News


Tuesday: School board to discuss spending cuts after tax measures fail

Meeting starts at 6 p.m. Tuesday in Encinal multi-use room

This story has been updated with the semi-official vote totals released by San Mateo County at 4:30 p.m. May 9.

By Barbara Wood | Almanac Staff Writer

A week after two parcel tax measures failed to gain the needed two-thirds majority in the May 3 election the board of the Menlo Park City School District meets Tuesday night, May 10, to hear from the public and discuss a report from Superintendent Maurice Ghysels on ways to reduce spending.

The meeting will be in the multi-use room of Encinal School, 195 Encinal Ave. in Menlo Park.

Following a closed session to discuss personnel matters, labor negotiations and legal matters, the public meeting starts at 6 p.m.

A public comment period is scheduled at 6:30 p.m. with the report from Superintendent Ghysels on "financial options" scheduled for 7:05 p.m., but district officials said items could be heard early.

The report is not included with the agenda for the meeting, but the agenda says: "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."

When the two parcel tax measures on a special May 3 election ballot received less than the two-thirds majority needed to pass, it was the first time in decades that voters in the district failed to approve a school finance measure.

Measure A, which would have renewed a parcel tax that will expire at the end of June 2017, received 3,528 "yes" votes, 60.2 percent of the total, and short of the 66.7 percent needed to pass. The "no" vote was 2,328.

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 3,156 "yes" votes, 54 percent of the total, also short of the 66.7 percent needed. The "no" vote was 2,692.

The vote total was updated by San Mateo County's election office on May 9 at 4:30 p.m.

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.

Comments

10 people like this
Posted by sandyb
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 9, 2016 at 12:44 pm

I know this has been suggested before but how about combining the Los Lomitas Elementary School District and the Menlo Park City School district and possibly the Portola Valley School District to save on administrative costs. Surely there is a redundancy in having 3 districts containing 8 schools.


2 people like this
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on May 9, 2016 at 5:01 pm

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

Anyone out there who received the e-mail appeal and would like to comment on the contents? Maybe some of you who received my e-mail appeal would care to do likewise.
The new vote tally is on the election website, but precinct data is not available.


134 people like this
Posted by peninsula resident
a resident of Menlo-Atherton High School
on May 9, 2016 at 5:07 pm

"a last-minute email appeal for yes votes to district residents from Facebook's chief operating officer and local resident Sheryl Sandberg"

I'm a district resident, and a parent, and I never saw this email.

I also never saw any of the flyers that were sent to "parents."

I suspect the flyers and emails were sent to the parents who have children attending MPCSD.

Is this email and mail contact list available to groups beyond those who are promoting additional taxes? It seems patently unfair, and possibly illegal, for the district or MPAEF to allow one group access to internal contact information, but not allow another, just-as-qualified group access to internal contact information.


25 people like this
Posted by Jenson
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on May 9, 2016 at 5:10 pm

Hopefully the school district has learned from its previous mistakes and will make a sincere effort to correct its administrative over spending and move to replace those elected officials who do not want to learn from those mistakes. Trust is a hard thing to gain back


4 people like this
Posted by JU
a resident of Atherton: other
on May 9, 2016 at 5:20 pm

Found this report "How did we end up with 54 school districts in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties."
Web Link

Though it might save taxpayers some money over long term, I see school districts merging as highly unlikely. Think of all the administrators that would lose their jobs. They won't be proposing any mergers any time soon, much less bringing it to the voters.


13 people like this
Posted by Violins and Hankies
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 9, 2016 at 9:02 pm

Here's a big idea. Instead of shedding crocodile tears and punishing students and taxpayers for the loss of their bid to have three parcel taxes in perpetuity, how about cutting overhead instead of teachers? There's still money left from an existing parcel tax and no one knows for sure what enrollment will look like in a few years despite the money the district has spent on projections that are 100% off the mark.

In the meantime, streamline the administrative positions that Superintendent Ghysels has added to build his personal empire. The four-school district used to run on a staff of five plus one administrative assistant. How many are there now? At least double that. Or the entire administration could all agree to wage freezes or salary adjustments if they're so committed to the well-being of our students. Or they could try again during the next scheduled general election to propose a realistic parcel tax that would expire at some reasonable point.


