News

Editorial: Yes on Measure X to keep schools thriving

 

The Menlo Park City School District community is appealing to voters once again to support a parcel tax, 10 months after two tax measures went down in defeat. Since that ballot-box failure, school district officials have shown they are willing to respond to the concerns that appeared to have led to the defeat. And now voters have a measure before them that has an expiration date and a lower price tag, and is the result of a resolutely transparent process.

Measure X would replace the $207 per-parcel annual tax that expires at the end of June. That tax raises about $1.6 million annually. Measure X would increase the existing tax by about $153 per year, and would sunset in seven years. Ballots are in the mail now, and polls will be open on March 7 for voters who prefer a voting booth.

These details represent a happy departure from those of last year's tax election, when the district chose to place Measures A and C on a mail-only ballot rather than on the June or November ballot – less expensive options that were likely to have attracted more voters. Those measures had no sunset clauses, and had they been approved, all of the district's parcel taxes – there would have been five – would have been permanent.

We welcome district leaders' fresh approach to placing Measure X before voters this time around. It is a carefully thought-out tax measure that would keep much-needed revenue flowing to help fund the district's rigorous, often-innovative educational programs.

In response to opponents' criticisms over last year's measures, the district's leaders took extra steps to involve the community and inform voters of the need for parcel tax revenue. The district expanded its website to include an interactive budget tool to help the public understand school funding, and videos of board meetings, including the 10 meetings held between September and December that sought community input on a tax measure.

The district has come up with a spending-reduction plan to put into place even if Measure X passes. That plan includes eliminating six to 10 staff positions, and making $927,000 in spending cuts for the current fiscal year, and $1.3 million in cuts over the next two fiscal years.

But district leaders are in the process of coming up with a plan to quickly implement should Measure X fail. They say that loss of the tax revenue could result in elimination of some 30 positions, among other things.

We hope there will be no need to make these drastic and painful cuts. Because of complicated factors that long ago set the formula for property tax revenue distribution to local school districts, base property taxes in the Menlo Park City School District now fund only $8,700 of the $14,000 needed annually to educate each district student. That $8,700 base tax figure compares with $11,200 per child in the Las Lomitas School District, which also serves Menlo Park and Atherton children; and about $15,500 per child in the Woodside and Portola Valley districts.

Parcel tax revenues have allowed the district to enhance its funding of an outstanding educational program, and recruit and retain some of the best teachers in the Bay Area. The community has invested in its schools over the years by supporting nearly every parcel tax measure as other funding sources have become less reliable. We urge voters to now support Measure X.

Comments

34 people like this
Posted by Katie Ferrick
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Feb 7, 2017 at 10:46 am

Thank you, Almanac!

"It is a carefully thought-out tax measure that would keep much-needed revenue flowing to help fund the district's rigorous, often-innovative educational programs."

I agree 100%. We need to pass Measure X to protect our quality public schools.

Thank you for urging voters to support measure X. We will need every one of them to pass this with 2/3 of yes votes required.


32 people like this
Posted by MPCSD Parent2
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 7, 2017 at 11:00 am

Thank you Almanac for your continued and detailed coverage of parcel tax measures for our schools.
I hope that voters in our district will follow your advice and Vote Yes on Measure X in order to support one of the most important assets of our community.


32 people like this
Posted by Caryn Wasserstein
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Feb 7, 2017 at 11:05 am

Thank you to the Almanac for your support of our community and our schools!


26 people like this
Posted by Menlo Park Parent
a resident of Laurel School
on Feb 7, 2017 at 11:38 am

"It takes a village", and we are proud and grateful to have the Almanac as a part of our village! Especially now, we need to bring people together to support this very well thought out Measure X...working together to support education and our future leaders. Thank you Almanac!


9 people like this
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Feb 7, 2017 at 11:53 am

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

Existing parcel taxes providing 15% of district funding, and generous contributions from MPAEF and PTO’s, have created schools which go far beyond basics. Bonded indebtedness of $114,100,000 approved by voters has added to the grandiosity of MPCSD schools. That debt has risen to $131,000,000!

Let MPAEF and the PTO's fund the platinum schools they have created.

Why ask for more OPM? Vote NO on Measure X. That still leaves parcel taxes with no expiration, taking more than $675 of OPM above the existing ad-valorem taxes. That may seem insignificant to those living in multi-million dollar homes, but it is significant to many others. It is particularly unfair to those whose value system leads them to choose alternatives for their children's education at great financial sacrifice.

After voting NO, write a check to MPAEF. You'll sleep better knowing that you kicked the OPM habit.


28 people like this
Posted by Meg Garlinghouse
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Feb 7, 2017 at 12:10 pm

Thanks Almanac for your fair and thorough coverage - and esp for your recommendation to Vote YES on Measure X. Quality public schools have never been more important.


