MPCSD District Newsletter
November 21, 2019
Providing a world-class, community-funded education.
A Note from Superintendent Burmeister
I know it's cliche at this time of year to focus on gratitude - with Thanksgiving next week - but that is what I truly feel. I am thankful for the exceptional teachers that greet our children every day. I am thankful for all the staff and administrators that help our schools and district run, making sure that learning happens in a safe, supportive, and friendly environment. I am thankful for all the families of our community, whose impact within our children's classrooms, schools, and activities is felt greatly. In fact, I was inspired to write this month's blog about my appreciation for our youth coaches .

I hope during this season of giving thanks that we all take the time - cliche or not - to notice what we are thankful for. The sometimes hectic pace of daily life can get in the way, yet if we stop and notice how much our lives are impacted for the better by those with whom we interact each day, maybe the noise and distractions can fade away for a moment and we can share our gratitude for the blessings we have.
Dates to Note

November 27-29 - Thanksgiving Holiday, No School
December 2 - Staff Development, No School
December 3 - Giving Tuesday for MPAEF
December 4-5 - MPAEF Dine Out Days
December 4-6 - Minimum Days for K-5
December 7 - Hillview Band performs at Redwood City Holiday Parade / Wine Walk for MPAEF
December 12 - School Board meeting, 6p.m. @ TERC Boardroom, 181 Encinal Ave, ATH
December 20 - Minimum Day
Dec 23-Jan 7 - Winter Break, No School
January 8 - Restorative Parenting, 6:30p.m. @ Hillview
January 20 - Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, No School
January 22 - No Small Matter Film Screening
In This Newsletter

  • School Board Update
  • Childcare Options
  • ELC Early Registration Now
  • Spotlight on Reading Specialists
  • MPAEF Opportunities
  • Restorative Parenting
  • Safe Phones for Kids
  • ...and more!
Holiday music by our own middle school musicians! Come support the Hillview Band playing in the Redwood City Hometown Holidays December 7 from 3:30-6 p.m. (parade begins at 4:30). And the Hillview Orchestra plays its annual concert at San Francisco City Hall December 11 at 12 noon.
School Board News & Views

The School Board recently approved updates to Board policies that we want to make you aware of:

Rideshare Application ( 5142 AR )
Parents who express an intention to use a rideshare app (e.g. Uber or Lyft) to transport their child should know the following:
  • The District discourages any use of rideshare apps for transportation, especially when it is being conducted in violation of the Terms of Service that the parent agreed to when installing the app.
  • Parents that permit their unaccompanied minor to ride with a rideshare driver may be against the rideshare app's policy, may not be covered by either the app's or the driver's insurance, and may be an unreasonable risk on their part.
  • Parents are responsible for any unsafe behavior or violations to the schools’ pick-up policy by rideshare drivers, and the District will hold the parent accountable for the behavior of drivers who arrive at school on their behalf.
  • The District has no jurisdiction over the streets or sidewalks adjacent to city streets, nor over what parents may direct their own children to do once they have walked off campus after school is over and the school will not take efforts to prevent students from utilizing rideshare drivers once off-campus, if requested by a parent.

Unmanned Aircraft Systems (Drones) ( 3515.21 BP )
The Governing Board recognizes that unmanned aircraft or aerial systems (drones) may be a useful tool to enhance the instructional program and assist with district operations. In order to avoid disruption and maintain the safety, security, and privacy of students, staff, and visitors, any person or entity desiring to use a drone on or over district property shall submit a written request for permission to the Superintendent or designee. To read more about this policy, including acceptable uses, guidelines for use, and who may apply to use a drone at our facilities, please read the full  Board Policy .
At the November 12 Board meeting, students from Laurel showcased some of their learning around Dia de los Muertos. Second grade Spanish Immersion students sang a traditional song, and fifth grade World Language students brought their offrendas, dioramas made to honor family members who have passed. The students were able to articulate the parts of their ofrendas and the success criteria used to evaluate their work. The Board was impressed with all the students' courage in presenting and commitment to their work.

School Board meetings are held in the TERC Boardroom, 181 Encinal Ave., Atherton. Here is the calendar for the Board's 2019-20 meetings .
Need Childcare on Non-School Days?
We've Got You Covered
We heard from many families that a local option for childcare when school is out of session would be very helpful. We have partnered with two organizations to offer such care to our families: Newton, which provides after school care at our campuses, and Steve & Kate's, a local camp that uses our facilities for summer camps and also provides the free childcare at MPCSD's Speaker Series. These fee-based camps are offered for your convenience, but are not facilitated by MPCSD. Please use the links below to find out more information or register directly with the camps.

For December 2,  Newton  will offer childcare at Laurel's Lower Campus:
This camp is available for students in grades K-8. Registration is the same for Newton and Non-Newton Families. To register, please go to  and select the "Camp" section and "Menlo Park registration."

