News

Parcel tax measure in Menlo Park City School District moves toward board approval

Final vote scheduled for Monday, Dec. 5

As two members of the Menlo Park City School District's governing board finished up their terms Wednesday night, Nov. 30, board members agreed on draft details of a new parcel tax measure that will be voted on when two new board members are sworn in on Monday, Dec. 5.

The board members agreed to use as a starting point for Monday's discussion a $350 parcel tax that would have a six-year term. One of the district's four current parcel taxes, which brings in about $1.6 million a year, expires at the end of June 2017.

The amount did not seem to be anyone's first choice, but was seen as a compromise between those who wanted to ask for a high enough parcel tax to avoid any budget cuts, and those who wanted to see the district find a long-term solution to its budget problems without additional taxes.

"I think we have to be realistic about what we're going to be able to pass," said board member Joan Lambert, who said she favored a parcel tax of around $300.

"I think it is just so important that we win this parcel tax election," she said. "I think it is going to require a little bit of compromise on everyone's part."

The proposal would increase the amount of the expiring parcel tax, now at $207 a year. If the $350 figure is adopted, it would bring the total in parcel taxes paid by district property owners to the school district to approximately $1,017 a year.

That total would be about $300 a year less than the maximum tax that could have been imposed under two parcel tax measures that failed to gain approval in May. Those two measures did not have an expiration date. One would have been a straight renewal of the expiring $207 parcel tax and the other would have been directly tied to increases in student enrollment, with a cap of about $470.

Since the two measures failed to get the required two-thirds voter approval, the district has been working to figure out how it can balance its budget.

The district is a "community-funded" district, receiving a majority of its funding from local property taxes. Unlike most other California districts, very little of its funding is tied to the number of students in the district's schools.

While property tax revenues have steadily increased in the district in recent years, spending has grown even faster, with the two main factors being continuing enrollment growth and a dramatic increase in the district's required contributions into the state's retirement system, imposed by the state in 2014.

Pension costs

The district says its contributions into the state pension system will increase from $2.25 million a year in the 2013-14 fiscal year to approximately $6 million a year by the 2020-21 fiscal year, if the district's personnel costs grow at expected rates.

The increase in contributions by the district (and all other California districts) into the system will increase from 8.25 percent of teacher salaries in 2013-14 to 19.1 percent by 2020-21.

The increases were needed to fund the state retirement system's obligations to retirees after years of underfunding.

Contributions by the state, and by employees, are also increasing. Teachers’ contribution rates will increase from 8 percent to 10.25 percent over three years while the state’s contributions will go from 3 percent to 8.8 percent over three years.

Ninth meeting

The meeting was the ninth in a series, beginning in mid-September, that the district said were designed to fully explore the district's financial situation and get the public's input on how the budget should be balanced.

The process has been complicated by the fact that two board members, Jeff Child and Maria Hilton, chose not to run for re-election in November. Two new board members, David Ackerman and Caroline Lucas, officially begin their terms on Friday, Dec. 2, and will be sworn in at the Monday, Dec. 5, meeting.

The district invited both new board members to sit at the table with current board members at the Nov. 17 and Nov. 30 meetings. Mr. Ackerman, the retired principal of Oak Knoll School, took the board up on the offer. But the second new board member, Caroline Lucas, a Spanish teacher in the neighboring Las Lomitas School District, said she was not comfortable doing so and spoke from the audience at both meetings.

At the start of Wednesday's meeting, Ms. Lucas told the board that her "mission and purpose is to help this body better understand the perspective of voters who are skeptical and hesitant to provide more financial support."

She said she could support a new parcel tax only if the district could offset the additional revenue a parcel tax would bring in with cuts in spending.

The Dec. 5 board meeting starts at 6 p.m. in the Hillview Middle School Performing Arts Center, 1100 Elder Avenue, Menlo Park. If the school board wants to put a measure on the March 7 ballot, it must take action by Dec. 9.

Comments

39 people like this
Posted by Voter's remorse
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Dec 1, 2016 at 12:41 pm

It is incredible that although Caroline now represents the ENTIRE community within MPCSD , her "mission and purpose is to help this body better understand the perspective of voters who are skeptical and hesitant to provide more financial support."

That is her priority? To represent the small minority of total voters who voted NO last May? Why aren't her priorities to advance the District? To better the educational experience of the student?

How soon can a recall effort be put in motion to remove Caroline?





7 people like this
Posted by Bored
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Dec 1, 2016 at 1:57 pm

Looks like the board is deciding an outcome BEFORE receiving their public outreach survey results.


10 people like this
Posted by taxpayer
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Dec 1, 2016 at 2:07 pm

Caroline isn't the one who created the budget deficit. The current and former board members did.


24 people like this
Posted by Barbara Wood
Almanac staff writer
on Dec 1, 2016 at 2:51 pm

Barbara Wood is a registered user.

@Bored -
Current results of the online survey were presented at the board meeting last night. Here's a snapshot to date:
1438 respondents
55% MPCSD parents
45% non-parents

72% favor a renewal of Measure C
60% favor an increase.

The survey has been open for response for nearly a month and remains open through Dec 9. Those who respond before Dec 5 will have their input presented to the school board at the Dec. 5 meeting.

In an earlier Almanac story, Assistant Superintendent Erik Burmeister said the survey "is not about the parcel tax. It's about getting feedback from the community on a myriad of topics. We simply added two questions about the parcel tax on this particular survey because of the timing."

The district did have an online input form specifically about its financial situation which received responses from 469 individuals. Those results were presented to the board on November 9. A presentation on that input can be found here: Web Link .


7 people like this
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Dec 1, 2016 at 3:54 pm

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

How many of the 1438 respondents of the latest survey were also included in the 469 original responses? How many e-mail addresses were submitted?(these are registered voters) What will the District do with those addresses? Will they wind up in the hands of the YES campaign committee?

The Panorama contract called for a mailing of up to 16,401. The responses, 1,907 at best, are less than 12%. In May, there were almost 5,900 votes cast.

The district should live within its means. They should look for a solution to the Pension problem. And, they should acknowledge the extent of the bonded indebtedness they have incurred and how debt service on their bonds and state matching bonds contributes to the cost per pupil.

Forget about the parcel tax. It's a non-starter.


30 people like this
Posted by Jennifer Bestor
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Dec 2, 2016 at 7:36 am

Jennifer Bestor is a registered user.

The parcel tax is starting beautifully, thank you.

Who can forget the moment when Peter Carpenter stood before the School Board and recommended they put a $515 parcel tax with a six-year sunset on the ballot? (To his credit, he warned us that we’d be surprised, so most of us were seated.*)

Or when it became clear on Wednesday night that Caroline Lucas’ vision of “equally shared pain” meant a parcel tax of over $400?

Or how the primary opponent of the prior parcel tax measures, Alex Keh, has stepped up to help Caroline formulate a number and rationale?

I am very impressed by Alex Keh. He could have “won” the defeat of A&C and walked away. Instead it seems that, having gotten closer to the school district, he is now working hard to help our schools and our kids. Having watched, listened, and learned from the dozens of hours of public comment and Board presentations, he is now trying to help find a way out of the morass.

In this, I like to think he is typical of the people of Atherton and Menlo Park. We begin as skeptics, we give credence to rumors that money is being misused, but we also dig in to understand. And we believe in the value of a good public school education in our community. A good education for all our children – those from Atherton mansions and Menlo apartments and through the Tinsley program from East Palo Alto and Belle Haven – is a core tenet we hold dear.

Destroying the public schools is not in our DNA.

*It was particularly good that I was seated since, as a wonk, I realized that a flat tax at $515 would actually collect more than the original A&C. C was gradated to headcount, topping out at $308, so $515 would be full bore right out of the gate.

Nb, I am using “our kids” to refer to my community, as I do not have children in the schools and am unlikely to do so in the foreseeable future. Unless either I or my teenager goes off the rails.


24 people like this
Posted by Karen Dearing
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Dec 2, 2016 at 8:29 am

Karen Dearing is a registered user.

Thank you, Barbara, for your continued coverage of this situation.

I had a chance to speak with Caroline Lucas at length after the board meeting. She is clearly working hard to get up to speed on the real finances of our district. She is also working hard to understand the hearts and minds of the broader MPCSD community. She was particularly interested in thoughts on why A and C failed and in the history our community has of supporting parcel tax and bond measures to make and keep our schools strong.

I commend her effort to find a position that both reflects the minds of the concerned minority that elected her and the desire of the broader community to keep our schools strong. It was clear to me that she is taking her mandate of being a representative to our entire community seriously.


13 people like this
Posted by Karen Dearing
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Dec 2, 2016 at 8:55 am

Karen Dearing is a registered user.

JB, I think your math is off. Caroline made it clear that her 1:1 "shared pain" idea does not include the $900K in cuts already made. So you have to compare "additional revenue" to "total reductions" - $900K (call it "additional reductions") at a four-year runway. This puts the balance point somewhere between $350 and $400/parcel based on the charts presented Wednesday night.


