Guest opinion: Crunching the numbers on funding our schools | January 25, 2017 | Almanac | Almanac Online |

Almanac

Viewpoint - January 25, 2017

Guest opinion: Crunching the numbers on funding our schools

by Jennifer Bestor

We went house hunting years ago with a fixed budget. We looked at similarly priced houses in six local school districts. While we heard there were "better" districts, I never realized how dramatically different the amount of per-student property tax funding flowing to my child's education would be, even though my property tax payments would be about the same.

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Jennifer Bestor is a longtime Menlo Park resident whose son is a former student in the Menlo Park City School District.

Comments

37 people like this
Posted by MPCSD Parent2
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 24, 2017 at 11:34 am

Thank you Jennifer for the additional/detailed info about school finances. I had little doubt about both the relative efficiency of our district's spending in order to provide a top-notch public education, and the real need for additional funds in order to continue to provide such an education. Your write-up only confirms those views.
I also appreciate your continuing support of our community's public schools well after your kids have graduated.


37 people like this
Posted by Katie Ferrick
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Jan 24, 2017 at 12:12 pm

Thank you, Jennifer, for diving into the details of why our local property tax funding simply doesn't cover the cost of educating MPCSD children.

Well said:
"We are left to decide what quality educational experience we will offer our neighborhood children."

We need everyone to decide what community we want to have in our future. I hope we can all agree that supporting local public education benefits us all in the short and long run.

Please vote Yes on X to protect quality education in Menlo Park City School District.


35 people like this
Posted by Jennifer Bestor
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 24, 2017 at 12:16 pm

Jennifer Bestor is a registered user.

MPCSD Parent2, thank you, but please understand that my support of the schools is selfish.

Effective public education attracts educated families who value the mix of backgrounds inherent in public schools. This makes for both interesting neighbors and a dynamic community that keeps certain types of businesses going for decades (bookstores like Kepler’s, theaters like the Guild, coffee shops like Ann’s). Yes, this supports high property values if I need or choose to sell — but it also ensures stable, growing property taxes that fund the services I depend on as an older resident: our fire department, our police, our courts, our roads, our library.

I love the fact that our middle school band leads the Halloween parade! I like to see kids playing in the street with their friends. I’m even a bit jealous that no one has asked me to put out one of those cute Yes On X yard signs. But I know that the families that have them probably have kids in the schools — and they’re probably all connected to one another. In the next Big One (and I was here for the last), I may have to tap into that network for a little help. It’s so good to know it’s there -- not separated into a dozen private schools.


28 people like this
Posted by Caryn Wasserstein
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Jan 24, 2017 at 8:30 pm

Jennifer thank you for what you have shared. This is the first time I have seen such a detailed reasoning regarding how base property tax varies between Districts. It is so helpful, especially when in relation to Las Lomitas which neighbor to MPCSD. Understanding that the base property tax of Las Lomitas funds $2500 more per student than we get in MPCSD is further reinforcement about why we need parcel taxes. Thank you for this information.


12 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 24, 2017 at 9:06 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

"further reinforcement about why we need parcel taxes. "

No, this is further enforcement that if MPCSD parents want a platinum education for their children they need to pay for it via private donations.


34 people like this
Posted by Jennifer Bestor
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 24, 2017 at 10:39 pm

A platinum education costs over $30,000 a year here. Phillips Brooks’ tuition is $30,900; Sacred Heart is $29,120 for grades 1-5, $38,675 for grades 6-8; Harker School, $32,870 1-5; $40,418 608; Nueva is $32,690, then $38,260.

Getting close to half of that amount is the struggle our community faces.


33 people like this
Posted by Menlo Park Parent
a resident of Laurel School
on Jan 24, 2017 at 11:26 pm

Jennifer, I applaud your detailed article, with careful study on this topic and for sharing it with Almanac readers. It is so important that our district voters make their decisions based upon facts. We are so fortunate to have citizens like you who care about the future of our students, property owners and overall community. You realize and sincerely appreciate what an incredible school district we have. I fully support Measure X to maintain the standard of education we have achieved in our award winning schools. I also found this link that I recommend, for those who are just learning about the upcoming parcel tax measure on the March 7 ballot, and want to understand more factual information about the Menlo Park City School District's deficit. Web Link#


15 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 25, 2017 at 9:51 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

On May 5, 2015, Palo Alto voters approved a Measure A Parcel Tax assessment of $758 per parcel with an annual two percent escalation for six years. Parcel Tax funds allow Palo Alto Unified School District (PAUSD) to preserve excellence in academic programs, including science, engineering, math, reading, writing, arts, and music with local funding that cannot be taken by the state; reduce class sizes; attract and retain qualified teachers; and advance health, well-being, and equitable opportunities for every student.

On May 24, 2016, 8:26
Palo Alto school board approves 12 percent pay increases for teachers

*********
Last year the MPCSD teachers reopened their contract as soon as the Board decided to put the two 2016 parcel taxes on the ballot. And the Board was negotiating these increases even before the votes were counted. And since a public entity cannot engage in regressive bargaining the Board was forced to give the increases even after the parcel taxes failed.

So what guarantee do the MPCSD voters have that the this year's Parcel Tax won't simply be a pass through to the teachers with a concomitant loss of funding for student programs?It turns out that the unions HAVE reopened their contracts and are in discussion with the District to revise their contracts.?

******************
It turns out that the unions HAVE reopened their contracts and are NOW in discussion with the District to revise their contracts.

As long as the public believes that the unions will get the bulk of the new parcel tax then I predict the parcel tax will fail.

Someone needs to get the unions to come out with a stand still statement on salaries.


9 people like this
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Jan 25, 2017 at 11:08 am

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

Let's not forget that teachers get a few months off to pursue other money-making endeavors. And, much of their pension costs are not reflected in their total compensation! And, being unencumbered by Social Security taxes, teachers have 6.2% of their earnings available to invest in tax deferred retirement plans of their own. Web Link


42 people like this
Posted by Clemens
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Jan 25, 2017 at 11:16 am

Wow, who knew? Teachers, the new selfish millionaires! Devos, the Amway pyramid scheme billionaire is just trying to protect us!

