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Guest opinion: Continue the legacy of supporting our local schools by supporting parcel tax

Original post made on Feb 14, 2017

It's fair to say there is a bit more vigor in political discourse on the San Francisco Peninsula these days. Regardless of political leaning we are all talking about our shared American experience again, with passion. And more than ever before I hear my neighbors asking:

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, February 15, 2017, 12:00 AM

Comments (39)

4 people like this
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Feb 14, 2017 at 12:29 pm

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

Taxpayers are already paying enough to position MPCSD well beyond the countywide average per pupil expenditure. Additional funding should come from the Menlo Park-Atherton Education Foundation. Voters should vote NO on Measure X, and demand that the remaining $684 in permanent parcel taxes be cancelled.

Information following was obtained from:
CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION - SCHOOL FISCAL SERVICES DIVISION
2014–15 CURRENT EXPENSE PER AVERAGE DAILY ATTENDANCE (ADA)
Web Link

There are 17 Elementary school districts in San Mateo County.
Average expenditure per ADA in 2014/15 was $10,124
MPCSD expenditure per ADA in 2014/15 was $14,007

There are 3 Union High school districts in San Mateo County.
Average expenditure per ADA in 2014/15 was $13,841
SUSHD expenditure per ADA in 2014/15 was $14,776

There are 3 Unified school districts in San Mateo County.
Average expenditure per ADA 2014/15 was $8,540

If Measure X fails, MPCSD would see a $1,700,000 reduction in revenue. With 3,000 students, that equates to a $566 per ADA reduction. Using 2014/15 figures, that leaves $13,441, still well above the county average for elementary schools. With a full accounting of state “on-behalf” payments related to pensions and debt service on bonds issued to provide “matching funds” to the district, as well as debt service on the $131,000,000 debt outstanding in bonds issued by MPCSD, that number grows substantially.


16 people like this
Posted by Menlo Park Parent
a resident of Laurel School
on Feb 14, 2017 at 5:11 pm

Thank you Ray Mueller for your very thoughtful and comprehensive article! With your unwavering support, MPCSD has dramatically improved the level of education over the past 10+ years, enticing many to come live in our wonderful community. Especially considering your long-time community leadership for our city of Menlo Park, I hold your opinion in the highest regard and I also support our MPCSD school distict. Vote Yes on Measure X!!!

Jack Hickey, the measure's only formal opposer, does not reside in Menlo Park, he lives in Redwood City. Measure X will be the 6th parcel tax opposition Jack has lead in our county. But wait...Jack con-currently opposes the parcel tax on the ballot in Foster City, Measure Y...his 7th opposition...a Revenue Limit district, which has 40% high need kids.

Get to know more about Jack, from his own writing, on his personal website...
"Government schools have become day care centers and virtual prisons in the eyes of many taxpayers, parents and students. Government schools serve as distribution centers for drug dealers who thrive on the "big money" in the black market created by the disastrous "war on drugs". Meanwhile, government schools have introduced the joys of Ritalin to parents and their children."

AND...

[Educational system] "It is a system in which parents have been brainwashed into thinking that the education of their children is beyond their comprehension, and must be left up to elitist educrats under government sponsorship. It is a system which has unfairly suppressed the normal evolution of quality education alternatives. It is anti-family and anti-life. And, to use a word you have popularized, in my opinion it is "evil"."

Finally...
"Who is to be held responsible for introducing the joys of Ritalin to parents and their children? Our prisons are full of others who have pushed drugs in our society."


8 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 14, 2017 at 5:53 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Ray makes a great case for Measure X.

Why won't the unions step up and publicly commit to not grabbing the parcel tax proceeds for salary increases and benefit increases?

If the parcel tax proceeds do go to salary increases and benefit increases then the very student programs that this parcel tax claims to protect will have to be cut.


