a search to find the MPCSD budget on the web site?

Why are the SCHOOL ACCOUNTABILITY REPORT CARDS (SARC) not on the MPCSD web site?

What were the Feb 1, 2016 SARCs for each of the MPCSD schools?



4 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 10, 2016 at 9:28 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Additional question:

Why does the Measure W Bond Program Citizens' Oversight Committee have FIVE of its eight positions VACANT ???

The only three filled positions are filled by Parents in the District.

School Leadership Organization representative - VACANT
Community Member - VACANT
Senior Citizen;s Organization - Vacant
Bona Fide Taxpayers' Organization- Vacant
Business Community - Vacant

Who is protecting the interests of the community and of the taxpayers?


4 people like this
Posted by MPCSD Parent2
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 11, 2016 at 11:10 am

To Peter Carpenter and others:

I suspect that no matter what the Board or its supporters do or say to explain the parcel tax measures you will oppose them.

Calls for "facts" "data" and "disclosures" are belied by repeated attempts to selectively read such matters in any manner that supports a No vote.

For example:

--There are claims of "cherry picking" by Yes voters (e.g. when 'current parent' lists per pupil spending for several elementary schools districts that ARE comparable), but Peter thinks it is OK to say "Atherton probably has the highest assessed property values per parcel in the entire nation and Menlo Park's total assessed property values are certainly higher than those of Woodside, Portola Valley, Burlingame etc.... the total assessed property taxes for Atherton and Menlo Park was over $20 million !!!"
Peter conveniently ignores the fact that Atherton and Menlo Park share those taxes among FOUR elementary school districts -- it does not all go to MPCSD.
So much for claims of transparency and not distorting data.

--Peter asks "Why do you have to do a search to find the MPCSD budget on the web site?"
But I'm not sure I'd consider the budgets hidden -- they are readily accessible on the "Annual Budgets" link of the "Departments: Business Office/Finance" tab -- which is directly accessible from the MPCSD landing page (see Web Link)

--Train Fan makes the blanket claim that "The State restored [the ~$2M annual] funding it took away during the 2010 state budget crisis"
But Train Fan ignores the fact that only ~$980K/year seems to have been restored -- and $570K of the restored funds will expire in 2018-19 (see Web Link "Prior to the Great Recession of 2008, MPCSD received almost $2 million in state categorical funds (grants) which have since been replaced by the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) model enacted July 2013. The District now receives $432,027 in Minimum State Aid under LCFF, which locks in the fair share reduction of state categorical funds as of 2012-13. This is a permanent cut to our district. MPCSD, also, receives approximately $570,000 in Proposition 30, Education Protection Act, funds which is set to expire in 2018-19.")

Again, these are just a few examples.

On the other hand, MPCSD has explained that:

"In the coming years, the District will need to balance the budget and maintain an acceptable reserve level while addressing the following issues:

Sunset of Measure C Parcel Tax in June 30, 2017
$1.6M of annual revenue
Increase in Benefit Costs
Employee Retirement Plan
Health and Welfare
Cost of Living Increases
Student growth and educational program needs

To address these long term financial matters, the Superintendent is working with an Ad Hoc Committee comprising of two Board members and the Chief Business and Operations Officer to develop a long term financial plan. The plan will be presented and discussed at a regularly scheduled Board meeting."

(see Web Link)

To address the above, the Board has approved:
- Measure A to restore Measure C funding, and
- Measure B to account for other increased costs (which is enrollment-based; increased enrollment is a primary driver of increased costs)

Neither of those measures is aimed at "scamming the community" (Joan), but instead the Board is acting to continue to operate some of the best-available elementary schools available in the State (even if MPCSD schools doesn't rank in Peter's "top 11 [niche] elementary schools").

I plan to vote Yes on Measures A & B.


4 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 11, 2016 at 11:32 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"--Peter asks "Why do you have to do a search to find the MPCSD budget on the web site?"
But I'm not sure I'd consider the budgets hidden -- they are readily accessible on the "Annual Budgets" link of the "Departments: Business Office/Finance" tab -- which is directly accessible from the MPCSD landing page (see Web Link) "

Thank you for the link.

Where is the CAFR?

Where are the SCHOOL ACCOUNTABILITY REPORT CARDS (SARC)?


3 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 11, 2016 at 2:23 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

""In the coming years, the District will need to balance the budget and maintain an acceptable reserve level"

If that's the case why did they spend down the surplus they already had? Answer: because they figured they could go back to the voters and frighten them into voting for another parcel tax.


4 people like this
Posted by Apple
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 11, 2016 at 3:24 pm

I don't mind paying more taxes to schools if they need it and the school board shows fiscal prudence.

I do mind if there is an endless cycle of new parcel taxes every few years. It shows a lack of discipline and a lack of respect for the homeowners.

If these two measures pass, I expect we'll be asked for another parcel tax in a few years. Then, another one after that. What assurance do we have that we won't be asked for another parcel tax increase in the next ten years?

No other local school districts have so many parcel taxes or in such a high amount as MPCSD.

Yet, these other local districts have had their state funding cut and are threatened with future cuts as well. MPCSD is not in a unique position, yet we need much higher parcel taxes than everyone else.

At the same time, incoming property tax revenue is growing way faster than student growth. The new property tax revenue should be able to pay for other rising costs as existing property tax collections are growing much faster than current economic growth.

Those are facts as well. To me, these facts are more convincing that more fiscal discipline is needed, not more money.

IMO, the community should defeat these measures. Then, the board will understand they need to provide the public with more information (i.e. more detailed budgets) and address their concerns with open houses to discuss the finances. If we keep voting yes to every new tax request, the board will never change. They will ask for a new tax every few years.


