As the Menlo Park City School Board grapples with a structural deficit, growing enrollment, and the sunset of 2010 voter approved parcel taxes (Measure C) at the end of this school year, it looks to the community for input and direction about how to continue providing quality public education to its expanding student population.
While neighboring districts, which receive much higher per-pupil funding, are experiencing flat, limited or even negative enrollment growth, MPCSD gained another 55 students this year and has experienced 18% growth since the 2010 Measure C passage. Recent projections indicate no slowing to the increase, with 300 additional students anticipated by 2025.
Because of continued growth and the looming end of Measure C, the district will not be able to sustain its current operations beyond the 2018-19 school year, and will be operating with a $5.3 million deficit by 2021.
As a community funded district — meaning no additional state funding is received regardless of the number of students — it is incumbent upon the MPCSD community to increase its local funding if it desires to maintain the current level of per-pupil funding. The alternative to increased local funding is decreasing the per-pupil spending by reducing the budget or finding a mix of increased income and reduced spending.
To address the school funding challenges over the next several years, the MPCSD Board has embarked on a series of community input exercises which will culminate in a November decision on how to address future budget priorities. After receiving the community’s assessment on September 27 of what can be learned from the failed parcel tax extension and increase last spring, the Board now moves forward with looking at ways to reduce the budget should the existing Measure C expire without a renewal.
At the regular Board meeting on October 18, the Superintendent will present preliminary reduction recommendations, which will begin next school year. Cuts may include teacher layoffs and decreased compensation, fewer enrichment programs, reduced student services, larger class sizes and lower staff levels. The type of education programing MPCSD provides should reflect what the community values, and those interested in sharing their values with the Board are encouraged to attend the October 18 meeting at 6:00 p.m. at the Hillview PAC, 1100 Elder Avenue in Menlo Park.
Additional opportunities to provide input include the October 24 and 25 Special Board meetings regarding potential renewal or increase of current parcel taxes. Community members are also encouraged to share input online via the online feedback form at district.mpcsd.org on the front page in the Announcements section.
The Superintendent Advisory Committee on Communication is tasked with the gathering community input over the next several weeks and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions and feedback.