17 people like this
Posted by Katie Ferrick
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Feb 14, 2017 at 6:16 pm

Thank you, Ray, for your unwavering support for the health of our whole community-- including the students in each of the districts that are part of the community and the legacy we create for future generations. Our public schools are a vital part of the health of our community. I am grateful because when my family moved here, generations before me invested in making MPCSD schools strong. My kids benefit, as does the community at large by creating a place that families want to build a life.

I agree, we need to pass Measure X.

Thank you for your support.


2 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 14, 2017 at 6:44 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

"Why won't the unions step up and publicly commit to not grabbing the parcel tax proceeds for salary increases and benefit increases? "

Why does the board not state publicly and unequivocally that they will NOT grant raises? If the board holds the line, the unions can ask until the cows come home, but they won't get raises. So where's the board? Where is their statement that measure X won't just turn into a pass through for teacher raises. Until I see it, they get a NO vote from me.


3 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 14, 2017 at 7:35 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The Board, having foolishly agreed in the current union contracts to annual reopeners that even allow for retroactive salary increases, is bound by law to now engage in "good faith negotiations". Therefore the Board cannot refuse to discuss salary increases and is prohibited from declaring that it won't give such increases.


2 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 14, 2017 at 8:07 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

"Therefore the Board cannot refuse to discuss salary increases and is prohibited from declaring that it won't give such increases."

Then guess what? They get a NO vote from me. Realizing it can't do it legally then as a slap to the board that was stupid enough to allow a contract that allows for reopening and retroactive pay raises. Wonder why the district is having financial difficulties?

If the unions were to step up and agree to not demand pay raises then I would probably change my vote, but as it stands, I WILL NOT vote for a parcel tax that just turns into a pay raise which will mean the cutting of programs it is meant to save.


15 people like this
Posted by MPCSD Parent2
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 15, 2017 at 12:26 am

Here we go again Jack...

Others have noted, and it warrants repeating that:

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

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

and

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

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


14 people like this
Posted by Menlo Park Parent
a resident of Laurel School
on Feb 15, 2017 at 5:57 am

Please attend this meeting, educate yourself on the facts, not rhetoric, and meet the people who work so hard and are 100% dedicated to our fabulous MPCSD schools!

Community Town Hall with MPCSD Incoming Superintendent Erik Burmeister

Everyone is invited to join Menlo Park City School District (MPCSD) Incoming Superintendent Erik Burmeister at a Community Town Hall to discuss public school funding changes impacting all communities across California, and the state of our K-8 schools locally. He will review local funding challenges and discuss Measure X, the current parcel tax renewal on our March 7 ballot. This is an opportunity for community members to learn more and ask questions. All are welcome.

Thursday, February 16, 2017
6:00 to 7:30 PM
Cypress Room at the Arrillaga Family Recreation Center, 700 Alma Street, Menlo Park

Thank you, MPCSD for providing so much important information to our resident voters!


2 people like this
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Feb 15, 2017 at 9:42 am

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

MPCSD Parent2 said "...he is also not really interested in whether or not our district is being fiscally responsible in providing our kids with a quality education."

Is it fiscally responsible to to issue $114,100,000 in bonds ($91.1 million in 2006 & $23 million in 2014) and then, through creative re-financing, wind up with $131,000,000 outstanding in 2016?

Was it fiscally wise to buy in to a "defined benefit" pension plan which now costs $millions to back-fill a huge unfunded liability, and make the situation worse by increasing salaries?

MPCSD spent $6,180 per A.D.A. in 1999 and $14,007 in 2015. The $6,180 figure, adjusted for inflation, would be $8,792. Is that fiscally responsible?

Is it fair to ask property owners in $500,000 homes to pay more than $1,000 in parcel taxes, the same as those living in multi-million dollar homes?

Ad-valorem taxes on property have historically funded education. They provide the majority of funding for school districts, and are used to service the bond debt mentioned above. They are fair. If property values are inflated because of the schools, let those beneficiaries pay in proportion to their benefit. That's ad-valorem.


