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Community Matters Quarterly

Fall 2019
World Class. Community Funded.
The Community Newsletter
of your Menlo Park City School District
From Superintendent Burmeister
We are off to a great start to the school year here in MPCSD. We've had Back-to-School Nights, school picnics, book fairs, speaker events, Outdoor Education, and are just about to wrap up this fall's annual community fundraising campaign, the One Community Campaign ! It's been a whirlwind fall already. I recently had the opportunity to share a bit about what the job of superintendent includes, and discuss some overall education issues with the Stanford Graduate School of Education School's In radio show. For all you who want to know about the superintendent's job, please listen here .
As we started the year, I was again reminded of how fortunate we are here in MPCSD to have truly exceptional teachers in our classrooms. Research confirms that the most impactful factor in a child's education is their teacher; that's why we prioritize the hiring and retaining of the best in the business. Please read my Sup'sOn blog for more on why these individuals are such heroes to me and our community.

Join me for lunch! I am hosting a town hall event, Sup & Sandwich, on October 25, 11:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m. at Arrillaga Family Recreation Center. I'd love for you to come hear more about our district and meet you in person.
Thank you for supporting YOUR community school district. You are always welcome to reach out with questions at
 Dates to Note

All School Board meetings are held in the TERC Boardroom,
181 Encinal Ave., Atherton

October 2 - "Eighth Grade: The Movie," Speaker Series event, 6:30-9 p.m. at Hillview

October 10 - School Board meeting, 6:00 p.m., TERC Boardroom

October 13 - MPCSD at Menlo Park Farmers Market, 9 a.m.-1 p.m.

October 23 - School Board meeting, 6:00 p.m., TERC Boardroom

October 25 - Sup & Sandwich Town Hall luncheon, all are welcome! 11:30a.m.-1p.m. at Arrillaga Family Recreation Center, 701 Laurel St, MP

November 5 - "Everything You've Always Wanted to Know About the Brain," Speaker Series event, 6:30 p.m. at Hillview

November 14 - School Board meeting, 6:00 p.m., TERC Boardroom

November 17 - MPCSD at Menlo Park Farmers Market, 9 a.m.-1 p.m.

November 27-29 - Schools closed for Thanksgiving Break

December 12 - School Board meeting, 6:00 p.m., TERC Boardroom

December 23-January 7 - Schools closed for Winter Break

January 8 - "Restorative Parenting: Restorative Practices Used at School Introduced for Home," Speaker Series event, 6:30 p.m. at Hillview

January 9 - School Board meeting, 6:00 p.m., TERC Boardroom

January 12 - MPCSD at Menlo Park Farmers Market, 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
Have Lunch on Us!
Superintendent Burmeister hosts a town hall event, Sup & Sandwich, October 25, 11:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m. at Arillaga Family Recreation Center. Please come, have lunch, hear what the school district is up to, and talk with Superintendent Burmeister. RSVP Here.
Millions Saved for MPCSD Taxpayer
The School Board recently approved the refinance of bonds which resulted in savings of over $3.7 million. According to Keygent, the district’s financial advisor, the outcome is good for local taxpayers: “All of the savings from the refinancing will be passed back to District taxpayers in the form of lower property tax bills.” Over the past 10 years, prudent bond refinancing has saved MPCSD taxpayers nearly $30 million. Read the full press release here.
Speaker Series - FREE & Open to the Community
MPCSD offers a speaker series featuring experts and timely topics that are sure to interest our community. This year we hear from TV personality David Eagelman, bestselling author Kim Brooks, and many others covering social media, brain science, parenting conundrums, and more. Please read more here and join us for any or all of these community-building events. Coming soon:
Eighth Grade: The Movie
TONIGHT! Wednesday, October 2, 6:30-9:00 p.m. at Hillview Middle School

The critically acclaimed movie will be shown, followed by a panel discussion with MPCSD middle school experts Hillview Principal Willy Haug, Assistant Principal Danielle O'Brien, 8th Grade Counselor Kellie Raczkowski, and Superintendent Erik Burmeister. The Hillview PTO will delight attendees with free movie theater-style snacks.

This movie is rated R, yet may be appropriate for mature 7th and 8th grade students to attend with their parents. Please read the Common Sense Media information here. We anticipate a lively and valuable community conversation about what middle school is like for today's students, and how we as a community can help students and parents navigate this emotional time.
Everything You've Always Wanted to Know About the Brain
November 5, 6:30-8 p.m. at Hillview Middle School

David Eagleman, Stanford neuroscientist, author, television personality, and Oak Knoll parent will talk about how we make decisions, how the brain matures through time, what it means to grow up in a digital world, and how the brain thinks about ingroups, outgroups, and empathy. David's areas of research include sensory substitution, time perception, vision, and synesthesia. He is the writer and presenter of  The Brain , an Emmy-nominated television series on PBS and BBC. 

