Monday and Tuesday: Public input sought on school budget decisions

Menlo Park City School District holding morning and evening meetings on possible parcel tax

The Menlo Park City School District wants to know what the public thinks about it putting a parcel tax measure on the ballot next year to help it make up what the district predicts will be a $5.3 million budget shortfall by the 2020-21 school year.

Two board meetings, one at 9 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 24, and a second at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 25, will be held in the Hillview Middle School Performing Arts Center, 1100 Elder Ave. in Menlo Park.

The district says the topic of both will be: "Should MPCSD pursue a different parcel tax to avoid or minimize cuts?"

Two parcel tax measures failed in May.

The district plans two additional meetings on budget options: Nov. 9 and Nov. 30. Both will be in the Hillview Performing Arts Center, starting at 6 p.m. The Nov. 30 meeting is scheduled so the board could meet a Dec. 2 deadline to put a parcel tax measure on the March 2017 ballot.

Visit (the district's website) for more information. Videos of previous budget meetings and links to financial information on current and past budgets are posted.

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2 people like this
Posted by The Onion
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Oct 21, 2016 at 11:59 pm

We just rejected two parcel tax measures. What doesnt the school district understand about NOOOOOOOOOOO! How did they react after crying PoBoy, and listing all the classes they would have to cancel, and all the teachers they would have to fire. Why they just went and gave everyone a raise. Incredible. We know why they need more money, and it has nothing to do with our kids. Its for their pensions. Web Link

2 people like this
Posted by Taxpayer
a resident of Atherton: other
on Oct 22, 2016 at 1:14 am

Make do like the rest of us.

Why work harder for 32 cents in my pocket for every dollar I make.

How about lowering taxes?

13 people like this
Posted by Priorities
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Oct 22, 2016 at 10:58 am

The topic of the meeting is an oddity: "Should MPCSD pursue a different parcel tax to avoid or minimize cuts?"

The last parcel tax was rejected, which means the answer to this question is yes. I don't understand why we need two meetings to answer this question unless the purpose is not to actually solicit feedback, but to ask a loaded question that leads to another parcel tax election.

That was not the intent of what people were asking for in terms of more openness and transparency.

If the district wants substantive feedback, how about asking for people's prioritization of which cuts to make and to what degree.

If I can make a suggestion to the board. I talked with various people who supported and opposed the last parcel tax. The one universal aspect they all disliked was the use of a special election. Most everyone was caught by surprise an election was taking place. Whether intended or not, they all felt the district was being sneaky.

A special election is the type of thing a political consultant tells the district to do. The consultant is focused on winning at all costs. He doesn't care about the long term damage it may cause.

The consultant will tell the district most voters are not paying attention and to focus outreach only on parents. But these actions hurt the district's long term credibility. The election becomes about getting what the district wants, not what the community wants. As much as everyone supports schools, they become less trustful the district is being forthright and can be trusted.

7 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 24, 2016 at 1:04 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

I attended this mornings MPCSD Board outreach meeting and made the following comments:

The three existing permanent parcel taxes were a decision by the tax payers to elevate the MPCSD standard of performance.

The Board and the staff have done an excellent job of delivering on that community commitment.

I recommend March election on a $515 parcel tax that would expire in 6
years to determine if the entire community is supportive of maintaining the current academic programs.

The target audience for the next parcel election is the taxpayers who will have to pay the bill (not the parents of current students or the teachers) and that audience is totally missing from this morning's meeting and that audience is very uninformed about the performance of the school district and the school board.

The success in that vote will depend on:
- making a strong case for maintaining the current status,
- full disclosure of all revenue and expenditure information,
- and a strong program of fiscal discipline.

5 people like this
Posted by HelloHanalei
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Oct 24, 2016 at 1:51 pm

HelloHanalei is a registered user.

Publius, this is from the District's website, concerning this week's public input sessions:

"Special Board meeting to hear from the community on willingness to renew or increase the expiring 2010 parcel tax. Comments regarding the proposed cuts are also welcome."

Are you really surprised that the District would explore the option of trying again for a parcel tax measure, one which would be more acceptable to the community, rather than dismantle programs which have been supported and nurtured for the past decade? Of course that's preferable to painful budget cuts.

That said, the District also seeks and welcomes input from and and all members of the community about what kinds of cuts should be made. There is no lack of transparency, no attempt to get one over on the community, no loaded questions, no foregone conclusions.

If you want to be part of the solution, please don't jump to conclusions based on an Almanac headline. Do your own research, come to meetings, engage with District leadership, and arm yourself to make informed statements and decisions.

4 people like this
Posted by Jarrod
a resident of another community
on Oct 24, 2016 at 4:38 pm

Priorities said: "If I can make a suggestion to the board."

Then put your money where you mouth is and come to the special board meeting tomorrow night and make your suggestions directly to them, that is the point of these special board meetings. They have made this as plain as they could have.

But, I suspect that someone without the courage to use their real name on such comments like this will not actually have the courage and conviction to do so in an open forum and directly to the board members.

2 people like this
Posted by Tim
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Oct 24, 2016 at 10:24 pm


Actually, the board has already heard @Priorities' recommendation many times during the first community feedback session. And that was coming from parcel tax supporters. They recommended the next parcel tax vote be held during a primary or general election instead.

We'll see if the board institutes this policy. If they do, we'll know they are taking community feedback seriously.

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

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