News

Menlo Park City School District ponders how cuts could affect looming deficit

 

The Menlo Park City School District has taken a close look at its budget after two parcel tax measures failed in May. The news is not good: The district predicts that by the 2020-21 school year expenses will outstrip revenues by $5.3 million.

Expenses are going up as the district's enrollment growth continues, Superintendent Maurice Ghysels told the district's governing board at its Tuesday, Sept. 20, meeting. Employee compensation, including state-mandated pension costs that the district can't change, increases each year and now accounts for 89 percent of the district's budget, he said.

Assumptions in the budget predictions include a 6.1 percent growth in property tax revenue each year for the next four years, based on an eight-year property tax history, and that an existing parcel tax that expires at the end of June 2017 will not be renewed.

The model used by the district also assumes current personnel and programs will be maintained, and two more teachers added each year to compensate for enrollment growth. Employee compensation (salary and benefits) would increase at historic levels.

The result: something's got to give.

On Tuesday, Superintendent Ghysels and Ahmad Sheikholeslami, the district's top business official, gave board members a look at the spending side of the equation and briefed them on what the effects of 10 percent across-the-board cuts would be.

The district has asked the public to get involved in deciding what to do about the budget problems, with six more board meetings planned to discuss the issue. The next meeting, designated to hear the public talk about what the district should have learned from the parcel tax election, is next Tuesday, Sept. 27, at 6 p.m., in Hillview Middle School's Performing Arts Center, 1100 Elder Ave. in Menlo Park.

Among the reductions the district could make, Mr. Sheikholeslami told the board, are increased class sizes (which would result in cutting teachers and therefore personnel costs), and cuts in programs and non-teacher staffing, as well as other miscellaneous non-staffing costs.

To achieve a 10 percent personnel cost savings via larger classes would require an average of four more students per classroom, Mr. Sheikholeslami said. Such an increase could save the district close to $1.94 million a year by cutting 18 full-time teaching positions, he said.

The district could save an additional $1 million by cutting 10 percent of all other non-administrative district staff (everyone from custodians and technical support to aides and playground supervisors) plus close to $375,000 by cutting 10 percent of administrators and management level employees.

Shaving a quarter of a percent off annual raises for staff (which this year were at 2.5 percent) could save $87,500 the first year, Mr. Sheikholeslami said.

Superintendent Ghysels said the district will work to bring the board information for its Oct. 18 meeting about the priorities for cuts, a timeline of when reductions would be made, and an update of the budget with cuts included.

Board members suggested a few areas to look at that weren't including in the presentation. Trustee Joan Lambert recommended that the district look at how many minutes and days of instruction are required by the state and consider reductions if allowed, such as in the length of kindergarten classes.

"If we're talking about drastic cuts, we should at least look at that," she said.

Board President Jeff Child asked for a look at how the district could provide incentives for veteran teachers to retire.

He also asked the district to look at data on small class sizes. "Small class has never been properly defined to me," he said.

Scott Saywell, a candidate for one of two open school board positions in the November election, urged the board to look at how the possible cuts would affect students, and find a way to give students a voice in evaluating options for balancing the budget.

Board member Maria Hilton asked that the district try to add information to its presentations about how making specific cuts would affect a student's experience.

"I think it's important for people to understand" what the proposed cuts really mean, she said. "There obviously are going to have to be some trade-offs.

Upcoming meetings to discuss the district's financial situation are:

● Sept. 27, 6 p.m., Hillview Performing Arts Center, 1100 Elder Ave., Menlo Park. A community input session to review the May 3 parcel tax election.

● Oct. 18, 6 p.m., Hillview Performing Arts Center, 1100 Elder Ave., Menlo Park. The regular board meeting will include a discussion and a report on recommendations to address the deficit.

● Oct. 24, 9 a.m., Hillview Performing Arts Center, 1100 Elder Ave., Menlo Park. A community input session to discuss how the district can increase revenue.

● Oct. 25, 6 p.m., Hillview Performing Arts Center, 1100 Elder Ave., Menlo Park. A community input session to discuss how the district can increase revenue.

● Nov. 9, 6 p.m., Hillview Performing Arts Center, 1100 Elder Ave., Menlo Park. At this regular board meeting, the board will continue to discuss recommendations for increasing revenue and decreasing expenses, review community input and give direction to staff.

● Nov. 30, 6 p.m., Hillview Performing Arts Center, 1100 Elder Ave., Menlo Park. Final plan for addressing the projected deficit to be approved by the board. (The date of this meeting is set so as to allow the board to decide whether to put a parcel tax measure on the March 2017 ballot before the Dec. 2 deadline for approval of ballot measures.)

Comments

23 people like this
Posted by Susan Smith
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 22, 2016 at 5:59 am

....spent all that money on fancy rebuilds of school buildings and fattening up the salaries with fancy signing incentives, bonuses and parting pay-outs... life-long under-funded pension obligations associated with those choices... fancy new playing fields.... a performing arts this and that.... Bonds....how did you ever think you wouldn't be in debt?


18 people like this
Posted by Facts
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Sep 22, 2016 at 6:16 am

The problem is that MPCSD's per student funding has decreased on a real basis because enrollment has increased faster than real funding. The issue is further compounded because the State is significantly increasing pension costs to all public schools. MPCSD cannot, as a public school, turn away students, so the only choice is to maintain existing programs and services is to increase funding. MPCSD had no part in creating the pension issue, this is a State function. MPCSD, like all public schools, cannot legally spend capital funds on operating expenses, so it is not a legal option to fund operations by defunding facilities. We can all take out our anger at the State's pension problems on our local schools, but this is simply cutting off our nose to spite our face. Instead of pointing blame at the schools for a lack of funding that is not of their own making, it would be more productive for interested community members to attend school meetings and get involved.


20 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 22, 2016 at 7:20 am

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

facts:

yes, let's have some. While the pension issue is not of the school district and the board's making all of the other over spending IS. Perfect example; we know we are going to have a deficit, we have the highest paid teaching staff in the state, so let's give them a raise. Brilliant! "But if we don't, they'll go somewhere else." Where exactly? They are already the highest paid teachers in the state.

No this problem was created by financial mismanagement of the school board. Let's not try and deflect it to the state. Let's keep our eye on the true cause so we can actually do something about it. The first thing to do is elect financially responsible and TRANSPARENT board members.


21 people like this
Posted by Roy Thiele-Sardiña
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 22, 2016 at 9:53 am

Roy Thiele-Sardiña is a registered user.