Read the full Speaker Series schedule here . Events continue through April 2020!
Preschool Enrollment Opens October 15
MPCSD's Early Learning Center serves 2.9-5 year olds at two sites - on Laurel School's Lower Campus on Edge Road in Atherton and at Oak Knoll School on Oak Knoll Lane in Menlo Park. This inquiry-based, whole-child program staffed by exceptional early childhood educators has doubled in size since its opening last year, due to local demand for the high quality preschool experience it offers.

Enrollment for the 2020-21 school year opens October 15. The first lottery for spaces will be held in December. To be considered in this lottery, you must reside within the MPCSD attendance area and submit your application by December 7. Tours at both sites are available. Please see the ELC webpage for details.
Leadership Changes at School Board
and District
The School Board voted on Monday, September 23, to appoint Mark Box to serve the remaining term of the Board's vacant seat, until early December 2020. Mr. Box is well known to the Menlo Park and Atherton communities. He has served as a School Board member in the past, and has been a member of the district’s Finance and Audit Committee for many years. He brings deep experience in governance, school operations and funding, and the perspective of a parent, having raised his three children through MPCSD schools. MPCSD welcomes Mr. Box back to the School Board.
After thirteen productive years, MPCSD’s talented Chief Business and Operations Officer Ahmad Sheikholeslami will be leaving the district at the end of October. During Mr. Sheikholeslami’s time, MPCSD enrollment grew by 30%. Under his leadership, the district has built two new schools, added a new campus site, upgraded three schools, added efficiency features to all campuses, and is becoming zero waste. We have added the Early Learning Center preschool program at two sites, including retrofitting buildings and onboarding staff. Mr. Sheikholeslami has pursued community partnerships for facilities use and made scholarships for MPCSD’s most in-need families a requirement when contracting with childcare and summer programs at our sites. On the financial side, Mr. Sheikholeslami has been a faithful steward of the public’s investment, overseeing balanced budgets, maintaining a Triple A credit rating, increasing transparency and adding OpenGov to our financial communications, and saving the MPCSD taxpayer nearly $30 million by refinancing bonds over the past ten years. On November 1, Mr. Sheikholeslami will begin his new role as Assistant Superintendent of Business Services in Pleasanton Unified School District, a larger K-12 district closer to his home. 
District Digest
We Are One Community
The parents of MPCSD are in the final days of our fall fundraising campaign to support our school PTOs and the Menlo Park-Atherton Education Foundation. Hundreds of parent volunteers, teachers, principals and staff are volunteering their time to raise the funds necessary to support art, music, world language, STEM, counseling and mental health, field trips and more for every student. MPCSD wouldn't have its strong program and breadth of opportunities without our parent community coming together. To find out more about these fundraising efforts, please see the One Community Campaign website .

Strategic Directions
In 2016, then Assistant Superintendent Erik Burmeister led the district's effort to develop Strategic Directions that would inform priorities for the years 2016-2022. Now halfway through that initial time frame, the Strategic Directions have been honed and refocused to provide actionable guidance for the district's priorities for the next three years. The refocused Strategic Directions are aligned with the district's whole child learning and development framework which prioritizes learner centered classrooms, competency and evidence based assessments, and meaningful work based on a foundation of social emotional learning and healthy and collaborative relationships.
Budget and Enrollment
 At its September 12 meeting, the Board heard the latest enrollment report . District enrollment, after increasing nearly 50% over the last twenty years, has stabilized recently near 3000 students and is projected to increase again in the near future. While other local districts experience marked enrollment declines, MPCSD continues to attract and retain students.

Also on September 12, the Board approved the unaudited actuals for the 2018-19 budget. Property tax funds 59.7% of the district's budget, with parcel taxes contributing another 15.5% and donations to the Menlo Park-Atherton Education Foundation adding 6.9%. See the full presentation here.

Welcome New Staff
The Board welcomed its newly hired staff. Not all of the 40 new hires could attend, but every campus was represented. Welcome to the MPCSD family!
MPCSD's Innovation Nationally Recognized
We are honored and proud to have been selected to join the  League of Innovative Schools by Digital Promise . This League is a selective group of 114 districts across the country who share the common value of promoting equity in education by using innovative approaches and smart use of technology. Our membership in the League is a validation of the hard work MPCSD teachers and staff do every day in creating a learning environment in which all students can reach their potential. Our membership will allow us to thought partner with like-minded districts across the country; access professional development for our teachers to continue improving our innovative efforts towards learning personalized; and share what we have learned about the most effective ways to use technology in the service of improved student outcomes.
Passionate About Equity? Lend Your Voice
The School Board recently reaffirmed its commitment to equity throughout our district. One of the primary ways we focus on equity is through the  Local Control Accountability Plan  (LCAP). 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 from the community. 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.
Like Kids? Got Some Time?
If you enjoy helping students and have some time to spare, MPCSD has opportunities that might be for you!