Thanks for the input, Jack. Web Link

Peter: do we have as many teacher candidates in line for each teacher opening as we do candidates for each firefighter opening?


43 people like this
Posted by Menlo Man
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 25, 2017 at 11:58 am

Peter if you are asserting that contract negotiations between MPCSD teachers and the District are currently taking place, you are wrong. I'm not sure if you are intentionally being misleading or are just uniformed, either way the public reading this needs to know that you are not always in command of the facts, maybe you are in command of "alternative facts"??

Also, please be aware that teachers and the District negotiate many aspects and areas of their contract , NOT JUST compensation.

Lastly, for every opportunity that Peter uses to reference the 12% salary increase that Palo Alto teachers received, please remember that MPCSD teachers received a 1.25% increase last year and a 1.25% this year, far below the Bay Area CPI. Again Peter, please stop insinuating that teachers expect, or will receive, a huge windfall of compensation if Measure X passes.


15 people like this
Posted by David B
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Jan 25, 2017 at 12:34 pm

I hate to see this devolve in to a union yes/no debate.

I applaud Jennifer's work to dive into this, and the result is very eye-opening. I'm not sure what if anything can/should be done to change policy so that the end result would be different? (Or, how the end result should be different?) Hmmmm.


44 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 25, 2017 at 3:02 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Menlo Man states -"Peter if you are asserting that contract negotiations between MPCSD teachers and the District are currently taking place, you are wrong."

Wrong. See the School Board's Jan 10, 2017 agenda:

The facts are clear:
VI.b. Public Hearing (DISCUSSION) of the Menlo Park Education Association (MPEA) Initial Proposal for the 2017-18 School Year (5 minutes) (Discussion Item)
Speaker:
Assistant Superintendent
Quick Summary / Abstract:
This item provides the public with an opportunity to address the initial proposal of the Menlo Park Education Association (MPEA) for the 2017-18 school year.

Attachments:
MPEA Sunshine Letter for 2017-18 school year
VI.c. Public Hearing (DISCUSSION) of the California School Employees Association (CSEA) Initial Proposal for the 2017-18 School Year (5 minutes) (Discussion Item)
Speaker:
Assistant Superintendent
Quick Summary / Abstract:
This item provides the public with an opportunity to address the initial proposal of the California School Employees Association (CSEA) for the 2017-18 school year.

Attachments:
CSEA Sunshine Letter for 2017-18 school year
VI.d. Public Hearing and Approval (ACTION) of District Response to the Menlo Park Teachers Association's (MPEA) Initial Proposal for the 2017-18 School Year (5 minutes) (Action Item)
****************

Absent assurances from the unions and the Board the voters can quite properly assume that the proposed parcel tax will simply be a salary pass through for the unions.

Why don't the unions and the Board dispel the issue by providing assurance that salary increases will not be sought nor will they be granted?

Is not the purpose of the proposed parcel tax, which I have repeatedly stated I support, to benefit the students and specific threatened programs?


21 people like this
Posted by Karen Dearing
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 25, 2017 at 3:20 pm

Karen Dearing is a registered user.

Programs = staff. Staff requires salaries. Attracting and retaining quality staff requires competitive salaries.


7 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 25, 2017 at 3:28 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Attracting and retaining quality staff requires competitive salaries."

This confirms that the parcel tax is for the purpose of increasing salaries rather than maintaining critical programs.program


36 people like this
Posted by Menlo Man
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 25, 2017 at 4:03 pm

Peter with your extensive background and knowledge of Union workings, I'm surprised this issue of contract negotiations has you so confused. [Part removed Please comment on the topic without negative characterization of other posters.]

Menlo Park teachers ARE REQUIRED by the school Board to submit what items they intend to negotiate for that year. This is usually submitted to the Board for the January Board meeting. Think of this as a courtesy to the Board and the District.

This DOES NOT mean or imply that teachers then begin negotiating their contract with the District. I will repeat: Teachers ARE NOT CURRENTLY negotiating their contract, their salary, their benefits, or anything with the District.

Peter, I want there to be clarity on this because in your many posts, there is a thinly veiled assertion that teachers are greedy and unworthy of ANY salary increase, and that the parcel tax is strictly for the benefit of fattening teacher paychecks. Why else would you keep referencing the anomalous 12% PAUSD raise? Last time I checked, PAUSD and MPCSD were two completely different entities.

This parcel tax election IS NOT a money grab opportunity for teachers. Please stop implying, insinuating, and inferring that teachers are going to be raking in the raises if Measure X passes.


29 people like this
Posted by Karen Dearing
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 25, 2017 at 4:19 pm

Karen Dearing is a registered user.


"Is not the purpose of the proposed parcel tax, which I have repeatedly stated I support, to benefit the students and specific threatened programs?"

Salaries and qualitiy programs that benefit the students cannot be disaggregated. One cannot happen without the other. "Competitive" might man an increase, a hold, even a decrease at different times.

To put the onus on teachers to offer a salary hold isolates one part of the equation as causal when the equation has many variables.

Again, for readers who care to make up their own mind about the need for Measure X, please refer to the district FAQs.

Web Link


9 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 25, 2017 at 4:24 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" Teachers ARE NOT CURRENTLY negotiating their contract, their salary, their benefits, or anything with the District."

From the 10 Jan 2017 Board agenda:

"Good morning Erik and Joan -
We, MPEA, are ready with our proposals for contract negotiation."

By law the District has a legal obligation to "meet and confer" in response to this declaration from the union.

Does the District simply intend to wait until after the election before bringing salary increases to the Board?

How will the Board preclude negotiating now and in 2017 for retroactive salary increase as it did last year?


9 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 25, 2017 at 5:00 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

What happened to Scott Hinshaw's proposal?

Posted by Tim
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Oct 26, 2016 at 11:35 pm
The solution to MPCSD financial issues is similar to what Hinshaw has suggested. There has to be a reasonable sacrifice on everyone's part. The taxpayers can support a parcel tax and the parents and teachers will need to make some significant concessions.