@Menlo Voter,

Sorry you are wrong with respect to teachers salaries. at the bottom is the CA Salary Range for teachers and we are midrange for 1000-3999 ADA range. What we are the highest for is cost of living NEAR our system. Forget about living within our district. THey do lose teachers to districts like Livermore, San Ramon which are closer to where they live due to housing costs. BTW they bay

MPK Salary Schedule
Web Link

CA Averages
Web Link

COmprehensive salary report: (look at San Mateo County the BA+60 Step 10 column to get the average through out the state:
Web Link

in the last report search for Menlo Park then look at surrounding San Mateo County districts.....we are NOT the highest. for pure entertainment look at some of the Santa Clara districts (los gatos, saratoga, etc.) they are 5-20% higher.

Let's be a little more accurate with your GROSS GENERALITIES.....

Roy Thiele-Sardina


20 people like this
Posted by Margo
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Sep 22, 2016 at 12:57 pm

I believe the reason why the tax measures fail may be due to the large numbers of senior citizen residents of MP (of which I am one). Seniors are perhaps not aware of the benefits to them of a well educated populace. They may also not be aware that they can opt out of school taxes if they choose. I am not personally aware of any effort on the part of the district to educate seniors, but then I am very active and busy, so I don't do things at Little House. It might behoove the district to sponsor not a talk, but a discussion group so that misunderstandings and outright misinformation, such in the message asserting the MPSD teachers are so highly paid, can be corrected. Seniors could be encouraged to think about why it is important to them to have great schools in MP.

District could also invite seniors to visit the schools, explaining how the funding works and why the "fancy" buildings are important and a benefit to the community as a whole.

And once again all of us need to be reminded that no matter how much the teachers are paid, it's not enough. Living anywhere near our schools is prohibitive for a teacher. Yet we expect them to be present at evening events and be fresh and lively every day, regardless of the grumpy children we might send them. Be grateful for your teachers!!! They are raising the children of Menlo Park and doing the very best they can.


13 people like this
Posted by Don't just complain, get involved
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Sep 22, 2016 at 1:24 pm

@ Margo.
Thank you for an actual suggestion on how to help solve for the problem. I think the lack of substantive feedback is what is failing this community!!! Every time I drive to Safeway and pass the old Ford dealer lot that sits EMPTY I am reminded of what stagnates Menlo Park.... it's the neigh sayers that complain about the pending change but that do NOTHING to be part of making the change a positive! Stop living your life as an Almanac troll and come to a meeting where you can help. I will see you there.


8 people like this
Posted by SteveC
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 22, 2016 at 1:27 pm

SteveC is a registered user.

I think the school board believed the well would never dry up. They could ask and ask and ask for money and it would be forth coming. Good schools are important. Schools must be upgraded. But the school boards need to be transparent on what the money will be spent on and the need.

Interesting that the superintendent left the district sooooo fast when the passing of school bonds ended. A good place to start cutting money in the salary of the superintendent and the sweet heart deals when they think of leaveing


21 people like this
Posted by Continuing scare tactics
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Sep 22, 2016 at 1:36 pm

As much as I have been absolutely thrilled by the quality of program my kids have had in the MPCSD, I am ashamed of the approach the 'leadership' is taking on funding.

Back in the Spring, the District put two poorly structured tax measures on the ballot. The were both PERMANENT taxes not periodic that can be subject to review every half decade or so. So despite NEVER having FAILED BEFORE, both of these tax measures failed.

What does the Board do? Do they read the forums here, do they listen to what people are telling them? No. The day after the results are announced, they 'cry wolf' and go out with a public diatribe about how the citizens have let down the school district and now they will have to institute immediate and drastic cuts (like it was a punishment.)

The problem here is that a) it neglects the fact that the current tax doesn't expire for two more school years (at the time) and b) the real issue was ACCOUNTABILITY not the taxes themselves.

Most citizens of Menlo Park understand that growing schools need growing funding and that our status as a 'basic aid' district enables and requires us to fund the district to get the schools we want. But we are NOT willing to write a blank check to a management team (the Board) that would rather bluff and scare than work together with the citizens who elect and pay for them.

So, instead of panic and scare tactics, how about we use these upcoming sessions to:

1) Discus how we can produce a balanced approach of assessing our spending levels (perhaps some of the deferred long term comp is going to put a crimp in current spending)

2) Proposing an accountable supplemental tax structure with TIME LIMITS to replace the one that is sunsetting next year

3) Include the 'problem' of student body growth in the plan. The idea of a scaling tax that mapped to the ACTUAL growth rates was great. But as one of two measures with lots of confusion, people voted 'no' out of confusion.

Spend a couple of months discussing the whole plan. Put it on the ballot. People will support it in the Spring. All is good.


10 people like this
Posted by Just add more people
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Sep 22, 2016 at 2:32 pm

It will be interesting to see how the projections for student enrollment change and how the budgets will be impacted once the 4,500+ units of Facebook housing is put into place?

How will growing the city population by ~30% be managed by the school district? Maybe somebody can provide a link to their plan?

I have yet to hear a good answer from the pro-growth proponents on how they believe the solution to our current overcrowding (clogged streets, schools bursting at the seams, overly full neighborhoods, etc.) is to add more housing. More. More. More. More apartments. More in-law units. In-fill. Go up. More. More. What am I missing?


Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 22, 2016 at 2:52 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Roy:

I don't have the links at hand, but during the run up to the parcel tax vote, information was put out from valid sources on this forum indicating that MPCSD teachers were the highest paid. Perhaps one of the folks that previously posted that info could do so again and save me the time of trying to search it out of past posts.


3 people like this
Posted by James Madison
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 22, 2016 at 2:56 pm

In its forecasting, the School District should be thinking not only about the 4,500 units of housing in the proposed revised General Plan, but also about the 1,200+ already allowed, but not built.

A well thought out parcel tax proposal is needed and likely would not suffer the fate of the extremes that failed last year


22 people like this
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Hillview Middle School
on Sep 22, 2016 at 2:59 pm

"Sorry you are wrong with respect to teachers salaries. at the bottom is the CA Salary Range for teachers and we are midrange"

Do you care to address the discrepancy between your links and the data provided by the California Department of Education?

According to ed-data.org, MPCSD teacher *average* salary is $100,890:
Web Link


"COmprehensive salary report: (look at San Mateo County the BA+60 Step 10 column to get the average through out the state"

The link you provided shows that MPCSD average teacher salary was over $95k...4 years ago.


I have no problems with a $100k+ level of compensation at all, but independent sources show that MPCSD are well compensated, especially when you factor in additional benefits.

We need to be honest about the numbers, or these conversations will go nowhere, fast, and the school district will be right back where it started before, with ANOTHER defeated parcel tax.