10 people like this
Posted by JU
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 11, 2016 at 5:41 pm

MPCSD’s ability to make it seem as if the sky is falling is truly astounding. The district derives <10% of its total budget from state funding. They may have received cuts in certain categories, but have completely glossed over how other sources of state funding have made up for these cuts.

Total state funding from all sources. (obtained by adding up the categories “state aid” and other state revenue). All these numbers can be found at ed-data.

2007-8 $2991102
2008-9 $3045332
2009-10 $2283075
2010-11 $2133566
2011-12 $1072257
2012-13 $2026293
2013-14 $3330022

Regardless of the level of state funding, MPCSD has additional sources of revenue that more than made up for these “cuts”. In 2014-15, the three permanent parcel taxes took in $4990905, while measure C (2010) funding resulted in $1545784, a total of $6536689 additional revenue.

Let’s look at total revenue. Does this appear as if the “sky is falling” from budget cuts?

2005-06 $19885846
2006-07 $22166013
2007-08 $23758859
2008-09 $24832259
2009-10 $25436546
2010-11 $25984491
2011-12 $25906292
2012-13 $29464452
2013-14 $32341123
2014-15 $38089792

Not only have I previously shown that revenue increases have far exceeded any enrollment growth, a quick analysis of the neighboring districts show that MPCSD has had the highest increase in revenue from 2005-2013, when compared to other Basic aid districts (Revenue limit districts are funding differently).

Belmont-RWS $21948702-->$33082198; 50.7%
Hillsborough $17259101-->$23125705; 34%
Las Lomitas $13747966-->$21543027; 56.7%
MPCSD $19885846-->$32341123; 62.6%
Portola Valley $9626322-->$12649725; 31.4%
Woodside $6307131-->$9013351; 42.9%
PAUSD $127659569-->$183061729; 43.4%

MPCSD is not the only district having to deal with previous state budget cuts, increase in benefits cost, retirement plans, health and welfare, cost of living increases, and student growth and education needs. Despite the increase in revenue that has even outpaced other neighboring districts, we are the only one that “needs” to pass 2 addition PERMANENT parcel taxes.
We have the dubious distinction of being the district with the highest parcel taxes in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. We are also the ONLY district with THREE permanent parcel taxes.

If the district cannot manage the budget at a time when revenue is increasing year after year and still needs to pass TWO permanent parcel taxes, what do you think is going to happen when the economy starts contracting?

I’m voting NO because the district needs a wakeup call to learn some fiscal discipline. They have NOT demonstrated a need for 2 permanent parcel taxes.


6 people like this
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 11, 2016 at 5:43 pm

MPCSD Parent2 wrote:
> I suspect that no matter what
> the Board or its supporters
> do or say to explain the parcel
> tax measures you will oppose
> them.

Disclosure: I believe measures W (bond for rebuilding o'connor) and C (temporary tax to backfill drops in property taxes and state revenue) were "good" taxation. So if you're inferring that we oppose parcel taxes (& bonds) purely on principle, you are very, very wrong.

We oppose FIVE parcel taxes primarily because the parcel taxation levels by MPCSD are unreasonable, given the fact that MPCSD enjoys the highest parcel taxes in the state of California, and that other elementary school districts have comparable (or BETTER) quality than MPCSD with lower per-student revenues.


> 'current parent' lists per pupil
> spending for several elementary
> schools districts that ARE comparable

You're confusing cherrypicking and apples-and-oranges.

And some of his comparisons were valid (San Carlos for example) and some are not (PAUSD for example, a *Unified* school district, which has high school costs associated with its district and is not a good comparison).


> Peter conveniently ignores the fact
> that Atherton and Menlo Park share
> those taxes among FOUR elementary
> school districts -- it does not all
> go to MPCSD.

The way you said this...ugh. I'm not trying to be offensive, but the above statement is pretty convoluted, and effectively wrong.

Nobody is "sharing" taxes here:
* Parcels in MPCSD get taxed by MPCSD
* Parcels in Ravenswood get taxed by Ravenswood
* Parcels in LLESD get taxed by LLESD
* Parcels in RWCESD get taxed by RWCESD

And kids in those parcels go to their respective districts.


> So much for claims of transparency
> and not distorting data.

What you just posted above is a perfect example of distorting data.


more to follow...


5 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 11, 2016 at 6:46 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Citizens need to read the MPCSD's budget documents:

"After adjusting for one-time sources and uses, the District’s operating deficit is approximately $512,400 for 2015/16 and is projected to grow to over $2.9M by 2017/18, assuming renewal of the Measure C parcel tax at its current level plus CPI increases. The deficit grows substantially after the current budget year as projected revenue remains conservative and does not keep pace with expenditures. Next year’s projected costs include the addition of new staff and the opening of the new school in response to ongoing growth. Meanwhile, almost 1/3 of the total increase in expenditures from 2015/16 to 2017/18 is attributable to increases in STRS and PERS pension costs. These projections do not include salary increases other than step and column advancements and a projected 7% increase in health benefits each year beginning January, 2017."

This is an agency that is out of control - it is in deficit spending now and PLANNING on being in bigger deficit spending in the future. And they are ASSUMING the passage of the Measure C Parcel Tax renewal.

"Without the renewal of the Measure C parcel tax, the deficit would surge from a projected $2.9M to $4.6M in 2017/18, and reserves for economic uncertainty would drop from a projected 10.4% to 6.8%."

And, by the way, the District has $25,430,316 in reserves for its building fund - why is that not relevant to the increased enrollment issue?


12 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 11, 2016 at 7:02 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Given their admitted deficit spending and their assumption/presumption that Measue C Parcel Tax will be renewed ( before the Board even voted to put this issue on the ballot and before the voters have even voted) how can they make this Dec 8, 2015 certification???

"As President of the Governing Board of this school district, I certify that based upon current projections this district will meet its financial obligations for the current fiscal year and subsequent two fiscal years."


