News


School tax measures fail to get two-thirds voter approval

Two Menlo Park City School District measures had no expiration dates

For the first time in decades, voters in the Menlo Park City School District have failed to approve a school finance measure. Two parcel tax measures on a special May 3 election ballot received less than the two-thirds majority needed to pass.

Members of the public will have a chance to air their views about what the district should do now that the tax measures have failed at a school board meeting Tuesday night, May 10.

Measure A, which would have renewed a parcel tax that will expire at the end of June 2017, received 2,819 "yes" votes, 59.2 percent of the total, and short of the 66.7 percent needed to pass. The "no" vote was 1,945.

Measure C, which would have added an annual $2.20-per-parcel tax for each student who enrolls beyond the district's current 2,938 students, received 2,560 "yes" votes, 53.8 percent of the total, also short of the 66.7 percent needed. The "no" vote was 2,199.

The measures were opposed by an informal coalition that used mostly social media to question the district's need for additional money. There was also substantial opposition to the fact that both measures, like the district's three existing parcel taxes, have no expiration dates.

Even a last-minute email appeal for yes votes to district residents from Facebook's chief operating officer and local resident Sheryl Sandberg, who also donated at least $10,000 to the campaign, failed to change the outcome.

The school board had said the additional money is needed to help the district cope with the fact that its student population is growing faster than its revenues. Superintendent Maurice Ghysels said the day after the election that he has initiated a district hiring freeze.

"The board will address options to reduce our expenditures related to district operations, compensation, class sizes, and essential programs, as well as discussing parent donations," he said.

If a new parcel tax measure is to be put on the ballot for the Nov. 8 general election, the board must submit it by June 30.

Reactions

"We are disappointed in both the results and the false information spread by our opponents without correction during the campaign," school board president Jeff Child said on election night. "We will examine our options in the next several months to determine future operating plans."

Mr. Child said the district will "continue to focus on providing a great education for the 2,938 students" in the district.

Atherton resident Peter Carpenter, who had led much of the opposition to the two taxes, said he wants the district's board to "understand the depth of misunderstanding and mistrust in the community."

He said the board should prepare a single parcel tax measure for the November general election that supersedes all the district's current permanent parcel taxes, with a six-year expiration date.

He also asked the district to "commit to doing everything possible within the next six years to creating a unified elementary school district serving Woodside, Portola Valley, Menlo Park, Atherton, East Palo Alto and the adjacent unincorporated areas of San Mateo County."

-=B The measures==

Measure A was identical to the parcel tax expiring at the end of June 2017, but without an expiration date. The expiring parcel tax is currently $201.38 a year per parcel and provides about $1.58 million a year to the district. It was originally passed in 2010 and can increase annually by the amount of the Bay Area consumer price index.

Measure C was directly tied to increases in student enrollment. If the enrollment rose by 71 students, the increase predicted for next school year, the tax would have been $156.20 a year per parcel. The measure had a cap of 213 additional students, or $468.60 a year per parcel, plus an annual increase for inflation.

The parcel tax total could have varied year to year. If the 71-student prediction had been correct, and both measures had been approved, the 2017-18 tax bill per parcel for all five parcel taxes would have been $1,007.80, plus the increase in inflation from 2016.

Property owners in the school district now pay four parcel taxes, including the tax which is about to expire. The taxes appear as one on tax bills, and total $851.60 for the 2015-16 tax year.

The maximum parcel tax with both measures and with 213 additional students would have been $1,320.20 per parcel per year, plus the amount of any inflation.

According to the language of both measures, the parcel tax money could be spent only for teachers, to maintain low student-to-teacher ratios, to preserve "comprehensive educational programs" and, if money remained, for purchasing classroom equipment, supplies and materials. None of the money could be spent on administration costs.

Comments

8 people like this
Posted by I didn't know that
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 3, 2016 at 8:49 pm

Nothing lost here.

Now our School Board can offer another measure with a sunset provision in the general election and it will most likely pass.

The silence of the proponents for Measure's A and C this go around was telling. The last minute emails with misleading information didn't make a difference and that's a good thing.


18 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 3, 2016 at 9:00 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Now that Measures A and C have failed what should be the agenda for the MPCSD Board?



1 – Understand the depth of misunderstanding and mistrust in the community,



2 – Commit to full transparency as they move forward including a redesigned web site that actually includes and makes easy to find all of the financial, performance and union contract information,



3 – Prepare a SINGLE Parcel Tax measure for the November General Election that supersedes ALL of the current parcel taxes and which has a 6 year expiration date,



4 – Commit to doing everything possible within the next six years to creating a Unified Elementary School District serving Woodside, Portola Valley, Menlo Park, Atherton, East Palo Alto and the adjacent unincorporated areas of San Mateo County.


35 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 3, 2016 at 9:35 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

School board president Jeff Child said "We are disappointed in both the results and the false information spread by our opponents without correction during the campaign,"

Sadly the Board never even attempted to either provide the information that was requested again and again or to correct any information that was "false".


4 people like this
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Hillview Middle School
on May 3, 2016 at 9:44 pm

Train Fan is a registered user.

> If the student count in the district rises by 71
> students, the increase predicted for next school year

Where did this "71" come from?

According to the MPCSD initial budget,"Enrollment is projected to increase about 60 students next year, for a total enrollment of approximately 2,960."

Source: Web Link


24 people like this
Posted by No on A + C
a resident of Atherton: other
on May 3, 2016 at 9:47 pm

School board president Jeff Child said "We are disappointed in both the results and the false information spread by our opponents without correction during the campaign,"

Back to smearing the opponents, I see. If anyone was spreading false and misleading information, it's the district.


20 people like this
Posted by Present
a resident of Atherton: other
on May 3, 2016 at 9:49 pm

Present is a registered user.

Peter,

Your agenda is disparaging public servants in an online chat room. If a democracy were to be run this way, they would make laws and decide supreme court cases in an online chat room, but thankfully they don't. They decide it in an open public forum open to all.

So my agenda for you is to actually take your online chat room agenda to a public school board meeting so it is documented so a true open democracy can weigh in. [Part removed.] Please let us know what public meeting you or any of your online chat room aliases plan to attend. We look forward to the minutes.


26 people like this
Posted by Mike Keenly
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on May 3, 2016 at 9:52 pm

Peter, thank you for clearly expressing the wants of the community-at-large.

I particularly like your #2: Commit to full transparency as they move forward including a redesigned web site that actually includes and makes easy to find all of the financial, performance and union contract information.


28 people like this
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Hillview Middle School
on May 3, 2016 at 9:54 pm

Train Fan is a registered user.

> Maurice Ghysels is expected to immediately put a hiring freeze in place.

Again, using MPCSD's own budget numbers and projections, MPCSD's projected revenues for the 2017-2018 year (the 1st year where they'll have 3 permanent parcel taxes, plus property tax revenue, plus MPAEF, plus state funding, etc) is ...


$43,752,875 2017-2018 projected revenue


That is over ONE million dollars over current revenue.

That is not a lie, that is using MPCSD's OWN NUMBERS.


More scare tactics.


Like I said, this isn't over...


3 people like this
Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 3, 2016 at 9:56 pm

And next time let district voters vote locally instead of having to go to San Mateo. Many folks prefer voting in person rather than by mail, they like tradition.


35 people like this
Posted by West Coast Skeptic
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on May 3, 2016 at 10:04 pm

Enlarging the school district to include other areas would be a disaster. One of the strengths of the district is a highly involved and supportive parent community. Increasing the size of the district to bolster administrative efficiency might save a few dollars but would negatively impact the ability of parents to make an impact on the educational system. Why try to fix something that isn’t broken?


1 person likes this
Posted by Hank Lawrence
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on May 3, 2016 at 10:11 pm

The Supreme Court of the United States is not open to all. You have to get tickets. There is no cost but there is limited seating and most people who apply for tickets don't get them.


39 people like this
Posted by District Employee
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 3, 2016 at 10:23 pm

Thank you, Peter, Train Fan, Jack, and all of the additional parents and community members who dedicated time and energy to ensure that the public had access to accurate information regarding the parcel taxes. Thanks, also, to the Almanac staff for the editorial. Great job!

To add to Peter’s list…the Board needs to:

5. Oust Ghysels and appoint Erik Burmeister to the position of superintendent. The district desperately needs, and our families and staff members deserve, an ethical, knowledgeable and wise superintendent.

6. Oust Ahmad Sheikholeslami, Chief Business and Operations Officer, who was appointed to the CBO position in 2014 while serving as the district’s Facilities Manager. He holds an M.A. in engineering. The district requires a CBO who has expertise in school finance and business.

In Addition, Our Community Needs to:

1. Identify and support quality candidates for the School Board who are willing to ask questions and provide input that may differ from the current Board members.

2. Harness the momentum created by the election and continue to be involved in the business of the district by attending Board meetings and providing input at the meetings. There is a saying in the district that if 5 parents voice concerns at a Board meeting, the Board will “change its mind.” Parent voices do make a difference.


31 people like this
Posted by Time for change
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 3, 2016 at 10:42 pm

Thank you Peter for caring about our community. I personally was inspired by your thoughtful comments and moved to action by what I read and saw others doing. I've never been so involved in an election before and I have NEVER voted against anything that the school district requested until now.

Dear President of the Board,

Why didn't you just tell the community what they asked? If you felt that Peter's facts were not true, why did you not specify the falsehoods. Citizens would have listened as this is not a popularity contest. Peter asked over and over for anyone to refute his points. Jeff, you did not.

People attached Jack Hickey's address. People accused opponents of not wanting neighbor's kids to get into 'top" colleges. I didn't see any facts disputed. I kept reading Train's and Peter's and Jack's and then eventually others. I decided for myself based on facts, not scare tactics like "42 teachers released".

I also received a flier on my car and realized how dedicated our community was to stop this. Folks worked hard and made it a priority because it's TIME FOR A CHANGE, hence my screen name.

I feel duped by our school board and am intrigued by Peter's question about next steps.

The agenda should be to hold lots of town forums, where WE pick the agenda item, not comment on theirs.

Possible forum topics could be:

TRANSPARENCY:
What transparency would look like to the constituents (decisions on calling special elections, evading questions that are posed multiple times)
Q and A on any numbers, line items, expenditures etc.


BOARD APPOINTMENTS (related to transparency)

TEACHER INCENTIVES
What do we need to do to support attract and retain strong teachers and what is excess (salary increases at this time, 17K for 60 students, etc.)?

UNIFICATION AND OUR SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY TO HELP RAVENSWOOD
What kind of unification does the community want? How can the voices of those who stand to truly benefit from
unification be heard if they are not district residents?

What do others suggest?


31 people like this
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Hillview Middle School
on May 3, 2016 at 11:05 pm

Train Fan is a registered user.

"We are disappointed in both the results and the false information spread by our opponents without correction during the campaign,"


Ah, while I always suspected this, this makes it clear...

They read these posts, either directly or at least 2nd hand :)


10 people like this
Posted by Equity
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 3, 2016 at 11:10 pm

To West Coast Skeptic:

Unifying would be a disaster. For who? When is the last time you talked to the students at Willow Oaks? It couldn't get much worse for them.

EQUITY for ALL public school children.

Why fix something that isn't broken? It's broken for some. Just head to Belle Haven.

EQUITY for ALL public school children.

Unifying doesn't mean that we would become as big as PAUSD but we do have tremendous overhead cost. How many CBO's does it take to balance the budget and spend wisely? ONE.

In our case, our school board is not working for us anyway. They really are working for those who help Dr. G pass his agenda along and in some cases that matches the communities agenda but in other cases it doesn't.

I hope the unification conversation will continue and certainly the conversation about the Ravenswood school in MP needs more discussion at town forums.


15 people like this
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Hillview Middle School
on May 3, 2016 at 11:14 pm

Train Fan is a registered user.

> unification conversation will continue

In fairness to MPCSD, it can't do a hostile takeover of LLESD, WESD, PVESD, and RESD. Those school districts would have to agree to a merger, and frankly that's highly unlikely. This just muddies the waters...


25 people like this
Posted by Ally
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 3, 2016 at 11:15 pm

To Present:

How is Peter disparaging pubic servants? Peter put out questions and the district evaded them. He was honest to share with us that Joan L. suggested he forward his questions to Jeff. That is a fact and he sent the email showing it. Then he was honest in saying that Jeff did not acknowledge his questions, much less answer them. It's not disparaging pubic servants. It's just stating what happened. Jeff has a big ego and he didn't like it I suppose but that doesn't mean that Peter did anything wrong.


45 people like this
Posted by Oversight
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 3, 2016 at 11:30 pm

"We are disappointed in both the results and the false information spread by our opponents without correction during the campaign."

I am disappointed because this comment suggests that the school board will place all the responsibility on the opponents rather than taking a hard look at the measures. There's a reason that so many of us could not stomach A and especially C, and it's not because we're mindless dupes who fall for any lie. Keep in mind that the supporters were the people with the slick campaign and glossy propaganda pieces. Those of us who voted against Measures A and C were able to look past the hype and seek out the facts.

So here's my advice to the board. Instead of whining about Peter or Jack or anyone else, try to understand why your measures were perceived as flawed. And before you craft your next ballot statement, reach out to the entire community to get our input. Avoid confirmation bias: seek opinions that differ from yours. And don't forget that it may take a while to regain the trust of the voting public, now that we've been burned. Being truly open and inclusive will help.


6 people like this
Posted by Call to Action
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 3, 2016 at 11:45 pm

"Avoid confirmation bias: seek opinions that differ from yours. And don't forget that it may take a while to regain the trust of the voting public, now that we've been burned. Being truly open and inclusive will help."

This is very well said. We, the opponents are very smart and very educated and treating us as such is the way to gain our time. Fiscal responsibility is the way to gain our respect. Full transparency is the way to gain our trust. Support will come when it's a shared vision, and that doesn't just mean what's written into the Strategic Plan. It means how it's implemented and the decision how much is enough is a shared one.

I heard on Mr. Carpenter's rebuttal video that the high school takes 8% of his property tax and that these measures were seeking to take 32%. He asked, do the elementary students need that much more....? Four times more? I thank you board for your willingness to serve in a hard job of often complaining parents. AND I also ask you to take a hard look at what might be considered excess given that the high school is taking only 8%


8 people like this
Posted by Unifying Districts
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 3, 2016 at 11:50 pm

Perhaps Mr. Carpenter should work to join all the fire districts. The savings would be HUGE......talk about expensive employees with OUTRAGEOUS pensions.

Peter that should be your goal for the next 5 years get us OUT of this over bloated fire district bureaucracy that puts out so few fires. PLEASE! Save us some REAL $$$


7 people like this
Posted by Apple
a resident of Atherton: other
on May 4, 2016 at 12:07 am

For those interested in getting more involved, one opportunity is the MPCSD school bond citizen's oversight committee. Right now, they are looking for more committee members.

Web Link


18 people like this
Posted by No on A + C
a resident of Atherton: other
on May 4, 2016 at 12:09 am

Perhaps the proponents should stick to debating the facts and addressing criticism instead of the relentless ad hominem attacks on the opponents.


4 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 4, 2016 at 6:09 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.


"Perhaps Mr. Carpenter should work to join all the fire districts. The savings would be HUGE"

I have done that YEARS ago:

Consolidation of San Mateo County Fire Agencies - Yes or No?

Original post made by Peter Carpenter, Atherton: Lindenwood, on Nov 10, 2009
In another discussion the issue of consolidation of San Mateo County Fire Agencies was raised. I promised to post your Fire District's position on this issue - see below.


Perhaps we could have a thoughtful discussion on the pros and cons of such consolidation.

