News


Palo Alto school board says parcel tax renewal is critical

District wants yearly tax to go from $493 to $589 as it faces $5.1-million shortfall

Another school district--this one in Palo Alto--will ask voters to replace its current $493-a-year parcel tax that is set to expire in 2011 with a $589 levy to help pay down an expected $5.1-million budget shortfall.

Members of the Palo Alto Board of Education made it clear Tuesday night that renewal of the district's parcel tax is critical if the district is to continue offering high-quality programs to its 11,565 students.

The current $493-a-year-per-parcel levy generates $9.4 million a year, about 6 percent of the district's operating budget. It expires in 2011.

Superintendent Kevin Skelly has recommended seeking replacement of the current tax with a $589-a-year-per-parcel levy in an election in April. The new tax would have a six-year life span and carry an optional exemption for seniors as well as a 2 percent per year growth adjustment to keep up with enrollment growth and cost increases.

On Dec. 15, the board will hold a public hearing on Skelly's proposal and vote on whether to hold an election in April. Once that vote is taken, campaigning on the measure is taken over by privately funded campaign committees.

Regardless of the fate of the parcel tax, the school district faces a multi-million dollar "structural deficit" for the 2010-2011 school year because of state budget cuts.

Board members stressed that parcel tax funds are locally generated and locally controlled.

The school district is collecting suggestions on how to address the 2010-2011 budget shortfall, now estimated at $5.1 million. The board will hold a study session on the issue early next year.

Skelly said the district already has achieved some savings through an informal hiring freeze, tighter staffing at the secondary level, cutting food budgets, closing school swimming pools between sports seasons and "incrementally" increasing K-6 class sizes.

Even so, "We're probably going to have to make some choices that are really tough, that we don't want to have to make," board member Melissa Baten Caswell said.

The Palo Alto district serves 11,565 students. A propoposed $233-a-year parcel tax in Pleasanton failed to generate the necessary two-thirds vote to pass last June in a district that serves 14,846 students.

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mary
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Dec 10, 2009 at 1:15 pm

As it has been well explained in previous postings by many authors "hydraulics" (Kathleen's term, I think) – meaning the point that pressure (or pressure relief -- financial or otherwise) causes all parts of a system to move towards equalization, thereby making it near impossible to evaluate the risk of increase of distruction upon removal of or added preasure.

Once a parcel tax is passed it NEVER EVER goes away.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Dec 10, 2009 at 1:27 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

I wonder how long it will take before the attacks on Kathleen begin again.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mary
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Dec 10, 2009 at 2:29 pm

I guess I didn't paste the entire comment:

As it has been well explained in previous postings by many authors "hydraulics" (Kathleen's term, I think) – meaning the point that pressure (or pressure relief -- financial or otherwise) causes all parts of a system to move towards equalization, thereby making it near impossible to evaluate the risk of damage upon removal of or added pressure – makes it impossible for the citizens to defend themselves from spiraling taxation. This one even has an annual raise built in to the language.

And thank you Stacey, for firing a preemptive shot in defense of Kathleen. She is a logical and knowledgeable voice in the debate that a few fanatics would dearly like to discredit and silence.

Once a parcel tax is passed they NEVER EVER go away.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Get the facts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 10, 2009 at 3:50 pm

"Once a parcel tax is passed they NEVER EVER go away."

Not true. Each parcel tax is different. Some are for a finite time, like the possible Measure G was, others are ongoing. Some have an annual raise like Mary mentions. But it is false that they n"never ever go away", it depends on the language.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mary
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Dec 10, 2009 at 3:56 pm

Get the facts – Please humor us with an example of a few that have expired without renewal in California.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 10, 2009 at 6:29 pm

Today US News and World report announced its 2010 list of best high schools, and both Palo Alto schools made the top 100.

Web Link

People in Palo Alto care about their schools. They get what they pay for. If the continue to renew their parcel tax, I say good for them. Education is a fantastic investment.

I think the above mentioned Kathleen works in this district, so she could tell us more about it. Here's to hoping that Palo Alto passes the extension.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Joe
a resident of Downtown
on Dec 10, 2009 at 6:50 pm

Not only do parcel taxes tend to "NEVER EVER go away" they often tend to GROW LARGER. And again I say...WHY IS IT THE PROPERTY OWNERS RESPONSIBILITY TO PAY MORE FOR THE SCHOOLS WHEN THEY ALREADY SUPPORT THE SCHOOLS. If the property tax currently paid is not enough for the school district, then the school district needs to live within their means or find another source of income.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by I Agree
a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on Dec 10, 2009 at 7:42 pm

I wholeheartedly agree w/ Mary, Stacey and Joe (oh, and Kathleen too!). And even though I have children in this school district, I find it hard to imagine myself voting in favor of a parcel tax, no matter how minimal.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 10, 2009 at 8:39 pm

To I Agree,

"oh, and Kathleen too"

I don't think Kathleen ever said she opposed a parcel tax in Palo Alto, or that we shouldn't have a parcel tax here in Pleasanton, so I'm not sure what you think you are agreeing with.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 10, 2009 at 8:50 pm

To Joe,

Pleasanton is now seeing much slower growth and development, so property tax revenue will be slowing down. This is part of the delayed effect of Prop 13. Because of Prop 13, people who have lived in their homes for a long time pay less and less each year in property tax using inflation adjusted dollars. The maximum rate of increase allowed for property tax is less than the average rate of inflation.

Web Link

"WHY IS IT THE PROPERTY OWNERS RESPONSIBILITY TO PAY MORE FOR THE SCHOOLS WHEN THEY ALREADY SUPPORT THE SCHOOLS"

It is their responsibility because property taxes actually drop over time as explained above. A parcel tax can partially remedy that.

Let's put aside all the shouting and work together to make our Pleasanton schools as good as they can be. A parcel tax can play an important role in that.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Really?
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 10, 2009 at 10:05 pm

"Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, 8 hours ago
Stacey is a member (registered user) of Pleasanton Weekly

I wonder how long it will take before the attacks on Kathleen begin again."

What is your motive Stacey? You seem to be the one to bring Kathleen into this discussion. Are you looking to stir the pot?

Your sarcastic rips on people all over this blog are constant. People have made good points in discussions with Kathleen, yet you like to classify her as a victim, even answering for her! Many of her claims have been outright opinions, yet taken as fact by some. So she is beyond reproach? She has chosen to post her name, her profession, and her ideas. This is her choice. So what is your excuse?



 +   Like this comment
Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Dec 10, 2009 at 10:16 pm

A parcel tax should be a last resort, not the first.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Dec 10, 2009 at 10:22 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

I was not the one who brought Kathleen's name up first. You seem to want your pot stirred. Why else would you have responded?

What bearing does Kathleen's position have on the facts she's presented? If some want to believe her because of her position, how is that any different from those who want to believe others because of their positions?

