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School board weighs options on parcel tax renewal

Original post made on Sep 4, 2015

School board members are looking ahead at next year's planned parcel tax renewal for the Mountain View Whisman School District, which could be used to bring in new funding for class size reduction, a robust science curriculum and new ways to attract, and keep, teachers amid the state's teacher shortage.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, September 4, 2015, 1:56 PM

Comments (30)

Posted by Resign Nelson!
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 4, 2015 at 2:24 pm

Quote from above:
"I'm going to vote no if a parcel tax is 'Google's headquarters gets taxed the same as a condo,'"Nelson said. "If the law doesn't allow a progressive tax, I'm not going to vote for a regressive tax."

In other words:
I'm a spoiled baby brat and if things don't go my way I will cut off my nose to spite my face.

Your antics are not amusing, Nelson. Please resign so we can have another adult sitting at the school board table.

Posted by OldMV
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 4, 2015 at 5:37 pm

If the school board pushes to renew the parcel tax, then it should be on the ballot of a a high turn-out general election, not a special election or a primary election. That means the first Tuesday in November of an even-numbered year --- when we vote for federal and state officials, as well as State propositions. The school boards always try to cheat the intent of the election laws by using low turn-out special elections to pack the ballot boxes with votes of highly motivated parents, teachers, and administrators. This is because they know that they could never get a super majority during a general election when everyone is voting.

Posted by James
a resident of Shoreline West
on Sep 4, 2015 at 5:38 pm

Steven Nelson was the main opponent of the district's measure G back in 2012:
Web Link

Posted by Robert Allen
a resident of Shoreline West
on Sep 4, 2015 at 5:45 pm

Why is the School Board so greedy? The teachers make a lot of money; they don't need any more. Vote NO on the parcel tax?

Posted by Old Steve
a resident of Rex Manor
on Sep 4, 2015 at 6:29 pm

Teachers certainly make in the high 5 figures. Tried to rent an apartment anywhere near Mountain View lately? Retention of young teachers is important if the District wishes to make progress. More experienced teachers, some of which the district could afford to have go elsewhere, are established in the community, and many may have been able to purchase homes in earlier eras. One of our third year science teachers has relocated to Reno, where her two bedroom rent is less than her one bedroom rent here was. No state income tax there either. She has to live there, sure, but we no longer have the value of her teaching improving the schools in our community. Even for folks who don't have kids, good schools are important to a successful community.

Posted by eric
a resident of another community
on Sep 4, 2015 at 10:12 pm

I don't trust Steve Nelson with my $191. If his hands are still on the budget when the parcel tax comes up for a vote again, I will say no.

Posted by Christopher Chiang
a resident of North Bayshore
on Sep 5, 2015 at 7:28 am

When discussing parcel taxes, our community and our children deserve a discussion based on the facts. The facts are that a typical starting teaching with a masters in MVWSD is paid less than any adjacent district, and gap between our own city's K-8 and 9-12 school district is even larger. The community funds the HS district $6,000 more than K-8 district per pupil, and this is seen in salaries. MVLA pays starting teachers $20,000 more than MVWSD and senior teachers $40,000 more than MVWSD. MV’s MVLA has the highest paid teachers in the state, this is in the same city, where many of MV’s MVWSD teachers are struggling to survive.

As residents we don’t control how the state/county funds MVLA differently than MVWSD, but we can’t ignore this difference when it comes to truly local funding. We gave Shoreline Funds (MV funds tied to Bayshore development) to both districts, for MVLA it is a bonus, for MVWSD, it is a lifeline. When it comes to foundation funding, MVLA brought in twice as much community funding.

MVLA as the region’s highest revenue district doesn’t have a parcel tax, but if we compare MVWSD to adjacent towns, comparing not the parcel tax rate, but more fairly comparing taxes as a percent of home values, we in MV pay 1/3 what other cities around us.

Most residents don’t fully realize the differences between MVWSD and MVLA, and as a result, our K-8 district suffers in the shadows of misunderstanding. The only way to have everyone succeed in high school is to ensure we take care of our K-8. All student interventions get more expensive and less successful the later one whats.

