News

Speakers tell school district to go for a parcel tax to avoid cuts

Second input session tonight at 6 p.m. at Hillview Performing Arts Center

Speakers at a public-input session Monday on a possible new parcel tax for the Menlo Park City School District almost universally favored another tax, and several suggested asking voters to approve a high enough tax to avoid budget cuts. A second public-input meeting was on Oct. 25.

One of the more surprising comments during the Oct. 24 session came from Peter Carpenter, an Atherton resident who had strongly opposed two parcel taxes that failed to gain the needed two-thirds approval on the May 2016 ballot.

Mr. Carpenter said he believes that three existing permanent parcel taxes were put in place by taxpayers to help improve the school district. "The board and the staff have done an excellent job of delivering on that community commitment," he said.

Mr. Carpenter said he recommends the board put a measure on the next general election ballot, next March, and ask for the amount needed to avoid cuts, $515 per parcel. He recommended the tax be for a fairly short term of about six years.

"I think it can be done but it has to be a community-wide effort."

Jen Woolosin, the parent of two students at Laurel School, urged the school board to do whatever it could to protect the district's teachers and small class sizes that ensure "every child in the classroom is getting what he needs."

"Please take care of our teachers," she said, and encouraged the board to go for a March election to avoid giving teachers layoff notices. "We would not want to lose any of these phenomenal teachers that we have," she said.

Scott Saywell, one of four school board candidates and father of two Laurel School students, said he has talked to hundreds of district residents during his campaign. "By definition, as a community-funded district, our community decides the size of our budget," he said. "Our community really ... supports our education system," and will step up to vote for a parcel tax, he said.

He suggested the district do more to inform the public about the budget impacts of pension costs, which are mandated by the state

Laura Lane, mother of an Oak Knoll School student, said she finds the school "such a safe place for kids." She said the students feel safe to be themselves and express themselves and therefore, to learn.

"That's what we want our kids to feel," she said. "I hate the thought of cutting anything."

Kelly Morehead said her family, like several others, "actually moved here specifically because of the quality of the schools."

"I think you should go out and ask for the full amount," she said, adding that it is only $300 more than what is being paid now. "That, by my math, is about 86 cents a day. So if everybody wanted to reduce their coffee from a grande to a tall, I think we could cover that," she said.

Hongran Stone, the parent of two Oak Knoll School students, told board members some of the challenges they face. "My neighbor who has a kid in Oak Knoll didn't know we have a budget deficit" in the school district, she said.

Teacher Jeffrey Mead said many people also don't know that teachers also contribute to their own retirement and "I'm surprised at how many people don't know that we don't collect social security."

He said teachers need to help campaign for the new parcel tax. "If this is going to benefit us and save our jobs, we should be out there too," he said.

Jennifer Bestor, a Menlo Park resident who formerly had a child in the district, reminded the board that the district has a number of disadvantaged students who would feel the burdens of any cuts first. "It is the children who have the least in this district who will suffer," she said.

Sarah Leslie, an Oak Knoll School parent, said voters need to be aware of how many volunteer hours go into programs at the district schools, including by those without children in the schools. "People feel this is a community institution and they want to help out," she said.

At District.MPCSD.org, the district's website, videos of the budget meeting will be posted. Assistant superintendent Erik Burmeister said a list of answers to frequently asked questions will also be posted soon.

Related story: District looks at cost of non-resident employees' kids attending district schools.

Comments

21 people like this
Posted by Tired and Retired
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 25, 2016 at 12:32 pm

Will seniors be exempt from this new parcel tax? I already pay more than $500 annually for public schools. Personally, I would investigate a merger of the four school districts, each with their own million dollar PLUS administrative staffs, serving Menlo Park, Atherton, Woodside and Portola Valley. Do we really need district superintendents making $225,000 per year base salary? How does Woodside justify that salary for one school with 400 children. Are the districts required to demonstrate where the money is spent and what the actual administrative overhead costs are in each district? If you remove the teachers salary and related salaries for school maintenance from the equation, what is being spent on overhead in each district. There are 4 school districts with a total of 9 schools to manage.

The ballot measure should be for a merger and not another parcel tax. Mergers could possibly save millions of dollars year over year and be a longer term solution that a 6 parcel tax.


6 people like this
Posted by HelloHanalei
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Oct 25, 2016 at 1:03 pm

HelloHanalei is a registered user.

Tired, seniors can request an exemption from any parcel tax. I believe the exemption needs to be renewed annually. I'm not sure which agency you would contact about that, but I'd be happy to find out.

MPCSD discloses its financials in full, and you can find a wealth of information here:

Web Link

Very soon there will be a comprehensive FAQ posted on the District website, at district.mpcsd.org. It will contain answers to all of your questions.

Take care.


8 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 25, 2016 at 2:53 pm

"MPCSD discloses its financials in full,"

Not quite - please show me the line item in the budget for the cost of the inter-district transfer students whose parents work at MPCSD. The cost is about $1 million but that does not show up anywhere in the financials.


24 people like this
Posted by Jennifer Bestor
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Oct 25, 2016 at 4:06 pm

Mr. Carpenter,

Could you give us an example of ANY school district in California that reports the cost of inter-district transfer students whose parents work at the district?

As we heard at last week’s Board meeting, every other basic-aid (“community funded”) district offers this accommodation to their staff.

Would you also like the cost of every Tinsley student captured as well? This could be considered a cost of the Tinsley lawsuit, once netted against the income received.

MPCSD is just one of a thousand school districts in California, each of which is legally obligated under the Education Code to use the same SARS account structure, the same accounting standards, and produce the same reports. Just as facilities bond service income is not included in the general fund accounting structure, neither is the accommodation of staff children. Thus, MPCSD either has to spend scarce resources keeping two sets of books, creating two sets of funds accounting statements, and constantly reconciling the two – or use that money to educate the community's kids.


18 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 25, 2016 at 4:13 pm

Jennifer asks "Mr. Carpenter,

Could you give us an example of ANY school district in California that reports the cost of inter-district transfer students whose parents work at the district? "

I do NOT care what OTHER districts do or don't do in accurately and fully reporting their expenses; I care what MPCSD does.

Hiding $1 million of costs is unacceptable to me.

Not including that $1 million in union negotiations is unacceptable to me.

Not including that $1 million in reported income of the parents who benefit is unacceptable.

If the standard to be used is" what other school districts do" remember that the majority of school district in California do not have a single parcel tax.


2 people like this
Posted by New Owner
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Oct 25, 2016 at 4:19 pm

Wait parcel taxes penalize new owners. We are paying the full current tax.

People that have owned for a long time, paying a fraction of what they would, those are the ones that need to be asked for money.

Also, the problem is not in the budget cuts, but that the people that make those decisions will make sure the kids suffer when the problem is the waste of money in capital.

Schools need two things: good teachers and warm classrooms whose roof doesn't fall.
The rest is optional and should not be payed with taxes.


12 people like this
Posted by SteveC
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 25, 2016 at 4:25 pm

SteveC is a registered user.

Sure would be nice to have a discussion about the schools without the bullies attacking people requesting information. I guess people have forgotten how to be civil. Too bad. Same problem with a person running for president.


13 people like this
Posted by Jennifer Bestor
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Oct 25, 2016 at 4:36 pm

Tired and Retired,

All previous parcel taxes have included a senior exemption.

You may wish to review the information available at ed-data.org, which includes breakdowns of administrative vs. overhead for every district in California, including those you mentioned.

Meanwhile, however, it is the other districts that would have to choose to merge with MPCSD, since each would be adding more property tax to the pot (per student) than MPCSD. In addition, the academic research on the subject shows that -- rather than creating local property value -- district mergers tend to take it away in high-income areas. Buyers apparently like the idea that they have a greater say in their local schools. Search for Duncombe & Yinger, 2012, "How Does School District Consolidation Affect Property Values?" It shows about a .6% drop in house values in the six years after a school-district merger in high-income census tracts.


14 people like this
Posted by Jennifer Bestor
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Oct 25, 2016 at 5:36 pm

Excuse me, Mr. Carpenter, but was provision of the house on Hoover Street to the fire chiefs reported as income to those chiefs? Was the fire distrit hiding the costs of that benefit? Was it included in union negotiations?

I don't remember hearing about it until the fire district decided to start paying everyone if they lived within 30 miles of the district.


8 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 25, 2016 at 5:52 pm

"Excuse me, Mr. Carpenter, but was provision of the house on Hoover Street to the fire chiefs reported as income to those chiefs?"

That housing was provided by the Fire District in order to keep those individuals readily available in the event of an emergency and was not replacement housing for the individuals involved - all of whom maintained their own residences at other locations.


22 people like this
Posted by Roy
a resident of Portola Valley: Portola Valley Ranch
on Oct 25, 2016 at 6:35 pm

Is there no end to the demands for more and more money for schools? It seems not. The schools need to learn to live within their means. I have a new neighbor and the amount he is paying for property tax exceeds the income of many people.


17 people like this
Posted by Concerned Parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 25, 2016 at 7:39 pm

I think it is important to understand that only approximately 17 cents of every dollar homeowners pay in property tax goes to our schools. Without the parcel taxes, our school district could not even cover the basic costs.

Our community believes a well-rounded, robust education is important, and a public education of that sort is a vital public service. Remember that the MPCSD has more students who qualify for free or reduced lunch living within the district than all of the Tinsley students who transferred to the district. These are the students who will suffer when programs are cut. The other students' families will supplement the child's education with private music and art lessons, but the students of lower income families will do without the things that provide a foundation for an exemplary educational experience.

Our education system depends on parcel taxes, and with one of the parcel taxes expiring, enrollment continuing to increase, and the transfer of pension funding from the state level to the district level, our district needs $300 more per year from each homeowner. That is a small price to pay for the benefits high quality school bring to the community in the form of high property values and lower crime.


16 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 25, 2016 at 8:02 pm

"our district needs $300 more per year from each homeowner. "

That is in addition to the $200 from the expiring parcel tax.

So the taxpayers will need to be convinced that that a new $500+ parcel tax is justified by what the schools offer and affordable given each taxpayer's other financial demands.

The burden is on the school district:

- making a strong case for maintaining the current status,
- having full disclosure of all revenue and expenditure information,
- demonstrating a strong program of fiscal discipline.

I will also suggest that all of the MPCSD unions participate in contributing to the solution by pledging to not ask for prospective or retroactive salary increases for the 2017/18 school year. The recent PAUSD experience of a new parcel tax being sold for student programs was instead immediately spent entirely on teacher salary increases is a harsh reminder that parcel tax proceeds can be easily and quickly diverted from their “intended” uses.



14 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 25, 2016 at 8:28 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

"Our education system depends on parcel taxes, and with one of the parcel taxes expiring, enrollment continuing to increase, and the transfer of pension funding from the state level to the district level, our district needs $300 more per year from each homeowner."
"
Then our district needs to learn to live within its means. Just like the rest of us. If you aren't living within your means do you go to your boss and tell him, "I need more money because... I need it?" If you do, let me know how that works for you. No, you live within your means. The taxpayers aren't an open checkbook, so forget just coming to us for more and more, because "it's for the kids." BS. You want more than the extremely excellent education your children are receiving, YOU PAY FOR IT. STOP ASKING US TO PAY FOR YOUR PREMIUM EDUCATION. Either that or send your kids to private schools. Stop acting like entitled children. We don't OWE you anything. You're children already receive an education that is head and shoulders above most of the state, yet you want us to spit up even more money? NO. NOT GOING TO HAPPEN, unless you show us a VERY GOOD reason to do so.