9 people like this
Posted by menloman
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 16, 2017 at 2:02 pm

Jack Hickey using deceptive data again:

"MPCSD spent $6,180 per A.D.A. in 1999 and $14,007 in 2015. The $6,180 figure, adjusted for inflation, would be $8,792. Is that fiscally responsible?"

Using the national inflation rate to calculate peninsula inflation is certainly not fiscally responsible and deceiving. The inflation rate in Menlo Park has dramatically outstripped the national inflation rate you used for that calculation. For perspective, the median house price in Menlo Park in 1999 was $625k, today it's $1.9 million, more than 3x...rents have followed a similar path.


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Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Feb 16, 2017 at 3:08 pm

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

menloman - I expected some difference in the local CPI. Perhaps you can steer me to the appropriate CPI calculator.

Meanwhile, if we look at the countywide averages, they went from $5,290 in 1999 to $10,224 in 2015. That's a factor of 1.93, compared to MPCSD's factor of 2.27. Of course, that was likely the result of the increased property tax revenue associated with the median price increase. But, they didn't have to spend it to keep up with the countywide expenditure average. And they certainly didn't need to pass all those parcel taxes.


2 people like this
Posted by @Jack Hickey
a resident of another community
on Feb 16, 2017 at 4:11 pm

Have you been taking lessons on how NOT to be clear from Donald Trump?


16 people like this
Posted by Karen Dearing
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 17, 2017 at 9:43 am

Karen Dearing is a registered user.

Peter Carpenter, your comments often promote readers to think critically for themselves about what is going on, and this is good for everyone. For that, I commend you.

However, your comments also reveal overly simplistic thinking and a skepticism about our district's teachers and leadership that is unfounded.

Your statement of "If the parcel tax proceeds do go to salary increases and benefit increases then the very student programs that this parcel tax claims to protect will have to be cut" belies the complexities of contract negotiations, shows how little you know (or value?) the quality of the character of our district teachers and staff, and belies the complexities of the interplay between programs and personnel.

Knowing what I know about how much our teachers care about our district and the fiscal savvy of our leadership, while teachers may lobby for a salary increase and, to the extent possible in the budget, our leadership may grant some increase, there is absolutely no chance that either party would allow salary increases at the expense of the programs that the parcel tax is designed to protect.

Salary negotiations and preservation of programs are both simultaneously possible and integrally intertwined. To state that "if one, then not the other" is a radical oversimplification of the situation. To imply that this is a possible outcome is a subversively slanderous statement against the character and intent of our wonderful teachers and leadership.


6 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 17, 2017 at 10:01 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"there is absolutely no chance that either party would allow salary increases at the expense of the programs that the parcel tax is designed to protect. "

Dearings assertions are just wishful thinking with no evidence to support them.

I challenge the unions and the Board to formally endorse the position that Dearing asserts.

And I doubt that they will.


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Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Feb 17, 2017 at 11:14 am

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

@Karen Dearing

You assert that Peter's suggestion contains an implied outcome which "...is a subversively slanderous statement against the character and intent of our wonderful teachers and leadership."

Why don't these "wonderful teachers and leadership" step up to the plate and solve the unfunded liability problem of their pension plans which threaten the solvency of school districts around the state. A simple change from the "24 carat gold" plan to "platinum" would just about do it.


4 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 17, 2017 at 11:28 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"To imply that this is a possible outcome is a subversively slanderous statement against the character and intent of our wonderful teachers and leadership. "

No, it is a statement of reality.

The MPCSD budget is a zero sum game - any dollars that go to salary increases are dollars that cannot be used for programs. And the District has already made very clear that the current funding is insufficient to support the EXISTING programs. So the new parcel tax dollars are the only way to protect existing programs.


