Client Opinion: Big Financial Challenges Ahead for Menlo Park Schools | New



Grade 1 students at Oak Knoll Elementary School sit on social distancing markers on the ground at the end of recess before returning to class at Menlo Park on September 29, 2020. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

The past two years have shown the central role that public schools play in our thriving community. In the homes of our city, teachers have become heroes and our schools have become lifelines. We’re incredibly proud of how the Menlo Park City School District – Encinal, Laurel, Oak Knoll, and Hillview Schools – has handled the pandemic, opening up before any other Bay Area district and keeping kids engaged in everything. safety in in-person learning since September 2020. While the pandemic is by no means over, we have stabilized and know how to operate during COVID. Now we must also focus on solving long-term financial challenges.

As a community-funded district, the MPCSD receives nearly 90% of its income from local sources: property and property taxes and philanthropic donations. MPCSD enjoys strong community support, but is not without threat to the district’s future ability to deliver strong programming and attract the best educators. Here are four challenges, as well as an invitation to engage in a partnership to better understand and meet them.

1: The MPCSD recently lost federal “Title 1” funding used to support students from low-income families, many of whom are in our schools. Due to a quirk in the federal government‘s allocation of Title 1 funds, two of San Mateo County’s 24 school districts – San Carlos and MPCSD – do not receive Title 1 funds, even as the richest and least diverse school districts. This cost the MPCSD more than $ 600,000 in federal COVID aid. As future federal aid will likely be tied to Title 1 eligibility, the MPCSD could continue to run out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

2: Over the next four years, California will require all school districts to offer Transitional Kindergarten (TK) to all 4-year-olds. MPCSD believes in the benefits of traditional knowledge. However, community funded districts like ours will not receive any additional funding to pay for the additional level, facilities or staff to educate all the 4 year old children in the district.

3: MPCSD will likely lose the $ 1.5 million annual funding for Tinsley’s Voluntary Transfer Program, through which 200 students attend our schools in neighboring Ravenswood. Much has changed in the 36 years since the creation of TVP, but the funding model enshrined in law has not followed. Without a solution, the MPCSD and several surrounding districts risk losing an important source of funding on which they depend.



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