Add to that the fact the school board can't even accurately describe the actual expenses of the district (teachers' children allowed to go to MPCSD even though they don't live in the district. Not in any budget line item.) and....NO, I'm not voting to throw more money at a mismanaged district. Do you honestly think the board didn't expect the state to come asking for more retirement money? Really? Anyone who has been paying the least bit of attention KNOWS CALPERS and CALSTERS is grossly underfunded and their investments aren't performing "as expected" (any moron could have figured that they weren't going to make 7 3/4" as they expected. Duh) So they came back to the district to back fill their under performance. BIG surprise. If the board had expected this AND figured a parcel tax wasn't a slam dunk then they would have handled the district finances accordingly, but they didn't. They figured they could just sneak parcel taxes in under the radar to cover their misfeasance (not malfeasance, different word and meaning). This board and previous boards have seriously SCREWED UP. Now it's coming home to roost.

You want the taxpayers to pay for another parcel tax? Two things need to happen. This school board needs to go and the new board needs to live within its means. Otherwise,,forget it.


3 people like this
Posted by parent, recent MP homebuyer
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 25, 2016 at 8:46 pm

I think somewhere along the way the "social fabric" has disappeared here. I was brought up to believe that working for the government i.e. teaching and school administration (principals etc) was paid at a lower rate than "market rate" because of the included superior benefits such as, but not limited to: pension, better hours, working conditions, job security, tenure, etc........

But somehow, government has figured out how to increase salary (and mainly by arguments used here such as comparative salaries of nearby towns), forcing an unneeded arms race to be at the highest rates.

As for the additional benefit of allowing employee children to transfer into the district, I just cannot understand how this is not a wealth transfer that does not trigger a taxable event. I run a small business with 150 employees globally and in the US cannot offer benefits outside of health care and 401K without causing taxes on my business or the employee.

As for the parent's comments about everyone reducing their daily Starbucks purchase from a "grande to a tall", I think this is highly telling about who is advocating for increases of taxes on everyone. (I looked this up for the rest of us, grande=medium, tall=small). Oh the hardship for "everyone". The many of us believe we are paying enough. Thankfully it still takes 2 yes votes to every no.

Should spend the consultants fees on teachers, was around $100K spent on the last recent failed attempt. How much will be spent this time around?


7 people like this
Posted by Jennifer Bestor
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Oct 25, 2016 at 10:37 pm

"One way the fire district has coped with rising housing costs and the need to have employees nearby has been by purchasing and maintaining a house next to the Oak Grove Avenue station, on Hoover Street, where chief officers can spend the bulk of their weeks. However, that solution seemed impractical for all of the fire district's 110 employees."

-- "Firefighters to get stipend to live near Menlo Park fire station", Almanac, 30 December 2015.


29 people like this
Posted by Jennifer Bestor
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Oct 25, 2016 at 10:57 pm

New Owner,

You have my sympathy when you say, "Wait, parcel taxes penalize new owners. We are paying the full current tax ... People that have owned for a long time, paying a fraction of what they would, those are the ones that need to be asked for money." It's interesting to see how Proposition 13 and its offspring are playing out over time.

In the MPCSD district, 22% of single-family residences and 36% of multi-family residences enjoy a pre-1985 base year, hence make the lowest tax contribution. They are paying 20 cents per dollar of public services to which those properties are entitled.

Of course, the flip side is that someone else is making up the difference. 40% of local single-family homeowners, those who bought in the last ten years, contribute 60% of the house/condo total, paying $1.50 per dollar of local services. And another 25%, who bought between 1995 - 2005, contribute about 25% (a dollar for a dollar). My cohort (1985 - 1995) is paying about $.60 on the dollar. (Interestingly, the pre-1985 group increasingly represents those who've inherited the homes, and the property tax basis under Prop 58, not original owners.)

It's important to recognize how Proposition 13 is skewing perceptions and public contribution to our common services. Forty years into Prop 13, we have this interesting residential situation.

Meanwhile, we also have the Walgreen’s/Unamas/Starbucks building downtown, which pays a total of $10,000 in taxes (plus $6,000 of sewer charges). It is owned by the real estate investment company run by the grandchildren of the man who owned it in 1975. Were it at current value, it would be paying well over $75,000. Had it simply been revalued at his death in 2000, it would be paying almost that.

That’s the equivalent of 325 parcels’ worth of the expiring $200 parcel tax. For one building alone.

Trader Joe’s, behind it, is in a similar situation. It is currently owned by the family trust in Massachusetts that is controlled by the second wife of the late husband of the late daughter of the late local woman who owned it in 1975.

And this is a commercial reality throughout much of our Santa Cruz Avenue downtown area. As the tax differential grows, it becomes more and more attractive to lawyer up and transfer property without triggering a tax increase.

When I look at the large base property tax differential between Las Lomitas and MPCSD, I am not surprised to find a much lower proportion of 20¢ on the dollar pre-1985 basis residential and commercial property in Las Lomitas.

Changing Prop 13 isn't in the cards, that I can tell. So now we have a situation where those paying $1.50 would like their money's worth -- or, at least, most of it -- while those paying 20¢ are among those clamoring loudest for fiscal restraint.


15 people like this
Posted by The Onion
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Oct 25, 2016 at 11:54 pm

We just had a vote on Parcel Taxes. Some people just can't take "NO" for an answer. The school district just gave everyone a raise and a bonus, in the midst of declaring a budget shortfall, and asking "where is the money going to come from?" Web Link To say the least, the optics are horrible here from the school board to the school district. We didn't just fall off the cabbage wagon. When the city fails to get a tax increase, the first thing they threaten to cut is police and fire services. Not the worthless consulting contracts and office furniture upgrades. The same goes for the school district. They predictably announce they will be increasing class sizes and reducing art/music and math courses. They do this because it works. We have too many Chicken Littles, running around, exclaiming the sky is falling. Cut the school budget and watch what happens. Platinum programs revert to gold. We can live with that. Live within your means please. The people have spoken. Have some decency and go away for a couple of election cycles.


18 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 26, 2016 at 12:14 am

I hope that those who are involved with the school district read carefully the postings by Menlo Voter, new owner, tired and retired, parent/recent MP homebuyer and The Onion.

Those are the people who must be convinced if the next parcel tax election is to pass by 2/3 rds.

It is time to stop preaching to the choir and to get out and listen to and talk with the shareholders who pay the taxes and who will make or break any parcel tax election.

For every person opposed to a new parcel tax there have to be at least two in favor of the new parcel tax - and in a high turnout election there simply are not enough concerned parents to swing the vote.


23 people like this
Posted by Emily Chiet
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 26, 2016 at 7:37 am

I am a music teacher and I teach at Oak Knoll. Below is the commentary I gave at last night's board meeting.

After last week’s board meeting I went straight home and talked to the smartest person I know: my husband, Joshua Chiet. In 2002 we were newly wed and destitute, so he decided that he would become a software engineer. The only problem with this was that he had a BFA in drawing and printmaking, a far cry from software engineering. We spent the last of our precious dollars on a few books and he set about his task. In the time since that decision, he worked his way up through the tech world and was working for Google by 2007, then at YouTube for four years, and now works for Dialpad where he was the lead software engineer on UberConference, the project that won them TechCrunch Disrupt in 2012. When I told him about the potential cuts to art, music, and library, he reminded me of how his art education paved the way for his ascent in the world of tech. I quote an interview he gave to his alma mater.

-----

Q: What is the most profound change you experienced at Dreyfoos (SOA)?
A: ... I painted a silver spoon in William Walter's class. He stood over my shoulder and told me to look closer, that, if I broke it down, every reflection that seemed impossible to render was actually just a series of greyscale shapes that could be easily translated to 2 dimensions. It was a moment of extreme clarity, where I realized that the ability to solve a problem is directly proportionate to your ability to really see what the problem is.

…My mentor in college, Robert Rivers always said drawing is a tool for seeing… I find computer code to be similar: a tool for thinking. Having learned to investigate my own drawings for insight into my seeing, I love turning to my code for insight into my thinking.

-----

Art is a tool for seeing. Music is a tool for listening. And we can’t ignore the role of reading in this story. Art, Music, and Library are vital to the development of critical thinking and we often don’t understand the full impact of what we teach until the moment has long passed. When we discount these subjects as mere niceties, we deny unknown numbers of children their personal moments of clarity. The outpouring of support at this meeting and the meeting yesterday heartens me because I know that there is a child just like Joshua who will have his or her moment of clarity thanks to the decisions that we make as a community in the coming months.


14 people like this
Posted by Jennifer Bestor
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Oct 26, 2016 at 8:56 am

The Onion,

When has Menlo Park, when it failed to get a tax increase, threatened to cut fire services?

And how would it do that? Erect roadworks for a traffic study outside the fire stations?

This is invention. A little like the Almanac's classic apology, after skewering the MPCSD board, "The trend that we cited in our editorial [against Measures A & C] is a troubling one that we've observed in reporting on other public boards, but we were remiss in not checking [MPCSD's] record ... we apologize." Check the record.

And "YES" was the vote of 60% of the voters on Measure A and 54% on Measure C. YES.

The school board would be remiss in tucking its tail between its legs when a CLEAR MAJORITY of voter-taxpayers said YES.


13 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 26, 2016 at 9:02 am

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

A 2/3 majority is required, not a simple majority. Thank fully. There was a simple majority in a special stealth election where not very many people voted. If the board does the right thing and puts it on the ballot during a general election it will most certainly lose. The voters of the district have awakened to the fiscal mismanagement that has been going on in our schools for a long time. We're not going to allow it to continue.


13 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 26, 2016 at 9:16 am

Hopefully Jennifer and friends will eventually realize that their target audience is not the true believers or even those who ask questions and make constructive suggestions but rather the majority of the taxpayers whose only communication with the school district has been via their property tax bill.


15 people like this
Posted by Publius
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 26, 2016 at 10:34 am

Publius is a registered user.

These meetings were more of a pep rally for teachers and parents than real discussion around both tightening the districts belt and asking for a moderate parcel tax. I REALLY encourage all residents that have a problem with the current tax and spend approach of this district to voice your displeasure on the input form the district has out until Oct. 30.

Web Link

Right now it is pretty much parent feedback and between this and the pep rallies, the Board would believe "everyone loves us" and we need to go out for a $500 plus parcel tax in March as a mail only ballot again.

All of Jennifer's complaints about the current tax structure is interesting but this affects all out public services in various ways and they seem to do ok with the funding they receive.

As I see it, the district needs to stop painting this as a issue around large increasing enrollment (much of it is by the way is from teacher interdistrict transfer) and point to the real issue which is the pension burden being pushed down to districts which will eventually drive the district's contribution up to 19% from about 6%. THIS IS WHAT IS DRIVING THE BUDGET ISSUE. I understand the pensions cannot be controlled by the district so they need to suck it up but it is also not on the tax payers in the district to shoulder the burden.


8 people like this
Posted by Publius
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 26, 2016 at 10:41 am

Publius is a registered user.

I also encourage people to watch Scott Hinshaw's public comment at the 10/25 special board meeting (when posted by MPCSD). He presented a very balanced approach to the budget situation that requires EVERYONE to give a bit - the district, the teachers, the parents and the public. This is the discussion that should be happening.


8 people like this
Posted by pogo
a resident of Woodside: other
on Oct 26, 2016 at 11:20 am

pogo is a registered user.

Government is completely transparent, except when you ask a relevant question.


22 people like this
Posted by Jayd Almquist
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 26, 2016 at 11:26 am

I agree, the comments here provide such a small sample size of the community’s support or rejection of a future parcel tax on the March 2017 ballot. It’s a LARGE assumption to make sweeping statements claiming that property owners rejected the proposal last March and the same outcome will happen in 2017.

I attended the board meeting last night (Oct. 25th) and found that many property owners are in support of, not only voting YES for a parcel tax to be passed in March 2017, but to further the support of OUR KIDS high quality education by pledging to vote YES at its highest amount of $515 dollars.