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Posted by Homeowner
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Feb 17, 2017 at 12:16 pm

Using bay area CPI index comparing June figures: Web Link

MPCSD spent $6,180 per A.D.A. in 1999 and $14,007 in 2015. Adjusted for bay area CPI, $6180 in 1999 is equivalent to $9321 in 2015 dollars. Now can we stop using inflation as an excuse and distractor from the real issues?


3 people like this
Posted by Skeptic
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 17, 2017 at 2:02 pm

I do not have kids in the district yet, but have been a bit surprised to hear a lot of people talking about voting against the measure. It seems like it might not pass. One interesting argument was that the benefit of the tax money would go beyond those who pay for it because there are kids from outside the district who attend the schools. If that is true, can't we save at least some money by requiring that kids attend school in their own districts?


10 people like this
Posted by Karen Dearing
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 17, 2017 at 2:10 pm

Karen Dearing is a registered user.

Skeptic, sounds like a great idea on the surface. Except a majority of the non-district kids who attend our schools are children of teachers. Good luck attracting and retaining strong teachers in this climate and region without allowing them to bring their kids to district schools.


7 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 17, 2017 at 2:36 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" Except a majority of the non-district kids who attend our schools are children of teachers."

An expense which is not even included in the budget and which is not included in union negotiations.


4 people like this
Posted by Interested
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 18, 2017 at 12:57 pm

" Except a majority of the non-district kids who attend our schools are children of teachers."

"An expense which is not even included in the budget and which is not included in union negotiations."

What do you mean Peter? If the district spends $13,000 per student, and a teacher brings a student to the district, isn't that teacher's salary adjusted to match the teachers who don't bring children?

Question: When the district talks about enrollment growth, how much of the enrollment growth is from the employee's children?

I heard that the board resolved to lay off 30 teachers, that represent various programs. Was this a given before the permissions granted to "out of district students", were considered?

Karen, to what extent does allowing teachers to bring their children impact their ability to remain in the district?


5 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 18, 2017 at 2:16 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"What do you mean Peter? If the district spends $13,000 per student, and a teacher brings a student to the district, isn't that teacher's salary adjusted to match the teachers who don't bring children?"

No. This expense is not even acknowledged to exist.

Until I asked for the the number of students benefiting from this free perk the District did not even publish the number - and it took the District 5 months to answer my simple question.


9 people like this
Posted by Karen Dearing
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 18, 2017 at 9:02 pm

Karen Dearing is a registered user.

Interested, thanks for your thoughtful questions. First of all, many of the questions you are asking are addressed in the district's FAQs. Here's the link... Web Link

To answer a few of your specific questions from what I know....

"Question: When the district talks about enrollment growth, how much of the enrollment growth is from the employee's children?"

Children of teachers attending our schools has held steady between 1 & 2% over the past decade. In that same time, enrollment has grown overall by about 35% (from about 2200 to 3000). So enrollment growth is not being driven by increases in teachers' children in our schools.

"I heard that the board resolved to lay off 30 teachers, that represent various programs. Was this a given before the permissions granted to "out of district students", were considered?"

The board has long considered the impact of out of district students who are children of employees. Granting employees' children enrollment is a widespread practice in CA public school systems. All of our neighboring districts offer this perk (yes, it is a perk). The district has repeatedly decided that the benefit of attracting and retaining high-quality educators outweighs the expense of educating their children.

"Karen, to what extent does allowing teachers to bring their children impact their ability to remain in the district?"

Meaning retention of teachers? If that is your question, my understanding is that this is a significant factor to teachers. Many of our teachers drive long distances because they can't afford to live close to our community. Bringing their children along helps them avoid logistical hassles and the expenses of child care before and after their children's school days when they are still in MP doing their jobs. I don't know if the district has tried to quantify this, but in my conversations with numerous teachers over the years, again, my understanding is that this is a major factor in them choosing and remaining in MPCSD.


1 person likes this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 18, 2017 at 9:33 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Children of teachers attending our schools has held steady between 1 & 2% over the past decade. "

Very wrong.

