Ballots go out for Menlo Park school parcel tax

Daily Post Staff Writer
Ballots are going out this week for the Menlo Park School District’s parcel tax, referred to as Measure B.
Measure B is a 12-year $598 per-parcel tax that will bring in about $4.6 million a year to the district’s coffers. Parcel taxes require a two-thirds majority of the vote, or 66.7%, to pass.

The board wanted to put this parcel tax on the ballot before its existing tax expires in 2024. That parcel tax, Measure X, is currently at $405.50 per parcel. The district has three other parcel taxes that were approved in 2000 and 2003, and this year will bring in $780.68 per parcel.

The district is facing dwindling reserves at a time enrollment in the schools is poised to grow due to the amount of growth projected for Menlo Park, including two projects on El Camino Real. One is a housing project for Stanford, which as a nonprofit, does not have to pay the property taxes that fund schools, something Superintendent Erik Burmeister has criticized.

Superintendent says he’s cut spending

During a meeting about the district’s finances on Monday, Burmeister said that most new projects do pay their property taxes, which go to the district, but that doesn’t fully cover the costs of new students and the question of where to put them. Current facilities can expand to house about 640 more students.

Burmeister and his team at the district have seen the funding crunch coming, and since 2017, have cut some $3 million.

The district spends 89% of its budget on salaries and benefits, according to the district’s “parcel tax guide.”

Teachers at the district can earn between $66,389 and $131,664 a year, according to the district’s salary schedule for this school year. Their wages depend on how long they have been at the district.

The argument against the Nov. 2 ballot measure, written by Morgan Hill resident Mark Hinkle, who routinely submits the arguments against school parcel tax and bond measures in the Bay Area, says that the district spends $19,990 per student each year, 48% higher than the statewide average.

The rebuttal to the argument against the measure, signed by Atherton resident Johnathan Carpenter, Menlo Park City School District teacher Megan Stone, business owner Greg Alden, Menlo Park Councilwoman Jen Wolosin and Realtor Liliana Perazich, points out that the district spends less than other neighboring school districts, including Palo Alto, Las Lomitas, Portola Valley and Woodside.

Sandberg supporting measure
The group supporting Measure B has raised $80,290 as of last month. A quarter of the funds are from two donors — Facebook’s No. 2 executive Sheryl Sandberg and local developer Lane Partners.