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

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Here is my proposed action plan for the MPCSD Board:

1 - The Board acknowledges that there is a great deal of misunderstanding and some mistrust in the community regarding MPCSD,


2 - The Board commits to full transparency as we move forward including implementing a redesigned web site that includes and makes easy to find all of the MPCSD financial, academic performance and union contract information,


3 - The Board will prepare a SINGLE Parcel Tax measure for a General Election that supersedes ALL of the current parcel taxes and which has a 6 year expiration date,


4 - The Board will commit to exploring the creation of a Unified Elementary School District serving Woodside, Portola Valley, Menlo Park, Atherton, East Palo Alto, Redwood City and the adjacent unincorporated areas of San Mateo County.

Recognizing the procedural difficulties of merging school districts the Board will immediately begin exploring entering into shared services agreements for functions such as Finance, Human Resources, IT and Facilities with one or more of our adjacent elementary school districts.



12 people like this
Posted by facts
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on May 9, 2016 at 9:34 pm

In one of Barbara Woods' articles, she verified that the figures quoted by the school officials were correct, and she proved that the numbers used by Alex Keh in his argument against were inaccurate. Why hasn't Mr. Keh and Peter Carpenter and the other signers apologized to the community for spreading this false information? Saw on another thread that Roy Thiele-Sardinia even told Peter Carpenter to stop trashing the schools and to focus on cutting the outrageous spending on the fire board that he oversees.


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

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Saw on another thread that Roy Thiele-Sardinia even told Peter Carpenter to stop trashing the schools and to focus on cutting the outrageous spending on the fire board that he oversees."

Roy was reminded that the Fire Board passed a strong resolution on county wide fire consolidation 9 years ago. Here is Roy's reply when he was reminded that he had forgotten that fact:

From: Roy Thiele-Sardina
Subject: RE: Failing memory?
Date: May 9, 2016 at 9:27:25 PM PDT
To: Peter Carpenter

Great declaration


13 people like this
Posted by sick of hearing from Peter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 9, 2016 at 9:54 pm

[Post removed. Please focus on the topic and not other posters.]


4 people like this
Posted by Taxpayer
a resident of Atherton: other
on May 9, 2016 at 10:02 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


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

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Here are the questions presented time and time again during the election and that MPCSD refused to answer:

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?


7 people like this
Posted by alumni parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 9, 2016 at 10:17 pm

[Post removed. Make your points without attacks on other posters.]


2 people like this
Posted by Taxpayer
a resident of Atherton: other
on May 9, 2016 at 10:34 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


2 people like this
Posted by Curious C.
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 9, 2016 at 11:33 pm

Curious C. is a registered user.

"In one of Barbara Woods' articles, she verified that the figures quoted by the school officials were correct, and she proved that the numbers used by Alex Keh in his argument against were inaccurate"

Which article?
Which figures?

Please tell us.


3 people like this
Posted by Time for change
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 9, 2016 at 11:45 pm

Time for change is a registered user.

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


16 people like this
Posted by Jenson
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on May 9, 2016 at 11:56 pm

These measures failed because of the greed of the board members, the failure to acknowledge concerns of residents and the absence of a limit on how long these measures would remain in place. This is what no voters were angry about. My kids have been gone for a number of years from MP schools and we gladly supported tax increases all along the way up through the last approved measure. We don't want to keep paying forever. The schools have ALL been remodeled and enlarged. We did our duty and we are done. Those who delved into the problems of the board only made it easier to support the opposition to these measures. The school district really failed to provide helpful information in the mail. I never received anything. Thank you to all those who did all the work to bring to light the school board deficiencies and the shortcomings of these measures to light in this forum. it will be a long time before I vote yes on any parcel tax measures that give the schools more money. Arrogance and lack of transparency cost you dearly School board officials didn't it.


Like this comment
Posted by Ally
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 10, 2016 at 12:14 am

Ally is a registered user.

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


Like this comment
Posted by Ally
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 10, 2016 at 1:09 am

Ally is a registered user.

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


2 people like this
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on May 10, 2016 at 1:16 pm

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

Peter, consider this consolidation.