The prosperity of our region has greatly benefited homeowners, while causing stress on renters and many students (as seen in the weekly Friday night marches on Castro). Supporting a parcel tax increase may be a homeowners best way of showing we are all one Mountain view, not to mention help their own home values in the long run.

Mountain View Whisman SD (per pupil revenue: $10,683)
MVWSD Starting Salary: $50,198-92,628 (no MA bonus)
Mountain View Education Foundation: $600,000 raised
Current parcel tax: $127 (for a <8,000 square foot home)
$951,000 median home sale price
(parcel tax is 0.01% of the current median home sale price)
Web Link

Mountain View Los Altos HSD (per pupil revenue: $16,792)
MVLA Salary Range: $71,293-134,716 (add $2,223 for a MA)
MVLA High School Foundation: $1.3 Million raised
(no parcel tax, highest per pupil revenue in the region)

Los Altos SD (per pupil revenue: $11,805)
LASD: $49,321-95,446 (add $1,500 for each MA) Web Link
Los Altos Education Foundation: $3.2 million raised
Current parcel tax: $790 per parcel ($193 increase in the last election)
$2,342,500 median home sale price
(parcel tax is 0.03% of the current median home sale price)
Web Link

Palo Alto USD (per pupil revenue: $15,217)
PAUSD Salary Range: $57,563-116,234 (add $2,219 for each MA) Web Link
Palo Alto Partners in Education: $5.3 million raised
Current parcel tax: $758 per parcel ($120 increase in the last election)
$2,165,500 median home sale price
(parcel tax is 0.03% of the current median home sale price)
Web Link

Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 5, 2015 at 8:56 am

Thank you Chris. This finance-full posting of yours is very informative in the comparisons it does and the not-fair-to compare remarks. After thinking this over - (as "a Maverack" I still don't agree with some of those lawyers!) - I think I may be moving toward's Dr. Skelly's advice to us, 'let the voters decide if they want to tax themselves higher'. If they do, by 2/3 - it's all good for the education of the District's kids.

Measure G (2012), and Chiang State Senate run (2012) and Coladonato State Assembly run (2014). Say what? Politicos may do things that make no (obvious) sense to some others!

SN is an elected Trustee of the MVWSD, these are his own opinions, and he loves the 1st Amendment Coalition!

Posted by mr_b
a resident of Monta Loma
on Sep 5, 2015 at 9:31 am

Christopher Chiang's comparative data begin to show how embarassing, underfunded, and unprepared bay area school districts (perhaps excepting MVLA) are for the arriving teacher shortage. Remember a few years ago when we had a slew of emergency credentialed teachers in classrooms? We now have worse conditions than before and offering $50k to a post-graduate certified individual considering the momentum for cost of living increases in the area is unfortunately laughable to all but those who are already married to high income earning spouses or are second career applicants. Without more support from property owners (who seem to regularly fail to understand the feedback loop of school support and home values), MVWSD's teachers, students, and homeowners will suffer. Prop 13: the gift that keeps on giving.

I'm not sure it's fair to target schools in complaining about how elections work. School issues aren't the only important decisions to be made ballots but even if they were the only issue to be decided - voters have a civic duty. Maybe we should consider banning eligible voters who didn't vote in the last election from participating in discussions (city council/committee meetings, school board meetings, etc.) until they vote again - perhaps that would increase eligible voter turnout and remind them of the importance of their participation in the process.

Posted by Madeline Bernard
a resident of Monta Loma
on Sep 5, 2015 at 11:00 am

Madeline Bernard is a registered user.

Not that I support higher house prices here (I've got to scoff at the person saying that teachers are paid too much... Even a teacher making $95K who inherited $200K for a down payment couldn't afford a house here), but it's blatantly obvious that better schools make for richer house prices. Go ahead and compare the prices of two houses, same model, on the same street, but in different school districts. Homeowners should be busting down the school district's door to pay an extra $10 a month so that their house values increase by tens of thousands of dollars.

