Town Square

Post a New Topic

Tonight: Menlo Park district school board seeks public comment on budget woes

Original post made on Sep 27, 2016

A meeting seeking public comment on solutions to the Menlo Park City School District's budget problems will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 27, at the Hillview Performing Arts Center, 1100 Elder Ave. in Menlo Park. The main topic of the school board meeting will be a review of the May 3 parcel tax election.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, September 27, 2016, 8:58 AM

Comments (17)

12 people like this
Posted by MPer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 27, 2016 at 11:42 am

Let's see

School district has a budget short fall yet everyone get's raises. [part removed.] tell me why I pay a extra parcel tax? I'd also love to know why the city council is entertaining given some of the money we don't have to Ravenswood SD?

[part removed.]

good work everyone! congrats on the raises!


21 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 27, 2016 at 5:29 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

When are people finally going to acknowledge this board DOES NOT GET IT? "We anticipate a deficit so let's give everyone a raise." Seriously? Is that how you people run your personal finances? If so, I can recommend a good bankruptcy lawyer. Otherwise, start running our school district like most people would run their personal finances. LIVE WITHIN YOUR MEANS.


80 people like this
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Hillview Middle School
on Sep 27, 2016 at 8:21 pm

Since I couldn't make the meeting, here are my comments on how to address the MPCSD potential budget shortfall:

1: over the next 3 years, cap raises at 1% for all employees;

2: no bonuses for the next 3 years;

3: reduce teacher total "service days" from 189 to 185;

4: write the above 3 conditions into the teachers union contract for 3 years, with no language allowing for a yearly renegotiation;

5: slightly increase the average # of students per class by 1-3 students;

6: attempt to come up with more accurate #s on the potential increases in student population (I concede this is a difficult one).

7: if there's still a projected budget shortfall, THEN discuss the possibility of a TEMPORARY 4th parcel tax that ONLY fills in the deficit gap.


I'm troubled by the references to "cutting teachers" when that's clearly not the right approach; nobody's suggesting cutting teachers or cutting wages. Just keep the expense growth in check.

Based on the recent bonus handout, I'm not optimistic that any version of the above approach will happen. If everyone makes small concessions, the next 5 years can be fiscally stable.


15 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 27, 2016 at 8:52 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Well stated Train Fan


Like this comment
Posted by Alex
a resident of Atherton: other
on Sep 27, 2016 at 9:04 pm

Community members can provide feedback to the district on how to address the structural deficit here:
Web Link

The form allows you to submit feedback and remain anonymous if you wish.


6 people like this
Posted by Jenson
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Sep 28, 2016 at 11:33 am

To MPSD

You dug the hole now as the saying goes you can lie in it

Shortfall was the boards own doing. The teachers deserve better handling of the money but unfortunately they still have to put up with bad management and bad decisions




5 people like this
Posted by Repurcussions
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 28, 2016 at 2:39 pm

Wow. You can cap teacher raises and bonuses at well below cost-of-living increases, and then prepare to eat the cost in time and labor for all the recruiting you're going to need to do.

Enjoy!

There appears to be support for another parcel tax with a finite time period. Tie it to raises for teachers and not administrators if you want. Teachers CANNOT afford to live within 30 miles of here. It's only going to get worse.

Being mad at the board won't make that issue go away.


2 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 28, 2016 at 6:42 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

"Being mad at the board won't make that issue go away."

Will it make the current board go away to be replaced with one that listens to all of the voters? If it will, then I'll continue to be mad.


29 people like this
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Hillview Middle School
on Sep 28, 2016 at 7:06 pm

"prepare to eat the cost in time and labor for all the recruiting you're going to need to do"

Unlikely.

Where exactly do you think they'd go? Looking at all elementary school districts in the bay area, MPCSD teachers are the highest paid. Using 2014-15 data, here are the highest paying elementary school districts in the bay area:

MPCSD: $100,890 (now around 103,400 not including the bonus)

Hillsborough: $94,811 (2nd highest, but $6,000 LESS than MPCSD)
Las Lomitas: $94,104
Woodside: $91,719
Saratoga: $89,192

Even looking at Unified districts, MPCSD pays more than Palo Alto($95,811), Pleasanton($89,522) and Calistoga($89,375). Only Saint Helena Unified in Napa pays more.