1 person likes this
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Dec 2, 2016 at 12:46 pm

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

The MPCSD "blip" on my radar screen is getting stronger.

I viewed the last meeting video. I was particularly impressed by the advise given by political consultant John Whitehouse to the board regarding the 75 word ballot language. That advice: Avoid mentioning "increase" in the ballot language.

To her credit, retiring Boardmember Maria Hilton rejected that advice while commenting that "There would be two people in this community who have an editorial voice who do not live here, do not vote here and have influenced so much of what we have done, and these two people will pick up on the lack of "increase". This can be seen in the video of that Nov. 30 meeting (1:06:06)

Maria must have read my topic about RWC Elementary. Web Link

Not to worry, Maria. Their parcel tax passed. Nobody submitted an argument against. My bad.

I'm hoping that MPCSD's "electioneering" regarding this parcel tax will show up on the SMC Civil Grand Jury's radar screen.

See: Web Link


13 people like this
Posted by Jennifer Bestor
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Dec 2, 2016 at 1:59 pm

Jennifer Bestor is a registered user.

My bad, Karen -- I think everyone in that room was scrambling to figure out what was meant. Happily, my core tenet holds -- we are a community that values our schools. $375 - 400 was not the zero I feared. Sorry and thanks for the clarification.


10 people like this
Posted by MPCSD/Atherton resident
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Dec 2, 2016 at 4:26 pm

MPCSD/Atherton resident is a registered user.

Peter Carpenter,

Haven't heard from you for a couple days. I'm carrying over my old post to this new thread. I hope you'll reply.

"@Peter

I'm Sincerely happy, no, actually thrilled to hear you "anticipate being able to support the next parcel tax proposal"!!!

What carefully chosen and well articulated facts do you recommend the board and/or a parcel tax committee share?"

Also, a follow up question: Were you suggesting $515 a few weeks back because you thought it would pass, or you thought it would fail? If you truly want a parcel tax to pass, do you still believe that $515 is the right number?

(full disclosure: Just like you, I've had children in the District, but won't have any by the time we get to vote on this tax)


12 people like this
Posted by MPCSD Parent2
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 2, 2016 at 4:26 pm

Hear, hear!
Let me join Jennifer Bestor and others who recognize the community's movement (including Peter Carpenter, Caroline Lucas, Alex Keh and others who had opposed Measures A & C) towards supporting a new parcel tax.
There now appears to be widespread recognition and acceptance of the fact that a primary driver of why additional funds are needed is to pay the STATE-MANDATED increases in payments to the STATE-RUN pension fund.
Hopefully, similar widespread recognition and acceptance can be reached on the fact that another primary driver of why additional funds are needed is to pay for INCREASES in student enrollment.
In sum, the parcel tax that appears to be on the table will simply provide (excepting approximately $900K in budgeting revisions) the SAME LEVEL of excellent educational programs and services to our community's children.


15 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 2, 2016 at 9:19 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

You know what? Many of us would have voted for additional parcel taxes if they had a sunset and IF THE BOARD HAD BEEN HONEST ABOUT THE REASON FOR THE ACTUAL NEED FOR THE PARCEL TAX. Instead, they tried to feed us the BS that property taxes weren't keeping up with increased enrollment. Never mind that anyone with an elementary education could see that was BS. No one with a brain appreciates being treated like an idiot which is what the school board has been doing. They got away with it for far too long, but they're not going to any longer. A new parcel tax needs to be in line with actual increased costs AND the taxpayers need to be HONESTLY told why it is needed. It's not about cutting programs or "for the kids," it's the teachers and their pay and pensions. Keep trying to tell me "it's for the kids" and you won't get my vote, nor most of the other voters in the district. We're not stupid. Never mind that this board may think we are.


20 people like this
Posted by Jennifer Bestor
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Dec 3, 2016 at 10:15 am

Jennifer Bestor is a registered user.


Menlo Voter, thank you. Thank you for explaining the perspective on MPCSD’s financial challenge that compels you. MPCSD Board and Parcel Tax Committee, please put up a sign above your computers saying, “It’s Funding the Past Pension Liability, Stupids!”

Now let me join you, Menlo Voter, in saying: Bad, bad, bad Board. Bad, bad, bad Parcel Tax Committee. Bad, bad, bad political consultants. Bad, bad, bad District leadership. Forty lashes to each of you.

For dishonesty? No. NO. NO.

For complaisance. Yes. For groaning at all the hard work it had taken to decide on a structure (two structures, A & C) and on a number (four numbers). For thinking that an unbroken string of past parcel tax victories could be used as the template for these two. For assuming no one cared about the gritty details, hence failing to define each of the financial forces that were working against the district.

For cowardice. Possibly. For not putting the poison pension pill front and center (maybe for fear voters would assume they could somehow ‘vote down’ high public pensions by voting no?).

Shame, shame, shame for just grabbing the Same Old Arguments, rather than taking the time to educate the public on the new challenges facing MPCSD.

Are we good now, Menlo Voter? Because I really feel I need to commute their sentences for time served. I don’t think you or I could beat any of them harder than they’ve been whipping themselves for the past seven months.

And us, the public? That “echo chamber” the Board is accused of inhabiting? It echoed because it was empty. We weren’t there, asking, probing, reflecting, ah-ha-ing. The handful that came, understood, made a mental note to vote yes, and left. The rest of us? Eighty lashes, I think.

In all the exhaustive financial discussion over the past ten months, there has been NO evidence that the School Board sought to deceive voters in any way. There is evidence that they saw the state-mandated increase in pension contributions as just one of a number of state-driven financial incursions. That they saw the rise in staff children as just part of a long-term rise and fall of that enrollment. That they saw property-tax receipts increasing, but wondered how long that would persist. That they’d been battered by under-predicted headcount growth in the past, hence may have over-predicted it going forward. (And, to their credit, tried to tie Measure C to actual growth, rather than predictions.)

They were looking at a forest, not any individual tree. So they failed to place El Menlo Alto, the additional $3 million a year pension contribution that they were trying to squeeze into a $40M budget (7.5%), in the center. They appear to have seen the problem in terms of programs lost, increased class sizes, the costs of passing this onto the kids, rather than as a financial incursion. This speaks to where their hearts lay – with the cost of passing through that shock to kids – rather than any political calculation whatsoever.

$3 million divided by 7850 (was that the right number of parcels?) is $382. The increase from 8.25% to 19.1% ends, under AB 1469, on June 30th, 2045. That would imply a parcel tax term of 28 years. School Board, please note this input.


1 person likes this
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Dec 3, 2016 at 11:33 am

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

To solve the enrollment problem, I offer the following:

Increased class size should be the primary response to the budget deficit.

Hopefully, attrition will allow for the required reduction in teacher staff (which will also reduce the CalSTRS funding crisis). To mitigate the impact of larger class sizes, the district should adopt a policy enabling students who can benefit from self-managed activities, to periodically absent themselves from certain classes.

Since the district does not depend on enrollment for funding, they should adopt a policy encouraging parents who are so inclined to choose an alternative source of education for their children. That could include financial support. A survey of parents could determine how many (and for how much) would unburden the district by making that choice.

Such policy change would free up facilities which could be leased to alternative education providers providing funds to pay down the bonded indebtedness.

It's called "downsizing".


14 people like this
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Hillview Middle School
on Dec 3, 2016 at 11:53 am

"That advice: Avoid mentioning "increase" in the ballot language. To her credit, retiring Boardmember Maria Hilton rejected that advice"

And to her credit, this is EXACTLY what a board member should do. Thank you, Maria Hilton.

School districts need to stop with the boilerplate language in the parcel tax measures and actually express the true reasons for additional taxation. Kudos to my fellow MPCSD residents for seeing through the boilerplate language and rejecting measures A and C. I said it then and I'll say it again: rejecting those measures was one the best things that could have happened to MPCSD and this community. The interaction from the Board and district is much better this round.

And I hope the rejections reverberate to other districts. Have any of you ever read the parcel tax measures from other districts? I have. They are indistinguishable from each other, both because other districts get the same advise as ours did, and because that boilerplate language has historically worked well enough. The voters need to demand more.

#winning


11 people like this
Posted by Mpcsd parent2
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 3, 2016 at 11:56 am

Hickey:
Please call your "downsizing" -- kids being taken out of publicly-funded schools, and educated with parents' money -- what it really is -- "privatizing."
Please save us from people who want to cut the programs that make our excellent public shools excellent.


6 people like this
Posted by Mike Keenly
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Dec 3, 2016 at 2:52 pm

Menlo Voter, thank you for basically summarizing my own thoughts. The School Board has been treating the voters/taxpayers like a bunch of ignorant rubes. If last year's Measures had passed, the District would have continued in their current ways. I'm going to have a difficult time supporting a new Measure in March since it feels like they still don't get it, even with loud protestations to the contrary.