**********
•
•
•
MENLO PARK FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT
Resolution No. 1181-07
RESOLUTION OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF THE MENLO PARK FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT
DECLARING IT IS IN THE PUBLIC'S INTEREST FOR THE BOARD AND AFFECTED RESIDENTS TO
REVIEW AND CONSIDER ABROAD RANGE OF POTENTIAL CONSOLIDATION ALTERNATIVES TO
IMPROVE SERVICE AND REDUCE COSTS AND IT IS IN THE PUBLIC'S INTEREST TO ENCOURAGE
ALL OTHER ENTITIES IN SAN MATEO COUNTY THAT OPERATE FIRE AND EMERGENCY MEDICAL
SERVICE ACTIVITIES TO ADOPT A SIMILAR POLICY
The District Board of the Menlo Park Fire Protection District finds and determines as follows:
(a) WHEREAS, on Wednesday August 15, 2007 the San Mateo County Local Agency
Formation Commission ("SM LAFCO") pursuant to California Government Code Sections 56430 and 56425 considered a report documenting a Municipal Service Review and Sphere of Influence update for Menlo Park Fire Protection District ("District") and Woodside Fire Protection District; and
(b) WHEREAS, the SM LAFCO report analyzed the advantages and disadvantages of
consolidation or reorganization of the Menlo Park and Woodside Fire Protection Districts. The report included the options of maintaining the status quo of two side-by-side Fire Districts or consolidating the Menlo Park and Woodside Fire Districts; and
(c) WHEREAS, on September 18, 2007 the SM LAFCO presented the District Board with the Municipal Service and Sphere of Influence Review; and
(d) WHEREAS, specific to the concept of consolidation, the Strategic Planning Commission of the District Board recommended to the Board that it direct the Chief and District staff to draft a letter orpolicy announcement to all elected officials and citizens of the local region to review and consider both the
positive and negative impacts of fire district and fire service consolidation.
In consideration of the foregoing findings and determinations,
IT IS RESOLVED by the District Board as follows:
1. The Menlo Park Fire Protection District Board declares that it is in the public's interest for the District Board to carefully review and consider whether consolidation is a desirable action and, if so, the
available range of potential consolidation alternatives from the local to the County wide level in order to improve service and reduce costs.
2. The District Board encourages all entities in San Mateo County that operate fire or emergency medical services activities to adopt a similar policy towards the review and consideration of consolidation options and to engage in intergovernmental and community dialogue so that all issues may
be explored openly and in solidarity.
3. The District Board wishes to emphasize that it currently has no predetermined position on the merits of consolidation in general or any particular consolidation option in particular.
16 Oct 2007
***************
NOTE 2007 !!
The above resolution is perhaps a good template for a similar one on elementary school consolidation.


19 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 4, 2016 at 7:06 am

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

"We are disappointed in both the results and the false information spread by our opponents without correction during the campaign."

This just confirms exactly what I expected would happen. The board is too arrogant to accept the fact that the voters think they did and are doing something wrong.

Their arrogance truly shined through in their total refusal to answer any questions directed at them. If there was false information spread it was by the board and the proponents of these measures. Please enlighten us dumb opponents Jeff. Just exactly what false information was spread? The only false information I saw spread was coming from the board and the proponents.


13 people like this
Posted by Joe G.
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 4, 2016 at 8:20 am

There is a special school board meeting today at 9am.
May 4, 2016 (Wednesday)
9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Special Board Meeting - Superintendent Quarterly Evaluation (4 of 4)

Should be interesting to hear the comments from the board and Sup. I bet Jeff will pretty much blame this on lies and false information. I doubt there will be any self reflection.

Time to start pushing the board on some of the other issues uncovered such as children of staff freely coming to the district.

Peter. I hope you will keep up the pressure on the board. There are a number of us there to support you.


23 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 4, 2016 at 8:26 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Peter. I hope you will keep up the pressure on the board. There are a number of us there to support you."

I certainly will keep speaking out but unfortunately I have a VA medical appointment this morning and cannot attend the MPCSD Board Meeting.

I hope that President Childs says something like:

"We have heard from the citizens whom we serve and understand that we must do a much better job of transparency, communication and financial management. We understand that the votes against Measures A and C are not votes against quality education but rather votes against a proliferation of permanent parcel taxes without adequate explanation for and defense of those permanent taxes".




Like this comment
Posted by MP parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on May 4, 2016 at 9:36 am

Received this morning:

Dear Parents and Community Members of MPCSD,

Last night we learned that Measure A and Measure C did not receive the two-thirds YES votes to pass. We sincerely thank all those who supported and voted Yes on these measures. While I express my disappointment and sadness that the measures didn't pass, we will reach out to listen and learn from our parents and community, examining our next steps. Above all, we remain committed to excellence as we lead and persevere.

As a result of these measures not passing, I have instituted effective immediately a hiring freeze. We invite you to attend our next regular Board meeting at 6:00 p.m. on May 10 when the Board will address options to reduce our expenditures related to district operations, compensation, class sizes, and essential programs, as well as discussing parent donations.

The teachers and every team member of the The Menlo Park City School District are committed to serving our wonderful students and remain dedicated to our families and community.

Sincerely Yours,

Maurice Ghysels
Superintendent
Menlo Park City School District

Every child achieves academic excellence
Every child becomes emotionally and physically stronger
Every child discovers and grows their talents


11 people like this
Posted by Jenson
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on May 4, 2016 at 10:04 am

It's time to replace the school board with one that answers questions and shows a respect for fiscal responsibility. Without this change the citizens of Menlo Park will not trust the school board. future success of any tax measures depends on a change of current practices


10 people like this
Posted by What Now?
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on May 4, 2016 at 10:20 am

Peter Carpenter, I'm sure Jeff Child really appreciated you providing him with a script for this morning's special School Board meeting. I'm equally sure, now that you've succeeded in tearing things down, that you'll sacrifice your time in order to dig in, work hard, attend meetings, and engage with the community (outside of Town Square) to build things back up. On second thought, what I'm actually sure of is that this group of agitators has gotten a thrill out of being in the center of the maelstrom and having their voices and opinions validated in this forum, but now that it's time to do some real work, you'll ghost back into your everyday lives while the District, School Board, and parent volunteers work together to figure out how to move forward. If your only contribution is to call for the completely unrealistic pipe dream of unifying all of the local school districts into an unwieldy unified District, then you're not going to be of any use to those of us living in the real world.


19 people like this
Posted by new guy
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 4, 2016 at 10:21 am


1. Not sure why a hiring freeze is that important as there is only 7 weeks left in this school year.

2. The current parcel tax does not expire until 2017.

3. Revenues from property taxes are increasing.


I think we would all like to know why there is "sadness" and an immediate need to cut expenses?

Is the new strategy to now inflict (or appear to inflict) pain so that the next parcel tax measure will have more support?

Also, how much did all this cost? All in, was this around $100K? (survey, election, proponent donations)


19 people like this
Posted by Bob
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 4, 2016 at 10:27 am

When is the next school board election -- it's time for a change in leadership.


11 people like this
Posted by No on A + C
a resident of Atherton: other
on May 4, 2016 at 11:03 am

Despite the attempts of the board to justify their high cost special election (at least $40K could have been saved by waiting one month), the current ballot return stands at an abysmally low 30%.

I think we're long overdue for term limits for school boards. This would help in bringing in new blood and hopefully lessen the insular nature of the current board, and prevent them from becoming too chummy with administration and the unions.


17 people like this
Posted by I didn't know that
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 4, 2016 at 11:14 am

#what now?

40% of voters thought these were flawed measures. The community as a whole has spoken - not just Almanac readers.

I agree with you that it's time to do some real work. First step would be to get something in front of voters that has a sunset provision.

We will learn more about the current board by their actions over the next year. They will figure things out and continue to do what's best for the kids. One thing I am certain of is that 42 teachers will NOT be released.


Like this comment
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on May 4, 2016 at 11:29 am

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

Measure A 2,819 yes votes and 1,945 no votes Total 4,764
Measure C 2,560 yes votes and 2,199 no votes Total 4,759
May2010 C 5,877 yes votes and 1,844 no votes Total 7,721

Not counted:
Ballots cast at City Hall
Ballots Postmarked May 2, 2016

Turnout disappointing.


24 people like this
Posted by Caroline Lucas, local educator
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 4, 2016 at 12:40 pm

On Tuesday, after a week of persisting, I finally reached Jeff Child by phone to discuss a concern.

During the call [part removed. Please avoid negative personal characterizations] he did not answer my questions. When I told him that I would like to discuss a specific concern, he flat out told me that he didn't "have time for my concern right now" and to "share it at a board meeting". I went today to do just that.

Mr. Child opened the meeting by making it clear that the only public comments for this special meeting were in regard to the superintendent's evaluation, even though Terry attempted to open it to my actual concerns.

Summary of board meeting on May 4 at 9:00:

I was the only one in attendance. I commented for seven minutes on the prescribed and only permitted topic (supt. evaluation) and formally requested my agenda item for the next board meeting. Four board members (the women) listened sincerely.

[Part removed.] I told the board that I would accept Maurice's invitation to meet but Jeff saw that as a green light to let himself off the hook to address my concern. He ended by saying, "So, Maurice you'll meet with her, let's move on..... "

If I wanted to address my concern only with Maurice, I wouldn't have contacted the board, to tell them I think that taxpayer money is being wasted. I attended, per Jeff's suggestion, to share my concern, however, he wasn't the slightest bit interested in hearing it, nor addressing it with Maurice later. Disappointing. Mr. Child's irritation over the election, or over Peter's advocacy or something else trumped his ability to hear anything I said, both during our phone call and during the meeting.

I expect an elected public official not to be dismissive of any community member's concern. Perhaps we need to replace him. I've been approached twice about running for school board. I would consider running in the next election if there is support for a new member.


19 people like this
Posted by Edward Syrett
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on May 4, 2016 at 12:40 pm

Edward Syrett is a registered user.

At least Maurice Ghysels adopts a respectful tone in his message to parents and voters, although from what I read here the conclusion would be that no cuts are necessary at this time, as revenues are growing.

Jeff Child, on the other hand, reveals his basic attitude toward the same parents and voters by disparaging "our opponents". That kind of divisive language has no place in a discussion of how we can best provide a quality education to children in our district, within the stupid constraints of Prop. 13. Anyone who doesn't want to play it Mr. Child's way becomes his enemy and a spreader of unspecified "false information". How did this fellow ever get elected?


10 people like this
Posted by Dana Hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 4, 2016 at 12:42 pm

Peter, thanks for all your information, analysis and recommendations, for asking the hard questions, and not responding in kind to personal attacks. And for never posting comments anonymously. Proponents of these measures have had a great opportunity to educate residents, answer reasonable questions, and eliminate confusion BUT clearly chose not to do this. They now have a clear understanding of resident concerns have the opportunity to launch another ballot in ways that 65% of voting residents could support. The ball is in their court. Let's see what kind of leadership they display going forward.


25 people like this
Posted by Attack_the_Messengers
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 4, 2016 at 12:43 pm

I see lots of *anonymous* posters here attacking Peter Carpenter for exercising his free speech responsibly.

Perhaps they are missing the point.

I don't think the ballot measure failed because Peter Carpenter flexed his mighty political muscles and spoke out on a local rag's (sorry Almanac) online forum. The ballot measure failed because of the school board's well documented arrogance, penchant for misinformation, proclivity for polemic and hyperbole, and smear tactics.

Anything said by the losing side that seems to indicate that lessons were learned?

Don't hold your breath ....


29 people like this
Posted by Oversight
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 4, 2016 at 12:49 pm

Many no voters are also parent volunteers. Many of us have not been able to speak up due to well-founded concerns of reprisals, not just against us but against our kids. We can only express our unhappiness anonymously via ballot and of course TownSquare.

It is discouraging to be a district parent and see the same mismanagement, year after year. Ghysels' post-election threats are particularly disturbing given the facts presented in the district's own budget. There is no reason for belt-tightening, and scare tactics are merely going to irritate people.

I hope the next school board openings are widely publicized and that we get a broad representation of community members to run. Let's put an end to the clique era forever.


18 people like this
Posted by Accountability wins
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on May 4, 2016 at 1:06 pm

I am glad that enough people were willing to stand up and say "no" to these poorly executed requests for funding. I suspect that most of the no voters were, like me, supportive of out excellent schools. However, we are having problems with the presumption of infinite funding.

Come back with a comprehensive request in a GENERAL ELECTION and it will probably pass

1) Put a time limit on the tax request (and when it comes due, ask for more earlier rather than using the expiration ( which was no surprise) as an excuse for a money-wasting, deceptive special election.

2) Consider consolidating the funding into a single tax (or perhaps one standard and one scaling one for population variance) which replaces them all. Don't mask the total, LARGE ask in 4-6 different taxes. Trust that people value what you are doing with the school district

3) Consider going through the extra challenge to do a tax other than parcel tax. At this scale, parcel taxes are getting very imbalanced

4) Do NOT hold a special election. It wastes money and is deceptive gaming




30 people like this
Posted by pearl
a resident of another community
on May 4, 2016 at 1:12 pm

pearl is a registered user.

What is the percentage in the district of enrolled kids of illegals, and of enrolled kids whose families are here on temporary work visas? Until that information is provided, I will continue to vote against school bonds.


20 people like this
Posted by What Now?
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on May 4, 2016 at 1:30 pm

@pearl, thank you for that very Trumpian comment. It must be nice for "illegals" who are contributing to our ecrnomy and hoping to secure a good education for their children, and for those here on temporary work visas, who are also contributing to our economy, to know that there are people in the community who would withhold funds from the school district because it dares to educate children without regard for the immigration status of their parents. Well done.


14 people like this
Posted by too much
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 4, 2016 at 1:32 pm

I have always voted in favor of additional taxes to support our most excellent schools and teachers but last year when MPCSD decided to create the role of Assistant Superintendent for a district with 4-5 schools it made me really question whether our money was being used wisely.


30 people like this
Posted by Concerned Parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 4, 2016 at 1:48 pm

I received Superintendent Ghysels's email this morning, and I thought it sounded retaliatory and petulant rather than respectful and reflective. I felt it displayed a disturbing lack of leadership and ability to deal with "no," and I was shocked that someone tasked with leading, motivating and uniting teachers, staff and parents in the district would send such a communication to the entire community the morning after the election results on flawed ballot measures. No CEO of a corporation the size of MPCSD, with the high standards and demanding shareholders of the sort we have in the district, would survive a showing of that lack of judgment on foot of the only school bond measure to be defeated in Menlo Park as far back as I can recall.

I agree that the Board, as fiduciaries for the district, must consider whether Superintendent Ghysels is the right person for this role and consider elevating Erik Burmeister into the role instead.


10 people like this
Posted by Goodbye Almanac
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on May 4, 2016 at 1:51 pm

I find this entire string of comments totally offensive and so unhelpful. I can't help but think this forum does nothing to improve our community. Why didn't the Almanac host a debate to air both sides of this story? I know they are not CNN but would that not have been a better way to actually cover and gain a real understanding of the issues? Why did they even take a side-- one that if you read was only reluctantly not supported and not even on the merits of the actual measures. I for one and FINISHED with readying these stupid townsquare forums where locals and out of town trolls flood the chat room with senseless banter. Go to a meeting, get involved, leave your home for God sake. Furthermore, I hope your rag of a petty local Newspaper goes out of business. I am done.


3 people like this
Posted by Really?
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on May 4, 2016 at 2:38 pm

To Attack_the_Messengers, why rail on "anonymous" posters attacking Peter Carpenter when you proceed to decry the "school board's well documented arrogance, penchant for misinformation, proclivity for polemic and hyperbole, and smear tactics". You have basically labelled 5 volunteers who dedicate a LOT of their time to the public interest as being arrogant, distrustful liars. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

Ms. Lucas, I am sorry that you felt disrespected by Mr. Child. That should not have happened. But calling him out on his appearance at a Special Board Meeting, whose agenda was clearly stated to be about Supervisor Evaluation, i.e., a working session, seems unwarranted. Maybe he didn't get the memo that business attire was required.

And before you accuse this writer of being a mouthpiece for the Board, know that I did not support both measures. But as Goodbye said, I do wish there had been an informed public discourse about them.


17 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 4, 2016 at 2:45 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

" I do wish there had been an informed public discourse about them."

So do I, but the board made that impossible. Didn't they? They had numerous opportunities in which they could have answered all the questions which arose and they chose not to. Instead, they chose to attack the messenger and publish false and misleading information.

Sorry, you have no one to blame for the lack of public discourse but the board.


4 people like this
Posted by Downtowner
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 4, 2016 at 3:04 pm

The parents & students of MPCSD deserve transparency.

Web Link

Web Link

Web Link


12 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 4, 2016 at 3:39 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Why didn't the Almanac host a debate to air both sides of this story?"

The Almanac did exactly that - "Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion."

The problem was that nobody showed up from the proponent side and the proponents absolutely refused to answer any of the many questions that were asked.


8 people like this
Posted by district teacher
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 4, 2016 at 5:24 pm

Mr. Carpenter , you have every right to speak out against the parcel tax . But come to the board meeting on May 10th and speak directly to board members, the superintendent , and other MPCSD teachers that will be there . Don't let you enthusiasm and role as a vocal opponent to Measures A and C be limited to an internet chat room ...

Will you be there?


8 people like this
Posted by Apple
a resident of Atherton: other
on May 4, 2016 at 5:27 pm

The board should understand the real reasons the community voted against the parcel taxes. No one should believe it was due to false information. That is something a politician tells his supporters to deflect political blame for the loss.

If anyone really believes the tax proposals lost due to false information, they should ask the board to put up the same parcel tax measures for the next election. Supporters could then focus on educating as many voters as possible. They could answer all of Peter's questions. I'm inclined to believe those answers won't be there and the voters will defeat the measures again. I don't think a new election will change The Almanac's and Daily Post's recommended No votes either.