Again, I believe we need to work together COLLECTIVELY and as a COMMUNITY to ensure the exception education OUR KIDS deserve. OUR KIDS are not average, and these proposed budget cuts would dilute the strong educational infrastructure we have worked so hard for. We need to focus our attention towards creating a reasonable reconstructed parcel tax that will continue to secure the exceptional and excellent education OUR KIDS deserve.

OUR KIDS will attend Stanford and other Ivy League Universities. OUR KIDS will go on to become doctors, lawyers, inventors, and CEO’s. This learning starts at the Elementary school level though specialized programs that increase student achievement and growth. This is not your average community, this is a community based on hard work and dedication to providing an exception educational experience that maximizes opportunities for OUR KIDS to work towards their full potential.


8 people like this
Posted by Peter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 26, 2016 at 11:44 am

How many non-parents, non-teachers attended the 25 October meeting?

By my count there were only 2 non-parent, non-teachers at the 24 Oct meeting.


1 person likes this
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Oct 26, 2016 at 12:00 pm

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

Publius said:

"...point to the real issue which is the pension burden being pushed down to districts which will eventually drive the district's contribution up to 19% from about 6%. THIS IS WHAT IS DRIVING THE BUDGET ISSUE. I understand the pensions cannot be controlled by the district so they need to suck it up but it is also not on the tax payers in the district to shoulder the burden."

The bigger issue is the cost of education, period. I mean the TOTAL cost.
Even if the State covered ALL of the pension shortfall with "on behalf" funding, so that it would not fall on district taxpayers, it is still a part of that TOTAL cost of education. Service on bond debt at the local level should be included in that cost. And, the "on behalf" debt service for bonds issued by the state in "matching" funds (check Prop 51 on your ballot, there's another $9,000,000,000!) should be included in the cost of education. A proper audit would reveal that the per pupil annual cost of education in MPCSD is approaching $20,000. If parents were given half that amount per school age child to spend on education, the private sector would respond with real choice.


3 people like this
Posted by Jayd Almquist
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 26, 2016 at 12:13 pm

Peter....by my count 2 people that spoke to the board on Oct. 25th were non-parent, non-teacher both in support of a parcel. I can't confirm how many non-parent, non-teacher attended the meeting


8 people like this
Posted by Curious
a resident of another community
on Oct 26, 2016 at 12:32 pm

re: Jayd Almquist

That's pretty rich. Actually, the kids are average and most have to be by definition. Most likely won't be doctors, lawyers or engineers. Most will probably not be able to afford to live in Menlo Park without Mom and Dad's help. Most won't go to Stanford or Ivy's either. The parents though are above average when compared nationally because they've been able to earn enough to live in such a community. The schools are great because of that and the support of the community. Through the schools they get a big leg up over other average kids which helps make them look better. That is why people live in Menlo Park.

I don't see what is wrong with some asking for transparency in the costs of education. I think there is support and should be continued support for the great schools, but the public should also know how good a job the school district is doing.

Also, Prop 13 will never be touched most likely, but Prop 58 (Think is the number. Inheriting of tax basis on a property) should be easier to target and needs to go. I do admit though if it's around in the future, I plan to take advantage of it too.


4 people like this
Posted by Mark Heim
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Oct 26, 2016 at 12:37 pm

What I can't figure is why the parcel tax vote was a special ballot in May of a presidential year, when there was a huge ballot in June? I take pride in voting in every election, and I would have been in favor of the parcel tax, but I just assumed it would be on the June ballot. I am guessing a lot of votes were lost this way. It didn't seem to be highly publicized, at least from my viewpoint as a non-parent. Seems like a poor strategy in retrospect.


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Posted by Tired and Retired
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 26, 2016 at 1:24 pm

Response to Jayd Almquist: [Part removed. Please make your point without making it personal.] Would you feel the same way if YOUR child attended a private school ?? Perhaps it is time for parents to pay their share for the use of the public school districts and stop milking the land owners who do not even use the schools.


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Posted by Publius
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 26, 2016 at 1:38 pm

Publius is a registered user.

Jayd. Not sure we were at the same meeting. Seemed to me that the overwhelming majority of speakers were teachers and parents. So I am not sure the community is OVERWHELMINGLY in support of a $500 plus parcel tax based on 2 speakers.

Even Scott Hinshaw, former board member, co-lead on the failed measures A & C, and former MPAEF president did not talk about going for a new parcel tax at all costs. His well thought out comments called for the Board to take a balanced approach where everyone has to "tighten their belts". I wish Scott had stayed in the race for school board. My choice would have been clear - Caroline Lucas and Scott Hinshaw for Education Board.


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Posted by HelloHanalei
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Oct 26, 2016 at 1:44 pm

HelloHanalei is a registered user.

To Publius's comment: "These meetings were more of a pep rally for teachers and parents than real discussion around both tightening the districts belt and asking for a moderate parcel tax."

That's because hardly anyone who was not a parent or teacher showed up!! These meetings were widely publicized ~ even if your only source of MPCSD news is Town Square, I posted about the meetings in multiple Almanac comment threads, as did several others.

Peter Carpenter attended the morning meeting on Monday the 24th (and spoke in favor of a 6-year, $515 parcel tax), but hardly anyone else from the wider community attended either of this week's meetings, the School Board meeting on the 18th, or the 2 School Board meetings in September. All of these meetings were open to the public and well publicized, but people just didn't bother to attend.

The District WANTS to hear from non-parents and non-teachers, but if you want to be heard you need to come to meetings, and/or reach out by phone or email. If you don't do any of those things, then it isn't reasonable to complain that the meetings are "pep rallies," and that your voice isn't being heard.

Please, send in your input forms by the 31st. They WILL be read, and you WILL receive a response. Here's the link:

Web Link


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Posted by Publius
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 26, 2016 at 1:45 pm

Publius is a registered user.

Also Jayd. I did not like you comment.

"OUR KIDS will attend Stanford and other Ivy League Universities. OUR KIDS will go on to become doctors, lawyers, inventors, and CEO’s. This learning starts at the Elementary school level though specialized programs that increase student achievement and growth."

Why don't you read or listen to Madeline Levine works. The sum of a child's worth is not if they attend Stanford or other Ivy League schools. And they do not all need to be "doctors, lawyers, inventors, and CEO’s". By your statements, if a child does not achieve these then they have failed. What a poor message to send to children.....

The best comment I heard from Madeline at a parent series is when she started off by telling the parents. Most of your children will not do as well as you. You could have heard a pin drop. But she went on to say but that does not mean they will not succeed.


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Posted by Publius
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 26, 2016 at 1:51 pm

Publius is a registered user.

HelloHanalei. And that is what I said. People need to complete the form and have their voices heard. Must people of very uncomfortable public speaking, especially at the pro parcel tax "pep rally". I am a firm believer of if you don't provide your feedback, don't complain if you don't like the outcome.

So everyone, please fill out the feedback form on the district web site AND watch your mail for the survey from the school district. If only parents respond, then guess what will happen.


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Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 26, 2016 at 2:37 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

@mark heim:

the board put it out in May instead of June by design. It was pushed to parents and little to no other publicity was given to it. This was by design. It was a stealth campaign. The board figured if they did it that way it would pass easily because people like you would not realize there was a special election.


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Posted by Sad
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 26, 2016 at 4:19 pm

The discussion in these comments saddens me. I had thought that it was only on the national election level that people had become so mean-spirited. Now, I see it right here in Menlo Park too.

Education and taxes are both important issues and worthy of thorough debate, but the comments here feel divisive and argumentative to me. Many commenters assume the worst of people.

My belief is that everyone involved wants to do the right thing. What is the right thing for one person may not be the right thing for another person, but that does not make either person wrong. Instead of drawing battle lines and making inflammatory statements, let's become curious about both the problem and different views so that we canfind a way to solve the problem. This is the heart of Silicon Valley after all. If we work together, respectfully, we can and will find creative solutions to most problems, including this one.


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Posted by Jeffrey Mead
a resident of Hillview Middle School
on Oct 26, 2016 at 5:05 pm

I am an 8th grade teacher at the Hillview Middle School andI love my job and the students and families I work with and for. I do not understand the comments of Publius, though. I wish Publuis would not be anonymous, B.T.W.

Publius, I think you have children in the district. MPCSD & M.-A. both have parcel taxes that I pay for, and I have no children. Are your children benefitting from them? I pay parcel taxes out of an obligation to democracy. As a board candidates with the term "nation builder" embedded in the web address, it is important to remember democracies are built upon a solid, well-educated middle class. Our American democracy needs excellent schools now more than ever! " . . . So they need to suck it up but it is also not on the tax payers in the district to shoulder the burden." Every single public school in America, like La Entrada, depends on taxes money.

- I have no children, never have, and have owned homes in four different school districts. I have paid for 6 different parcel taxes - and still pay for Las Lomitas and M.-A. I pay those to participate in democracy.

-What does this mean? " . . . much of it is by the way is from teacher interdistrict transfer" It makes no sense.

-I'm sorry Publius used "pep rally for teachers and parent" so disparagingly. I thought it was nice exercise in community building. Jeff Child began by insisting on civility and it was very civil.

-But this a fact: "the district needs to stop painting this as a issue around large increasing enrollment"

-It is true that pension costs have gone up for all districts, but teacher contributions have also gone up. Teachers do not collect social security and have no say in the recent increases. We are being painted as culprits when we had no say over the increase.


-Publius, your anonymity contributes to the "pep rally" feel you mention. Express your opinions openly like I am doing here. I have a lot more to lose than you do.


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Posted by menlo mom
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Oct 26, 2016 at 5:47 pm

Thank you HelloHanalei for posting the link to the input form. My comments that I sent sum up my feelings on the issue:

I understand the need for additional revenue but do not have confidence that the district has put in sufficient effort to reduce costs before automatically asking the taxpayers for more money. Although my children have graduated out of MPCSD, I still am very involved in the district and visit all four schools regularly. I have seen the amount of technology in the classrooms greatly increase; I have seen the number of Spanish-immersion classes double; I've seen staff members sent to New York for training. There's the new position of "Assistant Superintendent" and the apparent need for Hillview to have a team of three administrators, rather than the traditional two.

I also wonder what other staff can be reduced. Looking at just the website for Laurel School, I see a total of 78 staff members, but only 33 are classroom teachers. I'm not discounting the need for specialists, such as art, music, PE teachers, or reading specialist, counselor, etc, but do we need a librarian plus TWO library clerks? I can only assume that they are part time and most likely help out in other ways, but with the availability of parent helpers, I'm not sure what the need for any library aides would be.

I don't mind pitching in and doing my part to insure that our kids get a great education, as long as I feel that the same is being done on the other end. (Notice I said "a great education" not "the absolute best education" because I'm assuming that those parents who are looking for that are paying for private.")


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Posted by Menlo Man
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 26, 2016 at 6:26 pm

Can someone answer this question:

Why do the anti parcel tax people on this forum not attend school board meetings?

I don't understand how you continue to claim the Board is not reaching out to all members of the community on this issue? There were back-to-back school board input meetings this week, you can take a survey on the MPCSD homepage and give input, yet Erik B. said 80% of the respondents so far have indicated they have kids in the MPCSD school system.

Can the small cadre of anti parcel tax people plausibly claim the Board is not seeking their input?

Respect to the dozens of Menlo Park teachers who showed up when their input was called for by the Board.


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Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 26, 2016 at 7:06 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Menlo Man:

It's possible that anti-parcel tax folks don't show up because they don't feel the board is ACTUALLY LISTENING. The feeling is that this is just a "show." To try and appease those that claim a lack of transparency. And when one drills down, one sees that this board isn't really trying to be transparent or take input from the taxpayers. Example; they asked for input on making Burmeister the new super, AFTER already writing him a contract. Gee. You think they're really interested in anything we had to say on the matter? Duh. Those types of examples are multiple and are one of many reasons we don't trust this board, nor any of the insiders running for the open seats. The only candidate I've seen that has an ACTUAL PLAN for dealing with the deficit is Caroline Lucas. She is who will get my vote. Hopefully she can help bring some transparency and some proper financial management to this school board.


