News


Menlo Park school district posts answers to budget questions

Included: Why no return address on survey envelopes?

The Menlo Park City School District has posted a feature on its website that aims to answer frequently asked questions about the district's budget woes and the process it's using to resolve them.

Answers are posted to questions about the district's structural deficit and cost-cutting and funding options, including a parcel tax. By Nov. 4, the document was 20 pages long.

One question dealt with on the page is why there was no return address on the envelope containing a community survey recently mailed to the district's registered voters.

The district says the consultants who created the survey mistakenly left the return address off the envelopes, "leading some to either miss or mistake the survey for something else. This was entirely unforeseen by the district."

The district says that any community member who did not receive a survey or lost the survey access code it contained can request a replacement by emailing: commadvisoryteam@mpcsd.org.

Click here to see a letter from the consultants about the mailing error.

The FAQs will be updated as more questions are submitted, Assistant Superintendent Erik Burmeister said.

The district says anyone with questions about the FAQs should send an email to commadvisoryteam@mpcsd.org.

Comments

7 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 5, 2016 at 7:45 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

"This was entirely unforeseen by the district."

Bull!


25 people like this
Posted by Vote for David Ackerman
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 6, 2016 at 10:07 am

[Post removed; off topic]


20 people like this
Posted by T Johnson
a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 6, 2016 at 10:15 am

[Post removed; off topic]


21 people like this
Posted by Mandy Sin
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Nov 6, 2016 at 10:23 am

[Post removed; off topic]




16 people like this
Posted by Jenny Carpertner
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 6, 2016 at 10:37 am

[Post removed; off topic]


32 people like this
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Hillview Middle School
on Nov 6, 2016 at 2:45 pm

Train Fan is a registered user.

OK, I read their FAQ. Before I say what is wrong with it, I'll point out the good.

There is a lot that is very good in "Structural Deficit FAQ". I want to thank the district for pulling that together. While I've been one of the opponents of the (successfully) defeated May parcel taxes, I do believe the district is trying to reach out to the community to make its case for an additional parcel tax, and I thank them for that.

However...

I am genuinely annoyed and frustrated by the repeated use of the totally bogus "comparable" school districts they use to make their case. The list of "comparable" districts is completely bogus. And the district's continual insistence on using cherrypicked, NON-comparable districts is going to cost them the next parcel tax election.

The district and it's pro-tax supporters have gone to such great lengths to continually use their bogus comp list, that I think they know the truth; true comps show that MPCSD revenues are unusually high for an elementary district its size. Every time I've posted a valid list of comparables, the pro-tax supporters go...eerily silence. Which is very telling.

I am so annoyed by this invalid list, I make this pledge:
If the "comparables" list in the FAQ isn't fixed or removed, and if I see that bogus list of comps from the district ever again (especially if it's used in the arguments for the next parcel tax election), I will fund the "NO" on the measure myself.

The CalSTRS funding is a WINNING argument, primarily because it's TRUE; stick to it and you'll at least get the expiring parcel tax renewed for another 6-9 years.

Continue the "comparables" fiction, and you'll lose the next election. Again.


22 people like this
Posted by Stephanie
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 6, 2016 at 3:39 pm

I also thank the district for it's time in trying to get information to the community. This is responsive and appreciated.

I also want to point out that MPCSD does not always present the same peer district data when making comparisons. They pick and choose what they want to present in order to advance their position/argument.

Example: Why is Hillsborough INCLUDED when MPCSD is comparing Academic Achievement gains but EXCLUDED when comparing 2014-2015 revenue and spending levels per pupil?

I see the comparisons as always selected to present what they want to present and I agree with Train Fan that comparables in the list need to be fixed asap. If the district truly wants to gain voter support, then present the true story and the voters will step up to what the feel is right.

What have others noticed about the comparables?


4 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 6, 2016 at 4:18 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

"What have others noticed about the comparables?"

exactly what you've seen.


