News

Guest opinion: Vote no on Measure B, Menlo Park school district's latest parcel tax initiative

Oak Knoll Elementary School first graders sit on socially distanced markers on the ground at the end of recess before heading back to class in Menlo Park on Sept. 29, 2020. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

With this latest "temporary" parcel tax, the Menlo Park City School District claims they need a tax increase to continue providing "high quality educational programs." The district wants to extend the 2017 "temporary" parcel tax ($360 is your current property tax assessment) for another 12 years, and they want to add inflation adjustments so your taxes will rise every year for the next 12 years.

Have they earned this extension that will cost you well over $7,176 for the next 12 years (on top of all the other taxes you are already paying)?

Let's look at the latest student academic performance for English and math. Results from the 2018-19 school year indicate 15.93% of students are below grade level for English, and 17.49% are below grade level for math.

The district rewarded students, parents, and taxpayers for the passage of the 2017 parcel tax by dropping proficiency in English and (with) minuscule 1.67% improvement in math!

How many students in the graduating class took one or more Advanced Placement (AP) exam? Answer: 13 out of 2,922 students for the 2018-19 school year, the latest figures according to the California Department of Education Data Partnership (ed-data.org).

What's local journalism worth to you?

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

Join

Should you, the voters, reward the district for declining academics? If not, we encourage you to vote no on Measure B.

This district is already spending $19,990 per student per year, which is 148% above the statewide average ($13,489), while providing average education results. Yet they want more of your hard-earned money to pad their salaries (averaging $106,988 per year plus up to $13,250 in benefits) and fat pension plans. They claim no funds will be used for administration. But revenues increased over the last five years ($12.2 million) can be used for administration expenses without limits.

The statewide average teacher's salary is $84,531 (2019-20 school year) compared to this district's average salary of $106,986 (according to the latest figures from 2017-18). That's a whopping $22,455 difference. And they only teach 180 days a year, earning $594.36 per day.

Furthermore, the district's average daily attendance expenses for certified personnel are 178% above the statewide average.

Student enrollment continues to decline, now down to 2,922 students.

Stay informed

Get the latest local news and information sent straight to your inbox.

Stay informed

Get the latest local news and information sent straight to your inbox.

They say this tax will raise $4.6 million, but revenues are already up $12.2 million in just the last five years. They clearly don't need more of your hard-earned income.

Tell the Menlo Park City school board to be fiscally responsible by voting no on Measure B.

In the real world, you get better results when you reward success. However, if you reward failure, you will get more failure!

Tell the Menlo Park City school board that you want education success first and then they'll get a reward. But for now, vote no on Measure B.

The ballot measures states there will be "independent oversight" of the funds. However, guess who picks the oversight committee? You guessed it: the Menlo Park City school board. Not exactly like foxes guarding the henhouse, but hardly an objective oversight committee.

The ballot measure also states that this "temporary" tax will expire after 12 years. But we all know they will just seek another extension for more money for another "temporary" tax increase after this one expires.

One last thought: Parcel tax elections are paid for by the school district, which means your tax dollars are paying for this mail ballot and not being spent on educating students. If you think this is a misuse of your tax dollars, then please vote no.

For more information, please visit us at svtaxpayers.org

Mark Hinkle is president of the Silicon Valley Taxpayers Association and lives in Morgan Hill.

A front row seat to local high school sports.

Check out our new newsletter, the Playbook.

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

Stay informed on important education news. Sign up for our FREE daily Express newsletter.

Guest opinion: Vote no on Measure B, Menlo Park school district's latest parcel tax initiative

by / Almanac

Uploaded: Sat, Oct 9, 2021, 10:16 am

With this latest "temporary" parcel tax, the Menlo Park City School District claims they need a tax increase to continue providing "high quality educational programs." The district wants to extend the 2017 "temporary" parcel tax ($360 is your current property tax assessment) for another 12 years, and they want to add inflation adjustments so your taxes will rise every year for the next 12 years.

Have they earned this extension that will cost you well over $7,176 for the next 12 years (on top of all the other taxes you are already paying)?

Let's look at the latest student academic performance for English and math. Results from the 2018-19 school year indicate 15.93% of students are below grade level for English, and 17.49% are below grade level for math.

The district rewarded students, parents, and taxpayers for the passage of the 2017 parcel tax by dropping proficiency in English and (with) minuscule 1.67% improvement in math!

How many students in the graduating class took one or more Advanced Placement (AP) exam? Answer: 13 out of 2,922 students for the 2018-19 school year, the latest figures according to the California Department of Education Data Partnership (ed-data.org).

Should you, the voters, reward the district for declining academics? If not, we encourage you to vote no on Measure B.

This district is already spending $19,990 per student per year, which is 148% above the statewide average ($13,489), while providing average education results. Yet they want more of your hard-earned money to pad their salaries (averaging $106,988 per year plus up to $13,250 in benefits) and fat pension plans. They claim no funds will be used for administration. But revenues increased over the last five years ($12.2 million) can be used for administration expenses without limits.