Town Square has been incredibly interesting in seeing why various community members decided to vote No. The three main reasons I saw were
1) the taxes were temperament
2) Measure C had the potential to be very large in a few years. The size scared a lot of people.
3) the board's transparency/openness, relationship with the community, and spending history

If the board adopted more fiscal moderation and engaged the wider community beyond parents and employees, the community would likely approve moderate, temporary parcel taxes, especially if their feedback were incorporated in any new measures.

Personal attacks on other community members is not helpful. Engagement and trying to find common ground will lead to solutions.


3 people like this
Posted by Apple
a resident of Atherton: other
on May 4, 2016 at 5:29 pm

Oops, browser auto-correct. It should have been

1) the taxes were permanent


7 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 4, 2016 at 5:45 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

From: Peter Carpenter
Subject: Re: Please place this is the Agenda packet for the 10 May Board meeting
Date: May 4, 2016 at 5:44:32 PM PDT
To: jchild@mpcsd.org, sjones@mpcsd.org, mhilton@mpcsd.org, jlambert@mpcsd.org, Terry Thygesen <tthygesen@mpcsd.org>
Cc: mghysels@mpcsd.org, lvillasenor@mpcsd.org


Now that Measures A and C have failed what should be the agenda for the MPCSD Board?


1 – Understand the depth of misunderstanding and mistrust in the community,


2 – Commit to full transparency as you move forward including a redesigned web site that actually includes and makes easy to find all of the financial, performance and union contract information,


3 – Prepare a SINGLE Parcel Tax measure for the November General Election that supersedes ALL of the current parcel taxes and which has a 6 year expiration date,


4 – Commit to doing everything possible within the next six years to creating a Unified Elementary School District serving Woodside, Portola Valley, Menlo Park, Atherton, East Palo Alto and the adjacent unincorporated areas of San Mateo County.

An excellent first step in this direction would be to engage now in shared services for functions such as Finance, Human Resources and Facilities with one or more of your adjacent elementary school districts.


I welcome the opportunity to assist you in these efforts.

Peter Carpenter




26 people like this
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Hillview Middle School
on May 4, 2016 at 6:37 pm

Train Fan is a registered user.

> Commit to doing everything possible within the next six years to creating a Unified Elementary School District

Making this an implied condition for resolution to the communities disagreements is unrealistic and unfair to MPCSD. First, MPCSD cannot do a hostile takeover of the other districts, the other districts mentioned would have to agree to a merger and it's unlikely any of the districts you cite are interested in doing so. You are attempting to put MPCSD into a position where it is not empowered to succeed.

Second, merging districts is orthogonal to the central issues under discussion. While I'm sympathetic to increasing MPCSD's district footprint, we need to focus on transparency and the current&future educational and financial excellence of the district. I don't think we promote cooperation and consensus and solutions by creating a list of requirements that cannot be effectively achieved by MPCSD.

Like I keep saying, this muddies the waters...

I'll continue to insist on more financial transparency from MPCSD, and will continue to post objective financial facts when I find the real financials don't match the "spin" from pro-tax proponents. But I'm otherwise only interested in the long-term academic excellence and financial stability of MPCSD (and Sequoia) and respectfully bow out of the rest.


6 people like this
Posted by What Now?
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on May 4, 2016 at 8:27 pm

"Commit to doing everything possible within the next six years to creating a Unified Elementary School District serving Woodside, Portola Valley, Menlo Park, Atherton, East Palo Alto and the adjacent unincorporated areas of San Mateo County."

Mr. Carpenter, you need to stop beating this drum, because it is NOT. GOING. TO. HAPPEN. None of the individual school districts would agree to it, and attempting to shoehorn these unique Districts into one large, unwieldy District would be a disaster. I have a child in MPCSD and a child in SHUSD, and believe me, there is no comparison between a city school district and a unified school district. One feels like a community, while the other feels like an impersonal bureaucracy. And how exactly do you propose that the Districts be unified? Should MPCSD do a hostile takeover of neighboring Districts if they don't agree to unification? This idea is a non-starter, and you really need to let it go.


14 people like this
Posted by LLESD Fan
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on May 4, 2016 at 8:30 pm

Train fan, speaking as one living within LLESD's jurisdiction, I fully support dropping the idea of merging the various local districts, presumably under the august auspices of MPCSD. Nothing in this debacle gives me a shred of interest in being subjected to their current leadership or governance. Let freedom ring!


6 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 4, 2016 at 9:23 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"the idea of merging the various local districts, presumably under the august auspices of MPCSD"

I urge consolidation but nothing in my recommendation proposal would have MPCSD taking the leadership role.


6 people like this
Posted by Equity
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 4, 2016 at 10:28 pm

To: What Now- "Mr. Carpenter, you need to stop beating this drum, because it is NOT. GOING. TO. HAPPEN. None of the individual school districts would agree to it, and attempting to shoehorn these unique Districts into one large, unwieldy District would be a disaster"

1. First of all, never say never. One would have thought that there would never be a day when the taxpayers would catch on to the gaming of the school board and vote down a tax and here we are.

2. People tend to listen more when writers are polite and respectfully disagree, (avoid sarcasm, and the like).

3. I've had children go through the same districts that you have and know the difference in community feeling to which you refer. That being said, there are still many reasons to explore it, one being that it would still be a K-8 district and two is that they are all high performing and have a lot to share. The third reason to explore is that the essence of public education is that ALL children have access to what our children have in MPCSD and that is not happening and we could or could not, take a role in helping this along. It's been a mess in Ravenswood in many ways for a long time and they are all "California's kids" and that's what should concern us. Public education is not just about getting the best for our own children. If so, citizens without children wouldn't have to pay these taxes to the schools nor would they have a voice in the school's decisions.

If we ask the current parents if this is what they want, they would most likely decline a unification. However, if we were to ask the other 80% of the voters, I am not so sure. There are a lot of folks who might save some $ , among other benefits, by reducing overhead.

I'm behind Peter in exploring it and would be willing to say so at the next meeting. Peter, I'd like to have your financial questions, the one Jeff evaded until someone got responses, answered and I'd like to hear what is going on with the renegotiation and the employees children. What is the best way to do this. Submit questions in advance? Of course they have already been submitted many times..... I don't think Mr. Child is going to be forthcoming but if he has the questions in advance, which he does, perhaps it's just a matter of asking him to answer them next week....?


25 people like this
Posted by Susan Y.
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 4, 2016 at 10:40 pm

We have always supported school measures and we believe that it is probably important to take a look at the funding again now. Although we understand arguments for time restrictions, we would even support a standing parcel tax (consolidated so that it is better understood). However, we voted NO on these measures largely because we felt that the Board/District were trying to "hide" the ballot measure in order to increase the chance of approval.

When we received the ballot in the mail, we thought "wow, early for the primary in June, but whatever" and threw it in the mail pile for later. Then I read the Almanac story and commented to neighbors---I didn't even know there was a special ballot measure. Having worked phone lines and walked neighborhoods in the past for both bonds and parcel taxes, I was really surprised that no information (other than one flyer after the Almanac article) was provided. None of our neighbors with children in the District talked with us or had signs out on their lawn. It just seemed that the Board thought that they could sneak 2 measures past us by limiting the vote to just parent community---no information, silence on issue, special by-mail election with only these measures. I've been in meetings for previous measures where strategies are discussed and I understand election campaigning, but this really seemed underhanded. Sorry, but if the Board wants community money and support, then they must approach the whole community and not just parents. I felt betrayed---they didn't trust that we are a community who believes in quality education for all its children.


4 people like this
Posted by Curious C.
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 4, 2016 at 11:18 pm

Thank you Susan for sharing your experience. I feel very much the same way. I barely even knew it was going on except for overhearing a conversation about it. I don't think I've ever seen a measure go without any picket signs and the like. It was just so low on the radar for exactly the reason you suggested, don't put it out there and hope no one knows. I feel really betrayed, burned, and devalued by our board. Let's move into recovery time. Come on out to the next board meeting, and voice your opinion.


1 person likes this
Posted by MP parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on May 5, 2016 at 8:49 am

Received this email:

Dear Neighbors,

On behalf of all the volunteers and supporters of the Committee to Support Menlo Park Schools, we are very proud of the greater awareness that was raised around the ongoing funding need for our public schools. Unfortunately, the vote count did not reach the 66% threshold required for passing a parcel tax. Initial results place Measures A with 59% YES votes and Measure C with 55% YES votes. All ballots postmarked by yesterday will be counted, but we don’t anticipate that the number will be sufficient to achieve the super majority needed.

It is important to note that those who voted 'no' were voting against these specific ballot measures and not our schools. It is clear that our community values our excellent teachers, administrators, and volunteers and the award winning schools that they have built for our fantastic student population. The vote does mean that our community will face some tough choices regarding the necessary funding for our schools.

Thank you for your support during this campaign. Supporting our schools is not a campaign thing, or a committee thing, it is a community thing and we look forward to the community pulling together to figure out how we move forward together – for the health of our schools and our community.

Strong Schools. Strong Community.


Thank you,



The Committee to Support Menlo Park Schools, YES on Measures A & C


Web Link


6 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 5, 2016 at 8:58 am

This statement is a good starting point for bringing the entire community together.


1 person likes this
Posted by disgusted
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on May 5, 2016 at 9:07 am

[Post removed. Please make your point, point out specific examples of false information and correct them, without broad-brush negative characterization of other posters.]


6 people like this
Posted by Scott Lohmann
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 5, 2016 at 9:08 am

Quite possibly the best comment made on this very negative, accusatory forum:

"Mr. Carpenter , you have every right to speak out against the parcel tax . But come to the board meeting on May 10th and speak directly to board members, the superintendent , and other MPCSD teachers that will be there . Don't let you enthusiasm and role as a vocal opponent to Measures A and C be limited to an internet chat room ...
Will you be there?"

It's disappointing that so many posters use anonymous names, more than likely haven't lifted a finger to help raise money or support the school district, and then in turn reap the HUGE benefits of owning a home that has doubled, even tripled in value over the past decade, mostly because of our school district. Hypocrisy at its finest.

Please posters attend a board meeting or two and engage yourself in a thoughtful, more respective dialogue with the board. Perhaps you will see how hard working, these VOLUNTEERS are, and will continue to be, for our kids future and our community's future. The very small amount of $'s that each of us would have had to "invest" with this parcel tax is peanuts compared to the benefit this community has derived from our school district, and our school board members.


21 people like this
Posted by No on A + C
a resident of Atherton: other
on May 5, 2016 at 9:27 am

I think it speaks volumes about the character of some of the proponents that instead of acknowledging the deep mistrust and lack of transparency by the school board to continually engage in personal attacks on members of the opposition.

The board members attitude of "if you don't like what we do, then recall us or don't vote for us in the next election" does not really speak of willingness to entertain any viewpoints contrary to their own.

Don't forget that there's 80% of homeowners that foot the bill for 20% of families that have children in the district. Many of us have children that attended or will attend school. We also have a vested interest in maintaining excellent schools, but we also do not have unlimited funds the district can tap with impunity. The lack of regard for the 80% is what motivated many people to vote NO in this election.


20 people like this
Posted by teacher supporter
a resident of another community
on May 5, 2016 at 9:36 am

I did not agree with these parcel taxes, but I do support our teachers.

If you ask the board to reconsider allowing teachers' children to attend district schools, you will see a lot of teachers arriving to school right before the bell rings and leaving school right when the bell rings to go pick up their school-age children in San Jose, the East Bay, etc. (all the places teachers live because they can't afford to live in MP or most neighboring communities). Allowing their children to attend MPCSD schools is a wonderful incentive for teachers to stay after hours to answer parent e-mails, meet with parents, grade papers, plan lessons, and collaborate with other teachers. Teachers WANT to be doing these things, but they have to find ways to take care of their families too. If you take this perk away, I think you'll notice a change.

I have known the teachers in MPCSD to be incredibly professional, compassionate, and dedicated. In fact, almost all MPCSD elementary teachers attended reading workshop training for a week over the summer last year with NO PAY. This was a voluntary week-long training to improve their practice. They were not compensated for their time and they were okay with that. They did it because they care about their job.


31 people like this
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Hillview Middle School
on May 5, 2016 at 9:57 am

Train Fan is a registered user.

"I think it speaks volumes about the character of some of the proponents that instead of acknowledging the deep mistrust and lack of transparency by the school board to continually engage in personal attacks on members of the opposition."

Ding, ding, ding! Exactly.

Geez, it's little wonder people would prefer to remain anonymous; look at the bashing Peter Carpenter receives online. Pro-tax proponents even posted Jack Hickey's home address in retaliation for his opposition!

These are not the actions of people who care about the community. These are the actions of people that are vengeful and care more about there own self-interest and egos instead of the community as a whole.


2 people like this
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on May 5, 2016 at 10:57 am

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

New accounting principles require school districts to report "on-behalf" funding by the state to show their share of the $15,000,000,000 bailout of CalSTRS. See: "New expenditure per pupil reporting requirements" Web Link

Add in the"on-behalf" debt service by the county for local bonds, by the state for bonds which funded matching grants, the district's share of CDE and County Office of Education expenditures, etc. and you get an expenditure per pupil exceeding the average tuition cost for private schools in the area.


20 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 5, 2016 at 11:24 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"look at the bashing Peter Carpenter receives online."

When I first started raising questions about Measures A and C a number of wise community leaders warned me that if I continued then I would be subjected to personal, social and political attacks. Sadly, they were correct.

However, I am still comfortable with the statements that I continued to make and the position that I took in opposition to these Measures.


5 people like this
Posted by Scott Lohmann
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 5, 2016 at 11:53 am

Scott Lohmann is a registered user.

Sounds very much like the personal, social, political attacks, ridicule, lack of respect and name calling that our hard working School Board has also experienced Peter. The difference is, they are the ones with their names, and their kids names, out there on the firing line. Being thrown curve balls on the Town Square is NOTHING in comparison to being an elected official. Their meetings, for the most part, are public. Contrary to the belief of many (5-10) of your followers, they do answer questions and concerns from parents, administrators, teachers, and citizens 24/7. I certainly hope the dialogue will begin, or continue, outside of the Town Square. And again, I hope more of these passionate types that love to ridicule the board will come out, away from their keyboards, and get passionately involved, with real work.


16 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 5, 2016 at 1:12 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" Being thrown curve balls on the Town Square is NOTHING in comparison to being an elected official."

Let's see - I have served 12 years on the Fire Board serving more than 90,000
citizens
I have been elected in competitive elections 3 times and won each
time with more votes than any other candidate.

Been there, doing that.


20 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 5, 2016 at 1:44 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"owning a home that has doubled, even tripled in value over the past decade, mostly because of our school district"

EPA's home values have increased more than Menlo Park's home values - I doubt that the schools are "mostly" responsible for either increase.

And if the schools were "mostly" responsible for home values were then your logic would make EPA's schools better than Menlo Park's.

And if only a fraction of residents send their children to public schools why does the school district have any impact on all home values?


21 people like this
Posted by Vaughn Mellor
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on May 5, 2016 at 1:51 pm

Vaughn Mellor is a registered user.

Many in the community do not want to speak out for fear of being vilified by pro parcel tax proponents. I have children and am among those with this concern, having personally been derided for my stance on a previous school issue. I want to applaud Peter Carpenter for his courage and willingness to take a stand. His leadership is helping bring the community together, which can only happen if we are willing to share and listen. Thank you Peter for giving a voice to those of us who are less courageous.

I will be at the board meeting and I'm eager to do what I can to help find solutions. I support the teachers, who did an excellent job preparing my children for high school.


18 people like this
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Hillview Middle School
on May 5, 2016 at 1:53 pm

Train Fan is a registered user.

Mr. Carpenter stole my thunder with both comments :) I was going to make exactly the same points.

The increase in real estate prices in the Ravenswood School district shows Mr. Lohmann's logic on the source of real estate price increases is not correct.

(and that's not bashing Mr. Lohmann. That's just pointing out that he's incorrect)

And it's also worth pointing out that the increases in property values Mr. Lohmann trumpets also means that property tax revenues are increasing as well, negating the need for the measures A and C parcel taxes that the community REJECTED.


5 people like this
Posted by SteveC
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 5, 2016 at 2:34 pm

SteveC is a registered user.

I guess it is time to replace the entire school board, fire the superintendent, and start over again. Too many problems for such as good school district. The give more and more money or the schools will close or teachers will leave attitude must go and go quickly.


16 people like this
Posted by our town
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on May 5, 2016 at 3:08 pm

our town is a registered user.

As someone who has volunteered thousands of hours on behalf of our schools, including serving on PTAs and the Foundation board, I have not seen anyone on this thread or others ridiculing members of the school board.