17 people like this
Posted by Stephanie
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 6, 2016 at 7:14 pm

One comparison that needs to be made with any districts that are referenced in these attempts to persuade is the percent of the operating budget spent on the employee compensation. Why is this left out?

MPCSD 89%
Woodside 84%
Portola Valley 77%
Las Lomitas 82%

I'm not debating amount paid to teachers in MPCSD or anything else except to reiterate that CHERRY PICKED COMPARISONS HAVE BEEN MADE AND PRESENTED TO THE PUBLIC and that needs to be corrected/fixed on all district communications and stopped. Presenting the entire true picture is the best way to gain community support anything that's to come down the line.

Are there any others that need to be made public? If so, please post so that the community is informed.





7 people like this
Posted by Jennifer Bestor
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Nov 8, 2016 at 10:57 am

“Bull?” Bull, Menlo Voter.

What possible benefit do you think the school district gets from having people throw away the survey envelopes?

Bragging rights until the next parcel tax election? A brief respite in the warm resonance of a little echo chamber like this one? Less input to process, so less work to do? The joy of finding out what the community thinks at the ballot box rather than now?

Your little pseudonymous cabal projects its own deviousness onto the school district in the most extraordinary ways.

Think. For once. What benefit does the school district get from less participation? None.


4 people like this
Posted by Jennifer Bestor
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Nov 8, 2016 at 11:37 am

You know that joke about the optimist? The guy who, given a stable full of manure, grabs a shovel and starts digging, excitedly mumbling, “I’m sure there’s a pony in here somewhere!”

Well, y’all got given a pony — then grabbed a shovel, began beating it, and started yelling, “I’m sure there’s manure in here somewhere.”

Will you be happy only when you kill the pony?

So, TF, you think that the districts immediately around us aren’t worth comparing ourselves to?

First of all, the vast majority of us didn’t decide between far-flung Bay Area points before settling here. We decided on Menlo Park or Atherton — having taken a look at Portola Valley, Palo Alto, Woodside, Redwood City, and perhaps given a thought to Hillsborough (and a scenic commute down 280). So those districts (and Las Lomitas of course) are what we care about. We don’t demand parity, but we are interested in COMPARING them.

Furthermore, they are comparable because we the local voters know them. We know their relative housing prices, allowing us to estimate how much residents are paying in property tax. We have an idea of their local labor pool — which happens to be almost identical to ours. We know their local private school options, also almost identical to ours. We have a fair idea of their student demographics, etc., etc.

Personally, having lived in Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts, I would love to see that as a comparable. But, no matter how close it might look in a database, the comparison would be meaningless to everyone else here. Why? Because, at best, other voters might have driven through it. But most likely they know nothing about it at all.

If you give me information about Las Lomitas, Portola Valley, Palo Alto, and Woodside, I have a framework for evaluating the comparison. Other buyers and residents will, too. We’re grown ups, we know that chasing down Woodside is probably out of the question. But we also know that the difference between us and Las Lomitas and Palo Alto is worth thought. Why is there a gap? Is it important? And, if so, what do we need to do if we want to close it?

Second, Ed-data.org is a database, not an oracle. Do you know anything about how to use the information inside databases? This is not an exercise in some class. It’s the real world. Data is messy in the real world.

Ed-data.org doesn’t give you any answers, at best it allows an intelligent person to begin to ask reasonable questions. (Ideally, someone who’s first response to everything isn’t “Bull.”)

Remember that little Voter’s Guide boo-boo? Where [They-Who-Cannot-Be-Named] didn’t bother to understand how the parcel tax was included above the line in later years’ MPCSD revenues, but below the line in earlier years’? How [They] claimed revenue had increased 17%? That was the lie that started it all and it was based on the difference between data and information.

When people don’t understand that crucial difference, they just grab the first numbers they see that validate that prejudice.

Note that this also led to lie #2, because they hadn’t bothered to understand why parcel tax revenue was booked in one place in earlier years and had changed. There they went on to accuse the district of “deficit spending.” Wrong.