In 2012-13 there were 21 out of district children of teachers and staff.

In 2016-17 that number had increased to 56 - a 270% increase.


5 people like this
Posted by Karen Dearing
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 18, 2017 at 9:46 pm

Karen Dearing is a registered user.

1-2% of total enrollment, Peter. 56/3000 = 1.8%. As enrollment increases, we need more teachers. Yes, that brings with it additional children of teachers, but the % remains very low.


3 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 18, 2017 at 9:57 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" As enrollment increases, we need more teachers. "

In just 5 years the number of teacher's out of district children enrolled in the District increased from 14 to 46 which is 32 additional children - the cost for which is not shown anywhere in the budget.

Looks like MPCSD is using an unbudgeted/unaccounted for benefit to recruit new teachers with elementary age children.

This is not a sustainable long term trend and having it done off the books is sheer self deception.


1 person likes this
Posted by Interested
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 18, 2017 at 10:05 pm

Thank you Karen for clarifying how important it is for staff to have this perk and the incentive that it serves. I believe with the teacher shortage, we need to look at everything we can to keep strong teachers in our district.

Thank you Peter for clarifying that while the number of students served in this capacity is low, the increase in very large; it is also part of the enrollment growth that is discussed in the Growing Enrollment part of the deficit equation.

Questions for both of you: Will these 56 students be supported by the parcel tax and if so, how it that? If not, how is that? While I support the benefit, I also see very hard choices being put before the board and the public and I'm not sure that this conversation has ever come up. If the district is increasing class sizes, might that be offset by asking the teachers to also make a contribution? While I see the correlation Karen describes between attracting good teacher and the perk, I also see the point that the community is being asked to contribute more or else raise class sizes and perhaps the staff should chip in as well to make it more equitable or else be willing to increase the class sizes with those 56 students and not consider it over the ratio in the contract. That way they would be paying for their own children and making a contribution.

How do other districts handle this? Maybe it's not an issue but since I've heard that this measure isn't really going to be enough to avoid a lot of reductions, it seems like we might be in a different situation than other districts. Can anyone help explain this?


6 people like this
Posted by Caryn Wasserstein
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Feb 18, 2017 at 10:48 pm

As a point of reference for those inquiring. My brother is a teacher at a private school in San Mateo County. In the school where he works children of teachers/staff are given a steep discount in tuition for their own children AND there is no salary deducted from teacher's annual income. Additionally I have a friend who teaches in San Mateo County and their spouse teaches in Santa Clara County. One in a Community Funded District and one in a Revenue District. Both Districts allow students of teachers to attend school at the parent teacher's District even though in both cases the teachers do not live in those Districts. Neither teacher is paid less because their child attends a school out of District. In all of these cases the teachers contribute to PTO/PTAs and similar foundation work done in MPCSD-as do the teachers/staff in MPCSD. Plus all three of these teachers are highly recognized in their field, work countless hours, live in much smaller homes than their students, pay property taxes and parcel taxes in the Districts where they do live and their children do not attend school, get paid exponentially less than the parents of over 50% of their students. Allowing for students of teachers to attend schools where their parents work and dedicate their time, vs not being able to do so, is a small bonus to the teachers. I'm sure by comparison this is a drop in the bucket to what many in our community receive in their workplace every day.


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Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 18, 2017 at 11:05 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

This is all a bunch of Titanic deck chair rearranging. Until the unions specifically state they will not demand raises I WILL NOT VOTE FOR MEASURE X. Any raises granted the unions will simply eat up the increased funding of measure X and we will be right back where we are now. Let's stop the BS about it being "about the kids." It's all about the unions demands for increased wages, the increased demands from the state for Calstrs, MP parents that don't want to absorb the actual cost of their children's education and the school board's inability to live within its means. Sorry, if the unions won't comply and the school board is going to continue to just roll over for the unions I will be voting NO.