Why don't you make a list of Kathleen's claims that are opinions and put it on a webpage? I've seen Kathleen retract when she's been shown she's wrong. Where has she been wrong that she hasn't retracted? If you have a webpage with a list and evidence, I'm sure she will publicly retract where she's been wrong and everyone can see what these so-called half truths really are.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Dec 10, 2009 at 10:29 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Oh, another thing. Make a webpage with a list of the good points. Let's put some critical thinking and a little research to these points to see if the points stand up to scrutiny.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Dec 10, 2009 at 11:07 pm

Interesting the editor(s) chose to post this here in Pleasanton.

PAUSD is asking to raise the tax from $493 per parcel to $589 per parcel (not what seems to be written as $589 million). It wasn't noted that an all mail in ballot has been proposed at half the cost of a special election (still not cheap though). It also isn't noted that the reserves will also be used and are estimated to fall to 9% in the next few years . . . that is worth repeating: they will use the reserves to help and are worried they will be at 9% in something like 2014. I'll get my notes tomorrow to verify the year and the percentage. Oh, and they have a very good consultant advising them, as they have done for the district for previous parcel taxes and bonds. None of this paragraph is opinion.

To Really? I am very clear about fact or opinion/ideas and I don't think anyone is out there taking what I write as all facts. I do think people agree and definitely disagree with me, but it is meant to be a dialog. Maybe there will be consensus; it could happen. I understand why others chose to be anonymous, but I can't see any reason why I should start posting that way on this topic.

It would be best, iMHO, if we spend the time chatting about how and when to move forward and about what that looks like if the community chooses to make any moves.



Some may wish to read the board presentations, which included results of . . . . a community phone survey of 600 people. You can find the materials here Web Link The First Interim Report on the budget is a good read too. This paragraph IS opinion with proper links to data.

Also lacking in this article is information about other recent, local area parcel tax attempts that passed or failed and why. This I would say is just what I would have liked to have seen.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Big Poppa
a resident of Del Prado
on Dec 10, 2009 at 11:23 pm

If you want to be more like Palo Alto why don't you just move there? Why is the only answer to a govt financial crisis always increasing taxes? With Federal, State, and local taxes my wife and my tax percentage is almost 50%. it's getting to the point where I have quit buying anything except the basics and I'm putting $1500 dollars cash in my locker at work to hide from the govt so they can't tax it again. So those who want increased taxes simply write the govt a check and [Portion removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Joe
a resident of Downtown
on Dec 10, 2009 at 11:25 pm

To "a reader"...I don't accept your convoluted arguments and the next attempt at a parcel tax will be met with more organized opposition and the help of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Pete
a resident of Downtown
on Dec 11, 2009 at 6:33 am

I am with you Joe and will oppose it at all costs and will not vote for one like I did the last time. I was deceived. Reader always cherry picks her facts. She did not tell you that Mission San Jose in Fremont was voted the 35th best school in the nation, that they do not have a parcel tax, nor that their teachers make far less than ours. Why? it does not fit the story the teachers and their union want to paint of why they should get their money.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Brutus
a resident of Foothill High School
on Dec 11, 2009 at 8:38 am

There is a PUSD Board meeting on December 16th. Be there at 7:00 pm and voice your concerns for or against a future parcel tax.

But whatever you do, please don't lose sight of the fact that without a future parcel tax educational opportunities in Pleasanton will continue to deteriorate.

I agree that reform is needed. Like many, I don't want to pay more in taxes. However, I am not willing to sacrifice the kids in the schools now while we adults work to fix things. I will support a future parcel tax AND continue to work for needed change. I hope all of you will do the same.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 11, 2009 at 8:54 am

To Joe,

" don't accept your convoluted arguments "

Please explain what is wrong with the arguments.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 11, 2009 at 8:55 am

To Kathleen,

"Also lacking in this article is information about other recent, local area parcel tax attempts that passed or failed and why. This I would say is just what I would have liked to have seen."

Sounds like a hear a volunteer. ;-)


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Einstein
a resident of Mohr Elementary School
on Dec 11, 2009 at 9:03 am

Einstein is a registered user.

There has got to be some other solution other than banking everything on this parcel tax hoopla. As I mentioned the other day I was in Seattle Washington and they are going to utilize a use tax or use fee in order to close the gap in education. The citizens of Washington just like California already pay for education through taxes, sales tax, and voter intiated bonds. Anything above and beyond this should be paid for by individuals utilizing the service like parents of school aged children not individuals who do not use the service or who are unemployed. To try and pass a parcel tax in these times is a waste of time and money.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by anon mom
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Dec 11, 2009 at 9:09 am

Here's the deal,

"People in Palo Alto care about their schools. They get what they pay for. If the continue to renew their parcel tax, I say good for them. Education is a fantastic investment."

My husband and I were both born and raised in Palo Alto and yes the schools are fantastic the property values have held their own during this down time.

And dont tell me to move back to Palo Alto as we choose where we live and these tyoe of comments are childish at best.



One look at Palo Alto Weekly On Line Forum amd you can clearly see that people in this communirty discuss and revolve most issues in an inteligent and cilvil manner.

The Palo Alto parcel tax will pass with ease, I guarantee that!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mary
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Dec 11, 2009 at 9:10 am

Still waiting on that list of Parcel taxes in California that have been allowed to expire. I believe Casey said he would "get right back to us" about a year ago on that one as well.

I stand by my original statement. Parcel taxes are a spiraling trap for homebuyers that never ever go away.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Einstein
a resident of Mohr Elementary School
on Dec 11, 2009 at 9:21 am

Einstein is a registered user.

Another potential solution would be to consider taking the schools in Pleasanton private. This would potentially protect the schools from budget reductions and eliminations. Additionally, under this format teachers would be evaluated annually on the merits of their positive contributions and rewarded accordingly. Conversely, poor performing teachers could be weaned out.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Warren
a resident of Birdland
on Dec 11, 2009 at 4:40 pm

Agree with the parcel tax or not, at least Palo Alto has the leadership to say what the shortfall is expected to be and propose a multi-faceted solution. Palo Alto can now have a real debate about what is important to their community values. I hope our citizens show up at the next meeting and demand this Board communicates openly about the problems and the solutions being investigated. Then we can have a real debate on ideas what the shortfall is and what mix of additional revenue and additional cost reductions are best to close that gap and keep the school system healthy. If we can't get the Board to lead, we should have a special election to recall the current Board and replace them with some people that bring credibility and solutions.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Dec 11, 2009 at 9:31 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

It is too bad that the PW seems to think that Palo Alto school district news is "community journalism" for Pleasanton. Why aren't they reporting on this kind of news that is occurring at the state level? What happens at the state level affects Pleasanton too. Now that's real "community journalism".


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Dec 11, 2009 at 9:57 pm

Brutus -
"But whatever you do, please don't lose sight of the fact that without a future parcel tax educational opportunities in Pleasanton will continue to deteriorate."