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

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?

Suggested consolidation:

3. Why is the tax revenue collected from district property owners and dispersed by the county for debt service($6.1 million in 2014-2015) for the district's $130+ million bonded indebtedness not included in the calculation of revenue per student?

Also, I had this exchange with Ahmad regarding CalSTRS:
Question:
Ahmad, how much is the “on-behalf” state funding of MPCSD’s share of CalSTRS UAL?
Answer:
$1,134,949 reference Unaudited Actuals general fund Total.

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

Brown eyed girl provided an excellent link to the 2014-2015 auditors report which includes NOTE 7 – NET PENSION LIABILITY – STATE TEACHERS' RETIREMENT PLAN Web Link

The $1,134,949 state "on behalf" contribution will double in 2015-2016, and triple for 2016-2017 and beyond. That's more than $3 million or $1,000+ per pupil. Add the $2,000+ for local bond debt service and another $1,000 for "on behalf" debt service by the state for bonds supporting matching grants and the cost per pupil is ballooning.

Will the real cost per pupil in our government schooling system please stand up and be recognized?


9 people like this
Posted by Roy Thiele-Sardi�a
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 10, 2016 at 6:01 pm

Roy Thiele-Sardi�a is a registered user.

As mentioned above I asked Peter to stop bashing MPCSD (my entry is attached below)

I have worked with Peter on No on M and Yes on L and know his style. it is to repeat the same thing over and over (whether factually correct or not).

His private email response was to point out that he made a resolution for fire department consolidation in the past. My response is don't pass a resolution Peter....merge the effing departments. They are the MOST EXPENSIVE employees in the county, their pensions are LUDICROUSLY high and costly. And their administration earn UNGODLY amounts of total compensation....

So my request is Peter fix the sinkhole of a Fire District, return the savings to the tax payers. and give us updates as to how it is going.....

Roy Thiele-Sardina

---------------BFA---------------------

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


89 people like this
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Hillview Middle School
on May 10, 2016 at 6:04 pm

Train Fan is a registered user.

Saying "NO" to measures A and C were the best thing to happen to this district in a while.

Observe: Web Link

The important stuff:
"The Palo Alto school district has [agreed to] contracts that will provide up to 16 percent pay hikes over three years."

"teachers can receive this year's [retroactive] increase in their June paycheck,"

"The tentative deal calls for a 5 percent increase for the current school year that will be retroactive to July 2015 and will cost the district $7.3 million, according to data provided by the district. This is almost all of the $8 million surplus from the 2015-16 budget."


DING DING DING DING!

Do you see what happened here? As soon as the district had a surplus, the Union negotiated the surplus into bonuses, stripping the surplus from the schools, which the superintendent agreed to!


"The size of the pay increases raises concerns about how much money from the more than $5 million the board had hoped for will be available for other needs identified over the last several months, sure to upset a variety of constituencies. With a recent parent's analysis showing that board-established middle and high school class size targets are not close to being met, and with the recent increase in the district's parcel tax having promised further reductions in class size, the district may face questions about whether it over-promised."


DING DING DING DING!

Do you see what happened here? As soon as the community increased the parcel tax, the money from it (which was suppose to go for small class sizes and building a surplus) instead went to bonuses and pay increases, stripping the surplus from the schools, which the superintendent agreed to!


Saying NO to measures A and C was a smart thing for this community to do; those additional parcel taxes were NEVER going to go to classroom programs or building a surplus of funds. Now everyone is forced to negotiate knowing there's no new income and no blank check.



5 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 10, 2016 at 7:47 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

"Do you see what happened here? As soon as the community increased the parcel tax, the money from it (which was suppose to go for small class sizes and building a surplus) instead went to bonuses and pay increases, stripping the surplus from the schools, which the superintendent agreed to!"

And the board an proponents of A and C wonder why us taxpayers are angry? Really? Sorry, but I am not in the habit of offering up a blank check which is what the school district was asking for. "We'll just keep passing parcel taxes to pay for our excesses and poor negotiating skills." Not this time.


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

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

It is always a pleasure to have a dialogue with Roy.