8 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 3, 2016 at 8:07 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Jennifer:

your sarcasm is noted. You haven't changed my mind, nor have you changed others, based on Mr Keenly's post. Note: the board STILL has not come forward and told the truth about the problem. They're still trying to claim it's due to enrollment growth. They need to suck it up and just admit it; they and past boards have screwed up. But, they can't seem to do that can they? If they want to fix this problem that is what they need to do, not you.


Like this comment
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Dec 4, 2016 at 8:35 am

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

"The proposal would increase the amount of the expiring parcel tax, now at $207 a year. If the $350 figure is adopted, it would bring the total in parcel taxes paid by district property owners to the school district to approximately ***$1,017*** a year."

It's not about "outcome", it's about "outgo".

Why does the district neglect to mention the $1017 total parcel tax figure in it's ballot material? That's a lot of bucks per parcel.

Let the parcel tax expire!


15 people like this
Posted by Jennifer Bestor
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Dec 4, 2016 at 11:06 am

Jennifer Bestor is a registered user.

The district has been very clear about the causes of its structural deficit. Anyone can go to its website (below) and access the "MPCSD Structural Deficit FAQ" (Announcements provides the speediest link at the moment) where it outlines three causes: the expiry of the current parcel tax, the growth in headcount, and the $3M increase in pension contributions to reduce the unfunded pension liability.

In the absence of headcount growth -- if, for example, the district were shrinking like Redwood City, Portola Valley, Ravenswood, or Woodside -- covering some or all of the dramatic pension increase with increased property taxes would be an option. In the absence of the pension hit, covering the expiration of the parcel tax with property tax would be an option. As it is, however, it's a trifecta.

district.mpcsd.org


6 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 4, 2016 at 11:38 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Hopefully the Board appreciates that it has two very important and very different decisions to make on Monday night.

The first decision is how many choices the Board should offer the voters. A simple yes or no, take it or leave it of a single parcel tax amount and duration may not be in the District's best interest. I strongly recommend that the Board offer the voters two different parcel tax amounts, both with a relatively short (4-6 years) duration. The higher amount would be one that would require minimal reductions in the current and projected budgets and the lower amount would be closer to the $207 of the expiring parcel tax. The option with the most votes over the required 66% would prevail.

The second decision is how can the Board ensure that the voters are sufficient well informed with the facts to make an informed choice between the three options of the higher parcel tax, the lower parcel tax and no parcel tax. Once the Board decides to place one or more parcel tax proposals on the ballot the District itself is precluded by law from using any District resources to advocate for or against any such proposal. That restriction does not apply to the Board members themselves as long as they do not utilize District resources in any advocacy effort. Therefore, it is critical that the Board itself take on the responsibility as individuals of a comprehensive effort to inform the voters of the pros and cons of each of these three alternatives. And each individual Board member is free to advocate for whichever alternative they personally feel is most appropriate.


Like this comment
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Dec 4, 2016 at 1:14 pm

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

Peter, you left out another option which is to not place a measure on the ballot at this time. That is my recommendation.
Also, I ask you, Caroline, to carefully monitor the e-mail list of registered voters generated by the Panorama survey. This should not be used for campaign or organizational purposes. The same applies to the parent e-mail list. I have made a PRA request regarding this issue. Eric Burmeister is responding to my request.

Forget “outcome”. This is about “outgo”. Raising the total parcel tax to $1,000+ is a non-starter. Let it expire so that lower income homeowners will get relief of $207. That will also save the election expense. Would be contributors to the campaign could divert their efforts to fundraising for the MPAEF.


Like this comment
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Dec 4, 2016 at 1:23 pm

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

Jennifer said: "In the absence of headcount growth -- if, for example, the district were shrinking like Redwood City, Portola Valley, Ravenswood, or Woodside -- covering some or all of the dramatic pension increase with increased property taxes would be an option."

Consider my prior post:

"Since the district does not depend on enrollment for funding, they should adopt a policy encouraging parents who are so inclined to choose an alternative source of education for their children. That could include financial support. A survey of parents could determine how many (and for how much) would unburden the district by making that choice."


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

Jennifer Bestor is a registered user.

Menlo Voter,
In the draft parcel tax documents that the Board will begin word-smithing tomorrow, there are two major statements regarding pensions. Perhaps you'd like to publish the wording that would be compelling to you here and in an email to board@mpcsd.org -- thus obviating the need to appear in person?

First, in the Resolution calling for a Parcel Tax election (which admittedly will only be read by about ten people):
"WHEREAS, the State has imposed on the District an increased burden of contribution to the state-administered staff retirement programs for which the District must now budget in perpetuity; and ..."

Second, in FINDINGS, for the Voter Guide,
"Complicating the District’s financial planning, the State of California has forced all public school districts to double the rate of pension contribution paid for by the local district. By the year 2020, the District will be required to pay $3 million more per year than it paid in 2015. This increase is a result of the state’s move to extend the solvency of the state-controlled pension system. Neither the district staff, nor the Board, has the ability to control this requirement. The District must now budget in perpetuity for the increase in its pension contribution.

Personally, I would say, "more than double the rate -- as it went from 8.25% to 19.1%" And I'm uncertain that "perpetuity" is accurate, certainly until 2046, however.


2 people like this
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Dec 4, 2016 at 1:39 pm

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

Question: How much of an across the board reduction in CalSTRS and CalPERS benefits would it take to make them fully funded?

A majority of the population suffered severe cuts in their retirement income from the last recession. Public employees must absorb their fair share of the pain, and not expect those who have already suffered to pick up the bill. School districts and other government agencies, ALL OF THEM, should get behind litigation seeking such a solution.


15 people like this
Posted by Jennifer Bestor
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Dec 4, 2016 at 2:07 pm

Jennifer Bestor is a registered user.

Let's do some basic math, Jack. Currently, there are 3000 students who attend our district schools. A similar number attend private schools. So, $1,000 of "financial support" (via voucher I assume), now strips $1,000 of education out of each child in the public schools, and passes it to children whose parents have already chosen to put them in private schooling. ($1000 x 3000 = $3,000,000)

Possibly $1000 is enough to motivate parents to move a child to a private school, bearing the remainder of the ten(s of) thousand(s) of dollars of tuition themselves. But, unless the number of such children is greater than 230 kids, we're not getting anywhere. ($3M + $1K per child who moves, divided by the remaining kids, just gets us back to the current $14,000 per child.) And, of course, parents need to be guaranteed that the money will continue, since pulling young children in and out of schools can be extremely damaging to their educations.

And, of course, private schools could simply choose to jack their tuition up $1,000 -- why let the lucky parents of the existing students reap this windfall?

For those who are wondering, a $2,000 voucher would require 500 (a full sixth of the student body) to leave. At $4,000, 1200 would need to go. At $5,000, well over half (1,665) ... and so forth up to $7,000, where everyone's been reduced to the voucher. At that point, of course, the 50% whose parents were paying in the first place are truly golden, because the rest have been left with half the education they had before.

Jack, we really feel badly that you're so engaged over here that you missed the parcel tax election that was, literally, in your own backyard. What's that saying about the "speck in your neighbor's eye and the beam in your own?"


19 people like this
Posted by Karen Dearing
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Dec 4, 2016 at 2:43 pm

Karen Dearing is a registered user.

Interesting discussion re vouchers and out schools. Last I checked, private schools in our area are not champing at the bit to grow their enrollment. They are dealing with their own expansion woes and space constraints (cf., Castilleja). So if vouchers motivate some students to leave public schools to "go private," competition for those private school spots becomes more fierce and some different (but not less in number) subset of students remain in the public school system, screwing our public schools twice over.

I'd also point out for those casual followers of this thread that Jack Hickey is not an MPCSD voter. And Jack, nice of you to think so highly of yourself, but Maria Hilton was not referring to you in her comments to the audience about two (non resident, non voter) individuals who hold great influence over the outcome of whatever measure is to come.

Moreover, Jack, that your clear aghast at a total Parcel Tax burden of "***$1,017***" (should $350/parcel) be the number that is put forth and passed) clearly reveals how little you value education, seeing as how that total is still less than what I paid this year for sanitation (sewer; $1,031). Good to know. For me and a vast majority of MPCSD voters, if the ask is justified (and I believe the district has more than justified the ask AND is working to hear the call of the (minority) of voters to trim expenses where possible), the total amount is not the relevant data point.


7 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 4, 2016 at 3:58 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Peter, you left out another option which is to not place a measure on the ballot at this time."

If you trust the voters then you give the voters choices - a moderate, term limited parcel tax or a larger term limited parcel tax or no to both parcel tax proposals.

Not putting a parcel tax on the ballot denies those in favor of a parcel tax the right to vote for such a tax.

Putting only one parcel tax on the ballot is rolling the dice and could end up badly.

A competitve parcel tax election with lots of good pro and con information on the impact of all three alternatives will encourage turnout and would result in something that is widely supported.