I completely disagree. Educational opportunities will only deteriorate if parents stop being involved in their children's education. The only thing that will continue to deteriorate educational opportunities is throwing more money at a broken system and thinking it will fix it.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 11, 2009 at 10:29 pm

To Pleasanton Parent,

Already class sizes have increased and programs have been cut. Education is about a lot more than just parental involvement. It is also about good schools and good teachers and much more. The best schools in the Bay Area all have parcel taxes in place. They are producing students who go on to the best colleges and universities.

A parcel tax here in Pleasanton can play an important role in meeting the budget needs of the PUSD, just as similar taxes have in other top districts.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Dec 11, 2009 at 10:57 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Reader,

It seems from your writings that you think that repeating the same thing over and over again works well as an argument. This is a technique practiced by the best propagandists, yet somehow your application of the technique just looks too obvious and comical. Others have pointed this out as well. I think it has a lot to do with these claims you make with no substance to back it up. Don't quit your day job.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jerry
a resident of Oak Hill
on Dec 12, 2009 at 12:38 am

"too obvious and comical".

And annoying...


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 12, 2009 at 4:37 am

The reason districts choose a mail-in vote over a regular election has something to do with being easy to pass, it is not just to control costs.

Cupertino did something like that in the last election. So did other districts in the south bay.

Many residents do not vote in these mail-in votes, many are not aware.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 12, 2009 at 6:49 am

Comments to various recent posts:

"The best schools in the Bay Area all have parcel taxes"

Simply untrue and repeatedly saying it doesn't make it so.

(Reader/Drumbeater) – "Don't quit your day job."

This is his/her day job.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 12, 2009 at 9:08 am

To resident,

"Simply untrue and repeatedly saying it doesn't make it so."

I'm sorry to say that it is true. It is sad that the truth annoys you, but it is important to ask what the best school districts are doing to understand what works.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mary
a resident of Country Fair
on Dec 12, 2009 at 9:17 am

Reader,

Mission San Jose High School in Fremont in a public school ranked a few days ago as the 36 best high school in the nation and they do not have a parcel tax. Besides I think you can see by the tone on most of these posts that the chances of getting the votes required is pretty remote. The chance for a parcel tax has passed with the economy. I suggest as Einstein has frequently stated that something else is required similar to a use tax or surtax on usage.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mary
a resident of Country Fair
on Dec 12, 2009 at 9:25 am

The attached link illustrates the failure of two recent initiatives to pass parcel taxes in this economy and they wanted far less than Pleasantn desires.


Web Link


 +   Like this comment
Posted by a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 12, 2009 at 9:51 am

To Mary,

I understand your confusion. Mission San Jose High School is not a school district. It is only one school. Unfortunately, the Fremont Unified School District has mediocre test scores and results compared to better school districts like San Ramon or Palo Alto.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 12, 2009 at 9:52 am

To Mary,

Here is more information about Fremont Unified.

Web Link


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Another Gatetree Resident
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Dec 12, 2009 at 10:19 am

In reality, the comments pertaining to this thread should be directed to the "Editor" who initially started the discussion. How in heavens name can anyone even remotely post something about Palo Alto and it's parcel tax and think there is ANY correlation to Pleasanton. Having grown up on the West Side of the Bay, I can attest to the fact that there is very little similarity (other than over-inflated resident egos) between Pleasanton and Palo Alto. However, if Pleasanton wants to become Palo Alto -- parcel tax and all -- feel free, but think long and hard about what you'll be losing.

Big Poppa asked if one wants to be more like Palo Alto why doesn't one just move there. In that I fully agree. Don't bring the West Bay standard of living to Pleasanton. Their values will be a great loss to P-town. If one likes what they see in Palo Alto, pack up and move.

A Parcel Tax should be a last ditch effort to keep things status quo, not simply something someone else's town approved.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 12, 2009 at 10:38 am

To Mary,

Yes, I am aware that lower quality school districts do not support their schools well.

Fremont Union High School District can at best be described as an uneven district with some good and some mediocre schools. Consistently good school districts have parcel taxes in place.

Santa Clara Unified is an average district with average API scores.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 12, 2009 at 10:46 am

To "Another Gatetree Resident",

"Big Poppa asked if one wants to be more like Palo Alto why doesn't one just move there. In that I fully agree. Don't bring the West Bay standard of living to Pleasanton. Their values will be a great loss to P-town. If one likes what they see in Palo Alto, pack up and move."

What specifically are you talking about when you say "West Bay standard of living"

OK, if you don't like the West Bay, then have a look at Orinda or San Ramon. Were parcel taxes there "last ditch efforts to keep things status quo"? Parents in those towns appear to be very happy with the status quo.

Pleasanton can also benefit from a parcel tax just like those other high quality districts.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Another Gatetree Resident
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Dec 12, 2009 at 11:26 am

To "reader,"

What specifically am I talking about when I say "West Bay standard of living?" Well, the "It's All About Me" attitude comes to mind first. Add to that the "I drive a BMW -- What Do You Drive" mentality. Mix in a little of "My neighborhood's value is a smidgeon higiehr than yours," and I think you see my point. Specifically, the "West Bay" has VERY LITTLE sense of community anymore. Pleasanton felt like the "West Bay" of my youth when I moved out here 19 years ago. I loved knowing my neighbors and cherished how we looked out for one another. That does NOT exist in communities like Palo Alto, Emerald Hills, Belmont and Foster City. Perhaps they are too busy paying their parcel tax and outrageously high house and car payments to care about community anymore. Gotta keep up with the Jones, ya know!

As for your Orinda and San Ramon comparisons -- First, Orinda is again not a real comparison to Pleasanton. Economically nor socially. Second, San Ramon -- my nickname for that community is "Stepford." No one there has an independent thought.

Pleasanton's schools can remain great if those who are pushing a parcel tax as the solution think outside the box. By that I mean -- let those who have children in the district or the means by which to donate money do so. Don't force everyone to! Share of yourselves, give of your time. Assist those poor, underpaid, overworked teachers everyone is so concerned about by spending time in the classrooms as Teacher's Aides. Go out and buy instruments for band, sports equipment, or textbooks.

In addition, you're free to peek over my back fence anytime and see how much sports equipment is left out a night to rot and/or be stolen. Let's not mention the number of items that have become my dog's toys over the years as a result of sailing over the fence. Are all of us supposed to fund such carelessness?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 12, 2009 at 2:29 pm

To "Another Gatetree Resident",

Thank you for the honest answer. I'm not sure I agree with you characterizations San Ramon and Palo Alto, but I agree there are some differences along the lines of what you say. There is plenty of materialistic excess and conformity in Pleasanton as well. Just look at that Ruby Hill community.