The existing parcel taxes were for specific purposes. Those taxes, and particularly the 2010 one, were based on a growth projection. The structure was to raise more money than was necessary in the early years, then allow that excess to help fund the developing gap in later years. Therefore, the receipts went into a special account, to be disbursed specifically for those purposes over time. Spending out of that account was not “deficit spending.” It was the result of a flat parcel tax. (And we saw how attempts to gradate one in Measure C backfired.)

To use Ed-data.org productively, you have to dig to make sure that none of your “comparables” has anything like that going on. And make sure you understand any other divagations (for example, the effects of shifting between LCFF and basic-aid the way Mill Valley has; how dependent charter school funding works; PTA/PTO funding, which does not flow through the district’s books; why San Carlos turned each of its elementary schools into a separate charter school; etc.). And often you have to call the finance person in the district or talk with a school board member there to understand the full picture.

Third, each County Office of Education operates differently, depending on the nature and amount of its own funding, as well as with the underlying structure of its constituent districts. Buried in the costs of any given school district are what the COE isn’t paying for and/or doing.

- San Mateo County’s COE, for example, has revenues of $887 per ADA across the entire district, but is only directly responsible for 403 children out of the 95,187 in the district. 0.4%.

- Santa Clara County’s COE has revenues of $725 per ADA, but is responsible for 10,596 children out of 276,689 in the district. 3.8%.

- Marin’s has revenues of $930 per district ADA, and is responsible for 282 out of 33,207. 0.8%.

- Contra Costa’s has revenues of $377 per district ADA, and is responsible for 3,812 children out of 174,802 in the district. 2.2%

Both San Mateo and Marin counties have a lot of basic-aid/property-tax funded districts, while Santa Clara is much more heavily LCFF funded. Contra Costa is 100% LCFF with the exception of Acalanes High School District. (This has to do, by the way, with the 1979 allocation of property tax. Yes, the same AB 8 Split that handed our Fire District the golden ticket.)

One key element in analyzing a COE’s relationship to its schools is quantifying how Special Education is handled in each county. Special Education is Very Expensive. (SF Unified estimated $50,000 per child. I think that’s extreme, but also remember the parking problem at Oak Knoll a few years back because there were so many inclusion aides and other specialists there.) If the majority of children are mainstreamed in the local schools, I would expect those schools' cost of education to be higher. If the children are educated or subsidized by the COE, the districts’ cost should be lower.

Don’t be surprised, however, to discover that basic aid districts like ours are forced to swallow any Special Ed costs, while LCFF districts (Ravenswood, Redwood City, San Carlos, Burlingame, Millbrae) get help from the COE. You cannot even begin to imagine the distaste with which Sacramento (staffers, lobbyists, unions, elected officials) view basic-aid districts. That “excess tax”? They want it used up before any penny of county or state aid flows to these districts.

As important as what data is in the database is the data that isn’t — or which you have to take the time to learn to look for.

Fourth, if I remember the list of so-called “comparables” that one of you published in the spring, it was a list selected based on API — the state’s attempt to reduce STAR test results to a single number for a district.

You selected districts in the Bay Area with more than 2000 students and APIs over 900, “Look! We can have almost the same scores for much less money.”

Well, yes, but first, let’s move the white folks out. Then let’s drill-and-kill. And cut electives. (By the way, the state ditched the STAR tests and API and is still struggling to come up with a way to summarize the new Balanced Assessment.)

If you want to look like your comparables, move the white folk out first. The single biggest predictor of the old STAR test performance was ethnicity. Here were the last published statewide STAR results:

API Base Score by Student Subgroup:
Asian - 906
Filipino - 870
White - 855
Two or more races - 852
All - 791

So, when you toss up Saratoga Union (55% Asian), Cupertino (73% Asian), Millbrae (42% Asian), Los Altos (30% Asian), then look at MPCSD (8% Asian) … be very aware of what you’re measuring. Is it quality of education? Or the district parents' willingness to drill to the test?

When STAR tests were introduced in the early 2000’s, parents in Menlo Park and Palo Alto were particularly vocal about not wanting a ’teach to the test’ focus in the schools. Other districts, particularly those with a large parent cohort used to high-stakes academic testing, embraced the testing process from the outset.

