This story has been updated with information about a Woodside Elementary School District community meeting on a proposed parcel tax measure. The meeting will be held at 1 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 22, in the Wildcat Room at the school, 3195 Woodside Road.
On Nov. 9, the same day the governing board of the Menlo Park City School District held a marathon session to consider the details of a parcel tax it wants to put on the ballot in March, the Woodside Elementary School District board had a similar item on its agenda.
In Woodside, however, the proposal to put a parcel tax measure on the ballot in April merited only a half-page memo from Superintendent Beth Polito and not a word of discussion from the school board. The board is scheduled to vote Dec. 6 on putting the parcel tax measure on the ballot, she said.
The difference between the districts, Ms. Polito said after the meeting, is "we're not in the same spot they're in." She said that while the Menlo Park district is facing a long-term budget deficit, Woodside simply wants to extend its expiring parcel tax so it continues to have the $300,000 in revenue from the current tax.
"For us it's about maintaining a $300,000 revenue stream," she said.
The Woodside district hasn't been discussing cuts that would have to be made if the tax isn't approved, and isn't worried about putting it on the ballot before the March 15 deadline to give layoff notices to teachers who might lose their jobs without the tax money. That's because she doesn't think any teachers would lose their jobs even if the measure fails, she said.
If two-thirds of the voters don't approve the measure, "we would just have to cut back in any way we can and go out again (with another measure)," she said. The district could do without the revenue for a year, she said, but "for the long term that's a problem."
Both school districts are for children in kindergarten through eighth grade, but Woodside has only one school while Menlo Park has five. Woodside currently has about 400 students while Menlo Park has about 3,000.
Menlo Park's expiring parcel tax is less per parcel than Woodside's expiring tax, at $207 per parcel vs. $289 per parcel. However, because the Menlo Park district has many more property owners, its parcel tax adds up to much more revenue for the larger district, $1.6 million a year versus $300,000 a year for Woodside.
The Menlo Park district also has three other parcel taxes that don't expire, which add up to about $850 per parcel annually.
The districts are also in much different financial condition. According to the state's Ed-data website, in 2014-15, the last year for which data is posted, the Woodside district spent $21,613 educating each of its 438 students while the Menlo Park district spent $14,006 educating each of its 2,904 students.
The Woodside district picked an April ballot because the timing works well for the volunteers who would run the campaign, Superintendent Polito said. An all-mail ballot would also save the district $8,000 off the cost of an election that allows in-person voting at polls, she said.
On Friday, Nov. 18, Superintendent Polito announced the district will hold a "community forum" on the proposed parcel tax measure two days before Thanksgiving, on Tuesday, Nov. 22, at 1 p.m. in the Wildcat Room at the school, 3195 Woodside Road.
"All Woodside residents are welcomed and encouraged to attend to ask questions and learn more about the parcel tax measure," Superintendent Polito said.