10 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 25, 2017 at 6:38 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Would it not be better for all concerned if the MPCSD Board followed the example of the MP City Council:



"Recommendation
Receive a report from staff and hear public comment on upcoming negotiations with the American
Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Local 829 (AFSCME); Menlo Park Police Officers’
Association (POA); Menlo Park Police Sergeants Association (PSA); and Local 521 Service Employees
International Union, CTW, CLC (SEIU) on successor agreements to current agreements expiring June 30,
2017.
Policy Issues
This report is prepared in accordance with City Council Policy and Procedure CC-11-0001, Public Input and
Outreach regarding Labor Negotiations."

Web Link


28 people like this
Posted by Karen Dearing
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 25, 2017 at 6:44 pm

Karen Dearing is a registered user.

Peter, Scott's proposal is alive and well.

In case you don't recall, the district's actual need was up to $515 (a parcel tax level for which you are on public record advocating). Caroline Lucas' argument that the district and the public should share the burden was precisely how we landed at the $360 level.

The public bears the burden of an increased parcel tax (net $153/parcel) and the district bears the burden of not being able to fully fund all planned programs and growth. If and when Measure X does pass, the district will still have to cut 6th and 7th grade Hillview Mini Courses, technology and materials budgets, administrative budgets, site budgets, online instructional subscriptions (materials our teachers use to teach our kids!), professional development (how our teachers become better teachers!), and more.

Web Link

If Measure X does not pass, much more is at stake... larger class sizes, elimination of science aides, elimination of credentialed librarians, fewer instructional aides (wow, bigger classes and fewer aides! GREAT!), further cuts to professional development, online teaching materials, Mini Courses, and on and on.

********

On your claim that negotiations are ongoing, as the January board meeting minutes clearly show, negotiation topics do/did not currently include salary for teachers.

Negotiation topics included length of work year, release days for grading and data input, and duties outside of the work day. The Classified Union (There are two, Classified and Certificated. Did you know that?) has included salary in their proposal, but the district is not scheduled to meet with them until after parcel tax vote.

If you don't believe me or Menlo Man, please feel free to email district leadership yourself. I'm sure they'd be happy to respond. Perhaps you can post their response here for all to read.


14 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 25, 2017 at 6:46 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"If and when Measure X does pass, the district will still have to cut 6th and 7th grade Hillview Mini Courses, technology and materials budgets, administrative budgets, site budgets, online instructional subscriptions (materials our teachers use to teach our kids!), professional development (how our teachers become better teachers!), and more. "

Notable absent is any shared sacrifice by the unions.

I rest my case.


7 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 25, 2017 at 6:49 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

I repeat that I supported this parcel tax but I also believe that the voters will not give 2/3 approval to a parcel tax which is simply a way to increase salaries rather than to preserve and protect student programs.


9 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 25, 2017 at 7:21 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Article 17.3.3 of the MPEA contract specifies that "The reopener for the 201/17 school year will cover article 13: Employee Benefits/Salary and up to three additional article selected by each party on request."

Note that the additional items are IN ADDITION to Benefits and Salary which are, by this contract, automatically included in the annual reopener.


And article 17.3.5 states "During the term of this Agreement, all or any portion or portions of this contract may be renegotiated by the mutual agreement of the parties".

Once again - what guarantees do the taxpayers have from the union and the Board that the propose parcel tax is not simply a pass through salary increase for the staff rather than to be used exclusively to protect student programs?


11 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 25, 2017 at 7:27 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"On your claim that negotiations are ongoing, as the January board meeting minutes clearly show, negotiation topics do/did not currently include salary for teachers. ":

Wrong - Article 17.3.3 of the MPEA contract specifies that "The reopener for the 201/17 school year will cover article 13: Employee Benefits/Salary and up to three additional article selected by each party on request."

Note that the additional items are IN ADDITION to Benefits and Salary which are, by this contract, automatically included in the annual reopener.


11 people like this
Posted by Brown Eyed Girl
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 25, 2017 at 7:48 pm

Brown Eyed Girl is a registered user.

Jennifer,

Thank you for taking a deep dive into the numbers and sharing with us the facts on how much of our property taxes flow to the school district. It was unclear to me in your article whether or not you took into consideration how much MPCSD residents are paying in additional parcel tax revenue over and above neighboring districts. Are you counting property tax revenue only or did your revenue number of $8500 include both property tax and parcel tax revenue?

I appreciate your clarification as it makes a meaningful difference, although I recognize that even with the additional parcel tax revenue, it does not make up for the $2500 difference between Las Lomitas and MPCSD.

Anyone who believes this current Measure X solves any problems is misguided.

The growth in revenue to the district has more than compensated for the enrollment growth. The employer contributions to the pension fund is the reason why the school district needs more money. Pension fund contributions continue to crowd out the operating budget.

With 98% of the MPCSD budget allocated to salaries and employee benefits, there is no room to cut expenses in any other area other than payroll.

Seriously, you expect to the balance the budget by cutting subscriptions? That is like a family trying to balance their budget by cutting out toothpaste.

Did anyone take notice that CalPERS recently announced that they are reducing the expected return on their investment portfolio from 7.50% to 7.0% over the next three years?

This action, while prudent, will significantly increase the unfunded pension liabilities and the corresponding employer contribution to the pension fund.

MPCSD's budget assumed the employer contribution would top out at 20.40% in 2020/2021. Now, with the recent actions by CalPERS, the employer contribution is expected to top out at 28.20% in 2023/2024.

I am not opposed to giving teacher's raises, but it is imperative that the school district manage its total payroll and compensation expense. If they want to give raises and attract new teachers, then older and higher paid teachers must retire and move on.

Portola Valley and many other school districts have retired higher cost teachers to make room in the budget to attract fresh talent.



36 people like this
Posted by Menlo Man
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 25, 2017 at 8:47 pm

For the record , Menlo Park teachers participate in CalSTRS, not CalPERS. District contributions to teacher pensions (CalSTRS) WILL top out at 19.1% in the year 2020. Web Link

Teachers are also being mandated to increase their contribution to 10.25% as well.

