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Guest opinion: Vote no on Measure B, Menlo Park school district's latest parcel tax initiative

Original post made on Oct 9, 2021

In a guest opinion, Mark Hinkle argues why Menlo Park City School District voters should oppose Measure B, a parcel tax increase on the November ballot.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Saturday, October 9, 2021, 10:16 AM

Comments (17)

Posted by Dagwood
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 9, 2021 at 12:52 pm

Dagwood is a registered user.

Aren’t AP courses only offered by the Sequoia District and at the high schools?

Posted by Willows Dad
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Oct 10, 2021 at 10:33 am

Willows Dad is a registered user.

@Dagwood, yes, and typically only sophomores and above take AP exams, so this part of the argument is nonsensical. Furthermore, the author does not seem to understand how percentages work—his 148% figure should be 48% (since he is saying "above"). Admittedly this is still notably higher than the state average, but I would expect spending to be higher in this area, and I am glad that we live in an area that places a high priority on education. Vote yes on B.

Posted by Enough
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 10, 2021 at 11:32 am

Enough is a registered user.

The problem is that the District and Burmeister are not being upfront or honest in the campaign for Measure B. They send out email claiming things that are not true. For example they claim the district has lost title 1 finding and will lose more funding because of that. In reality the district is appealing that loss and either believes they can get the money back or have decided to waste our money on something they they have no hope of winning.

They scare people with the 3000 housing unit number. First off those housing units have not been planned or approved let alone built and occupied. Those are years in the future if ever. Second if they do get built they will be contributing property taxes of which the schools district gets a percentage for funding.

The district ran this campaign at a time there was nothing else on the ballot because they count on a low turnout to win. While this may be perfectly legal is it ethical? How much is this election costing the tax payers of Menlo Park and Atherton for this one item?

I personally do not feel like rewarding this type of campaign with a yes vote. I think the district needs to go back and be honest with the tax payers and not try to deceive them to get more funding.

Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 10, 2021 at 7:19 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

What Enough said. That's exactly why I voted NO. I don't like being lied to and BS'd. I might have voted yes if the district hadn't lied.

Posted by Menlo Oaks Mom
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 10, 2021 at 9:31 pm

Menlo Oaks Mom is a registered user.

As a graduate of MPCSD schools and now a parent of children in the district, I am a strong supporter of Measure B to keep our public schools top tier. The arguments in this article are not persuasive to me - yes teachers salaries and expenses are higher than the state average - so is the cost of living in Menlo Park. It is expensive here! Of course elementary and middle school kids are not taking AP classes - those start in high school. In terms of planning for housing that has not yet been built - we all know this is going to happen. I would much rather have a school district that is proactively preparing for these potential additional students than wait until matters are critical. Additionally the district has an obligation to annually reassess whether all Measure B amounts are needed in a given year.
Please Vote Yes on Measure B. It so is important to our whole community!

Posted by new guy
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 11, 2021 at 7:23 am

new guy is a registered user.

Not sure what the real truth or story we are being told is, but it does not matter. Simple fact is revenue growth is outpacing student growth, and most likely will for a long time. Nearby districts are closing schools due to enrollment decline. MP is facing enrollment decline. Demographics are changing, MP is far past being an affordable town for young families.

Renters: "why does my rent keep going up?" (maybe because you keep voting for more taxes).

Also, MP will accept cash/check/credit card/stock transfers, basically anything, you can show YOUR support AT ANY TIME, I am sure you can get your name on a plaque too.

Take a look around for a change, go for a walk/bikeride and see that there is a new home being built on practically every street, some have multiple projects. All of these resetting property tax rates. and most of these selling millions above previous price.

Posted by Stu Soffer
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Oct 11, 2021 at 10:27 am

Stu Soffer is a registered user.

'Maybe' on Measure B

The problem I see with this measure is the weighting of parcels, property value, and number of children the school from those properties.

Single family properties are likely only 1 -parcel on the tax rolls. There is a tight correspondence.
On the other hand, an apartment complex composed with 50 units may only be ‘1 parcel’ on the property tax rolls, even though there might me an impact 30 schoolchildren from 20 apartments in that complex.

Posted by Enough
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 11, 2021 at 1:51 pm

Enough is a registered user.

Menlo Oaks Mom

" we all know this is going to happen" Do we? It MAY happen down the road, it will not happen in the next year or two (Have you seen the approval process for developments in Menlo Park?). By your logic the district should be planning for 10,000 new homes because they may be built in the future. I don't buy that logic, nor do I buy the argument from Burmeister that these new housing units will not contribute to the schools. They will pay property tax and the district gets a percentage of that tax so if they are built the district will be getting additional money to support new students who live there.