10 people like this
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 11, 2016 at 8:30 pm

MPCSD does not need more revenue. Increases from property taxes are more than sufficient. Look:


STUDENT POPULATION:
09-10: 2532
10-11: 2629 (+97 from previous year)
11-12: 2719 (+90)
12-13: 2799 (+80)
13-14: 2903 (+104)
14-15: 2904 (+1)
15-16: 2941 (+37)

REVENUE:
09-10: 26,436,612
10-11: 26,944,621 (+$ 508,009 from previous year)
11-12: 26,975,199 (+$ 30,578)
12-13: 30,539,889 (+$3,564,690)
13-14: 33,412,232 (+$2,872,343)
14-15: 39,842,308 (+$6,430,076)
15-16: 40,753,057 (+$ 910,749)

Soooo…

REVENUE per new STUDENT:
10-11: $ 508,009/97 = $ 5,237/new student
11-12: $ 30,578/90 = $ 340/new student
12-13: $3,564,690/80 = $ 44,559/new student
13-14: $2,872,343/104 = $ 27,619/new student
14-15: $6,430,076/1 = $6,430,076/new student
15-16: $ 910,749/37 = $ 24,615/new student

Average: $35,003.53/new student since 2010-2011 year

(910,749 + 6,430,076 + 2,872,343 + 3,564,690 + 30,578 + 508,009) / (97+90+80+104+1+37)

MPCSD and its sycophants keep claiming that it needs more revenue due to increases in student population. But what the above shows is that REVENUE is increasing FASTER than the student population (For comparison, the average revenue per student in MPCSD was $11,544 in 2013-2014).

MPCSD does not need more revenue.

Vote NO on Measures A and B.


3 people like this
Posted by current parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Feb 11, 2016 at 8:46 pm

What is Peter Carpenter's true motive behind all his [part removed - make your point without negative characterizations of other posters] comments attacking our community's public schools? Facts to consider: 1) Peter Carpenter has [part removed] District employees by erroneously alleging that budget and other information is not available to the public when it is in fact readily available on the District's website. 2) Carpenter has never attended a single one of the MANY public board meetings where the discussion of options for dealing with the District's increasing enrollment occurred, nor has he ever contacted anyone in the District with any of his questions.



14 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 11, 2016 at 8:56 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"What is Peter Carpenter's true motive ..."

I am a concerned citizen and a taxpayer.

I have been an elected public official for over a decade and I deeply understand the responsibilty that elected officals have to the citizens whom they serve.

I am offended by the arrogance that the School Board has shown in assuming that the voters will approve not just one but two parcel taxes.

I am offended by the lack of accountability in a parcel tax which is permanent.

And that is just a short list of my reasons.


3 people like this
Posted by long time resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 11, 2016 at 8:58 pm

The great public schools are the reason I chose to live in Menlo Park. Even though my own children have graduated from the schools, I want to do my part to help maintain the quality for the sake of the kids of our community and also to maintain the value of my biggest asset - my house! I will be voting yes.


12 people like this
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 11, 2016 at 9:03 pm

* MPCSD has the highest parcel taxes for any elementary school district in the state of California.

(source: Web Link 2013-2014 is most recent data available)

* For comparably-sized elementary districts and higher (1500+), MPCSD has the second highest expense levels in Northern California (Hillsborough is first. Note that Hillsborough is almost half the size of MPCSD)

(source: Web Link 2012-2013 is the most recent data available)

* MPCSD revenues since 2010-2011 far exceed the costs of additional students. $35,003.53/new student since the 2010-2011 school year.


Vote NO on Measures A and B


2 people like this
Posted by alumni parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 11, 2016 at 9:14 pm

I love this community, and it makes me feel terrible to realize that not everyone here shares my values about the importance of a high quality education for all children. I will be supporting our schools by voting yes on A and B.


Like this comment
Posted by current parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Feb 11, 2016 at 9:17 pm

Train Fan: given that MPCSD spends less per student than neighboring comparable districts like Las Lomitas, etc., then if MPCSD has higher parcel tax revenue per student it obviously has lower regular property tax revenue per student. [part removed.]


7 people like this
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 11, 2016 at 9:33 pm

current parent wrote:
> you didn't get a very good math education

The irony of your statement is humorous.

This is very basic math, see below, and my previous post. You're welcome to refute the math, but please provide your data. Mine is from the district's website and ed-data.org :

REVENUE per additional STUDENT:
10-11: $ 508,009/97 = $ 5,237/additional student
11-12: $ 30,578/90 = $ 340/additional student
12-13: $3,564,690/80 = $ 44,559/additional student
13-14: $2,872,343/104 = $ 27,619/additional student
14-15: $6,430,076/1 = $6,430,076/additional student
15-16: $ 910,749/37 = $ 24,615/additional student

Average: $35,003.53/additional student since 2010-2011 year

Revenue from taxes is increasing at a greater rate than the student population. That is an indisputable fact.

MPCSD has plenty of tax revenue. It doesn't need FIVE parcel taxes.


Vote NO on Measures A and B.


7 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 11, 2016 at 9:38 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"not everyone here shares my values about the importance of a high quality education for all children."

I think we all share that value; what we don't share is a belief in paying far more than is necessary to accomplish that goal.

And we are particularly concerned that in spite of running a deficit the school district does not have a single school in the top 100 in California.


2 people like this
Posted by current parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Feb 11, 2016 at 9:38 pm

Sorry, train fan. Your math doesn't make any sense. Try as you might, you can't hide the fact that MPCSD spends less per student than similar high quality districts. That fact says it all. You clearly want to gut our schools. I want to maintain the quality and will be voting YES!!


7 people like this
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 11, 2016 at 9:45 pm

> Your math doesn't make any sense.

Your inability to grasp math is not within my power to address.