I understand that the A and C supporters are unhappy about the outcome of the election, but jousting at windmills and sniping at fellow residents who educated themselves and cast a no vote will not lead to greater success the next time around.

Fact is, the district has been run by a little club forever, with entry only allowed the handpicked. It's not about who works hardest or has the best ideas but who has the right connections. I hope the board will see these election results as a mandate for change rather than as an opportunity to bash the most prominent voices of opposition. Ideally, all five seats should be up for election next November. Replacing Ghysels with Burmeister sounds like a fine idea too, since Burmeister is probably already doing most of the work.


7 people like this
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on May 5, 2016 at 3:52 pm

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

Flash! The YES on A and C Committee filed Form 497's for late contributions from Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook.($10,000)

Should have given it to the MPAEF, Sheryl.


5 people like this
Posted by Scott Lohmann
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 5, 2016 at 3:59 pm

Scott Lohmann is a registered user.

Our Town, here you go: "Anyone who doesn't want to play it Mr. Child's way becomes his enemy....", "How did this fellow ever get elected?", "Jeff's slouched body language....", "Their arrogance truly shined." - Do you need more?

Peter Carpenter/ANONYMOUS Train Fan - Let's not split hairs here about what our schools do for your property values. Ravenswood school district is improving. Ironically, much of it has to do to the individuals you struggle with that are on the school board, and other hard working MPCSD volunteers, that help this community improve. The word is out that the schools are receiving help, investment and it does help with FaceBook arriving on the scene. Menlo Park has been increasing in value for a long time because its school system has been good, then very good, and now excellent. How 'bout we test the waters and divest from our investment in MPCSD, then let's see how much your home "appreciates".
I think it's extremely disingenuous to not admit they are "mostly" responsible. As for Mr. Carpenter's comment about "only a fraction of citizens send their kids...", maybe your kids Mr. Carpenter, but certainly much more than a "fraction".


23 people like this
Posted by school mom
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on May 5, 2016 at 4:05 pm

school mom is a registered user.

The same Yes on A & C committee that now notes "those who voted 'no' were voting against these specific ballot measures and not our schools" used very different language in their campaign materials. The committee's rebuttal to the argument against A begins with "The individual opposing our schools" while the rebuttal to the argument against C begins "The author of the argument against our schools." I'm an Oak Knoll/Hillview parent and for years I've watched the Board label anyone with different opinions as being "against our schools." While this post-defeat change in tone is interesting, it doesn't erase the fact that the Board's first inclination was to attack opponents rather than respond to concerns. Given that, it's no surprise that I'm not comfortable posting our family's name.


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Posted by school mom
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on May 5, 2016 at 4:09 pm

school mom is a registered user.

links:

Web Link

Web Link


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 5, 2016 at 4:13 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Scott - do you have any evidence that the appreciation of Menlo Park homes is mostly do to the elementary schools?

- what fraction of elementary school children living in the entire district go to district schools?

- what about Atherton home values? We know that there are only 222 Atherton students in the district elementary schools out of 2941 total students in the district or 7.5% of the the total.


1 person likes this
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on May 5, 2016 at 4:36 pm

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

"How 'bout we test the waters"

OK. Let's test property tax credits to enable families to choose and watch a natural continuum of education alternatives evolve. Divestiture of MPCSD's grandiose facilities would likely be a part of the evolutionary process.

The real cost per pupil in MPCSD is approaching $17,000. Given half that amount families would be able to make real choices.


5 people like this
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on May 5, 2016 at 4:45 pm

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

"The committee's rebuttal to the argument against A begins with "The individual opposing our schools" while the rebuttal to the argument against C begins "The author of the argument against our schools."

Thank you, school mom, for exposing those subtle but snide remarks.


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Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Hillview Middle School
on May 5, 2016 at 5:34 pm

Train Fan is a registered user.

Scott Lohmann, a resident of Menlo Park:other wrote:
> ANONYMOUS Train Fan

1) ABSOLUTELY. Given the behavior seen, protecting myself and family from undesirable behavior is very prudent on my part.

2) My reviews of MPCSD finances are provided with references. The DATA does all my talking. You can refute me by refuting the data; the problem is that all data is derived from MCPSD public financial records, and the records didn't support the need for 5 parcel taxes of over $1300.

And the public agreed. And that's why the measures failed...dramatically.


It's telling that MPCSD tax proponents never refute public data with public data; they always resort to either attacking the messenger or citing data that isn't publicly available, according to proponents (how convenient).


11 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 5, 2016 at 8:24 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Scott:

I'm with train fan. Given the nasty comments towards those that opposed the measures on this forum, especially directed toward Peter, who chose to identity himself, why would anyone identify themselves here? So they could be attacked further? Or if they have children in the district so they could be penalized? Sorry. It's a no brainer, especially given the past behavior of the board and the superintendent to NOT identify ones self here as being in opposition.


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Posted by Brown Eyed Girl
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 5, 2016 at 9:58 pm

Brown Eyed Girl is a registered user.

Jack Hickey is correct that new accounting principles require school districts to report "on-behalf" funding by the state to show their share of the $15,000,000,000 bailout of CalSTRS.

According to the 2015 independent auditor's report, the MPCSD has over $32 million in unfunded pension liabilities. This figure assumes a generous discount rate of 7.60% and suggests that the unfunded liability is much larger. In fact, using a discount rate of 6.60% increases the pension liability by $18,474,000,
(57%) to over $51 million and even that figure understates the true obligation. Using a more realistic discount rate of 5% increases the liability to in excess of $80 million.

According to the District's audited financial statements, the District had a Net Position (similar to net worth) of $30.6 million in FY 2014. After implementation of the new accounting standards, the District's Net Position swung to <$11 million>. In essence, the net worth of the District is a NEGATIVE $11 million using overly optimistic investment returns.

$40.5 million of the $41.7 million change in Net Position from 2014 to 2015 is due to the implementation of the new pension reporting accounting standards. Pensions are bankrupting our school district.

Using a realistic discount rate of 5% indicates that there is a $27,210 pension liability for each student currently enrolled in the district.

The District's projections include hiring of additional staff (custodians and a school bus driver). These positions need to be outsourced to private industry. Why are we incurring pensions for +30 years for non-essential positions.

The District needs to re-evaluate how it conducts its business.


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Posted by Scott Lohmann
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 5, 2016 at 11:12 pm

Scott Lohmann is a registered user.

Peter - Do YOU have data that supports your argument that our great schools do not mostly effect the appreciation of our homes? There is no specific data for this argument, that is conclusive, or at the District level. It's obvious that there is not this type of data, because you did not give the number for total kids.(aka 222 out of how many total kids?) I will say, that if it was not true, we would not find almost every single realtor that is advertising a home for sale stating, "Great Menlo Park Schools", "Award Winning School District" etc. In discussing this issue with many of my private school friends, with class sizes dramatically smaller than MPCSD class sizes, they believe the percentage of kids from MP or Atherton going private, is in the single digits. I have to believe that's close to being true, they were the ones giving me the information. The privates pull from many other places than just MP.

As far as the other posters scared of our board members and retaliation.......seriously. I'm still looking for that first real evidence of one of your children, or someone else's child, or you, or someone in your family, heck anyone living in MP or Atherton, that can tell us exactly what happened, when, where, etc. Let's keep the comments real and honest.


11 people like this
Posted by Joe G.
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 6, 2016 at 12:17 am

Joe G. is a registered user.

Scott. You made the claim that property values in the area are all going up because of the excellent and improving schools. Peter asked you to back this claim up with more than your belief. Now you come back at Peter with "do you have data". Come on, you made the claim so back it up. I think the property values would be going up even if we had only "very good" schools.

Regarding your claim that only a "small number" of families go to private school in the MPCSD boundaries, again, I would have to ask that you show some numbers. I know that out of my son's 5th grade Oak Knoll class back in 2013, over 20% went on to private schools such as Menlo, Castilleja and others. I guess that could have been a unique case, but I am more inclined to believe there is a fair number of families that either don't attend MPCSD schools from the beginning or transfer at the end of fifth grade.

Finally, you have got to be kidding when you say "Ironically, much of it(improving Ravenswood SD) has to do to the individuals you struggle with that are on the school board, and other hard working MPCSD volunteers, that help this community improve." Are you serious??? Yes there are parents that volunteer some hours, and yes the foundation throws a few dollars over the Hwy 101 divide, and the district accepts a handful of tinsley students, but I hardly think the MPCSD, the board and volunteers can claim much credit for improvements in Ravenswood.

I do think it is time for a change on the school board. I have said before that the board suffers from a bit of cronyism. Seems like those elected or appointed to the board are hand picked from foundation board members or PTO leaders and supported along the way the process. There is really no debate on topics at board meetings as the board is hand chosen. This lack of open and honest debate leads to rubber stamped decisions based on the will of the district administration.


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Posted by Scott Lohmann
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 6, 2016 at 9:12 am

Scott Lohmann is a registered user.

No sorry ANONYMOUS Joe, Mr. Carpenter made the claim of "if only a fraction of residents send their children to public schools", that sounds like to me, a small percentage. You claim 20%, which I question, my sons also went to Oak Knoll. I actually thought around 15%, but again the friends that I asked about their private school classes, gave me much smaller numbers. So, based on our numbers, anecdotal evidence suggests, 80% to 85% go to MPCSD.
So, if it isn't the realtors using Menlo Park Schools as leverage to sell homes, and it isn't anecdotal evidence from 3 recent home purchases in my neighborhood as the primary reason for all moving to MP, and if it isn't the primary reason for renters with kids wanting to move to MP, then what is the reason for the appreciation?
Finally, with regard to my Ravenswood statement, "much of it" means "much of it", not most of it, not majority of it. "Help with" means "help with", not do most of it. I would never suggest that MPCSD take a large amount of credit for the hopeful turnaround for this district. However, I can think of no one on that school board, or in most volunteer leadership positions within the MPCSD, that have not done something to help that district, donation, consulting, normal volunteering, or something else.


5 people like this
Posted by our town
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on May 6, 2016 at 9:42 am

our town is a registered user.

"My friends who go to private school" is not a good metric given the large number of private schools, not just in Menlo Park and Atherton, where people send their kids. But I do believe there is a correlation between good schools and a general overall sense that a community is a good place to live.

What's missing is the correlation between amount of money spent and school performance. In fact, the reverse is true according to every study I've ever read. In the MPCSD, our students do well on standardized tests (and later, in college admissions) but that is much more a function of their being raised by educated, high achieving parents. If you don't believe that, look at any of the studies tracking the Tinsley students who sat alongside ours in MPCSD (and LLESD, Palo Alto, and other districts) classrooms for grades k-8.

Sure, we want to compensate our teachers and make sure school materials are in good condition. But the bells and whistles, the endless demands for money "because we feel good about our schools and want to support them" are not necessary.

Scott, in case you don't get it, there are valid concerns about lack of accountability and transparency that no one associated with the district will address! Saying "we are being transparent" does not suffice.

In response to the request for specifics about the whispering campaigns, it's not like a memo goes out with a list of blacklisted names. But people talk. Word gets around. It's pretty effective, and I for sure was going to avoid offending anyone precisely because I wanted to be a good volunteer parent, not an ostracized one.


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Posted by our town
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on May 6, 2016 at 9:42 am

our town is a registered user.

"My friends who go to private school" is not a good metric given the large number of private schools, not just in Menlo Park and Atherton, where people send their kids. But I do believe there is a correlation between good schools and a general overall sense that a community is a good place to live.

What's missing is the correlation between amount of money spent and school performance. In fact, the reverse is true according to every study I've ever read. In the MPCSD, our students do well on standardized tests (and later, in college admissions) but that is much more a function of their being raised by educated, high achieving parents. If you don't believe that, look at any of the studies tracking the Tinsley students who sat alongside ours in MPCSD (and LLESD, Palo Alto, and other districts) classrooms for grades k-8.

Sure, we want to compensate our teachers and make sure school materials are in good condition. But the bells and whistles, the endless demands for money "because we feel good about our schools and want to support them" are not necessary.

Scott, in case you don't get it, there are valid concerns about lack of accountability and transparency that no one associated with the district will address! Saying "we are being transparent" does not suffice.

In response to the request for specifics about the whispering campaigns, it's not like a memo goes out with a list of blacklisted names. But people talk. Word gets around. It's pretty effective, and I for sure was going to avoid offending anyone precisely because I wanted to be a good volunteer parent, not an ostracized one.


5 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 6, 2016 at 9:42 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Facts are the best response to specious claims.

There are 1,261 children between the ages of 5 and 17 in Atherton according to the 2010 census.

If equally distributed by age that is 1261/13 = 97 per year.

For K-8 or 9 years that would be 873.

There are 327 Atherton students in local public elementary schools. 222 in MPCSD and 105 in Los Lomitas.

So about 37% of Atherton children attend local public elementary schools and 63% do not.


3 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 6, 2016 at 9:43 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

frac·tion
/ˈfrakSH(ə)n/

noun

1. a numerical quantity that is not a whole number (e.g., 1/2, 0.5).


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Posted by Scott Lohmann
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 6, 2016 at 10:15 am

Scott Lohmann is a registered user.

Yes ANONYMOUS Our Town, I "get it", how 'bout coming out from behind your keyboard and volunteer, do something positive. I stand by my opinion. You have given me no strong evidence to support the claim that our homes don't appreciate because of our schools.

And thanks Peter for schooling me on what fraction means, I did not go to private schools.


9 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 6, 2016 at 10:17 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

You have given us no strong evidence to support your claim that our homes appreciate "mostly" because of our schools.


16 people like this
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Hillview Middle School
on May 6, 2016 at 10:18 am

Train Fan is a registered user.

"Scott. You made the claim that property values in the area are all going up because of the excellent and improving schools. Peter asked you to back this claim up with more than your belief. Now you come back at Peter with "do you have data". Come on, you made the claim so back it up."

Exactly. Mr. Lohmann's arguments are a classic example of "shifting the burden of proof", ie "I need not prove I'm right, you must prove I'm wrong". This is a classic logical fallacy. See "burden of proof" here:

Web Link


It's becoming pretty clear that the message sent by the community, by soundly rejecting the measures, has fallen on deaf ears for at least some of the proponents.


2 people like this
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on May 6, 2016 at 10:47 am

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

"So about 37% of Atherton children attend local public elementary schools and 63% do not."

What percent of Menlo Park children attend Menlo Park government schools?

We should thank the families who don't, for taking full responsibility for the education of their children. At $17,000 per student in MPCSD, they are saving taxpayers many millions of dollars. Property tax credits and/or education vouchers(NOT school vouchers!) would save taxpayers in MPCSD and Las Lomitas 10's of millions more.


4 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 6, 2016 at 10:48 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Gullixon is the number 1 realtor in Atherton.

Here is their Atherton web site:

Web Link

The only mention of schools is "The local community of Atherton is near several prestigious private schools including Sacred Heart School, Menlo School, and Phillips Brooks School."


14 people like this
Posted by Vaughn Mellor
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on May 6, 2016 at 11:12 am

Vaughn Mellor is a registered user.

Loving the logic that because realtors say something it must be true. Atherton homes that are in the lower performing Redwood City School District have appreciated alongside those in the MPSD and LLSD. How about if we all agree that schools are only one factor of many affecting the value of properties? Of course good schools are a positive, but pretty clearly not the primary one.

Shout out to Brown Eyed Girl for the revealing info on pensions. More info is better. I don't know if this is the real issue behind the A & C measures, but given the obvious implications it's disappointing that this hasn't been made more visible.


2 people like this
Posted by Scott Lohmann
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 6, 2016 at 12:17 pm

Scott Lohmann is a registered user.

I sincerely do not have the time to debate semantics, and for the most part debatable numbers and opinions. I have a life, I volunteer heavily for two incredible non-profits, a very demanding job, two extremely active kids......you get the point. I'll be out there working to help make MP better. Again, I sure hope you come out from behind those keyboards and do some constructive work. For the record, over 59.2% of the people voting DID think the measure was a good idea, let's not forget that, it wasn't really "soundly defeated". We'll be back at it again, and I'm sure we'll be successful. Have a nice day fellas or ladies (can't tell with your ANONYMOUS posts) you're an interesting group. I find it ironic that I have now become the one being bashed, and not Jeff Child or the School Board, perhaps I should start to post ANONYMOUS. :)


3 people like this
Posted by fwiw
a resident of Woodside: other
on May 6, 2016 at 12:20 pm

fwiw is a registered user.

> There are 327 Atherton students in local public elementary schools. 222 in MPCSD and 105 in Los Lomitas.

I was under the impression that a good chunk of Atherton primarily between Atherton Ave and Selby Ln is Redwood City Elementary District.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 6, 2016 at 12:33 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

You are correct regarding Redwood City Elementary District boundaries.