You’ll notice MPCSD’s scores crept along, then leapt up in 2008-09.

Our family actually wasn’t here that year — we spent a year in the Carmel school district ($19,535 per student, 3.4% Asian, last API 909), but noticed when we returned that a week of test prep and pre-tests had entered the curriculum. After five years of looking the other way, the district realized that its results were being published in the Almanac, realtors were touting them (or NOT), parents were being asked to provide them when applying for academic camps, and so forth. But the community hadn’t changed our stripes — we wanted higher scores AND art, music and counselors. That takes money. The parcel tax provided some of the necessary money to do that.

The Measures' proponent message was, "look, we have comparable test scores to the districts around us that are spending much more." Test scores in a context of art, music, library, etc.

Your list of comparables was: Test scores at the cheapest price. A district that squeaks by whatever academic index number there is, for the least money. Drill and kill.

Fifth, remember all your concerns about the potential for excessively costly administration? Well, exactly how much time do you Erik Burmeister et al should spend hunting for districts around the state that might meet your rarified sense of “comparable” while passing anyone else’s straight face test? And answering Peter's questions. And. And.

Frankly, the Town Square cabal could keep at least one $200,000/year staffer fully occupied. Without reducing costs or improving the local education one whit.


11 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 8, 2016 at 11:51 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The Board has a huge problem in that the responses are from a very biased sample of the community - 78.6% are from parents who currently have children in MPCSD schools.

That is NOT the target population IF the District wants to get the next parcel tax approved.


14 people like this
Posted by HelloHanalei
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Nov 8, 2016 at 12:51 pm

HelloHanalei is a registered user.

Peter Carpenter, what would you suggest the District do to get the community at large to engage, aside from inviting community members to meetings, including them in the District-wide survey, and making multiple means available for them to reach out and communicate with the District? Do you think Dr. Ghysels, Mr. Burmeister, and the School Board should go door-to-door asking people for their opinions and input? If people are invited ~ nay, implored ~ to engage, and they choose not to, it isn't reasonable to fault the District for that.

Menlo Voter, you're making some pretty serious, unfounded accusations of deceit and bad acting on the part of the District. I can say with 100% certainty that literally NOTHING you're saying is true, but of course on this forum who will believe me? However, if you have no basis for your statements, you'd be better off not making them, because you crossed the line from misrepresentation to outright lies a few stops ago.


9 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 8, 2016 at 1:01 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" If people are invited ~ nay, implored ~ to engage, and they choose not to, it isn't reasonable to fault the District for that."

I am NOT faulting the District except to say that whatever they are doing is not enough IF they want to ensure that the next parcel tax passes by the required 2/3 majority.

Building a relationship with the entire community is hard work and doing so is, unfortunately, not in the MPCSD Mission Statement.


5 people like this
Posted by Menlo Man
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 8, 2016 at 7:04 pm

Peter do you have an answer/suggestion to the question posed to you:

"Peter Carpenter, what would you suggest the District do to get the community at large to engage?"

I'm curious Peter, not to antagonize you, but to get your take on what more the Board/District can do to elicit input from non-MPCSD voters. In addition to the outreach that HelloHanalei described, the District has taken out ads in the newspaper to implore the community at large to get involved. There is also this megaphone called the Almanac that clearly describes the ways community members can give input. What more can be done

Do you have the answer Peter?


10 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 8, 2016 at 7:10 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Do you have the answer Peter?"

Yes - The Board has to undergo a cultural change to recognize that their primary shareholders are the taxpayers, not the parents or the students or the teachers.

That will be very hard to do.


5 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 8, 2016 at 7:22 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Jennifer:

let me spell it out for you. If the average taxpayer throws out their envelope then those that might be likely to tell the board they're not happy with the state of affairs and they won't support a parcel tax aren't heard. Instead, the board can make sure all of the families with children in the district understand this unmarked envelope will be arriving and make sure they don't throw it away. Because, guess what, the parents will all tell the board another parcel tax is just fine and dandy. AND, another parcel tax. And the board can say it is overwhelmingly supported by the taxpayers. Simple enough for you?