"Share of yourselves, give of your time. Assist those poor, underpaid, overworked teachers everyone is so concerned about by spending time in the classrooms as Teacher's Aides. Go out and buy instruments for band, sports equipment, or textbooks. "

Many of us are already doing that. In addition to that, I think we need to put a parcel tax in place. If you've been living here a long time, because of Proposition 13, you're now paying less in property taxes than you paid when you bought your home. That's because the maximum allowed property tax increase under Prop 13 is less than the average rate of inflation. Isn't it time for all of us to support our schools in this time of a global financial downturn?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mary
a resident of Country Fair
on Dec 12, 2009 at 4:24 pm

Reader,

Do the teachers at Mission San Jose make more than the other teachers in the Fremont high schools? Do any of the teachers in Fremont make as much as the teachers in Pleasanton? The answer to both of these questions is no so the answer is not giving our teachers more money unless you are a teacher. The key is the level of engagement of the parents at Mission. That is what Pleasanton needs if they want to continue to excell. Honestly, I have been in this town 35 years now and it does not seem to me that the parents are nearly as engaged as they used to be.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 12, 2009 at 6:19 pm

To Mary,

I don't think comparisons between that one unusual high school in Fremont and the entire Pleasanton Unified School District are that easy to make. I've been in the Fremont/Pleasanton areas for 17 years, and I don't know if I can say parent involvement has gotten much worse in that time frame.

I agree "the level of engagement of the parents" is very important to the learning process, but it is not the only factor. Quality of teachers and support staff, as well as a safe school environment play important roles also, in my opinion. We are facing a very a severe global economic downturn and that has had repercussions for schools. Parcel taxes are, in part, helpful in blunting the effect of the downturn. All things considered, I think a parcel tax would be a net benefit for Pleasanton, if it is done properly. However, I don't think new taxes are the solution to all our problems.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Brutus
a resident of Foothill High School
on Dec 12, 2009 at 7:07 pm

To Pleasanton Parent,

You said: "I completely disagree. Educational opportunities will only deteriorate if parents stop being involved in their children's education. The only thing that will continue to deteriorate educational opportunities is throwing more money at a broken system and thinking it will fix it."

All parents, involved or not, will witness a deterioration of educational opportunities in Pleasanton if a future parcel tax fails. Why? Because class sizes will continue to increase, meaning students will receive less individual attention.

I absolutely agree with you that the system needs reform. However, the necessary reform will not be put in place soon enough to prevent the kids in the schools now from being made to suffer. I am not advocating simply throwing money at the problems in Pleasanton, with a hope that all that is wrong here will magically become right. There is no silver bullet solution here.

The answer lies in both supporting the parcel tax AND working for needed reform. The parcel tax will help ensure that kids in the schools NOW don't end up "taking one for the team." They deserve our support while you, me, and others work to fix things.

As I posted, there is a PUSD Board meeting on December 16th. I'll be there, and I hope you and others will be too. Only through parent involvement will we see necessary reforms. At the same time, I hope that folks who would oppose a future parcel tax will reconsider their position, and support the measure for the sake of our children.





 +   Like this comment
Posted by Concerned Parent
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 12, 2009 at 8:06 pm

To Mary and Another Gatetree Resident,

You spend a lot of time shooting down a parcel tax, but what real solutions have you provided? OK, so the teachers agree to some sort of pay freeze--maybe that will save $1 million a year. How do you propose filling the rest of the multimillion-dollar gap?

To Another Gatetree Resident,

You say Pleasanton has a strong sense of community, but from what I've been seeing here, especially with your comments such as parents should pay for their own children's education, you are only polarizing the community by pitting childless persons/empty nesters vs. parents with school-age children.

Since when has education become a privilege for those who can afford it? That is exactly what a pay-per-use fee does. Education is and should remain a public service. It benefits the entire community to have good schools. Good education brings down crime rates and poverty levels. Good schools hold up housing values (look at what Pleasanton's 900+ API scores have done for Pleasanton's average housing prices--they are among the highest of all medium-sized cities in the country!!!). If you really want only parents of school-age children to support the schools without any community support, then you really should give those hundreds of thousands of dollars your home has appreciated to PUSD, because you would probably be at least one hundred thousand dollars poorer if PUSD hadn't been such a good school district.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mary
a resident of Country Fair
on Dec 12, 2009 at 8:39 pm

Concerned,

I do not think anyone could say in good conscience that our teachers are not some of the highest paid around if not the highest. I those here are truly concerned about childrens education then the focus on rewarding teachers even more would go away. The citizens of this state and city already pay taxes for our childrens education. The issue is that we have fritered away the money rewarding administrators and some teachers beyond necessity.

I truly believe that we can and should cut more costs at the district level and I would immediately have the adminstration office take every Friday off and use a workshare program with the state. This would reduce immediately 20% of administrative office salaries.

Additionally, we should pay a use fee for our kids. I do not currently have a job but do have children and grandchildren utilizing the services and would gladly pay my way before expecting others who do not use the services to pay for my kids.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 12, 2009 at 9:56 pm

To Mary,

"Additionally, we should pay a use fee for our kids."

Such a scheme isn't even legal in California. That was spelled out in some of the promotional documents used in for getting a parcel tax passed in Palo Alto.

As to teachers salaries, comparisons need to take into account total compensation, including benefits. Still, if you just compare some raw numbers including money spent per student, Pleasanton does not compare favorably to some of the very high quality districts.

Web Link

Web Link

I don't think a parcel tax will solve all our problems, but it can play an important role. We have already seen increases in class size and cuts to programs. Let's get a parcel tax in place before things get any worse.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mary
a resident of Country Fair
on Dec 12, 2009 at 10:12 pm

Reader,

I is very legal and can be done. I am 100% against a parcel tax until cost cutting has taken place. I will vote no.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Qwerty
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 12, 2009 at 11:06 pm

I'm with you Mary. I will also vote no because I want to see the fat trimmed and perks done away with before we are taxed any further. If the school feels they have already done so, then let them come out and provide those details. I will continue to support the system through volunteer work or offers of assistance in various school programs.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jerry
a resident of Oak Hill
on Dec 12, 2009 at 11:59 pm

I'm of the opinion that if as much time were spent contacting the proper state officials as the amount of time spent by those pushing for a parcel tax on this forum, those responsible for funding schools would get tired of all the constant e-mails, letters, phone calls, or whatever, and do something to help the schools...

Just my opinion...


 +   Like this comment
Posted by a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 13, 2009 at 12:55 am

To Qwerty,

"already done so, then let them come out and provide those details."

They have provided the details.

All of the other high quality school districts in the Bay Area have parcel taxes in place. Pleasanton needs to do the same. Pleasanton schools are well known for high quality of education and teachers. A parcel tax is an important part of maintaining the high quality of our schools.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mary
a resident of Country Fair
on Dec 13, 2009 at 10:19 am

Hwo about this for starters in terms of cost cutting. All district employees take each Friday off under state workshare program, raises for teachers should go away until such time as the economy turns around, district employees go on an immediate pay freeze, special election to replace the existing school board with individuals qualified to run a large dollar entity, no more district supplied cell phones, cars, district employees including teachers required to work 8 hour days, 12 months per year. Do you realize that a tenured teacher in Pleasanton at $90,000 per year makes the equilivant of $135,000 per year if they actually had to work a full year like most other people. Lots of opportunity for cutting before even considering a tax of any kind including a use tax. In addition, all of our tax dollars should go to core classes like reading, writing, and math. All other discretionary items like drama, band, cooking, sewing, athletics etc. should be funded 100% by those participating in those activities.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 13, 2009 at 12:25 pm

To Mary,

Other top school districts that compete with Pleasanton to hire the best teachers have not frozen there step and column type raises. Pleasanton doesn't want to get into a race to the bottom and give the best teachers an incentive to work in other districts. Those districts also have the benefit of parcel taxes. COLAs have already been frozen in Pleasanton in addition.