First, Roy please provide examples of my "bashing" of the school district. I certainly don't think that asking questions that never get answered is bashing.

Second, regarding your attempt to change the subject from the School District to the Fire District I love your rebuttable presumption that the Fire District's house is "not in order".

The Fire District -
Has a balanced budget based solely on general property tax revenues
Has ZERO parcel taxes
Has ZERO construction impact fees
Pays for all of its new construction from its general property tax revenues
Charges itself far more each year than does CalPERS for our pension costs
because we know that CalPERS will soon be back for more money
Provides the SAME level of service for ALL of the citizens and visitors in
East Palo Alto, Atherton, Menlo Park and the adjacent unincorporated areas
of San Mateo County
Provides such a high level of service that there is NO need for any private
fire service or "charter" fire service in the area served by the Fire
District
Has salary schedules which are less than many other Bay Area fire agencies
and far below the highest fire service salaries in the State
Posts any proposed labor agreement for public review and comment for no less
than 15 days before it can be approved by the Board
Posts detailed minutes of its Board meetings within a month of that meeting
Posts a video of each Board meeting within days of each Board meeting
Has a web site that includes all of its budget information and the full text
of all of its labor agreements
Has just dedicated its newest station in East Palo Alto - done before
any upgrades of its other six stations
Led the establishment of and participates in a County-wide fire dispatch
system that eliminated 13 separate single agency dispatch functions
Participates in a "boundary drop" program whereby the nearest
occupied/available station responds to any event anywhere in the County
regardless of political boundaries - Service trumps Politics
Participates as the lead agency in one of the 28 unique National Urban Search
and Rescue Task Forces thereby providing our local community with both
highly skilled and trained search and rescue personnel but also tens of
millions of dollar worth of Federal resources for the Task Force which
are physically located within the District and immediately available
for any local disaster response
Participates as the lead agency in one of the very few certified White Water
Rescue Teams in the Nation

I welcome Roy's point by point comparisons to MPCSD so as to get us back on topic.


13 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 11, 2016 at 6:37 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

This is the letter that I handed the Board Secretary last evening:

Dear Dr. Ghyles,

In your capacity as Secretary of the Board this is a formal written request for the placement of the following item on the Board’s agenda for its regular June meeting as an Action Item:

Review, Revise and Approve the following draft policy statements in response to the decisions of the citizens to not approve Measure A and Measure C :

1 - The Board acknowledges that there is a need for improved interaction and communication regarding MPCSD with the community, particularly with those taxpayers who do not have children in MPCSD schools,

2 - The Board is committed to full transparency as we move forward including but not limited to implementation of a redesigned web site that includes and makes easy to find all of the MPCSD financial, enrollment, academic performance, e-mail communications, compensation and union contract information,

3 - The Board will consider a Single Parcel Tax measure for a General Election that supersedes all of the current parcel taxes and which has a 6 year expiration date,
(Note: The Board would be well advised to establish an Ad Hoc Committee of two Board Members and a number of citizens not affiliated with the District to recommend the specific amount of such a consolidated parcel tax and the election at which it should be considered by the voters.)

4 - The Board recognizes the potential value of sharing services with adjacent elementary school districts and of possible mergers with those adjacent elementary school districts. Recognizing the procedural difficulties of merging school districts, the Board will immediately begin exploring entering into shared services agreements for functions such as Finance, Human Resources, IT and Facilities with one or more of our adjacent elementary school districts.

Respectfully submitted,

Peter Carpenter


12 people like this
Posted by our town
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on May 11, 2016 at 9:44 am

our town is a registered user.

Peter, I hope you did not misspell Ghysels' name for real.

MPCSD and LLESD used to share some business operations. When that stopped, I do not know. However, the emphasis on merging is troubling, especially if you understand the history and the legal issues. There are many ways to contain costs, for starters, firing Ghysels and promoting Burmeister.

The school board has always tried to keep everything it does under wraps, making decisions outside meetings and preferring not to have meetings broadcast. I doubt the current members even understand what it would mean to be transparent. We need to clean house 100%.


4 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 11, 2016 at 7:26 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"First, Roy please provide examples of my "bashing" of the school district. I certainly don't think that asking questions that never get answered is bashing."