9 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 4, 2016 at 4:47 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Jennifer:

part of the pension equation is teacher headcount. Reduce that and you automatically reduce pension liabilities. We could go from 22 kids per class to 24 or 25 and reduce teacher headcount. That small of an increase in class size will have little to no effect on quality of instruction. It would allow for reduction in pension costs and would help maintain programs that parents have said they are interested like art, PE, etc. When pension costs are reduced the necessary ask for a parcel tax is reduced. I think a sub $300 parcel tax with a sunset would likely pass, but everyone is going to have to share some pain.


18 people like this
Posted by Karen Dearing
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Dec 4, 2016 at 5:13 pm

Karen Dearing is a registered user.

Menlo Voter, you say very casually (and without any supportive evidence) that going from 22 to 24-25 kids per class would have little to no effect on the quality of instruction. And yet, this couldn't be farther from the truth. Increasing class size by 10-14% reduces 1:1 and small group student-teacher contact by that same percentage. For the 10% of students in our district on free and reduced lunch (a convenient metric of the size of our underprivileged population) and the additional significant subset who are latch-key kids (whose parents both work full time and so aren't around to provide help with schoolwork after school), that decrease in time makes a huge difference. Our district has made incredible strides in closing the achievement gap between the most and least fortunate students. Increasing class size would be a dagger in the heart of that progress.

Peter Carpenter, how exactly would that work? Two different tax options. What happens if both pass? What percentage our our electorate would be as confused as they were with A and C? I see your logic, but your proposal seems impractical. Your proposal also is counter to your continued arguments that the district needs to justify its ask. How can it justify two asks? The district either needs the money or not.


3 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 4, 2016 at 5:26 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Peter Carpenter, how exactly would that work? Two different tax options. What happens if both pass? "

Under State law when there are two competing measures the ballot proposition which receives the most votes would prevail.

"Under Article II, Section 10(b) of the California Constitution, "If provisions of 2 or more measures approved at the same election conflict, those of the measure receiving the highest affirmative vote shall prevail." However, those provisions that do not conflict with the winning proposition may still go into effect. To get around this loophole, many initiatives include so-called "poison pill" clauses, specifying which provisions are voided in the other propositions.[4]

The rule in the constitution was clarified in 1990 by the California Supreme Courtin its ruling in Taxpayers to Limit Campaign Spending v. Fair Political Practices Commission:

When two or more measures are competing initiatives, either because they are expressly offered as "all-or-nothing" alternatives or because each creates a comprehensive regulatory scheme related to the same subject, section 10(b) mandates that only the provisions of the measure receiving the highest number of affirmative votes be enforced.[5]"

**********************************

" Your proposal also is counter to your continued arguments that the district needs to justify its ask. How can it justify two asks? The district either needs the money or not."

Listening to the Board's discussions to date it is clear that the Board cannot agree on the amount of a single parcel tax - the issue is not what the District "needs" but what the Board can agree upon. Absent such agreement the Board shoukd let the voters decide and the Board shouldspend its time making sure that the voters are well informed on the pros and cons of each parcel tax proposal as well as the pros and cons of a NO vote.


4 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 4, 2016 at 6:04 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Karen:

one of your own, Jeff Child, has publicly stated that he has not been able to find any research that supports that small class size matters.

So, I think you're wrong. I also think that with 90% of district costs being personnel it's pretty obvious that is the key to cutting costs.


11 people like this
Posted by Karen Dearing
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Dec 4, 2016 at 9:36 pm

Karen Dearing is a registered user.

PC - Helpful info re competing measures. I still worry about confusion. That said, I disagree with your characterization of what the board has been doing. I have not heard any disagreement about what the board knows the district needs to maintain the high quality education they are providing. I hear only disagreement about how much to cut in order to respond to the cries of a minority of district voters who have demanded "tightening belts" (when there has been no concrete evidence of loose fiscal policy). I fully agree with Jennifer Bestor's consideration of the approach to A and C last year as "complacent," and I have said as much in public comment at board meetings, but that doesn't mean the board is somehow wishy washy about what it needs and so should let the voters decide.

MV - Show me a quote from Jeff. Actually, never mind. Data on class size and student outcomes is not hard to find. No it is not an absolute, but you will not find a high quality study that says class size doesn't matter. A quick Google search revealed these convenient summaries of the research (links below). In the Center for Public Education summary, make particular note about the part where the authors talk about how "minority and low-income students show even greater gains when placed in small classes in the primary grades." Increasing class size may be an easy way to cut $$ costs but at a clear cost to students, especially the most underserved. The Brookings Institute summary flips the emphasis but similarly states that "state policymakers should consider targeting CSR [class size reduction] at students who have been shown to benefit the most: disadvantaged students in the early grades." Yes, as the Brookings summary further states, "It is very expensive. The costs and benefits of class-size mandates need to be carefully weighed against all of the alternatives when difficult decisions must be made." Thankfully, our community is in a position to be able to provide the funding so that such "difficult decisions" don't have to be made.

Web Link

Web Link






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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 4, 2016 at 9:50 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" I have not heard any disagreement about what the board knows the district needs to maintain the high quality education they are providing."

If that is the case then why is the Board not fully behind the $515 that has deemed to be "needed" to preserve the status quo?

Because "need" is not the controlling issue but rather how much the Board thinks that the taxpayers will support - hence the clear uncertainty of the Board.

In a democracy when the elected leaders are uncertain then it is best to let the voters decide.


7 people like this
Posted by Karen Dearing
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Dec 4, 2016 at 10:03 pm

Karen Dearing is a registered user.

Partly, as Jennifer Bestor said above, because "a flat tax at $515 would actually collect more than the original A&C. C was gradated to headcount, topping out at $308, so $515 would be full bore right out of the gate." And partly, exactly as I said, because they do disagree about how much to cut in order to respond to the cries of a minority of district voters who have demanded cuts.


4 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 4, 2016 at 10:05 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Karen:

sorry, but not buying that two more kids in a classroom are going to cause some kind of catastrophic damage. We're talking going from 22 to 24 kids. Really not a major change.


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Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Dec 5, 2016 at 8:18 am

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

The below quote from Steve Jobs reinforces my suggestion "Since the district does not depend on enrollment for funding, they should adopt a policy encouraging parents who are so inclined to choose an alternative source of education for their children."

Web Link

I believe very strongly that if the country gave each parent a voucher for $4,400 dollars that they could only spend at any accredited school several things would happen. Number one schools would start marketing themselves like crazy to get students.

Secondly, I think you’d see a lot of new schools starting. I’ve suggested as an example, if you go to Stanford Business School, they have a public policy track; they could start a school administrator track. You could get a bunch of people coming out of college tying up with someone out of the business school, they could be starting their own school. You could have 25-year-old students out of college, very idealistic, full of energy instead of starting a Silicon Valley company, they’d start a school. I believe that they would do far better than any of our public schools would. The third thing you’d see is I believe, is the quality of schools again, just in a competitive marketplace, start to rise. Some of the schools would go broke. A lot of the public schools would go broke. There’s no question about it.

It would be rather painful for the first several years, but far less painful I think than the kids going through the system as it is right now. The biggest complaint of course is that schools would pick off all the good kids and all the bad kids would be left to wallow together in either a private school or remnants of a public school system. To me that’s like saying “Well, all the car manufacturers are going to make BMWs and Mercedes and nobody’s going to make a $10,000 car.” I think the most hotly competitive market right now is the $10,000 car area.


12 people like this
Posted by Mocsd parent2
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 5, 2016 at 9:05 am

Hickey ( and other school privateers):

Please stop comparing our kids to cars.

The market is not always the answer to everything, and not just because of the collateral damage you seem willing to accept when you say "It [vouchers] would be rather painful for the first several years, but far less painful I think than the kids going through the system as it is right now."

The kids going through MPCSD right now are getting excellent educations, and I would hope no voter in our community takes you up on your offer to replace that excellence with "pain[] fir the first several years."

Comments such as these by you (as an outsider to our community) should make it clear to every voter in our community that you do not have the interests of our community's kids at heart, but instead see our kids as expendable pawns in your personal crusade.


11 people like this
Posted by Mocsd parent2
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 5, 2016 at 9:18 am

Menlo voter:
Jennifer or others can confirm, but making the following statement -- "When pension costs are reduced the necessary ask for a parcel tax is reduced" -- misses the financial reality the district currently faces.
The doubling of pension fund costs that the district must now pay per state-mandate is the result of state pension decisions made in the past, not current pension decisions, which in event, have significantly lowered newly incurred pension benefits/costs.


19 people like this
Posted by Menlo
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Dec 5, 2016 at 10:06 am

Just a little context folks, this is what peer affluent and expensive communities around the country spend per student:

1. Cambridge, MA $27,569
2. Newton, MA $18,096
3. Darien, CT $17,510
4. Greenwich, CT $20,747
5. Princeton, NJ $22,570
6. Lower Merion, PA $28,173
7. Arlington, VA $19,040

National Avg Spending per Student $11,000-$12,500 depending on the data

In addition 12 entire states spend more per student on average than MPCSD!