", district employees including teachers required to work 8 hour days, 12 months per year. "

That sounds like you want to do away with summer vacation. Am I reading you right?

"no more district supplied cell phones..."

The amount saved would in no way be enough to restore the lost programs.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Concerned Parent
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 13, 2009 at 6:01 pm

I think we all agree there needs to be cost cutting, but I think the point is that we shouldn't be cutting Pleasanton's schools down to the bone. Many people who have moved here lately have come for the schools. If they wanted mediocre schools, they would have moved to another city.

Good schools make for a good community to live in. Take Fremont for instance. You can see the difference in neighborhoods surrounding good schools. The better a school's API, the higher the home prices in it's district; the lower a school's API, the lower the home prices in it's district.

Pleasanton has built its reputation on its EXCELLENT school district. By keeping PUSD's quality high, we will all benefit, whether or not you have children in the schools. We should be thinking about how to keep our standards high and not race to the bottom. While you made some good suggestions, no other school district in California or the country requires its teachers to work year-round unless they have a year-round school. How would it help our schools? Certainly no worthy teacher would want to work here. And to require employees to take Friday off; again, no other district has done that, so how does it help Pleasanton? In addition, think about how that would hurt the students: no nurse to deal with sick children, no janitor to fix a broken pipe, no principal to deal with problems, etc. This is a recipe for disaster.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mary
a resident of Country Fair
on Dec 13, 2009 at 7:37 pm

Concerned Parent,

They are only a few ideas of mine but there are many more out there but any idea is better than banging a losing drum over and over and that drum is a parcel tax. We need to do something different if we want to be better. As Albert Einstein said "doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity". We should be looking at anything and everything to reduce costs and add value. I think that our teachers making 90K for 8 months work and expecting more is ridiculous and an insult to all of us and this is why you are seeing an absolute revolt in discussion of a parcel tax. There are many more school districts where the teachers make far less than our teachers but the schools are far better so it is not about money. Don't believe me? Walk around town and out of your element and talk to people, they are genuinely upset about more taxes without significant and deep cost reduction............


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Full time job
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 13, 2009 at 10:10 pm

You see Mary, the thing is, those working in PUSD HAVE been working hard for years to do something different, to continue to make this district what it is. Where have you been?

We have raised the standards, trained teachers in the latest instructional strategies, created remediation plans for underperforming students, the Excellence Committee created real goals to bring the district even further. And we continue this effort every day. Status Quo? Since when have we settled for that? The only thing we have done is strive to constantly improve the quality of education in this town and it is working! The one way that it can be standardized and measured is by test scores which we have delivered and continue to raise annually ranking PUSD in the top 10% in the state.

In fact, until the devastating cuts from the state last year, there was not a peep from this community about the quality of the schools. As home values increased, there was not a complaint about class size reduction. During the dot.com boom, there was not a peep about the number of hours teachers work or how much they are paid. ReaItors publish the successes of PUSD as a way to draw new clients. It was not until something was asked of you...that these ridiculous claims arose.

You say cut....yet you don't mention a word about what the $10 million in cuts has done so far! There is a refusal to believe that mid year cuts and the end of one time money (for CSR) will permanently change how our schools look even more. Instead you seek to insult the professionals who teach the kids of this community, you insult the leadership, and you turn a blind eye to the reality of State funding of education in California.

How sad and underlying all of this is what I'm not hearing. A community that values education and is willing to stand by to save a great district from further devastation. You want me to pay for it and you don't even understand the MANY ways I am paying for it now.

This is why, "a reader", I would leave to teach in a surrounding district, it has nothing to do with salary, it has everything to do with the attitude of posts I read here.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Dec 13, 2009 at 11:05 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Full time job wrote: "We have raised the standards, trained teachers in the latest instructional strategies, created remediation plans for underperforming students"

A list of items mandated and encouraged by the State.

"the Excellence Committee created real goals to bring the district even further."

Goals which there were not sustainable funds to implement. So they hired the extra counselors anyway without identifying funds, gambling instead on using the reserves or future enrollment growth.

"Status Quo? Since when have we settled for that?"

If you're addressing my discussion on another thread about status quo, it isn't about you, who writes from the perspective of a teacher, or our API scores but management (or at least that's my own arguments and I'm not speaking for other posters). A management can ride on the successes of the past. Those successes build an inertia that sustains those in a leadership position. That inertia can last a long time. Then it is easy to think that the leadership is doing so great when it is really just the effect of inertia. This community handed over a fiscally well-positioned district that weathered earlier economic downturns to leaders who rested on the laurels, rode the coattails, etc.

More about status quo though for you teachers, why does there continue to be an achievement gap between certain minorities and whites and asians? Maybe there's something different we can try?

"In fact, until the devastating cuts from the state last year, there was not a peep from this community about the quality of the schools."

The peeps were always about the management. Who gives out unsustainable raises and replaces policies on reserves with plans to create a policy? If it was so great, the problems from the state would not look so bad. "A reader" keeps writing about how a parcel tax can cushion us from the State. Well, good fiscal management can have the same effect. One may say that no one could have predicted this downturn. That is true that no one could have predicted such a drastic downturn, but I find it hard to believe that anyone who has worked in education within the State of California for any amount of time wouldn't know how absurd and "up and down" the funding can be and not be prepared. It isn't just unfair to children, it is unfair to employees and taxpayers.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 13, 2009 at 11:08 pm

To Mary,

"banging a losing drum over and over and that drum is a parcel tax"

I'm afraid you have it all wrong. Putting a second parcel tax on the ballot after the failure of a first attempt is in many cases a recipe for success. Look at what happened with the failure of Measure I in Palo Alto and the subsequent passage of a newer, revised tax.

"...any kind including a use tax."

A use tax for public education California is a violation of the law in California. Didn't you read the information I posted from the Palo Alto parcel tax promotional materials?

"We should be looking at anything and everything to reduce costs "

No, we should not. We should not be looking to reduce the quality of education in Pleasanton as a means to reduce cost. The citizens of Pleasanton don't want to dumb down the quality of our schools to save a buck. Who have you been talking to?

I suggest that you get more involved in the schools. Do some volunteering. Do some research. Go to school board meetings. Learn.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by full time job
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 14, 2009 at 1:02 am

"More about status quo though for you teachers, why does there continue to be an achievement gap between certain minorities and whites and asians? Maybe there's something different we can try?"