8 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 8, 2016 at 7:26 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Jennifer:

my response of "bull" was in regards to the budget deficit being "entirely unforeseen." Again, BULL. Anyone with a modicum of intelligence could have seen this coming. And then when it came, what did the board do? They doubled down on the problem and give the teachers and staff a raise and a bonus. This is fiscal misfeasance by any standards.


3 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 8, 2016 at 7:34 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

hello:
why did they send out the letters for the survey in an unmarked envelope? If the board really wanted engagement from ALL the citizens they would have emblazoned that envelope with clear markings advertising what it was. But they didn't did they? No, they sent an unmarked envelope. Ya, they were trying to reach out to everyone. NOT.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Latest story on the envelope: Web Link


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Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 8, 2016 at 7:38 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

hello:

I invite you to point out exactly what I have "lied" about.


6 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 8, 2016 at 8:08 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

jennifor:

"cabal?" The only "cabal" I see is the insiders that have been running and mismanaging the district for years.


3 people like this
Posted by Concerned MPCSD Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Nov 9, 2016 at 1:45 am

Train Fan, Peter Carpenter, Menlo Voter in reading all of your comments here on this thread, and ones in the past, I wonder...do any of you pay property taxes not protected by Prop 13? i.e. are you paying your property taxes based on 1976 rates? I'm curious. My gut says you are Prop 13 protected. If that is in fact the case I'd just peacefully ask if you are in an equitable position to be calling out comparable numbers the District should be looking at for our schools.


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Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 9, 2016 at 7:09 am

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

concerned:

I bought my current home in 2001, so no.


9 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 9, 2016 at 9:37 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Concerned - Before asking others to disclose personal information perhaps you might identify yourself and then disclose whatever information that you want others to disclose.


5 people like this
Posted by Disappointed Parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 9, 2016 at 9:51 am

I was sad to learn Hillview is cutting the mini courses week (except for the 8th grade DC trip) because of budget constraints. The parcel tax does not run out for another year. The article references one of the top priorities is a high quality educational program. The week costs $80k and the Hillview PTO contributes $10k. The PTO also gives the Principal a discretionary fund of more than $20k. I understand planning for the future and empathize with the district, but these mini courses are what my older children remember most from their days at Hillview. The life lessons and education that takes place outside of the classroom during this week are priceless. Why not just revamp the mini courses week with a reduced budget, rather than cancel the entire thing? This does not boost my confidence in the Menlo Park City School District and frankly, causes me to reconsider donating money to the schools.


3 people like this
Posted by Concerned MPCSD Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Nov 9, 2016 at 1:20 pm

Menlo Voter: thank you for your honest answer. I was mistaken where you are concerned. My apologies.

Peter Carpenter: to me, your answer is a non-answer and I suspect indicates my guess is an accurate one.

As for me, I purchased my house in 2008.


14 people like this
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Hillview Middle School
on Nov 9, 2016 at 2:01 pm

"do any of you pay property taxes not protected by Prop 13?"

Every property owner is protected by Prop 13.


"are you paying your property taxes based on 1976 rates?"

No. I bought between 2010-2012 (range given to keep my privacy). I pay over $24,000/year in property taxes & parcel taxes.


"My gut says you are Prop 13 protected."

Your gut is incorrect.

I'll also point out that anyone who actually has a tax basis from the 1970s is biologically highly unlikely to have children in the district, and has likely contributed more property tax dollars and parcel tax dollars to MPCSD than you or I ever will.


6 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 9, 2016 at 2:08 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Concerned - As long as you chose to stay hidden then I will chose to ignore any questions that you ask of me.

"anyone who actually has a tax basis from the 1970s is biologically highly unlikely to have children in the district, and has likely contributed more property tax dollars and parcel tax dollars to MPCSD than you or I ever will."

True.