24 people like this
Posted by Kate Kennedy
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Feb 7, 2017 at 12:11 pm

Thank you, Almanac, for your thorough coverage of issues important to our schools and children. As a parent and Menlo Park resident, I appreciate your acknowledgement of the District's hard work and engagement with the community in crafting a well-conceived parcel tax. I'm confident that voters will join me and so many others in wholeheartedly supporting Measure X!


25 people like this
Posted by hmmm
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 7, 2017 at 12:34 pm

Jack Hickey of Emerald Hills: [part removed.] Measure X is the Menlo Park City School District? Emerald Hills is in another completely different School District.

Measure X DOES have an expiration.


27 people like this
Posted by Marty Arscott
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 7, 2017 at 1:08 pm

It is crucial for our community to come together around our schools which are so important to everyone! The Almanac has done an excellent job of delineating why it is even more critical in the Menlo Park City School District which has considerably less funding than the adjacent schools in Las Lomitas and Woodside.

Please vote YES on Measure X!


35 people like this
Posted by Child-free in Menlo Park
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Feb 7, 2017 at 1:36 pm

A strong public school system is critical to the fabric of any thriving community. The district has done the hard work of increasing transparency, making cuts and reaching out to all of us. I'm now convinced. I'm voting yes on X.


27 people like this
Posted by Veronica Kogler
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 7, 2017 at 1:44 pm

Strong schools in Menlo Park/Atherton benefit not only those whose children attend schools in the Menlo Park City School District, but all homeowners as well. The strength of our public schools has a direct correlation to the market value of our homes. Please support Measure X.


23 people like this
Posted by District Parent
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 7, 2017 at 1:44 pm

Could someone explain why only $8700 comes to MPSD and 11,200to Las Lomitas and $15,500 to Woodside? The District needs to stop the annual plea for funds. Why did the District plan to eliminate 6-10 staff positions now and not when the last 2 measures failed? The District also put out a veiled threat to eliminate 30 more positions; this sounds like poor planning. The purpose of a budget is to work within the budget. To hold parents hostage in order to retain poor spending habits is unacceptable. Good schools are crucial to Menlo and Atherton but it is important for the district to eliminate waste and use money wisely.


16 people like this
Posted by Citizen for Logic
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 7, 2017 at 2:12 pm

Either the community can demand parcel taxes that sunset in 7 years or the community can complain about the district coming out with funding requests too often.

Or our society could fund education.


17 people like this
Posted by Menlo Park Parent
a resident of Laurel School
on Feb 7, 2017 at 2:15 pm

Yes, to the prior post, I would be happy to explain by providing several locations to gain more knowledge of how our MPCSD schools are funded and why we need to renew this expiring parcel tax by voting YES on Measure X. If your child's education is important to you please take a minute to learn more:

Barbara Wood outlined the situation here:
Web Link

MPCSD has made cuts to protect the teachers knowing this...
"All the research tells us that the most important thing is the quality of the teacher in the classroom," school board member Terry Thygesen.

Find out more by going to the MPCSD website which is transparent in providing a very detailed budget, with current cuts as well as helpful structural deficit FAQ here:
Web Link

Or, please attend one of the several informational sessions provided for Measure X, like Cafe Zoe, tonite at 7:30pm.


19 people like this
Posted by Puzzled
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 7, 2017 at 2:23 pm

Platinum schools? No. Average cost schools. Look at Education Week's awesome interactive map of US school districts and their spending (published April 2016).

Web Link

This map shows 2013 data and proves that year MPCSD spent less than the national average per student.





1 person likes this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Feb 7, 2017 at 2:26 pm

How do administrative salaries in the MP school district compare to those of other similar school districts? Seems to me they are very high. If the argument is that housing in this area is high then where do the administrators live. Personally I am opposed to this parcel tax, Menlo Park SD seems to want to treat the residents as an unending source of more and more money but I have not seen them spending it wisely. Personally I think they are seeing a huge increase in revenue just based on the taxes from the increased property values.


Like this comment
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Feb 7, 2017 at 2:33 pm

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

Puzzled, did it ever occur to you that the "average cost" schools to which you refer cost far more than they should? It's the system!

Good news. BETSY DEVOS CONFIRMED AS US SECRETARY OF EDUCATION IN HISTORIC VOTE

Web Link


1 person likes this
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Feb 7, 2017 at 3:10 pm

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

I just checked the campaign filings for Yes on X.
Committee to Support Menlo Park Schools, Yes on Parcel Tax Measure X (I.D. 1392686)

For the month of December 2016, they reported $51,641 in contributions.
For January, another $30,000 was reported on 497 forms ($1,000 or more)
Their first pre-election filing of the 460 was due on January 26. Web Link
It has not yet been filed. Web Link


16 people like this
Posted by Karen Dearing
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 7, 2017 at 3:48 pm

Karen Dearing is a registered user.