For Winter Break (Dec 23, 26, 27, 30, 31 & Jan 2, 3, 6, 7),  Steve & Kate's  will offer childcare at Hillview:
This camp is available for children ages 4-12. Registration is open now on their website:
ELC Early Application Deadline Dec. 8
Pre-registration for the MPCSD Early Learning Center is now open for the 2020-21 school year. Early application deadline is December 8!
Please visit the ELC website to apply. Eligible children must be 3 years old by December 1, 2020 and fully potty trained by the first day of school. Applications received by midnight on December 8, 2019 will be included in the Round 1 lottery which will only include applicants who live within MPCSD boundaries, work for MPCSD, or are current ELC students and their siblings. These applicants will be notified of their lottery status in late December and will be asked to enroll by mid-January to secure a space for the 2020-21 school year.
If there are still spaces available after the first lottery, a second lottery will be conducted in 2020. A lottery for students requesting tuition assistance will be conducted in January 2020.
School Board Begins Parcel Tax Discussion
Measure X was passed by a nearly 80% majority vote in March 2017 as a temporary way to shore up the District's budget while providing a four-year runway for the Board to develop a more sustainable financial plan. In addition to Measure X, the District made $2 million in spending cuts. With the cuts, a stable property tax base, parcel taxes, and generous philanthropic giving to the Menlo Park-Atherton Education Foundation, our finances have been stable for the past two years. Our long-term funding conversations involve the Board's Teacher Compensation Philosophy, the Vision for Outstanding Public Education, Future Parcel Taxes and Bonds, and the One Community Campaign--all working together for financial sustainability.

That Measure X will need to be replaced is a reality, one that has been communicated since the beginning. We need the revenue it brings in to continue providing our program. And if we wish to replace some of the services that were lost in the cuts or realize an even stronger vision of public education, a replacement parcel tax may need to be larger, and the timing of the replacement may need to come sooner. The Board began this conversation at its November 12 meeting. Over the next few months, opportunities for study sessions with public input will be provided. We look forward to partnering again with our supportive community on how best to continue meeting the community's expectation that MPCSD provide the best education possible, with the most highly qualified teachers, to its families.
The Joy of Reading
Reading is the most fundamental of skills, one upon which all of learning, in fact most of life depends. It might be something we take for granted, which is why when a child struggles with reading, families and teachers take it seriously. MPCSD supports reading and literacy in the elementary schools with an exceptional team of Reading Specialists, including Susan Blanco, Jacqui Cebrian, Helga Dinning, Liliana Gómez, Jeanne McCann, and Leigh Wilson. These teachers work with individual students or small groups to make sure all students are reading and comprehending at grade level. They bring passion and expertise to their work, focusing on lifting students, growing passionate readers, and supporting teachers and administrators throughout the district.

Recently a parent reached out to share his child’s reading success after working with a Reading Specialist, saying “After only about four months of classes, [my child] did not need any further special instruction and finished the year at grade level. We are very thankful that both the Reading Specialist and the school did not let our child down in reading!” Helping children read is empowering for the student and family, and offers such relief to concerned parents.

The amazing Reading Specialists of MPCSD would like to share more about themselves and their jobs with you. Somehow, they all think they have the best job! Please click here to read the full article.
Book Nook
We will bring you reading suggestions on a regular basis here in the Book Nook! Our team of Reading Specialists recommends these titles. Feel free to check them out with your children.
The Menlo Park-Atherton Education Foundation has awarded $39,000 in Jeanie Ritchie Grants for 26 innovative projects lead by teachers and staff at four Menlo Park City School District schools: Encinal Elementary, Laurel Elementary, Oak Knoll Elementary and Hillview Middle School. These grants – ranging from $122 to $6,250 – provide funding for teachers to integrate innovative curriculum, projects, and experiences in the classroom during the 2019-20 school year. 
Jeanie Ritchie Grants have been making learning come alive for MPCSD students for over 35 years. This year, the grant recipient reception was honored to have Jeanie Ritchie herself attend! This year's winning teachers gathered to thank her for her long time support of innovative teaching in MPCSD. Thank you to all parents who contribute to the One Community Campaign, which funds the grants through the MPAEF. And thank you to Simon Breitbard Fine Arts for hosting the event.

From our Partners at MPAEF
The week of December 2-7 has lots of fun opportunities to support our schools through the Menlo Park-Atherton Education Foundation. MPAEF grants the district nearly $4 million each year. Every child in the district is touched by MPAEF support, from excellent specialist teachers to lower class sizes, libraries, STEM, art and music. You may find a way to support this week that works for your family!
 # GivingTuesday December 3
On the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, global charities, families and businesses come together to support #GivingTuesday - a global day dedicated to giving back and encouraging charitable giving after Black Friday and Cyber Monday. 
MPAEF's goal is to raise $5,000 for the MPAEF Endowment for Excellence in Teaching on Giving Tuesday! The Endowment allows the District to invest in professional development every year, which is proven to ensure that our teachers are effective in the classroom.
Looking for an excuse to eat out? MPAEF can help! On December 4-5, when you eat out (or take out) at participating restaurants in Menlo Park and Redwood City a portion of the proceeds benefit MPAEF. It’s a win-win for everyone!  Click here for a list of participating restaurants. Please make sure to mention you are part of the MPAEF Dine Out fundraiser to the restaurant so that your dining dollars are counted!
Sip, Shop & Support
Get your tickets to the upcoming Wine Walk put on by the Santa Cruz Mountains Wine Association on December 7 from 1:00-4:30 pm. It’s a fun afternoon of wine tasting along Santa Cruz Avenue and all proceeds will benefit MPAEF!  Tickets are $49 per person, in advance / $55 @ door (21 & over). Click here to buy now .