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Posted by Menlo Man
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 26, 2016 at 7:29 pm

Why would Lucas who has no financial background be a good candidate for bringing "proper financial management" to the Board?

She's been a part time spanish teacher for years...


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Posted by Facts
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Oct 26, 2016 at 7:42 pm

Menlo Mom, The district has had an assistant superintendent since the year 2001 except for the 18 month period of time when we were forced to go without because the excellent person we had in the job quit to return to her old district (for a lower level job) due to negative Town Square Forum postings against her. Also, the board has required from the beginning that Spanish Immersion be run at no incremental cost.


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Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 26, 2016 at 8:14 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Menlo Man:

Read Caroline's position papers. Then check the other candidates and you will see she is the ONLY candidate that has put forward ANY possible solution to this problem.


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Posted by Brown Eyed Girl
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 26, 2016 at 8:51 pm

Brown Eyed Girl is a registered user.

Rather than spending money on consultants who are going to advise the school district on how to communicate the next parcel tax to the public, and convince them to support it, I would like to see a real peer group financial analysis of the district in regards to administrative overhead and ways to to be more effective and efficient.

The school board has lost trust with many people because they say we are running a deficit and need more money yet the first order of business after a failed parcel tax measure was to raise salaries.

That was a bad decision and the San Mateo County Office of Education had encouraged the District to be cautious in its salary negotiations and that increases in pension contributions must be taken into consideration to ensure affordability.

A warning that was ignored and now they threaten the public with cuts to the most sensitive areas of education that our community values in order to create a highly charged desperate environment in order to advance their own personal agenda: More money to fund their pensions.

Why not reduce administrative overhead by attrition? No one gets fired. There is no loss of job. We don't need an assistant superintendent. Cut that from the budget.

Also, the continuing narrative that the taxes are needed because we have enrollment growth is hard to believe.

Revenue for 2015/2016 increased by over $4.7 million from the previous year and there was a corresponding increase of 37 students, of which almost half (17 students) was for employees children.

The District says it spent $14,543 per student last year. So, the District received $4.7 million in increased revenue against which it had an increased cost of $538,000. It appears to me that the increased revenue from the higher property taxes has MORE than covered the enrollment growth. Sidebar: enrollment growth the prior year was 1 student and for the current year is 55 students of which 4 students were admitted early as they had not attained the required minimum age level and possibly as many as 10 students were for employee children.

Many successful companies are able to recruit and retain highly qualified and productive employees without paying the highest salaries. They compete by providing an attractive working environment, a culture of shared vision and values that they are serving a mission with a higher purpose, they offer stability of employment, and they invest in the education and development of their employees.

These companies do not offer the highest salaries and they retain and attract the best and brightest employees.

Teaching was always a vocation but somehow that has been lost.

Our teachers do a great job and are appreciated. They are the highest paid in the state and they work in the nicest facilities with a supportive community. They receive all the supplies and resources they need to do their jobs and they receive ongoing development and training to improve their skills. Their jobs have been safe and secure and they also get to bring their children to school.

We all face rising costs but lost in the conversation is the position of the taxpayer. I have been told that the families in the district are tapped out and cannot afford to increase their contributions to MPAEF. MPAEF asks for a contribution of $1500 while the surrounding peer group districts ask for $2,000 and in the case of Woodside, $8500. If the district families are tapped out, why would the broader taxpayer community not be as well?

The broader community includes families that are trying to pay for college educations as well as fund their retirement as they do not receive a generous public pension. The average social security benefit in this country is under $16,000. Taxpayers need to fund their own retirement 100%.

I think Caroline Lucas would be a great addition to the school board. She would listen to all stakeholders, seek input before committing to a course of action and since she is a teacher, she has creative ideas on how we can maintain our quality education but do things more effectively and efficiently.

The status quo is not working and it is time for new ideas and Caroline will be a great voice to represent the students, teachers and the broader community.

I trust her to be fair to all who are invested in our schools and community.


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Posted by Publius
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 26, 2016 at 9:13 pm

Publius is a registered user.

Hi Jeff,

I completely agree that we all pay our taxes at the local, state and Federal level to support services and the common good. However, this does not mean that we need to fund one piece of the puzzle at a level that disproportionate with everything else. We are not talking about funding for a district that is really struggling or is even poor performing. We are debating over how far over the norm we want to go. Maybe Art, Music and Librarians are well worth the money but maybe 1-on-1 ipads and mini courses are not worth it for the tax contribution being asked of the voters. I liked Scott Hinshaw's address to the board - EVERYONE needs to tighten their belts.

What I meant about teacher inter-district transfers was that a fair number of the increase in students over the past couple of years has been teachers bringing their children to the district. I am not against this practice but it does equate to a $1m dollar gift from the voters. I liked Scott's recommendation that teachers with kids in the district contribute the $2000 per student MPAEF ask each year as their offset of the $14K plus benefit they are receiving from the residents. Small price for what one parent last night called a "Private school education at a public school".

I am sorry that if my comment "pep rally for teachers and parent" was disparaging. It just came across as a union rally when most of the comments were from teachers and the majority teacher crowd strongly clapped at the end of each speech but when
someone spoke counter to the pro parcel voice the applause was muted. I guess teachers have a right to voice their opinions but again the Board is elected by the voters to represent them and thus should take the voters voice over all others when making decision.

Finally, regarding pensions. I don't want to paint teachers as culprits here BUT the main reason the district is in the budget bind they are in is do to the shift of pension liability from the state to the districts. Right or wrong, I am not sure the residents need to shoulder this liability. I know teachers do not contribute to social security but you have to admit the teacher pension system is a pretty good benefit that most American's do not enjoy. The fact that you can work 30 years, retiree at 65 with a lifetime monthly payment equal to about 70% to 80% of your highest salary is a great perk. So, although not the teachers fault about the pension shift and yes this is the only retirement plan for teachers, maybe the State should have teachers contribute more of their current salary towards this very generous program.

I am sorry Jeff if I come across a bit harsh I as a tax payer however is frustrated with the district and the board. I truly believe teachers in general are true saints. I have worked in many classrooms and always walked out saying teachers have a special gift being able to manage 20 to 30 kids of all different levels as well as the occasional behavior problems. I don't want to see any teachers lose their jobs voluntarily, but the teacher union needs to come forward with what they can contribute to helping get the district back in financial order.


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Posted by Jeffrey Mead
a resident of Hillview Middle School
on Oct 26, 2016 at 9:47 pm

To Brown Eyed Girl:

I wish you would identify yourself openly so we could have coffee, talk, or go over this together. I'd really like you to see me as a human being who loves his job & his students and not as a money grubbing pension fiend.

Here are some facts . . .

Menlo Park City School District teachers are not the highest paid in the state.
Web Link

Caroline Lucas works in a district with a parcel tax and and equitable salary scale as Menlo Park. Her children attend schools that are funded by parcel taxes.
Web Link

You write that "to advance their own personal agenda: More money to fund their pensions."
Teachers do not collect ANY social security benefits. In addition, teachers do not having matching contributions from their employers. Also, if a teacher is married to person who collects social security and that person dies (like many women and their husbands), they cannot collect social security benefits OR they are reduced by 2/3. So yes, pensions are important. However, in all my years of teaching and being on interview committees, I have never heard one applicant say, "I'm here for the money and the pension."

Teaching in the MPCSD is a vocation and I'm wicked proud to be part of a team of teachers who have not lost that. If it weren't a vocation, we, wouldn't put up with being portrayed as money grubbing scummy sponges living off of others peoples taxes. - Jeff




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Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 26, 2016 at 10:13 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Jeffrey:

Yes, teachers don't participate in social security. BECAUSE THEY DON'T HAVE TO. When I was in law enforcement I didn't have to either. I didn't care because the retirement system I was in was WAY better than social security. As is the teachers' retirement. Defined retirement plans are gone for anyone outside civil service. Most folks contributing to social security would gladly forgo social security for the far superior plan civil servants have. So, spare us the "we don't get social security" nonsense. Teachers have an exceptional retirement plan. Good for them. They deserve it. What it means is that school boards like ours need to plan for the expenses that go along with that excellent retirement. Ours hasn't. Now they want the taxpayer to pick up the tab for their poor financial management. Sorry. Not going to do it.


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Posted by Tim
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Oct 26, 2016 at 11:35 pm

The solution to MPCSD financial issues is similar to what Hinshaw has suggested. There has to be a reasonable sacrifice on everyone's part. The taxpayers can support a parcel tax and the parents and teachers will need to make some significant concessions.

No one will be absolutely happy with the negotiated compromise, but this isn't a zero sum game. Long term, a compromise is fairer to all sides and will ensure that parents, employees, and taxpayers can work together in the future.

If people just stand their ground, there will be a big fight over the next parcel tax. One side will lose. While the winning side can celebrate, the victory will be short lived. There will be a lot of animosity and distrust afterwards, which will carry over to the next time the district has a budget crunch.

After the board of trustees collects its feedback, it should broker a solution among all these parties. The next parcel tax will pass easily then.

This is way too important for the district to risk the chance of another electoral defeat. It's better to guarantee the district gets something than to risk it gets nothing.


15 people like this
Posted by Nicole Scott
a resident of another community
on Oct 27, 2016 at 5:01 am

I bring my kids to Oak Knoll and Hillview and I do contribute to The foundation and the PTO's at a level I can afford. I also pay my propery taxes and my local districts (I am in 3, a k-8 district, a high school district and community college) school bonds and parcel tax. So although my taxes aren't going to MPCSD I am still paying. It isn't free.


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Posted by The Onion
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Oct 27, 2016 at 9:49 am

When has Menlo Park, when it failed to get a tax increase, threatened to cut fire services?

And how would it do that? Erect roadworks for a traffic study outside the fire stations?

This is invention

Dear Jennifer, all cities including Menlo Park threaten its citizen's with the loss of popular services if the citizens refuse to back a tax increase. It is not an invention, it is an all too often used ploy. It has become a cliche. The threat to cut fire services would be via cutting the number of fire fighters or equipment or high profile popular services that the fire station provides, and yes, in some tax battles, even refusal to provide courtesy services to unincorporated neighborhoods.

The following link (Web Link) is an example of Menlo Park threatening to cut service from the police, from kids and from senior citizens if Measure K, a tax increase is not supported.

The school district is afraid of unwanted attention focused on poor spending decisions, unnecessary expenses and money wasteful projects. The distraction is to threaten to kill popular initiatives if their Parcel Tax is rejected.

The people have spoken and rejected the Parcel Tax. Instead of going back to their budget and eliminating wasteful spending, by pulling the belt in a couple of notches to acknowledge the will of the voter, this district is typically lashing out at school families by threatening popular school programs, that should be the LAST programs considered for cuts, not the FIRST.

They then host a school parent/teacher rally that comes to the unsurprising conclusion that the answer to all their problems is to put ANOTHER parcel tax on the ballot IMMEDIATELY. The school district is going to be spending a lot of money, that it claims it doesn't have, to hire consultants and pay for polls and advertising as it campaigns for another Parcel Tax immediately after the citizens have told them "NO, find another way."

The Parcel Tax was voted down. The School District cried "Wolf", we have no money, then immediately voted everyone in the district a pay raise AND a bonus. They then threatened to cut all the popular school programs (and increase the student teacher ratios) instead of eliminating wasteful spending. They hosted a parent teacher rally to whip up support to begin spending the money they do not have for another expensive Parcel Tax campaign. You can label it a comedy or a tragedy. I call it another headline ripped from the Onion. Life imitating art.