6 people like this
Posted by Atherton MPCSD resident
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Feb 19, 2017 at 6:19 pm

While I will no longer have any children in the district beyond this year, I WILL be SUPPORTING MEASURE X in the upcoming election. However, I do urge the leaders of the Teacher's Union to think very seriously about the short, medium and long term consequences of requests for salary increases, even COLA increases, over the next few years.

With state pension requirements already increasing every year for the next 5 years, even wth the passage of Measure X, any further increases in salary expenditures for the district are likely to result in the need to decrease teaching staff, which most likely means letting go fellow teachers wth less seniority. Please don't sacrifice what so many in the District - yourselves (teachers),staff, and involved parents - have worked so hard for, by pushing beyond the limits of what the Community can reasonably fund.

Menlo Voter - In one of your comments above you said you were going to vote "no" as "as a slap to the board ". This seems ridiculous! You're willing to dismantle a great school district to upset a few unpaid individuals who serve on the school board, and all but one won't even have any children in the district beyond this year?

Mr. Carpenter - while it would be music to our ears if the union declared a hiatus on salary increase requests for a few years, I think it's unreasonable to believe they'll publicly commit to this, even if many of them think this is the right thing to do. In essence, the teachers, in sufficient quantities, ARE the programs! I hope you continue to support the tax even if you don't see/hear a guarantee on a temporary salary freeze. You, of all people, given the economics of the Fire District, should be willing to support District teachers!


9 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 19, 2017 at 6:26 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

As I have stated repeatedly I will and now have voted for Measure X. And I will not exercise my right to claim a seniors exemption.

Teachers may well "be the programs" but any teacher salary increases now WILL require that some programs be cut by the amount of those increases.


5 people like this
Posted by Atherton MPCSD Resident
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Feb 19, 2017 at 8:08 pm

Peter - So glad to hear you voted YES on Measure X!


3 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 20, 2017 at 7:44 am

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

@Atherton:

If X doesn't pass the district will not be "dismantled". Its hyperbole like that that does nothing to further your cause. Some programs may get cut or, god forbid, there may be a couple extra kids in each class, but that is far from "dismantled". Besides, if the unions demand raises and the board rolls over as it usually does those things are going to have to happen any way.


4 people like this
Posted by Claire
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 20, 2017 at 12:20 pm

I read a story in another newspaper about how increases in teacher pension funding requirements will take all of the money raised by Measure X. I'm not saying that's a reason to vote against Measure X, but I wish the finances of the school district and the pension fund were in better shape, so that when we agree to raise our taxes, the money will actually benefit children and not retirees.

As a voter, you don't get many choices. The candidates who run for the board are basically mainstream, keep-the-status-quo types who, once elected, go along with whatever they're told by the superintendent. Nobody tries to fix things like a broken pension fund that's going to take money out of the classroom.

As I said, I'll be voting "yes," but reluctantly so. We really need some big changes.

P.S. -- I'm glad Peter Carpenter pointed out that the unions want to reopen negotiations for a possible pay raise if this passes. Again, I'm hoping my money goes for expanded programs. If there are any raises, I'd like them to be based on merit and not longevity or "step and column."


2 people like this
Posted by John
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 21, 2017 at 12:17 am

"The candidates who run for the board are basically mainstream, keep-the-status-quo types who, once elected, go along with whatever they're told by the superintendent. Nobody tries to fix things like a broken pension fund that's going to take money out of the classroom."

Claire, I think we may have a different board at this time. I don't think we're going to see all members going "along with whatever they're told by the superintendent". I hope not. He works for them, not the other way around and that's what I am expecting with the current board.

I am hopeful that if we (I will be voting yes for measure X) give the district the time it needs to solve this problem, that it will not turn around and give a raise without convincing us that we will actually lose our teachers by not doing so. I am hopeful that this board will be able to use the time that it has this funding, to save programs and save teachers even if that means getting creative about how to do so.