Stacey, this is why you need to stay informed with what is actually going on in PUSD. This has been a focus area for the past two years. By attending PTA and SSC meetings you can find this information being shared and decisions being made as to the best way to continue improving our schools. This has always been a process enhanced by the involvement of community members, teachers, and administration. Not only do we follow the state requirements, but we exceed them in multiple ways. Become involved locally and personally so you can see this for yourself.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Full time job
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 14, 2009 at 1:28 am

"Goals which there were not sustainable funds to implement. So they hired the extra counselors anyway without identifying funds, gambling instead on using the reserves or future enrollment growth."

I don't hear you mention that this was the year that elementary science teachers were added, and teachers gave up their COLA increase to fund it. This has directly resulted in a rise in science test scores at the elementary level. Grants, mentorships, local partnerships with Clorox and LLL are free programs that are also increasing student achievement. Status quo is always being challenged.

Wouldn't it be nice to hear more of what this district is doing right now and why they are doing it in order to understand how funding decisions have been made?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mary
a resident of Country Fair
on Dec 14, 2009 at 8:49 am

Reader,

It is not against the law if it is in addition to public taxes and bonds. If the city feels that the significant amount of money being spent on Pleasanton is not enough to keep giving raises to our teachers then they can put a use tax in place. If we went private with our schools we could do whatever we wanted. Our teachers make way to much money in my opinion and their union protects poor performers.


Additionally, the gap between ethnic groups has nothing to do with teachers but rather parental engagement and expectations. My next door neighbors are from China and all 3 girls studied with their parents each night for hours and excelled in our school


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Dec 14, 2009 at 9:04 am

Stacey is a registered user.

"I don't hear you mention that this was the year that elementary science teachers were added, and teachers gave up their COLA increase to fund it."

Again I'll state, my status quo discussion is not directed at the teacher side of the district, but at management. Do you think that teachers should have given up COLA increases (it was only a small percentage of the increase given up, not the whole thing) to fund something like that? I suppose it was desired by teachers who saw the addition as a way to reduce workload and bring in knowledge specialization. So where was the management leadership in that? They were busy during those years passing through COLA from the State into raises that were not sustainable unless there was continued COLA and increasing enrollment.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Dec 14, 2009 at 11:04 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Here's another way to put it. What happens in the classroom will only end up being a house of cards if the leadership ignores its fiduciary responsibility towards taxpayers, employees, students. It isn't fair to employees if they're given COLA raises that put their future employment status at risk. The board is supposed to be worrying about that long-term effect. Remember this? ""I'm not willing to risk the reserve for hiring long-term people," Haugen said. "The worse thing we can do is hire someone without knowing we have funding and then cut them the next year, or cut other non-contracted staff."" Web Link As unclehomerr put it in another thread, the cake has nice decorations but was made with sand instead of flour.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Dec 14, 2009 at 11:25 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Just in case anyone hasn't seen the COLA numbers, here they are.

From PUSD's website budget faq information that they've since removed. This is the percentage of COLA-type raises that were given. They raise the amounts on the salary schedule.

Certificated/Classified/Management

2005/06 4.60% 4.6 % 4.6 %
2006/07 5.73% 5.73 % 5.73 %
2007/08 3.382%* 4.12 % 4.12 %
2008/09 N/A N/A N/A

(The asterisk represents the actual amount after teachers gave back some of the 4.12% raise in order to fund the science stuff.)

From Web Link

The amount of COLA increase given out by the State (how do we give out 4.6% in 05/06 when the State gave 4.2%?)

05-06 4.2%
06-07 5.9%
07-08 4.5%
08-09 estimate 5.4% (actual was 0)


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Dec 14, 2009 at 11:30 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Posted by Disagree w/B, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 10, 2009 at 10:24 am

For the school years 2007-08, 2006-07, and 2005-06 - COLAs/raises of 4-6% were given each year. These are ongoing costs the district couldn't afford. $400,000 was taken out of the reserves to fund raises for administrators--money from a one time source to fund another ongoing cost they couldn't afford. $4.5 million on lawsuits they lost was wasted money and bad use of the public's money. Deciding to follow that up with another lawsuit goes beyond bad management of funds. One of the plans is to take the technology fund to try to patch the gap, another one time source of funds to fix an ongoing problem. The oversight committee for the bond hasn't met in five years. It looks like management needs to take the Econ course.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mary
a resident of Country Fair
on Dec 14, 2009 at 12:50 pm

Stacey,

I was unaware of the above and quite honestly it is shocking. Who is responsible for making decisions such as above?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mary
a resident of Country Fair
on Dec 14, 2009 at 12:52 pm

Stacey,

Are the individuals involved protected personally against lawsuits from their constituents for decisions like above? If not, we should go after them personally to recover at least some of our losses and also to show that this type of performance cannot be tolerated.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Another Gatetree Resident
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Dec 14, 2009 at 6:34 pm

Posted by a reader, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Dec 12, 2009 at 2:29 pm

To "Another Gatetree Resident",

If you've been living here a long time, because of Proposition 13, you're now paying less in property taxes than you paid when you bought your home. That's because the maximum allowed property tax increase under Prop 13 is less than the average rate of inflation. Isn't it time for all of us to support our schools in this time of a global financial downturn?

-------------

Trust me, I have no Prop 13 benefit. I purchased my home on Gatetree in 1997.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Another Gatetree Resident
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Dec 14, 2009 at 6:43 pm

Posted by Concerned Parent, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Dec 12, 2009 at 8:06 pm

To Mary and Another Gatetree Resident,

You spend a lot of time shooting down a parcel tax, but what real solutions have you provided? OK, so the teachers agree to some sort of pay freeze--maybe that will save $1 million a year. How do you propose filling the rest of the multimillion-dollar gap?

To Another Gatetree Resident,

You say Pleasanton has a strong sense of community, but from what I've been seeing here, especially with your comments such as parents should pay for their own children's education, you are only polarizing the community by pitting childless persons/empty nesters vs. parents with school-age children.

Since when has education become a privilege for those who can afford it? That is exactly what a pay-per-use fee does. Education is and should remain a public service. It benefits the entire community to have good schools. Good education brings down crime rates and poverty levels. Good schools hold up housing values (look at what Pleasanton's 900+ API scores have done for Pleasanton's average housing prices--they are among the highest of all medium-sized cities in the country!!!). If you really want only parents of school-age children to support the schools without any community support, then you really should give those hundreds of thousands of dollars your home has appreciated to PUSD, because you would probably be at least one hundred thousand dollars poorer if PUSD hadn't been such a good school district.
-------------

How to I propose filling the rest of the multimillion-dollar gap? It would start with totally revamping how the State budget is created. In addition, I'd suggest we look to spending money on things that are truly education -- money both allocated and achieved via fund raising. Without sounding like a broken record, I will again cite the Amador Sports field sound system. Did the students need that or a few more teachers on the payroll. When people revisit their priorities, I am confident there are other funding channels to be leveraged.