District Parent and Brian, part of your questions is answered in this Guest Opinion piece from a few weeks back... Web Link

Also, to imply that the need for more money indicates misuse of funds is, in this case, putting the cart before the horse. I'd point you to Barbara Wood's article from today that expands (beyond the above link) on why the additional funds are needed... Web Link

You can also take a look at the district FAQs about how this situation has come to pass and why the funds are needed... Web Link

The district is not trying to deceive anyone. They provide an incredibly high-quality education to our kids and that benefits everyone! They have been remarkably transparent about the need for funds and have gone to great lengths to seek public input. I'd caution you about jumping to conclusions if you have not first taken the time to become well-informed.


2 people like this
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Feb 7, 2017 at 3:54 pm

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

Correction: Only $19,000 was reported on 497 forms for January. $10,000 and $1,000 for Sheryl Sandberg and Jeff Childs was in late December.


20 people like this
Posted by @Jack Hickey
a resident of another community
on Feb 7, 2017 at 4:19 pm

"Good news. BETSY DEVOS CONFIRMED AS US SECRETARY OF EDUCATION IN HISTORIC VOTE"

Only someone with your mindset would think that's a good thing. For those of us who can actually use reason and logic -- it's the worst news possible.


13 people like this
Posted by MPCSD Parent
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 7, 2017 at 4:50 pm

District Parent. There is an informative piece here: Web Link

The answer to your question, taken straight from that piece is the following:

"When you look at local per-child school funding, five other key factors kick in:

• Uplift from nonresidential property, i.e., commercial, agricultural, and vacant parcels within the district.

• Downward pressure from a high proportion of early Proposition 13 base years.

•The allocation of property tax revenue that actually flows to a school district district vs. other local services (city, county, fire).

• Any residual Redevelopment Agency debt-service commitments borne by the school district.

•The number of children in the district.

Although underlying property values — especially house prices — are similar, these factors result in MPCSD's receiving $2,500 less per child than Las Lomitas. How do these additional factors favor one district over another?

First, Las Lomitas has enjoyed a lot of recent commercial expansion along the Sand Hill Corridor, providing a nice uplift from commercial property tax revenues.

Second, it has a much smaller proportion of pre-1985 base year properties: just 14 percent of Las Lomitas' single-family residences carry the most-advantaged pre-1985 property tax bases, versus 22 percent in MPCSD.

Furthermore, Las Lomitas actually receives a larger percentage of the taxes collected — 20.9 percent vs. 18.6 percent for MPCSD. (0.5 percent just because it never had a redevelopment agency within its jurisdiction. MPCSD will continue to see a portion of its property taxes removed to service the debts of the city of Menlo Park's Redevelopment Agency for years.)

Finally, there are few multi-family residential properties in Las Lomitas and three of the largest ones changed ownership recently (hence they make a much higher property-tax contribution). Those that exist include senior, executive and student housing, and thus send a smaller number and proportion of children to the Las Lomitas district. (And only 17 percent enjoy the most tax-advantaged pre-1985 bases, compared with 36 percent of apartment buildings in MPCSD.)

Had MPCSD had Las Lomitas' allocation rate alone, $1,000 more per child would flow to the district. Had residential property owners in MPCSD sold their properties at the same rate, $600 more would flow to the district per child."


44 people like this
Posted by Menlo Park Parent
a resident of Laurel School
on Feb 7, 2017 at 5:01 pm

Let's review, facts copied from Jack Hickey's publications...
- Mr. Hickey states above that he supports DeVos's appointment to the Department of Education.

— Mr. Hickey does not live in our district — he is Redwood City homeowner

- Mr. Hickey has written letters, now posted on his website, calling our public schools "virtual prisons" which serve as "distribution centers for drug dealers." The whole enterprise of public schooling is described as an "expensive, ineffective boondoggle," which is accountable to no one.

- Mr. Hickey ran for school board of RWC School District with one of his "top priorities" being, "Promote non-union Charter Schools recruiting teachers with flexible hours from the ranks of retirees and burnouts."

— Mr. Hickey consistently opposes parcel taxes proposed by school districts throughout the Bay Area; Burlingame, San Carlos, Redwood City, San Mateo and this is the second one for Menlo Park City School District

- His own words, not mine, now posted on his website, calling our public schools "virtual prisons" which serve as "distribution centers for drug dealers." The whole enterprise of public schooling is described as an "expensive, ineffective boondoggle," which is accountable to no one.

and

— perhaps most importantly, Mr. Hickey has made it clear that he opposes even the notion that we should have quality public schools, claiming that "government schools should be schools of last resort," and that they should at most provide only a “basic” education.