Your move.


12 people like this
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Hillview Middle School
on Sep 22, 2016 at 3:01 pm

"According to ed-data.org, MPCSD teacher *average* salary is $100,890"

Small clarification: MPCSD teacher average salary WAS $100,890...2 years ago


7 people like this
Posted by Long time reader
a resident of Portola Valley: Brookside Park
on Sep 22, 2016 at 3:09 pm

I'm absolutely not an expert in institutional financial planning however, one of our problems finding teachers seems to be the high cost of housing, right? That answer should be the question we should all bring to the district...If housing prices have increased at a feverish pitch for years, apartment complexes (Sharon Green as an example) are selling at record prices...and I believe this district is "basic aid" which means they gain as the district property tax rolls gain...Shouldn't they be getting more money into their budget? And those 4500 new units will also be increasing the tax rolls for the parcel on which they are built. Can anyone supply feedback?


24 people like this
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Hillview Middle School
on Sep 22, 2016 at 3:20 pm

"this district is "basic aid" which means they gain as the district property tax rolls gain...Shouldn't they be getting more money into their budget?"

They do get more money. It's called "property taxes". Property taxes go up = MPCSD revenue goes up.


3 people like this
Posted by Facts
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Sep 22, 2016 at 3:55 pm

Long time reader: It all depends on whether the additional property taxes collected from new housing adds enough to make up for the number of new students that the new housing brings into the District. Same applies to home sales: when a home is sold, the assessed value is marked to market which usually (not always if the economy is bad) means that the assessed value is now greater than what it was before it was sold, and therefore it contributes more tax revenue to the schools. However, if the house was owned for a long time by empty nesters with no kids in the schools and is sold to a family with kids in the schools, then the net plus or minus depends on whether the increase in assessed value is sufficient to offset the increased expense of educating additional students. For whatever reason, assessed values (and corresponding tax revenue to the schools) per student in MPCSD has always been lower than communities that feel very similar to ours in most other ways: Palo Alto, Las Lomitas, etc. So the only way that MPCSD has been able to provide comparable programs to these communities is through the voters electing to provide additional funding to our schools through parcel taxes.


8 people like this
Posted by Facts
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Sep 22, 2016 at 3:59 pm

I should add to the above, that even with the existing parcel taxes approved by voters, MPCSD still has less funding per student than Palo Alto, Las Lomitas, etc. The fact that our schools are providing comparable programs and getting comparable results to those Districts should be something that our teachers, principals, supt, and board are lauded for. It's disheartening to see so many negative comments that don't seem to appreciate at all the hard work that has been going on in our schools.


17 people like this
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Hillview Middle School
on Sep 22, 2016 at 5:41 pm

"even with the existing parcel taxes approved by voters, MPCSD still has less funding per student than Palo Alto, Las Lomitas, etc."


This was brought up ad nauseum by the pro-5-parcel tax crowd during the April debates about the proposed increase to 5 parcel taxes. Those districts are invalid comparisons.

Palo Alto is a unified district which includes high schools, which historically have a higher cost per student.

Las Lomitas (as well as Portola Valley and Woodside) is a substantially smaller district than MPCSD, and some of its higher costs can be attributed to the staffing overhead required for a school district. It doesn't have the economies of scale that apply to larger districts.

Among elementary school districts of a comparable size (or larger), MPCSD is one of the highest-funded elementary school districts in the state. And that's not even including funds derived from GO bonds; those funds don't pass through the MPCSD budget, but MPCSD benefits from that funding tremendously.



14 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 22, 2016 at 5:45 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

facts:

we appreciate the hard work that has been going on in our school. What we don't appreciate is the misfeasance and lack of transparency that has been going on for years. Not to mention the expectation that they could just keep spending money and asking for more, more, more. Until we see a true need we will not approve any further parcel taxes. The expected property taxes this year EXCEED those allowed for by the board's budget.


7 people like this
Posted by Bob
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 22, 2016 at 8:03 pm

So its seems that many of the comments so far have focused on teachers' salaries.

There have to be options other than relying on bonds or taxes. As was mentioned during the bond measure debate, the school district cannot use anticipated revenue for budget figuring. Therefore, cost saving options exists -- is consolidation with another district one of them? MPCSD has 4 schools with a big overhead. Fire agencies have found savings --a good recent example is Belmont, Foster City and San Mateo. These three agencies went from 3 fire chiefs to 1. Right there is a big savings.

Is it worth considering that option?


10 people like this
Posted by reality_check
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 22, 2016 at 10:21 pm

When are people going to stop attributing our students' performance on standardized tests to amazing teachers, deft administrators, and low teacher to student ratios? The variables that correlate the most with student success are parent involvement and the socioeconomic status of the parents. Go ahead and increase class sizes and see no change in aggregate performance. That is what will happen. Students who need more attention are already catered to ... possibly too much. Parents who do not want their children to compete with high achieving East Asian and South Asian students will send their kids to private schools like Menlo School, Sacred Heart, etc. It has been this way for 30+ years across this entire state.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. The sky doesn't fall.


4 people like this
Posted by be happy
a resident of another community
on Sep 22, 2016 at 10:41 pm

be happy is a registered user.

Isn't the new Facebook housing in the Ravenswood school district, not Menlo park?


1 person likes this
Posted by Grant Hughes
a resident of Menlo Park: Stanford Hills
on Sep 22, 2016 at 11:04 pm

The real problem is pension costs. Everyone is saying, "We can't do anything about it because it's a state mandate. We have no control." That's bull. We have elected state representatives and we should hold them accountable for leading change at the state level. Other school districts have the same issue. We have to address the big issue head on. The only alternatives are higher local taxes or real school cutbacks in staffing.

I wish the MPSD board had been honest about the pension problem in the first place. They knew it, and it was easy to see in the financial statements.

Go have "Java with Jerry Hill" and get him working for us.


6 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 23, 2016 at 7:10 am

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

"We have elected state representatives and we should hold them accountable for leading change at the state level."

Not going to happen. The teachers unions own our legislators.


