MPCSD District Newsletter
September 18, 2019
Providing a world-class, community-funded education.
A Note from Superintendent Burmeister
It's mid-September. All of our campuses have held their Back-to-School Nights, which gave me the opportunity to be a dad as I attended my boys' classes. I hope you were impressed like I was by what MPCSD offers our children, most importantly their amazing teachers. Research confirms that the most impactful element of a child's education is the quality of their teacher. I am proud that MPCSD hires and retains the best possible teachers. As we are in the middle of the One Community Campaign, you can feel confident that when you donate, that money is put to good use as we prioritize excellent teachers for every child.

As we think about how we as a community can come together to support wonderful public schools, please read my blog "Fully Funded?". I take a look at some things that have shaped public school funding and how we choose to say that in Menlo Park, what the state decides is "enough" is not good enough for us, and shouldn't be for the rest of California. Together we can keep MPCSD schools strong and serve as an example to policy makers about what is possible when we don't do education on the cheap.
Dates to Note

September 23 - Special School Board Meeting to Interview & Appoint New Member, 6:00 p.m. @ TERC Boardroom
October 2 - Eighth Grade: The Movie Speaker Series event, 6:30 p.m. @ Hillview
October 15-18 - Minimum Days for Grades 6-8
October 15-17 - MPAEF Dine Out Days
October 18 - Minimum Day for Grades K-8
In This Newsletter

  • School Board Update
  • Eighth Grade: The Movie
  • One Community Campaign
  • LCAP Team Seeks Parent Advisors
  • K-5 Social Studies Textbook
  • Meet Our Spanish Interns
  • ...and more!
School Board News & Views

At its August 29 meeting, the Board voted to appoint a new member to fill the vacant seat. The district then called for interested candidates to submit a written application by September 16. The Board will interview candidates, deliberate, and appoint its new member at a public meeting on September 23 at 6:00 p.m. Once the Board appoints its new member, that person will assume the seat immediately. The term of this appointed seat is until early December 2020. The seat will be up for election in November 2020.

School Board meetings are held in the TERC Boardroom, 181 Encinal Ave., Atherton. Here is the calendar for the Board's 2019-20 meetings .
At its September 12 meeting, the Board welcomed 40 newly hired staff. Not everyone could attend the meeting, but every site was represented and its new staff introduced. We are ready for a productive year and thankful for these talented individuals serving our community. The Board also approved the 2018-19 Unaudited Actuals and heard the latest enrollment report .
District Saves Taxpayers Millions
MPCSD is pleased to report that it has refinanced a package of bonds to refund MPCSD taxpayers $3.8 million. Taken with other refinance actions over the past ten years, MPCSD has refunded its taxpayers nearly $30 million. The latest action takes advantage of current low interest rates, replacing bonds with an average interest rate of 4.5% with new bonds at an all-inclusive interest rate of 2.61% without extending the term of the original bond payments. School Board president David Ackerman said, "Knowing that our district staff is very professional and always looking for ways to save the taxpayer money allows us as a Board to focus on what's really important: educating children." Please read the full press release here.
"Eighth Grade: The Movie" October 2
Remember what it was like to be in eighth grade? Wondering what it will be like to parent an eighth grader, or need support if that's where you are now? There's no question middle school is a hard time for teens or their parents. In a new take on our Speaker Series events, we are inviting all parents to come watch this raw, compelling, and critically acclaimed movie together. We will process what we see and ask questions of a panel of middle school experts after the show. Whether or not you currently have an eighth grader, the best way to succeed in our parenting journey is to do it together. This special event will make you laugh, cringe, cry...but above all will give you hope and support for the middle school years.

This movie is rated R, however Common Sense Media recommends it for ages 14+. If you would like to bring your seventh or eighth grader with you, we encourage you to read the Common Sense Media information , and possibly preview the movie at home before attending with your teen. See you there October 2 at 6:30 p.m.

For the full series line-up, please see the Speaker Series website . The series is made possible by the PTOs of each school, the Menlo Park-Atherton Education Foundation, District Council, and MPCSD. All events are free and include food. We are happy to be in partnership again with Steve & Kate's Camp to offer free on-site childcare for potty trained children. Events take place at Hillview's PAC, 1100 Elder Avenue, Menlo Park.
WE NEED LEGOS! Our amazing Speaker Series coordinators would like to enhance the activity options for children in the free childcare. They are looking for donations of legos or other activities suitable for younger children. If you can help, please email . Thank you!
25 Cents of Every Dollar
Did you know that 25 cents of every dollar in MPCSD's budget represents a choice our community makes to keep our schools great? This means that when our community supports parcel taxes and gives to the One Community Campaign , it is pro-actively choosing to give our schools:

  • Smaller classes.
  • Full time counseling at every school, including THREE counselors at Hillview.
  • Music, art, library, STEM experiences, and world language for ALL STUDENTS.
  • School events like cultural days, science and engineering fairs, community building events, and more.
  • Field trips.
  • Over 30 specialist teachers in the arts, library, and language.