Sip with the Sup! Superintendent Erik Burmeister will be at Cheeky Monkey from 2-3 p.m.! Stop by and share a sip with the sup at that time.
Restorative Parenting - Speaker Series Resumes January 8
This fall has been truly remarkable for the Speaker Series. Two incredible speakers enlightened us about the power of our brains, and a movie event challenged us to think about the middle school experience from our students' perspectives.

Right after we return from Winter Break, the Speaker Series features its next great presenter, Karen Junker:

Restorative Parenting: Restorative Practices Used at School Introduced for Home
Wednesday, January 8, 6:30 p.m. at Hillview Middle School
Free onsite childcare for potty trained children

Ms. Junker is a certified trainer by the International Institute for Restorative Practices. Restorative Practices are ways of speaking, listening, and asking questions to build healthy relationships and de-escalate conflict. Karen Junker’s philosophy of culture and climate is that every community member be valued and respected. She has broad expertise using restorative practices to build community, collaborating with schools and districts including MPCSD to promote healthy environments for all students. Learn how to use Restorative Practices philosophies and methods at home with your children - the same Restorative Practices that are used within MPCSD - to maintain healthy, conflict-free relationships or work towards creating the balanced, positive relationship you desire with your children. You won't want to miss this inspirational event filled with takeaways you can try at home.

MPCSD Hosts Regional Conversation About the Importance of Early Learning - January 22
No Small Matter is the first feature documentary to explore the most overlooked, underestimated, and powerful force for change in America today: early childhood education. Through poignant stories and surprising humor, the film lays out the overwhelming evidence for the importance of the first five years, and reveals how our failure to act on that evidence has resulted in an everyday crisis for American families, and a slow-motion catastrophe for the country.

MPCSD is partnering with the Community Equity Collaborative and The Primary School to bring this powerful documentary to Hillview on January 22 at 6:30 p.m. MPCSD is committed to high quality early childhood education, which is why the district opened its Early Learning Center last year and expanded it this year. We know that excellent preschool is key to children thriving in kindergarten and beyond. Twenty-five percent of spots in the ELC are for lower income families whose children may not otherwise have access to a high quality preschool experience for their child. Please join us and our community partners for this important film screening and following discussion panel. Let's make high quality preschool a reality for all children.

MPCSD Olympians are Truly Special
Recently thirty MPCSD students from Encinal, Oak Knoll, and Hillview attended a Special Olympics Soccer event hosted at Sacred Heart in Atherton and organized by the San Mateo County Office of Education. Over 150 students from around San Mateo County attended the event as students focused on skill sets related to soccer. Students rotated through six different stations that helped them develop skills in dribbling, kicking, passing and teamwork. 

Special Olympics is an organization that brings together athletes—with and without intellectual disabilities—as teammates, breaking down barriers and creating a powerful community of acceptance and inclusion. MPCSD students will attend at least three more events including an ice skating event, basketball tournament, and track and field event later this school year.
Your Child Wants a Phone - You Want Safety
Many parents are concerned about the risks of too much access to screens, apps, and social media. Studies show that anxiety and stress are markedly increased in children and teens over the past few years, and the role of smartphones plays a part in that. While we desire the convenience of a phone for our children, it is reasonable to be concerned about the impacts that will have on our children's mental health.

Superintendent Burmeister recommends that families make the decisions that are best for them, but in general that children don't have smartphones until 8th grade. To read more about the reasoning behind this and resources you can use to help make your own decision, please read his blog on this topic .

So what is a parent to do? Just in time for the holidays, here is a recommendation that may work for you. Gabb Wireless is a phone and network that was designed by a concerned parent specifically for children to have a phone without the worry about screen addiction, social media, and potentially concerning apps. Gabb phones can call, make basic texts, and include camera, calendar, calculator, alarm, and radio...and it looks just like a smartphone. They do not have email, a media player, internet browser, social media, games, or an app store. MPCSD does not partner with nor endorse Gabb, but we saw this phone and thought it might be a great solution for families who want the convenience and security of a phone for their younger children and teens without having to negotiate technology and media that elementary and middle school aged children are not yet ready for. Please let Superintendent Burmeister know what you think at .
Erik Burmeister, Superintendent |
Governing Board
David Ackerman , President
Stacey Jones, Vice President
Mark Box
Sherwin Chen
Scott Saywell