So, when deciding whether to support Measure X, it is probably worth remembering that Mr. Hickey has made it clear that he is not really interested in whether or not our kids are getting a quality education, and he is also not really interested in whether or not our district is being fiscally responsible in providing our kids with a quality education.


24 people like this
Posted by Susan Robinson
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Feb 7, 2017 at 11:08 pm

Thank you Almanac for endorsing Measure X! The parcel tax is absolutely essential to maintain our quality schools.


Like this comment
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Feb 8, 2017 at 10:37 am

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

Update on Committee to Support MP Schools, Yes on Measure X filings.

Magically, the 1st pre-election due January 26, 2017 appeared today on the netfile website used by elections Web Link. Total contributions received from 1/1 to 1/21 was $18,530, making a total of $70,171 since November 2016. Another $7,000 in 497 filings has accrued since January 21.

It was no surprise to see an expenditure of $6,250 to Whitehurst/Mosher Strategy and Media. That's the same firm hired by MPCSD to prepare ballot language.

EXCERPT FROM CONTRACT
2.1 As the research, strategy and communications consultant for THE CLIENT, WMSM's scope of work under this agreement includes but is not limited to:
Developing strategies for community engagement and communications around the district's fiscal situation;
Conduct research analysis and its practical applications for revenue for the district;
Making recommendations to the board and district staff on research community outreach, strategies regarding school revenue measures;
Provide strategies regarding the structure of a potential revenue measure, ballot questions, ballot statement and any other documents that the District will need to provide to county elections should the board decided to pursue a revenue measure.


Like this comment
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Feb 8, 2017 at 10:49 am

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

It appears that the links to netfile do not work. To access the filings, go to Web Link click on "View Existing Campaign Filing Reports" This will bring up the netfile screen.
In "Search By Name, Enter:

Committee to Support MP Schools, Yes on Measure X

Press "Search"


Like this comment
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Feb 8, 2017 at 11:08 am

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

Mystery solved.

I received this e-mail from Michelle Yue at SMC Elections:
Hi Mr. Hickey,

You are right. The documents were uploaded yesterday afternoon.

The Committee filed in paper, and normally it takes us some time to upload them online in NetFile as a courtesy to the public. But all paper-filed documents are immediately available to the public after they are filed.

Please let me know if you have more questions.

Thank you!

Michelle


10 people like this
Posted by Longer run
a resident of Las Lomitas School
on Feb 9, 2017 at 3:56 pm

I saw the comment:
"Downward pressure from a high proportion of early Proposition 13 base years." (in regards to Menlo Park v Los Lomitas)

Doesn't that mean, given the stunning increase in home prices, that as Menlo Park drops to a low proportion of Prop 13 base years (all houses turn over eventually), that Menlo Park will be relatively better off due to sales prices being much higher than in Los Lomitas?
And perhaps commercial development along El Camino? (one day...)

Just wondering about the future...
(Measure X may provide a stop-gap in some way perhaps?)


11 people like this
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Hillview Middle School
on Feb 9, 2017 at 4:40 pm

"Doesn't that mean, given the stunning increase in home prices, that as Menlo Park drops to a low proportion of Prop 13 base years... that Menlo Park will be relatively better off...And perhaps commercial development along El Camino?"

Correct!

Admittedly not completely, since many of the apartment buildings in Menlo Park are owned by businesses. Unless the business itself sells the property, an assessment doesn't occur, even if the people controlling the business change.

But overall your observation is on-point: the MPCSD sections of Menlo Park are bound to close the gap with the Las Lomitas sections. And depending on how the downtown Menlo Park redevelopment projects turn out, MPCSD base property tax revenue may even surpass LLESD.


6 people like this
Posted by Longer run
a resident of Las Lomitas School
on Feb 9, 2017 at 5:20 pm

I'm also completely guessing...
the LL parcels started from a higher base than MP (just my guess based on lot size and location), but have increased at a lower rate than MP. So that will be another reason MP property tax revenue might increase faster than LL also?

Do you know if that is true? I'm simply guessing based on past property value charts I have seen.

Good point on the apartment buildings in MP. I'm not sure how many of those are owned (or controlled in some way) by an individual, where they would still turn over perhaps every generation or two. Again, I have no information in that regard.


10 people like this
Posted by Karen Dearing
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 9, 2017 at 8:11 pm

Karen Dearing is a registered user.

Train Fan and Longer Run, you also have to consider, though, that with each parcel turnover, more children come into the district. The equation is not just about shifts in revenue, it's about growing enrollment as well.