Also for the record, 89% of the District budget goes to personnel, not 98%. Web Link

I'm beginning to wonder if posters like Peter Carpenter and Brown Eyed girl are intentionally misrepresenting facts in this forum, or if they are actually just really uniformed.

I'm not sure which is worse....


8 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 25, 2017 at 8:50 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

We are in fact well informed.

Just look at the facts that we have posted versus the heated opinions posted by others.


29 people like this
Posted by Daniel Gehant
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 25, 2017 at 9:07 pm

California Fails the Affordability Test for Teachers

"As one might expect, these working-class heroes have it the worst in California’s most expensive, coastal areas."

"Zero percent of the homes for sale in Silicon Valley (San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties) were found to be affordable. Not far behind was San Francisco, where a scant 0.2 percent (1 out of 571 homes for sale in September) are affordable."

"In the Bay Area, it takes four full teacher salaries to buy a typical home, a whole salary more than in 2012."

Source: Redfin Real Estate Research
Web Link


26 people like this
Posted by Daniel Gehant
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 25, 2017 at 9:25 pm

A quick note -

In the Redfin article linked above, there is a helpful explanation about the methodology executed by the resident Data Scientist at Redfin on how their research (that spans several years) highlights this trend:

It is getting more and more difficult for teachers to afford housing in California - especially in the Bay Area.

Wish I could embed the infographic here - it does a great job of visualizing the data.


24 people like this
Posted by Karen Dearing
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 26, 2017 at 5:44 am

Karen Dearing is a registered user.

Peter, you deliberately obfuscate the truth to confuse people. Of course the reopener includes salaries and benefits. They will be discussed. But negotiations/discussions are not ongoing as you claim. - "It turns out that the unions HAVE reopened their contracts and are NOW in discussion with the District to revise their contracts." Again, district leadership has confirmed that they are not scheduled to meet with the unions to negotiate salaries until after the Measure X vote. For the district to take a stance of no raises would be violating their obligation to bargain in good faith, nor can they ask the unions to take a similar stance.

------------------

Brown Eyed Girl, you're right! Measure X doesn't solve anything. It is a place holder to give the district time to come up with a more sustainable solution without sacrificing the most important programs and aspects of our district. This was clear from the discussions when the Board voted on the amount.

You're also right that "it is imperative that the school district manage its total payroll and compensation expense"! The fact that "over the last two years, teachers received a total salary increase of 2.5%, or 1.25% per year," about half the pace of inflation, is evidence that the district is doing just that (District FAQs, again see link below).

Web Link

------------------

Back to what matters, Daniel, thanks for that article! It highlights what we all intuitively know and most believe... That living where we do on a teacher's salary is not feasible and that teachers as a group are underpaid.

I firmly believe that we should pay teachers what we need to pay them in order to retain good teachers, motivate them to work hard, and provide the high level of education and programs we all have come to expect from MPCSD. I know I'm not alone.





13 people like this
Posted by Jennifer Bestor
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 26, 2017 at 8:04 am

Brown Eyed Girl, thank you for reading my analysis carefully. Since I was trying to expose the reasons for fundamental differences in base property-tax financing of local schools, I did not include the parcel taxes or foundation contributions in any of the districts.

The question in my mind was why, when homes around me were selling at such high prices, more wasn’t flowing through to the school district on a per-student basis. In the process of teasing that out, it was fascinating to see the differences between districts (there’s a chart in the physical paper and also in the online ‘hard copy’ that is not visible here). I could see the effects of the uplift from commercial property, the difference between allocation percentages, and the downdraft from long-term owners (or base years, in the case of inheritance or other mechanisms for transferring an early base year).

Also evident was the fact that MPCSD, for all its leafy suburban homes, is a district in which one resident in three lives in a multi-family unit. (Other districts: Las Lomitas 1:4; Palo Alto without Stanford 1:3; Redwood City 1:3; Portola Valley 1:10; Woodside 1:300. Source: Census Reporter) Thus, we often add students without adding any funding, especially since multi-family residential turns over much less often than single family homes everywhere, and in MPCSD especially.

Having made the ‘more house’ vs. ‘more school district’ trade-off myself, I found it fascinating to see why local districts might be ‘better’ simply because of a more assured per-student base funding stream. That Menlo Park has tried to address these Prop 13 side effects through parcel taxes reassures me that we care about education. (Not uniquely — Las Lomitas collected $885/student in parcel tax in FY14-15; Palo Alto $1,025; Portola Valley $1,940; Woodside $670 — and Redwood City $180; Source: ed-data.org)


6 people like this
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Jan 26, 2017 at 8:20 am

Education funding.
Web Link)

This is about going WAY beyond a basic education.


16 people like this
Posted by MPCSD Parent2
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 26, 2017 at 11:10 am

BEG and PC and others,

Please let's not let the (arguably) perfect be the enemy of the good.

Even if one believes that some type of salary freeze is warranted -- and as evidenced by the above thread, there are certainly well-founded explanations on why freezes are not a good idea (e.g. adverse impact on retention/recruitment of good teachers) -- there is seemingly widespread agreement on several other items that stand at the heart of why voters should support Measure X. For example:

-- Increased Mandated Pension Costs. The state of California has required MPCSD to double state mandated district contribution rates to CalSTRS, adding $3M in annual costs by 2020. This is not something the district is able to negotiate or reduce. This is a primary driver of the need for the parcel tax to cover this substantial cost item in the district's budget.

-- Limits on Revenue from Property Taxes. As JB's opinion piece explains, for reasons including the relative number of district properties with early Prop 13 base years, revenue from property taxes for properties in MPCSD does not increase as much as one might expect -- especially as compared to similar, neighboring districts.

-- Reduced Funding/Enrollment Increases. The 2010 parcel tax expires June 2017 (a loss of $1.6M annually), and student enrollment has increased and is projected to increase further (since 2010, up by 468 students to 3000, at a cost of more than $6M annually, and by 2025 MPCSD expects to add 300 more students). Measure X is needed to replace the expiring revenue source and to help pay for the additional costs of additional students.