14 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 27, 2016 at 9:57 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

From Wikipedia:
"The Washington Monument syndrome, also known as the Mount Rushmore Syndrome,[1] or the firemen first principle,[2][3] is a term used to describe the phenomenon of government agencies in the United States cutting the most visible or appreciated service provided by the government when faced with budget cuts. It has been used in reference to cuts in popular services such as national parks and libraries[1] or to valued public employees such as teachers and firefighters.[2] This is done to put pressure on the public and lawmakers to rescind budget cuts. The term can also refer to claims by lawmakers that a proposed budget cut would hinder "essential" government services (firefighters, police, education, etc)."


8 people like this
Posted by Brown Eyed Girl
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 27, 2016 at 11:57 am

Brown Eyed Girl is a registered user.

Caroline Lucas is the ONLY candidate that has been endorsed by the Almanac and the Palo Alto Daily Post.

She has been awarded a Teacher of the Year award by the school district in which she taught.

The Almanac says she would come to the board with an educators perspective but with a broader community perspective as well.

Caroline Lucas is also the only candidate that has written position papers on the issues facing the district. Please visit her website to become informed.

Web Link

The status quo is not working and it is time for new ideas and Caroline will be a great voice to represent the students, teachers and the broader community.

I trust her to be fair to all who are invested in our schools and community.


10 people like this
Posted by Jennifer Bestor
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Oct 27, 2016 at 12:04 pm

Jennifer Bestor is a registered user.

Charity begins at home. MPCSD can easily be seen as a glossily privileged district. Yet, every time I poke the numbers, I get a surprise.

As a former parent, I knew there were kids from East Menlo and East PA, but was always startled when an in-district kid seemed to have significantly fewer resources than anyone else. As a PTO Treasurer, I saw there were many more of these than I’d assumed. When I analyzed our redevelopment agency three years ago, I discovered that 95 kids came from the handful of apartment buildings on Coleman, just off Willow. More recently, I couldn’t reconcile state funding for the Tinsley program with the total number of kids eligible for a free or reduced lunch and/or English learners. And when I asked the district, I learned that we actually had more in-district kids who were “unduplicated” (i.e., disadvantaged) than Tinsley kids.

Most recently, in trying to break down exactly why MPCSD has less property tax per student than Las Lomitas, Woodside, or Portola Valley, I took a look at our housing stock. 30% of MPCSD’s dwelling units are on multi-family parcels. Versus 13% of Las Lomitas’s, and about 1% of Woodside’s and Portola Valley’s.

I disagree somewhat with Ms. Chiet that cuts in the arts could be “… denying unknown numbers of children their personal moments of clarity.” The numbers may be knowable. Yes, we could be denying every child in the district, i.e., 3,000 children, their personal moments of clarity. But, of those, we can reasonably estimate that there are between 300 and 900 whom we will certainly be denying them to because their parents can't easily pick up the slack. Some are our Tinsley kids, the rest live here. Not in the glossy privilege of Lindenwood or West Menlo, but rather in the apartment blocks and in-law units most of us just don’t bother to see around us.

I salute people who donate to Ravenswood — I myself volunteer there — but I also don’t pretend that choosing to pay Peter rather than Paul gives me special moral standing. Especially since we have plenty of Peters and Pauls in our own backyard.


6 people like this
Posted by Jennifer Bestor
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Oct 27, 2016 at 12:07 pm

Jennifer Bestor is a registered user.

Mr. Hickey,

Almost half, 49%, of MPCSD-resident children attend private schools. This suggests three things to me.*

First, any voucher system would immediately be oversubscribed by 96%, as the parents of the 49% demanded what the 51% were receiving.

Second, these new competitive schools would look a lot like the old competitive schools that half our kids already attend — except without the church funding and long-existing school sites that have subsidized the least costly of these.

So we’d end up distributing half of our public school funding to people who, so far, have shown they don’t need it, and relegating at least half of our kids, whose parents are struggling to meet the cost of living here already, to a lesser education.

You know, kids like the ones who grew up to be Steve Jobs and Larry Ellison.


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Posted by Jennifer Bestor
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Oct 27, 2016 at 12:08 pm

Jennifer Bestor is a registered user.

Sorry, the * footnotes my source, the MPCSD enrollment presentation, Dec 12, 2015 board meeting.


7 people like this
Posted by Jennifer Bestor
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Oct 27, 2016 at 12:10 pm

Jennifer Bestor is a registered user.

Peter, you’re absolutely right that it’s the skeptics who need to be convinced — and the best person to do so is an opponent of the prior measures. You were admirable in your respect for the three-minute rule on Monday morning — terse, clear, and on topic — but some of us would have appreciated how you arrived at the conclusion that the Board could and should support a $515 parcel tax. You would be way more persuasive than I could ever be.

Meanwhile, “Jennifer AND FRIENDS” — I’m so excited, am I having my Alice’s Restaurant moment? … have I started a movement? Nah. (My friends are folks who now run for the bathrooms when the fatal words “property tax” escape my lips or anyone else’s within a mile of me.) No, I’m simply someone who’s willing to do the research, speak up, and stand up to any pseudonymous or eponymous bullies here at the Town Square Coliseum.


6 people like this
Posted by Jennifer Bestor
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Oct 27, 2016 at 12:21 pm

Jennifer Bestor is a registered user.

Publi, Thank you for your vote of interest in my complaints about the current tax structure. That structure differently and directly affects “… all our public services … [which] seem to do OK with the funding they receive.”

Except, no, they don’t. Each service has a near-random allocation that has nothing to do with either the community’s value for that service or its need for it. As a result a great many cities, counties, and special districts have been scrambling for additional revenue (e.g., parcel taxes, utility taxes, added sales taxes, additional fees) for decades. This is detailed in the recent LAO report on Proposition 13 (Sept 19, 2016) linked below.

One example: if you ever wonder why San Francisco City and County employees have one of the highest salary and benefit structures AND ratio to residents, while SFUSD and SFCC struggle … think allocation.

Background:
Before Prop 13, each service set its own tax rate independently. However, in the mid-1970’s there was high inflation after the OPEC shock, at the same time as the baby boom put the maximum stress on the school system. The resultant rates added up to an average of 2.6% across the state — and underlying assessment values skyrocketed with the value of real estate.

In 1978, Prop 13 capped the total at 1%. Then it backhanded the allocation issue to the Legislature.

Sacramento never dealt with it — just meat-cleavered allocations in a series of actions known as the AB 8 Split, the VLF Swap, Prop 1A (2004), ERAF I, ERAF II, SERAF, redevelopment, etc. For decades after Prop 13, various legislative committees tried to figure out how to put something logical in place — certainly until 2000, when you will still see the Legislative Analyst’s Office issuing a study paper on it. However, Prop 1A — incidentally, a proposition put on the ballot by the Legislature when the cities and counties revolted against SERAF — froze the then-existing allocations for every entity other than schools. The State is still allowed to repurpose schools’ property tax allocations as it sees fit (as long as the funds stay in the county).

Indeed, when Train Fan (in a different thread) wanted to be King for a Day and redo some aspect of pensions and/or taxation I believe — sorry TF), I found myself typing …

If I could be Queen For A Day, I would switch to Massachusetts’ approach to property-tax control. Their Prop 2-1/2 (1980) capped community property tax growth (rather than handing out individual entitlements — though they do have a senior exemption) AND they forced dynamic reallocation between local services every year. You want more school spending? Great, cut back on police, or fire, or courts, etc. Want more roads? Take it out of the schools, or fire, or parks, etc.

Right now we are reaping what we sowed 40 years ago. We have created a system of individual entitlements that disproportionately benefit those who have invested in real estate AND don’t have to move for work or family reasons. We have fossilized allocation of the property tax revenue we do receive, so we’re unable to direct it to those services we most care about — or redirect it from those we don’t.

Web Link


6 people like this
Posted by Jennifer Bestor
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Oct 27, 2016 at 12:24 pm

Jennifer Bestor is a registered user.

Menlo Man,

I think the anti-parcel tax people don’t show up at public school meetings for the same reason they hide behind pseudonyms here.

Certainly,
(a) they seem to have much more power anonymously here on Town Square, especially when they can get a newcomer to be their public standard bearer;
(b) someone might notice if the folks complaining most about high taxes were those who were paying the least, and
(c) the ‘virtue signaling’ that can be done anonymously (viz, saying they make donations or have other good intentions) would be evaluated directly rather than imputed by themselves to themselves.

For example, let’s take anti-tax mantra, “Live within your means.” Do you know that I’ve never heard that from any real person who was getting less than a 4X subsidy from his neighbors?! Frankly, I’ve begun to interpret it as, “Stop rocking my comfortable subsidized boat!”

Naturally they’re trying to convince the folks who are paying those subsidies that money is being “wasted” by The System. I’m willing to bet $100 that Menlo Voter is a major beneficiary of newcomers like the [Part removed. The family has asked that they not be identified by name.] of anyone who’s moved onto my Menlo street in the past 10 years.

I personally forgive the [part removed] a great deal when I look at their property tax bill. Last year $8,500 of it went, not to the public services they can see and touch (or even the schools), but to subsidize their neighbors’ enjoyment of those same services. I hope they’re train fans, because their ginormous property-tax bill wasn’t for a leafy acre parcel in the quiet depths of Atherton.


3 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 27, 2016 at 12:25 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Easy choice - you can rely on an undocumented hit piece by someone afraid to use their own name or you can rely on the endorsements of the Almanac, the Post and thoughtful community leaders and vote for someone who has documented credentials and who has published thoughtful position papers:

Web Link

Web Link
1) District Revenue – Why It’s Impossible to Keep Up with the Joneses [Download PDF]

2) Why Deficit Spending hurts Teachers, Students and the Community [Download PDF]

3) How to Balance the Long Term Budget [Download PDF]



So it is an easy choice to make the right choice - Caroline Lucas


2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 27, 2016 at 12:28 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" You were admirable in your respect for the three-minute rule on Monday morning — terse, clear, and on topic "

Unfortunately not everyone followed the rules.


2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 27, 2016 at 12:29 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"some of us would have appreciated how you arrived at the conclusion that the Board could and should support a $515 parcel tax."

I recommended that the Board put a $515 parcel tax on the March ballot. I did so because I think that the entire community needs to decide the issue of how much we are willing to support MPCSD and I think that decision needs to come before the teacher notification date.

I have not yet declared how I would vote and I have made it clear that my vote will depend on:
- MPCSD making a strong case for maintaining the current status,
- MPCSD having full disclosure of all revenue and expenditure information,
- and MPCSD demonstrating a strong program of fiscal discipline.

I will also suggest that all of the MPCSD unions participate in contributing to the solution by pledging to not ask for prospective or retroactive salary increases for the 2017/18 school year. The PAUSD experience of a parcel tax being sold as student and program directed was instead immediately spent on teacher salary increases is a harsh reminder that parcel tax proceeds can be easily and quickly diverted from their “intended” uses.


6 people like this
Posted by Jennifer Bestor
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Oct 27, 2016 at 12:36 pm

Jennifer Bestor is a registered user.

Onion, let me be explicit. The City of Menlo Park didn’t threaten to cut fire services four years ago (or ever) because it doesn’t control any fire services. Neither does Atherton. Indeed, that’s why there is current debate around the Fire District. It has enjoyed a relatively large allocation of property tax (significantly more than either city) — simply because that was the way the cookie crumbled 40 years ago.

And The People haven’t rejected the parcel tax. A minority blocked it. (I do hope we won’t hear, two weeks from now, that the candidate who received between 54 and 60% of the electoral college lost? That The People had spoken — or, at least, all the people who in the speaker’s mind counted? That is to say, the minority?)

And I hope someone else has the finger strength to list every program that the school district has put on the chopping block for consideration.