The goal of the One Community Campaign--a joint fundraising effort by our schools’ PTOs and the Menlo Park-Atherton Education Foundation--is 100% participation from MPCSD families. By contributing at a level that is right for your family, you are choosing to give our students the high quality education that makes MPCSD such a desirable place to raise children. To make your donation or pledge, or find out more information, visit . Corporate matching is another great way to give extra support - find out if your company will match your gift here . If you have any questions, please email . We extend a huge thank you to families that have already donated!
YOU Can Impact the Direction of the District
Are You Passionate about Equity and Achievement?
The  Local Control Accountability Plan  (LCAP) is a state-required document that every school district writes on a three year basis to outline how it will use its budget resources to address set goals relating to educational delivery and improvement. The LCAP is especially focused on how districts meet the needs of underrepresented students. It also encourages community support and parent engagement by utilizing an advisory team to inform the goals, and plans for meeting them, that the district sets forth.

MPCSD's LCAP Advisory Team is looking for new members. If you want to make a difference for our students in need, please consider joining this team. Reach out to Assistant Superintendent  Jammie Behrendt  if you are interested.
Are You Passionate about the Health and Wellness of our Kids?
MPCSD is establishing a working group to explore Social Emotional Learning (SEL) efforts within the district and make recommendations for improvement. The group will consist of school counselors and psychologists, teachers and staff, and parents. The group will look at our existing SEL lessons, research other best practices, and recommend ways to improve our SEL curriculum. The parent perspective is important to this team. The group will meet several times over this school year. If you are interested in learning more or serving on the group, please contact our Student Services Project Coordinator .
New Textbooks for Social Studies
If you have an interest in Social Studies please consider joining the K-5 Social Studies Textbook Adoption Committee. The process will lead to an adoption recommendation to the School Board in the Spring of 2020. 

How to apply to be a committee member:
A parent’s perspective in the process is critical. As a committee member, you will be asked to develop a district lens and pilot the social studies materials. 

Tentative Committee Meeting Dates:
9/26/19 All Day: SS Adoption Kick-Off
10/10/19 All Day: Publisher’s Presentations
1/9/20 Morning: Pilot 1 Debrief
3/26/20 After School: Pilot 2 Debrief/Committee selection of SS materials
4/16/20 Evening: Committee recommends the curriculum to Board for adoption 
To apply, please complete this Google Form by September 24. 
Welcome to Our Spanish Interns
MPCSD's World Language and Spanish Immersion programs are supported every year by interns from Spanish-speaking countries. These interns serve as Spanish speaking models for our students. This shared experience also helps make our programs more authentic and culturally rich. The district partners with Amity Institute to find its interns, who spend a year working in our classrooms and living with MPCSD families. This year, thanks to the generous donations of parents at the MPAEF's spring 2019 "It's For the Kids" auction, we are able to provide one more intern than in previous years. The Fund-A-Need portion of the auction benefits a different district priority each year, and the 2019 dollars raised will go towards World Language & Global Citizenship during the 2019-20 school year.

Your child will likely get to know one of these wonderful young people! We are thrilled to welcome five interns this year:
Parent Square Tips
Our preschool through fifth grade classrooms now use ParentSquare to manage most home-school communications. As a reminder, teachers and classrooms use the tool in their own ways, so your experience will vary depending on how your teacher and/or room parent implement the tool.

User tip: ParentSquare allows users to select their preferred delivery method for Post notifications. When a message is posted, users have the option to receive an email, text, app notification or a combination of methods. Users can also opt for an Instant email or a Digest email that is delivered at 6:00 p.m. with all posts from that day. 

To update your notifications (see example screen shot below):
1. On the home page select the down arrow next to your name. This will be in the upper right-hand corner of the page.
2. Click on My Account.
3. Select "Change this" under Post Notification Setting.
4. Select your preferred Post Notification Settings and click Save.
Free Parks, Fourth Grade - Really?
Do you have a fourth grader at home? If so, your student is eligible for a free pass to visit our National Parks from now through August 31, 2020 - and bring their family with them. To claim your student's pass, enter your zip code at . Your fourth grader will answer brief questions about places they want to visit. You then print a paper pass that is traded at the first park visited, for a plastic card that will admit you to National Parks or monuments for the rest of the year. 

MPCSD believes in the importance of health and wellness, including the many benefits of exploring outdoors. We encourage all families that can to get out and see our National Parks. Some fun facts:
  • The most visited park is not Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, or Yosemite but the Smokey Mountains.
  • National Parks all have 4 letter codes. If the park is a one-word name then its code is the first 4 letters of the name, like YELL for Yellowstone, YOSE for Yosemite. Parks with two-word names use the first two letters of each name, so Grand Canyon is GRCA.
  • All parks follow the above naming rules except for Carlsbad Caverns. Their name is CAVE because no one wants to go to a park called CACA!  

This article adapted from Nicole Scott, Counselor at Oak Knoll School
Erik Burmeister, Superintendent |
Governing Board
David Ackerman , President
Sherwin Chen
Stacey Jones
Scott Saywell