In Almanac posts and elsewhere PC and others (including Menlo Voter) have recognized the need for and expressed support for Measure X's $360 parcel tax. Therefore, I invite each of you to focus on that acknowledgement, to put aside specific differences you may have with the teachers' union/district/etc., and to join me and others in saying that on balance We Support Measure X.


12 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 26, 2017 at 11:20 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

I cannot support the new parcel tax if it will simply be spent on salary increases and thus not be available to protect the student programs that are at risk.

The unions and the Board could alleviate this concern by addressing the 2016 and 2017 salary increase issue now but their silence is a telling message.


16 people like this
Posted by Jennifer Bestor
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 26, 2017 at 11:45 am

"Their" silence?! Is Peter Carpenter once again confusing an Almanac comment section with a School Board Meeting?


14 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 26, 2017 at 12:03 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

""Their" silence?"

Neither the unions nor the Board have disavowed salary increases for 2016/17 or 2017/18.

Given the District's history of always giving salary increases, including retroactive salary increases, a prudent taxpayer must assume that they will do the same this year and next year. if so, then how much of the parcel tax will be available to protect essential student programs?


16 people like this
Posted by Menlo Man
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 26, 2017 at 1:38 pm

Peter you are again incorrect.

First of all, teachers received a 1.25% salary increase for the current school year of 2016/17 , therefore it would be impossible for the Board, the District , or the Union to "disavow" a salary increase for this current 2016/17 school year.

Next, MPCSD teachers agreed to a ZERO percent salary increase (that's 0%) in:

02/03
08/09

and a staggering 1% salary increase in 09/10 and 1% in 10/11 during the depths of the Great Recession.

Again, either do your research before you comment or stop misleading the public with your erroneous statements about Menlo Park teachers and their salaries.



13 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 26, 2017 at 1:44 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

You do protest too much.

The union has a nasty habit of seeking retroactive increases and the Board has foolishly granted such retroactive increases.

I am challenging the unions and the Board to disavow any new salary increases for 2016/17 and 2017/18.

There is nothing that can or should be done regarding increases that have already been negotiated.


17 people like this
Posted by Brown Eyed Girl
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 26, 2017 at 6:35 pm

Brown Eyed Girl is a registered user.

Menlo Man,

I apologize for my typing error where I transposed 98% when I meant 89%. It was an unintended error and not a malicious attempt to misrepresent or mislead.

I have been a frequent contributor to this site and stick to factual information.

However, bad typing aside, I stand by my argument that with 89% of the school budget going to payroll and benefits, there is little room elsewhere to make reductions.

Again, not opposed to raises for teachers, the district just needs to hold the line on the total compensation and benefits. If the District gives raises, then some teachers may need to go. It is a balancing act.

Your link to the CalSTRS contribution rates is from 2014 and will soon be out of date.

The link below discusses how the CalPERS changes will also likely impact CalSTRS.

Web Link


13 people like this
Posted by Humbed.
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 26, 2017 at 8:40 pm

From my reading of the budget, there is no room to cut without eliminating programs and cutting teachers, neither of which are in the best interests of the kids. Drawing a hard line about protesting tiny, tiny salary increases is petty, and doesn't belong in this community with typical salaries reading well over $150K per person, not including the generous stock or other investments many local community members receive.

Frankly, the biggest travesty is the lack of funding for our neighbors' children in Redwood City. Not surprisingly, I don't see anyone suggesting all districts should have the same funding per student in the county. God forbid we're for equality in education.


10 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 26, 2017 at 9:03 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Here is what is ALREADY in the Board approved budget projection:
"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. Budgeted compensation increases reflected only regular
movement on the salary schedule, “step and column.” To more accurately
capture potential expenditures, staff looked at the historical agreements for
negotiated compensation increases over the last 10 years. A placeholder of
2.4% per year is added to salary expenditures in subsequent years, in addition to
regular step and column."

So exactly how much of the proposed parcel tax will be left to fund essential student programs?


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Posted by resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jan 26, 2017 at 11:15 pm

The parcel tax is not big enough to fund programs for more than a couple of years. The need to make the unfunded pension liabilities will require diverting more and more of the parcel tax to the pension fund, to where the programs will again be on the chopping block in a few years. Current assumptions are based on pension fund being able to generate 7.5% returns. Today, the staff at the pension fund recommends using 7.25%, and doesn't rule out going to 7%.

see article:Web Link


19 people like this
Posted by Jennifer Bestor
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 27, 2017 at 10:32 am

Jennifer Bestor is a registered user.

What have I missed? My decade as an MPCSD parent was punctuated by a scripted series of annual actions started each January between MPCSD and its unions, which led up to May contract negotiations. This annual process should not be confused with some longer-term contract that other agencies like fire agencies have. It was driven in large part by the annually-shifting rules of the California Department of Education and the need to present a final budget to that body every June 30th. In January and February, both sides presented their positions, i.e., what they wanted to negotiate. In March, the public had the chance to weigh in. In May, negotiations began. If we were lucky, this happened early so we parents knew when the next year’s vacations would fall. Once or twice they gave us a second year’s expected dates. Joy.

Ultimatums, going eight years without a contract, getting sued, paying lawyers’ fees, stretching manpower with overtime, ultimately ponying up millions of “Other Pay?” This would be debilitating to the school district. So demanding that the district Cowboy Up makes no sense.

Meanwhile, why would the public believe that “the unions” (or even “the teachers") would get the bulk of the new parcel tax? They’ve read Barbara’s numerous, detailed articles about the endless painful hours spent over the last six months deciding which TEN positions must be cut — even WITH Measure X passing — and which THIRTY with its failure. And if they haven’t, videos are available to all. I am astonished that anyone could think that the School Board would simply cut ALL THIRTY positions outlined in the upcoming Board resolution, then turn around and grant a massive raise to the remaining teachers.