The statewide average teacher's salary is $84,531 (2019-20 school year) compared to this district's average salary of $106,986 (according to the latest figures from 2017-18). That's a whopping $22,455 difference. And they only teach 180 days a year, earning $594.36 per day.

Furthermore, the district's average daily attendance expenses for certified personnel are 178% above the statewide average.

Student enrollment continues to decline, now down to 2,922 students.

They say this tax will raise $4.6 million, but revenues are already up $12.2 million in just the last five years. They clearly don't need more of your hard-earned income.

Tell the Menlo Park City school board to be fiscally responsible by voting no on Measure B.

In the real world, you get better results when you reward success. However, if you reward failure, you will get more failure!

Tell the Menlo Park City school board that you want education success first and then they'll get a reward. But for now, vote no on Measure B.

The ballot measures states there will be "independent oversight" of the funds. However, guess who picks the oversight committee? You guessed it: the Menlo Park City school board. Not exactly like foxes guarding the henhouse, but hardly an objective oversight committee.

The ballot measure also states that this "temporary" tax will expire after 12 years. But we all know they will just seek another extension for more money for another "temporary" tax increase after this one expires.

One last thought: Parcel tax elections are paid for by the school district, which means your tax dollars are paying for this mail ballot and not being spent on educating students. If you think this is a misuse of your tax dollars, then please vote no.

For more information, please visit us at svtaxpayers.org

Mark Hinkle is president of the Silicon Valley Taxpayers Association and lives in Morgan Hill.

Comments

Dagwood
Registered user
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 9, 2021 at 12:52 pm
Dagwood, Menlo Park: Downtown
Registered user
on Oct 9, 2021 at 12:52 pm

Aren’t AP courses only offered by the Sequoia District and at the high schools?


Willows Dad
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Oct 10, 2021 at 10:33 am
Willows Dad, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Oct 10, 2021 at 10:33 am

@Dagwood, yes, and typically only sophomores and above take AP exams, so this part of the argument is nonsensical. Furthermore, the author does not seem to understand how percentages work—his 148% figure should be 48% (since he is saying "above"). Admittedly this is still notably higher than the state average, but I would expect spending to be higher in this area, and I am glad that we live in an area that places a high priority on education. Vote yes on B.


Enough
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Oct 10, 2021 at 11:32 am
Enough, Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Oct 10, 2021 at 11:32 am

The problem is that the District and Burmeister are not being upfront or honest in the campaign for Measure B. They send out email claiming things that are not true. For example they claim the district has lost title 1 finding and will lose more funding because of that. In reality the district is appealing that loss and either believes they can get the money back or have decided to waste our money on something they they have no hope of winning.

They scare people with the 3000 housing unit number. First off those housing units have not been planned or approved let alone built and occupied. Those are years in the future if ever. Second if they do get built they will be contributing property taxes of which the schools district gets a percentage for funding.

The district ran this campaign at a time there was nothing else on the ballot because they count on a low turnout to win. While this may be perfectly legal is it ethical? How much is this election costing the tax payers of Menlo Park and Atherton for this one item?

I personally do not feel like rewarding this type of campaign with a yes vote. I think the district needs to go back and be honest with the tax payers and not try to deceive them to get more funding.


Menlo Voter.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Oct 10, 2021 at 7:19 pm
Menlo Voter., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Oct 10, 2021 at 7:19 pm

What Enough said. That's exactly why I voted NO. I don't like being lied to and BS'd. I might have voted yes if the district hadn't lied.


Menlo Oaks Mom
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Oct 10, 2021 at 9:31 pm
Menlo Oaks Mom, Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Oct 10, 2021 at 9:31 pm

As a graduate of MPCSD schools and now a parent of children in the district, I am a strong supporter of Measure B to keep our public schools top tier. The arguments in this article are not persuasive to me - yes teachers salaries and expenses are higher than the state average - so is the cost of living in Menlo Park. It is expensive here! Of course elementary and middle school kids are not taking AP classes - those start in high school. In terms of planning for housing that has not yet been built - we all know this is going to happen. I would much rather have a school district that is proactively preparing for these potential additional students than wait until matters are critical. Additionally the district has an obligation to annually reassess whether all Measure B amounts are needed in a given year.
Please Vote Yes on Measure B. It so is important to our whole community!


new guy
Registered user
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 11, 2021 at 7:23 am
new guy, Menlo Park: Downtown
Registered user
on Oct 11, 2021 at 7:23 am

Not sure what the real truth or story we are being told is, but it does not matter. Simple fact is revenue growth is outpacing student growth, and most likely will for a long time. Nearby districts are closing schools due to enrollment decline. MP is facing enrollment decline. Demographics are changing, MP is far past being an affordable town for young families.

Renters: "why does my rent keep going up?" (maybe because you keep voting for more taxes).

Also, MP will accept cash/check/credit card/stock transfers, basically anything, you can show YOUR support AT ANY TIME, I am sure you can get your name on a plaque too.

