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Ravenswood school district open to new funding plan

Original post made on Oct 9, 2017

Ravenswood City School District Superintendent Gloria Hernandez-Goff announced Oct. 5 that she plans to re-enter conversations about a new way to raise money for the school district.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, October 6, 2017, 3:49 PM

Comments (11)

4 people like this
Posted by Aaron
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 9, 2017 at 1:51 pm

It looks like unifying Ravenswood, MPCSD, and Las Lomitas is off the table then? It would take a majority vote for each of the school boards to start this process (or, as I understand, a petition signed by 25% of registered voters in the three districts). Honestly, I don't see how we're going to sustain equal educational opportunities if we also sustain the community dichotomy in Menlo Park. For an area that votes about 70% for progressive causes, inaction on this is truly shameful.


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Posted by Pet
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 9, 2017 at 2:03 pm

what happened to all that Zuckerburg money?


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Posted by clarification
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 9, 2017 at 6:50 pm

Aaron writes, "It looks like unifying Ravenswood, MPCSD, and Las Lomitas is off the table then?"

Las Lomitas need not be roped into this. This discussion is to move a group of homes from Ravenswood to MPCSD, as had happened in the past.

"It would take a majority vote for each of the school boards to start this process..."

Not true, the previous two mass movements out of the district happened without support of the school districts.

"...(or, as I understand, a petition signed by 25% of registered voters in the three districts)."

Interested partied should find out the next step by asking an authoritative source.


11 people like this
Posted by Apple
a resident of Atherton: other
on Oct 9, 2017 at 10:46 pm

Combining the districts makes zero financial sense. Ravenswood per student revenue is actually higher than MPCSD's. That's because Ravenswood is a revenue limit district and MPCSD is basic aid.

Revenue limit districts receive a big subsidy from the state due to their lower property tax revenue. Basic aid districts must rely primarily on local property taxes. Combining a part of Ravenswood with MPCSD means that large subsidy from the state disappears because the new combined entity would be a basic aid district.

In the end, both MPCSD students and Ravenswood students moved into MPCSD would see lower per student revenue as most of the state subsidy would disappear. That would leave everyone worse off financially.

The real reason to abandon the unification idea is that all the students are worse off financially. Until the state changes how it funds districts, this particular merger is not going to happen.


2 people like this
Posted by Want more info
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Oct 10, 2017 at 1:54 pm

And with Facebook, Bohannon, Amazon and other large office buildings paying property taxes, will the State discontinue subsidizing Ravenswood School District?

What is the amount of property taxes that go to schools from all the new developments in Belle Haven and EPA? Would these new taxes close the gap Hernandez-Goff has listed?

Is there more information that the Almanac can add to this article?


4 people like this
Posted by Aaron
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 10, 2017 at 4:07 pm

Thanks for the replies. I posted on this board because I knew there would be some knowledgeable people who would respond with good counter arguments that would point me to more "authoritative sources". But something about these arguments does not sit well. Ravenswood has more per-student revenue than MPCSD, yet is in dire need of massive physical plant renewal? I've only been here for less than a decade...what has this community been doing all these decades? Merging districts (and why not include Las Lomitas?...why do we need 3 school boards, 3 administrative offices for our very small towns? Palo Alto does fine with their Unified district) means less per-student in the districts too wealthy to receive state aid, so it's better to keep Ravenswood as a revenue limited district even though the education is poor and the buildings don't meet standards? I understand the financial arguments, they make sense. But maybe I'm missing something because I can't square the ethics of it all here. So we'll look for new ways to fund Ravenswood, but we will keep things separate and maybe a little bit less unequal?


2 people like this
Posted by Apple
a resident of Atherton: other
on Oct 11, 2017 at 12:06 pm

@Aaron

The legislature solved the operational funding and equity issue by subsidizing revenue limit districts. Infrastructure improvements were left to local communities to decide if they wanted to float a bond, then tax themselves to pay off the bond.

I believe it was Prop 39 that made it easier to pass bonds, but limited the size of the bonds based on assessed property values. In a rich community, the assessed value is high. Thus, it can pay for fancy buildings and equipment. In poor communities, low assessed property values make it impossible to float bonds needed to pay for this.

Limiting bond indebtedness is not necessarily a bad thing. It prevents communities from overleveraging themselves. For example, Chicago and Detroit overleveraged themselves and now those cities have trouble providing basic city services. A large percentage of their tax revenue goes to paying bond interest and principal.

Another reason to limit indebtedness is to slow gentrification. If Ravenswood merged with MPCSD, Ravenswood taxes would go up dramatically. MPCSD already has one of the highest parcel taxes in California. It has significant debt payments for building new facilities. On top of that, there will be a new set of bonds to pay for revitalizing Ravenswood schools plus a higher parcel tax to make up for the money the state withdraws when Ravenswood is no longer revenue limit. This is a recipe for gentrification.

At the end of the day, the crux of the problem is money. Superficially, a merger appears to solve the money problem, but it does not due to California's education funding mechanism plus introduces other negatives. My guess that is why political leaders are now proposing the joint powers agency. It sets up a way to solve the money problem more directly without the negatives.


2 people like this
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Oct 13, 2017 at 1:49 pm

Why does Ravenswood always insist on its own independent vision and empire-building, likely at the expense of the students?


4 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 13, 2017 at 7:00 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

"Why does Ravenswood always insist on its own independent vision and empire-building, likely at the expense of the students?"

In the past it was due to whom they had as superintendent.


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Posted by It's only a matter of time
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 13, 2017 at 11:11 pm

It's only a matter of time is a registered user.

Suggest Belle Haven merge with MPCSD and Ravenswood schools in EPA merge with Palo Alto.


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Oct 14, 2017 at 4:57 pm

Menlo Voter - they do seem to hire empire-builders!


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

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