News

Tonight: School board reviews report on enrollment declines

Housing costs may be pushing young families away, demographer says

The high prices of housing may be pushing young families away from local school districts, a demographer's report says, with the four districts in the Almanac's coverage area reporting a drop in enrollment between 4 and 18 percent from recent highs.

The report, prepared by Tom Williams of Enrollment Projection Consultants, will be presented to the board of the Menlo Park City School District on Tuesday, Dec. 12. The meeting starts at 5:45 p.m. in the district's TERC room, 181 Encinal Ave. in Atherton.

It shows that contrary to earlier projections for continued growth, enrollment is expected to dip from current levels at district schools, not returning to current numbers until 2023.

The numbers are significant because the Menlo Park district, along with the Woodside, Portola Valley and Las Lomitas districts, is "community funded" (formerly called "basic aid"), meaning it receives most of its revenue from local sources. Little of the funding is tied to enrollment. The local revenue sources include property taxes, parcel taxes and donations.

In the Menlo Park district, lower enrollment could ease the district's budget woes. Consultants had previously predicted the district would have 3,151 students in 2020 and 3,280 in 2025. The new projection shows 2,939 students in 2020 and 2,979 in 2023. Enrollment in October of 2017 was 2,972.

What's local journalism worth to you?

Support Almanac Online for as little as $5/month.

Learn more

The report also gives enrollment numbers for transitional kindergarten through fourth grades in 2010-2017 for other local school districts. It shows:

● Menlo Park City School District – currently down 4 percent from the 2013 high of 1,721 students.

● Las Lomitas Elementary School District – currently down 18 percent from the 2012 high of 838 students.

● Portola Valley School District – currently down 17 percent from 2011 high of 406 students.

● Woodside Elementary School District – currently down 9 percent from 2014 high of 265 students.

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox.

Sign up

Mr. Williams said in his report that the previous projections were based on the expectation "that the improving job market would result in higher birth and kindergarten numbers" as it had in past decades.

"There instead was a decline in the latest birth and younger student totals in most districts," he wrote. "The further jump in housing costs since 2013 probably is factoring into this evident decline in the number of young families. The resultant lower than-previously-forecast kindergarten totals both last year and this year thus could continue," he wrote.

Other business

Also on the agenda:

● A discussion of Stanford University's Middle Plaza development on El Camino Real. Members of the city of Menlo Park subcommittee that has worked with the university on ways to mitigate the development's impacts on the community, including the school district, will attend. The university does not have to pay property taxes on the residential portion of the development even though it may add student to local schools.

● Approval of a report on the district's budget to date.

--

Craving a new voice in Peninsula dining?

Sign up for the Peninsula Foodist newsletter.

Sign up now

Follow AlmanacNews.com and The Almanac on Twitter @almanacnews, Facebook and on Instagram @almanacnews for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Tonight: School board reviews report on enrollment declines

Housing costs may be pushing young families away, demographer says

by / Almanac

Uploaded: Thu, Dec 7, 2017, 3:10 pm
Updated: Tue, Dec 12, 2017, 10:35 am

The high prices of housing may be pushing young families away from local school districts, a demographer's report says, with the four districts in the Almanac's coverage area reporting a drop in enrollment between 4 and 18 percent from recent highs.

The report, prepared by Tom Williams of Enrollment Projection Consultants, will be presented to the board of the Menlo Park City School District on Tuesday, Dec. 12. The meeting starts at 5:45 p.m. in the district's TERC room, 181 Encinal Ave. in Atherton.

It shows that contrary to earlier projections for continued growth, enrollment is expected to dip from current levels at district schools, not returning to current numbers until 2023.

The numbers are significant because the Menlo Park district, along with the Woodside, Portola Valley and Las Lomitas districts, is "community funded" (formerly called "basic aid"), meaning it receives most of its revenue from local sources. Little of the funding is tied to enrollment. The local revenue sources include property taxes, parcel taxes and donations.

In the Menlo Park district, lower enrollment could ease the district's budget woes. Consultants had previously predicted the district would have 3,151 students in 2020 and 3,280 in 2025. The new projection shows 2,939 students in 2020 and 2,979 in 2023. Enrollment in October of 2017 was 2,972.

The report also gives enrollment numbers for transitional kindergarten through fourth grades in 2010-2017 for other local school districts. It shows:

● Menlo Park City School District – currently down 4 percent from the 2013 high of 1,721 students.

● Las Lomitas Elementary School District – currently down 18 percent from the 2012 high of 838 students.

● Portola Valley School District – currently down 17 percent from 2011 high of 406 students.

● Woodside Elementary School District – currently down 9 percent from 2014 high of 265 students.

Mr. Williams said in his report that the previous projections were based on the expectation "that the improving job market would result in higher birth and kindergarten numbers" as it had in past decades.