Take a look around for a change, go for a walk/bikeride and see that there is a new home being built on practically every street, some have multiple projects. All of these resetting property tax rates. and most of these selling millions above previous price.


Stu Soffer
Registered user
Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Oct 11, 2021 at 10:27 am
Stu Soffer, Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
Registered user
on Oct 11, 2021 at 10:27 am

'Maybe' on Measure B

The problem I see with this measure is the weighting of parcels, property value, and number of children the school from those properties.

Single family properties are likely only 1 -parcel on the tax rolls. There is a tight correspondence.
On the other hand, an apartment complex composed with 50 units may only be ‘1 parcel’ on the property tax rolls, even though there might me an impact 30 schoolchildren from 20 apartments in that complex.


Enough
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Oct 11, 2021 at 1:51 pm
Enough, Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Oct 11, 2021 at 1:51 pm

Menlo Oaks Mom

" we all know this is going to happen" Do we? It MAY happen down the road, it will not happen in the next year or two (Have you seen the approval process for developments in Menlo Park?). By your logic the district should be planning for 10,000 new homes because they may be built in the future. I don't buy that logic, nor do I buy the argument from Burmeister that these new housing units will not contribute to the schools. They will pay property tax and the district gets a percentage of that tax so if they are built the district will be getting additional money to support new students who live there.

Everything about the districts arguments for Measure B seem flawed and misleading to me. For example they site enrollment numbers which seem to include an increase in students. That is until you look a little closer and see that the ELC students are included in the most recent numbers. The ELC is relatively new (2018-2019 school year) to the district so those students did not exist in previous enrollment numbers. Also those are not public school children, parents are required to pay to have their students attend ELC ($22,000 a year). So this is just another misleading argument and indicative of what the district is willing to do to pass this new tax. Do you believe for a minute that they won't justify the need for that money every year? Based on what is being said to pass it I believe they will use the same tactics to justify it year after year.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 11, 2021 at 2:15 pm
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Oct 11, 2021 at 2:15 pm

" nor do I buy the argument from Burmeister that these new housing units will not contribute to the schools. "

The new Stanford housing on El Camino is ALL property tax exempt.


R
Registered user
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 11, 2021 at 2:53 pm
R, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
Registered user
on Oct 11, 2021 at 2:53 pm

The fact that Mark Hinkle is quoting High School Advanced Placement (AP) information to argue against a parcel tax measure from an Elementary & Middle school district points to a poorly researched opinion piece. Perhaps he is mixing up information from the different measures he is opposing such as the Los Gatos or Berryessa parcel tax proposals. The author speaks to facts and figures in the piece but doesn't share the source of the data making it very difficult to discern what if any of it is accurate. The author, who lives in Morgan Hill, needs to be as accountable for his opinion piece messaging as the district he is commenting to enable Menlo Park residents evaluate the arguments and decide on Measure-B.


new guy
Registered user
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 11, 2021 at 3:56 pm
new guy, Menlo Park: Downtown
Registered user
on Oct 11, 2021 at 3:56 pm

Peter,

You are only partially correct, the details are that:

Stanford pays $1.5 Mil to MP schools.
New retail will pay property taxes.
Only handful of apartments are 2 bedroom, most are 1, and those generally do not generate students for K-8 grades.

Seems we ALL like to use selective messaging.


Observer
Registered user
Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Oct 11, 2021 at 4:20 pm
Observer, Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
Registered user
on Oct 11, 2021 at 4:20 pm

I believe Stanford is paying a one-time in lieu fee, but it's inordinately hard to get accurate information. How much money, for example, will be budgeted toward unfunded pensions?

We do have a good school district, and leadership is wise to plan for the next ten years rather than playing catch up every year. But transparency and accurate predictions seem to be hard to come by. Plus developers always downplay the number of families likely to move into new housing. In reality, most people who are willing to pay to live here will be doing so because of the schools.

By the way, the site cited by the author shows that average scores have edged up slightly. And although the high school is a different district, about half the M-A students take AP tests. If we have 13 grade school students taking AP tests, that's actually pretty impressive, but also highly unlikely.

Misinformation is rampant on both sides.


Enough
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Oct 12, 2021 at 8:10 pm
Enough, Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Oct 12, 2021 at 8:10 pm

"The new Stanford housing on El Camino is ALL property tax exempt." yes and no. The district negotiated a one time payment from Stanford. This development should not have been approved but it was. I believe you supported that development didn't you Peter?

Do you think Stanford will be trying to build all 3000 units? The city (planning commission and council) wouldn't approve it if they did.


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

Post a comment

In order to encourage respectful and thoughtful discussion, commenting on stories is available to those who are registered users. If you are already a registered user and the commenting form is not below, you need to log in. If you are not registered, you can do so here.

Please make sure your comments are truthful, on-topic and do not disrespect another poster. Don't be snarky or belittling. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

See our announcement about requiring registration for commenting.