And why is anyone getting caught up with the non-issue that the school district has a budget PLACEHOLDER of a 2.4% increase in its largest (89%) line item? That is the fiscally RESPONSIBLE thing to do! That is the ENTIRE CONTINGENCY amount in the budget. In the bizarre attempts to tie Menlo Park to Palo Alto’s parcel tax, has anyone actually traced PAUSD’s challenges? PAUSD got a property-tax projection from their County controller. They budgeted based on that. Then they got the news that the projection hadn’t included Stanford University’s massive $1 BILLION+ EXEMPTION on its new buildings. Which handed them an $8 million problem.

Our school district could easily put in a budget with no contingency. Then it wouldn’t have to send lay-off notices to three people! But of course, if anything went wrong … true deficit spending!

This community has just been forced to spend a long miserable year looking under every rock in the school district. We have found absolutely ZERO evidence of fiscal mismanagement. We have found endless good faith efforts on the part of the Board to walk the tightrope between competing demands on scarce resources.

No one looks under more financial rocks with a bigger microscope than I do — and I’ve found nothing but an attempt to provide the most effective education possible, for the dollars available.


5 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 27, 2017 at 10:38 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

I guess that we can all rest easy now that Jennifer has spoken and given what the Measure X web site says:

WHAT SPECIFICALLY WOULD THIS MONEY BE USED FOR?
A:
This money would enable our schools to continue to deliver the high-quality education that sustains local property values. With these funds, our schools will:
Retain excellent programs including art, library, and science classes
Maintain reasonable class sizes
Avoid teacher layoffs

*************
So clearly no parcel tax funds will be going to pay raises.


3 people like this
Posted by Clemens
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Jan 27, 2017 at 10:52 am

repeat

Peter: do we have as many teacher candidates in line for each teacher opening as we do candidates for each firefighter opening?


4 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 27, 2017 at 10:54 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"do we have as many teacher candidates in line for each teacher opening"

I have no idea - I have asked the question and never received an answer.


7 people like this
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Jan 27, 2017 at 11:36 am

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

MPCSD has taxpayers on the hook for $131,000,000 for the Taj Mahals they built, and $684 in parcel taxes having NO expiration date. Then, there are State “on behalf” payments, (from our taxes), to service bonds providing “matching funds” to the District. Add the State “on behalf” payments to bail out the pension plans, and the district share of the 1% ad valorem General Property tax, and we have much more than necessary to provide a basic education. Let MPAEF and the PTO's fund the embellishments.


3 people like this
Posted by Clemens
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Jan 27, 2017 at 11:37 am

"I have no idea - I have asked the question and never received an answer."

Okay, thanks.

How many in line each time they announce a fire union job? Similar to the teaching openings?

One? Two? Five? Ten?


4 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 27, 2017 at 11:40 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"How many in line each time they announce a fire union job? Similar to the teaching openings?"

Again, I have no idea about "teacher openings" so I cannot make the comparison that you request.


15 people like this
Posted by Willows Man
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jan 27, 2017 at 2:07 pm

The idea that Mr. Carpenter is worried about union salaries is interesting. Have we forgotten Barbara Wood's recent expose on the salaries / raises for his fire district?? Good political strategy perhaps...focus attention on MPCSD and away from the lack of financial oversight of his fire board.


11 people like this
Posted by Willows Man
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jan 27, 2017 at 2:15 pm

Is Atherton still pursuing how to lower its costs related to the fire district? How can MPCSD receive a larger share of tax revenue, is it possible to shave some money from what the fire district receives? Based on Ms. Wood's reporting and the salaries they pay, it is clear the fire district has more money than it needs.


19 people like this
Posted by Barbara Wood
Almanac staff writer
on Jan 27, 2017 at 2:31 pm

Barbara Wood is a registered user.

For those of you curious about how many teachers apply for job openings in the school district, I am getting that information.
Here is an August 2015 report from the fire district about recruitment. Web Link
The fire district report says they had 602 applicants for nine vacancies, all already certified as EMTs or paramedics.


16 people like this
Posted by Barbara Wood
Almanac staff writer
on Jan 27, 2017 at 2:58 pm

Barbara Wood is a registered user.

Here is the info from the district: For the 2016-17 school year the district had 18 positions open. They attended 9 recruitment fairs and ended up with 333 applications in total for the 18 positions.
This is an average of 18.5 applicants per position. Assistant Superintendent Erik Burmeister says in past years the district would receive 100-200 applications for a K-5 teaching position.


11 people like this
Posted by Shocking
a resident of another community
on Jan 27, 2017 at 3:08 pm

Shocked that Peter was unable 3 times to answer the simple question "How many in line each time they announce a fire union job?"

Shocked.


32 people like this
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Hillview Middle School
on Jan 27, 2017 at 5:03 pm

I have been trying hard to stay out of the fray in discussions on Measure X. However, there have been misstatements made that require correction.

Menlo Man wrote:
"MPCSD teachers received a 1.25% increase last year and a 1.25% this year, far below the Bay Area CPI."

WRONG.

This is an egregious mis-characterization of the most recent MPCSD salary increases.

1: The most-recent salary increase was 2.5%, not 1.25%.

"The Menlo Park City School District voted unanimously on Sept. 20...to award all district employees a 2.5 percent raise for the 2016-17 school year."

Source: Web Link


2: The 2.5% raise was for ALL employees, not just teachers. (see above link)


3: There was a 2.5% bonus as well, in ADDITION to the 2.5% raise, for a total increase in pay of 5% for continuing employees (which are the vast majority of employees)

"and to give a bonus of 2.5 percent of their annual salary to all who worked last year."


4: The 2.5% bonus was for ALL employees, not just teachers.

Source: Web Link


5: Through step-and-column, MPCSD teachers can get raises, even if the board votes for a "zero percent raise."


6: In comparison to ALL Bay Area elementary school districts, MPCSD are on average the highest paid elementary school teachers in the 9-county Bay Area.

From ed-data.org: (source: Web Link)
#01: $101,064 MPCSD
#02: $099,427 LLESD
#03: $098,555 Woodside Elementary SD
#04: $095,134 Hillsborough Elementary SD
#05: $093,208 Saratoga Union Elementary SD

#12: $081,124 Los Altos Elementary SD
#13: $080,855 Belmont-RWS Elementary SD

#16: $078,867 San Carlos Elementary SD


Good grief, stick with the pension liability argument. That has the benefit of actually being true.