> you can't hide the fact that MPCSD spends less per student than similar high quality districts.

This is complete fiction. There are many "similar" high quality elementary districts that spend less per student.


MPCSD doesn't need FIVE parcel taxes.


Vote NO on Measures A and B.


2 people like this
Posted by current parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Feb 11, 2016 at 10:12 pm

Train Fan: No one considers Redwood City, Ravenswood, Belmont, and some of the districts you keep bringing up to be similar. You clearly just want to gut our public schools for some reason.


12 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 11, 2016 at 10:32 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Wow. The folks drinking the board's koolaid are amazing. Presented with facts, they attack those that present actual facts and present none of their own to refute. No wonder the MPCSD test scores aren't in the state's top 100. Steve Jobs'reality distortion field anyone? "Our schools are the best, therefor we must funnel whatever ridiculous amounts of money into them we're asked to." Except they're not "the best." Just look at the test scores folks.

The problem is these folks paid insane amounts of money to buy homes here because "Menlo Park schools are the best," and now they're being told they won't be the "best" if they don't fork over even more money. "Our home values, which we paid stupid prices for in the first place to be in the "best " school district will go down if we don't vote to pump more unnecessary taxes into is a "bad" thing. "We can't have our home prices go down due to our stupid decision." "Everyone has to pay more taxes to support our stupid decision."

Sorry, no I don't and I won't. Until our school board presents clear, transparent and unambiguous reasons why they need two more PERMANENT parcel taxes I'll be voting NO. And I will encourage anyone I know to do the same.

By the way, I've voted for bonds and parcel taxes in the past. This time it's NO.


8 people like this
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 11, 2016 at 10:37 pm

current parent, a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables wrote:
> Redwood City, Ravenswood, Belmont, and some of the districts

Reading comprehension is apparently not one of your strengths. Try rereading my posts [portion removed; please be respectful].
> You clearly just want to gut our public schools for some reason.

The math shows that MPCSD tax revenue has been increasing per student; in other words, despite the increase in student population, the increases in property taxes and the THREE existing PERMANENT parcel taxes are more than compensating.

MPCSD doesn't need 5 parcel taxes; the math is indisputable. And of course you and your fellow sycophants never try countering the math, because you can't.

MPCSD has plenty of tax revenue. It doesn't need FIVE parcel taxes.


Vote NO on Measures A and B.


Like this comment
Posted by current parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Feb 11, 2016 at 10:51 pm

Menlo Voter: Here's the most recent data comparing school performance. As you can see, Menlo Park schools are very high performing, similar to Las Lomitas and Palo Alto. Menlo Park also spends less per student than Las Lomitas and Palo Alto. It's pretty clear that our schools are doing a great job for our students and delivering great value for the money to our community.

API scores from CDE:

Menlo Park Schools:
Oak Knoll 961
Laurel 927
Encinal 930
Hillview 950
Las Lomitas Schools:
Las Lomitas 943
La Entrada 963
Palo Alto Schools
Addison 947
Hoover 987
El Carmelo 944
Ohlone 946
Escondido 927
Fairmeadow 953
Duveneck 956
Juana Briones 941
Palo Verde 961
Walter Hays 934
Nixon 955
Barron Park 870
Jordan Middle 934
JLS Middle 943
Terman Middle 968


Like this comment
Posted by current parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Feb 11, 2016 at 11:02 pm

[Part removed. No evidence that one poster is using these two user names on this thread.]

You clearly hate our schools and want to gut them despite the fact that they are objectively doing a great job for our kids and our community. Our test scores are very high. Our cost per student is less than other districts with similar quality programs. The fact that you keep manufacturing false information is both sad and laughable. I will be adding my name to a long, long list of well respected community members who support maintaining the high quality of our schools. I look forward to seeing how long or well respected your list of school haters turns out to be.


10 people like this
Posted by JU
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 12, 2016 at 2:24 am

You know you've won the argument when the opponent starts resorting to ad hominem attacks.

I really hope this is not a reflection of our district.


12 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 12, 2016 at 7:05 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

This is not a list of school supporters vs school "haters". To characterize the participants in this discussion in this manner is a disservice to both the community and to the Town Square forum.

Those of us who oppose the unsound financial management of the school district and who deplore the simply solution of more amd more forever taxes in lieu of disciplined leadership to manage within the established resources actually are committed to better schools. We just don't think that an unending series of parcel taxes is the road to academic excellence.


1 person likes this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 12, 2016 at 7:26 am

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

current parent:

did I hit a nerve?

those are great API scores, but NONE of them puts our schools in the top 100 for the state despite the ridiculous amount of money being spent to educate them.

And, no, I don't want to "gut" the schools. I simply don't want to pay even more money into a district who's fiances aren't being managed properly. Let me say this slowly so you can understand, tax revenues are rising faster than enrollment. A parcel tax is unnecessary. At least if the finances are properly managed.

Oh, and trainfan and I are two different individuals. If we were the same the editors would have deleted the posts since they don't allow people to post under multiple names form the same ip address. But you'd know that if you showed up here regularly.


Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 12, 2016 at 7:30 am

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

" I will be adding my name to a long, long list of well respected community members who support maintaining the high quality of our schools. I look forward to seeing how long or well respected your list of school haters turns out to be."

The online equivalent to "mine's bigger than yours."


4 people like this
Posted by new guy
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 12, 2016 at 7:47 am

All,

Please note: when those in favor of this tax want to shut down a thread, this is one of the ways to get it shut, basically start personal attacks in the hope the moderator will remove the whole thing.

From all I have read:

1. Both tax measures are to "maintain current programs".
2. Taxes from rising property values and assessments are rising faster than enrollment.
3. those in favor simply want more taxes because unless these pass, we are doomed!

What am I missing? If the district was asking for more money, I guess I would expect more, not simply to maintain. If there is something unique about MP, what is it, and how do other districts get by without these taxes?