13 people like this
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Hillview Middle School
on Feb 9, 2017 at 10:04 pm

MPCSD property tax revenues have been exceeding student growth. We've had that debate too many times in other posts...with links and data proving that is the case...for you to not know that.

Please...I'm asking nicely...Don't poke the bear.


4 people like this
Posted by Karen Dearing
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 10, 2017 at 5:32 am

Karen Dearing is a registered user.

Train Fan, we've debated whether tax revenues have been exceeding student growth, yes. Longer Run, I'm happy to point you to some of those threads if you're interested. Train Fan, we're all glad to have your support this time around. No poking intended.


7 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 10, 2017 at 8:30 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The fact that tax revenues execced student growth is a not a debate but a proven fast - Train Fan has posted the data numerous times.


1 person likes this
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Feb 10, 2017 at 10:23 am

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

Menlo Park Parent Thank you for listing some of my postings. It would help if you included links. In particular, your attribution to my use of the word "boondoggle" is a rarity. Where did you find that?

"Mr. Hickey consistently opposes parcel taxes proposed by school districts throughout the Bay Area..."

Not as consistently as I should, for which I apologize.

For my latest posting, see: Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Feb 14, 2017 at 4:23 pm

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

Update on YES on X Committee filings:
Calif Association of Realtors $2,000
Lisa Hammond $1,000
Jennifer Webb $2,300
Stacey Wueste $2,500
Jennifer Bertel $1,000
Kathleen Oriuoli $2,500
Charlotte Plannenstiel $1,000
Jody Buckley $2,500 Total $12,800


12 people like this
Posted by Publius
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 15, 2017 at 10:52 am

Although I am in favor of Measure X (sometimes I waiver when I read the scare tactics written in the campaign materials), the ticking time bomb is the pension pressure districts and other public agencies are now facing. This parcel tax is ONLY a BANDAID and will not nearly provide the additional funding needed to keep the district services at 2016 levels in the near future. In three years the pension obligation for MPCSD will eat up the entire amount Measure X will bring in annually. In my rough estimate, the parcel tax needed to maintain the current programs and services three to four years out would really need to be more like $800+.

Mark my words, the board is going to come back in two or three years with an additional parcel tax.

At some point district taxpayers are going to need to make a decision if they want to keep on throwing money at the state pension black hole or stand up and force change. It is not inconceivable that in the next 10 years the total MPCSD parcel tax will top $2000 annually.

Some good articles on the State Pension Problem and how serious it is.
Web Link
Web Link
Web Link


2 people like this
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Feb 15, 2017 at 11:37 am

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

What happens if a private investment firm, projecting a 7.5% return on investments, sells annuities based upon that projection, and 2008 happens? They declare bankruptcy! That's what CALSTRS and CALPERS should have done.


16 people like this
Posted by Consolidate and Save
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 16, 2017 at 2:56 pm

Why are there 4 school districts for Menlo Park, Atherton, Portola Valley and Woodside communities? There are only a total of 10 schools, 2 schools in Portola Valley District, 1 school in Woodside, 2 schools in Los Lomitas and 5 schools in MP. Each has their own superintendent and administrative staff with an average salary of more than $150K per year. In Menlo Park District, there are 17 people in various administrative roles making more than $150K. Does a counselor really make $150K per year? Is the district superintendent really worth $269K per year? Even if these salaries are justified, why not consolidate the school districts and reduce the wasted administrative overhead by eliminating redundancy?
Just look at the salaries being paid within all of these districts and it is easy to see why they all continually ask for money. Cut the fat, revise the pensions, tenure after 8-10 years and manage the money properly.


7 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 22, 2017 at 6:34 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

I received a Measure X mailer today - A big teacher's Pink Slip if Measure X does not pass.

Anybody who thinks Measure X is "for the children" is sadly mistaken - it is a teachers' salary and benefit tax.

I voted for Measure X but I am appalled at the crude manner in which it is being promoted.

If the funds from Measure X are used for salary and benefit increases then I predict that many seniors will exercise their right of exemption from ALL of the MPCSD parcel taxes and as a result Measure X could well result in a net revenue loss to the district.


11 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 22, 2017 at 6:52 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

I will be voting NO for measure X. I was leaning toward voting for it, but given the union's lack of stating they will not demand raises it is obvious that they will demand raises which will eat up funds from measure X.

Measure X clearly isn't about "the kids" as I've repeatedly said before. It's about giving raises to teachers. Sorry, not buying it. The teachers aren't going anywhere as there is NOWHERE they can get better pay or benefits, especially putting their kids in a school district that is better than where they live.