It is my understanding that no Atherton residents attend schools in that District.

I would welcome confirmation or correction of my impression.


5 people like this
Posted by fwiw
a resident of Woodside: other
on May 6, 2016 at 12:51 pm

fwiw is a registered user.

> It is my understanding that no Atherton residents attend schools in that District.

Well. Then if that is true you have a control case to help determine the relative value of schools on property value. How do property values compare in that area with a school district that literally nobody values sufficiently to use even for free relative to adjacent Atherton areas with LLSD or MPCSD?

On the flip side it also demonstrates that if made insufficiently attractive, it is indeed possible to make the local community schools ostensibly worth entirely abandoning for that community.


4 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 6, 2016 at 1:03 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"How do property values compare in that area with a school district that literally nobody values sufficiently to use even for free relative to adjacent Atherton areas with LLSD or MPCSD?"

Property values in the Atherton area within the Redwood City Elementary District are:
1 - higher than those in Lindenwood which is in the MPCSD

2 - lower than Atherton properties West of The Alameda which are in the Los Lomitas District.


12 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 6, 2016 at 4:18 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

It is clear that MPCSD is NOT interested in citizen input.

I emailed Dr. Ghysels and asked that my comments be included in the 10 May Board packet (each agenda has a section titled Written Communication) so that those comments would be available to everyone who accessed the agenda.

Dr. Ghysels declined my request so I repeated it for clarity.

"From: Peter Carpenter
Subject: Re: Please place this is the Agenda packet for the 10 May Board meeting
Date: May 5, 2016 at 5:09:04 PM PDT
To: Maurice Ghysels <mghysels@mpcsd.org>
Cc: School Board <board@mpcsd.org>, Lanita Villasenor <lvillasenor@mpcsd.org>

Dear Dr. Ghysel,
As requested please include this communication in the Board Package for the 10 May meeting.

Thank you,

Peter
Peter Carpenter"

The agenda was published without my written communication.


5 people like this
Posted by Joe G.
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 6, 2016 at 4:40 pm

Joe G. is a registered user.

They have not listened in the past so why would you expect they would change now. Nothing will change until be break the cronyism that is pervasive on how the board gets elected. We need people on the board that also represent seniors and property owners without children.

I will be there on May 10th to hear from the board and Ghysel's. I am sure it will all be doom and gloom - the normal "the sky is falling" rhetoric that that the district is known for when they don't get their way.


10 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 6, 2016 at 5:02 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

What is also disturbing see how the results on Measures A and C were agendized for the 10 May Board meeting::

"VIII.b. Options to address MPCSD not receiving two-thirds YES votes for Parcel Tax Measures A and C (45 minutes) (Discussion Item)
Speaker:
Superintendent Ghysels
Quick Summary / Abstract:
Based on the May 4 election, Superintendent Ghysels will present to the Board for discussion financial options to reduce MPCSD's expenditures related to district operations, compensation, class sizes, and essential programs, as well as discussing parent donations."


There is no apparent interest in discussing WHY these Measures failed - which is far more important than the planned discussion of the administrative consequences of that failure.


3 people like this
Posted by Joe G.
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 6, 2016 at 5:34 pm

Joe G. is a registered user.

As I said. Here comes the doom and gloom. Chicken Little is on the loose.


4 people like this
Posted by Call to Action
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 6, 2016 at 5:38 pm

Call to Action is a registered user.

Regarding the board agenda item:

Peter did you receive a response to your request or were you ignored?

I am CALLING THE CITIZENS TO ACTION.
Why not follow up with the board? If citizens email Peter's agenda questions to a board member, it would be hard to ignore.

I also suggest that the 10-11 questions that Peter posed should be emailed to the board and MPCSD requesting answers at the meeting. The more citizens who send them, the more likely we are to get answers. Peter, please repaste them in this blog, if you will, to make it easy for folks to send/request.

Scott, people are on you because you are not hearing the issue. Citizens do not feel that the board nor district is listening.

Talking about the number of hours that you volunteer, how frustrated you are that people choose not to identify themselves, nor the statistics on how much our property values have appreciated have anything to do with the fact that the citizens do not feel heard.

Citizens can volunteer in schools (I do) and still not feel heard.
Citizens can write with their names (I have) and still not feel heard.
Citizens can appreciate the increased property value due, IN PART, to the good schools, and still not feel heard.

Folks are on you because you are all over the place, much like the writer who kept trying to convince us not to listen to Jack Hickey because of his address.

Stick with the facts about the complaint. The complaint is not that schools aren't good, that folks aren't working hard, that they will have to make cuts. The point is that whether you like it or not, A LOT OF CITIZENS DO NOT FEEL HEARD.

This is evidenced by:
The failure of Dr. G. to include Peter's questions, even though many citizens expressed an interest in hearing the.
Jeff's response on the phone with the citizen about not having time for it, him/her.
The failure of the board to answer questions about the budget (remember, Joan forwarded Peter's questions to Jeff who never even acknowledged them.

These are irrefutable facts.

It's time for us to be heard by the board or elect a board that will listen.
I appreciate all that they do AND I want them to be open to the fact that the direction suggested by Dr. G. is one way to go. We also have ideas that are certainly worth hearing.

Is there any part of this with which you disagree Scott?



8 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 6, 2016 at 5:45 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Measures A and C - the unanswered questions

Original post made by Peter Carpenter, Atherton: Lindenwood, on Apr 16, 2016
1- Will every new age eligible child moving into the MPCSD attend MPCSD schools?


2 - Will new out of district students be counted as increased enrollments under Measure C thereby causing every parcel to pay an additional tax for these out of District students?

3 - Why is the debt service for the $23 million bond measure (2013) not included in per student expenditure?

4 - Why have FIVE parcel taxes than NEVER expire rather than ONE consolidated parcel tax?

5 - Why not have that consolidated parcel tax be subject to renewal by the voters on a periodic basis?

6 - Why assume unrealistically low property tax revenues increases?

7 - How many out of district children of MPCSD staff are currently enrolled in MPCSD schools?

8 - At $17k per student what is the cost of this benefit?

9 - Where does this expense show up in the MPCSD budget?

- Is it included in the $7 million+ Benefits line item?

10 - Is this benefit reflected in the compensation analysis of the staff?

11 - Is this benefit taxable income to the recipients?

12 - There are 58 non-Tinsley, no-Ravenwood students at MPCSD that come from outside the District. At the claimed $17k/student who is paying the $1 million/year cost of these students?

13 - How many Tinsley transfers resulted in the related $804,860 Ongoing State Funds revenue item?

14 - How much do residence districts pay to MPCSD for Non-Tinsley transfers?

15 - Expenditure - Salaries & Benefits - Does not include pass-through of state contribution to STRS on behalf of district employees. Why not?

17 - Why does Measure C charge taxpayers over $17k per new student when the current revenue per student is $13,006?

18 - Why are the taxpayers annual Bond repayment taxes not included in the District's financial information?

19 - Why are the District's $130+ million bond revenues not reflected in some manner in the calculation of revenue per student?


9 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 6, 2016 at 5:49 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

This was the email that I asked be included in the 10 May Board agenda packet:

Now that Measures A and C have failed what should be the agenda for the MPCSD Board?


1 – Understand the depth of misunderstanding and mistrust in the community,


2 – Commit to full transparency as you move forward including a redesigned web site that actually includes and makes easy to find all of the financial, performance and union contract information,


3 – Prepare a SINGLE Parcel Tax measure for the November General Election that supersedes ALL of the current parcel taxes and which has a 6 year expiration date,


4 – Commit to doing everything possible within the next six years to creating a Unified Elementary School District serving Woodside, Portola Valley, Menlo Park, Atherton, East Palo Alto and the adjacent unincorporated areas of San Mateo County.

An excellent first step in this direction would be to engage now in shared services for functions such as Finance, Human Resources and Facilities with one or more of your adjacent elementary school districts.


I welcome the opportunity to assist you in these efforts.


5 people like this
Posted by Call to Action
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 6, 2016 at 5:52 pm

Call to Action is a registered user.

Thank you Peter.

I suggest that interested citizens cut and paste these questions, which are reasonable ones, and send them to the entire board. This is not about being adversarial; it’s about being transparent, them with us.

These questions along with the suggested three agenda bullets would be helpful to send along if we really want to start a dialogue.

Peter, did you receive a 'no' response or just no response/acknowledgment of the request to include it in the agenda?


7 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 6, 2016 at 6:00 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Peter, did you receive a 'no' response or just no response/acknowledgment of the request to include it in the agenda?"

Dear Peter,

Thank you for providing comment via email to the Board, which you provided to the Board members for their review. State law prohibits a quorum of the Board from engaging in discussion, either as a group or serially, outside of agendized discussion at its public meetings, so it is impossible for Board members to respond to emails other than through a public meeting. Therefore, the Board encourages the public to attend its meetings as this is the place where, by law, all discussion and deliberation occur.

The schedule and agenda of the Board's meetings are available under the "Board' tab on the District's website at Web Link. If you need assistance finding any information, please contact me.

​Best regards,
​
Maurice
____
Dr. Maurice Ghysels
Superintendent
Menlo Park School District
********************

Since this reply was unclear about whether he would include my email I then repeated my request:
From: Peter Carpenter
Subject: Re: Please place this is the Agenda packet for the 10 May Board meeting
Date: May 5, 2016 at 5:09:04 PM PDT
To: Maurice Ghysels <mghysels@mpcsd.org>
Cc: School Board <board@mpcsd.org>, Lanita Villasenor <lvillasenor@mpcsd.org>

Dear Dr. Ghysel,
As requested please include this communication in the Board Package for the 10 May meeting.

Thank you,

Peter
Peter Carpenter
*******************

I received no response to this second request and the agenda packet was posted without my communication.






3 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 6, 2016 at 6:03 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

This BS with the board is exactly what I expected. They didn't fail to deliver. Arrogance rarely, if ever, recognizes its own failings. And they are Failing BIG.

Scott: I'm betting you're in the clique. It sure sounds like it.


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Posted by Joe G.
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 6, 2016 at 6:22 pm

Joe G. is a registered user.

I believe Scott was a past president of the Menlo Park Atherton Education Foundation.


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Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 6, 2016 at 6:27 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Joe G:

then as I suspected, he's a part of the clique.

They just don't get it.


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Posted by Brown Eyed Girl
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 6, 2016 at 6:35 pm

Brown Eyed Girl is a registered user.

Having an educated population is critical to maintaining a competitive advantage in a global marketplace.

Having a strong public school system that provides a quality education for our children is at the core of our community and regardless of whether or not it is a primary factor in home price appreciation misses the point.

We have an obligation to educate our children and equip them with the skills needed to thrive in an increasingly competitive global marketplace.

Having a strong public school system should be a high priority for every community but should not be a priority at any cost. There is a limit to peoples sources and if we continue on this path of endless taxing and spending, we will create a community even more elitist than it has already become.

If the school board wants the earn the community's continued support and generosity, then they have an obligation to the public to be prudent and proper stewards of their capital.

The tainted water in Flint, Michigan didn't occur because there was inadequate financial resources to to protect the water system. It occurred because proper investments were not made to protect the integrity of the water supply. According to the WSJ, in Flint, pensions and retiree health benefits consumed one-third of the city's budget.

Pension and retiree health benefits are crowding out critical services.

Rather than assuming there is an an endless supply of money and generosity from the residents, the school board has a responsibility to be open and honest about why the existing funding is inadequate.

The school board should do a comprehensive review of their spending and determine what is truly necessary. They also need to separate pension and retiree health benefits on a separate line item so the public can see how unsustainable the current path is.

According to Albert Einstein, insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

My class size was 40 students per class and I hardly feel like my generation is a failure and we are unproductive members of society.




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Posted by Scott Lohmann
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 6, 2016 at 6:40 pm

Scott Lohmann is a registered user.

Yes ANONYMOUS Menlo Voter, I'm in the clique, it is SUCH the clique to be in these days. Incredible benefits. What if there truly were a clique, but the clique got things done, and everything was better for it? Who cares if there is/was really a clique? Sounds like there are a few of you that are making decisions based on sensitivity, versus facts and things that have actually been accomplished. This board, and those previous to this group, have brought us an incredible school district. From what I am gleaning from your comments, NO ONE on this thread can say they participated in that accomplishment.
By the way, nothing is going to get done on this thread, ever. All of you know about the Brown Act, some of you continually reference it, particularly one individual. No one on the Board is going to debate your opinions, and some of your distorted facts over some rag blog. The Board Meetings are rarely attended, I am sure you'd be welcomed. AND, if you're not welcomed, try again.
Kudos to you Mr Carpenter for putting forth your agenda of items. Looks like you did not make it in this time, but I'm curious as to why the assumption of conspiracy? It seems that the agenda items for May 10th have been lined up, FAR before the past 48 hours. How 'bout giving the group the benefit of the doubt on the late timing, or showing up and asking "why" during Comments From The Audience - you have a full 3 minutes. Good Luck!


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Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 6, 2016 at 6:42 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

"My class size was 40 students per class and I hardly feel like my generation is a failure and we are unproductive members of society."

But the parents of Menlo Park want a private school education paid for by everyone else. God forbid THEY should have to pay for it. 80% of the residents of Menlo Park pay to educate the children of 20% of the residents of Menlo Park.


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Posted by Call to Action
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 6, 2016 at 6:44 pm

Call to Action is a registered user.

This response from Dr. Ghysels is very disappointing as he completely evades the question.

So voters, Menlo Voter, Train fan, Jack, Brown Eyed Girl, school Mom, Steve C. our town, Joe G. , Vaughn Mellor, SteveC, No on A and C, Time for change, Mike Keenly, I didn't know that, Oversight, Ally, MP parent, email the list of questions and email the six agenda items. Peter just reposted them both.

Asking these questions does not make you ANTI schools. It makes you curious and well informed. We need someone to take the first step and get this chain going. Let's have 25 requests in the board's inbox by Monday. Just ask your board member to keep your name confidential and definitely ask your non MP parent friends to send it in. They don't have to fear retaliation.

Here is it all together to make it easy. Remember, asking the questions doesn't mean you are taking a stand. It means that you are informing yourself; that being said, if you don't feel comfortable emailing all of it, pick and choose but let's get a dialogue started. I am not interested in a conversation on a hiring freeze. I want to hear what went on during the Jan. 20 re negotiatioins opening. I want to hear how much we are currently spending on out of district children, I want to hear a conversation about a redesigned website that provides us with what we need, a conversation that inquires of the interest in unification, a two way dialogue about how we can better give input...

I want them to ask and listen and then respond not present and close the meeting.

This response from Dr. Ghysels is very disappointing as he completely evades the question.

So voters, Menlo Voter, Train fan, Jack, Brown Eyed Girl, school Mom, Steve C. our town, Joe G. , Vaughn Mellor, SteveC, No on A and C, Time for change, Mike Keenly, I didn't know that, Oversight, Ally, MP parent, email the list of questions and email the six agenda items. Peter just reposted them both.

Asking these questions does not make you ANTI schools. It makes you curious and well informed. We need someone to take the first step and get this chain going. Let's have 25 requests in the board's inbox by Monday. Just ask your board member to keep your name confidential and definitely ask your non MP parent friends to send it in. They don't have to fear retaliation.

Remember, asking the questions don’t mean you are taking a stand. It means that you are informing yourself; that being said, if you don't feel comfortable emailing all of it, pick and choose, but let's get a real dialogue started. I am not interested in a conversation on a hiring freeze. I want to hear what went on during the Jan. 20 re negotiations opening. I want to hear how much we are currently spending on out of district children, I want to hear a conversation about a redesigned website that provides us with what we need, a conversation that inquires of the interest in unification, a two way dialogue about how we can better give input...

I want them to ask and listen and then respond not present and close the meeting.


Here is it all together to make it easy.

QUESTIONS THE COMMUNITY WOULD LIKE ANSWERED AT THE MEETING

1- Will every new age eligible child moving into the MPCSD attend MPCSD schools?


2 - Will new out of district students be counted as increased enrollments under Measure C thereby causing every parcel to pay an additional tax for these out of District students?

3 - Why is the debt service for the $23 million bond measure (2013) not included in per student expenditure?

4 - Why have FIVE parcel taxes than NEVER expire rather than ONE consolidated parcel tax?

5 - Why not have that consolidated parcel tax be subject to renewal by the voters on a periodic basis?

6 - Why assume unrealistically low property tax revenues increases?

7 - How many out of district children of MPCSD staff are currently enrolled in MPCSD schools?

8 - At $17k per student what is the cost of this benefit?

9 - Where does this expense show up in the MPCSD budget?

- Is it included in the $7 million+ Benefits line item?

10 - Is this benefit reflected in the compensation analysis of the staff?