"There instead was a decline in the latest birth and younger student totals in most districts," he wrote. "The further jump in housing costs since 2013 probably is factoring into this evident decline in the number of young families. The resultant lower than-previously-forecast kindergarten totals both last year and this year thus could continue," he wrote.

Other business

Also on the agenda:

● A discussion of Stanford University's Middle Plaza development on El Camino Real. Members of the city of Menlo Park subcommittee that has worked with the university on ways to mitigate the development's impacts on the community, including the school district, will attend. The university does not have to pay property taxes on the residential portion of the development even though it may add student to local schools.

● Approval of a report on the district's budget to date.

--

Comments

Franklin
Portola Valley: other
on Dec 8, 2017 at 12:42 pm
Franklin, Portola Valley: other
on Dec 8, 2017 at 12:42 pm
15 people like this

Looking forward to a property tax reduction as the schools adjust costs to reflect this reality.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 8, 2017 at 1:02 pm
Peter Carpenter, Atherton: Lindenwood
Registered user
on Dec 8, 2017 at 1:02 pm
13 people like this

This is exactly why ALL school parcel taxes should be for a fixed time period.

The enrollment projections used to justify the current and fourth MPCSD parcel tax were wrong.


Pot Meet Kettle
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Dec 8, 2017 at 2:06 pm
Pot Meet Kettle, Menlo Park: The Willows
on Dec 8, 2017 at 2:06 pm
22 people like this

If only the MPCSD's property tax increment had the same sacred cow status as the fire district's. But it doesn't; the reality is that the State of California controls local school district funding.

And as a practical matter, all supplemental parcel taxes are for a fixed time period. The failed initiative from last year or whenever it was proved that point.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 8, 2017 at 2:15 pm
Peter Carpenter, Atherton: Lindenwood
Registered user
on Dec 8, 2017 at 2:15 pm
8 people like this

"If only the MPCSD's property tax increment had the same sacred cow status as the fire district's. But it doesn't; the reality is that the State of California controls local school district funding. "

Wrong. The State does NOT control MPCSD funding since MPCSD is a Basic Aid school district. MPCSD is funded by property taxes and FOUR parcel taxes.

The Fire District is supported by property taxes and NO parcel taxes.


James Madison
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Dec 8, 2017 at 3:01 pm
James Madison, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Dec 8, 2017 at 3:01 pm
3 people like this

What about Ravenswood Elementary District? And Sequoia High School District?


Jack Hickey
Registered user
Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Dec 8, 2017 at 3:04 pm
Jack Hickey, Woodside: Emerald Hills
Registered user
on Dec 8, 2017 at 3:04 pm
2 people like this

The MPCSD should reduce teaching staff, pay down bond debt at an accelerated rate and lease excess facilities.


Pot Meet Kettle
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Dec 8, 2017 at 3:42 pm
Pot Meet Kettle, Menlo Park: The Willows
on Dec 8, 2017 at 3:42 pm
2 people like this

Peter,
Who do you think determines whether a school district is basic aid/LCFF in the first place? And for those school districts that aren't LCFF, guess where the additional funding comes from?



Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 8, 2017 at 3:52 pm
Peter Carpenter, Atherton: Lindenwood
Registered user
on Dec 8, 2017 at 3:52 pm
6 people like this

"determines whether a school district is basic aid/LCFF"

The amount of property tax received per pupil.

MPCSD's property tax revenue greatly exceeds the the revenue limit that would qualify MPCSD for funding under the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF).


Jack Hickey
Registered user
Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Dec 8, 2017 at 4:32 pm
Jack Hickey, Woodside: Emerald Hills
Registered user
on Dec 8, 2017 at 4:32 pm
Like this comment

I am encouraged by the drop in enrollment, and hope it continues until government schools become "schools of last resort".

I am a signatory to the Proclamation of the "Alliance for the Separation of School & State." See: Web Link
See also their successor: Web Link, and, Web Link


I consider Secular Humanism to be the de facto church propagated by our government schooling system.

disestablishmentarian

noun
1.
a person who favors the separation of church and state, especially the withdrawal of special rights, status, and support granted an established church by a state; an advocate of disestablishing a state church.


Idiots
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Dec 8, 2017 at 4:37 pm
Idiots, Menlo Park: The Willows
on Dec 8, 2017 at 4:37 pm
2 people like this

All y'all are being ignorant. Read the article. Menlo, Los Lomitas and Portola Valley are all NOT funded by the State budgets for the most part.

This happened because of a choice made nearly 40 years ago post Prop 13. It was a gamble that paid off because local tax revenue went up enough to leave these districts in control of their own destiny.

The MP reduction is small compared with the growth over the last decade.

MPCSD has actually been short funding from taxes for some time. But it is made up by donations to the Foundation. And still they are having problems balancing at the moment. We can talk all day about whether money is being spent correctly or not but a small reduction in students is a good thing for the MPCSD budget.