If there has to be a few more kids per classroom the world is not going to come to an end and your precious children's education isn't going to suffer and they won't be less competitive getting into the "right schools" later on. If you're really that concerned about those things, put your kids in private schools. I'm not interested in funding your children's platinum education.


11 people like this
Posted by John
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 22, 2017 at 10:19 pm

I support the measure but am appalled at the campaign. The campaign is so overblown that it almost makes me not vote for the measure.

Campaigners! Stop it! Community members are going to affiliate the school district and the school board with these scare tactics; you could really blow it!

Be honest and tell the public for what you really need to money and they will come through. The public is well educated and can understand the need for a band aid but be honest and say for what it is.

As long as I don't see anyone from the school district/school board affiliated with these tactics, I am going to have faith in them to use the money to buy time to find a long term solution. I hope I won't be disappointed because if I am, it will be the LAST time.


16 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Feb 23, 2017 at 6:45 am

I voted 'NO' because the school district hasn't proven to me that their financial management has improved from the last time they asked for money. The only difference is this measure has an time limit on it. That's not enough to show how their management has changed.

Additionally, I agree with Peter's comments on Pink Slips -- that's a poor campaign tactic. I would have expected more out of our school district.


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Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Feb 23, 2017 at 11:28 am

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

John, if you look at my earlier post regarding the Committee to Support Menlo Park Schools, Yes on Parcel Tax Measure X (I.D. 1392686), you will see an expenditure of $6,250 to Whitehurst/Mosher Strategy and Media. That's the same firm hired by MPCSD to prepare ballot language.

Stacey Wueste is Principle Officer of the Yes on X committee. She was Chair of the Communication Advisory Committee to MPCSD and was fully involved in discussions with Erik Burmeister and Whitehurst Mosher during campaign strategy discussions. Here is a link to e-mails between the parties to those discussions:
Web Link

The second pre-election campaign filing for the YES on X committee is due today.
You can track this at: Web Link Type in Menlo Park and select Stacey's committee.


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Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Feb 23, 2017 at 11:39 am

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

Correction: Stacey Wueste was Chair of the Concerned Parents Group and a member of the Superintendent's Advisory Committee on Communications during the Whitehurst - Mosher discussions.


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Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Feb 23, 2017 at 11:49 am

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

For those interested in the evolution of the parcel tax campaign, here are some earlier e-mails: Web Link


11 people like this
Posted by John
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 24, 2017 at 3:27 am

I received my "pink slip" campaign literature today and it was worse than I anticipated. What a joke! Do the campaigners really think that we believe that? I've even heard the Asst. Superintendent say that 30 teachers will not lose their jobs so why does the flier lead the public to believe otherwise? It's true on a technicality of word choice? This is not the water on which to tread..... There is damage control to be done from the sneaky sunset stealth election last year and this is not helping.

The district is a great district that offers a great student experience. Why not just say that? We will support it if it's done right. There may need to be some more reductions or consolidation of services between districts, or scaling back on class size or teacher perks; passing the tax doesn't mean that it's all safe and sound. Big changes are needed but the way to gain the confidence of the public is to show a movement toward accepting that fact, not pretending that 30 teachers will lose their jobs. This flier is misleading because we all know that that's not true; Erik Burmeister said so himself so why is the campaign out trying to tell the public otherwise.

Stay away from this crew. Tell the story. Tell the truth. Be honest. Be willing to tighten your belts and we will help you.
Engage in these antics or treat us like uneducated dummies who don't know the amount of . the problem attributed to the pension problem vs. the amount attributed to growing enrollment and you'll squeak by (maybe) this round but never again.

I'll be watching to see if the school district and board support these campaigners and hope that they don't. The last thing we need is a new superintendent and new board, who I believe are trying to do the right thing, dragged in to this mess of a campaign.

Going forward, we need to keep a closer eye on the firms hired for measures. This firm, from what I've read, is not concerned with the district's long term financial solvency but solely on winning. Great. Campaign today and win today but lose tomorrow , when Dr. G. and everyone else is long gone and we're stuck footing the bill for a district that cannot get enough support to self sustain due to damage done in 2017.

Be careful MPCSD. Don't make foolish mistakes as the campaign is doing. The future depends on it.


9 people like this
Posted by Menlo Man
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 24, 2017 at 11:19 am

John, your overwhelming cynicism, distrust, and downright vitriol regarding Measure X detracts from YOUR message. So please tone down the negativity and listen to the facts.

IF Measure X fails, MPCSD, as an organization, will contract by the equivalent of 30 certificated teachers. That is a FACT. 30 teachers IS the number of teachers included in Board resolution 16.17.14 , from the Board meeting on 2/15/17 , that gave the District authorization to layoff those 30.