Posted by Parent
a resident of Waverly Park
on Sep 5, 2015 at 2:07 pm

Steven Nelson the ENTIRE community is asking you to resign. Not one single person has come to your defense. Your comments today about "politicos" are just the latest example of your immature, inappropriate, childish behavior. Do you derive some kind of joy from getting all this negative attention? Just go away already.

Posted by Local resident
a resident of Waverly Park
on Sep 5, 2015 at 3:29 pm

I'm going to start a petition that you move ou of my neighborhood. Your Constant comment about Mr. Nelson Re-signing Is as ridiculous . You do not speak for the entire community . Maybe you're the one being inappropriate and immature .

Posted by OldMV
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 5, 2015 at 4:35 pm


I've long held the opinion that ALL CA and local revenue bills must be presented at bi-yearly Nov general elections when the highest percentage of voters will be participating. When was the last time you saw a MVLA or Mountain View Whisman school district revenue bill submitted for consideration during general election? Like maybe never? The schools and their overpaid employees are manipulating the election process by calling special elections, and that should be stopped --- period. End of discussion. I'm right, you're wrong. Let's move on. Don't respond.

As for your suggestion that "voters who don't do their civic duty" should be punished, I guess you don't realize that your suggestion violates the US Constitution and Federal and State law. As for your suggestion that I shouldn't criticize school districts for manipulating voter turnout, that's unconstitutional too. Both are political freedom of speech, the highest form of speech protected under the 1st Amendment. [Portion removed; keep the discussion civil and respectful.]

Posted by Blah
a resident of Rex Manor
on Sep 5, 2015 at 9:43 pm

I used to be such a strong supporter of public schools. I wish I had additional money to give to the school district to help it improve, I really do. This school district was not good for my child, and now on top of having a huge mortgage payment every month, we are paying private school tuition that we hadn't planned on having to pay. I honestly don't have much left over to give at this point.

If you're going to ask for more money, you have to be able to prove results. More money helps improve schools? Maybe. But only if those in charge are capable. I guess you have a year to prove me wrong....

Posted by mr_b
a resident of Monta Loma
on Sep 5, 2015 at 10:53 pm


Your point was that schools are trying to game a political system. My point was that voter turnout is low and that it's a civic duty to vote regardless. If you don't agree with that then it's unclear what kind of citizenship you are promoting.

"End of discussion. I'm right, you're wrong. Let's move on. Don't respond."

Statements like these go even better with your comments about the 1st Amendment which, apparently, is only there to protect to you. Great stuff!

"As for your suggestion that "voters who don't do their civic duty" should be punished..."

That was clearly a thought experiment and not an actual cause to rally behind. Maybe you could try to not assume the worst of everyone.

Two of the greatest benefits to our community are: the forums the Voice provides, and the active community on it. So feel free to respond. It's everyone's right to... wait... we're on a privately run forum which means you don't actually have any "rights" here beyond what the Voice allows. That's worth a reminder, right?

Posted by Cfrink
a resident of Willowgate
on Sep 6, 2015 at 3:06 pm

Cfrink is a registered user.

Wow.....I can't believe Mr. Nelson is being criticized because he's not willing to accept that Google should pay the same tax amount as the owner of a 1200 sq. ft condo in Mountain View. Wow. And for the record, there are plenty of people who don't support Mr. Nelson resigning. I've said it before, and I'll say it again. While I don't agree with all of Mr. Nelson's positions he has consistently had well considered positions on most matters. This position in particular, the one where we should expect owners of larger properties to do more to support our schools is not one I'm inclined to disagree with despite the fact that it may be a difficult position to defend legally in this state.

Our school board is in a good place now. Stable, full, and the people on it have a plan. If you want to replace Mr. Nelson, run for his seat. Let's move on and get to work for these kids. We've got plenty of struggles that are much more important, like our teacher pay, resources, renovation of our schools (we really don't have enough money) the Parcel Tax and Measure G, how to get area and local companies involved in our schools from an innovation, resource, and financial perspective. If all you got out of this entire article is "Steve Nelson resign" you're, again, part of the problem.