But, wait! The sneaky school board has this on their website. Well, who’d’ve thunk it?
Web Link
If this weblink doesn’t work, go to the homepage of district dot mpcsd dot org and look on the lower left-hand side of the page.


24 people like this
Posted by HelloHanalei
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Oct 27, 2016 at 1:03 pm

HelloHanalei is a registered user.

If endorsements are a key metric of whether someone should be considered a serious candidate — as seems to be suggested by the mentions of Caroline Lucas being endorsed by those paragons of journalism, The Almanac and The Daily Post — then let's talk about endorsements. The Almanac and the Post aside, Caroline Lucas has seven endorsements listed on her website. Seven.

Of those, one is her husband and one is Peter Carpenter, who is underwriting her campaign, and who, I would venture to guess, has been instrumental in crafting her "excellent position papers."

David Ackerman, Alka Gupta, and Scott Saywell, on the other hand, are endorsed by a spectrum of political, school, and community leaders far too numerous to list here. All of those people believe that Ackerman, Gupta, and Saywell would do an excellent job of representing our community as School Board Trustees. Seven people believe the same of Lucas.

The editors of the Almanac and the Post don't live, work, and contribute in this community, but the people endorsing Ackerman, Gupta, and Saywell do. What does that tell you?


3 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 27, 2016 at 1:07 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"The editors of the Almanac and the Post don't live, work, and contribute in this community,"

In my opinion the editors of both the Almanac and the Post contribute a great deal to our community and they took the time to interview all of the candidates.

I will take an informed endorsement by someone who has interviewed all of the candidates over the endorsement of someone who just allowed their name to be used.


16 people like this
Posted by Jeffrey Mead
a resident of Hillview Middle School
on Oct 27, 2016 at 1:14 pm

Brown Eyed Girl,

How do you reconcile that your candidate, Caroline Lucas, works for a school district with a parcel tax and therefore enjoys the benefit of that tax but doesn't think MPCSD should have one?

How do you reconcile that your candidate has had children at MPCSD while there was a parcel tax and they enjoyed the benefits of it but doesn't think MPCSD should have one?

How do you reconcile that your candidate's children at M-A enjoy the benefits of a parcel tax but doesn't think MPCSD should have one?

I've met Peter Carpenter and found him to be gracious and intelligent, although I'm not always in agreement with him. However, I can't abide by candidates who post to forums and hide behind anonymous names while their actions do not match the words upon which they hope to be elected.

Jeff


19 people like this
Posted by HelloHanalei
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Oct 27, 2016 at 1:16 pm

HelloHanalei is a registered user.

Peter, you're not in a position to know whether anyone "just allowed their name to be used." Every person I know who endorsed Ackerman, Gupta, or Saywell knows them personally and has experience working with them and seeing first-hand their commitment to our schools and our community. As far as I'm concerned, that kind of long term experience of a person makes for a far more substantial endorsement than does 1 or 2 interviews.


7 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 27, 2016 at 1:28 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"How do you reconcile that your candidate, Caroline Lucas, works for a school district with a parcel tax and therefore enjoys the benefit of that tax but doesn't think MPCSD should have one?"

That is NOT Lucas' opinion - PLEASE do your homework before posting garbage.

See Web Link

Lucas is opposed to new PERMANENT parcel taxes.

Lucas explicitly supports a temporary multi-year parcel tax.


3 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 27, 2016 at 1:29 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

I would welcome people with real names stating that they have interviewed all of the candidates and then decided to endorse person X.


16 people like this
Posted by HelloHanalei
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Oct 27, 2016 at 2:46 pm

HelloHanalei is a registered user.

Peter, I have personal experience of all 4 candidates. Can you say the same? Did you meet all 4 candidates before throwing your support behind Lucas? Or did you encourage Lucas to run as a way to get an "outsider" on the Board? That's fine; just please be up front about where you're coming from.

Based on personal experience, I find Ackerman, Gupta, and Saywell to be extremely well qualified, and Lucas to be out of her depth.

As for posting under my own name, while I respect people who do that, I choose not to for reasons of personal privacy.


9 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 27, 2016 at 3:00 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

I encouraged both Lucas and Hinshaw to run and I offered both my full support.

I was very disappointed when Hinshaw dropped out.


11 people like this
Posted by Brown Eyed Girl
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 27, 2016 at 3:16 pm

Brown Eyed Girl is a registered user.

Almost half, 49%, of MPCSD-resident children attend private schools.

And people are wondering why members of the broader community don't show up and attend the District Community outreach meetings? It could be because they don't use the schools.

The District is doing what they have to do which is reach out to people. However, you cannot force people to attend the meetings.

Those who do attend have a desire to maintain strong sustainable schools and are willing to work hard to come to a workable solution. However, a parcel tax will not be successful if you cannot convince a broader section of the community to support it.

How do I reconcile supporting Caroline Lucas - that's an easy one. Contrary to Jeffrey Mead's misinformed assertion, Caroline Lucas does support a parcel tax for the schools, just not a permanent tax.

Caroline Lucas is in support of maintaining quality schools for current students and future generations.

The current model of MPCSD is broken. How can you have a sustainable model where with each additional client or customer you lose more money?

That just puts the school district on a path to insolvency.

At some point, you run out of other people's money.

It is time to get the District on a sustainable fiscal path and Caroline has a plan to do that.


3 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 27, 2016 at 3:30 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

"I’m willing to bet $100 that Menlo Voter is a major beneficiary of newcomers [part removed] or ... anyone who’s moved onto my Menlo street in the past 10 years). "

As with most everything else you put up here you are wrong. Where can I pick up my $100?


22 people like this
Posted by Clear Vision
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 27, 2016 at 3:39 pm

A resident who cares about our district I have stayed informed about the issues and gotten to know the candidates through the candidate forums, news articles and websites.

A few of my conclusions on each:

Akerman: Well respected and loved, fair and balanced principal at Oak Knoll an insider who knows the system as an administrator. Would be an asset to our district.

Gupta: Smart, dedicated, would be committed to improving the district and one who would ask the tough questions on finance and would not shy away from the teacher unions or tough decisions.

Saywell: Dedicated parent, well liked by the Laurel community. sorry I don't have more details here, still getting to know him.

Lucas: Seems to have positioned herself as an outsider, but she is a teacher who has benefited from the system. I was shocked the Almanac endorsed her given her poor reputation as a teacher. The position papers so often referenced are pretty clearly reflecting a few vocal members of our community. Her ideas about our district "not needing to be this good" and classroom size increases are not my ideas of solutions. I see her as being a distraction and not part of a solution to the challenges our district faces.


5 people like this
Posted by Publius
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 27, 2016 at 4:01 pm

Publius is a registered user.

Clear Vision. When you make a accusation like "poor reputation as a teacher", you need to back it up with some facts. Or is this just your personal opinion?

Not once has anyone made a general negative statement about any of the candidates based on personal belief or hearsay.


15 people like this
Posted by Clear Vision
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 27, 2016 at 4:56 pm

Apologies, no intention to offend. These are my opinions based on discussions I have had with other members of our community. Specifically Las Lomitas families (who have no vested interest in the MPSD election) candidly talking about their very challenging experiences with her as a teacher. I urge everyone to ask around, listen to people who know the candidates first hand and develop their own perspective.


35 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 27, 2016 at 4:59 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

So we have an anonymous person reporting on comments by unnamed people.

Sleazy.


9 people like this
Posted by Jeffrey Mead
a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Oct 27, 2016 at 5:19 pm

Caroline Lucas, why is Peter Carpenter the mouthpiece of your campaign? I know you, we've talked a lot, and I bet Publius is you or your husband. I'd encourage you to come out, speak for yourself, and not run your campaign from from an anonymous on-line forum. I'd listen to you, disagree with you, AND speak respectfully, as would a lot of the MP community.

Please, this is no way to run a decent campaign. people who hide behind names are, as Peter Carpenter just called them seen as "sleezy."

So please come out! - Jeff


9 people like this
Posted by Mike Keenly
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Oct 27, 2016 at 5:22 pm

Jennifer,

I always post with my actual name, and I can tell you why I voted against the latest parcel tax.

1. It was made permanent.
2. It wasn't made clear why more money was actually needed.
3. A special election was held to fly 'under the radar' and avoid scrutiny.
4. Money was wasted on election consultants, and on the special election itself when it could have been held in June instead.

We don't have children in the district, although I've voted for every school-related parcel tax over the last 15 years except for this one.

In my opinion, the board and many of its most loyal/vocal supporters are tone-deaf. None of the candidates running in this election did a sufficient job of addressing the parcel tax issue, so I chose to not select any of them.


5 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 27, 2016 at 5:28 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

It should be noted that none of the candidates are active participants in this Forum.

It is also noted that Lucas is the only candidate that has posted detailed position papers:

Web Link


19 people like this
Posted by MPCSD Employee
a resident of another community
on Oct 27, 2016 at 5:34 pm

I attended the School Board candidates forum held by the League of Women Voters and something struck me that night.

Caroline Lucas says that MPCSD doesn't need to "keep up with the Joneses". What she doesn't realize is that MPCSD is the Joneses. We are innovative, educated, hard working teachers and excellent support staff. Our schools are clean, beautiful, and function well. One of our bus drivers won the 2011 Classified Employee of the Year award.

Platform aside, Caroline Lucas is very difficult to work with. She's incoherent at times and belligerent at others. No, this is not quantifiable, it's my opinion. When I read that The Almanac had endorsed her, it gave me chills. As I said, she is difficult to work with.


17 people like this
Posted by wonder
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Oct 27, 2016 at 6:10 pm

I'm reading over the information and understand that people have a right to their opinion. But I wonder. Why didn't Peter Carpenter run on his own platform rather than recruiting Caroline Lucas to be his spokesperson?


9 people like this
Posted by Good Try
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Oct 27, 2016 at 8:18 pm

I find it interesting that other candidates' supporters have started negative campaigning. They must think Lucas is in the best position to win.

It's campaigning 101. When your candidate is behind in a multi-candidate field, attack the leader anonymously. By taking the leader down, support will flow to other candidates. Attacks have to be anonymous. Otherwise, there could be voter backlash on the attacker's campaign.

They use rumor and innuendo, rather than facts. They try to misconstrue Lucas' positions and what she represents. Good try! I can see right through what you are trying to do.

All the candidates were interviewed by The Almanac and Daily Post. Their positions and plans were discussed in depth before an editorial recommendation was made. They both endorsed Caroline.


13 people like this
Posted by The Onion
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Oct 27, 2016 at 8:53 pm

Jennifer, let me be explicit

The school district lead with their list of budget cuts after the Parcel Tax was rejected by voters by announcing:

• Increasing kindergarten- to fifth-grade class sizes from an average of 22 to 24 ($1 million savings).

• Increasing sixth- to eighth-grade class sizes from an average of 24 to 27 ($650,000 savings).

• Using aides supervised by teachers to teach elementary school art classes ($206,000) and run the libraries ($250,000).

• Eliminating a night custodian ($60,000).

• Cutting back on middle school elective offerings ($220,000).

• Reducing music time in fourth and fifth grade by 50 percent ($190,000).

• Eliminating the world language programs in kindergarten to fifth grades ($210,000).

• Reducing each site budget for supplies, professional development and training by 30 percent ($100,000).

• Eliminating summer school except for mandated programs ($120,000).

But wait! The sneaky school board didn't list the assistant superintendent position, eliminating teacher's children from attending the school district, Parcel Tax consultants, and all the cost associated with putting another parcel tax on the ballot in a special election. Well, who'd've thunk it?

The People have rejected the Parcel Tax. It was put on the ballot and FAILED. Please stop with the semantics. Despite all the sneaky and costly underhanded ways the consultants conspired to slide this forever Parcel Tax on the people by scheduling an expensive special election in an attempt to fly under the radar, they LOST. The tax was REJECTED. Take NO for an answer and move on and balance the budget. Platinum programs become Gold programs. Perfect is the enemy of the good.