4 people like this
Posted by Facts
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Sep 23, 2016 at 8:42 am

The funding provided per student from property taxes in MPCSD has ALWAYS been lower than comparable surrounding communities -- this has been the case going back for many, many years and predates the current additional pressure from the fact that the State's pension program is underfunded. Yes, there is now some additional pressure from the higher bill for the state's pension program which the state is giving to all school districts. But the main issue is the same that has always been the case: MPCSD does not get as much funding from property taxes and other local sources than comparable communities. So, the only way our community can maintain existing programs and services is with higher parcel taxes. The issue our community needs to decide is whether or not we want to maintain our existing comparable class sizes and breadth of program to Palo Alto, Las Lomitas, etc. I'm glad that we are finally having the real debate about whether or not we want to maintain this rather than having people suggest that we can get it for free. I also hope that The Almanac starts to do some work on the constant claims that our schools would reap financial gains from consolidation when in fact just the opposite is true. Moreover, even if it would benefit MPCSD, MPCSD cannot force Las Lomitas, etc. to merge with it.


10 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Sep 23, 2016 at 8:45 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Stop blaming "it" on the State.

Everyone should realize that pension costs are a direct consequence of salary levels - the higher the salary levels the higher will be the pension costs.

Local elected officials have TOTAL control over the salary levels in the agencies for which they were elected to manage.


1 person likes this
Posted by Facts
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Sep 23, 2016 at 8:46 am

Also, MPCSD's current funding is already lower than the comparable districts, and had the parcel tax measures proposed last spring passed, MPCSD funding would still have been lower than the other districts. So MPCSD already IS more efficient.


3 people like this
Posted by Facts
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Sep 23, 2016 at 8:48 am

Mr. Carpenter, If you want to argue that we can continue to attract and retain a high quality teachers by paying them less, please do so. I suggest you go speak to the Principals about this and see if they agree with you. Does the Fire District paying their staff less than comparable nearby Fire Districts?


3 people like this
Posted by Facts
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Sep 23, 2016 at 8:52 am

Also Mr. Carpenter, The pension issue is a new pressure, but the real issue is the same one that has always been the case: MPCSD simply gets less funding per student from local sources than nearby comparable communities. So if our community wants schools comparable to communities such as Palo Alto, Las Lomitas, etc., the only way we can get them is through parcel taxes. It's a pretty simple choice: do we want to maintain comparable schools or not? I realize that you do not. You want to pay teachers less, increase class sizes and cut programs. Fine. That's what you want for the children of this community. Let's see what others want.


Like this comment
Posted by neighbor
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 23, 2016 at 9:10 am

2015-2016 Assessor's Annual Report

Tax Assessment Roll- Menlo Park $13,561,160,055


4 people like this
Posted by Publius
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 23, 2016 at 9:29 am

The district has a severe fiscal issue either way. I am not sure it was fiscally responsible for the board to approve the proposed contract with the teacher's union when there is a lot of uncertainty with regards to funding. At the finance meeting on Thursday, it looked like the district would need to ask the residents to support an approximate $800 per year parcel tax in order to continue at current funding levels with projected increases in enrollment, property taxes (of which the estimate they use I believe was high) and salaries/operations. I think it would be next to impossible to get voters to approve $800. Even $400 is a stretch.

Bottom Line: Everyone is going to need to contribute here.
1) There will need to be some modest parcel tax to replace the sunset of the measure due to expire the summer of 17. Probably somewhere between $200 and $400 that sunsets in 5 to 7 years.
2) There WILL need to be reductions in costs at the district level.
- Class size increases of 2 to 4 students (As Jeff said, he has not seen any study that give a definitive number) It also does not mean every class, you could keep kindergarden lower and increase the numbers for other grades in some incremental amount. You can also increase non-core classes at the middle school.
- Freeze of salaries (especially for administrators and then teachers) Remember, most teachers still move up on the step and column with years of service.
- Look at non-core education programs and reduce spending in those areas. Maybe the MPAEF (i.e. parents) will need to contribute more for the non-core and enrichment activities.

However the mix of reductions is determined, it NEEDS to be balanced. The public is not going to stand for a large parcel tax in return for only small reductions.

Maybe we cannot have the Rolls Royce education when a Cadillac education is still very good compared to the most other districts that deal with driving a Dodge.



2 people like this
Posted by Publius
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 23, 2016 at 10:09 am

A lot of people keep talking about teachers and the cost to live in the area. No one is arguing that living in the Bay Area is not costly but you know what, it impacts everyone living in the area including police, fire, city employees, private sector workers, even janitors and gardeners. Our teachers are paid some of the highest wages in the state and even the 9 county bay area region. If we lose some due to cost of living, oh well. I don't mean to be rude about that comment but it does happen all over the area to all sorts of public and private sectors. For everyone that leaves, there are plenty of qualified teachers who apply for jobs in this district to fill any vacancies.

On another note, although I think Facebook's proposed housing is in the Ravenswood District, maybe the district and city should work together on these mega projects to require a small percent be kept affordable for public agency employees - teachers, police, fire, etc. San Francisco and other larger districts are looking at this already in order to not only keep staff but also to have these workers who serve these communities actually be able to live in them. Although not a fix that can be put into place in the next year, it is a long term option that could then help counter the argument that teachers cannot live in the area.

Finally, recent changes to the pension program at the state level is pushing more of the liability down to the district. I think what needs to be remembered is that these are defined plans that guarantee a lifetime benefit to the worker when they retire. This is a very generous benefit. Those on these type of plans really need to see that they are foregoing higher salaries for a guaranteed monthly payout in later years whether they live 10 years or 40 years after retirement. Seems a bit greedy to expect both.

Here are a couple of articles around the state's pension mess.

Web Link

Web Link

Web Link


3 people like this
Posted by Live and Work in MP
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Sep 23, 2016 at 10:41 am

Live and Work in MP is a registered user.

Thank you to @Roy Thiele-Sardiña for sharing actual data.
I would also like to point out that teachers in MPCSD work 189 days. No other district works that many days in our area, so it makes sense that the salary would be a little higher because they are WORKING MORE DAYS!
If the district is so concerned about money, a great way to save money would be to decrease teacher work days back to the original 186 days. That would save a lot of money on both teacher salaries and expensive in-service training days.


13 people like this
Posted by Menlo Man
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 23, 2016 at 10:57 am

Menlo Man is a registered user.

Hi Publius, we have a couple areas of agreement, and a few where you are incorrect:

"Remember, most teachers still move up on the step and column with years of service."

This is simply not true in MPCSD. A teacher in years 1-9 of their career DOES get a yearly salary increase. But starting year 10, a teacher only gets a salary increase EVERY FOUR YEARS. So from years 10-22 , a teacher can only expect 4 salary increases. After year 22 , a teacher NEVER gets another salary increase unless one is negotiated. Look at the MPCSD salary schedule and see for yourself:

Web Link

"For everyone that leaves, there are plenty of qualified teachers who apply for jobs in this district to fill any vacancies."