11 - Is this benefit taxable income to the recipients?

12 - There are 58 non-Tinsley, no-Ravenswood students at MPCSD that come from outside the District. At the claimed $17k/student who is paying the $1 million/year cost of these students?

13 - How many Tinsley transfers resulted in the related $804,860 Ongoing State Funds revenue item?

14 - How much do residence districts pay to MPCSD for Non-Tinsley transfers?

15 - Expenditure - Salaries & Benefits - Does not include pass-through of state contribution to STRS on behalf of district employees. Why not?

17 - Why does Measure C charge taxpayers over $17k per new student when the current revenue per student is $13,006?

18 - Why are the taxpayers annual Bond repayment taxes not included in the District's financial information?

19 - Why are the District's $130+ million bond revenues not reflected in some manner in the calculation of revenue per student?


AGENDA ITEMS THE COMMUNITY WOULD LIKE THE BOARD TO DISCUSS

1 â€" Understand the depth of misunderstanding and mistrust in the community,


2 â€" Commit to full transparency as you move forward including a redesigned web site that actually includes and makes easy to find all of the financial, performance and union contract information,


3 â€" Prepare a SINGLE Parcel Tax measure for the November General Election that supersedes ALL of the current parcel taxes and which has a 6 year expiration date,


4 â€" Commit to doing everything possible within the next six years to creating a Unified Elementary School District serving Woodside, Portola Valley, Menlo Park, Atherton, East Palo Alto and the adjacent unincorporated areas of San Mateo County.







3 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 6, 2016 at 6:48 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Scott:

spare me. The board hasn't presented actual facts. They've presented distortions and have been totally opaque in their dealings with the voters. Yeah, I'll show up for my three minutes so I can be treated with disdain by the "anointed." Not likely. Keep drinking the koolaid. When will you be running for the board? By the way, you've yet to actually refute ANYTHING with ACTUAL FACTS. Try that and I might be interested in listening to you. You need to look in the mirror. You are a perfect example of why the measures were defeated. The voters don't care for your arrogance and opacity.


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Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 6, 2016 at 6:52 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Scott:

how do you feel about this?

for starters stop treating the citizens in an arrogant fashion, especially when they are questioned. I've been to board meetings and seen it in action. While I appreciate their volunteering I don't appreciate being treated submissively, nor does anyone else.

Answer the questions that were previously posted in this forum. It would display transparency.

Actually practice transparency. Make the books public. Don't try to manipulate the numbers. Be factual. Recognize ALL of the money the district receives from the tax payers.

Reevaluate the need for the size of administrative staff. We don't need an assistant superintendent in a district this size.

Stop treating the school board as a special little club. If someone from outside of the "clique" runs for a seat, don't start the whisper and smear campaign. Don't set things up so they control who gets elected via appointments.

That would be a good start.

Bottom line is that given the past practice of the board and the shenanigans surrounding this special election (the cost, the trying to fly under the radar, etc) I have zero faith in the boards recognition that they work for ALL of us, not just parents.


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Posted by Scott Lohmann
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 6, 2016 at 7:21 pm

Scott Lohmann is a registered user.

Yes, just as I thought "a few of you are making decisions based on sensitivity, versus facts". Not sure how I got under your skin Mr. ANONYMOUS Menlo Voter, however just as I thought, you have proved my point.
And again, you cannot get anything done over the rag blog. The agenda Mr. Carpenter constructed and the additional color Call To Action added, may be a starting point. However, I do have my doubts. My concern is that with every answer your group receives, they'll be 10 more questions contrived to try to get some type of mis-step. No matter what happens, no matter what answers you receive, you'll probably still dislike this group because of your perception of their cronyism, arrogance and a bunch of other names and descriptions you have called them. Again, ATTEND A BOARD MEETING. And if it doesn't work the first time, go again. Or, better yet again, run for office.


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Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 6, 2016 at 7:24 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Scott:

yet again, no FACTS. Just more deflection.

How about answering the questions that have been asked?


10 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 6, 2016 at 7:28 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Scott:

by the way I have attended board meetings. My report as to there dismissiveness and arrogance is personal observation. [Part removed. Make your point without personal attacks.]

So why would I go to more board meetings? So I can be treated like an interloper?

Run for the board? Ya next life. [part removed.]

When are you running for the board?


3 people like this
Posted by fwiw
a resident of Woodside: other
on May 6, 2016 at 7:28 pm

fwiw is a registered user.

> 11 - Is this benefit taxable income to the recipients?

No, is not taxable.

Tuition remission for child dependents at private or public educational institutions is tax free per section 117(d) of the IRS code. Since public schools do not charge tuition, it's not precisely the same thing, but inter-district transfers for employee children are legal in California per the Allen Bill, so it would be quite amazing to make it tax free for kids at a private school but taxable for public schools.

Qualified Tution Reduction (such as a waiver) at an eligible educational institution for a dependent child is not taxable provided that it is available to an employee group on a non-discriminatory basis. (ie substantially identical basis)

Eligible educational institution. An eligible educational institution is one that maintains a regular faculty and curriculum and normally has a regularly enrolled body of students in attendance at the place where it carries on its educational activities.


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Posted by Scott Lohmann
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 6, 2016 at 8:38 pm

Scott Lohmann is a registered user.

Mr. ANONYMOUS Menlo Voter, I sincerely do not know what questions you want me to answer, I'm not a member of the School Board. And, quite frankly, I don't know all of the answers, and never pretended to know the answers. Again, what I do know is that when I look at our schools, the campuses, the new teachers, the curriculum, the test scores, and what the schools mean to our community.....that's all I need to know, in order to vote for the parcel taxes. And mind you, THIS is coming from a Conservative. What I also know and trust are the people, that are on the school board. Their success is obvious, oops of course for this most recent parcel tax that again did receive 59% of the vote.(aka majority) My original blogging intent was to give my opinion about what our schools, and in most instances across America, mean to our community.(I stand by my opinion about home appreciation and the sheer desire of families to move here - yes, I know from the umpteen emails sent back my way, some of your ilk dispute this - so, be it) An additional intent of mine was to try to throw a bit of water on ANONYMOUS bloggers like yourself, that continually spew negative garbage at anyone that disagrees with them. It's disheartening, to say the least, that you cannot find a way to temper things down a bit and offer something positive. Lastly, I won't run for the School Board. As ANONYMOUS Joe G stated, I have served my time on the MPCSD Foundation(MPAEF), for 4 years, and am now on the M-A Foundation board. I enjoy raising money for our schools, so that citizens like yourself do not have to pay for additional parcel taxes. :) Good day.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 6, 2016 at 8:49 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"is that with every answer your group receives, they'll be 10 more questions contrived to try to get some type of mis-step. No matter what happens, no matter what answers you receive, you'll probably still dislike this group because of your perception of their cronyism, arrogance and a bunch of other names and descriptions you have called them."

Perhaps it would be more constructive to see IF the questions are answered BEFORE speculating on the response to the as yet unanswered questions.


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Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 6, 2016 at 9:04 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Scott:

yet again, more deflection, no answers and no facts.

Good day to you as well.


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Posted by Time for change
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 6, 2016 at 9:22 pm

Time for change is a registered user.

Thanks Peter for sending Maurice's letter, rejecting your request. I went into the link and looked at the agenda. I am untrusting and feel the need to scrutinize. I found this.

CONFERENCE WITH LEGAL COUNSEL - ANTICIPATED LITIGATION
(Cal. Gov't Code § 54956.9)
Significant exposure to litigation pursuant to paragraph (2) or (3) of subdivision (d) of Section 54956.9 of the Government Code (2 cases)


While I realize that this is not public information, what is public. What does it mean to say, significant exposure to litigation? Perhaps the district is being unfairly chased but perhaps they were involved in something that wasn't quite clean.... How would we know if our money were being wasted in a frivolous situation? What is public knowledge? Two cases? Is that normal? How often are there cases? If they are anticipated, then why isn't the district doing whatever it can to AVOID it? Maybe it is but how can we be sure. I'm sorry to say it but I have seen sneaky things.....


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Posted by Ally
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 6, 2016 at 9:57 pm

Ally is a registered user.

Scott,
I appreciate all the hard work that you have done for our community. I don't believe that anyone is disputing that. Here are a few examples of what I think people mean by a clique and a club.

1. Garden parties- I attended one. I am not a big dollar donor but I am a big time donor. I have worked hard in all levels of the schools over the years, Laurel, Encinal, and then HV.
I've never donated a lot of money
a. because I don't have a lot and
b. because I am fine with what we have.

My experience at the garden party was like something out of a movie. I watched the entire administration talk with the $$$$$ and I was like a peon on the side. It reminded me of high school and the "popular group" except here instead of jocks and cheerleaders it was donors and spenders. That is a specific example of what is meant by a clique. Having $ doesn't make you snooty, entitled or exclusive but it does happen that sometimes folks fall into a pattern of "intermingling" in a way that can be exclusive, perhaps without realizing it.

2. The appointment of a new board member. The board said that they chose Scott Hinshaw because they needed someone who knew a lot about finance. Don't we already have board members who have a background in finance? Isn't Jeff really strong in this area? Perhaps Caroline with her teaching background would have brought a different more outside the "in box" perspective? But this is the point I'm trying to make is that these bloggers are saying that other perspectives are not really welcomed nor wanted. That's why Dr. Ghysels didn’t bother to put Peter's suggestions into play. That's why Jeff didn't answer the questions posed to him about the employees' children/costs etc.

3. Transparency: Some folks know what's really going on and others try to peel the onion to figure it out. I don't want to peel an onion to know about the expenditures, revenues, money spent on pensions, litigation, perks, etc. I want to ask once and be told. I don't want to find out about an election by chance because the Almanac happened to post a story. I want to be told. I don't even want to be convinced that the spending ideas are good and reasonable. I want to be asked my opinion.

This is what the group is discussing. It's not personal against you but it is against anyone or anything that won't come out and answer questions or feels offended/ defensive when asked to explain decisions that are made.

Train Fan is right. This is really the beginning of a new era and hopefully a great one.

Thanks for your contributions over the years. Thank you for letting the group know if you have any inkling why Maurice would reject Peter's agenda, why Jeff would dismiss with body language and tone a constituent’s concern, and why would these questions about finance's be constantly evaded? Please tell us if you know.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 7, 2016 at 7:15 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

When things don't seem to be working properly I get motivated to look at the rules of procedure.

Here is what I have found in the MPCSD's ByLaws BB 9322(a):

"Agenda Preparation

The Superintendent, as Secretary to the Board, in consultation with the Board president, shall prepare the agenda for each regular and special meeting.

Members of the public shall be able to place matters directly related to school district business on the agenda of any regular Board meeting. The following procedures are set forth to ensure the proper functioning of said meetings:
1. A written request for the placement of items on the agenda will be submitted by the person so requesting it at least two weeks prior to the Board meeting during which the person is requesting the item be discussed
2. The written request will include the name and address of the person and will specify the nature of the issue and the nature of any action that may be requested.
3. The written request shall be directed to the Superintendent, acting as Secretary to the Board.
4. The Board President and Superintendent shall decide whether a request is within the subject matter jurisdiction of the Board. Items not within the subject matter jurisdiction of the Board may not be placed on the agenda. In addition, the Board president and Superintendent shall determine if the item is merely a request for information or whether the issue is covered by an existing policy or administrative regulation before placing the item on the agenda.
5. The Board President and Superintendent shall decide whether an agenda item is
appropriate for discussion in open or closed session, and whether the item should be an action, informational or consent item.
6. By a majority vote of the Board, the date that the Board President/Superintendent suggest for the agenda item may be changed as long as the new date conforms to the provisions of the Brown Act."

So, loo and behold, the path forward is now clear using their own rules.

On Tuesday night I will formally present two written requests to the Superintendent, acting as Secretary to the Board.

The first will be to request that answers to my 19 questions be made an agenda item for the June Board meeting.

The second will be to request that my four proposals for moving forward be made a separate item for the June Board meeting.

I would welcome others to endorse/second my requests - everybody will have three minutes to do so in the Public Comment portion of Tuesday' Board meeting.

VII. COMMENTS FROM THE AUDIENCE (Procedural Item)
Time Certain:
6:30 PM
Speaker:
Board President
Quick Summary / Abstract:
Under Comments from the Audience, a community member may address the Board on any subject. An individual may only address the Board once under this item. Three (3) minutes are allotted to each speaker but can be extended by a Board member if so desired. Please note that speaking time cannot be delegated to another person. The Board cannot act on non-agenda items and cannot respond to issues other than to provide general information. However, Board members will take any comments under advisement and can give direction to the Superintendent to follow up if warranted. We request that an individual fill out a speaker card and provide his/her name and address before addressing the Board; however this is not required.

********
My notes - The Brown Act specifically permits individuals to make public comments WITHOUT identifying themselves or giving their address.

Also, When a member of the public testifies before a legislative body, the body may not prohibit the individual from criticizing the policies, procedures, programs or services of the agency or the acts or omissions of the legislative body. (§ 54954.3(c).)


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Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on May 7, 2016 at 10:36 am

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

If enrollment growth could be reversed, it could obviate the need for ANY parcel taxes.

One way to mitigate the impact of enrollment growth, would be financial enabling of families, who reluctantly accept "free" government schools as their only choice, to choose alternatives. A collateral benefit of such a policy would be a school district which is the first choice of parents. Disciplinary problems would be reduced, and parent participation would be more fully realized.

Questions that to need be answered?

1. How many parents of children attending government schools, such as those in the MPCSD, would prefer an alternative, but can't afford it?
2. What threshold of financial support would it take for parents to make the choice? $3,000 per child? $5,000 per child?
3. What is the best way to effect such financial enabling? Education vouchers? Tax Credits? Direct subsidies by the school district?

We need to think "outside the box".


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Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on May 7, 2016 at 11:17 am

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

Read it and weep.

CalSTRS Defined Benefit Program Actuarial Valuation as of June 30, 2015
Web Link


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Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Hillview Middle School
on May 7, 2016 at 12:05 pm

Train Fan is a registered user.

Mr. Lohmann has been asserting that good school districts are "mostly responsible" for property value appreciation; the implication is that additional parcel taxation should be supported since the higher the per-student revenue is, the greater your rate of property value appreciation. Basically, a positive feedback loop.

But is that true? I love confirming/refuting broad, unsupported assertions like the one above, so I got to digging...

I figured a good place to start is the list of school districts the FIVE-parcel tax proponents have used as their justification for imposing 5 parcel taxes. This list contains districts that have per-student revenues higher than MPCSD.

(note that this list has been discredited as being invalid since it contains very small districts and unified districts, which MPCSD is neither. However, for the sake of argument we'll use it here since proponents seem to be in love with these districts, and arguing against the very districts they state as representative would be a tad hypocritical.)

Those districts used by tax proponents are:

* Palo Alto Unified
* Hillsborough Elementary
* Las Lomitas Elementary
* Woodside Elementary
* Portola Valley Elementary

If Mr. Lohmann's implication is correct (larger per-student revenues increase the rate of property tax appreciation), then these 5 districts should have seen a greater rate of appreciation than MPCSD. Let's find out.

While I was unable to find district-specific data (something that Mr. Lohmann even noted was unlikely to be easily accessible or even exist), we can use the towns as a proxy. The most accessible data I could find on historic pricing was on Zillow. Here's what I found (almanacnews has restrictions on the number of weblinks per-post):

Menlo Park: zillow.com/menlo-park-ca/home-values/
April 2011: 1,070,000
April 2016: 2,080,000
appreciation rate: 94.39%

Palo Alto: zillow.com/palo-alto-ca/home-values/
April 2011: 1,220,000
April 2016: 2,550,000
appreciation rate: 109.02%

Hillsborough: zillow.com/hillsborough-ca/home-values/
April 2011: 2,330,000
April 2016: 4,220,000
appreciation rate: 81.12%

Woodside: zillow.com/woodside-ca/home-values/
April 2011: 2,000,000
April 2016: 3,250,000
appreciation rate: 62.5%

Portola Valley: zillow.com/portola-valley-ca/home-values/
April 2011: 2,140,000
April 2016: 3,800,000
appreciation rate: 77.57%

(Las Lomitas had to be excluded since the district includes small parts of Menlo Park, Atherton, Unincorporated San Mateo County and (I think) Portola Valley. So I could not find a good proxy for that district).

Uh oh. Except for Palo Alto, Menlo Park appreciation outpaced the appreciation of the other high-revenue districts, DESPITE the fact that per-student revenue is lower in Menlo Park.


########
CONCLUSION based on the above data: larger per-student revenues are NOT proven to increase the rate of property tax appreciation, and there is anecdotal evidence to suggest that high rates of per-student revenue REDUCE the rate of appreciation, relative to lower-per-student revenue districts.