10 people like this
Posted by Stats
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Jan 27, 2017 at 5:53 pm

@Train Fan,
Anecdotal data - well funded Los Altos has had many resignations and rough recruiting challenges over the past two years. Have heard family stories of poor teachers being sacked / resigning mid-year and being replaced by less than competent subs across multiple schools.

For completeness you should probably include Unified District salaries if you are going to highlight high salaries. I know Palo Alto and Napa have salaries well north of MPCSD. We compete for teachers with Palo Alto.


12 people like this
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Hillview Middle School
on Jan 27, 2017 at 8:48 pm

@stats
Lol, your post is incredibly ironic. You would understand why if you look up the word "antecdotal".

Adding high school teachers skews the data. That said, even if you include unified, mpcsd salaries are still top 2-3 (I'll confirm that once I'm at a computer) in the entire bay area.


10 people like this
Posted by Seriously
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jan 27, 2017 at 9:23 pm

You have your answer now Peter on number of applications per position in MPCSD. Thank you to Mr Bermeister for answering Ms Wood's question. Peter it looks like we are still waiting for you...or have you answered it on the Fire Department article page?


2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 28, 2017 at 8:43 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

As predicted:

Teacher Pension Fund Less Optimistic About Returns, May Ask Taxpayers For More Money

Web Link


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Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Hillview Middle School
on Jan 28, 2017 at 9:05 am

Apologies, I interpreted the "antecdotal" comment as referring to the ed-data post. Regards, train fan


8 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 29, 2017 at 5:26 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The District is already in discussions to begin negotiations with the unions AFTER the parcel tax election so exactly how much of the proposed parcel tax will be left to fund essential student programs?


7 people like this
Posted by Barbara Wood
Almanac staff writer
on Jan 30, 2017 at 4:02 pm

Barbara Wood is a registered user.

Here is the entirety of the "sunshined" proposed of the Menlo Park Education Association from the Jan. 10 Menlo Park City School District Board meeting. It contains no mention of salary:
Web Link
Good morning Erik and Joan -
We, MPEA, are ready with our proposals for contract negotiation.
We would like to sunshine the following:
1) Article 7.1 - Length of work year
2) Article 8.12- Release days for grading and data input
3) Article 8.4 - Duties outside of the work day
Erik - I would love to chat with you about these before we actually decide to meet. Please let me know
when a good time would be to talk.
Thanks and have a wonderful holiday!


9 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 30, 2017 at 4:07 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"It contains no mention of salary:"

Wrong. As noted above the contract automatically includes salary plus up to three additional items in any reopener:

"Article 17.3.3 of the MPEA contract specifies that "The reopener for the 201/17 school year will cover article 13: Employee Benefits/Salary and up to three additional article selected by each party on request."


3 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 31, 2017 at 10:20 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Here is what happens to donations to a school foundation when a new parcel tax ends up funding salary increases:

Web Link


1 person likes this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 31, 2017 at 11:22 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Here is the entirety of the "sunshined" proposal from and response to the MPCSD CSEA from the Jan. 10 Menlo Park City School District Board meeting. It explicitly lists salary and states the District's desire to have compensation that allows the District to continue to recruit and maintain excellent staff.

VI_e_MPCSDsInitialResponseToCSEAFor1718SchoolYear_0.pdf

So exactly how much of the proposed parcel tax will be left to fund essential student programs?


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 31, 2017 at 11:25 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Here is a better link:



file:///Users/petercarpenter/Downloads/VI_e_MPCSDsInitialResponseToCSEAFor1718SchoolYear_0.pdf


2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 31, 2017 at 11:27 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

And since the Forum won't accept the links here is the text:

The Menlo Park City School District acknowledges the following as proposals for negotiation
from CSEA:
Article VIII Leave Provisions
CSEA has an interest in collaborating with the district to bring the contract up to
compliance with the California Assembly Bill 2393.
Article X – Retiree Benefits
CSEA is seeking equity with MPEA on the matter of dental benefits in retirement.
Article XIV Salary
CSEA has an interest in a fair and equitable salary increase.
Article XXII – Seniority
CSEA has an interest in creating specific language regarding access to seniority lists.
The District will engage in negotiations according to the openers as identified by CSEA.
Article VIII Leave Provisions
Respond to CSEA interests and proposals and consider adjusting the language to reflect changes
to the law.
Article X – Retiree Benefits
Respond to CSEA interests and proposals.
Article XIV Salary
Respond to CSEA interests and proposals. The District has an interest in providing a level of
overall compensation (salary, health and welfare benefits, pension and related retirement
benefits, excused time, and all other benefits received) that will enable the District to continue to
recruit and maintain excellent staff while ensuring that expenditures do not exceed revenues in
the current and future years as required by law and Board policy.
Article XXII – Seniority
Respond to CSEA interests and proposals.


7 people like this
Posted by Barbara Wood
Almanac staff writer
on Jan 31, 2017 at 11:35 am

Barbara Wood is a registered user.

Just to clarify: Peter's earlier comments were about teacher salary negotiations. The teacher's union is the MPEA (Menlo Park Education Association). The document he has just posted is from the union that represents non-teachers in the district, the California School Employees Association.
Here is a link to the equivalent document from the teachers' union, which again does not mention salary.
Web Link
I am checking with the district to see if Peter is correct in his assertion that salary is included without being mentioned.


2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 31, 2017 at 11:38 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Peter's earlier comments were about teacher salary negotiations. "


Wrong. This is what I posted:

Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 29, 2017 at 5:26 pm
Peter Carpenter is a registered user.
The District is already in discussions to begin negotiations with the unions AFTER the parcel tax election so exactly how much of the proposed parcel tax will be left to fund essential student programs?


5 people like this
Posted by Interested
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 31, 2017 at 2:06 pm

So given those salaries, in particular the $101k avg in MP, let's weigh it against housing prices. MP averages $3500 per month for a one bedroom apartment. $101k per year equates to around 6k post taxes. We expect top talent to either commute from 30+ mins out of town or live on a $2500k per month stipend for all OOP?