Web Link

Are you telling me Menlo Park can't compete with Wyoming ($15.5k per student) and Delaware ($14k per student)!

We are a top 20 zip code for both median household income and cost of operations. $13k per student is absolutely reasonable spending.

In terms of outcomes, Massachusetts is consistently the top performing state in the country. On global benchmark PISA, MA benchmarks with the top countries in the world (Finland, Canada, South Korea, Japan, Singapore...etc), and MA is always tops on national benchmark NAEP. MA spends $15k per student on average statewide and their affluent neighborhoods spend $17-$27k....

$13k per student is insanely reasonable for one of the most expensive zips to spend on education.



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Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Dec 5, 2016 at 10:28 am

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

Mocsd parent2: Those were the words of Steve Jobs. I don't agree with his statement that "It would be rather painful for the first several years..."

Karen Dearing take note:

There are some homeowners who will find it painful to fork over $1,017 in parcel taxes in addition to the general tax and tax collected to service the debt on bonds. The owner of a home appraised at $500,000 can expect a total education tax bill of more than $3,500 if the parcel tax passes. That's MORE than enough!
And that dose NOT include the state taxes used to fund "on-behalf" payments to service bonds sold to provide "matching" funds, and to bail out the pension funds.




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Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Dec 5, 2016 at 10:41 am

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

Jennifer Bestor
"Currently, there are 3000 students who attend our district schools. A similar number attend private schools."

I would be ecstatic if that were true. Please cite your source.

If such a voucher policy were adopted, it would be logical to require parents who currently provide for their children's education to ask for a voucher. Just as with the senior exemption with the parcel tax, many would choose not to make that request.


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Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Dec 5, 2016 at 10:46 am

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

Peter said: "In a democracy when the elected leaders are uncertain then it is best to let the voters decide." How quickly we forget.
It was only this past May that voters made a decision. Give it a rest!


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Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Dec 5, 2016 at 10:55 am

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

Karen Dearing said: "Last I checked, private schools in our area are not champing at the bit to grow their enrollment. They are dealing with their own expansion woes and space constraints (cf., Castilleja). "

GAIS can accommodate asignificant number of new students. And, with increased class size and reduced enrollment, MPCSD could lease facilities to space constrained competitors. We're talking about breaking up the "education monopoly" here.


14 people like this
Posted by HelloHanalei
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Dec 5, 2016 at 11:08 am

HelloHanalei is a registered user.

Jack Hickey:

First ~ You wouldn't have voted on Measures A & C, because you don't live within the MPCSD borders, and aren't eligible to in our local elections.

Second ~ Measures A & C did not receive the 2/3 majority necessary to pass, but they did receive a majority of Yes votes.

A key concern of those who opposed A & C was the evergreen provision of the measures. That concern has been heard and taken to heart, and if the MPCSD Board of Trustees votes tonight to put a parcel tax on the ballot, it will, as discussed, have a defined term.

Another key concern of those who voted against Measures A & C was the combined amount of the measures. That concern has also been heard and taken to heart, and if the Board votes tonight to put a parcel tax on the ballot, it will, as discussed, be for a lower amount than A & C.

I know, and many other readers know, that your overarching agenda is to dismantle publicly-funded education in favor of a voucher system, but that idea is a non-starter in this and virtually all other California communities.

A thoughtful parcel tax, which takes into account both the desires of the entire community and the needs of MPCSD, and which enables all stakeholders to gain something they want while making some compromises, would, I believe, easily achieve a 2/3 majority. Those who care about our schools and our community won't "give it a rest."


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Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Dec 5, 2016 at 11:15 am

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

Real choice will not happen if the establishment continues to monopolize education dollars.


19 people like this
Posted by Check your source
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 5, 2016 at 1:24 pm

People should know that Jack Hickey is an anti-tax advocate who does not live in our District (he lives in Redwood City). He is retired and spends a good deal of time fighting school parcel taxes in several district. He does not know our community and how diligently many people have worked over many years to build the strong education programs in MPCSD. We don't have the time available that he does to sit at the computer all day filling this Town Forum. I do not think he cares about our schools, our kids, our educators, or our community. He just wants to take credit for getting another parcel tax defeated. Let's not let an outsider dismantle our schools. We have worked hard to create these great schools and let's fight to keep them properly funded.


1 person likes this
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Dec 5, 2016 at 3:17 pm

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

"Measures A & C did not receive the 2/3 majority necessary to pass, but they did receive a majority of Yes votes."

Measure A received support from 22.5% of registered voters. Measure C received only 20%. No wonder the district avoids a general election where turnout is much higher.


1 person likes this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 5, 2016 at 3:29 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"$13k per student is insanely reasonable for one of the most expensive zips to spend on education."

If that is the case then the challenge is convincing 66% of the voters to approve a parcel tax that would provide that level of funding.


17 people like this
Posted by Todd Rose
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 5, 2016 at 3:57 pm

@ Jack Hickey

Public education is a public good, not a monopoly. Describing it as such is misleading. Our education system is governed by an elected board, and voters can actually vote to influence "revenue" via parcel taxes. In other words, there are built-in checks and balances, built-in accountability that doesn't require pressing an anti-competitive lawsuit to thwart bad behavior. The same is not true for monopolistic businesses. So the comparison you offer is misleading if not dangerous.

I see that you appear to favor privatization when it comes to public services, but for many aspects of society, it is vitally important to NOT have the profit motive dominate. A public system with public accountability is better equipped to ensure that resources are allocated in the fairest and most beneficial manner for all stakeholders involved when it comes to crucial services like education, public infrastructure, water, etc. Will there be inefficiencies? Of course. Will there be the inevitable winners and losers? Of course. But the inequities are generally far more mitigated relative to an unchecked system of privatization.

@ Train Fan, Menlo Voter, Mike Keenly

I keep seeing either explicit or implict allegations in your statements that the school district has mismanaged its resources. But I think it is has been pretty clearly established that far and away the primary drivers of the structural deficit are (a) increased enrollment, and (b) increased burden on the district to fund the state-run pension obligations.

What concrete evidence can you cite that suggests that the school district is dramatically mismanaging funds, beyond small cuts that can be made on the margins, without materially impacting the student experience? Show me and we can we have a productive debate on the merits of those programs.

But what I suspect is that you can't, which is why the tenor of your debate has shifted to arguing that a "nominal increase in class size" won't have a material impact on the student experience. Beyond all the public research that argues to the contrary, and some of which Karen Dearing has posted, it's worth pointing out that average class size in states like Massachusetts that lead the nation routinely come in between 15-20 students. At 22, we're already well above that benchmark. Don't kid yourself: adding 2-3 students per class will materially impact the ability of teachers to provide the one-on-one attention our children deserve and need. Just ask the teachers themselves.

But the shift in the argument to class size also indicates to me that your opposition will persist no matter how many answers are provided to you, and that your opposition is based less on the facts and more based on a deep-seated philsophical opposition to community funding of schools. But the inconvenient reality is that Prop 13 combined with the state's allocation of funding constrains the resources available and necessitates that we responsibly govern and tax ourselves to adequately fund public education. We're not taxing ourselves to fund unreasonable extravagance here, and I believe the district's budget plan adequately illustrates this.

So my question to you is, at what point are you satisfied that we as residents have a moral obligation and fiscal responsibility to invest in the maintenance (and hopefully improvement) of our our community?


9 people like this
Posted by dana hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Dec 5, 2016 at 4:22 pm

Jennifer: I loved most of your December 3 message but am a bit uncomfortable for the sentences you recommened.

"Now let me join you, Menlo Voter, in saying: Bad, bad, bad Board. Bad, bad, bad Parcel Tax Committee. Bad, bad, bad political consultants. Bad, bad, bad District leadership. FORTY lashes to each of you."

"And us, the public? That “echo chamber” the Board is accused of inhabiting? It echoed because it was empty. We weren’t there, asking, probing, reflecting, ah-ha-ing. The handful that came, understood, made a mental note to vote yes, and left. The rest of us? EIGHTY lashes, I think."

I respectfully request that you reconsider your sentencing decisions as it was the responsibility of the School District to educate and convince voters why the structure and amount of proposed parcel taxes were needed to protect and possibly enhance our public schools rather than fault residents for not figuring this out. It is unwise to blame "customers" for not being either smart or interested enough to buy what is being sold. Agree?


8 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 5, 2016 at 6:20 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

"(a) increased enrollment," Patently and demonstrably FALSE.


and (b) increased burden on the district to fund the state-run pension obligations." Correct and the board has been obfuscating about this. The last parcel tax was "becasue of increased enrollment", see above. This is exactly why the district is in trouble. Anyone with half a brain would have recognized that Calpers assumption of 7 3/4% return on their investments was EXTREMELY unrealistic. And anyone with said half a brain would have realized the state was going to come calling for the short fall. And anyone with half a brain would have not spent down reserves building gold plated facilities in anticipation of the coming demand from the state. Sorry, competent financial managers would have seen this coming a mile away.