What is unknown, is how many of those 30 eliminated positions, will be offset by teachers who retire, or voluntarily leave the District. It could be 5, 7, 10, who knows. What is for sure, is there is NO WAY MPCSD will offset 30 less teachers through retirement alone. That means that IF Measure X fails, THERE WILL BE LESS TEACHERS providing service to students in MPCSD for the 2017-18 school year.

That is not a scare tactic, or a campaign exaggeration. Vote YES on X on March 7th ... thanks


8 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 24, 2017 at 11:24 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Menlo Man - How much will the District spend for salary and benefit increases and will this not be a significant factor in the number of teachers that might be laid off?

Don't layoffs occur based on least years of service rather than either competence or specific program skills?


9 people like this
Posted by Menlo Man
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 24, 2017 at 11:40 am

"How much will the District spend for salary and benefit increases?"

Peter the answer to this question is ZERO! That is because MPEA and the District are not currently discussing, thinking, or negotiating salary increases . You know this.

"Don't layoffs occur based on least years of service rather than either competence or specific program skills?"

Generally the answer is yes. Yes Peter, the practice of tenure and seniority exists in the world of education. I'm not sure if you're trying to throw shade on the idea that a new 'cheaper' teacher will get laid off but the old 'expensive' tenured teacher gets to stay, but let's keep the conversation centered on Measure X.

I will say that IF Measure X fails, Art and library programs will be cut. That means that some long time, tenured, Art teachers in MPCSD will be laid off regardless of their seniority or tenure. That is because as Art teachers, they hold Art teaching credentials, and not classroom teaching credentials.


6 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 24, 2017 at 12:00 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Menlo Man - You are not reading the budget:

"A placeholder of 2.4% per year is added to salary expenditures in subsequent years, in addition to
regular step and column. This amount is only a placeholder. Compensation is a
mandatory subject of bargaining, and any compensation changes negotiated
with the bargaining units require Board approval in order to become effective.
Approved compensation increases generally reflect the District’s consideration
of the factors identified in Government Code Section 3548.2, including the
interests and welfare of the public and the District’s financial ability, total
compensation comparability with similar districts, and the Consumer Price Index."


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Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Feb 24, 2017 at 12:19 pm

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

Menlo Man, bottom line is this: If Measure X passes, the total parcel tax will be $1,047/year. If it fails, property owners will still pay $675/year, forever, with a built in COLA. That is for PARCEL taxes alone!

The MRCSD problem is unfunded pension liability. The 24 carat gold "defined benefit plan" is unsustainable. Voters should reject Measure X, and it's likely successors, until the beneficiaries of the plan eradicate the unfunded liability. A 10% "across-the-board" cut in benefits could accomplish that. That would still leave a "platinum" plan.


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Posted by 2nd opinion to Jacks story.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 24, 2017 at 2:27 pm

"unfair to those whose value system leads them to choose alternatives for their children's education at great financial sacrifice"

"Unfair"?

More like "protected" from lesser alternatives.


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Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Feb 24, 2017 at 3:10 pm

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

Jack's original story:

Why ask for more OPM? Vote NO on Measure X. That still leaves parcel taxes with no expiration, taking more than $675 of OPM above the existing ad-valorem taxes. That may seem insignificant to those living in multi-million dollar homes, but it is significant to many others. It is particularly unfair to those whose value system leads them to choose alternatives for their children's education at great financial sacrifice.


10 people like this
Posted by Menlo Man
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 24, 2017 at 3:45 pm

Peter, you of all people should understand the need for a Chief Business Officer (CBO) to include placeholder amounts in any projected budget. There is a placeholder amount for the cost of increased enrollment, transportation costs, the office supply cost, a placeholder cost for electricity.

In 3 out of the last 13 years, teachers have agreed to a ZERO percent salary increase, and in those years I'm sure the CBO included a placeholder amount for a salary increase. It is only prudent to do when 89% of your budget goes to paying ALL District employees.

As you quoted "any compensation changes....require Board approval in order to become effective".

Stop implying that placeholder projections equal costs to the District today...


9 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 24, 2017 at 3:54 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"..and in those years I'm sure the CBO included a placeholder amount for a salary increase."

Wrong. Here is what the current budget states:


"Compensation Increases: Salaries and benefits make up almost 90% of
operating expense. Past budgets did not include compensation increases in
subsequent years because these increases are negotiated with the bargaining
units each year."


7 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 24, 2017 at 3:58 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Facts:
1 - salary increases are in the budget
2- both union contracts permit the unions to reopen their contract annually
3 -both unions have elected to reopen their contracts this year
4 - salary increases are automatically included in any reopener
5 - neither the unions or the Board are willing to publicly commit to not seeking/granting salary increases this year or next year.