As for giving my equity to PUSD -- I again cite the sound system. I would venture to guess my home has reduced in value by at least $100k as a result of the sound system impacts to the immediate neighborhood. There was a time being near Amador was a plus and Gatetree was a much sought after location due to its closeness to all levels of schools. Not anymore. So, I think I'll keep my equity, THANK YOU VERY MUCH. What equity I do have is a result of living in highly sought after town -- for reasons above and beyond the schools.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mary
a resident of Country Fair
on Dec 14, 2009 at 7:27 pm

Gatetree,

You should scan the blogs above before you make statements.

"How about this for starters in terms of cost cutting. All district employees take each Friday off under state workshare program, raises for teachers should go away until such time as the economy turns around, district employees go on an immediate pay freeze, special election to replace the existing school board with individuals qualified to run a large dollar entity, no more district supplied cell phones, cars, district employees including teachers required to work 8 hour days, 12 months per year. Do you realize that a tenured teacher in Pleasanton at $90,000 per year makes the equilivant of $135,000 per year if they actually had to work a full year like most other people. Lots of opportunity for cutting before even considering a tax of any kind including a use tax. In addition, all of our tax dollars should go to core classes like reading, writing, and math. All other discretionary items like drama, band, cooking, sewing, athletics etc. should be funded 100% by those participating in those activities".

In addition to the above, we should be investigating the recent actions of our own board in terms of rewarding Casey for additional retirement revenue in tmes of economic turmoil by allowing him to include deferred compensation. Why do we have out own maintenance department when Dublin has their own as does Livermore? Are you telling me that there is a special skill required to for this activity. How about having one department rather than 3. How about Janitorial, clerical, accounting and finance, human resources? Ever heard of ISF? Integrated single function is used by most large organization with multiple sites nationally and globally to reduce costs and headcount to be better able to compete.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mary
a resident of Country Fair
on Dec 14, 2009 at 7:28 pm

Apologizes to Gatetree, should have said concerned parent.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mary
a resident of Country Fair
on Dec 14, 2009 at 7:32 pm

Concerned parent,

By the way, we already do pay for quality education by paying income tax and a bond if I am not mistaken. Are you trying to tell all of us that you home has lost $100,000 because of a few home night games? Come on quit stretching the truth or lying to be straight up.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 14, 2009 at 8:54 pm

To Mary,

"It is not against the law if it is in addition to public taxes and bonds. "

You have this completely wrong as I have said before. Did you read those materials I posted on the other thread? It is illegal in California to charge a usage fee to students to attend public schools in K-12. Why do you posts things as fact when the are demonstrably false? And you accuse people "stretching the truth"?

"If we went private with our schools we could do whatever we wanted."

Once again, it is not allowed by California for a school districts to privatize its schools. It has been the law for well over 100 years. Furthermore, I don't think people in this community would want to deny an education to people who can't afford it. That would be the height of selfishness and greed.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 14, 2009 at 9:01 pm

In opinion, a parcel tax would be an effective instrument to help our schools restore some of the programs lost due to the global financial downturn in Pleasanton. We have an excellent school system here in Pleasanton. Our schools are safe and effective. Our API scores are high. Until now, we have not needed a parcel tax, but due to a global financial crisis and slowing property tax revenue due to less new development and growth, a parcel tax can help us insure that we maintain our high quality schools.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mary
a resident of Country Fair
on Dec 14, 2009 at 9:07 pm

Reader,

You seem not to be able to or want to understand what I and many others here are trying to convey to you. Very simply, we already pay taxes for education and additionally also pay for a school bond. We have all clearly stated that I and in many cases we, will not vote for a parcel tax until the waste and fraud is out of our system. Pure and very simple. For you to keep saying over and over that they only answer is a parcel tax is just exhausting and without creativity or reality because it is not going to happen. Maybe we should just be silent and vote and let it go down in flames as you seem simply unwilling to consider any alternative other than giving more money to the teachers.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 15, 2009 at 7:12 pm

To Mary,

"For you to keep saying over and over that they only answer is a parcel tax"

No I don't. I've never said that. You should read what I say. A parcel tax is only part of the solution. Fund raisers and donations play an important role as do many other things.

"will not vote for a parcel tax until the waste and fraud is out of our system. "

I haven't seen any evidence of fraud. There is waste in every institution, public or private. To require 100% efficiency of anything is impractical and impossible.

"Maybe we should just be silent..."

Or you could focus your energy on working with the school system and getting a parcel tax with provisions that you support.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by einstein
a resident of Mohr Elementary School
on Dec 15, 2009 at 8:31 pm

einstein is a registered user.

Ok now any ideas for raising funds and reducing costs other than a parcel tax? I have been reading some of what has been written both for and against and seems as if there are so possibilities if further costs are reduced, waste eliminated, sweetheart deals like the ones described eliminated and previous agreement mitigated or withdrawn. A level of trust should be established before going forward with any initiative. I am surprised that some of the board members do not reside in the city or even state for that matter. If they have character they should resign immediately. I would suggest an independent group of non affliated executives be brought in to create clear direction going forward.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by einstein
a resident of Mohr Elementary School
on Dec 15, 2009 at 8:34 pm

einstein is a registered user.

and actually trying to run it as a public institution in this environment without efficiency is a bit naive and amateurish so please consider broader thinking based on the revenue or lack of revenue environment which will continue if not get worse for next few years. Don't believe me? Go to www.zillow.com and take a look at how much your home value has dropped in the last few months.........why? unemployment and concerns for lost employment.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 15, 2009 at 9:15 pm

To Einstein,

" By the way, I am CEO of one of the companies you have mentioned above."

Web Link

Look toward the bottom of the above link. You are claiming to be the CEO of Google, Cisco, Apple, Oracle, or Intel.

IGNORE = TRUE

All of the other high quality school districts in the Bay Area already have parcel taxes in place. Districts like Palo Alto and Piedmont have high API scores and high quality education. A parcel tax for Pleasanton will help PUSD prevent further cuts in programs and maintain the high quality education system that citizens of Pleasanton demand.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by The Other Mary
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Dec 16, 2009 at 7:45 am

The last time I accepted "all the cool kids are doing it" as a justification for something I felt uncomfortable about was the day I lost my virginity. Fortunately there were no long term negative effects from that experience, but during the uncertain few weeks that followed I resolved to avoid letting poor decisions by others become the basis and justification for my future actions.

That was more years ago than I care to remember or reveal, but my point is a simple one. If you really have nothing more to say than "everyone else has jumped off the cliff" then your point has been duly noted and has now reached the point of annoyance. Personally I stopped letting Becky the cheerleader make decisions for me decades ago.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 16, 2009 at 8:07 am

To "The Other Mary",

"all the cool kids are doing it"

It isn't the "cool kids". It is the most successful school districts with the highest test scores and best outcomes. Look at the results they are getting. When I talk to people I meet around town, many of them do not realize that all the high quality school districts in the Bay Area have parcel taxes in place. Then I direct them to some of the documents that justify the need for parcel taxes, many are quick to become supporters. If review the document I posted from San Ramon, you can see that much of what they said applies in Pleasanton.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Einstein
a resident of Mohr Elementary School
on Dec 16, 2009 at 8:25 am

Einstein is a registered user.