False: There is a national teacher shortage that is only expected to get worse. You may be able to fill the vacancies of veteran teachers who leave Menlo Park with recent college graduates, or Teach For America candidates, but these are not the high quality, experienced, teachers our parent community demands. The notion that there is a long line of qualified candidates waiting to snatch up Meno Park vacancies is simply no longer accurate. The HR department in MPCSD can attest to the difficulty of hiring new teachers.

Web Link

Web Link

Lastly, I do agree that cuts and compromises do need to come at all levels: The community needs to pass another reasonable parcel tax with a defined ending date. Specialty district programs that are not core curriculum needs to be cut, top level district administration needs to be thinned out, and yes teachers need to expect to tighten their belts, and their salary increase expectations.

But we NEED TO STOP this narrative of greedy teachers with bloated pensions who should just be fine with larger class sizes and no chance of cost of living salary increases.


4 people like this
Posted by Peter F Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Sep 23, 2016 at 11:09 am

Menlo Man - you stated your position both well and clearly.

I totally agree with you.


36 people like this
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Hillview Middle School
on Sep 23, 2016 at 11:53 am

"Facts", a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park, wrote:
> MPCSD's current funding is already lower than the comparable districts

Not exactly. In fact, MPCSD funding per student is higher than every comparably-sized elementary school district (or larger) in Northern California, except for Roseland Elementary (Sonoma County). See ed-data.org.

If the district came up with a comprehensive plan that was a combination of expense containment (ie, freezing raises over the next few school years among other small changes) in conjunction with small class size increases, I would at least listen to a proposal to have a small, temporary parcel tax to fill in the gap left from the budget improvements and remaining expenses. I'd have other conditions to get my vote, but the gist is that the district and its pro-tax proponents are going to have to do more to contain costs before another parcel tax will be approved. It's just that simple.


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Posted by Long time reader
a resident of Portola Valley: Brookside Park
on Sep 23, 2016 at 12:52 pm

Does anyone know if it is discrimination to hold housing for public sector employees...I think if I were a small business owner/cashier/landscaper/attorney/store clerk etc, I might file suit.....


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 23, 2016 at 5:35 pm

Reference: Tax Assessment Roll 2015-2016 From County Assessors Office

Menlo Park Elementary District $13,561,160,055
( Thirteen Billion, Five Hundred Sixty One Million, One Hundred Sixty Thousand, Fifty Five Dollars ).

All Menlo Park Residents 33,071 ( Thirty Three Thousand, Seventy One ).


5 people like this
Posted by District Insider
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Sep 23, 2016 at 5:45 pm

MPCSD is very seldom impacted by the nationwide teacher shortage, and on an annual basis there are typically few vacancies, due to low turnover in the district. Historically, when elementary teacher vacancies are posted in the spring, the district receives over 500 applications, including a large number of applications from experienced teachers. The reason first year teachers are often selected to fill vacancies in the MPCSD is because they have completed their student teaching assignments in a district school, and the principals have determined that they did a great job; therefore, they select the student teachers to fill vacancies.

The abundance of applications received by the MPCSD is due to the high salaries and the unique, excellent working conditions in the district. The working conditions include safe schools, beautiful facilities that are unheard of in other public school settings, and strong parent support for the schools. In addition, all district teachers and staff are offered the perk of their children being allowed to attend schools in the district.

In many districts, due to budget constraints, teachers are not provided the things that they need to effectively teach students, and they deal with the challenges presented by poverty on a daily basis. In contrast, in the MPCSD, one principal would state to candidates during interviews, “Our teachers have everything that they want.”


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Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 23, 2016 at 5:54 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Thank you district insider. As suspected, a pay raise clearly is not required to retain our great teachers.


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Posted by Menlo Man
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 23, 2016 at 6:59 pm

Menlo Man is a registered user.

District Insider , unless you can cite your sources or elaborate on such claims such as...

"MPCSD is very seldom impacted by the nationwide teacher shortage"

"the district receives over 500 applications"

...Your statements are worthless and invalid. In the 2015-16 school year, MPCSD lost 12 teachers due to financial or commute reasons. Source: Erik Burmeister at the 9/13/16 School Board meeting.

We fool ourselves at the peril of our students to think that Menlo Park is immune to a teacher shortage. You can bet that the teachers that get pink slips in March 2017 will quickly and easily be snatched up by competitive districts up and down the Peninsula.

Menlo Park cannot afford to get onto the layoff-and-rehire carousel that other districts engage in. Our students will absolutely suffer for it....


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Posted by Brandon C.
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 23, 2016 at 7:01 pm


From Facts:

"...the only way our community can maintain existing programs and services is with higher parcel taxes. The issue our community needs to decide is whether or not we want to maintain our existing comparable class sizes and breadth of program to Palo Alto, Las Lomitas, etc."

Thank you, Facts, for putting the real issue out there.

It's always simply about where to put the $.

Teacher salaries?
Class size reduction/special programs/ sustaining an amazing core program?
In the hands of the taxpayer?

In times of shortfall the following can be in direct conflict:

1. what's ideal for teachers
2. what's ideal for students
3. what's ideal for taxpayers not affiliated with the school

What's ideal for teachers is that they earn enough to live in the area where they work (impacting quality of life by reducing commute)
What's ideal for students is that they can have amazing highly qualified teachers and a plethora of special programs
What's ideal for taxpayers not affiliated with the school district is that they support producing solid citizens who are qualified to sustain our community without draining their pocketbooks

Should teachers be given a salary enabling them to live in or near MP? Ideally. However maybe they have to commute " a bit".
Should students be given amazing programs? Ideally. However, maybe they have to go without unless their parents can provide such classes privately, as do many children all over the bay area from less affluent communities.
Should taxpayers not affiliated with the school district pay extra taxes to enable teachers to live where they work AND/OR should taxpayers pay extra taxes for students to have amazing programs?

It depends on what one sees as the responsibility of the taxpayer.
I pose that question to everyone who reads this?

Who is responsible for what?
Teachers for arriving to work rested and ready even after an hour commute across the bay? Maybe but maybe not.

Parents to provide for their children the variety of specials currently offered by the district, so that the taxpayers don’t have to provide more than the basics? Maybe but maybe not.

Taxpayers for paying more than they would like to send a message that teachers shouldn’t have to engage in lengthy commutes or so that parents shouldn’t have to foot the bill for music/languages etc. Maybe but maybe not.

What do YOU think, Almanac reader?





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Posted by neighbor
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 23, 2016 at 7:15 pm

Hello !!!!

Menlo Park Elementary District $13,561,160,055 per Tax Roll per County Assessor 2016

( Thirteen Billion, Five Hundred Sixty One Million, One Hundred Sixty Thousand, Fifty Five Dollars ).