Since teachers are the programs and teachers are in large part what makes MPCSD so strong, and since there is a growing pension problem, we need the board to ask, What other ways are there to retain teachers besides giving salary increases? What other ways are there to save programs besides staffing them only with teachers with growing pension liabilities? What kinds of incentives can be created for teachers?

As Peter correctly stated, "Teachers may well "be the programs" but any teacher salary increases now WILL require that some programs be cut by the amount of those increases." and I am voting on this measure to keep programs for our schools and help retain teachers, to the extent that we need to do so.

If this measure passes, I want the board to examine what is the best use of the dollars to maintain a strong district and not just assume it's doing what always been done. We can't do what we've always done any more because that isn't going to work in the long run unless the state reverses recent decisions regarding pension contributions.






5 people like this
Posted by Karen Dearing
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 21, 2017 at 5:33 am

Karen Dearing is a registered user.

Interested, you asked" "How do other districts handle this? Maybe it's not an issue but since I've heard that this measure isn't really going to be enough to avoid a lot of reductions, it seems like we might be in a different situation than other districts. Can anyone help explain this?"

Our district is in a different situation because of how our funding sources differ from other districts. I'd encourage you to read this article posted a few weeks back. Web Link I don't think our district is different in how it handles children of employees. It's a cost of doing business... like health care. A company that charges employees sticker price for dependents' heath care is going to lose employees to a comparable company that charges employees a nominal fee or no fee for dependents' heath care.

And Claire, I agree with John that the new board is definitely not a group of insiders. Nor was the old board actually. I'd encourage you to attend a School Board meeting and hear for yourself the thoughtful and often very intense discussion that takes place. No one is rubber stamping superintendent decisions. You're making a statement without basis in fact, and one that evokes an emotional reaction in readers that serves to harm our district and our community.

Your desire for a top-down look at district finances (and John's), though, is on target and is exactly why the Measure X amount was agreed upon by the board. The amount is enough to get us solidly through the next 5-7 years if I recall correctly (with some already made and some additional cuts) but is not enough to stabilize the situation in the long run given current growth and funding projections. The board is acutely aware of the temporary fix. Again, if you'd attend board meetings or watch the videos or read the transcripts after the fact, you would see this.



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Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Feb 21, 2017 at 11:17 am

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

And, what are they doing about the CalSTRS unfunded liability? When you factor in the enormous taxpayer subsidy of pension benefits, both through district payments and the state "on behalf" payments, teacher compensation is more than generous.

The district should take an active role in seeking a statewide roll back of benefits for all, current retirees and future retirees.

Meanwhile, voters should reject Measure X, which unfairly places a burden on those property owners who can least afford it. If Measure X passes, their burden will be $1,047/year. If it fails, they will still pay $675/year, forever, with a built in COLA. That is for PARCEL taxes alone!


2 people like this
Posted by Interested
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 21, 2017 at 12:07 pm

Thanks Karen for clarifying how our district is different from other districts and that the board sees this measure as a temporary fix.

What I don't understand is what the proponents of Measure X suggest as a permananet fix. I imagine that a lot of proponents, not all, are parents of current children and naturally so, want to get this funding now to save the programs/retain the strong teachers.

If you are a proponent, assuming that there is not a change at the legislative level, what do you propose as a longer term fix to this problem? I support this measure to help provide a temporary fix but have concerns that the proponents and even most of the board terms, won't be around when this temporary fix is no longer viable.

I ask you and others who are proponents, what is a real solution to this problem if we

1. keep the current programs
2. continue with the current compensation/perks/benefits
3. maintain the class sizes at the size being instituted for the temporary fix

What is a solution besides a repeat of this measure a few years out?

I'd even support another measure a few years out, but as Claire stated, only if it were to fund the kids not not if the amount continued to grow larger with each ask to maintain growing pensions.....


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