And what did the school district in conjunction with the school board do, while screaming how broke they were? They gave everyone a raise AND a bonus. That is the classic definition of talking out of both sides of your mouth. I can not make this stuff up. This qualifies, unedited, as The Onion headline material.


6 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 27, 2016 at 9:02 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

"I'm reading over the information and understand that people have a right to their opinion. But I wonder. Why didn't Peter Carpenter run on his own platform rather than recruiting Caroline Lucas to be his spokesperson?"

Because he's already serving our community on the Menlo Park Fire Protection District Board? Maybe? Ya think? Or could it be that Lucas is the only candidate that has put forward actual PLANS for fixing the problem? Nah....


23 people like this
Posted by Brown Eyed Girl
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 27, 2016 at 9:15 pm

Brown Eyed Girl is a registered user.

To Jeffrey Mead and Town Square community,

The handwriting has been on the wall for many years and the financial situation of the MPCSD could have been avoided but the District administration and the governing board chose to kick the can down the road.

Menlo Park residents are well aware of the pension time bomb that is ticking which is why they voted overwhelmingly with a 71% voter approval to pass Measure L which reformed pensions of non public safety personnel.

Recognizing that the teachers and the school district do not set the pensions, the school board and administration do however, have control over the salaries and they do have control over the entire district budget.

In terms of MPCSD teachers NOT being the highest paid in the state, I was using data available on www.ed-data.org for 2014-2015. This is the SAME data to which Eric Burmeister and the District Administration refer the public when they are seeking financial data. Using that data, MPCSD had the HIGHEST average salary and the HIGHEST salary at BA +60 step 10 compared to: Palo Alto Unified, Las Lomitas, Portola Valley, Woodside, Los Altos, Saratoga, Burlingame and Hillsborough.

MPCSD ALSO spent more as a percentage of its budget on compensation and benefits compared to the above neighboring districts at 89% for 2014/2015.

In May 2016, PAUSD raised its teacher salaries in the arms race to the bottom. Competing on price or compensation is a sure fire losing strategy. Please keep in mind that according to the Palo Alto Daily, class sizes in the PAUSD are larger than the board-established class size target. and the District has been highly criticized for the raises. There are many differences between MPCSD and PAUSD and some in our own District does not believe PAUSD is a comparable district to our own for a variety of reasons.

MPCSD also raised its teacher compensation levels in September 2016. Unfortunately, teacher compensation is a complicated step and column formula with lots of moving parts based upon how many units a teacher has in graduate studies so we will not have comparable data until the ed-data website updated. I am reluctant to calculate the averages, etc. as I do not want to mislead anyone or spread mistruths.

Can we both agree that MPCSD teachers are amongst the highest paid teachers in the state?

You write that teachers do not collect any social security benefits. That is because you do not PAY into social security. Would you like to trade your pension for social security? Budget deficit problem solved!!

Private sector employees do not access retirement benefits until they are 67 years old. Members in CalSTRS can access retirement benefits as early as age 55.

SocialSecurity benefits are not earned until you have PAID into the system for minimum of 10 years. Cal STRS members are eligible for benefits after 5 years of service.

Social Security benefits are earned based upon your average earnings over your entire working career. CalSTRS benefits are paid on your highest year of compensation.

Average social security benefit is less than $16,000.

Would MPCSD care to let us all know what is the average pension benefit?

You speak of matching contributions. Not every company has matching contributions. In fact, In Silicon Valley where a large percentage of employers are start up companies - there is no matching contribution. 401K matching contributions represents 2 or 3% of an employees salary and there is a cap that maxes out at a low level.

for 2016 MPCSD is contributing 14.43% of your salary to your pension. Please consider that your matching contribution.

Do you want to trade a 2-3% 401k plan matching contribution for your 14.43% pension contribution?

Perhaps the MPCSD could do a better job of educating its employees of all the valuable benefits they receive.














14 people like this
Posted by Caroline Lucas, Ed. D.
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 28, 2016 at 12:18 am

I will not be engaging in dialogue here but read several comments to which I will respond.

Menlo Man- “Why would Lucas who has no financial background be a good candidate for bringing "proper financial management" to the Board?”

A school board member does not need to have a degree in finance nor a financial background to be effective. However, for the record, as a part of my doctoral work in Educational Leadership, I completed graduate coursework in Public School Finance.


Clear Vision- “Her teacher ratings are very poor” and “the kids complain that they watch movies most days in Spanish.”

A school board member does not need to be Teacher of the Year (although I happened to achieve that recognition from my peers). Las Lomitas is a district that has to the option to be very selective when hiring and tenuring teachers. It doesn’t retain teachers who receive poor ratings. I was retained by LLESD based on my performance and ratings.

For the record, I have NEVER shown a movie to my students during my entire tenure in Las Lomitas. The fact that someone would post this, shows blatant posting of mistruths.


MPCSD employee said, “…she is difficult to work with”
I don’t work in a professional capacity with MPCSD employees. My own colleagues and administration are the professionals who can attest to working with me.


Jeff M. “Please come out!”
I’m not hiding in an online forum. I am out in the community having face to face conversations with the public. I receive emails/calls and talk with community members every day. Anyone can email me any time. carolinelucas.mp@gmail.com


Jeff M. “Caroline Lucas, works for a school district with a parcel tax and therefore enjoys the benefit of that tax but doesn't think MPCSD should have one.”

The districts in which I work and send my children to school, are not facing multi-million dollar deficits. That being said, I never said that MPCSD should not have a new parcel tax. I cannot support a permanent parcel tax and cannot support moving forward on new taxes until the community has been informed of the current operating budget and all the choices for being more efficient with our spending.


Wonder- “Why didn't Peter Carpenter run on his own platform rather than recruiting Caroline Lucas to be his spokesperson?”

I made the decision to run for school board. I ran two years ago, long before I met Peter Carpenter because I was interested in serving our community. I was not appointed; yet this year with open seats and a true opportunity for the community to elect its candidate, I saw the potential for a real election and decided on my own to run. While Peter Carpenter supports my platform, I have formed my own opinions based on my communication with members of the community. Peter is one of many members with whom I spoke.





13 people like this
Posted by Lucas bad behavior
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Oct 28, 2016 at 4:20 am

Caroline Lucas: Las Lomitas also has a parcel tax without an expiration yet you are not also against their parcel tax since it is fundjng your own salary. You are totally fine that Las Lomitas spends a lot more per child than than MPCSD since it personally benefits you.


10 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 28, 2016 at 7:22 am

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

bad behavior:

just to educate you, MPCSD has a permanent parcel tax as well. What most of us object to is the addition of ANOTHER permanent parcel tax.


17 people like this
Posted by Jeffrey Mead
a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Oct 28, 2016 at 7:55 am

To Brown Eyed Gir et al.l,

When people converse about teacher pensions (and salaries) without painting the fullest picture, the goal is to create a bogeyman like the welfare queen from the 80s or the Isis refugee from Syria. People make it seem as if we are greedy fat cats lazily lounging around a pool all day eating bon-bons while reading Harper’s Bazaar. We are not. My colleagues and I are not bogeymen. We are very hard working people who earn our salaries and our pensions. (Our pensions are structured basically just like the law enforcement and firefighters.) We proudly and lovingly serve the students and families of Menlo Park creating healthy schools where children can grow up and maximize their development.

In addition, all the professional development classes and college credits I have taken over the last 18 years and get credit for have been paid ME. Teachers cannot get pay scale credit for classes they do not pay for. Again, no free ride.

My goal in bringing up the Social Security and pension system is a reminder that we pay into our pensions just like everyone else - there is no free ride for us! In fact, we pay in at higher rate that can never be capped, unlike people in the private sector.

CALSTRS pensions are based on the teaching average for the last 2 or 3 years of teaching (I have to look it up), not the last only as Brown Eyed Girl says. Again, no free ride.

In terms of salaries, we are in the same situation as many people in the Bay Area. We are subject to the same economic forces as everyone else. We have teachers drive in from as far away as Oakland and Morgan Hill just like people all over the Bay commute to find affordable housing.

Excuse me now, I have to go get ready for my 120 eighth graders. I’m psyched to see them today!


6 people like this
Posted by Roy Thiele-Sardiña
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 28, 2016 at 9:37 am

Roy Thiele-Sardiña is a registered user.

@Brown Eyed Girl

CalSTRS is a 2%/60 retirement plane. That means teachers get 2% per year of service (up to 30 years) and are eligible for retirement at 60 years of age. THat means they will get 60% of their final pay as defined by:
"Final Compensation
If you are a member under CalSTRS 2% at 60, and you retire with 25 or more years of service credit, CalSTRS uses your highest 12 consecutive months of average earnable compensation as the final compensation component in your retirement calculation."

this GREATLY exceeds Social Security Benefits. as do ALL state pensions (CalPERS and CalSTRS)

CalSTRS has SIGNIFICANTLY under performed it's planned returns and the district must make up any shortfall. Since CalSTRS eligible employees make up the MAJORITY of the districts costs, they are facing a balloon payment that will DWARF anything you have seen in the past.....to quote a recent movie "there will be blood" and the bleeders will be the taxpayers.

These costs can not currently be covered by the tax increases from the collected taxes. In addition as the school population has increased even MORE CalSTRS compensated employees are required, this is a VICIOUS circle that most other tax districts (Fire, Menlo Park City, West Bay Sanitary) do no see. The number of households has stayed relatively constant in MPK (and providing services to housholds there fore stayed relatively constant) the number of students attending our schools has not. and THAT factor is the variable cost issue that many dissenters ont this forum either fail to recognize or ignore to make their MPCSD mudslinging more relevant.....

Roy Thiele-Sardina


6 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 28, 2016 at 11:46 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"The number of households has stayed relatively constant in MPK (and providing services to housholds there fore stayed relatively constant) the number of students attending our schools has not. and THAT factor is the variable cost issue that many dissenters ont this forum either fail to recognize or ignore..."

Wrong - Train Fan posted the following:
"Historically, yes, revenue growth for the district has outpaced both enrollment growth and inflation, using 2000-2001 as the baseline.

Also, using the districts earlier projections on growth (from the 2015-2016 budget presentations), the general trend for revenue to outpace inflation and enrollment growth continues, with the exception of a 1-year dip in the 2017-2018 school year.

However, the district has repeatedly adjusted some of their estimates (that's not a criticism, btw. Estimates have to be adjusted). If you use the districts most-recent projections, it is possible for revenue-per-student to drop in both 2017-2018 and 2018-2019. However, there are issues with those projected dips that should be noted:

1: The district's older estimates on enrollment growth...so far at least...have been more accurate than the most recent estimates:

2015 estimate on 2016-17 enrollment: 60
2016 estimate on 2016-17 enrollment: 85
actual 2016-2017 enrollment?: 55

30-less students is a BIG difference. I'm sympathetic to the difficulties in projecting enrollment, but there's a risk that we may be stuck with parcel taxes for enrollment that never happens...or at least, by the time it happens property taxes will have more than made up the difference.


2: The district acknowledges that the method of revenue estimating is conservative. I actually appreciate their estimating on the low side, but note that increasing the estimated property-tax revenue by just 1 percent (3%->4%) adds roughly 300+k to revenue. That's revenue for about 20 kids (assuming $15k/kid), and 4% is still a conservative growth estimate for the short term (next 2-3 years).

And if property tax revenue increases are closer to 5%, the need for an additional parcel tax to cover "enrollment growth" becomes highly debatable...and that assumes that their enrollment growth is accurate."


8 people like this
Posted by Brown Eyed Girl
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 28, 2016 at 11:46 am

Brown Eyed Girl is a registered user.