(source, ed-data.org: Web Link)

Arguing that a significant # of teachers would leave the highest paying elementary school district in the bay area to go to a significantly lower paying district is a bit preposterous. Come on now. Is it possible to find a few edge cases that...for example...live near Pleasanton and are willing to take a roughly $1000-2000/month paycut as a tradeoff for lower rent? Sure. But this is likely a statistically small # of teachers...and Pleasanton has more applicants than openings, just like MPCSD.

A mass exodus is unlikely. And remember, nobody is suggesting income cuts; the proposals all still include raises.

More scare tactics.


7 people like this
Posted by fwiw
a resident of Woodside: other
on Sep 28, 2016 at 7:24 pm

Really, I don't have any position on how you guys handle your district, but I can't stop myself from hopping in on statistical point.

If you are going to compare district salaries you really need to do it by comparing the salary schedules directly. Otherwise you have no idea if your salaries are high or you just have a more senior teaching staff.


3 people like this
Posted by Menlo Man
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 28, 2016 at 8:16 pm

Menlo Man is a registered user.

"Arguing that a significant # of teachers would leave the highest paying elementary school district in the bay area to go to a significantly lower paying district is a bit preposterous"

Is it preposterous that 12 teachers left MPCSD in the 2015-16 school year for financial or commute reasons? This number is quoted by Erik Burmeister, assistant superintendent, at the 9/20/16 school board meeting.

We can all imagine that teachers are not leaving Menlo Park , but the reality is they are. Sure MPCSD pays well, but if a teacher can make 80% of their salary somewhere else, and not have to commute 45 minutes each way to work, and be able to afford a down payment on a home, and not have to listen to people tell them they don't deserve a cost of living adjustment, believe me , THEY WILL LEAVE.

...and public education in Menlo Park will suffer for it.


3 people like this
Posted by Menlo Man
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 28, 2016 at 8:19 pm

Menlo Man is a registered user.

"If you are going to compare district salaries you really need to do it by comparing the salary schedules directly. Otherwise you have no idea if your salaries are high or you just have a more senior teaching staff."

Yes fwiw, but how will Train Fan be able to make his points when he realizes that Menlo Park teachers are not even close to being "the top paid school district in the Bay Area"?


28 people like this
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Hillview Middle School
on Sep 28, 2016 at 9:09 pm

Menlo Man a resident of Menlo Park: other, wrote:
'Menlo Park teachers are not even close to being "the top paid school district in the Bay Area"?'


Well, first, you're misquoting me. Intentionally misquoting people is counterproductive. Stop.

The California Department of Education disagrees with you. Here is the link to ed-data.org...again: Web Link

In the Bay Area, MPCSD teachers are:
* the highest paid teachers compared to other elementary school districts;
* the 2nd highest paid teachers compared to unified school districts;
* the 3rd highest paid teachers compared to high school districts;

This community has been remarkably supportive of the schools, but our ability to be taxed (on top of property taxes, parcel tax 1, parcel tax 2 and parcel tax 3) is not infinite.

People are not asking for cuts, just additional containment of spending. Unless spending increases are reined in first, any additional parcel taxes will definitely fail.


15 people like this
Posted by Dan
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Sep 29, 2016 at 12:34 am

If MPCSD is looking for new teachers to replace ones that leave, they can recruit from neighboring districts since MPCSD still pays the best in the area.

As those other districts are paying less, they must be suffering more attrition than MPCSD. And if money is the primary motivating factor, they'll be headed toward our district.

Let's also keep in mind parcel taxes are not the only way for the district to increase revenue. Parents can increase their school donations. All these budget problems would disappear if parents step up their financial commitment. I keep hearing hearing the parents are very supportive of these salary increases. Well, put your money where your mouth is. If the parents aren't filling the gap because it's too much money to ask for, even for the benefit of their own children, why should the rest of the community do so?