Still waiting for a response.


6 people like this
Posted by Sentinel
a resident of another community
on May 11, 2016 at 10:16 pm

Sentinel is a registered user.

Our Town:

You are correct. Las Lomitas ESD and MPCSD previously maintained MOUs that included sharing the following departments: Business Services (1 CBO and an administrative assistant); Facilities, Maintenance and Transportation (1 Manager), and Special Education (1 Director and an administrative assistant). The department offices were housed in the LLESD. Due to the small size of the districts, and the close proximity of the schools, this arrangement worked smoothly and effectively. In 2004, MPCSD decided to establish its own departments, resulting in each district hiring its own full-time staff when the MOUs ended.


6 people like this
Posted by SandyB
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 12, 2016 at 9:33 am

SandyB is a registered user.

Reinstating these MOUs would be a perfect place to start economizing instead of threatening to increase class size and cut teachers.


6 people like this
Posted by SteveC
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 12, 2016 at 10:04 am

SteveC is a registered user.

I would start with the administration. Is there really a need for all of them???? If cuts have to occur immediately, the Superintendent should show his concern by taking a pay cut.


6 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 13, 2016 at 9:19 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Here are some clues that the District's property tax revenue will be going UP:

Atherton

1 Tallwood Court Pacific Peninsula Group to Zafran Trust for $14,700,000 on 03/31/16; built 1958, 3bd, 2,610 sq. ft.

Menlo Park

1304 Carlton Ave. D. Reyes to K. Eudaly for $850,000 on 03/31/16; built 1948, 3bd, 1,140 sq. ft.

12 Patterson Ave. V. Borel to M. Faria for $2,345,000 on 04/01/16; built 1953, 2bd, 1,290 sq. ft.

1056 Pine St. RB Partners to T. Chiao for $1,270,000 on 04/01/16; built 1962, 2bd, 1,355 sq. ft.

60 Politzer Drive R. Whelan to J. & W. Grad for $3,600,000 on 03/31/16; built 1958, 9bd, 4,320 sq. ft.

455 Santa Margarita Ave. E. Robbins to Noucha PB Limited for $2,900,000 on 04/04/16; built 1950, 2bd, 3,050 sq. ft.

535 St. Francis Place Schulz Trust to E. & K. Hansen for $3,752,000 on 04/04/16; built 1957, 6bd, 2,120 sq. ft.

722 University Drive S. Roy to J. & L. Maynard for $1,850,000 on 04/01/16; built 1981, 2bd, 1,530 sq. ft.


3 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 14, 2016 at 9:14 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Here is what is happening to our North and South - guess what is next?

"REDWOOD CITY -- The Redwood City School District and the Redwood City Teachers Association reached a tentative agreement on Friday, resolving labor negotiations for the 2015-16 school year. Teachers are to receive a total increase of 5 percent, effective May 31, with a 3.5 percent pay raise retroactive to July 1, 2015, reported district Board of Trustees President Alisa MacAvoy."


" Wed, May 11, 2016, 8:22 am
Palo Alto school board majority favors new teacher contract
One member questions trade-off between salaries and class-size reduction

by Elena Kadvany / Palo Alto Weekly

All but one school board member voiced support Tuesday night for a new multi-year teachers contract that will provide up to 16 percent in pay hikes over three years -- while debating how exactly competitive Palo Alto Unified School District is when it comes to teacher salaries, retainment and recruitment.

The board discussed tentative contracts with the teachers and classified employee unions, which each group ratified before Tuesday night, that would commit the district to its first-ever multi-year salary increases, starting with a 5 percent pay increase this year to apply retroactively to July 2015 given negotiations for the current year just ended. This would cost the district $7.3 million, almost the entirety of a $8 million surplus available in this year's budget. "
*********

Note that both, amazingly, are retroactive to July 2015 !!!!

Note that the MPCSD contract allows the current contract to be reopened at any time, also amazing, and that the union has already formally activated that reopening clause to include salary adjustments that would be retroactive to July 2015.

Is the Board going to get public input before starting negotiations?

Will the Board Sunshine any proposed revised contract for public input before acting to approve a revised contract?