People please. Let's get to work. Chris Chiang has not gone away. He's out there doing research and gathering data for our schools. That's what we should be focused on, getting the information together that can support a Parcel Tax on the ballot.

Posted by RIsing Revenues
a resident of another community
on Sep 6, 2015 at 3:31 pm

The school district revenue is rising every year. The numbers for last year aren't readily available, but it was 2013-2014 that the per ADA revenue was $10,700. Prior years were $10,000, $9700, $9400. With the huge home price escalation, $950K isn't the median home price any longer! The revenue from the Shoreline Community district has vastly increased through last year. Most likely, the per ADA revenue is up to at least $11,700 for last year, probably more. Through 2013, MVWSD lost revenue it had to send to other districts as a "fair share" of the state budget problems. No longer is that the case--the full of local property tax school funds for elementary go to MVWSD.

The real story is what is happening this year. MVWSD will receive refund of the previous year "Fair Share" deferrals, probably more than $2 Million in a one time pay back with some more to come. Home sales are at an all time record turnover with record prices. It's very rosy.

Posted by PACT parent
a resident of Rex Manor
on Sep 7, 2015 at 11:56 am

@RIsing Revenues
you wrote:
"The school district revenue is rising every year."
"With the huge home price escalation, $950K isn't the median home price any longer!"
"the full of local property tax school funds for elementary go to MVWSD."
"Home sales are at an all time record turnover with record prices."

OK, PLEASE correct me if I'm wrong here, but after attending most of the MVWSD School Board meetings for the past couple of years, I have heard various officials repeatedly state that the operating revenue for the MVWSD is NOT in ANY manner related to home prices or other factors in our local community.

From everything I have heard in the meetings, the MVWSD is still under some restrictions from the state of California.

If the MVWSD has now changed status with the state and we now get the advantage of increases in property values, that should be big news and would need to be carefully studied and lots of numbers would need to be generated to understand the real impact of the change.

But, again, if someone in a better official position to know the facts inside and out would comment on this to correct anything I have misunderstood, that would be appreciated.

Posted by Tax Implications
a resident of another community
on Sep 7, 2015 at 4:02 pm

The way the district's tax revenue is calculated is to use the higher of the state-wide LCFF formula or the local property tax revenues. The factoring of low income, foster children and ELL status into the equation gave a big bump to MVWSD's state-provided funding such that it was greater than the already increasing property tax revenue. But the day could come when the property tax figures alone would provide more revenue. The tax base in LASD and MVWSD is about the same, and in LASD, they still get the higher figure from the local property tax revenue.

MVWSD is dropping in terms of ELL and Low Income children, so that could happen to MVWSD again, especially since the tax base has been rising in excess of 8% per year. The state belief is that educating low income and ELL children is more expensive. It's all a dynamic calculation applied every year from scratch. Also the LCFF is still being phased in, so assuming all else static, revenue from LCFF will rise for several more years.

But the really interesting thing about MVWSD is its "other local revenue". MVWSD gets a payment from the Shoreline Community special district that has risen to about $6 MIllion per year, double the revenue from the parcel tax. They get this whether the advalorem reqular revenue is figured based on LCFF or property values alone. The tax base increasing in this special district is responsible for that component rising.

Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 8, 2015 at 9:21 am

@PACT Parent & @Tax Implications This last explination is very well stated. We have shifted rapidly out of "community funded" (local property tax is-the-max) to "state funded" under LCFF. Our property tax basis is oddly warped by the oddly-remaining redevelopment district called Shoreline Community. For now - it is better that we have a limited-year contract agreement (JPA) to skim those Shoreline property taxes through "Local Revenue" rather than general property taxes.

Although, I started publicly advocating for Shoreline District 'sunsetting' in 2007 - currently I think it is best to just leave things as they are!

"Local Revenues" also include the multi-millions from our several property leases for entire school sites (Cooper, Slater, Whisman) and non-district preschools at several sites. That is also in the big-picture Budget category for the local Parcel Tax revenue.