So, still voting NO, unless there is a real argument here.



14 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 12, 2016 at 8:08 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The problem is that if an organization has not developed the leadership and management skills necessary to carry out its mission within their existing resource constraints then their only recourse to running out of money, i.e. defict spending, is to get more money.

Well run organizations constantly seek efficiencies and ways to carry out their mission more cost effectively.

Well run organizations fund depreciation of capital assets and charge themselves the real cost of their retirement programs every year.

Well run organizations refuse to enter into labor agreements that cannot be supported by their established revenues.

Well run organizations realize that their investors/shareholders ( which in this case are the taxpayers) are as important to their success as are their customers ( in this case the students).

None of this should be a surprise to an organization in Silicon Valley.


15 people like this
Posted by Mike Keenly
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Feb 12, 2016 at 9:49 am

In the past, I have voted in favor of EVERY parcel tax or bond measure for Menlo Park schools.

I'm a strong believer that good schools, besides helping to develop our future generations, are an important asset to the community, and increase the value of our neighborhoods.

But unless the school district comes clean and offers up data for why they need this new parcel tax, I will register my first NO vote, and urge my neighbors to do the same.

This is not a vote against the schools, but rather a vote for the school district to get some help for their addiction to out-of-control deficit spending.


2 people like this
Posted by Roy Thiele-Sardina
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 12, 2016 at 11:26 am

Sounds like we are doing marginal utility math (thank goodness it was my specialty whilst getting my graduate degree)

So the REAL math is: Does the incremental tax increase the marginal value (utility) of your home. and would NOT having the tax lower the value of the same commodity (your home) since Menlo Park enjoys a higher increase in home value than adjoining lower rated districts [RWC] (API) it would appear that the Tax is justified and acceptable.

So now that we are done with the Math. There is of course the emotion, and the non micro economic variables.

1. Permanent taxes are just that, Permanent. and they are deplorable.

2. if they are saying "I will NEVER come back to you for another bond" i would be ok. but you can bet your last dollar they will be back for some capital improvement they have not saved for.

3. Their pension costs are EXCESSIVE and they need to make the teachers cover more of those costs. They need to grow a pair and stand up to the Union bullying. We may lose some teachers, but fortunately they are a replaceable commodity.

Roy


6 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 12, 2016 at 11:44 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"So the REAL math is: Does the incremental tax increase the marginal value (utility) of your home. and would NOT having the tax lower the value of the same commodity (your home) since Menlo Park enjoys a higher increase in home value than adjoining lower rated districts [RWC] (API) it would appear that the Tax is justified and acceptable."

Home values increase for many reasons and school quality is only one of them. The annual survey by the EXPERTS on home values and quality of education, Niche, did not rank ANY MPCSD in the top 100 Califormia Elementary schools while all of the top ELEVEN schools in that survey are next door in Palo Alto. Oak Knoll is #452 and Encinal is #715.

Even if Niche's methodology has a margin of error of 10% or even 20% there is no way to reconcile the fact that MPCSD schools are ranked as 452nd and 715th in the state vs Palo Alto schools which are the top 11 schools in the state.

As Roy well knows an underperforming organization cannot be turned around by throwing more money at it.


10 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 12, 2016 at 12:15 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

From Trulia:

Palo Alto market trends indicate an increase of 11% in median home sales over the past year.

Trends in Menlo Park show a 5% year-over-year rise in median sales price

Trends in Atherton show a 15% year-over-year rise in median sales price.

Trends in Redwood City show a 9% year-over-year rise in median sales price.

Trends in East Palo Alto show a 23% year-over-year rise in median sales price.

So what exactly is the correlation between school expenditures and property values?


Like this comment
Posted by current parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 12, 2016 at 12:48 pm

Sorry for going over the top guys. It's just really upsetting that some of you are inaccurately portraying the situation, and in doing so you are going to badly our schools. It is not the fault of district that the enrollment growth has outstripped the growth in the district's revenue and are continuing to grow. Town Square Forum is not the place to get your facts straight. The citizen's committee to advocate for the need is just now forming. Give them a chance to answer your questions. Or call one of your elected board members and get a full and correct understanding of the situation. If after you understand the real situation you just don't want our schools to be on par in terms of class sizes and breadth of programs to Palo Alto, Las Lomitas, etc., then it's completely fair to argue that point. There certainly are people out there who don't believe that class size matter. But for you to suggest that the district has resources that it doesn't is simply not true. If these taxes don't pass, our schools will no longer have programs of comparable quality. That will be a very sad for this community.


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Posted by current parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Feb 12, 2016 at 12:51 pm

Hit send too fast -- fixed some typos, so read this instead:

Sorry for going over the top guys. It's just really upsetting that some of you are inaccurately portraying the situation, and in doing so you are going to badly hurt our schools. It is not the fault of our district that enrollment growth has outstripped the growth in the district's existing sources of revenue and is continuing to grow. Town Square Forum is not the place to get your facts straight. The citizen's committee to advocate for the need is just now forming. Give them a chance to answer your questions. Or call one of your elected board members and get a full and correct understanding of the situation. If after you understand the real situation and you just don't want our schools to be on par in terms of class sizes and breadth of programs to Palo Alto, Las Lomitas, etc., then it's completely fair to argue that point. There certainly are people out there who don't believe that class size matter. But for you to suggest that the district has resources that it doesn't is simply not true. If these taxes don't pass, our schools will no longer have programs of comparable quality. That will be a very sad for this community.


13 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 12, 2016 at 1:03 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" It is not the fault of district that the enrollment growth has outstripped the growth in the district's revenue"

This is simply NOT TRUE. What worries me is that you believe that it is.

"you just don't want our schools to be on par in terms of class sizes and breadth of programs to Palo Alto, Las Lomitas, etc."