Therefore, additional taxation on behalf of MPCSD (to generate additional per-student funding above and beyond the existing tax revenues) is highly unlikely to result in higher rates of property appreciation.
#########


Does this irrefutably prove that Mr. Lohmann's assertion (and its implication) is wrong? No. But does it mean that the statement is highly suspect, and not supported by any reasonable interpretation of the known data available? ABSOLUTELY.


ANONYMOUS Train Fan


3 people like this
Posted by HelloHanalei
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on May 7, 2016 at 2:14 pm

HelloHanalei is a registered user.

@Jack Hickey, your comment above makes it clear that you have no direct, personal experience of the Menlo Park City School District, which is in fact the topic at hand. I think you need to save your thoughts on the privatization and dismantling of public school systems for another discussion.

MPCSD *is* the first choice of the vast majority of the families within its community. People don't "reluctantly accept"
MPCSD as their school choice; families actively seek out homes within its boundaries so that their children can attend its schools.

MPCSD does not have marked problems with discipline; in fact, suspensions due to disciplinary issues have been on a downward trajectory at Hillview for years, and at this point are extremely rare.

Rather than seeking government grants to fund alternative school choice, families donate generously, within their individual means, to support the PTOs and Foundation which play such an integral role in supporting our schools. A proposal for a charter school within the boundaries of MPCSD was soundly defeated last year, and I honesty don't believe that MPCSD families are interested in the government-subsidized alternatives of which you speak. Families in MPCSD are, for the vast most part, happy with their schools and want to support them and see them continue to thrive.

I think you need to educate yourself on the specific culture of MPCSD before you apply the broad brush of your personal beliefs about the educational system to the needs and wants of the District and its community of families.


8 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 7, 2016 at 2:19 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"MPCSD *is* the first choice of the vast majority of the families within its community"

This is certainly not true in Atherton where over 60% of the eligible students do NOT attend MPCSD or Los Lomitas schools.

I'll let someone else run the numbers for Menlo Park.


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Posted by HelloHanalei
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on May 7, 2016 at 2:27 pm

HelloHanalei is a registered user.

@Peter Carpenter, as pointed out be a previous commenter, large swathes of Atherton are not within the MPCSD boundaries, and it's not surprising that those families would send their children to private schools. Also, families in Atherton tend to have financial means that many families within MPCSD boundaries simply do not possess. Not all of us live in Atherton or West Menlo. Nevertheless, while put family might have liked to have been able to send our eldest child to Sacred Heart or Menlo rather than SUHSD (sorry, M-A!), MPCSD has always been our first choice for elementary and middle school. And, as someone who is very involved in school life and knows a lot of people in the community, I can tell you that many, many families with the means to go private choose MPCSD for their children.

When you post about the percentage of Atherton families who do not send their children to MPCSD, you need to back out homes outside the District's boundaries, or your citation is meaningless.


6 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 7, 2016 at 2:35 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"When you post about the percentage of Atherton families who do not send their children to MPCSD, you need to back out homes outside the District's boundaries, or your citation is meaningless."

Even if those homes in other districts were backed out, a difficult thing to actually do as census tracts do not correspond to school district boundaries, you would still find that the majority of Atherton students who are eligible to attend MPCSD do NOT do so.

There are 1,261 children between the ages of 5 and 17 in Atherton according to the 2010 census.

If equally distributed by age that is 1261/13 = 97 per year.

For K-8 or 9 years that would be 873.

There are 327 Atherton students in local public elementary schools. 222 in MPCSD and 105 in Los Lomitas. Part of Atherton is in Redwood City Elementary District boundaries. It is my understanding that no Atherton residents attend schools in that District.

So about 37% of Atherton children attend local public elementary schools and 63% do not.


1 person likes this
Posted by HelloHanalei
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on May 7, 2016 at 2:51 pm

HelloHanalei is a registered user.

@Peter Carpenter, Atherton is not the sum total of MPCSD. In fact, from a socio-economic standpoint, Atherton may be the outlier. I'm going to retire from this discussion now, because I can't possibly devote the time and energy to Town Square that you seem willing and able to expend.


5 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 7, 2016 at 2:54 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Atherton may be the outlier."

It is an outlier - Atherton probably contributes 50% of the property tax revenue for MPCSD and its residents constitute less than 8% of the MPCSD population.


7 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 7, 2016 at 3:54 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" I'm going to retire from this discussion now,"

It is unfortunate that when the proponents are confronted with facts they leave the discussion rather than debating the facts.


3 people like this
Posted by HelloHanalei
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on May 7, 2016 at 4:01 pm

HelloHanalei is a registered user.

I think people leave the discussion because they find the process annoying and unrelenting, not because the "facts" presented by your cohort are unassailable.


1 person likes this
Posted by HelloHanalei
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on May 7, 2016 at 4:03 pm

HelloHanalei is a registered user.

@Peter Carpenter, some of us have far too much going on in our lives to spend all day on Town Square, replying at length and with pull quotes to every comment.


9 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 7, 2016 at 4:06 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Responsible citizenship IS hard work.

Intelligent debate does require facts and patience.


2 people like this
Posted by Scott Lohmann
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 7, 2016 at 5:27 pm

Scott Lohmann is a registered user.

Thank You HelloHanalei! Finally, some common sense brought to the conversation. My favorite comment from you:
"I'm going to retire from this discussion now, because I can't possibly devote the time and energy to Town Square that you seem willing and able to expend." I have found that with this group of naysayers, regardless of what you present as just downright commonsense, you will be given back loads and loads of ridiculous data that most definitely can be refuted, or argued twelve different ways to Sunday. However, it just does not matter if you are absolutely correct, it does not matter if you state common sense, it will be refuted again, and again, and again. On this rag blog, the quasi winner in their minds is whomever grabs and posts the most links and data. Regardless again, if the data is wrong, suspect. Or, with ANONYMOUS Menlo Voter's comment at the end of his/her 12+ paragraph dialogue, "Does this irrefutably prove that Mr. Lohmann's assertion (and its implication) is wrong? No." - why oh why would you spend the time and energy to produce large amounts of data and comments that you admit is suspect? It's BECAUSE you have loads and loads of time to continue to pick away, spend wasted hours, and spend time behind your keyboard, and not promoting our school community. Please for God sake, attend a Board Meeting!


15 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 7, 2016 at 5:39 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

"you will be given back loads and loads of ridiculous data that most definitely can be refuted,"

Really? I haven't seen you refute any of it with FACTS. NONE of it. ZERO.

You need to pay attention to what you're reading. Train fan posted the "12+ paragraph" disputation of your assertion. Your lack of attention just shows your arrogant dismissiveness of those that disagree with you. BIG surprise.

You and the board share the same "we know best " arrogance.


16 people like this
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Hillview Middle School
on May 7, 2016 at 6:05 pm

Train Fan is a registered user.

> it does not matter if you state common sense, it will be refuted

Seriously?

5-tax proponents feel 5 parcel taxes are a "common sense" need, but the community clearly disagrees that this need is...needed. THAT is the central issue here. And 5-tax proponents have not been able to provide any objective evidence that the 3-parcel tax revenues (and property taxes) are actually insufficient, primarily because there are many districts that do very well with less than what MPCSD gets in tax revenue. THAT is the central problem here.

Here is an example of a more "common sense" statement: An elementary district with one of the highest revenues in the bay area for midsized districts (and higher) shouldn't need additional tax revenue.

THAT is common sense, and unlike the pro-5-taxes version of common sense, that statement is backed by data.


10 people like this
Posted by Joe G.
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 7, 2016 at 6:25 pm

Joe G. is a registered user.

I encourage all of us that worked hard to defeat these measures to show up to the board meeting and invite others that also voted NO. This is our opportunity to make sure the board and administration hear from us that enough is enough.

I also think we need to form as a group to start really organizing as the voice of reason and facts with a goal of getting people elected on the board that will have a back-bone to stand up to the current board members and administration and bring fiscal responsibility to the district.


4 people like this
Posted by Call to Action
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 7, 2016 at 7:12 pm

Call to Action is a registered user.

I agree with Joe. Let's get organized.

I noticed that the public library is open late on Monday 5/9. What about meeting there from 8:15-9:00. We can get a sense of how many folks are willing to speak, exchange email addresses for a real down to business blog between ourselves without the "attack the opponent" stuff thrown into the mix and distracting us from the work of finding a good candidate for school board, getting the questions answered, coming up with a respectful yet assertive way to get voice.
I continue to CALL FOR ACTION. I posted those 100 fliers the night before the election because every little bit helps. I think meeting the night before the board meeting would be prudent. I don't plan to lead it but think that we can find each other in the basement and start from there. Who's in?

Click "like" if you would come so we get a sense of how many citizens are interested.


8 people like this
Posted by Ally
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 7, 2016 at 7:32 pm

Ally is a registered user.

Everyone! You are losing sight of the issue. The issue is not property values, which schools are better, public private, Atherton vs. Redwood City. The issue is having a board that listens to its constituents. That is where we must stay focused.


If you are not comfortable sending the agenda in to the board, as someone suggested, perhaps clap when Peter proposes it, or better yet stand. That will give him some momentum and help him realize how many people are behind him.

Think out your three minutes and if you are in agreement, make sure to include:

1. You would like to have the 19 questions posed by Peter answered (this might be a different type of request but we can still request to have them answered orally and publicly)

2. You would like to have the four agenda items on the next agenda.

Finally, HelloHaleni... "Some of us have far too much going on in our lives to spend all day on Town Square, replying at length and with pull quotes to every comment". I think that comment is out of line and personally am grateful to Peter for bringing folks up to speed with an election that was just sneaking in under the rug. I am a well-educated citizen but it caught me by surprise because it was not advertised and because it isn't the normal voting of year.

Thank goodness, someone uses the extra time he does have to help our community. I can't say that’s totally true for the folks at the "garden parties" who drop off as soon as they don't have kids in schools.

For anyone who criticizes, look around at who is volunteering: parents. Why? Interesting in making the schools better for THEIR children. Peter, Equity, and others are interesting in making schools better for ALL kids, here, there and everywhere and their involvement is not dependent on the attendance of their children. While that is true for some board members, it is definitely not true for foundation members and those are the constituents to whom the district and board respond. Come on. Look who was appointed to school board last time. $$$$$


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Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 7, 2016 at 8:31 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

"For anyone who criticizes, look around at who is volunteering: parents. Why? Interesting in making the schools better for THEIR children. Peter, Equity, and others are interesting in making schools better for ALL kids, here, there and everywhere and their involvement is not dependent on the attendance of their children. While that is true for some board members, it is definitely not true for foundation members and those are the constituents to whom the district and board respond. Come on. Look who was appointed to school board last time. $$$$$"

That pretty much says it all.

Care to refute it, Scott?


12 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 7, 2016 at 9:31 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

I would hope that we all focus on providing quality education for all the children in our community and that we understand that our community is not limited to a privileged few.

It is wrong to support education because we think that will enhance the value of our real estate.

We should support education for all because that is what enhance the values of our nation.


9 people like this
Posted by Caroline Lucas, local educator
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 7, 2016 at 10:03 pm

Caroline Lucas, local educator is a registered user.

Amen.

We should support education for all because that is what enhances the values of our nation. This is the true reason why I went into teaching; it is an opportunity to support our own society by educating children, specifically teaching them to think critically and care compassionately. It can be hard to hold the big picture, at times, when your own children are a part of the system but before mine were born, there was clearly only one reason to work feverishly in my classroom, to help our society become stronger and better.

I encourage us all to think beyond the financial benefits that result from strong schools; while we can appreciate them, we are best to be driven by another goal, thinking/caring citizens. The question then becomes, how much, and of what, do we need to do an outstanding (but perhaps not off the top) job?

That is for all of us to decide. I noticed that someone suggested a pre board meeting on Monday evening. I'll raise my hand and commit to go and welcome anyone to join me, regardless of voting stance, to engage in this conversation (as well as to support a more transparent process that elicits real input from all sectors). Call to Action, thanks for suggesting this. I’ll be there.


2 people like this
Posted by Scott Lohmann
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 7, 2016 at 11:22 pm

Scott Lohmann is a registered user.

Yea, sorry about that ANONYMOUS Train Fan, I attributed that ridiculous full of holes rant to ANONYMOUS Menlo Voter, I made an error. And, apparently you cannot make a mistake on this blog because you then get ridiculed with comments such as "Your lack of attention just shows your arrogant dismissiveness of those that disagree with you. BIG surprise." I really enjoy people like ANONYMOUS Menlo Voter, they add color to my life - interesting, yet angry, individual.

As for "Care to refute this Scott?" comment from ANONYMOUS Menlo Voter, via Ally, here's the comment: "Peter, Equity, and others are interesting in making schools better for ALL kids, here, there and everywhere and their involvement is not dependent on the attendance of their children. While that is true for some board members, it is definitely not true for foundation members and those are the constituents to whom the district and board respond. Come on. Look who was appointed to school board last time. $$$$$"

Here's my answer: Absolutely, positively, unequivocally wrong, dead wrong, not even a hint of it being right. When Peter, and whomever Equity is, can lay claim to putting 1/100th of the effort this school board, or foundation board has put into this school district, perhaps THEN they would deserve a bit of credit. Pulling suspect, disputable data for every ridiculous idea that your group believes in, and trying to make it sound valid, or even honest, does NOT make you a great, valuable volunteer that has put in REAL time to make our school system great. Why I even have to defend this, or answer to this challenge, is making me wonder what the heck I'm doing on this rag blog!?


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Posted by HelloHanalei
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on May 7, 2016 at 11:41 pm

HelloHanalei is a registered user.

I love how the cohort who originally began as a No On A & C group, and has now pivoted to an Equal Education for Everyone (as if whose who supported A & C are anti-equal education for everyone) group, characterizes anyone who doesn't agree with them as "attacking the opponent." In the next breath, they say that those they disagree with are arrogant, out of touch, and unable to listen to reason. Do you not see the irony of calling out Jeff Child and Scott Lohmann by name, then turning around and accusing others of attacking you?

That aside, I need to say a couple of things.

First, it's grossly unfair to say that parents volunteer only to benefit their own children, and drop out of the system when their children are no longer attending District schools. I can name several volunteers just off the top of my head who have continued to volunteer in time-intensive positions long after their children have moved on. Moreover, I know many MPCSD parents who give very generously of their time and money to help children in other school districts besides MPCSD. These people are not self centered, nor are they focused on helping their own children to the exclusion of others. You have an opinion and an agenda, and you're entitled to both, but I don't think you're entitled to make assumptions and assertions about, or cast aspersions on, a group of dedicated, hard-working, and caring parents, just because you don't agree with their support of the parcel tax measures.

Second, there's been a lot of back and forth about facts and their accuracy and disclosure, or lack thereof. I know that Measure A & C campaign representatives sat down with the authors of the argument against the measures, and identified items in the argument that were factually inaccurate. These errors were corrected for the ballot argument, but were they ever corrected in a Town Square post? Of course not.

Third, I would challenge your "responsible citizenship is hard work" with this. You know what's hard work? Much harder work than sitting at a keyboard typing endless replies to Town Square posts? Volunteering in the schools (and yes; that includes Ravenswood volunteering) for 20-30 hours per week, as I and many other people do. Working in the classroom, supervising on the playground, chaperoning field trips, tutoring and mentoring at-risk students, providing food (at our own expense) to students who would go without a meal otherwise, serving on PTO Boards, serving on the School Board, serving on the Foundation Board, leading, innovating, partnering with District staff, teachers, and other parents to make sure every one of the children in our schools learns, thrives, and grows as a person and a scholar. THAT'S hard work, and I'm curious how many of you on this blog have engaged in it. I have. I know Scott Lohmann has. Anyone else? Crickets?

So yes; by all means come to the School Board meeting on the 10th. Share your thoughts and ideas with the Board, and keep an open mind. Don't go in with the assumption that you'll be stiff-armed, and don't presume that you have all the answers. Have some respect for the people who have been on the ground, doing the hard work, and have learned a thing or two in the process, while you critique from the sidelines.

I know that everything I've said here will be refuted ad infinitum, but at least I got to say it.

*mic drop*


4 people like this
Posted by Caroline Lucas, local educator
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 8, 2016 at 12:01 am

Caroline Lucas, local educator is a registered user.

Hi Scott,

I don't know what you have done/not done for our schools, so I won't judge it. What I can say is that I am a classroom teacher in another district. I don't donate a lot of money, because I don't have it. I don't donate a lot of time, because I don't have it. That being said, the quality of what I have donated, I believe to be very beneficial, in unique ways. I've planned/delivered lessons with Bee Tee on Rosa Parks, I’ve lead writer's conferences, facilitated guided reading groups, and always offered, to my children's teachers, to lead whole class lessons. I don't discount what you have done but I hope you won't discount the quality of what I've offered, even if it's 1/100th of the time you may have put in. With all due respect, I wouldn't attempt to plan an auction, but most parents I know wouldn't offer to lead a math lesson with manipulatives to nineteen seven-year-olds. Quality matters, quantity matters and we can all contribute in our own way.

