News

Latest vote count confirms Ackerman and Lucas won school board seats

County updated vote totals at 4:30 p.m. Nov. 15

David Ackerman and Caroline Lucas still lead the race for two seats on the governing board of the Menlo Park City School District with the latest vote count released by the San Mateo County Elections office on Tuesday, Nov. 15. It appears unlikely the outcome of the race will change.

Mr. Ackerman has 4,683 votes (26.7 percent), followed by Ms. Lucas with 4,010 (22.85 percent). Scott Saywell, with 3,720 (21.2 percent) votes and Alka Gupta with 3,715 (21.2 percent) are nearly tied. Scott Hinshaw, whose name was on the ballot but who had dropped out of the race, had 1,420 votes (8.1 percent) on Tuesday.

See latest count.

The county has added 2,295 ballots to its total since its initial report the morning after Election Day. Of the district's 17,424 registered voters, 12,137 cast ballots, according to the latest count. That turnout of 69 percent is expected to rise as more ballots are counted.

The two remaining updates from the Elections Office will come at 4:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 18, and 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 23.

The candidates

Mr. Ackerman and Ms. Lucas are seen by many as "outsiders," although both are educators with ties to the district. Mr. Ackerman is a retired Oak Knoll School principal and Ms. Lucas had children in the district and is a Spanish teacher in the neighboring Las Lomitas school district.

The other two candidates were seen as members of the district "establishment." Scott Saywell, who trailed Ms. Lucas by 290 votes after the Nov. 15 vote total was reported, is president of the site council at Laurel School and has two young children in the district.

Alka Gupta, who trailed Ms Lucas by 295 votes on Nov. 15, is co-president of the Menlo Park-Atherton Education Foundation board and has a 9-year-old son in a district school.

The district has been reeling since voters failed to approve two parcel tax measures in May, leaving the board with difficult decisions on how to cut the budget and/or propose a new tax measure. Ms. Lucas was aligned with those who campaigned against the parcel taxes, and has been a critic of many district actions.

The candidates filed to run for the two open seats on the five-member school board when incumbents Jeff Child and Maria Hilton decided not to run again. The two will serve four-year terms.

Comments

8 people like this
Posted by MPCSD Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Nov 15, 2016 at 7:02 pm

While David Ackerman is a good addition bringing perspective of the staff and teachers Ms Lucas is not. Parents of children in the Distric,t and coming to the District, and homeowners who value the current value of their property need to actively attend future meetings and communicate with the School Board to ensure our District continues to thrive. If you find this comment to be inaccurate please feel free to go back to School Board meeting transcripts to see Ms Lucas' comments at meetings.


12 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 15, 2016 at 8:17 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

MPCSD voter:

I suggest you actually bother to read Lucas' position papers to see where she stands. As opposed to your BS assertions.


6 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 15, 2016 at 8:37 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

MPCSD voter - Have you actually read Lucas' published position papers?
- What are your positions on those issues facing the school
district?
- Are you a parent of a student in the district thereby benefiting
from a huge subsidy by the non-parent taxpayers?


19 people like this
Posted by Tim
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Nov 15, 2016 at 9:46 pm

When election season began, I thought the two "establishment" picks would win easily. They were endorsed by nearly every local politician. They had much more campaign money than the two "outsider" candidates. They were endorsed by four sitting school board members and some former ones. They had strong networks with other district parents, a source of campaign volunteers.

Yet, the electorate chose the outsiders. The people have chosen to go a different direction than where the "establishment" is taking them.

While Ackerman and Lucas don't represent a board majority, I hope the remaining board members heed their input.


1 person likes this
Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 16, 2016 at 12:15 am

Congrats to the winners. Good luck effecting change.


Like this comment
Posted by Barbara Wood
Almanac staff writer
on Nov 16, 2016 at 10:34 am

Barbara Wood is a registered user.

A clarification: Current board member Joan Lambert says she did not endorse any candidates in the race.


6 people like this
Posted by MPCSD Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Nov 16, 2016 at 1:18 pm

Thanks for the questions. To answer them I have met Ms Lucas, spoken to Ms Lucas, read her papers AND heard her speak at school board meetings so with respect please do not question my familiarity with the situation. I moved here because the schools were transforming from good to great. I knew the parcel tax *risk* and I also understood the reality that most of my property tax dollars would not be seen by the schools because this is a Basic Aid district. I knew about the foundation and the pto. But still, I came here, in part, for the great schools. I also came for a safe town with a reputable fire department and police force and finally, at that time, what was a thriving downtown. Our schools are still great and that is in large part because of the community behind them, which includes community funding in the way of personal donations and parcel taxes which both subsidize our lack of sufficient state aid. Ms Lucas says we shouldn't keep up with the Jones, I disagree. We should always, no matter where we are, expect the best we can provide for our children. We should benchmark amazing programs in all areas and those should be our goals. Particularly of the next towns over who are also Basic Aid districts. I don't want a mediocre experience for my children or a just a good one. I want a great one. Ms Lucas has called for a budget cut by not allowing the students of MPCSD staff and teachers to not attend our schools unless they live in District. I'm not okay with that. Their salaries (which she proposes need to be readdressed) make it virtually impossible for them to live in MP or Atherton. Do we want our teachers to leave?