The problem is the board figured they could just keep on passing parcel taxes whenever they asked. After all, it worked before, right? This time people woke up and said enough of this blank check style of financial management.


17 people like this
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Hillview Middle School
on Dec 5, 2016 at 11:16 pm

Todd Rose, in his first post ever on the matter, wrote:
"I keep seeing either explicit or implict[sic] allegations in your statements that the school district has mismanaged its resources."

"mismanaged" is strong; I have not implied that, you inferred it. That said, I have been clear that the data shows that MPCSD is a very well-funded elementary school district in comparison to its true peers. Take a look:

Criteria for peer elementary school districts, using 2014 data (the most recent @ed-data):
1: at least 1/2 as large as MPCSD;
2: generally considered a "very good" or better elementary school district;
3: Within the same Counties as the MPCSD cherrypicked list of "comparable" districts;
4: Within the distance of Menlo Park as the MPCSD cherrypicked list of "comparable" districts;

Hillsborough:
enrollment 1546
revenue/student 16584
greatschool score 10
teacher salary(avg) 94811

MPCSD:
enrollment 2904
revenue/student 13745
greatschool score 10
teacher salary(avg) 100890

Los Altos:
enrollment 4675
revenue/student 11401
greatschool score 10
teacher salary(avg) 78615

San Carlos:
enrollment 3457
revenue/student 10149
greatschool score 9.7
teacher salary(avg) 76469

Belmont-Redwood Shore:
enrollment 3900
revenue/student 9591
greatschool score 9.7
teacher salary(avg) 76147

Burlingame:
enrollment 3304
revenue/student 9373
greatschool score 9.7
teacher salary(avg) 71605

Cupertino Union:
enrollment 19079
revenue/student 8744
greatschool score 9.9
teacher salary(avg) 78280


"But I think it is has been pretty clearly established that far and away the primary drivers of the structural deficit are ... (b) increased burden on the district to fund the state-run pension obligations.”

This is true. Clearly you have not been following along, since I have stated many times that MPCSD and Jennifer Bestor should focus on this as the rational for a renewal of the 4th parcel tax, since it has the benefit of being true.


"(a) increased enrollment"

This is NOT true. I have stated and posted evidence many times refuting statements like yours. Hint: search for an interaction between me and Jennifer Bestor, where I refute this claim by showing that average revenue/student has been continuing to climb beyond inflation and beyond student enrollment growth.


"what I suspect is that you can't"

You haven't even bothered reading any posts beyond the last 3 to 4 days. Try doing a search. If you can't be bothered to do even a modicum of research before making baseless statements, I can't be bothered to respond to your baseless statements.

(come on now, seriously, coming out of nowhere making a grand total of ONE post, attributing points-of-view to me with no basis in historical fact...how can I possibly take posts like that seriously. And I believe the tone of my response is showing considerable restraint. You’re welcome).


11 people like this
Posted by MPer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Dec 6, 2016 at 9:56 am

How about we rework prop 13 so wealthy older homeowners sitting on huge appreciation pay there fair share of property taxes.


6 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 6, 2016 at 10:52 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Mper - as an older homeowner sitting on huge appreciation I totally agree.


4 people like this
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Hillview Middle School
on Dec 6, 2016 at 11:11 am

"How about we rework prop 13 so wealthy older homeowners sitting on huge appreciation pay there fair share of property taxes."

How about we rework prop 13 so any increases in property tax revenue comes with a dollar-for-dollar decrease in sales tax revenue and/or income tax revenue.

Also, I seem to recall that "parcel taxes" are a creation of Prop 13. I'd welcome a "rework" of prop 13 provided it came with a dollar-for-dollar reduction of sales and/or income taxes, and the abolition of parcel taxes.

Be careful what you wish for...you may get it.


10 people like this
Posted by Karen Dearing
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Dec 6, 2016 at 11:27 am

Karen Dearing is a registered user.

Train Fan, you and Brown Eyed Girl are quite the Town Square bullies. No one will complement you or thank you for your "restraint." No one will congratulate you for "#winning." Peter Carpenter cries foul when some of us passionately defend our schools and our district, and yet you and Brown Eyed Girl are the one calling names and doing most of the ridiculing. For Todd Rose, me, and other relative newcomers to this conversation, demeaning us for being new is unnecessarily aggressive. Most of us here are working for a relatively common good. Let's keep that in mind. Your tactics detract from the content of your argument. Not that it matters, but it's easy to know who you are. Again, a little "digging" and common sense reveals plenty. It's also interesting that, in person, you both are so much more deferential than you are online. Perhaps your perceived anonymity allows your true colors to shine through. In keeping with the statement that appears above every comment entry space, "please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion."


9 people like this
Posted by Meno
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Dec 6, 2016 at 12:00 pm

Train Fan,

First of all, everyone has bias built into their comps...even you. For example, why throw in Cupertino, it's 6 times the size of MPCSD? That's not "comparable". You happen to have your cutoff 50 students short of including Las Lomitas which spends around $18k per kid and performance wise is actually the closest to MPCSD.

A couple of updates on your. If you look here, Los Altos is jumping $1100 per student in revenue and spending this year putting them more at 12,500, whereas MPCSD is only increasing around $200-300 - Web Link

Also, I just saw Belmonts latest budgets and they are jumping around $1000 this year too to about $10,500.

A number of big jumps are happening across districts in 2015-16, whereas MPCSD's jump was 14/15

Also, even though API has significant flaws, it is much more comparable than Greatschools ratings...and MPCSD was consistently about 20-30 points above the lower spending districts on your list. It'll be much better when Smarter Balance is fully rolled out, because we will be able to benchmark outside the state too.

My bias for benchmark tends to be national, because our kids will be competing nationally for college and jobs. On that scale, we are definitely on the low end of spending compared to similarly affluent neighborhoods across the country.



3 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 6, 2016 at 12:11 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" Peter Carpenter cries foul when some of us passionately defend our schools and our district,"

No, I cry foul when someone lies about what I have said - like your statement.

I welcome passion but I deplore lies and personal attacks.


6 people like this
Posted by Karen Dearing
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Dec 6, 2016 at 12:44 pm

Karen Dearing is a registered user.

From a previous thread. Sound like crying foul to me, particularly when you fail to point out the aggressions of "the other side". But we all digress...

+ 4 people like this Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 21, 2016 at 12:48 pm
Peter Carpenter is a registered user.
I did make this posting:

"As long as Karen, Jennifer, HH and Scott continue to attack and demean those with whom they disagree the community will never come together;”

Report Objectionable Content Email Town Square Moderator


1 person likes this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 6, 2016 at 1:05 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Karen - [part removed]

I did NOT attack your passionate defense of our schools but I did and will call out your intemperate attacks on those with whom you disagree.

Playing with the truth has tragic consequences - particularly when the person doing so does not even realize what they are doing.


7 people like this
Posted by Jennifer Bestor
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Dec 7, 2016 at 8:08 am

Jennifer Bestor is a registered user.

Playing with the truth does have tragic consequences.

Often I feel that six of us are here, in a dark room, with an elephant. Most of us are very worried. Each of us is also touching a different part of the elephant. One is feeling a tusk — and frantic about the risk of being gored. Another is touching the trunk, distraught lest we be strangled. A third is keeping out of the way of a heavy foot, in fear of being trampled. Yet another is being smacked by the tail, and one just got pooped on. (Another fellow is blithely exploring the elephant’s ear, puzzled at everyone else’s evident agitation.)

Increasingly, however, we’re freaking out — trying to convince each other that, in fact, we alone grasp the salient issue. It’s the pensions, stupid! It’s the kids! It’s the salaries! It’s Prop 13!!

The ensuing screaming is also freaking out the elephant.

Personally, I would love to highlight the Prop 13, Prop 58, and allocation issues that I believe are at the core of the dilemma. (That would have made such an interesting 75-word ballot proposition!) Other folks want the $3M increase in pensions front and center. It’s not headcount, they say, yet, had headcount fallen about 250 kids since 2010, wouldn’t they have said the pension increase should have been absorbed? But, OK, pensions are a burning issue throughout California and they’d like it highlighted.

Yet those are just two elements in the equation. Others are looking at the equation programatically. Is art or music expendable? Should mini-courses that match students’ real-world interests with underlying math/science/lanugage be dropped? Is 24 about the same as 22 students per class? If so, isn’t 22 the same as 20, and 20 the same as 18? Is there some reason that the national average is about 16? Forty states average under 18 children per teacher, across the entire state, yet we think 22 to 24 won’t affect education? For forty years, California has led the nation in average class size AND average teacher salary -- and we're the flea on the tip of the tail of that ... elephant.

We are all trying to figure it out from our own perspective and with the tools at our command. And we’re trying to figure it out fast, before good teachers leave the district, before students’ education suffers, before the real-estate industry flips the sign on MPCSD from “BUY” to “SELL”. We’re trying to figure out how much we should be willing to take out of our pockets and hand to the school board — and I will remind you that I have no children in the schools, so it is coming out of my pocket, too.