SN is a Trustee of the MVWSD - these policy opinions are his own, and not the stated public policy of the MVWSD. Other individual Trustees and Administrators may differ!

Posted by Greg perry
a resident of Stierlin Estates
on Sep 8, 2015 at 2:13 pm

Nelson is right that major landowners, such as Google, Prometheus, and the Tan family should pay more in taxes than minor landowners.

I don't think even the Koch brothers would argue that the owner of a studio condominium should pay the same tax as the owner of a hundred million dollar apartment complex.

Posted by @Greg
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 8, 2015 at 2:41 pm

"I don't think even the Koch brothers would argue that the owner of a studio condominium should pay the same tax as the owner of a hundred million dollar apartment complex."

Oh, Greg. How very wrong you are... :)

Posted by
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Sep 8, 2015 at 11:47 pm

When the district can demonstrate that it can be a good steward of the funds currently allotted we'll talk. Until

Posted by Pension feeding
a resident of Monta Loma
on Sep 9, 2015 at 12:14 pm

A 2010 study of California's pension obligations conducted by the Stanford Institute for Economic Research under the direction of Professor Joe Nation, a former Democratic member of the Assembly, showed California Taxpayers are on the hook for over $500 billion in unfunded pension liability.

This debt was created by public officials who promised more to their government employee union allies than they could reasonably deliver and they would prefer that the public remained in the dark about this looming crisis

As these bills are coming due, the Sacramento politicians, most of whom owe their election to the political activism of government employee unions, are already thrashing about trying to find ways to raise revenue.

Posted by OldMV
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 9, 2015 at 6:22 pm

[Post removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]

Posted by @OldMV
a resident of another community
on Sep 9, 2015 at 6:43 pm

"Come back and spout whatever you want to spout at me when you have a 150+ IQ and a PhD and two MS degrees from a top 5 US university"

Of course you do, spanky. Of course you do.

Posted by SS
a resident of another community
on Sep 10, 2015 at 9:40 am

In addition to fiscal responsibility to taxpayers, one must also consider academic accountability to the community. Testing is just one measure, imperfect for many reasons. Still, it is a measure that can be applied to all CA public schools. Check out MVWSD results:

Smarter Balanced Testing Results Released

Web Link

Posted by mr_b
a resident of Monta Loma
on Sep 10, 2015 at 12:18 pm


Quite frankly, the way you've written to me and your inability to stay on topic speak more to your qualifications than irrelevant claims of degrees (a PhD doesn't make anyone an expert at *everything* - only the sliver they studied) or a likely overstated IQ. And lots of us in the discussions can code: what does that have to do with why anyone should listen to you about MVWSD?

As to your continued lack of understanding regarding the 1st Amendment and how it applies to speech on privately owned systems like we enjoy here in the Voice's Town Square (especially after being censored) ... let's just say someone claiming an IQ of 150 should have been able to figure out how the world works.

You aren't providing any further insight or discussion regarding the educational system and are more interested in making ridiculous attacks. If you want to *try* and build some iota of credibility, return to the topic and debate that.

Posted by MLer
a resident of Monta Loma
on Sep 11, 2015 at 5:10 pm

MLer is a registered user.

If MVWSD is so short of funds, it's because they wrote Craig Goldman a check for a quarter million dollars. I no longer support the parcel tax. However, I will make donations directly to the schools where I know they will be used for the direct benefit of the teachers and students, and not to line a hypocrite's pockets.

Posted by Old Steve
a resident of Rex Manor
on Sep 11, 2015 at 5:38 pm

Old Steve is a registered user.


It is too bad that Goldman's conditions of employment became intolerable. We as a community elected a School Board that allowed that to happen. How would you prefer the situation be resolved? Superintendents have contracts with protections so that when new board members are elected, the professionals can continue to do their jobs without fear of "termination for convenience" If you don't think such a clause is worthwhile:

either lobby for his contract not to have been renewed the previous March, or better, as the old saying goes "try walking a mile in his shoes".

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