3 people like this
Posted by Mark Gilles
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on May 14, 2016 at 10:07 am

Mark Gilles is a registered user.

I am reading this with interest and a lot of good points raised however I want to point out a few things.

1) Merging of the districts needs to have the support of the residents in each district. One cannot simply force the other to merge. The question is why would Las Lomitas residents want to merge with Menlo Park. The financial needs of MPCSD that are driving the need for bond revenue can be traced to two fundamental differences between the districts

a) Las Lomitas is I believe a Basic Aid District which means that they are funded by local property taxes, whereas MPCSD is not. It receives a revenue allotment from the State of California that is less than they would be receiving under Basic Aid.
b) Las Lomitas has two school sites that it derives significant lease income whereas MPCSD sold its Fremont site to Menlo Park years ago.

I was on the bond oversight committee for MPCSD for 3 years and worked closely with Ahmed and found him to be highly competent and expert in his field. Speculation that he is not qualified for his current job is in my opinion unwarranted.

Criticism of the board the superintendent and staff of for "bad negotiating skills" in dealing with pensions is misplaced. Unfortunately most if not all major public pension funds are underfunded as a result of the aftereffects of the Great Recession. Not that we have the same issue with city, county state and federal pensions as well as social security. A big problem that goes beyond the powers of the board.

finally, some have asked about integrating the Menlo Park residents of the failing Ravenswood district. I think that should be discussed as it would benefit many children who can't access quality education due to limits on the Tinsley program


1 person likes this
Posted by Mark Gilles
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on May 14, 2016 at 10:07 am

Mark Gilles is a registered user.

I am reading this with interest and a lot of good points raised however I want to point out a few things.

1) Merging of the districts needs to have the support of the residents in each district. One cannot simply force the other to merge. The question is why would Las Lomitas residents want to merge with Menlo Park. The financial needs of MPCSD that are driving the need for bond revenue can be traced to two fundamental differences between the districts

a) Las Lomitas is I believe a Basic Aid District which means that they are funded by local property taxes, whereas MPCSD is not. It receives a revenue allotment from the State of California that is less than they would be receiving under Basic Aid.
b) Las Lomitas has two school sites that it derives significant lease income whereas MPCSD sold its Fremont site to Menlo Park years ago.

I was on the bond oversight committee for MPCSD for 3 years and worked closely with Ahmed and found him to be highly competent and expert in his field. Speculation that he is not qualified for his current job is in my opinion unwarranted.

Criticism of the board the superintendent and staff of for "bad negotiating skills" in dealing with pensions is misplaced. Unfortunately most if not all major public pension funds are underfunded as a result of the aftereffects of the Great Recession. Not that we have the same issue with city, county state and federal pensions as well as social security. A big problem that goes beyond the powers of the board.

finally, some have asked about integrating the Menlo Park residents of the failing Ravenswood district. I think that should be discussed as it would benefit many children who can't access quality education due to limits on the Tinsley program


6 people like this
Posted by Mary Gilles
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on May 14, 2016 at 10:21 am

Mary Gilles is a registered user.

If my Google searches are correct, both MPCSD and LLSD are basic aid districts. I would like to chime in that there are 2 big issues that should be simultaneously discussed. One is the fact we have 4 separate school districts in our small town (MPCSD, LLSC, Sequoia Union High School District and Ravenswood). The problem is that the 2 schools in the Ravenswood District that are in MP are underperforming.

Uniting all the school districts would be a perfect world IMHO. How to achieve that is the question. If the 2 schools that are in the Ravenswood District (Belle Haven School and Willow Oaks) want to be a part of MPCSD, then let's talk about it and figure out how that can happen.




4 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 14, 2016 at 10:31 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Merging elementary school districts could achieve two very different kind of results:

Efficiency - providing the same level of existing education at a lower cost

Effectiveness - providing a better level of education to all of the included students

Merging MPCSD and LLSD would yield primarily efficiency results

Merging MPCSD and Ravenswood would yield both efficiency and effectiveness results.


2 people like this
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on May 14, 2016 at 11:25 am

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

Info on School District unification, courtesy of Linda Craig:
Web Link
Linda Craig, President
League of Women Voters of the Bay Area
president@lwvbayarea.org


12 people like this
Posted by Sentinel
a resident of another community
on May 14, 2016 at 11:00 pm

Sentinel is a registered user.

