Wednesday: Decision time near for Menlo Park school district

Menlo Park City School District board meets in Hillview PAC at 6 p.m.

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By Barbara Wood | Almanac Staff Writer

When the Menlo Park City School District's governing board meets on Wednesday, Nov. 9, to consider how it will try to resolve its budget problems, one thing will be certain: board members will have a plethora of information to consider.

The Nov. 9 meeting begins at 6 p.m. in the Hillview Middle School Performing Arts Center at 1100 Elder Ave. in Menlo Park. The budget discussion is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.

Included in the agenda are eight reports on the topic of balancing the district's budget after two parcel tax measures failed in May.

The agenda and all the reports are available online.

Seven of the reports detail the public input the district received between Sept. 27 and Oct. 31 on a projected budget shortfall of $5.3 million by the 2020-21 school year.

Online comments were submitted by 470 people and 77 spoke at board meetings. Nearly 80 percent of them are parents of current district students.

Respondents prioritized the district's programs, giving top priority to attracting and retaining high-quality teachers, and a high quality educational program. The lowest priorities were technology used to improve learning, and world language and immersion programs.

The eighth report deals, in 41 detailed pages, with actions that could balance the budget. Five scenarios range from passage of a new $515 per parcel tax requiring no budget cuts, to no replacement of the parcel tax that expires on June 30, 2017, requiring $4.5 million in budget cuts over the next three school years.

The district is scheduled to meet again on Nov. 30 in case it chooses to put a parcel tax measure on the March 2017 ballot before the Dec. 2 deadline to submit measures for that ballot.

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