Should there be a surplus, paying down bond debt early seems wise. But that is unlikely at these small variances and given the above

Leasing out 'surplus' facilities wouldn't come into play in MP without a more significant reduction. And it would be a shame since so much bond money has been spent in the last decade to rebuild nearly all the physical infrastructure. Laurel Upper WAS leased out for decades until it was just rebuilt.

It is probably worth digging deeper to understand if this was predictable or just the result of factors outside of the data set. BTW, the reductions in PV and LL are the ones to be concerned about.


Yet More Of The Same Nonsense
another community
on Dec 8, 2017 at 8:53 pm
Yet More Of The Same Nonsense, another community
on Dec 8, 2017 at 8:53 pm
13 people like this

And yet again, Jack Hickey is off on his usual public-education-needs-to-be-abolished jihad.

But now, we have this gem: "I consider Secular Humanism to be the de facto church propagated by our government schooling system."

No proof, of course.

But can we expect anything less from someone who actually thinks Betsy DeVos is doing a *good* job?


Local
Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Dec 9, 2017 at 1:09 am
Local, Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Dec 9, 2017 at 1:09 am
16 people like this

Not a single thought as to whether it is bad that the housing costs have grown so much that it is causing young families to leave (and/or not move here)? That would seem to be bad from my perspective.

Why aren’t we building more high density lower cost housing (without parking or with very low parking) near caltrain?


Menlo Voter.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Dec 9, 2017 at 7:17 am
Menlo Voter., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Dec 9, 2017 at 7:17 am
18 people like this

"Why aren’t we building more high density lower cost housing (without parking or with very low parking) near caltrain?"

You haven't been around here long have you? Every time any development is proposed the "no birds" go into full song screaming about how it will ruin the "village atmosphere" of MP. Never mind we're a city of 35,000. Never mind it leaves vacant lots sitting as eyesores for years and years. Never mind that it makes the cost of housing here exorbitant. Nope, they've got theirs, to hell with everyone else.


pogo
Registered user
Woodside: other
on Dec 9, 2017 at 8:17 am
pogo, Woodside: other
Registered user
on Dec 9, 2017 at 8:17 am
11 people like this

The bigger issue is that voters were lied to by school officials who predicted higher enrollments.

Those false predictions justified more hiring and massive capital spending.


Jack Hickey
Registered user
Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Dec 9, 2017 at 10:13 am
Jack Hickey, Woodside: Emerald Hills
Registered user
on Dec 9, 2017 at 10:13 am
Like this comment

Some background info in support of my contention that Secular Humanism is the de facto state religion being propagated by our government schooling system.

Web Link


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 9, 2017 at 10:17 am
Peter Carpenter, Atherton: Lindenwood
Registered user
on Dec 9, 2017 at 10:17 am
8 people like this

it should be noted that a parcel tax approval places a limit on how much can be charged and does not require that the entire approved amount be charged each year.

if enrollmentts do not increase as was predicted the Board could reduce the amount of the next year's parcel tax charge.


Yet More Of The Same Nonsense
another community
on Dec 9, 2017 at 2:58 pm
Yet More Of The Same Nonsense, another community
on Dec 9, 2017 at 2:58 pm
2 people like this

@Jack Hickey -- Posting from a whackjob website is NOT the way to make a serious case. Ever.

Try again, only this time, quote from a serious, non-whackjob source.


MP parent
Laurel School
on Dec 10, 2017 at 6:53 pm
MP parent, Laurel School
on Dec 10, 2017 at 6:53 pm
4 people like this

2013 was the last year of transitional kindergarten (TK) in MPCSD. Are the numbers available without TK so we can compare apples to apples?


PVResident
Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Dec 11, 2017 at 3:11 pm
PVResident, Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Dec 11, 2017 at 3:11 pm
Like this comment

Maybe we can rethink that 70-100 million dollar bond issue in PV, hmmm?


Larry Libertine
Belle Haven Elementary
on Dec 13, 2017 at 2:19 pm
Larry Libertine, Belle Haven Elementary
on Dec 13, 2017 at 2:19 pm
2 people like this

Jack pushing vouchers again - education welfare for rich and middle class, screw the poor who couldn't afford private schools even with vouchers.

You got yours, eh jack?

Selfish.

Oops, my bad! I misspelled "libertarian" again.


Menlo Park Resident
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jan 18, 2018 at 6:07 pm
Menlo Park Resident, Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jan 18, 2018 at 6:07 pm
Like this comment

Where can one get a copy of this report?


Barbara Wood
Registered user
Almanac staff writer
on Jan 18, 2018 at 6:13 pm
Barbara Wood, Almanac staff writer
Registered user
on Jan 18, 2018 at 6:13 pm
Like this comment

I believe this link will take you to the report, posted on the district's website. Web Link


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

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