All Menlo Park Residents 33,071 ( Thirty Three Thousand, Seventy One ).

Wow !!!! Our little city could fund a whole country and still get it wrong.


2 people like this
Posted by Brandon C.
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 23, 2016 at 7:18 pm

Menlo Man-

I think we should verify for ourselves what district insider has claimed. Perhaps he/she is right? Just because he/she didn't cite the source doesn't mean it isn't true.

Let's ask the HR director to let the public know if the district is impacted by the national teacher shortage.

If they do in fact receive 500+ applications for 20 slots, I would say, they are not impacted. That does not mean that teachers shouldn't have salary increases for other reasons, but it does mean that salary increases are not needed to attract talent, as Dr. Ghysels reiterates.


1 person likes this
Posted by Publius
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 23, 2016 at 9:00 pm

Long time reader: I cannot speak to the legality of offering subsidized housing to certain public workers, but the following districts have or are considering doing such. I assume their legal counsel has determined it is legal.

San Francisco Unified is planning a 100-unit housing complex for public school teachers and paraprofessionals, which it hopes to open by 2020.
Cupertino Union is considering building 200 affordable housing units on a vacant piece of district land.
Newark Unified is considering underutilized property it owns for a potential housing site.

San Mateo County Community College and Los Angeles Unified School District are among a handful of other districts across the country that already offer housing for educators.


3 people like this
Posted by Menlo Parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 23, 2016 at 10:11 pm

1.) Dissenters on an article like this will always outweigh supporters. It's like negative reviews on amazon. A person dissastised is more likely to take the time to write. If a parcel tax with no sunset ALMOST passed and mostly failed due to low voter turnout, it demonstrates that the real problem was likely the no sunset portion. It's crazy to pass another no sunset tax and shockingly, 85 almost passes anyway! I think this shows a tremendous amount of support for what this amazing district has done for our community.

2.) Even if we ignore the direct benefit of the incredible performance of our schools and teachers (i.e. No children in school), every resident has benefited indirection from increased demand for their property. The pace of property appreciation is due to these schools. People don't want to live here because of pretty trees or the weather. They can go next door to Redwood City amounts carmel for that and save a bundle. Residents have benefitted hundreds of thousands each in the past few years alone. Pragmatically, it is our best interest to partner with schools and listen to teachers. I do believe the fear tactics used can be over the top and the arrogance of a no sunset tax was a bit extreme, but where they are on point is the increased population, -' expiring parcel task, and a resulting budget problem. I'm in favor of a 5-7 year parcel tax and supporting our schools, but I wish the fear tactics would stop. Then again....maybe a reality check of watching some of these programs dissolve, class size increases, and unhappy teachers who need to commute an hour to our district would be a wake up call we residents need.

3.) Teachers deserve the increases. In any other job, their incredible performance would be rewarded. Personally, I have watched our property grow 40% in the last few years and when young couples move in with their Silicon Valley money, they cite our schools. When teachers get recruited from other districts, we steal their best. This is how business works and I wish we would increase pay even more and cut some of the District fat instead. Folks, I don't want our teachers having to commute an hour each way or moonlighting as an Uber driver. Even if that is an exaggeration for some, it's insulting to ask them to take a pay freeze in a booming economy while many of us are getting rich. Punishing teachers because the board is using fear tactics is an extreme reaction. Compared to their Santa Clara schools (which are closer to the affordable outskirts they are being pushed to live), MPCSD lags behind in salary by 5-20%. Why are we paying our teachers less when they have done everything asked of us and producing results?

Teachers just took a 0% raise and a 2.5% raise over the last two years. That averages 1.25%! That doesn't cover cost of living and yet an entire article is written to shame them? We have now frozen their salaries for an entire year in a boom economy where our property appreciated 10% over the school year and we are afraid of a salary increase?

I don't believe many people ever change their mind on issues like these. I believe cognitive dissonance forces one to justify their dislike of unions, taxes, etc. so they can properly look out for themselves and reap the rewards of an incredible school district while simultaneously trying to prevent any adult or student from 'profiting' off their tax dollars. I respect and understand the power of cognitive dissonance, but I'm also about appropriately presenting a different view.

I understand that many of us respectfully disagree with dissenters, but we can find common ground and move forward. A new parcel tax without a sunset will pass, teachers will get a significanf raise after taking a 0% increase (remember, one year was 2.5% but the other was nothing), students will continue to have a flourishing arts program with opportunities for social emotional growth beyond their outstanding test scores, and our property values will follow. Residents of Menlo Park are intelligent and pragmatic and once the sunset returns, we will vote in these increases because it's the right thing to do for our kids, our teachers, and ourselves. You may disagree, but that is the beauty of our democracy.


3 people like this
Posted by Menlo Parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 23, 2016 at 10:20 pm

MPCSD already lost 12 teachers due to commute/salary issues and the teachers just took a 2.5% raise for one year and a salary freeze for this year to show good faith. Worse, one of those 12 teachers was one of the very best teachers in MPCSD, Michael Kaelin, who taught my children and got them engaged in English and writing like nobody else. He was a nationally board certified teacher with years of experience and the respect of everyone. He moved to a school without as much of a commute. We are pushing out our educators. Cost of living is outrageous and the increases in compensation are needed.


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Posted by Brandon C.
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 23, 2016 at 10:39 pm

Menlo Parent,
I enjoyed your post and it made me think. Thank you.

I also don’t want our teachers having a quality of life that involves tremendous commutes. I want them to be appreciated for all that they do. If it were a cake walk job, people would be lining up to do it and we wouldn’t have a teacher shortage.

On the other hand, why can’t the school community live within its means? If it wants the top teachers, then can it handle cutting some programs and knowing that the children will be OK? Why must this community have everything and then some?

Let’s decide what we want:

The very very very best teachers who are supported with great working conditions and arrive to work ready to teach our children?

Ok, then let’s pay for foreign language OR amazing arts programs OR give kindergartners a half day of school OR cut some of the many administrators (who also do amazing things) OR give our children slightly less personal attention with larger class sizes OR rely less on Teachers on Special Assignment and fabulous librarians, OR OR OR….

The parents have got to make choices and they don’t want to do that. They can have all of these amazing programs OR the very very very best teachers OR OR OR but not AND AND AND.

Not to mention that most other children in the state either have average teachers or special programs or class sizes but their communities cannot afford to give them the world. We actually run the risk of raising entitled children by continuing this. It’s not good for them to have everything and never want for anything but their parents don’t want that for them…..