Then we’ll need to convince the voters. We’ll need to convince them that, no, what they read eight months ago in the Voter Guide about a fiscally irresponsible school district treating taxpayers like ATMs, pleading flat revenue in the face of a 17% increase … was playing with the truth. Before the elephant tramples students, property owners, and teachers alike. Onward.


7 people like this
Posted by Jennifer Bestor
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Dec 7, 2016 at 8:14 am

Jennifer Bestor is a registered user.

Dana,
I will ALWAYS commute your sentence, both for your inspiring work with veterans and for being one of the dog owners who didn’t skedaddle out just before ten a.m. when it was poop patrol time at the dog park. (I’m sure presidents have pardoned for less.)

That said, I do feel that unpaid local officials (school, city, fire, harbor district!) deserve both more attention and more respect than we, the beneficiaries of their efforts, are inclined to give them. This isn’t new news, but seems to have gotten much worse since Prop 13. The only way that a district can get more money than its arbitrary allocation is to raise taxes — reallocation of the taxes already collected was removed in 2004. As a result, we blame first the message and then the messenger, rather than feeling it’s our civic obligation to understand the cause.

Last month in the county archives, I came across a prophetic article published on June 8, 1978, the day of the Prop 13 vote. Evelyn Stanton wrote:
“If our system, which is admittedly imperfect at times, is not working, we all share the guilt. ‘Getting those people’ who spend ‘our' money is not a very rational approach.
The distrust, the charges of lying, the righteousness of self-appointed leaders are too uncomfortably reminiscent of other zealots in the not-too-distant past.
The very important and complex issue of real tax reform … somehow became entangled and lost in the campaign rhetoric. The philosophical attitudes which emerged have created a divisiveness that will not soon be overcome. When we set into motion an action that can affect our fellow citizens, we should calculate down to the last ripple the consequences it may have. Such caring about what happens to others was not very evident in the last few weeks.
As a final thought, we might consider the kind of example we have set for our young people, who heard almost daily that their elected officials are not to be trusted, that public employees are nonproductive, and that their schools are ineffective.”
(The Hillsborough & Burlingame Boutique & Villager, p. 12, excerpted to respect copyright laws)

I hope the campaign committee lays it out very carefully this time. For everyone’s sake!


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Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Hillview Middle School
on Dec 7, 2016 at 1:24 pm

'why throw in Cupertino,'

Because it matched the criteria, which is:
1: At least 1/2 as large as MPCSD;
2: Generally considered a "very good" or better elementary school district;
3: Within the same Counties as the MPCSD cherrypicked list of "comparable" districts;
4: Within the distance of Menlo Park as the MPCSD cherrypicked list of "comparable" districts;

The District applies NO agnostic criteria in its comps except to chose districts that paint its revenues in the best light possible.

The place where you can make a case I'm "cherrypicking" is in what constitutes "very good" or better, but I removed APIs as a criteria at the request of Jennifer Bester. As Jennifer Bestor pointed out, using APIs as the holy grail of assessing a school's quality is flawed; I agreed with her and agreed to not use it in comps. That said, you'd be hard pressed to make the case that the children in any of the school districts cited are educationally disadvantaged in the slightest relative to MPCSD. And they all pull in less per-student revenue than MPCSD.


'it's 6 times the size of MPCSD? That's not "comparable".'

So...are you saying the relative size of a district can be a factor in whether another district can be a good "comparable"?

Yes or no, please. I eagerly await your reply. Thank you.



PS: just a reminder that I've been an advocate for renewing the existing 4th parcel tax; I have not yet decided if I'll support a $1017+ parcel tax amount, but I'll give the district credit for listening and and attempting to address our concerns, which I appreciate.


1 person likes this
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Hillview Middle School
on Dec 7, 2016 at 1:31 pm

"And they all pull in less per-student revenue than MPCSD."

Very slight clarification: Hillsborough does have a higher per-student revenue, but since it's the only district that shows up on both lists, I think we can say that it is one district can agree upon as a comp.

But all the others...particularly Belmont, Los Altos, Burlingame and San Carlos, are much closer comps than what the districts uses in comparisons. And they all have lower revenue-per-student than MPCSD. The district is going to need a good explanation for this discrepancy.


12 people like this
Posted by Jennifer Bestor
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Dec 8, 2016 at 7:33 pm

Jennifer Bestor is a registered user.

Train Fan,

I may have misjudged you. For months it seemed to me that you were doing exactly what you accused the District of doing: cherrypicking data to prove a preconceived point. But yesterday it struck me that, perhaps, you were someone who uses numbers to understand the world. Since I’m that kind of person, I can appreciate the need for measurable, objective evidence that builds to a conclusion. Random data points are even more frustrating than subjective claims. (At least, “cooler,” “nicer,” "smarter” don’t pretend to be objectively verifiable.)

So here’s a wacky offer. Would you like to work on evaluating “comparables” together? Here’s my idea: you pick 4 - 5 districts that seem to you to be “comparable” to MPCSD. I pick 4 - 5 districts that seem to me to be “comparable” to MPCSD. We each use our own criteria to pick the districts. Then we analyze all ten districts (including MPCSD) together.

If I’m right that you are a true numbers wonk, you’ll understand that I mean Analyze. None of this consolidated API stuff. We’ll go to the new information that’s coming out of the CAASPP Smarter Balanced Assessments (2016 is the second year, so hopefully some of the kinks got worked out) and, if necessary, back to the old CST information. We’ll look at whatever cuts of that data (race, parental education, etc.) we discover are significant. We’ll look beyond averages like teacher salary and into the underlying salary schedules, to allow for the possibility that a district is weighted heavily towards more or less experienced teachers. We’ll compare teacher salaries for the district with other touchstones (police and fire are available statewide — these are actuals, so they may be skewed, but we’ll LOOK.) We’ll push beyond the easy numbers (test scores, salaries) and into the Board presentations and school websites to try to figure out the intangibles — music, art, theater, foreign languages, PE, library. I don’t know how yet, but it’s amazing how, if you’re curious about something, there often turns out to be a direct or indirect way of finding it. Finally, we’ll dig into Special Ed. (Hang on for that ride. I’ve never been there before.)

OK, I bet you’re suspicious. Why am I suddenly willing to let you pick any districts you like?
1.) Because we’re going to a level of granularity that should get us past racial and (hopefully) socioeconomic differences. (You always get mad when MPCSD lists Las Lomitas, Woodside, Portola Valley and Palo Alto as comparables. But they are the other court-ordered Tinsley Program districts. Each is affected by a similar percentage of kids being bused in from East Menlo Park and East Palo Alto. This matters at an aggregate level. Disaggregate to race or parental education and test performance gets comparable again. Not necessarily equivalent, but able to be intelligently compared. IMO.)
2.) Because we are going to (try to) get to the bottom of Special Education. Why am I invariably twitchy when anyone insists on Los Gatos/Saratoga as a comparable? Because it’s in Santa Clara SELPA III, one of the twelve highest funded SELPAs in the state (over the 90th percentile). If 4+% of Saratoga’s children are either pulled out for Special Ed or more heavily subsidized off Saratoga’s books, compared with less than 1% in MPCSD, well, we need to get down to a granularity that will allow us to equalize for that.
3.) We’ll look at anything else that might skew the data. When you hear about my districts, you’ll realize that we’ll need to consider fixed costs, for example.

Now you’re wondering if I’m going to cherrypick my districts. Well, before you agree, they are: Palo Alto, Las Lomitas, Redwood City, and Portola Valley — and Los Altos, if you haven’t already picked it. (You’d said San Carlos, Belmont, Los Altos, and Burlingame — plus Hillsborough? — but you can change these, if you like.) Before you get upset that mine are TOO big, TOO small, TOO incomparable, please understand why I picked them:

When we went house hunting, we looked in Palo Alto, Atherton, Menlo Park, Los Altos, and Portola Valley. We looked at equivalent houses ($800K in 1990!) in all these districts. So we made trade-offs (nicer, plainer, smaller, grander) within a context of spending the same 1% property tax levy ($8K at the time) … plus whatever parcel taxes and bond service. So I’m interested in comparing the school districts that, for a comparable amount of property tax (but a somewhat nicer or less nice house), my son could have attended. Fair enough?

You, in turn, can go back (or forward) to whatever districts answer the question in your mind.

That said, the questions in our minds are the ones we should make explicit. I think you laid it out somewhere as, “Are the children in this school district educationally disadvantaged relative to MPCSD?” (For those districts spending less. We could also ask whether children are educationally advantaged in those that spend more.) And we probably want to figure out if there are other questions to ask relative to other advantages/disadvantages in other districts compared with MPCSD.

Let me know if you’re interested. We can do this completely anonymously, if you’d like — I mean, maybe we can get the Almanac to give us our own little online blog space to interact … or we can set up a free Tumblr blog. If you’re willing to call me (the 328- number) or email me (my name at yahoo . com), we can do it that way.