Everything about the districts arguments for Measure B seem flawed and misleading to me. For example they site enrollment numbers which seem to include an increase in students. That is until you look a little closer and see that the ELC students are included in the most recent numbers. The ELC is relatively new (2018-2019 school year) to the district so those students did not exist in previous enrollment numbers. Also those are not public school children, parents are required to pay to have their students attend ELC ($22,000 a year). So this is just another misleading argument and indicative of what the district is willing to do to pass this new tax. Do you believe for a minute that they won't justify the need for that money every year? Based on what is being said to pass it I believe they will use the same tactics to justify it year after year.

Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 11, 2021 at 2:15 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" nor do I buy the argument from Burmeister that these new housing units will not contribute to the schools. "

The new Stanford housing on El Camino is ALL property tax exempt.

Posted by R
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 11, 2021 at 2:53 pm

R is a registered user.

The fact that Mark Hinkle is quoting High School Advanced Placement (AP) information to argue against a parcel tax measure from an Elementary & Middle school district points to a poorly researched opinion piece. Perhaps he is mixing up information from the different measures he is opposing such as the Los Gatos or Berryessa parcel tax proposals. The author speaks to facts and figures in the piece but doesn't share the source of the data making it very difficult to discern what if any of it is accurate. The author, who lives in Morgan Hill, needs to be as accountable for his opinion piece messaging as the district he is commenting to enable Menlo Park residents evaluate the arguments and decide on Measure-B.

Posted by new guy
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 11, 2021 at 3:56 pm

new guy is a registered user.


You are only partially correct, the details are that:

Stanford pays $1.5 Mil to MP schools.
New retail will pay property taxes.
Only handful of apartments are 2 bedroom, most are 1, and those generally do not generate students for K-8 grades.

Seems we ALL like to use selective messaging.

Posted by Observer
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Oct 11, 2021 at 4:20 pm

Observer is a registered user.

I believe Stanford is paying a one-time in lieu fee, but it's inordinately hard to get accurate information. How much money, for example, will be budgeted toward unfunded pensions?

We do have a good school district, and leadership is wise to plan for the next ten years rather than playing catch up every year. But transparency and accurate predictions seem to be hard to come by. Plus developers always downplay the number of families likely to move into new housing. In reality, most people who are willing to pay to live here will be doing so because of the schools.

By the way, the site cited by the author shows that average scores have edged up slightly. And although the high school is a different district, about half the M-A students take AP tests. If we have 13 grade school students taking AP tests, that's actually pretty impressive, but also highly unlikely.

Misinformation is rampant on both sides.

Posted by Enough
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 12, 2021 at 8:10 pm

Enough is a registered user.

"The new Stanford housing on El Camino is ALL property tax exempt." yes and no. The district negotiated a one time payment from Stanford. This development should not have been approved but it was. I believe you supported that development didn't you Peter?

Do you think Stanford will be trying to build all 3000 units? The city (planning commission and council) wouldn't approve it if they did.

Posted by Rvengosh
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Oct 31, 2021 at 8:36 am

Rvengosh is a registered user.

The discussion in the comments demonstrates the value of local newspapers and of the Almanac specifically. That’s why I subscribe.

Writing this 2 days before the election, I still haven’t decided how to vote. I value schools. I also value honesty. I feel that putting this on the ballot when no other votes are planned in dishonest. I’m also frustrated that no financial information was shared. There are big statements being made about the need, but where’s the hard data? I’m also frustrated that this replaces a parcel tax we voted on only 4 years ago. If a change is needed, I understand, but shouldn’t the board explain why and provide details?

I have a lot of respect for Burmeister, who was principal at Hillview when my kids went there. I am also a big believer in education and public funding for education.

If I end up voting No, it will be because I am very frustrated by the lack of transparency and faulty or vague claims….

With all of that, I’m still undecided.

Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 31, 2021 at 1:09 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"I believe you supported that development didn't you Peter?"

Yes I did because it was a much better use of the land than simply having abandoned auto dealerships.

Stanford's one time payment to the school district is in lieu of otherwise required payments for ALL new residential properties but it does nothing to provide annual support for the students placed into the school district by this development.

Posted by new guy
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 31, 2021 at 2:06 pm

new guy is a registered user.

the only thing I "feel good" about this one decision election, is that it requires an over 2/3 vote to pass.

Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Nov 1, 2021 at 1:44 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

For those who are concerned about a perceived lack of transparency I suggest you look at the district's INTERACTIVE FINANCIAL PORTAL -

Web Link

That should answer almost any financial questions that you might have.

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