You won't keep the best. Not even close.

Peter, I agree that if we fail to discuss tangible investments of this bond money beyond salaries and benefits, we could become mired in a value debate around unions v tax conservatives and risk losing votes.

Jennifer, great information. Thank you.

I think we should consider the proposal of unifying school districts as our past Mayor posited. Could we find efficiencies and equity of access at the same time?


5 people like this
Posted by "Wrong?"
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 31, 2017 at 3:34 pm

Peter, who are you trying to emulate with your repeated "Wrong." statements?


9 people like this
Posted by Barbara Wood
Almanac staff writer
on Jan 31, 2017 at 4:20 pm

Barbara Wood is a registered user.

I have an answer from Assistant Superintendent Erik Burmeister, who says that salaries are not a current topic of negotiation with the teachers' union." We are only discussing the three items sunshined," he said (length of work year, release days for grading and data input and duties outside of the work day.)

The union representing 100 non-teacher employees (which are about 31 percent of the district's employees) does have salary negotiations on the table).


18 people like this
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Hillview Middle School
on Jan 31, 2017 at 7:42 pm

"So given those salaries, in particular the $101k avg in MP, let's weigh it against housing prices. MP averages $3500 per month for a one bedroom apartment. $101k per year equates to around 6k post taxes. We expect top talent to either commute from 30+ mins out of town or live on a $2500k per month stipend for all OOP?

You won't keep the best. Not even close."


First of all, supply-and-demand dictates the salary that will be enticing for a teacher, and housing prices get priced into it; if a salary is too low the market reacts accordingly. And considering MPCSD is seeing an average of 18.5 applicants per position and has the *highest average salary* in the Bay Area for teachers in an elementary school district, it's pretty clear given the data that the current average salary (now ~$103,500 + a ~$2,500 bonus) is sufficient.

That's not opinion, that's math.

What is it that you fear will happen? That nearby teachers making $101k at MPCSD will work instead in Belmont-RWS to make $81k? That nearby teachers will decide to commute to Pleasanton to make $90k? Most teachers are very good at math, and I think they'd see the obvious flaw in that strategy.

While I don't agree with a complete freezing of teacher salaries (I DO for non-teachers), do I think that given the current high salaries and the current financial challenges they should have below-CPI increases? ABSOLUTELY. Once MPCSD balances its budget, then consider CPI/CPI+ increases.

MPCSD has some of the newest facilities, some of the highest pay in the Bay Area, and pretty smart kids with relatively few non-teaching issues to deal with (in comparison to Ravenswood and Redwood City, for example). Working at MPCSD is a sweet gig.


"$101k avg"

Implying that this is a low income misses some very, very important caveats:

1: MPCSD teachers work 189 days. Let's break that down...

189 days / 5-day workweek = 37.8 school weeks of teaching
52 weeks in a year - 37.8 = 14.2 weeks of vacation
$101,064 / 37.8 = $2673.65 income per school week

Let's apply $2673.65/week to a "normal" job, which gets about 10 holidays and 2-3 weeks vacation per year. Hey, let's be generous and say the average salaried employee gets 3-weeks vacation (HA!):

52 weeks - 3 weeks vacation - 2 weeks holidays = 47 work weeks

Now let's see what a MPCSD teacher salary looks like normalized to a typical job. Drum roll, please...


$2673.65/week * 47 work weeks = $125,661.55 normalized MPCSD teacher salary


MPCSD teachers are making a normalized salary of over $125k/year. That's some nice scratch.

And good for them! Teachers should make good money, but please spare me the poor pauper diatribes, they don't stand up to any reasonable scrutiny.


2: The salary does not capture the fantastic retirement package they receive. The salary is SUPPOSE to be lower BECAUSE of the retirement funding. Personally, I think every cent that goes into the retirement fund should instead go to the teachers to use as they see fit; it's what MOST OF US HAVE TO DO.



So, the average MPCSD teacher gets:
* a 6-figure salary
* a fantastic retirement package
* 14+ weeks off every year
* modern facilities
* smart kids

Every group needs to make a small sacrifice to get through this financial crunch. The taxpayers already make sacrifices and will sacrifice even more if Measure X passes. The teachers union needs to make a contribution to that sacrifice as well.


4 people like this
Posted by Jennifer Bestor
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Feb 2, 2017 at 12:12 pm

Jennifer Bestor is a registered user.

May I direct the attention of anyone interested in pensions to today's article from EdSource, linked below? It clarifies that:
(a) While CalSTRS has reduced its estimated earnings from 7.5% to 7.0%,
(b) the contributions required to fund the additional deficit created will come from:
(i) the State's General Fund, and
(ii) teachers (particularly new teachers) who will pay an additional 1/2% of their pay to CalSTRS
(c) No additional contribution will be required from districts (in accordance with the 2013 Legislation, AB 1469, that dramatically increased CalSTRS pension contributions to address the overhang) until 2020-2021, at the earliest.

Gov. Brown's January proposal included this increased funding level from the General Fund.

CalSTRS is the pension fund for teachers (and is different from CalPERS, which covers most other state public employees and non-teacher school employees).

Generally, CalSTRS is based on a 2% @ 60 formula -- that is, if you retire at age 60, you get 2% per year of service of your highest year earnings. This is a sliding scale, a teacher who retires at 55 only gets 1.4%, while those who hang on to age 63 get 2.4% (which is the maximum).

For those who evaluate teacher pensions (under CalSTRS) by the standards of the Fire Department (under CalPERS), the Fire Department's base program is 3% at 50. Employees hired since 2013 (including the 20 recent hires) are under a 2.7% at 57 formula, if my reading of MPFPD documents is correct.

Thus, a teacher retiring at 57 gets 1.64%, while a firefighter gets 2.7 - 3%, times years of service. Hopefully, the combination of this differential plus the fact that the State pays some of the total CalSTRS contribution clarifies why the school district will continue to pay a smaller percentage of salaries to CalSTRS than the Fire Department to CalPERS. In both cases, there is also a employee contribution, though of differing magnitudes.

Web Link


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