5 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Sep 29, 2016 at 12:24 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

I reviewing the above postings and postings other on MPCSD topics I realize how helpful this Forum is to both share opinions and to provide clarity on the issues.

My personal view is that we DO want quality schools and the community is prepared to pay extra to have above average schools. However, I and other question whether or not we should be called upon to fund a Platinum level education.

In California property taxes are intended to be the source of funding for basic level public education. In the MPCSD the voters have also added additional funding for going beyond that basic level:

"The four parcel taxes together provided the District with about $850 per parcel for the 2015-16 fiscal year. Senior exemptions are allowed for all parcel taxes. Click here for more information about the exemptions.

On May 4, 2010, 76.2% of District voters authorized a parcel tax (Measure C) to maintain small class sizes, fund teachers and educational programs. The measure authorized the District to levy the tax at the initial rate of $178 per year on each parcel of taxable real property in the District for a term of seven years. This measure sunsets on June 30, 2017. The tax rate is adjusted annually to account for changes in the consumer price index for the San Francisco Bay Area. The rate for 2015-16 is $201.38 per parcel.

Funding On November 4, 2003, 77.4% of District voters authorized another parcel tax to restore programs lost due to State budget cuts, including funding for remedial math and ‎reading, textbooks and materials, and to prepare teachers in the most effective teaching techniques in math, reading and science‎. The measure authorized the District to levy the tax at the initial rate of $73 per year on each parcel of taxable ‎real property in the District, commencing July 1, 2004, without expiration. The tax rate is adjusted annually to account for changes in the consumer price index for the San Francisco Bay Area. The rate for 2015-16 is $94.78 per parcel.

On November 4, 2003, 80.9% of District voters approved a measure to renew an existing parcel tax to maintain smaller class sizes for all students, and to maintain funding for the teaching positions that facilitate those smaller class sizes.‎ The measure authorized the District to levy the tax at the initial rate of $97 per year on each parcel of taxable ‎real property in the District, commencing July 1, 2004, without expiration. The tax rate is adjusted annually to account for changes in the consumer price index for the San Francisco Bay Area. The rate for 2015-16 is $125.94 per parcel.

On April 11, 2000, 74.7% of District voters authorized a parcel tax to improve children’s academic performance, reduce class size, improve teacher quality and expand courses. The measure authorized the District to levy the tax at the initial rate of $298 per year on each parcel of taxable ‎real property in the District, commencing July 1, 2000, without expiration. The tax rate is adjusted annually to account for changes in the consumer price index for the San Francisco Bay Area. The rate for 2015-16 is $429.46 per parcel."

So the issue for me is how much additional funding is justified and sufficient.

I believe that we DO need quality teachers but I question how many teachers we need. If we just keep hiring teachers and expanding programs then no amount of additional funding will be sufficient.

I urge the School Board to FIRST reach out to the ENTIRE community to determine what quality level of education the ENTIRE community wants and is willing to support. Then, with well defined revenue streams the Board should decide how best to utilize those inherently limited funds.

We cannot afford every possible program and we cannot afford to make multi-year contractual commitments for which there is not full funding.



3 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Sep 29, 2016 at 4:36 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Here is an example of an elected Board defining the level of service to which it is committed:

Web Link

And having adopted that standard of service all expenditure, staffing and construction decisions are made consistent with achieving that standard.

Why not approach elementary school education the same way - define the outcomes desired rather than just constantly increasing the inputs without regard to outcomes?


2 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 29, 2016 at 6:54 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

"Why not approach elementary school education the same way - define the outcomes desired rather than just constantly increasing the inputs without regard to outcomes?"

Because for many people in this community the more you pay the more quality you get. It's not necessarily so.


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

Let's Talk Internships
By John Raftrey and Lori McCormick | 1 comment | 1,029 views

Couples: Sex and Connection (Chicken or Egg?)
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 888 views

Zucchini Takeover
By Laura Stec | 1 comment | 792 views