That is a false choice. What most of us want is cost effective use of taxpayer provided resources to MAINTAIN class size and comparable programs given a huge increase in property taxes and without also demanding new parcels taxes.

"Town Square Forum is not the place to get your facts straight"

I disagree - this Forum allows a free and open exchange of information without speaking time limits, inconvenient meeting times and places and, generally, adherence to a rule not to respond to questions.

These parcel tax elections will be decided in the court of public opinion and a now enraged and engaged public will demand answers.

The strategy of holding a mail ballot and hoping only supporters vote will not work in this case because, in my opinion, the Board has overreached on the ballot measures and the District has underperformed in its use of taxpayers dollars.


11 people like this
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 12, 2016 at 1:12 pm


> some of you are inaccurately portraying the situation

Not true.


> you are going to badly hurt our schools.

Not true. The math shows that growth in property taxes is far exceeding growth in enrollment. And that doesn't include the 3 existing PERMANENT parcel taxes.


> enrollment growth has outstripped the
> the growth in the district's existing
> sources of revenue

This is completely false. COMPLETELY. It's the biggest falsehood in this whole debate.


> Town Square Forum is not the place to get your facts straight.

The links provided in previous posts are from unbiased sources, like ed-data.org. And MPCSD own budget numbers.


> you just don't want our schools to be on par in terms of class sizes and breadth of programs to Palo Alto, Las Lomitas, etc., then it's completely fair to argue that point.

This entire sentence is a logical fallacy and not worthy of retort.


> for you to suggest that the district has resources that it doesn't is simply not true.

The budget number are indisputable; the increase in tax revenue for MPCSD has been far greater than the increase in enrollment. This is basic math that you just don't want to accept.


> If these taxes don't pass, our schools will no longer have programs of comparable quality. That will be a very sad for this community.


Not true, and this statement is consistent with previous scare-tactic posts.


Just look:

Property tax revenue: 28,035,283

Projected tax revenue growth: 5% (that's MPCSD's projection)
Projected increase in property tax revenue: 28,035,283 * 5% = $1,401,764

Projected enrollment in 5 years: 3,151
Current enrollment: 2,941
Increase in enrollment over 5 years: 3,151 - 2,941 = 210 additional students
Increase in enrollment per year: 210/5 = 42 additional students per year

Sooooo....for 2016->2017 school year:

$1,401,764(additional revenue) / 42(additional students) =

$33,375 per additional student (vs the roughly 13k/student now)

(source, MPCSD 15-16 budget: Web Link)
(source: Web Link )

And that does not include tax revenue from the existing THREE PERMANENT parcel taxes.

That data is FROM MPCSD FINANCES AND PROJECTIONS.

MPCSD is swimming in additional revenue, without additional taxation.

MPCSD does not need FIVE parcel taxes.


Vote NO on Measures A and B.


11 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 12, 2016 at 1:26 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

One source of new students is new construction.

Guess what, MPCSD gets significant fees before a permit can be issued for any new construction.

"DEVELOPER FEES
The Sequoia Union High School District collects school developer fees for new construction, remodels or additions to existing structures for all residential and commercial/industrial construction projects within the boundaries of Belmont/Redwood Shores, Las Lomitas, Menlo Park, Portola Valley, Ravenswood, Redwood City, San Carlos and Woodside. The Sequoia Union High School District currently shares the developer fees with its feeder districts. The developer fee sharing arrangement between the districts is currently 40% for the high school district and 60% for the feeder districts. School Developer Fees must be paid before any building department issues a permit to applicants.

Fees are calculated based on the total square footage of the project. As of August 10, 2014 the square footage rate for residential projects is $3.36 a square foot and $0.54 a square foot for commercial/industrial projects. "

So the developer fees for a 3000 sq ft house in the MPCSD would yield over $6000 to MPCSD. And this fee also applies to remodels or additions to existing structures.


4 people like this
Posted by district parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 12, 2016 at 1:52 pm

Thanks, Peter, I was not aware of those fees. Even though they are one-time impact fees (I assume?) there is about 1,000,000 square feet of development currently in the works for the El Camino corridor, some of it residential. Cash flow should not be an issue for our district for the next five years.


4 people like this
Posted by district parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 12, 2016 at 1:52 pm

Thanks, Peter, I was not aware of those fees. Even though they are one-time impact fees (I assume?) there is about 1,000,000 square feet of development currently in the works for the El Camino corridor, some of it residential. Cash flow should not be an issue for our district for at least the next five years.


13 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 12, 2016 at 2:10 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

"It is not the fault of our district that enrollment growth has outstripped the growth in the district's existing sources of revenue and is continuing to grow."

That has been repeatedly demonstrated as factually incorrect. Why do you keep repeating it?


11 people like this
Posted by JU
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 12, 2016 at 2:33 pm

Guys, the official measure letter randomization is out.

Vote NO on Measure A and C


9 people like this
Posted by SteveC
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 12, 2016 at 2:45 pm

SteveC is a registered user.

another old fish story. As a Fist Lady once said, JUST SAY NO !!


20 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 12, 2016 at 3:38 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The 500 El Camino Project will have 300,000 sq ft of residential space and 150,000 sq ft of commercial space.
" The project proposes 215 rental units located in 305,130 gross square feet.
Forty‐two percent (42%) of the apartments will be all one‐bedroom units and fifty‐eight percent (58%) of the apartments will be two‐bedroom units. The one‐bedroom units average approximately 880 square feet in size, while the two‐bedroom units average approximately 1,312 square feet in size."

MPCSD will receive one time developer fees of approximately $600,000 from the residential portion and $48,000 from the commercial portion.

In addition MPCSD will receive a significant amount of new property tax every year from this project.