Hence we just gave a raise to help retain the outstanding teachers and now will not find the community satisfied with simply replacing the expiring parcel tax and learning to live within our means. They want MORE and if they do, they are welcome to have it. Menlo School is right now the street and for that price tag, you can have whatever you want because YOU not WE pay for it.

I am not worried that our community will fall if our children don’t have EVERYTHING. Many successful individuals started out with much less than the children in MP.


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Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 24, 2016 at 8:07 am

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Brandon C: very well stated.


2 people like this
Posted by Menlo Parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 24, 2016 at 9:55 am

Brandon, I think we have lots of common ground.

As a parent, I have developed close relationships with teachers and parents, so I'm informed, but also influenced by many perspectives from within. I respect opinions that want more transparency and less fear mongering as I do too! I disagree strongly with posters who want class size increases and salary freezes and I can sense those who are open to real pragmatic solutions and those who are out for 'blood' and want to cut, cut, cut everything. Anyone who thinks a salary freeze in a booming economy with property values soaring for us is acceptable to our students and teachers is out for blood and isn't in a place to approach these problems pragmatically. Anyone who want to hire more district staff and have every program under the moon, a rolls Royce education, is also unreasonable. Lastly, anyone who fails to acknowledge that our teachers just took a 0% raise for last school year and a 2.5% raise for this year (which is unheard of in the history of MPCSD to freeze our teachers salary) is misinformed. I've seen enough blaming of our teachers and students and parents in these types of articles that appear to be less fiscally responsible and more fiscally unreasonable, cutting off their nose to spite their face....

Let's be real. Like it or not, these schools are the main reason for our property value. Paying parcel taxes is a small price to pay to reward our teachers, reward our students, and reward ourselves. Anti-taxxers can sometimes be similar to anti-vaxxers in that they draw a line and fail to consider the implications/benefits. Not everyone agrees with me, but I believe that our teachers salaries should at least align with the top schools in Santa Clara counties and that we should help them with the unprecedented cost of living growth over the past half decade. I believe in the arts and growing programs that support the arts. When budgets get cut, we all know the arts are the first to go when push comes to shove.

I want Menlo to continue to be a desirable place to live, work, and go to school. I think of parcel taxes as a small and reasonable price to support the influx of new families. MOCSD are a victim of success, not excess, in my opinion, and we as residents of Menlo Park have just asked our teachers to take a 0% raise, a freeze, followed by a 2.5% raise, which combined over two years, doesn't even cover inflation, let alone send the message that we value your success. If MPCSD were a business, they would have corporate sponsorships, be able to charge far more to its customers at will due to its incredible success, and generate revenue to invest in growth. Schools don't work like that because teachers and students aren't commodities. I listen to business leaders opine about how a business would handle this by cutting costs and freezing salaries and cutting staff. Yes....but a school also doesn't get the benefits of being a business either. They seek revenue in our community funded district in one of the only ways available to them...and some members would rather see our local, successful business, run by non-local teachers who are moving further and further away due to affordability, reduce and cut because they see schools as nothing more than government fat.

I say trim district staff excess, continue investing in the arts and technology, increase teacher salaries especially to make up for the embarrassing salary freeze they took while we all got rich off our property values last year, increase transparency of decision making, show respect to all tax payers by acknowleding the success of our programs and investment rather than assuming that everyone knows how awesome it is, and pragmatically add sunsets to new measures so we can examine this in 5-8 years again.


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Posted by Brandon C.
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 24, 2016 at 11:05 am

Menlo Parent,

I enjoyed your post and yes, I see some common ground. I agree that our teachers are the best. I agree that investing in the arts and technology is wise.


This is the place where we disagree.

What I don’t see though is where you suggest picking up the shortfall….

You say: “The only trim I see is district staff excess.
So what would that be and is that really enough? If it is, that could be a great solution. If it’s not, what do you propose? Do you think there are any other ways to trim?”

If yes, please explain how that would work. How many district positions would have to be eliminated to make up for the shortfall assuming that we give decent raises going forward?

My concern is that we couldn’t simply replace the parcel tax that is expiring, eliminate a few district positions and then break even.

This is why I suggest that the parents have to make choices because not all taxpayers are really benefitting from their increased property value. If you don’t plan to sell your home nor rent it, you are not really gaining, as you suggest.

Take this scenario:

1.I own my home, like it, plan to stay in it and leave it to my children.

2. I support teachers. I want to provide decent raises and support them to have a good quality of life, first because I believe in the teaching profession and second because I want to attract the best teachers for our community.

3. I truly want the young people in our community to have a good education that includes the arts, technology etc.

I am willing to replace an expiring tax to achieve these things but in order to do more (i.e. provide our children the world and then some (Gold plated educational experience that includes EVERYTING from low class sizes/personal attention, amazing art/music/ PE and language programs, wellness counselors, programs for at risk youth, extension opportunities, teachers who have the latest professional development on everything), I would have to pay higher taxes and the question is:

Do our children need ALL of this ALL the time, in ALL grades, with ALL teachers, in ALL subjects? …it’s like the AND AND AND.

What do the parents worry about if their children get this OR that? A wellness coordinator (important) OR a superb language program (also important) OR small classes in the early grades that accelerate literacy development OR teachers very very highly trained in best pedagogy….?

Most children in the state do not have IT ALL. Those children in Santa Clara County do not have everything under the sun. They might have wellness coordinators at higher ratios (not ideal but adequate). They might have slightly larger K-3 classes (not ideal for literacy development but a tradeoff to have the wellness counselors). They might have a handful of teachers who all have the latest training in technology (not ideal to only train a handful but adequate since teachers can help each other) OR they might have a second language for all student students from K-8 (ideal but chosen over the professional development training in tech for all teachers).

The equation is simple. ALL is not possible without a significant increase in taxes and I personally don’t feel the need to give our children that much because I think they will be fine with having some of the options presented above. Most kids in the state are and most of us are, despite not having had a gold plated education.

So at the end of the day, if the trimming of district staff is not enough, what would you support?

Higher taxes that will never be recuperated by those of us who don’t intend to sell nor rent our homes or simply replacing existing due to expire taxes so that we can pay our teachers well because we are willing to make the OR choices?

I appreciate your opinion, respectful tone and solid ideas.


27 people like this
Posted by Train Fain
a resident of Hillview Middle School
on Sep 24, 2016 at 3:08 pm

Menlo Parent, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park, wrote:
"Teachers just took a 0% raise"

Uhhh, they JUST got a 2.5% bonus. And it wasn't just teachers...ALL employees got a bonus:

Web Link

And here I thought MPCSD had a projected budget deficit. Clearly that's not the case, since they're handing out raises and bonuses.

