District considering appointing Erik Burmeister as new superintendent


The Menlo Park City School District announced on Friday, Sept. 23, that the school board is considering making current assistant superintendent Erik Burmeister the district's new superintendent.

On Sept. 27 the district's governing board will discuss terms of a possible contract that would have Mr. Burmeister take over when Superintendent Maurice Ghysels leaves at the end of June.

The board will not take action until its Oct. 18 regular meeting.

The public will be allowed to comment at both meetings or by emailing:

In late August, current Superintendent Maurice Ghysels announced that he would be leaving at the end of the school year.

Mr. Burmeister has been the district's assistant superintendent for the past year. He was principal of Hillview Middle School from 2012 to 2015, leading it to a 2015 California Gold Ribbon School award.

A statement from the district said that, working with the Stanford Design School, Mr. Burmeister "has become an expert in applying design and innovation to solve a variety of education challenges" including closing the achievement gap, school redesign, technology implementation, response to intervention, and asset development.

Mr. Burmeister was named the "Middle Grades Principal of the Year" by the Association of California School Administrators and was one of the three finalists for the NASSP National Middle Grades Principal in 2014. In 2012 he was named "Multiplier of the Year in Education" by the Wiseman Group. He has volunteered to support schools and districts and coached principals on school redesign.

Mr. Burmeister received bachelor's degrees in both secondary education and communication from Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. He has a master's in educational policy analysis from Stanford University. He speaks Spanish and has been a teacher, coach, activities director, dean, vice principal and principal at middle and/or high school in four different districts.

Mr. Burmeister and his wife, a high school teacher, and two young sons moved to Menlo Park this summer. He and his wife also have an adopted adult son living in Peru.

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13 people like this
Posted by Jennifer Sollman Allen
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 23, 2016 at 12:56 pm

As a parent and volunteer in the Menlo Park City School District, I have seen Mr. Burmeister up close in action and have the utmost respect for him.

As our Hillview Principal, he was extremely engaging, compassionate and eager to create a forward thinking environment for our children and his staff. His powerful legacy continues to positively influence not only Hillview, but all of our schools in the MPCSD.

I strongly urge the district's governing board to confirm his appointment as our new Superintendent. Thank you!

14 people like this
Posted by District Insider
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Sep 23, 2016 at 6:11 pm

The Board needs to cut its losses and begin the process of uniting the district and school community as soon as possible. Place the hapless Ghysels on administrative leave immediately and allow Eric Burmeister to take the lead at all of the upcoming budget meetings. The time for an ethical, knowledgeable and talented superintendent is NOW.

14 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 23, 2016 at 8:13 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

The board was warned about Ghysels. That Ghysels was all about what was best for Ghysels. When things got tough (the parcel tax failed and the unending spigot of money got turned off) he bails. Good job board. As district insider advises, place him on admin. leave and bring in his replacement. An employee on his way out is nothing but poison for the organization he is leaving. It amazes me the talented and experienced people on our board don't understand this.

11 people like this
Posted by Publius
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 23, 2016 at 8:37 pm

I agree with Jennifer about Erik. He is extremely capable and should be an outstanding superintendent. You may or may not like Maurice, but succession planning was well thought out.

This also SAVES the district money from having to go out, hire a search firm, and conduct interviews and such when you have a fully qualified candidate already in the district.

Maybe the district does not need to replace the Assistant Superintendent position. That would save the district I am sure close to $200k annually fully loaded.

5 people like this
Posted by JAL
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 23, 2016 at 9:19 pm

Regardless of what one thinks of Erik B., if the school board wants to respond to the public, then they need to do more than have forums to listen. They often go through the motions of listening but really have already decided what they want. Why not let the public decide through their newly elected board members.

1. Ask the candidates what they support (appointment, search or other).
2. Let members of the public elect officials who represent what they want in a supt.
3. After the new board has started, the new supt. can be appointed and/or interviewed.

That is a democracy.

What's the rush to appoint someone who is not starting until July? Frankly it's an insult to the public that they can't elect new board members capable of doing that in January.

5 people like this
Posted by District Insider
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Sep 23, 2016 at 10:35 pm

The Agenda for the Special Board Meeting on 9/27/16 is posted on the district website in Agenda Online. The Superintendent agenda item includes a copy of the contract for Erik Burmeister, and the abstract states:

DISCUSSION: Discussion of Terms of Employment Agreement for District
Superintendent Pursuant to California Government Code Section 53262 (15
minutes) (Discussion Item)

Board President

Quick Summary / Abstract:
The Board will discuss an employment contract for Erik Burmeister to become
the Superintendent of the Menlo Park City School District effective July 1, 2017.

E. Burmeister MPCSD Superintendent Contract

Per the Agenda abstract, it appears that the Board has made a another decision outside of a Board meeting. Per the Almanac article, "the public will be allowed to comment." Once again, the Board has put the cart before the horse.

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

This is unbelievable! It's no different than telling the public that there was a meeting to discuss to the teacher compensation package. If you vote the same day as the discussion, how can you truly consider the input that you just heard.

I don't want two board members who are leaving in December appointing a new supt. who will set the direction for the next X number of years (probably 15+ since his children are so young and he's likely to stay through their time in the district)

What's the rush? Are they worried that the new board won't do what THEY want and so they need to push this through beforehand? The new board is going to do whatever the public elects them to do and there is no reason waiting an extra six to eight weeks cannot be done.

I encourage folks to attend this "supposed" input sessions, regardless of how you feel about the supt. selection and push the board to have a transparent process that involves getting public input BEFORE THEY DRAFT A CONTRACT.