2 people like this
Posted by Roy Thiele-Sardiña
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 9, 2016 at 2:43 pm

Roy Thiele-Sardiña is a registered user.

[Removed. This personal information may be available on the internet, but it's not relevant or essential to a discussion of school district's policies. You can make the point that people who brought their homes in recent years pay more property taxes than longtime owners without pointing to personal information.]


5 people like this
Posted by Roy Thiele-Sardiña
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 9, 2016 at 2:50 pm

Roy Thiele-Sardiña is a registered user.

For the record, I find the practice of anonymous postings to this forum deplorable and an act of cowardice. [part removed.]

my take is you should be allowed to hit the I agree button only unless we know your name.

I have worked with Peter on many campaigns and consider him a HERO to our community and nation for ALL his service. While I REALLY don't like his rants sometimes, you cannot dismiss or diminish the positive value of his involvement in our community.

Peter I love ya!

Roy


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 9, 2016 at 2:51 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

[Post removed. See comment above.]


2 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 9, 2016 at 3:11 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Roy:

you're entitled to your opinion. Personally I have to make a living in this community but I also like to be able to thoughts and ideas out for other people to think about. I am also sure I have opinions that some find very disagreeable. I'm sure we all do. I do not wish restrict my freedom of speech so that I can protect my ability to earn a living so I choose to remain anonymous, though Peter (yes, he is a hero) and a number of other regular posters here know who I am.


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Posted by Roy Thiele-Sardiña
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 9, 2016 at 3:28 pm

Roy Thiele-Sardiña is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


6 people like this
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Hillview Middle School
on Nov 9, 2016 at 3:58 pm

Train Fan is a registered user.

"For the record, I find the practice of anonymous postings to this forum deplorable and an act of cowardice."

For the record, I find that people who demand non-anonymity do so when they're losing the debate.

The merits of a point-of-view can be defended or refuted without regard to who's stating the point-of-view.


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Posted by Roy Thiele-Sardiña
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 9, 2016 at 4:18 pm

Roy Thiele-Sardiña is a registered user.

@concerned

the editor decided to erase my tit for tat with Peter, probably a good idea.

[Part removed. A poster's personal tax situation is not relevant to the question of what policies the school board should adopt with regard to its budget and whether the tax system is fair. We remove content we think will lead to pissing matches.]

While it took me only a few minutes to google and find that homes value on the internet (all of us public elected officials are required to give up a lot of personal information to run for office) his snarky comment with regard to answering the question was well.....just snarky. And his comment about answering it to an anonymous questioner is perfect.

Peter could have easily answered the question but chose not to.

Editor: for the record your practice of allowing these anonymous comments (and that includes you M*** V***** who the editor is protecting) is wrong, and shows your love of drama over journalism. Hacks indeed.

Roy



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Posted by Roy Thiele-Sardiña
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 9, 2016 at 5:21 pm

Roy Thiele-Sardiña is a registered user.

@Editor then please search for the words Property tax in all the above posts. it is ALL about Prop 13 yet my comment that Peter benefits from this is somehow less relevant.....hack hack hack.


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Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 9, 2016 at 6:29 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Roy:

sorry you disagree with my rationale. I don't have the largess of a high powered person in our community like you do.


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Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 9, 2016 at 7:09 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

editor:

why did you edit my post to Roy?


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Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 9, 2016 at 7:11 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

editor:

never mind


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Posted by Roy Thiele-Sardiña
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 9, 2016 at 7:14 pm

Roy Thiele-Sardiña is a registered user.

@Menlo Voter. He edited because they lack journalistic skills or integrity.....hack hack hack


3 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 9, 2016 at 7:46 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Roy:

They disagree with you so they "lack journalistic integrity?" You sound like Trump.

I'm happy to meet with you and get to know you as long as you agree to my anonymity. If not, oh well, we've probably met but you don't know it. You consider that "cowardly"? Then, whatever.... I don't really care. I spent ten years in law enforcement. If that doesn't convince you I'm not a coward then I don't really care.