And, if you’re wondering why I’m willing to do this, it’s because this is where the insight lies. Six years ago, I seem to have startled people by analyzing MPCSD’s property tax revenue from the parcel up. Prop 13 had always been discussed from the state level down. But the devil was in the details. Then, as a volunteer in Ravenswood school libraries, I realized that redevelopment and an arcane financial transaction, the VLF Swap, had bled all the property tax out of that district (and Redwood City and Daly City and …). All of it. Leaving them 100% dependent on state funding — half of which arrived after the end of the school year in 2011-12. It was only by looking at the little stuff and working upwards that I discovered the big stuff. I hate spending my time knee deep in pivot tables (fair warning: be prepared to do LOTS of pivot tables unless you are good with Access or another database tool), but that’s the level where it’s actionable information rather than interesting data. Fair ’nuff? LMK.


5 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 8, 2016 at 7:38 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Jennifer - an excellent posting and an excellent proposal - thanks.


2 people like this
Posted by no more taxes
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Dec 8, 2016 at 10:11 pm

I know from personal experience demographics are changing in Menlo Park, Low income larger families are being forced out based on expensive rents. Less students,

Professional singles and couples are moving in, Less students,

A smaller number of new homes and apartments are being built, Less students,

Stanford professionals are moving into homes and apartments, usually no kids, Less students,

Someone needs to re check the estimates of the number of new students expected, I think it's being exaggerated to pump up the numbers for self serving interests,

My kids went through the Menlo Park School System, starting 25 years ago, from kindergarten through high school, They are happy, well educated and successful,
People asking for more money should look back at the campuses back then.
Hillview and Oak Knoll now compare or are better than most private schools anywhere else. The powers that be were happy to spend my tax dollars on extravagance. I suggest since you over built you now be forced to live with in your means as any individual or business needs to do.

I just paid my property taxes today, 42% went to schools, I am taxed out and won't be voting for any new taxes.



13 people like this
Posted by Jennifer Bestor
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Dec 9, 2016 at 8:19 am

Jennifer Bestor is a registered user.

NMT,
I bought into Allied Arts 25 years ago, too. Looking through my tax bills, based on the $800K purchase price, I will have paid a total of $105,912 to fund our local K-12 schools (including the second installment next April).

Had my child started school in 1991 at Oak Knoll, $67,167 of property and parcel tax would have been spent on his education at Oak Knoll, Hillview and M-A.

Had there been two of him, a total of $134,334 would have been spent.

That means that, five years from now, in 2022, I would finally write a check that (including the proposed parcel tax increase) actually covered the cost of my children’s educations.

At which point I would be eligible for a senior exemption.


13 people like this
Posted by Jennifer Bestor
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Dec 9, 2016 at 8:22 am

Jennifer Bestor is a registered user.

But, NMT, my child didn’t start in 1991. He started kindergarten in 2004 — just as your kids graduated from high school. How we would have loved to start Oak Knoll in 1991! When my son entered, there were already 647 children at Oak Knoll — far more than in 1991. (The district as a whole was cramming 2089 students into campuses that held just 1716 when your kids were there — and grew to 2799 the year my son entered eighth grade.

“People asking for more money should look back at the campuses back then,” you say. Believe me. We did. With envy.

The space your kids had! Playing fields. A tennis court. Space to run. An Oak Knoll library that hadn’t had a third chopped off for a computer lab. You and I have paid about $6,000 each in total facilities debt service for MPCSD and Sequoia to each improve and expand facilities — trying to make up in buildings for what today’s kids don’t have in space. But believe me, the campuses “then” make the campuses “now” look like nothing more than handsome sardine cans.

But you got yours. I get it.

I also know from personal experience that those couples moving in, Stanford professionals and Facebook recruits and regular people, are nesting here. And in the spring, a new crop of chicks will emerge. And those chicks will start school in 2022 … when you’re welcome to take that senior exemption.


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Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Dec 9, 2016 at 9:36 am

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

Homeowners, a YES vote on the Menlo Park City School District (MPCSD) parcel tax will raise their take to $1,027. A NO vote will allow that total to drop to $667. This is in addition to MPCSD’s share of the 1% General Property Tax you already pay. And, in that 1% tax, you are also being taxed for the Sequoia Union High School District and the Community College District. The parcel taxes are above and beyond the 1% tax, as are the taxes collected to service the bonded indebtedness of those three districts.
If you own a $500,000 starter home, those “education” taxes total more than $3,500.

Then, there are the “on behalf” payments by the state (that comes from all of us) to service bonds issued to provide “matching funds” for the district.

If you choose to vote NO, don’t let anyone accuse you of not supporting education!

Seniors are “bribed” by the district with a tax exemption.

The budget problem which MPCSD and school districts throughout California are facing is the result of unsustainable “defined benefit” pension plans. (CalPERS and CalSTRS). Those in the private sector saw their retirement plans devastated by the financial meltdown in 2008. Not so public employees. Individually, districts have little control over the situation. Collectively, they can petition the Legislature for an across-the-board reduction in benefits to solve the problem. This would provide millions in budget relief, AND, an increase in teachers take home pay.


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Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Dec 9, 2016 at 11:36 am

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

With a 2.5% CPI adjustment for the existing parcel taxes, the total will be $1037 if it passes and $684 if it fails.


13 people like this
Posted by I Live Here
a resident of Oak Knoll School
on Dec 10, 2016 at 12:54 pm

Why does someone from another town spend so much time telling us what to do with our money and our schools? Someone that didn't protest the school parcel tax in HIS OWN district?

To make our town less attractive to young families? So we don't have kids playing in our neighborhoods? So our schools are bad and his are good?
Hoping to make his own schools more attractive since HIS town JUST PASSED a new parcel tax to IMPROVE their schools?

Because good schools attract committed parents? And parcel taxes are how voters support good schools?
JUST HOW BAD of schools does he want us to have?

Why does he want my neighborhood's kids to suffer to make the state deal with pensions? Is this a Childern's Crusade like in the Middle Ages?

Why does he want our children to suffer what his generation did so they could to pay NO property taxes while their parents pay and pay?

I do not have children in our schools. The senior exemption is not a bribe. I do not take it. Prop 13 was a bribe.

I do not want this guy in my town.


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Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Dec 11, 2016 at 1:46 pm

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

@ I Live Here: "I do not have children in our schools. The senior exemption is not a bribe. I do not take it."

Good for you. I'm sure you're not alone. I do take the senior exemptions, and am thankful for Prop 13, which has allowed me to continue living in the home I have owned for the past 51 years. Prop. 13 has also operated to stabilize the assessed valuation used for revenue allocation to districts sharing in the ad valorem 1% General Property Tax, reducing down side risks which makes budgeting more accurate.

I have proposed in the past that exemptions be offered to ALL property owners, EXCEPT for those with children in the MPCSD. AND, that taxpayers be provided with the opportunity to "double-up, triple-up, etc. if they so choose. I expect such options would result in more revenue than the measure which is on the ballot.


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Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Dec 11, 2016 at 2:53 pm

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

Jennifer Bestor said:
'Or when it became clear on Wednesday night that Caroline Lucas’ vision of “equally shared pain” meant a parcel tax of over $400?"

I suggest that the pain endured by workers in the private sector as a result of the financial meltdown in 2008, be shared by public sector workers, who, thanks to a taxpayer bailout of their pension funds(CalPERS and CalSTRS), have retained their overly generous retirement benefits.

MPCSD should start the ball rolling.


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Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Dec 20, 2016 at 1:46 pm

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

For those interested in how the ballot language evolved, I have posted communications between the district and two of their consultants, John Whitehurst(Whitehurst, Mosher Campaign Strategy and Media) and William Tunic (Dannis, Woliver and Tunic).
Web Link and Web Link

They can also be heard at the Nov 30th Board meeting at 56:00. Web Link

The language used in the ballot which will be seen by voters was carefully crafted with advice from these political consultants, under contract to the district, to maximize the likelihood of voter approval. The phrase “replace its expiring parcel tax at the new rate of $360...” adopted by the Board on advice of those consultants, DELIBERATELY excluded “increased rate”. The language in this primary communication to the voters is clearly intended to influence the outcome of the election. It is focused on outcomes, rather than money. It lacks objectivity.
The United States Supreme Court defined such communications as an “electioneering communication” that “is susceptible of no reasonable interpretation other than as an appeal to vote for or against a specific candidate.” (or, by extension, a ballot measure) Leake, 525 F.3d at 282-83

One would hope that the impartial analysis of the measure, not due until 12/27/16 would state that:
A YES vote means that your parcel taxes for MPCSD would increase to $1,044.
A NO vote means that your parcel taxes for MPCSD would decrease to $ $684.
If passed, the parcel taxes, adjusted for CPI, would revert to the lower figure after 7 years.



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

on Sep 24, 2017 at 5:21 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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