9 people like this
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Feb 12, 2016 at 3:56 pm

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

FLASH: I just learned from Elections, that the filing deadline for ballot arguments has been extended till 5 P.M. next Tuesday. Coincidently, no Argument in Favor had been submitted as of 15 minutes ago. We can only hope that the District is considering calling off the election.
Excellent Arguments Against the Measures are on file with Elections, as I previously reported.

In addition, I have not received a response to my PRA request, in the required timeframe(10 days), as promised in the following e-mail:

"This email is to acknowledge we received your request for records on February 2, 2016 (request below). We are processing your request and will respond within the required timeframe."

Thank you,

Lanita Villasenor
Executive Assistant to the Superintendent
Menlo Park City School District


I am gathering facts regarding the parcel tax decision making process. I sent the following to the MPCSD:
"Superintendent Ghysels, pursuant to the Public Records Act, I hereby request an electronic copy of the EMC Research consultant report which resulted in the decision by your school district board to place two parcel tax measures on a May 3 mail-in-ballot. I also request a copy of the solicitation, RFP request or other instrument from which a contract was made with the consultant, as well as a copy of the contract itself. I expect this information by return e-mail or in links to it on the district website."


11 people like this
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Feb 12, 2016 at 4:03 pm

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

FLASH: Elections just informed me that the deadline for filing Ballot Arguments has been extended until 5 P.M. on next Tuesday. No Argument in Favor had been filed as of 20 minutes ago. Apparently they needed more time to get their facts straight. As I reported in an earlier post, Arguments Against(which I consider to be excellent) are on file at Elections.


11 people like this
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 12, 2016 at 4:05 pm

"School District Can’t Legally Pay Bond Firms for Pre-Election Campaign Activity, Attorney General Opines

A school district or community college district that contracts with an entity for services related to a bond election campaign is in violation of the California Constitution and statutory restrictions on the use of tax dollars if the services can be fairly characterized as campaign activity, Attorney General Kamala Harris stated in a formal opinion published January 26."

Web Link
Web Link


13 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 12, 2016 at 4:21 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

From the EMC report on the focus groups:

"The focus group excluded parents of current Menlo Park City School District students and people who had extreme opinions on measures providing additional funding for local public schools."

So who got to define "extreme opinions"? Is Yes an extreme position? Is No an extreme position?

This is what a good statistician would describe as a biased sample since even people with extreme positions get to vote in our democracy.

And for this the District paid $22,000.

Thanks to Jack Hickey for uncovering these documents.


9 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 12, 2016 at 4:39 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Greenheart Land Company is proposing to redevelop a 6.4-acre site on El Camino Real and Oak Grove Avenue with up to a total of 217,900 square feet of commercial uses and up to 202 dwelling units. The commercial portion would be 110,000 sq ft and the residential would be 107,900 sq ft.

This project would generate a one time developer fee payment to MPCSD of about $35,000 for the commercial portion and plus $217,000 for the residential space and significant annual property tax increases.


9 people like this
Posted by JU
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 12, 2016 at 5:00 pm

SM county clearly publishes that ballot arguments are due by 81 days at 5pm. I believe that allowing an extension until next Tuesday is clearly illegal.

California elections code

9163. Based on the time reasonably necessary to prepare and print
the arguments, analysis, and sample ballots and to permit the
10-calendar-day public examination as provided in Article 5
(commencing with Section 9190) for the particular election, the
county elections official shall fix and determine a reasonable date
prior to the election after which no arguments for or against any
county measure may be submitted for printing and distribution to the
voters as provided in this article. Notice of the date fixed shall be
published by the county elections official pursuant to Section 6061
of the Government Code. Arguments may be changed until and including
the date fixed by the county elections official.


8 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 12, 2016 at 6:06 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

A San Mateo County official breaking the law?! Just as with gambling in Casa Blanca, I'm shocked! Shocked! I tell you!

Welcome to San Mateo County


16 people like this
Posted by new guy
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 12, 2016 at 7:42 pm

Dear current parent and other "upstanding citizens" who plan to vote yes.

You can, at any time, write a check to MP schools. There are many ways to do this. Simply ask anyone. You do not need to wait for an election, a referendom, a tax measure, or anything.

Please stop making MP more a more expensive place to live for everyone.


21 people like this
Posted by Apple
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 12, 2016 at 7:54 pm

While a parcel tax increase of hundreds of dollars may be a trivial amount for some district residents, let's not forget it's still a lot of money for those lower on the salary scale.

It's ludicrous that an old billionaire Athertonian can opt out of this parcel tax, but a family living paycheck to paycheck must pay. Of course, the parcel tax has to be raised even higher to account for those opting out. And the higher the parcel tax is, the more people will opt out of it. It's a vicious cycle....which may explain why we have five parcel tax proposals in 16 years' time.

I want to remind the pro-parcel tax contingent they are inadvertently putting financial stress on those who can't afford the rising cost of living and taxes. Those people have children too, who need money for their basic family needs.

If you feel the schools need more financial help, contribute to MPAEF. Do not compel others who don't have the resources to do so when you have the capability and the desire.

Building better schools is a community function, but it is fundamentally wrong to put some community members into financial duress to do so.

Living in a generally wealthy community sometimes makes us forget that we have some neighbors that struggle financially.


15 people like this
Posted by Jenson
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Feb 12, 2016 at 8:17 pm

Clearly "district parent" is wearing blinders. The numbers are clear and point to the MPCSD having no fiscal responsibility in how they spend their money. The information provided here by others show in many ways how out of control the board members and school district are. I will be voting No on the measures on the ballot and will inform all my neighbors of the greed of the our school district. Shame on the district and shame on the board members for their greed and disrespect to all their neighbors.


9 people like this
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Feb 12, 2016 at 9:35 pm

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

Elections said that they initiated the change because the Ballot Measures were submitted late because of the minor change the District made.