The key point is the pension system is broken and MPCSD is asking the taxpayers to bail them out.

In order to gain community support, they need to show the public that:

1) They have restructured operations that are sustainable so they will not come back with yet another parcel tax.

2) Be fully open and transparent with the public on all financial matters






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Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Oct 28, 2016 at 12:40 pm

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

Jeffrey Mead said: "...we pay in at higher rate that can never be capped, unlike people in the private sector."

VOILA! Now if we cap the District and State contributions, we have a solution to the pension problem. Sustainability without a parcel tax.


5 people like this
Posted by Roy Thiele-Sardiña
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 28, 2016 at 12:40 pm

Roy Thiele-Sardiña is a registered user.

@Brown Eyed Girl

The district does allocate for the pension system, albeit they do NOT hold enough reserves to cover the lack of CalSTRS returns. (which BTW the Fire District does (Thanks to Peter) and we do at WBSD). They need to be honest with themselves and build the reserves because the day of reckoning is coming.

FWIW the city of menlo park is in even WORSE sharp with regard to unfunded pension costs.

Roy


9 people like this
Posted by Jennifer Bestor
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Oct 28, 2016 at 1:30 pm

Jennifer Bestor is a registered user.

Menlo Voter,

Cool! Meet me at the Almanac offices (they, after all, are the only ones who can attest that whoever shows up is Menlo Voter) and your property tax bill -- and I'll be there with a crispy C-note.

Do you want to suggest a time? Their lobby hours are 8:30 - 5:30 M-F. Feel free to call ahead to find out whether a person who can corroborate your identity will be available. (Presumably Frank Bravo or Richard Hine.) I can do it today at 515-ish or anytime Monday or Tuesday.

Can't wait!


7 people like this
Posted by Jennifer Bestor
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Oct 28, 2016 at 3:34 pm

Jennifer Bestor is a registered user.

Mike Keenly,

I just liked your post (I'm #2) because (a) you used your real name, (b) you were honest about your rationale, (c) you live in Allied Arts (best part of Menlo!) and (d) your first two reasons are completely legitimate (from my experience):

1. It was made permanent.
2. It wasn't made clear why more money was actually needed.

I would be shocked if any future parcel tax measure isn't much, much clearer. Expecting voters to arrive at the same conclusion as Board members did was a sorry case of projection.

I also thought about not liking your post because your other reasons project onto those Board members an evil intent or wastefulness that I have simply never seen on the part of those individuals.

I hope I don't mortally offend Maria, Joan, Jeff, or Terry, however:

- How could anyone accuse Maria or Joan of trying to hide anything from anyone? Honestly, if you know either of them, that borders on calumny. I have known them peripherally for five years (our kids were at Hillview at the same time). The worst crimes I can tar them with are being too polite and careful. (I doubt these gals even go to the ladies' room together, for fear of the Brown Act.) Tone deaf? Possibly. Hyper aware of their duty to the children of Menlo Park and Atherton? Absolutely. Underhanded? Never.

- And how could anyone accuse Terry of hiding anything? That is a woman who tells you everything she's thinking about anything without hesitation. At length. With examples. And historical background. Please, attend a Board meeting out of sheer civic duty -- then tell me if she's capable of deviousness. Tone deafness? Yup. Likely to offhandedly conclude that four weeks of reaction time was worth the cost of a special election? Sure. Arrogance? Well ... we both missed the humility lecture at the GSB. (Eight years apart, incidentally, lest anyone accuse us of collusion.)

- Jeff. Now, Jeff's a dark horse. Is he the Darth Vadar of this (purported) Death Star? I've actually known him the longest (our kids went to nursery school together). And talked with him the most. (He has been the point person for wonky school finance initiatives, resolutions, redevelopment analyses, and the like. Which I seem to specialize in.) And realized that he may easily put in fifty hours a MONTH on school board issues because he's been the go-to person for anything financial or legislative. Tone deaf? Actually, I think the guy may be deaf, dumb and blind from flat-out exhaustion. Or should be. But not devious.

(Sorry, Stacey, I don't know you at all. So, if you're the Princess Leia here, 'fess up.)

Bottom line, this is a group of people who, from direct observation, have walked an endless tightrope trying to balance the children's needs, parental demands, community obligations, and their own sanity.

As far as I can tell, they put two measures on a ballot that would allow them to adjust the budget (due June 30th to the County Office of Education, without fail) for winning or losing:
- a simple 're-up' that meant try-to-meet-existing-commitments-except-push-the-legislatively-mandated-pension-issue-and-headcount-growth-back-onto-the-kids. Meaure A.
- and another that simply outsmarted itself, trying to come up with a mechanism that spread headcount increases over the 2010 forecast on top of any new headcount increases, blah, blah, blah, blah. Measure C.

Now you may feel that 23 days in the month of June were sufficient for the Board to react to a loss. They may have felt that graduations, vacations, Brown Act notifications, etc., were not enough to make the budget adjustments -- especially if they didn't expect Measure C to pass.

Forty years of financial analysis have shown me that out-of-pocket costs are always more visible than man-hour and opportunity costs. But that doesn't mean they're greater.

I do hope the Board and any committee earn your vote in the future.


5 people like this
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Hillview Middle School
on Oct 28, 2016 at 5:23 pm

"I do hope the Board and any committee earn your vote in the future. "

I will vote for a 4th parcel tax if:

1: it's a renewal of the existing parcel tax amount;
2: has an expiration date less than 9 years;
3: the measure says what the parcel tax is actually for, in this case for funding CALSTRS;


I will NOT vote for a 4th parcel tax if:
1: its permanent;
2: the measure claims it's for "small class sizes", which is totally false;


I will need significant convincing to vote for a 4th parcel tax if:
1: the amount is more then the current 4th parcel tax. A $500+ additional parcel tax is a non-starter for me. I'm I'm confident I'm not alone.

That said, there is one way to convince me vote for a $500+ additional parcel tax. I hope someone asks me what that is :)


9 people like this
Posted by HelloHanalei
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Oct 28, 2016 at 8:06 pm

HelloHanalei is a registered user.

I really appreciate Jennifer Bestor's comments about the School Board, because it's disgusting to see what's been said in various Town Square comment threads about these honest, ethical, hardworking, dedicated, caring volunteers. I do know Stacey, and she fits right in with that picture.

I returned to this vortex because I wanted to reply to Train Fan's oversimplification in drawing a bright line between CALSTRS and class size.

CALSTRS obligations are a function of salaries, and small class size is a function of hiring a sufficient number of teachers to keep class size low. More teachers = more CALSTRS obligations.

If a parcel tax is proposed as a means to 1) Meet the District's CALSTRS obligations, 2) Keep class size down, and 3) Keep up with increasing enrollment (to lay out one possible scenario), it won't be because the Board is being deceptive. It will be because all of these things are interconnected, and you can't tease one factor out independent of the others.

I'd also like to make an observation about the decrying of the School Board and the District that's been happening on Town Square since last spring.

The parcel tax opposition began with a simple "no more taxes" mantra, coupled with "the School Board is incompetent/dishonest/non-transparent," then moved on to "equality for all students" (what happened to that one, by the way?) and now has turned to "this is all because of CALSTRS." I'm waiting with great interest to see what the next pivot will be.


14 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 28, 2016 at 8:21 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The so-called parcel tax opposition began with the statement of no new parcel taxes until those new parcel taxes can be justified by the facts.

The so-called parcel tax opposition continues to hold that same belief - no new parcel taxes until those new parcel taxes can be justified by the facts.

The so-called parcel tax opposition attacks false and undocumented assertions and seeks answers to critical questions.

The so-called parcel tax opposition has not and does not attack individuals.


6 people like this
Posted by Pension Squirrel
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Oct 28, 2016 at 8:58 pm

Hi, Pension Squirrel here. I know many of you are wondering why the district is short of money and needs to pass another bond issue, particularly with the increases in property values. Well, one of the main reasons is the cost of defined benefit pensions and and associated health plans. This is something affecting not just school districts but municipalities, counties, and state pension plans. The unfunded liability (which is the actuarial calculation of the benefits owed to beneficiaries over the next 30 years as compared to the assets in the plan today assuming annual employee/employer contributions growing an annual net return of 7% on investments) is estimated to be $130 Trillion in the US. That compares to a national debt of $20 Trillion, so its 6.5 times greater than our national debt. That number has exploded in the past 10 years or so because the baby boomers are starting to retire, and the economy is not growing fast enough that public pension plans can earn expect to earn 7% return on investments.

OK, so what that means is that CALPERS and CALSTRS must demand larger employer contributions each year to meet their obligations. Take a look at the budget of MPCSD or the City of Menlo Park or any other public agency for that matter and you will see the dramatic increase in pension contributions in 2015 compared to 2007 for example. That is because the number of retired employees is growing and today retirees may actually exceed the number of active employees. Think about it, we don't have a dramatically larger police force today, or fire department and even the schools are not employing a lot more teachers than they were in say 1972.

So what do we do about it. Well, that's where a lot of people have differing opinions, but think about this. There are very few people working today outside the public sector that have a defined benefit plan. Most companies dispensed with them years ago and shifted to defined contribution plans (401K's for example). Sooner than you think we will need to confront the fact that there is a limit to how much the taxpayer can afford and when that happens the choice will be to either curtail services, or restructure the pensions. What you are seeing played out here in MPCSD is exactly that. So for those of you thinking that the district is fiscally irresponsible, take a look at the pension contribution number. I


16 people like this
Posted by Bob
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 28, 2016 at 9:29 pm

I will not be voting for any new parcel taxes until the school district demonstrates it can manage its current expenditures and financial planning..

You don't write budgets presuming a parcel tax will pass -- that's bad financial management.


9 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 28, 2016 at 9:46 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

"You don't write budgets presuming a parcel tax will pass -- that's bad financial management."

Damn straight! This is one among many things this board doesn't "get."


5 people like this
Posted by Roy Thiele-Sardiña
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 29, 2016 at 7:04 am

Roy Thiele-Sardiña is a registered user.

@Menlo Voter

While most people don't budget based on future revenue. almost EVERY government entity does.

Our state literally budgeted the Facebook IPO into their income and spending calculations with disastrous results see: Web Link

SO the MPCSD was not out of touch with other jurisdictions....now the bummer is that if they don't pass you have to "pivot" as we say in Private Industry.

Roy Thiele-Sardina


17 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 29, 2016 at 7:10 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"now the bummer is that if they don't pass you have to "pivot" as we say in Private Industry."

Unfortunately the MPCSD "pivot" was to grant across the board pay increases AFTER the parcel taxes failed resulting in a structural deficit.

And remember that every local jurisdiction controls the two most important elements of its pension costs - how many people are on the payroll and how much they are paid. A "one time" pay increase is a forever pension increase.


9 people like this
Posted by SteveC
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 29, 2016 at 11:55 am

SteveC is a registered user.

No you cry big cuts and terminations loom!!! and try the usual intimidation of the voters and set the attack dogs on the voters who have questions.


4 people like this
Posted by Jennifer Bestor
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Nov 1, 2016 at 7:35 am

Jennifer Bestor is a registered user.

Menlo Voter,

Let me know when! That $100 bill is burning a hole in my wallet -- wouldn't want to do any deficit spending! I can also do anytime Wednesday or Thursday with a bit of notice.

Can't wait!


2 people like this
Posted by Interested
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Nov 25, 2016 at 10:37 am

Will someone who knows Caroline please ask her to re-post her position papers? I'm interested to read them but her nationbuilder site isn't up any longer so the links in these posts are deadends. I thought I remembered that she was against any parcel tax but it sounds like maybe she was just against A and C. I read them awhile back but this is all a lot to keep track of and remember. Thanks!


Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda

on Sep 24, 2017 at 6:01 pm

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


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

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