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Equity for Menlo Park students discussed at school district meeting

Original post made on Jul 5, 2019

Council members, residents and community organizers attended a Menlo Park City School District study session about student equity to let school board members know that they believe the district should take a closer look at the subject.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, July 5, 2019, 8:57 AM

Comments (10)

2 people like this
Posted by West Menlo
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jul 5, 2019 at 12:24 pm

So what, exactly. are these folks saying about equity? What if I spend an hour reading every night with my kid and my neighbor does not, and therefore the kid doesn't do as well in reading. That's not "equitable." What if I can get a tutor for my kid and my neighbor cannot. Not equitable. What if my neighbor's kid gets a 10 point higher score on an IQ test than my kid. Definitely not equitable. So just what are these folks saying? Not all students have library cards and don't read during the summer, so they fall behind. Does that mean we need to pull the kids out of sports camp and force them to spend time at the library? This is slightly moronic. There are differences in how kids are raised, what parents value, and innate abilities and interests that kids have. Are we going to try to force normalize that aspect of their lives?

I would truly like to see some of their thoughts behind the words they have spoken.


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Posted by West meet East
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Jul 5, 2019 at 1:52 pm

It doesnt take a Stanford Research team to figure out why a small town has 3 school districts.
Equity is about the haves vs the have nots and why the School District perpetuates the divide with money and more money


19 people like this
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of another community
on Jul 5, 2019 at 3:59 pm

"Consider compensation increases above what is considered comparable to our neighboring districts"

Wow.

MPCSD is running deficits...despite record increased in property tax and parcel tax revenue...yet wants to increase spending above what they've even considered comparables in the past.

And this despite current compensation being the highest for ALL elementary school districts in the Bay Area.


Well...they're bold, I'll give them that. At least they're de facto admitting they need more parcel taxes for higher salaries, not CalSTRS funding.

Their next parcel tax will be defeated.


8 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 5, 2019 at 6:48 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

"Their next parcel tax will be defeated."

We'll do our best to defeat it, but you can bet the board will spend a LOT on convincing voters with children to vote while ignoring if not down right trying to suppress the vote of the rest of us. There's absolutely no way I will approve another parcel tax. I didn't vote for the last one, but it passed because the board was able to motivate voters with children in the district. Expect the same with the next parcel tax ask.


9 people like this
Posted by Mark Gilles
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Jul 7, 2019 at 7:44 pm

We have three school districts in Menlo Park that feed into the Sequoia Union HSD . The equity that some are seeking could be achieved by merging into one school district. Many oppose that concept because MPCSD and Las Lomitas are well funded and high achieving. The concept of merging would be more effective than a change in semantics. Adding a magic word to solve inequality is a ridiculous non solution


16 people like this
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of another community
on Jul 8, 2019 at 12:03 pm

"The equity that some are seeking could be achieved by merging into one school district. Many oppose that concept because MPCSD and Las Lomitas are well funded and high achieving."


In fairness to MPCSD, it should be pointed out that Ravenswood SD receives more funding...both per-student and in absolute dollars...than MPCSD.

If you merged those 3 school districts, the result would be lower per-student funding for ALL students in the merged district, since the newly-created school district would see a large reduction in state funding, since it would now be a community-funded district.


1 person likes this
Posted by Mark Gilles
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Jul 8, 2019 at 3:45 pm

The claim that it is not possible to merge districts because Ravenswood received more money than MPCSD is at best cherry picking. Ravenswood has approximately 1000 more students, 99 percent eligible for reduced price lunches. MPCSD has roughly 10% eligible. All school districts in California are facing huge increases in pension expenses that they cannot simply ignore. If the contention is that funds are being mismanaged then look at the board, but simply railing against the funding shortfall is not constructive


10 people like this
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of another community
on Jul 9, 2019 at 9:22 am

"The claim that it is not possible to merge districts"

Strawman. Nobody in this thread claimed that it's not possible to merge districts.

However, it appears that you do not grasp the full impact of your proposed merger. Funding per-student goes DOWN in your proposed merger. And while all kids would be impacted by that drop in funding, the bulk of that impact would affect the children that need that funding the most: children in Belle Haven.

Side note: I couldn't help but notice Mark Gilles claims to be in unincorporated San Mateo County. I hope Mr. Gilles realizes that his proposed merger would only include Belle Haven, MPCSD and Las Lomitas, and not sections currently served by the Redwood City School District.

It's also worth pointing out that before any proposed merger, it would be helpful to know whether it would be effective in improving the performance of Belle Haven students. Fortunately, the Tinsley program should provide excellent insight into the impact of having Ravenswood students in other Districts.

What does the data say? Do you know?


2 people like this
Posted by Mark Gilles
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Jul 9, 2019 at 11:53 am

Train Fan,
I do not claim to be an expert or an advocate, but I don't hide my identity either. I have had two children who went through MPCSD, and served on the bond oversight committee when i lived in the district. I continue to support MPCSD, along with Menlo Atherton.

I do think that the districts should seek efficient operations which could be achieved through eliminating duplicative operations. I also believe that people that vote against financial support for the schools simply because they don't have children in the district should think again. Strong schools require funding. You may oppose funding the increasing burden of pensions which are now about 20% of the budget and growing, but the districts must pay them so that is drawing funding away from delivering quality education.


10 people like this
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of another community
on Jul 9, 2019 at 7:16 pm

"the districts should seek efficient operations which could be achieved through eliminating duplicative operations"

I agree. However, that would not close the gap with the large drop in state funding. This has been discussed in previous almanacnews discussion threads, and I'm not the only one to review the numbers and come to this conclusion; just search for Jennifer Bestor's posts (you'll likely find mine as well), where she came to the same result.

Just to be clear, I'm not opposed to a merger, per se. The issue is that the proponents of mergers invariably are unwilling to do the work it would take to overcome the funding deficit.

When you and other merger proponents come up with a viable plan to address the funding shortfall and do the hard work of getting it implemented, I will fully support a merger.

Your move.


"Strong schools require funding."

And fund MPCSD we most certainly do. The taxpayers in MPCSD do not get enough credit for the financial largess that MPCSD imbues on its infrastructure and staff.

Here's a small sample of how financially over-the-top MPCSD is in comparison to many nearby peers:

revenue-per-student (2017-2018 school year data):
* MPCSD: $17,213
* San Carlos SD: $11,765
* Belmont SD: $10,975
* Burlingame SD: $10,781

San Carlos accomplishes similar performance on $5,448/student LESS revenue.


"You may oppose funding the increasing burden of pensions"

Revenue has far, far outpaced pension funding. Compared to the 2016-2017 school year:

* Revenue: up ~8.2 million
* pension obligation: up ~2 million
* student count: DOWN

That leaves over 6 million left.


"pensions which are now about 20% of the budget and growing"

1: It's 18.1%, yet revenue has still far, far outpaced pension funding.

2: After 2020-2021 school year, the CalSTRS funding percentage is projected to DROP. If you don't believe me, then believe the Legislative Analyst's Office...observe: Web Link


"[CalSTRS] is drawing funding away from delivering quality education."

Wrong, at least for MPCSD (though I agree it's probably true in many other school districts).

MPCSD revenue from property taxes and the current FOUR parcel taxes are far, far outpacing pension funding.


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

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