That is sneaky.

7 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 24, 2016 at 8:04 am

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

This board still doesn't get it. They last their parcel tax bid and in the process were told loud and clear that we wanted the board to be more transparent. This is just more of the same opaque, back room BS they've been up to for years. I think it's time to impeach this board and start fresh.

2 people like this
Posted by SteveC
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 25, 2016 at 12:12 pm

SteveC is a registered user.

Impeachment sound good to me. What is the hurry??? Make an appointment and then run away from responsibilities??

3 people like this
Posted by Burmeister supporter
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Sep 25, 2016 at 1:59 pm

The succession plan for Burmeister to be the next Supt after Ghysels was obvious to all when he was promoted to Asst Sup, and he has been very well received by all parts of the community. Tthe fact that he led the District through its most recent strategic planning exercise is further evidence that the succession plan is fully supported by the current board, a majority of whom will continue on regardless of who is elected in November. It is therefore unlikely that the Board President would have agendized a public discussion of Burmeister's candidacy if he didn't believe that the three members continuing on were in support of Burmeister. Also, a majority of candidates running have publicly expressed their support for Burmeister to become the next Superintendent. If there is negative input (unlikely) on Burmeister, the public have almost a month to make that known to board before any vote is taken. Carpenter and his friends are just continuing their negative campaign against our schools.

4 people like this
Posted by JAL
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 25, 2016 at 3:07 pm

The issue is not whether Erik would make a strong supt. I think most of the public, the board, the board candidates, etc. would agree.

The issue is that a contract has been drafted before the public has been asked. Given that there are structural changes that might be necessary for the district to make if they don't gain more revenue, it’s premature to make an appointment (with a financial commitment attached to it) until the district thinks through where it wants to make the cuts. Perhaps the public wants it to make cuts in the salary of the supt.? Perhaps the public wants to combine roles of senior administrators as a cost saving mechanism so that teacher salaries stay strong and so that class sizes stay small..... To assume that one supt. will simply be replaced with another, given the "looming deficit” is narrow thinking.

That being said, I think that Erik B. is a strong leader and would make a strong supt. IF its decided that replacing one supt. for another is the best option giving the budget challenges.

The board does not have mal intent, but at times they do think that they know best and want to act without ascertaining what the public thinks.

What is the hurry; it's only September and Maurice doesn't leave until June?

2 people like this
Posted by Burmeister supporter
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Sep 25, 2016 at 4:03 pm

Not wise to leave Burmeister twisting in the wind for months with no firm commitment. Glad that both the board and most of the candidates running for the open seats are all on the same page on the wisdom of moving ahead now with Burmeister.

12 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Sep 25, 2016 at 4:20 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" Carpenter and his friends are just continuing their negative campaign against our schools."

Wrong on three counts.

1 - I always act on my own behalf.

2 - I have never attacked the schools.

3 - I have never attacked Eric Burmeister - in fact I have been quite impressed with his performance.

It is quite the usual approach if you do not like a message and you cannot effectively counter the message then you attack the messenger.

My message is clear and consistent:

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

2 -The Board should committ 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 should propose 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 should recognize 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 should 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.

9 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 25, 2016 at 7:36 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

"Carpenter and his friends are just continuing their negative campaign against our schools."

Not campaigning against our schools. Quite the opposite. Campaigning for a board that is transparent. This one is not. They even acknowledged they needed to be more transparent after losing their two parcel taxes. But that was just lip service based on their on going actions. "We wrote a contract for Burmeister but we want your input." BS! If they really wanted our input they wouldn't have written a contract yet. They are just putting on a SHOW. "See, we asked for public input." Again, BS!

Which begs the question of Brown act violations. How is it that they decided to write Burmeister a contract and up until now it has never been agendized or discussed in open meetings? More of the same old opaque garbage coming from this board. I'm sick of it.

3 people like this
Posted by School supporter
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Sep 25, 2016 at 10:22 pm

Burmeister will do a great job if he is selected. I urge the board to vote for him at their earliest opportunity.

5 people like this
Posted by MP parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Sep 26, 2016 at 8:40 am

I think Burmeister would be terrific, but process is important. Sounds like folks have legitimate questions about the process thus far. Perhaps someone from the school board or superintendent's office might try to address these questions and concerns? If folks have misunderstood the process or have missed something, clarification would be appreciated. Otherwise, that questions remain unanswered tends to undermine faith in a board which I believe is comprised of honest, dedicated, hard-working volunteers who care deeply about our community and schools in particular.

4 people like this
Posted by Publius
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 26, 2016 at 9:33 am

Again, as stated by others, this is about Erik or his qualifications. He will probably do an outstanding job as the new superintendent. And please Burmeister supporter, he is not "hanging in the wind" on if this job is his or not. If he is that committed to the district and the kids, I think he would be willing to let this appointment go through the appropriate process needed to set him up for success. It is not fair to him to have his appointment always in question with the taxpayers.

Also Burmeister supporter, you comment "Glad that the board and most of the candidates running for the open seats are all on the same page on the wisdom of moving ahead now with Burmeister." I hope other candidates would ask the same question as those in the community otherwise I am worried we have candidates that think just like the current members and that is train wreck between the board and the taxpayers in the making.

Overall, it goes back to the question of how the Board and administration handles these decisions and how they always seem to be after-the-fact communications to the taxpayers.

The silver lining to all this is that the district will not need to spend the $100k+ to go out and hire a recruiting firm to do a national search. Maybe the district can also not replace the assistant superintendent position saving another $180K+ a year.

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

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