7 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 24, 2017 at 5:12 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

"Facts:
1 - salary increases are in the budget
2- both union contracts permit the unions to reopen their contract annually
3 -both unions have elected to reopen their contracts this year
4 - salary increases are automatically included in any reopener
5 - neither the unions or the Board are willing to publicly commit to not seeking/granting salary increases this year or next year."

Bingo! Which is exactly why I will vote NO on X. If the board rolls over and grants raises (as they usually do) it will eat up most, if not all, of the money from Measure X. What happens next? The district will be coming back for yet ANOTHER parcel tax to make up the shortfall created by raises granted to the teachers.

On another note, SO WHAT if 30 teachers are laid of or retire or are not rehired or whatever? The head count in each class goes up by what? Two or three students? Oh the horrors. Your little snowflake will survive.


4 people like this
Posted by Cmon
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 26, 2017 at 4:26 am

I will vote in favor of the parcel tax. We do not have kids in the district any longer but we will still vote in favor. I do so, however, since the prior administration allowed spending to get well ahead of resources. The fact that we'd lose 30 professionals immediately if this does not pass is proof enough. It is a cautionary tale for parents and the new supe and board have to mend their ways over the term of this tax so that we don't wind up in this bind. Also, I feel folks fel like the district cannot be top quality without this and I don't believe that is accurate. Excellence is produced through talented teachers, a focus on true enrichment, and committed parents will to engage and participate actively. We should cultivate this. Vote in favor but hold new team accountable for change rather than punish the current team for what appears to be poor budgeting in recent past.


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Posted by Local
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 26, 2017 at 6:57 am

Do you think if we do not give the MP firefighters a raise ( they already receive a generous salary) there would be money left over for the teachers without adding another tax ?


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Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Feb 26, 2017 at 7:39 am

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

If teachers and retirees statewide took a 10% cut in their 24K gold pension plan, parcel taxes wouldn't be needed.


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Posted by MP Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 26, 2017 at 10:25 am

Jack, do you have data to back up that assertion? Having seen what a mess the state pension plans are - saving much with a 10% cut seems awfully optimistic.


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Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Feb 26, 2017 at 1:08 pm

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

I do not, but I think my estimate is conservative. My hope is that it will be seen as a "reasonable" solution to the problem. The powers to be should have the answer to that question.


6 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 26, 2017 at 1:12 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

In my opinion it would take a 20% reduction in MPCSD's total salary budget to create enough cash to fully pay the real annual pension costs given the current total revenue available. It would make no difference if this reduction were achieved by having fewer positions or lower salaries for a larger number of positions.


6 people like this
Posted by Willows Man
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Feb 26, 2017 at 2:13 pm

Hey, remember that time 18 months ago when the Fire Board gave the fire fighters a 17% pay raise?
Web Link

Or the 30% increase in the budget for salaries over two years ago?
Web Link

Again, perhaps Fire District members should focus on the prolifigate spending in their own department before criticizing others.

Oh, and thanks for your "support" of Measure X.


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Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Feb 26, 2017 at 2:28 pm

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

There is hope:
Web Link
Excerpts: A second appeals court panel has unanimously ruled that the public pension offered at hire can be cut without an offsetting new benefit, broadening support for what pension reformers call a “game changer” if the state Supreme Court agrees.

The new ruling on Dec. 30 in a state firefighters suit on pension-boosting “airtime” purchases made several references to a groundbreaking ruling last summer in a Marin County pension “spiking” suit.“The law is quite clear that they are entitled only to a ‘reasonable’ pension, not one providing fixed or definite benefits immune from modification or elimination by the governing body,” wrote Justice Martin Jenkins.

The two appeals court rulings are contrary to previous rulings known as the “California rule”: The pension offered at hire becomes a vested right, protected by contract law, that can only be cut if offset by a comparable new benefit, erasing any savings.


7 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 26, 2017 at 2:43 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"The state and teachers themselves are pumping more money into CalSTRS, but the big hit is on school districts, which will see their contributions rise from 8.3 percent of payroll in 2013-14 to 19.1 percent by 2020-21.

The hits from CalPERS and CalSTRS will cost school districts $1 billion more next year, the Legislature’s budget analyst has calculated, markedly more than the $744 million in additional state and local revenue Brown’s budget proposes."

Read more here: Web Link


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Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Mar 5, 2017 at 1:47 pm

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

Update on Committee to Support MP Schools, Yes on Measure X filings.

Campaign filing showed $47,105 this year as of 2/18/2017. Add this to the November - December report of $51,746 and we get a total of $98,746. That does not include contributions since 2/18. Expenditures as of 2/18 included $46,513 for Whitehurst/Mosher.

MPCSD hired Whitehurst/Mosher to provide the groundwork for a campaign. Of course, this was BEFORE Measure X was placed on the ballot.


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

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