I believe the comment to which you refer, suggested that many parents aren't in the volunteering business for the good of the whole but for the good of the school, DURING THE TIME WHEN THEIR OWN CHILDREN ARE IN IT. I am not sure that this can be disputed, but perhaps it can. Are there parents whose children have gone to high school and college (left the MPCSD), who continue to pour energy into the district? I respectfully disagree that there are. Parents tend to move along with their children, and understandably so. The point here that some are making is that the real point of public education is to THINK ABOUT WHAT’S BEST FOR THE COMMUNITY.

To illustrate this: I spent much of this school year taking care of a challenging school situation for my child. Now that I've done that, I am bringing the topic to the attention of the school board. I requested an agenda item for the next meeting to learn about how equipped the district is to handle such situations in the future. I do this so that others may benefit from this and OTHERS' children don't fall through the cracks. I am doing this on behalf of children in our community, as my family will exit the district in one month. This is what is being suggested that we all think about and while many do that, perhaps you are one of them, I suspect most pack their bags when their children leave.


1 person likes this
Posted by Caroline Lucas, local educator
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 8, 2016 at 12:09 am

Caroline Lucas, local educator is a registered user.

HelloHanalei- I do. I work, professionally in Ravenswood, part time. It's a lot of work, I know first hand. Thanks for all you do for our students.

I simply suggested that we don't judge one another because we are all able to contribute in our own ways. I also suggested that while it happens, dedicating time to MPCSD after one's children leave, is the exception to the norm, from my experience. I won't state that to be fact but rather what I have seen. Thanks again for helping in Ravenswood. There is a real need for it but again, each person has to contribute in a way that works for him/her.


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Posted by HelloHanalei
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on May 8, 2016 at 12:19 am

HelloHanalei is a registered user.

Thank you, Caroline, for everything you do. It's people like you who are truly the heart and soul of our community.


12 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 8, 2016 at 7:56 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"When Peter, and whomever Equity is, can lay claim to putting 1/100th of the effort this school board, or foundation board has put into this school district, perhaps THEN they would deserve a bit of credit."

I am not seeking or claiming credit.

And I am confident that I have put far more hours into community service than most of the other commentators - there are important things in our community other than the schools.

I simply want a fact based discussion.

I wish people would quit attacking the posters and just deal with the facts that are raised - either prove those facts wrong or offer documented facts that support your opinion. But don't just run into the room and shout out your opinion and then leave the on-going discussion until you are ready for another outburst.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 8, 2016 at 8:18 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" I noticed that someone suggested a pre board meeting on Monday evening. "

Please confirm time and place for this meeting - Thanks.


4 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 8, 2016 at 9:43 am

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

I appreciate when people provide facts to back up their claims. Tran fan has done it and Peter has done it.The proponents of A & C and those claiming that the rise in home values in MP is due mostly to the quality of the schools? Not so much.


2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 8, 2016 at 11:50 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Does anybody have any data on what % of the Menlo Park homes are in the MPCSD boundaries?


2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 8, 2016 at 12:11 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

There are 2940 current students
142 are Tinsley students
58 are other out-of-district (staff children?)
222 are Atherton


so 2468 come from Menlo Park.

What is the total K-8 age population of the Menlo Park homes that are in the MPCSD?


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Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 8, 2016 at 2:14 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

" I noticed that someone suggested a pre board meeting on Monday evening. "

Has this been noticed somewhere or is this a Brown Act violation?


4 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 8, 2016 at 4:29 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The pre meeting is of the opponents - not covered by the Brown Act.

Hopefully many of us will attend.


4 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 8, 2016 at 6:27 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Absent better information it appears that 75% of the surface area in Menlo Park is in the MPCSD.

The 2010 census shows 5,347 individuals between 5 and 17.

That would suggest 3700 individuals in the K-8 grade range,

75% of 3700 = 2775

Since 2468 students in MPCSD come from Menlo Park that would mean a 89% participation rate.

Obviously the exact participation rate depends on more accurate information on the % of MP population that lives within the MPCSD boundaries and the 2016 total 5-13 population is probably closer to 5900.


4 people like this
Posted by Call to Action
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 8, 2016 at 7:19 pm

Call to Action is a registered user.

Pre meeting time is 8:15-9:00
Location: Menlo Park Library
Topics: Representation (of the community) and Transparency (of the board)

As I see it, there is not a need to keep talking about the specific measures that didn't, who opposed, who is for, etc.

I compare this to the Boston Tea Party. At some point the taxation without representation got to me enough and the colonists had to act. "No more taxation without representation". Now we have measures (a form of taxation) that were put on the ballot without having had town forums prior to discuss, even the idea of putting them on during a special (costly) election. They threw tea to get attention and to get better representation. We will meet to decide what we need to do to get our voices heard.

The second concept to be discussed is the board's transparency. When questions are asked, they need to be answered. Period. Ideally we wouldn't even have to go through the board to get the questions answered. Ahmad should be able to provide all of the 19 answers to Peter's questions without sending a request to Jeff, request for records, agenda at board meeting etc. We can discuss this tomorrow night so we have some suggestions for what transparency would look like (website? town forums, etc. ) Even more than simply answering the questions are that conversations need to be initiated by the board, not just to provide input for a direction that's been predetermined but also to be a part of that initial determination. (However this is not only done at strategic planning meetings)

Come one come all but bring your positivity and call to action for an even better community through our great MPCSD!


11 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 8, 2016 at 7:50 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Here is a map of true craziness, inefficiency and selfishness:

Web Link


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Posted by HelloHanalei
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on May 8, 2016 at 9:24 pm

HelloHanalei is a registered user.

Peter Carpenter, I cringe at the idea of wading into yet another rathole of a back-and-forth with you, but I have to ask: What, exactly, about that map represents craziness, inefficiency, and selfishness? If you're still riding your hobbyhorse of taking all of the school districts up and down the Peninsula and cramming them into one behemoth of a unified district, you should know that the families in those districts would never ~ never ~ go along with such a half-baked plan. Although calling it a "plan" is giving it far more weight than it merits.


16 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 8, 2016 at 9:31 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" What, exactly, about that map represents craziness, inefficiency, and selfishness? "

I am glad you asked.

Craziness is having 6 elementary school districts "serving" the citizens of the southern portion of San Mateo County.

Inefficiency is having six superintendents of education, six finance offices, six HR offices, etc. "serving" the citizens of the southern portion of San Mateo County.

Selfishness is the parents of students in the "rich" school districts being unable to equitably share the wealth with all of the students in the southern portion of San Mateo County.


1 person likes this
Posted by HelloHanalei
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on May 8, 2016 at 10:23 pm

HelloHanalei is a registered user.

[Post removed. Please focus on the topic -- parcel taxes at Menlo Park City School District -- and not on other posters.]


10 people like this
Posted by Equity
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 8, 2016 at 10:41 pm

Equity is a registered user.

Living in Atherton does not make someone self-righteous.

Not wanting to waste resources on 6 superintendents has nothing to do with volunteer work.

One could live in San Jose and be self-righteous. One could build orphanages in China and not care at all about the local community. None of these things have to do with the issue.

It is a waste of resources to have six supts.
It's fact that the resources of the SM County are not equitable shared.
(For one, having high turn over in lower paid districts means that certain students regularly get novice teacher, albeit current and energetic, they still lack experience. That's not equitable.)


13 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 9, 2016 at 7:33 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

For the anonymous person who is curious but about whom we know absolutely nothing:

My wife has volunteered in reading programs in Ravenswood.

We took our son OUT of a private school and enrolled him at Encinal in the 3rd grade and he then graduated from MA.

We have and continue to make substantial contributions to educational activities in EPA.

We have never claimed a senior exemption from parcel taxes.

Now perhaps we can return to a discussion of the issues.


10 people like this
Posted by Roy Thiele-Sardi�a
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 9, 2016 at 9:28 am

Roy Thiele-Sardi�a is a registered user.

Peter,

Stop this school district bashing.

Having six school districts is kind of like having all those fire departments up and down the peninsula. And if you think School District management is highly compensated your beloved fire department (all of them) has a compensation package (including a LUDICROUS pension) that simply PALES in comparison. Consolidation there could be a HUGE savings.

Perhaps you should concentrate on fixing those costs (since you are on the board) rather than throwing stones at the schools.....fixing ones own house might be a priority. Your cost to benefit is EMBARRASSING low. really.

The cost savings could be returned to the public and lower our taxes.

Please give us updates on your efforts as you proceed.

Roy Thiele-Sardina


6 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 9, 2016 at 9:37 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Roy - Perhaps you missed it but the Fire Board passed a resolution on County wide fire consolidation years ago. And MPFPD led the way to a County wide consolidated fire dispatch years ago.


It make no sense to have 13 fire departments, more than 30 school districts and who knows how many police departments in San Mateo County.


6 people like this
Posted by Equity
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 9, 2016 at 9:54 am

Equity is a registered user.

Suggesting consolidation is not school bashing.

Consolidation is not just about saving money.

Consolidation would be about ensuring that ALL kids get access to the same high quality education and as much as we know that there are many great teachers in Ravenswood, we also know that many of them leave because they can't afford to stay. Hillview just hired one last year. Ravenswood's loss and MPCSD's gain. Not fair and more than not fair, not equitable.

Let's stay focused on the issues please. Even if Peter had done NOTHING to consolidate the fire department, he is still entitled to have and voice an opinion on the shared distribution of wealth (which equals opportunities for students) in schools. He does not have to do anything, as has been suggested, to be a knowledgeable sharer of FACTS.


12 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 9, 2016 at 10:38 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Equity - Thank you.

Unfortunately when the proponents of big taxing by MPCSD are unable to discuss the issues they attack the messenger.


4 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 9, 2016 at 12:28 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Re Fire Consolidation (note that this was 9 years ago):

MENLO PARK FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT

Resolution No. 1181-07

RESOLUTION OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF THE MENLO PARK FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT
DECLARING IT IS IN THE PUBLIC'S INTEREST FOR THE BOARD AND AFFECTED RESIDENTS TO
REVIEW AND CONSIDER ABROAD RANGE OF POTENTIAL CONSOLIDATION ALTERNATIVES TO
IMPROVE SERVICE AND REDUCE COSTS AND IT IS IN THE PUBLIC'S INTEREST TO ENCOURAGE
ALL OTHER ENTITIES IN SAN MATEO COUNTY THAT OPERATE FIRE AND EMERGENCY MEDICAL
SERVICE ACTIVITIES TO ADOPT A SIMILAR POLICY

The District Board of the Menlo Park Fire Protection District finds and determines as follows:
(a) WHEREAS, on Wednesday August 15, 2007 the San Mateo County Local Agency
Formation Commission ("SM LAFCO") pursuant to California Government Code Sections 56430 and 56425 considered areport documenting a Municipal Service Review and Sphere of Influence update for Menlo Park Fire Protection District ("District") and Woodside Fire Protection District; and
(b) WHEREAS, the SM LAFCO report analyzed the advantages and disadvantages of
consolidation or reorganization of the Menlo Park and Woodside Fire Protection Districts. The report included the options of maintaining the status quo of two side-by-side Fire Districts or consolidating the Menlo Park and Woodside Fire Districts; and
(c) WHEREAS, on September 18, 2007 the SM LAFCO presented the District Board with the Municipal Service and Sphere of Influence Review; and
(d) WHEREAS, specific to the concept of consolidation, the Strategic Planning Commission of the District Board recommended to the Board that it direct the Chief and District staff to draft a letter or policy announcement to all elected officials and citizens of the local region to review and consider both the positive and negative impacts of fire district and fire service consolidation.

In consideration of the foregoing findings and determinations,
IT IS RESOLVED by the District Board as follows:
1. The Menlo Park Fire Protection District Board declares that it is in the public's interest for the District Board to carefully review and consider whether consolidation is adesirable action and, if so, the available range of potential consolidation alternatives from the local to the County wide level in order to improve service and reduce costs.
2. The District Board encourages all entities in San Mateo County that operate fire or emergency medical services activities to adopt a similar policy towards the review and consideration of consolidation options and to engage in intergovernmental and community dialogue so that all issues may
be explored openly and in solidarity.
3. The District Board wishes to emphasize that it currently has no predetermined position on the merits of consolidation in general or any particular consolidation option in particular.

• I hereby certify that the foregoing is a full, true and correct copy of a resolution duly and regularly adopted and passed at ameeting of the District Board of the Menlo Park Fire Protection District, San Mateo
County, California, held on the 16th day of October, 2007.


7 people like this
Posted by Equity
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 9, 2016 at 12:43 pm

Equity is a registered user.

Nice of you to send it but it shouldn't be necessary. When the messenger is attacked, it pulls us off track.

As someone said, this is not about property taxes. I'd like to add that it is not about what Peter or anyone else has done for Ravenswood, the foundation etc. Let's not focus on who has done what.

Let's focus on two things:

How can we have a voice with our school board that is listened to and heard?

How can we effectively and respectfully insist upon transparency of the board and the district?

How can we help advocate for equity for ALL students, even if that means that those of us with privilege due to our zip code, mean we have to consider ways to help the children who are not afforded such educational opportunities due to the ability to retain high quality teachers and other issues of equal access?



4 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 9, 2016 at 9:36 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

From: Roy Thiele-Sardina
Subject: RE: Failing memory?
Date: May 9, 2016 at 9:27:25 PM PDT
To: Peter Carpenter <peterfcarpenter@me.com>

Great declaration.


2 people like this
Posted by Scott Lohmann
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 9, 2016 at 11:18 pm

Scott Lohmann is a registered user.

From Equity: "How can we help advocate for equity for ALL students, even if that means that those of us with privilege due to our zip code, mean we have to consider ways to help the children who are not afforded such educational opportunities due to the ability to retain high quality teachers and other issues of equal access?"

Perhaps we should take a page out of our leaders book, those that are ALREADY serving, or have recently served, on the MPCSD School Board, or MPAEF. The list is long, but I think this partial list is extremely powerful: Board members have advised/volunteered for parcel tax and bond measure campaigns; endorsed, campaigned and contributed to the election of RCSD board members; served on the Ravenswood Education Foundation; advised and supported the RCSD board on Superintendent search process. Also with the support of the MPCSD board, the current Superintendent started the Community Trust (an organization that he started in Mountain View made up of local agencies — schools, fire, police, hc agencies). Indirectly this group helped to create the awareness and action to fund a community officer in Belle Haven. In addition, the MPCSD board actively advocated for Tinsley/RCSD students and lobbied the SUHSD board to adopt two key policies -- allow all Tinsley students to have the right to be assigned to the high school that their elementary transfer district matriculated into (past practice did not guarantee them a spot); and designate M-A as the home school for the entire RCSD (which was not the case prior).
SO, anytime those of you that like to take shots at the current leadership of our schools, let's be careful not to "throw the baby out, with the bath water" - there are FAR TOO MANY instances of incredible service by these individuals. Thank you MPCSD School Leaders!


8 people like this
Posted by menlo mom
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on May 10, 2016 at 12:57 pm

menlo mom is a registered user.

Scott,
You make great points, and I agree that we should appreciate the wonderful things that our MPCSD leaders have done, be they faculty, board members, Foundation volunteers, or community volunteers.

But you inadvertently touched on one of the reasons that I voted NO on A & C. The following quote is from the Almanac's "Reluctant No" editorial:

"Proponents also argue that the school board could choose not to exact the tax any given year, and if the community isn't happy with the board's actions in that regard, others can try to unseat the incumbents by running for election."

I do very much admire anyone who chooses to give so much of their time and effort, in a role that is bound to grant them many more criticisms than accolades. It's certainly not something that's I'd be ready to take on in my life right now, so while I might disagree with or question some of their decisions, I would never bash them publicly or privately.

But reading between the lines of the above quote, what I saw was: If you don't like our decisions, you come do it." And as fair as that sounds, I found that since I DO agree with the majority of what they do, the better decision on my part was to vote against the measure. I'm not convinced that we need the added funds. I firmly believe that creative choices in spending will really only come about by being forced to make them. (As anyone who's had to do significant household belt-tightening can tell you.) I have extensive experience in more than a few school districts (both as a parent and as a teacher)that have had diverse funding, and have seen first hand that just having more funds does not equal better results. Even so, I may have voted for it, or at least abstained. But the lack of a sunset clause, followed by, what I viewed as disdain for the voters shown by the above quote, I voted NO, as did the other three voters in my household.


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

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