Crossing Guards
A partnership with Facebook has allowed MPCSD to hire eight more crossing guards for the walking and biking routes around town. If you might like some fresh air in the morning or afternoon, and the chance to get to know your neighbors and young families please consider becoming a crossing guard. Please apply online here. We are looking for staff for the following locations:

  • Coleman Ave. and Willow Rd.
  • El Camino Real and Santa Cruz Ave.
  • Santa Cruz Ave. and Lemon Street
  • Coleman Ave. and Santa Monica 
  • Ravenswood Ave. and Alma Ln. (railroad crossing) 
  • Central Ave. and Walnut Street 
  • Laurel Street and Glenwood Rd.
  • Middle Ave. and Olive Street 

Guest Teachers
When our classroom teachers must be away, we pride ourselves in offering students a kind and compassionate guest teacher to keep the learning going. MPCSD guest teachers earn a minimum of $170 per day and have detailed lesson plans that are easy to follow. You can take jobs as you wish, and even choose campuses you prefer to work at. MPCSD guest teachers join a family of passionate educators supported by excellent staff to make your teaching experience go smoothly. To find out more about becoming a guest teacher, please read this information . We would love to welcome more community members to our guest teacher pool. Earn some extra money and make a difference in students' lives!
Partnering for Early Learning Success
Partnership is one of MPCSD’s core values because we know that by tapping into the strengths of our broader community, we can amplify success for everyone. The creation of our newest program, the Early Learning Center (ELC) preschool housed on Laurel’s Lower Campus and Oak Knoll School, has offered the opportunity to partner with leaders in early learning around the country.

The ELC is in the early stages of piloting an early learning curriculum from the Sesame Workshop in New York City. The Sesame curriculum is inquiry-based and focused on social emotional learning and literacy and fits well within the ELC’s project based learning model. ELC Director Jessica Mihaly feels this is a win-win partnership as our young students have early access to a well designed curriculum that enhances the whole child learning already in place at the ELC, and Sesame Workshop will incorporate the ELC's feedback to offer an improved curriculum for free to preschools around the country who want to provide the best possible program for children in a variety of environments.

Locally, the Preschool Pipeline, part of Community Equity Collaborative, has been another successful partnership. The Pipeline offers credit-bearing college courses in early childhood education to prospective preschool teachers, along with childcare, meals, and convenient locations so that working parents with children can participate. MPCSD’s values of partnership and equity are reflected in the Pipeline’s mission to create a new generation of knowledgeable, skillful, and diverse early childhood educators prepared to work as teachers in the MPCSD’s Early Learning Center and other community preschool programs.

Making Home Ownership Possible for Teachers
It is no secret that MPCSD lies within some of the most expensive housing areas in the nation. The nationwide struggle of teachers to find affordable housing near their jobs is especially intense in our area, as this article points out.

To provide our staff with help and advice, MPCSD has partnered with Landed , a company whose simple mission is to "help educators buy homes in expensive areas." Since partnering with Landed, we are pleased to report that nearly 50 of our staff have been in discussions with the company leading to 4 completed home purchases and 3 in process. We believe that educators should be able to participate in the American dream of home ownership if they desire, and are grateful to Landed for helping make this a reality for our staff.
Community Connection - Engage with Us
Have more questions about MPCSD and its financial stewardship? Check out our Media Literacy & FAQ or use the Interactive Financial Portal OpenGov. Get the real facts about the district's finances.

We invite you to connect with MPCSD in person by attending School Board meetings, our Speaker Series, Farmers Market, student art show at the Menlo Park Burgess Library, and via our Facebook and Twitter pages: @goMPCSD.
Our Schools

Hillview Hawks, Laurel Squirrels, Encinal Eagels, Oak Knoll Otters. These mascots represent MPCSD's four award-winning schools that are the hearts of their neighborhoods and the pride of our community. As partners in educating our future, we welcome your interest, questions, and feedback at any time. Use the links below to access each school's website, or email .
School websites:
Menlo Park City School District | 650-321-7140 | Email |
Erik Burmeister, Superintendent
Jammie Behrendt, Assistant Superintendent

Board of Education
David Ackerman, President
Mark Box
Sherwin Chen
Stacey Jones
Scott Saywell
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