Source: Mercury News, May 12, 2016

“School board member Terry Thygesen suggested at a board meeting Tuesday that the community has changed since the district last put a parcel tax on the ballot in 2010 and received the necessary two-thirds approval vote. She pointed to the official ballot arguments made against the measures as an example of that attitude change.”

Ms. Thygesen’s Opinion
"We've never had a situation in our district where someone has ... created a ballot argument with fallacious information," said Thygesen, who has served on the board since 2000. "Maybe that's the difference ... we used to be a small district and now we're a medium-sized district. In a smaller community, people don't do things like that."

Facts
The ballot arguments against the parcel taxes did not contain fallacious information.

The MPCSD has been a midsize district the entire time that Ms. Thygesen has been a member of the board (she began her first tenure in 2000). Per the California Legislative Analyst’s Office, school districts are classified as “small districts” if they have fewer than 1,001 students. Districts with 1,001-10,000 students are classified as “midsize” districts. Per the California Department of Education, MPCSD’s enrollment in the 2000-2001 school year was 1,957 students, and enrollment during the 2014-2015 school year was 2,904.

My Opinion
We’ve never had a time in the district when the community strongly and actively opposed the board. Maybe the true difference (between the past and the present parcel tax elections) is that when a community takes time to examine the issues and question the facts provided by an opaque board, the board will no longer be able to make critical decisions in a vacuum.



Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Menlo Park: other

on May 15, 2016 at 8:13 am

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


22 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 16, 2016 at 4:24 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.


From: Peter Carpenter
Subject: Teachers' Contract
Date: May 16, 2016 at 4:16:10 PM PDT
To: JChild@mpcsd.org


President Child,

I note that both the Redwood City and Palo Alto School Boards have just approved pay increases retroactive to July 2015.

I also note the the MPCSD Teachers’ Union has on 8 January 2016 reopened their current contract and on 20 January 2016 notified the Board that it “intends to negotiate a fair and equitable increase to the CURRENT salary schedule.”

Has the District begun renegotiations of the current contract?

Has the District sought public input on what should principles should guide the District’s negotiations?

Will the District agree to make any salary increases retroactive?

Will the Board provide the public with an extended opportunity (beyond the 72 hours required by the Brown Act) to review and comment on any proposed contract changes before the Board considers such changes?

Thank you,


Peter Carpenter


7 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 16, 2016 at 5:19 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Another recent Menlo Park property transaction that will significantly increase property tax revenues:

900 Menlo Oaks

Previous assessed value $151,269

Sale price $3,200,000

Web Link

This increased valuation of $3,000,000 yields a property tax increase of $30,000 per year.


12 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 16, 2016 at 9:18 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Wow - It turns out that the District is negotiating with ALL of the unions, not just the teachers:


III. CONVENE CLOSED SESSION (Discussion Item)
Speaker:
Board President
Quick Summary / Abstract:
CONFERENCE WITH LABOR NEGOTIATOR

(Cal. Gov't Code § 54957.6)

Agency designated representative: Maurice Ghysels

Employee organization(s): All bargaining units (MPEA, CSEA, Unrepresented Employees)"

1 - They never told the community that they were doing this - and probably even conducting these negotiations during the campaign for Measures A and C,

2 - They never asked the community for input on the principles to be used by the District in these negotiations,

3 - Their current budgets for 2015/16 and 2016/17 assume ZERO salary increases.

It appears that the purpose of Measures A and C had nothing to do with "maintaining the quality of education for the students" but were instead intended to enhance the salaries of the already best paid teachers in California.


6 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 17, 2016 at 3:53 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Some more data to hopefully enrich the discussion on our community's investment in education:

"Poor, black and Hispanic children are becoming increasingly isolated from their white, affluent peers in the nation’s public schools, according to new federal data showing that the number of high-poverty schools serving primarily black and brown students more than doubled between 2001 and 2014."

Web Link


6 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 20, 2016 at 6:00 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

A useful article to enrich the discussion on our community's investment in education:

Web Link


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

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