I suspect that someone brought that to their attention at the last minute.


4 people like this
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Feb 13, 2016 at 10:48 am

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

From the Resolution calling for the election:
7. Ballot Argument. The President of this Board of Education, or any member or members of this Board as the President shall designate, is hereby authorized, but not directed, to prepare and file with the Registrar of Voters a ballot argument in favor of the proposition contained in Exhibit A-II hereof, within the time established by the Registrar of Voters, which shall be considered the official ballot argument of this Board as sponsor of the proposition.

Nothing was submitted "within the time established by the Registrar of Voters"
(deadline was 5 P.M. Friday, Feb. 12, 2016)
Scott Hinshaw was expected by SMC Elections to deliver an Argument on Thursday. Que pasa?

Why the last minute extension of the deadline to next Tuesday? The Amendment, to the original resolution which was timely filed, stated: "The Resolution remains in full force and effect as of its original date of adoption."

Partial text of Amendment:
WHEREAS, on February 1, 2016, the Board of Education adopted Resolution No. 15.16.12 (the "Resolution") calling a parcel tax election; and
WHEREAS, the County of San Mateo Assessor-County Clerk-Recorder requires technical amendments to the Resolution to conform with recent changes to California law; and
WHEREAS, the Board of Education has determined that it is necessary to approve amendments to the Resolution as set forth herein (the "Amendment");
NOW, THEREFORE, the Board of Education of Menlo Park City Elementary School District does hereby RESOLVE, DETERMINE AND ORDER, as follows:
Recitals. This Board of Education hereby finds and determines that the foregoing recitals are true and correct.
Resolution in Full Force and Effect. The Resolution remains in full force and effect as of its original date of adoption.

The original Resolution approved on Feb 1 said:
"4. Formal Notice. The San Mateo County Superintendent of Schools is hereby requested to prepare and execute a Formal Notice of Parcel Tax Election and consolidation order in substantially the form attached hereto as Exhibit B (the "Formal Notice"), and to call the election by causing the Formal Notice to be posted in every schoolhouse in the District and at three public places in the District, in accordance with Section 5362 of the Education Code, no later than Wednesday, February 3, 2016, or to otherwise cause the notice to be published as permitted by law. The Secretary of this Board of Education, on behalf of and as may be requested by the County Superintendent of Schools, is authorized to cause all notices required by law in connection herewith to be published and posted, as the case may be."
I expect that this timely notice was made, and was in substantial compliance with the law.

Anyone know an attorney in San Mateo County who doesn't have a conflict with government agency counsel? I looked once before and couldn't find one. Back in 1986, with assistance from a legal researcher, I did obtain from Judge Bollhoffner, a Writ of Mandate forcing Marvin Church and March Fong Eu to put my name on the ballot.



2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 18, 2016 at 1:31 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.



A + C = NO


4 people like this
Posted by Alex Keh
a resident of Hillview Middle School
on Feb 19, 2016 at 2:47 pm

I am filing rebuttals to the pro-Measures A and C arguments. Measures A and C are the two Menlo Park City School District parcel taxes. These rebuttals will appear in the official voter guide that sent to all voters. They will include names of those who have signed onto the rebuttals.

If you are interested in being a rebuttal signatory, send an email to nomoreparceltaxes@outlook.com with the following info by Monday morning (2/22):

* Name
* Title (does not have to be a professional designation)
* Organization (can be professional, citizen group, government body, or just yourself)
* Brief statement why you would like to sign on

Measures A and C, the arguments for, and the arguments against have been posted on the county election website for your reference:
Web Link

I am the author of the arguments against these measures. I am currently writing the rebuttals to the pro-tax arguments. All you need to do to join in is sign your name to these rebuttal arguments. I'll provide more details once we make contact via email.


Like this comment
Posted by MP parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Apr 11, 2016 at 6:32 pm

I have kids in MP public school but voting no. Here are my reasons: Concerns about Menlo-Atherton High School, feel all MP schools are spoiled and not spending their money wisely and waste the funding on "nice to haves" vs essentials, and why should the residents have to pay for the administration's lack of responsibility. We need spending reform, not more taxes.


2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 11, 2016 at 7:52 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

I am increasingly concerned that the Board and the proponents are purposely avoiding public discussion of these parcel tax measures in an attempt to minimize voter awareness.

Why else are there so few comments or responses by the proponents?

The ONLY new information on the proponents web site is this statement:

"Ballots will be mailed beginning Monday, April 4th. Vote YES and return your ballot right away!"

Yep, vote right away before the facts become clear!

Or is there some other reason that they want people to vote "right away"?


Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 11, 2016 at 8:06 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

"Or is there some other reason that they want people to vote "right away"?"

The same reason they had a special election instead of putting this up in the general election. They wan to minimize people paying attention and voting against these unnecessary measures.

The wife and I voted NO.


Like this comment
Posted by fwiw
a resident of Woodside: other
on Apr 11, 2016 at 9:30 pm

> Or is there some other reason that they want people to vote "right away"?

Speaking as one who has some experience with advocating for these types of campaigns I would say, yes, there is a practical fairly non-nefarious albeit highly politically tactical reason for wanting the mail in ballots returned asap.

The county provides near real time updating of mail in ballot identity return as ballots are processed. Of course the vote details themselves are not disclosed, but the individual voting identities are a matter of public record. It is a truism that the majority of voters are pre-inclined to vote one way or the other, so generally speaking it has been found to be most effective to focus on get out the vote efforts over voter persuasion appeal efforts. By carefully tracking whether your strongest supporters have actually returned their ballots, it is possible to effectively focus efforts on those laggards who are likely supporters but perhaps less than reliable voters.



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

on Aug 7, 2017 at 10:07 am

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?


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

on Sep 23, 2017 at 2:42 am

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?


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

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