It's pretty audacious to claim poverty and strongly imply that taxpayers/homeowners should pay for additional parcel taxes (on top of the 3 permanent ones that already exist) despite the substantial increases in property tax revenue, but then hand out bonuses.

This district is completely tone deaf to the community.

We were starting to make tiny progress in our discussions on finding middle ground. The administration, board and teachers union just undermined that progress.


17 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Sep 24, 2016 at 5:08 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Menlo Parent stated " every resident has benefited indirection from increased demand for their property. The pace of property appreciation is due to these schools."

Please why the Atherton properties that are in the Redwood City School District are appreciating as fast, and in some cases, faster than the Atherton properties that are in MPCSD.

Web Link


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Posted by fwiw
a resident of Woodside: other
on Sep 24, 2016 at 5:51 pm

I find the observation about Atherton area Redwood City school properties appreciating as fast other area properties amusing but perhaps rather misleading to this discussion, don't you think?

The mean/median listing price in that area appears to be roughly $12 million. Respectfully, anybody willing to plunk down that kind of cash and pay the associated 6-figure property tax is unlikely to be feel deterred in seeking the best possible education that elite private schools of their choice can provide. Property values have become so high in those areas that the perception of those local public schools have become irrelevant to the purchase decision.


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Posted by Peter F Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Sep 24, 2016 at 7:54 pm

The North Atherton values, in the Redwood City School District, compared to the rest of Atherton inside the MPCSD proves that the quality of school districts has no impact on relative property values.


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Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 24, 2016 at 9:19 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Peter F Carpenter? Never seen him post with a middle initial.


32 people like this
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Hillview Middle School
on Sep 24, 2016 at 9:26 pm

Attributing the property value appreciation soley to the school district is a myth. It's JOBS in the area that are responsible for the bulk of the appreciation rate.

Look:

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%

East Palo Alto: zillow.com/east-palo-alto-ca/home-values/
April 2011: 296,000
April 2016: 652,000
appreciation rate: 120.3%


If schools were the source of property value appreciation, EPA would see the lowest appreciation rate, but in fact it's the highest in the area..higher than even Palo Alto.

School quality matters, but not as much as proximity to jobs.


1 person likes this
Posted by Menlo Man
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 24, 2016 at 10:21 pm

Menlo Man is a registered user.

For the record:

MPCSD teachers received a ZERO percent on-the-salary-schedule increase for the 2015-16 school year. Yes for 2015-16 they received a 2.5% bonus, which on a 100k salary is $2,500 . After they pay 9% of it to their retirement , and 30% to the government, they take maybe $1,600 ? How far does $1,600 go when the cost of living increased by 2.7% in that same year?

And the 2.5% salary schedule increase they are receiving for 2016-17 is .2% higher than the Bay Area CPI of 2.3%

So can we stop calling this a "raise" and "bonus"for teachers?


1 person likes this
Posted by An idea
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Sep 24, 2016 at 10:28 pm

Follow the example set by Silicon Valley.

How about hiring H1-B immigrants as teachers?

A lot cheaper.


5 people like this
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Hillview Middle School
on Sep 24, 2016 at 11:34 pm

"So can we stop calling this a "raise" and "bonus"for teachers?"

Excuse me, but this was said in the comments:
"the teachers just took a 2.5% raise for one year and a salary freeze for this year to show good faith."

I took this as a good sign, that we could all be partners in resolving the possible future budget shortfall together. Small compromises, from smaller raises to a small temporary additional parcel tax would have gone a long way to resolving a potential financial crisis.

We weren't the ones trumpeting the 0% raise, pro-tax proponents were. It turns out that there's not only bonus to replace the 0% raise, but that the 2.5% bonus applies to all employees, including the administration, the same administration that is pondering a looming deficit. Do you not see the contradiction (some would call it hypocrisy, but I'd like to keep things civil)?


1 person likes this
Posted by Stephanie
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 24, 2016 at 11:45 pm

I truly thought a small parcel tax to replace the existing would fly and now I'm not so sure....

If nothing passes, this year at least, and the cuts needed to prevent a looming deficit from turning into a bankrupt district can't be stomached by the parents, maybe it's time to give some serious look at cutting the big overhead.

Combing district offices has not been popular but we are in the search for a new supt. anyway and if there are no reserves and if parents don't want to have class sizes of 30 then we'd have to do something drastic. Maybe that something is keep the teachers and slash the fat by having one superintendent for the area; the timing is right because others are also in the market for a new supt.


3 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 25, 2016 at 8:10 am

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Bankrupt district? Seriously? MPCSD isn't anywhere close to being bankrupt. And the lack of a parcel tax isn't going to bring that about any time soon.


12 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Sep 25, 2016 at 8:21 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Democratic institutions are intended to serve all of the citizens in a jurisdiction.

For some inexplicable reason the School Board believes that its mission is to serve the staff and the students rather than serving the taxpayers.

MPCSD is a PUBLIC institution that belongs to the public rather than to the students who are the beneficiaries of the community's investment in those students' education.


2 people like this
Posted by Publius
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 26, 2016 at 10:13 am

Menlo Man, thank you for your response to my post. I don't think anyone has called the teachers "greedy". I don't think I have ever made that statement in any of my posts.

I also would not use the macro argument that there is a national teacher shortage or even a California teacher shortage and apply that to a very unique micro situation in the case of the districts in this specific area. I am not aware of anyone teaching in any of these districts on an "emergency" or "temporary" credential. I would love to know how many applications the district gets per open position? As a very desirable district both in terms of pay and working conditions, I am sure most position openings get a fair number of applications.

With regards to the Step and Column not providing increases on an annual basis after year 9, you are correct and I should have stated this in my original post to be fair. However, both the step and column and the raise given for this year are just "merit" increases for service. When will we start providing raises based on performance for all staff in district? Maybe the Board should re-review how pay for performance is working in Portal Valley School District.
Web Link

Teachers in general work hard and some work in districts where they should receive hazard pay. For MPCSD it get back to the most basic of finance issues. Money in and money out and these need to balance in the long term. The taxpayers give the district money to run the schools and the board has the fiduciary responsibility to use that money in the best interest of the taxpayer and the students. If that means using most of that money for teacher, staff and administrative salaries, that is fine but it means less for other operational costs. The reverse is obviously true. Given that the district's annual increase is really tied to the CPI increase on the three permanent parcel taxes, property tax increases and increase in property values at time of sale, the additional planned revenue is what the district has to work with and this is what the district needs to work with and not always go back to the taxpayers for more money.


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

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