4 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 9, 2016 at 9:40 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

By the way Roy, if I was being "protected" be the editors I wouldn't have been locked out of the board a while ago because of what I had been posting. Which was "too antagonizing and inflammatory" by the way. If you're not happy with what others post just address that in a non-inflammatory manner.


4 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 10, 2016 at 8:02 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

When almost 80% of the respondents to the current "outreach" are parents with students in the schools what the Board has is the perspective of those who greatly benefit from the taxes of "others".

A critical place for the Board to start would be to revise MPCSD's Mission and Core Values so that those statements acknowledge that the District's reliance on and accountability to the taxpayers.

The current Mission and Core Values statements totally ignore this key constituency:

Web Link


4 people like this
Posted by Jennifer Bestor
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Nov 10, 2016 at 8:52 am

Jennifer Bestor is a registered user.

It is UNTRUE that "anyone who actually has a tax basis from the 1970s is biologically highly unlikely to have children in the district..."

MPCSD has a high proportion of Prop 58-protected single-family residences with pre-1985 bases (many observably pre-1976, but the electronic rolls start in 1985).

Those houses are either rentals, often contributing children to the school district, or occupied by the children of the 1976 owners, whose own children go through the district. (This I discovered four years ago, when I had an MPCSD directory and could cross reference the two.)

When one looks at MPCSD in comparison to Las Lomitas, trying to understand why Las Lomitas receives $1,000 more per student in property tax, this is one of the data points that jumps out. 22% of the single-family residences in Menlo Park -- that's almost one in four -- have a pre-1985 basis. In Las Lomitas, it's 14%. In Santa Clara and San Mateo counties, the average is closer to 16%.

Furthermore, an even higher percentage of multifamily units enjoys the most advantaged tax basis from those earlier years.

If I had the time to give you the specific data, I would. However, I am dealing with a lot of family care-giving right now, which precludes that. But you know who I am. And you know that I can.


2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 10, 2016 at 9:02 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

As always Jennifer contributes interesting facts but those facts do not change the challenge that the School Board faces - how to engage the entire community and to earn their support.

Every voter's vote counts the same regardless of the assessed value of their property.

Interestingly a parcel tax for voters with low assessed value properties is a much bigger percentage increase in their total taxes than the same sized parcel tax for voters with higher assessed value properties.


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Posted by Jennifer Bestor
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Nov 10, 2016 at 9:06 am

Jennifer Bestor is a registered user.

Furthermore, it is UNTRUE that 1970's basis property tax owners have "likely contributed more property tax dollars and parcel tax dollars to MPCSD than you or I ever will."

Consider, for a moment, that $300,000 would have bought a very nice home in Lindenwood in the 1970's. Because of Prop 13, that home would be paying about $3,500 a year in property taxes (before exemptions) now. That same home would have sold for $3M+ anytime in the past 15 years. Thus, that home would have paid less than $3,500 X 40 -- $140,000 -- in four decades of ownership. Its neighbors, however, would have paid that in the last SIX years alone.

Indeed, because of the Prop 13 rollback, it is only in the past four years that a 1975-basis taxpayer has written a larger check than s/he did in 1978. Seriously.


4 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 10, 2016 at 9:17 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

As always Jennifer contributes interesting facts but those facts do not change the challenge that the School Board faces - how to engage the entire community and to earn their support.


Neither Jennifer or the School Board can change the current property assessments laws so let's instead focus on what we can do:

1 - Either educate and convince the entire community to support a wonderfully enhanced elementary education program

or

2 - Restructure that program to have a balanced budget without any new parcel taxes.




3 people like this
Posted by Jennifer Bestor
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Nov 10, 2016 at 9:18 am

Jennifer Bestor is a registered user.

Yes, Mr. Carpenter, we agree, for once! A parcel tax for voters with low assessed value properties IS a much bigger percentage increase in their total taxes than the same sized parcel tax for voters with higher assessed value properties.

I have assumed this triggers so many parcel tax objections from those with the most advantaged bases. The parcel taxes seem "so large." (It is also why senior homeowners are allowed by law to claim an exemption from them.)