I don't know about you gentleman but my house value has increased by a million dollars from when I purchased it. I'm guessing yours did too. The young families and new families have come for the schools. Let's not take that away from them.


Like this comment
Posted by Barbara Wood
Almanac staff writer
on Nov 16, 2016 at 1:54 pm

Barbara Wood is a registered user.

Clarification to MPCSD Voter: The Menlo Park City School District is indeed what used to be called a "basic aid" district, and is now called a "community funded" district. The few community funded districts in the state get more property taxes locally than they would get in state funding, so ALL local school property taxes stay in the district, not the other way around. Unlike other districts, almost none of the money community funded districts receive is tied to student enrollment. Such districts do not gain funding when they get more students, or lose funding when enrollment drops.
See the district FAQs for more information on this topic. Web Link#


5 people like this
Posted by MP Old Timer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 16, 2016 at 2:03 pm

I agree wholeheartedly with MPCSD Voter. I was born and raised in Menlo Park and moved back to the area to raise my own children. Some of the primary reasons that we came back to this area are the public schools (which I attended as a child) and the community commitment to schools. We must stay engaged on the critical issues of our children and community's future and commitment to education.


11 people like this
Posted by Apple
a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 16, 2016 at 2:33 pm

I believe we can keep up with Joneses, but it shouldn't be placed all on the backs of the homeowners. The parents need to step up their giving to MPAEF.

Las Lomitas and Portola Valley foundations ask for $2000 per student. Woodside asks for $4800. MPAEF only asks for $1500, but collects $1200. The last three years, MPAEF per student giving has been flat.

MPCSD taxpayers pay higher parcel taxes than these neighboring districts, but district parents are donating less than their comparable district peers.

To me, that says a lot about what's wrong with asking for more parcel taxes. The district is telling the taxpayers they need to step up, while the parents don't feel the need is there.


4 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 16, 2016 at 2:44 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

MPCSD Voter:

I'm glad you want a superior education for your children. If you want it, pay for it. Why should 80% of the taxpayers in the district without children in the schools fund your child's superior education? The district can provide a great education without breaking the bank and without treating the taxpayer like a blank check. The teachers are among the most highly paid in the state and they just got a raise and a bonus. They're not going anywhere.


11 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 16, 2016 at 2:57 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"so with respect please do not question my familiarity with the situation. "

I do question your familiarity with the facts. For example Lucas has NOT " Ms Lucas has called for a budget cut by not allowing the students of MPCSD staff and teachers to not attend our schools unless they live in District. "

What else are you misinformed about or elect to be dishonest about?


2 people like this
Posted by MP Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 16, 2016 at 5:52 pm

The vast majority of residents receive no direct benefit from the fire district.

Perhaps the cost of services should be directly billed to those who use them, instead of taxing all of the non-users of fire district services.

After all, way more than 80% of us not setting our houses on fire or calling for EMS.


2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 16, 2016 at 6:33 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Perhaps MP Resident might note the name and the mission of MPFPD - namely Menlo Park Fire PROTECTION District.

Every resident benefits every day from the PROTECTION services provided by MPFPD and not a single resident of the District has felt compelled to pay for private fire protection.


6 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 16, 2016 at 6:41 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Many residents of Atherton in the MPCSD feel compelled to pay for a private education. What I see here is that many of the parents of MPCSD want a private school quality education on the backs of the 80% of the taxpayers that don't have children in the schools. You want the extras? Pay for them yourselves.


11 people like this
Posted by Barbara Wood
Almanac staff writer
on Nov 16, 2016 at 7:04 pm

Barbara Wood is a registered user.

Caroline Lucas says that poster MPCSD Voter has misrepresented her views.

"I have not suggested that employee's children not be permitted to attend nor have I suggested that teachers' salaries need to be readdressed. I've asked some questions and made some suggestions about gathering data," she said.

"I have questioned the district and suggested that they've made assumptions about the value of certain factors in recruitment and retention, without having any supporting research."
"I suggest that the district follow through and share what they pledged to study through the work of the Teacher Recruitment and Retention Committee, in order to inform our conversations and decisions."
Ms. Lucas said she has also said that "the expense of educating employee's children needed to be made public".
She said regarding teachers' salaries that she has "commented that the district could potentially face serious cuts if salaries were raised prior to passing a parcel tax."
"I've suggested that MPCSD teachers are well paid, as their salaries factor into recruiting and retaining talent. I have not suggested that MPCSD teachers' salaries need to be readdressed," she said.


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

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