Menlo Voter, you actually best situated to viscerally evaluate this. You, with a 2001 basis, are actually right at the 100% contribution point. You are paying exactly what the system entitles you to. (1995-2005 as a group is paying 110%, but the inflection point is right around 15 years right now.)

Train Fan, you are suffering from Prop 13's "protections." You are paying about 140% of what the system entitles you to. And then get a parcel tax dumped on top of it -- to try to make up for the lack of contribution of others.

(And, believe it or not, you will never get caught up with those fortunate enough to claim Prop 58 inheritance. Ever. Even if your great-greats are able to claim it.)

I keep wanting to do a variance analysis between MPCSD and Las Lomitas, but it takes time (and screaming on Town Square is so much more fun). Where does LL's extra $1000 per student come from? How much from the difference in allocation between 19% and 21? How much from the greater proportion of most-advantaged properties -- homes, apartments AND commercial?

It all plays in.


5 people like this
Posted by Jennifer Bestor
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Nov 10, 2016 at 9:29 am

Jennifer Bestor is a registered user.

Editor, now I have to disagree with you when you state,"A poster's personal tax situation is not relevant to the question of what policies the school board should adopt with regard to its budget and whether the tax system is fair."

We have a situation in California today where taxpayers make dramatically different contributions to local services for properties with the same underlying value. Since taxpayers have been given NO information that allows them to deal with this intellectually, they are like blind men touching the elephant in different places.

Indeed, their personal tax contribution may be the only lens that they or others use.

A $1,000 a year parcel tax is a 33% surcharge to the person who is paying $3,000 a year on his Atherton property. It is a 3% surcharge to the person who is paying $30,000 next door. In both cases, it is probably EXTREMELY aggravating.

Yet, in fact, for the person paying $30K it increases the chances that he will get a school district commensurate with his large contribution. And, when one of those parties is a landlord or heir, s/he needs to realize that s/he is being 80% subsidized by neighbors. Those neighbors need to know that a third of their high property taxes are a SUBSIDY, not as a contribution to the school district. Otherwise, everyone is talking right past everyone else.

EDITOR'S NOTE: You can give examples of such inequities without identifying the person by name or providing personal information such as an address and how much taxes that named person paid, even though this may be public information.


5 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 10, 2016 at 9:35 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Jennifer - You are wrong and the Editor is right - ""A poster's personal tax situation is not relevant to the question of what policies the school board should adopt with regard to its budget and whether the tax system is fair."

Every poster/voter is entitled to their opinion/vote and that opinion/vote is not means tested by what that individual pays in property taxes.

Remember the fundamental concept of of our democracy - One person, One vote.

Let's focus on solutions rather than witch hunts.


7 people like this
Posted by Roy Thiele-Sardiña
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 10, 2016 at 9:56 am

Roy Thiele-Sardiña is a registered user.

@Editor

I happen to agree with Jennifer. Peter has mentioned multiple times that they need to live within their means, my response is their means is HAMPERED by the low taxes YOU pay.

Based on the input here the LOUDEST complaints have come from people protected by the Prop 13 value of their home (and therefore a parcel tax is a higher percentage of the their tax burden) or members of the forum who can take a senior citizen exemption.

This is NOT a small issue for them financially, and is a TINY part of many newer (school age) home owners.

While I no longer have any kids in the MPCSD district I consider it a MINOR investment to keep our schools great.

Roy


8 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 10, 2016 at 10:06 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

I have long argued that Prop 13 treats property owners differently and unfairly and that I do not pay my fair share of property taxes and I have never exercised my right to claim a senior exemption from property taxes. But I still get one and only one vote.

Neither Jennifer with all her words or Roy with all his money can change Prop 13 so let's focus on solutions.

Every voter gets a vote and it takes 2/3s of those votes to pass a parcel tax.

The parents of current students (who, to use Jennifer's word, are being subsidized by the non-parent taxpayers) do not have 2/3s of the votes so the focus has to be on reaching out to the non-parent community.


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

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