Reader,

First off I suggest that you read your own link. If you read thoroughly my messages and what you assumed you will see that I listed many more companies other than the few you referenced. Yes, I am CEO of one of those companies but not the ones you referenced. Read my messages thoroughly and you will understand or at least I hope so. I have been reading your blogs from time to time even when I have no time to respond and have noticed that you seem to get a thought in your mind and no matter what anyone says to you nor how much sense they make you stick to the same fundamentals.

"We need a parcel tax here in Pleasanton now"

"All the school districts who excel have one"

"We cannot run schools at 100% efficiency in terms of cost"

"It is against the law in California for a school use tax"

Obviously, I/we cannot get you to deviate from your very rigid thought process of 'everyone else does it so it must be good and will work here" but would like to point out a few things for consideration in terms of going forward in Pleasanton.

1) Annual expenses of the district should be made visible on the internet for all to see including details of expense reports.

2) Long term contracts and agreements need to be clarified to the community ie. Union contracts, landscaping, maintenance of facilities, vehicle maintenance etc. it is important for everyone to understand.

3) Union contracts with teachers including benefits and salaries including contractually agreed upon wage increases, cola.

4) Compensation strategies including adjustments for salary compression issues.

5) Sources of revenue both statewide and locally. Historical ratio of revenue to expenses tracking.

There is more required but you get the picture. Once this information is available I believe it will become obvious that there is still much cost cutting to be done and difficult decisions but at the end of the day once this is done properly and the community understands what has been done and what is left if some source of additional revenue is required it will be much more understandable and easy to justify. Items 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 will be a painful process because we would get significant resistance from the district, teachers, teachers union, and the board as it would expose some very terrible decisions and some very terrible agreements but this is what true leadership is about if they and we are truly interested in significant and positive change.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Another Gatetree Resident
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Dec 16, 2009 at 8:33 am

Posted by a reader, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, 11 hours ago

All of the other high quality school districts in the Bay Area already have parcel taxes in place. Districts like Palo Alto and Piedmont have high API scores and high quality education. A parcel tax for Pleasanton will help PUSD prevent further cuts in programs and maintain the high quality education system that citizens of Pleasanton demand.

___________________________________________________________

Districts like Palo Alto and Piedmont have homes selling far above those in Pleasanton -- even Ruby Hills. If you want that type of tax structure and house payment overhead, I suggest placing a For Sale sign in your front lawn and moving to the likes of Palo Alto or Piedmont.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Another Gatetree Resident
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Dec 16, 2009 at 8:37 am

Einstein -- I applaud your last post! *clapping loudly*


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Linda
a resident of Birdland
on Dec 16, 2009 at 8:45 am

Reader,

Would you agree with the following?

Taxes good!

Unions good!

Teacher good!

Business bad!

Living within means bad!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Einstein
a resident of Mohr Elementary School
on Dec 16, 2009 at 8:48 am

Einstein is a registered user.

Gatetree resident,

Thank you very much.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 16, 2009 at 8:22 pm

To Einstein,

First you say.

" By the way, I am CEO of one of the companies you have mentioned above."

Then you say.

"Yes, I am CEO of one of those companies but not the ones you referenced. "

That makes sense how?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 16, 2009 at 8:26 pm

To Linda,

"Taxes good!"

I would say taxes are necessary, wouldn't you?

"Unions good!"

There are costs and benefits with unions. No?

"Teacher good!"

There are good and bad teachers, wouldn't you say?

"Business bad!"

No

"Living within means bad!"

No


 +   Like this comment
Posted by a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 16, 2009 at 8:29 pm

To "Another Gatetree Resident",

"Districts like Palo Alto and Piedmont have homes selling far above those in Pleasanton -- even Ruby Hills. If you want that type of tax structure and house payment overhead, I suggest placing a For Sale sign in your front lawn and moving to the likes of Palo Alto or Piedmont. "

Sounds like you are arguing in favor of slower home appreciation for Pleasanton. I don't think it is what most residents want, but the idea has merit. Some people may want to live in a slower paced, less aspirational town.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Dec 16, 2009 at 9:31 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

A reader wrote: "Sounds like you are arguing in favor of slower home appreciation for Pleasanton. I don't think it is what most residents want, but the idea has merit. Some people may want to live in a slower paced, less aspirational town."

The fallacy of thought here is that the rate at which homes appreciate is solely due to school district quality. In that case, we should hand over all our money to the school district.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mary
a resident of Country Fair
on Dec 16, 2009 at 9:35 pm

Reader,

Please read your own link and you will see that he lists a number of companies. I do not know why you are finding this so hard. You seem to only lash out to what you cannot understand and honestly that seems like a lot of things.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 16, 2009 at 11:09 pm

To Stacey,

"The fallacy of thought here is that the rate at which homes appreciate is solely due to school district quality. In that case, we should hand over all our money to the school district."

What fallacy of thought? I didn't say "the rate at which homes appreciate is solely due to school district quality," or anything even close to that. I don't even believe it to be true.

I was responding to "If you want that type of tax structure and house payment overhead..." which implies more expensive homes. That's all I was responding to.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 16, 2009 at 11:12 pm

To Mary,

"By the way, I am CEO of one of the companies YOU have mentioned above" (emphasis mine)

He isn't talking about companies he mentioned. He is talking about companies I mentioned. Get it?

He didn't say:

"By the way, I am CEO of one of the companies I have mentioned above"

He said:

"By the way, I am CEO of one of the companies YOU have mentioned above"

Understand now?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Dec 16, 2009 at 11:29 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

A reader,

It is a fallacy of thought in the assumption you made. I apologize for not being more clear. You argue that Another Gatetree Resident is advocating for slower appreciation of housing prices because that person said that Palo Alto and Piedmont school districts have higher housing values than Pleasanton. That kind of argument requires an underlying assumption that housing prices appreciate faster than otherwise because of school quality, which is supposedly a function of amount spent per pupil. Of course it totally ignores Palo Alto's location on the Peninsula. So no, you didn't outright say it, but that underlying assumption (which is unsupported) is necessary in order for your argument to be solid.

The point being made by Another Gatetree Resident is that Palo Alto will always have higher property values than Pleasanton and that it has nothing to do with school district quality. You expect us to be like them but it is impossible.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Another Gatetree Resident
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Dec 17, 2009 at 7:46 am

Posted by a reader, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, 11 hours ago

To "Another Gatetree Resident",

Sounds like you are arguing in favor of slower home appreciation for Pleasanton. I don't think it is what most residents want, but the idea has merit. Some people may want to live in a slower paced, less aspirational town.

________________________________________________

"reader:"

You insist on editorializing many people's posts in this thread -- or adding your slant on what they are saying. Why is that?

I am by NO MEANS arguing for slower home appreciation for Pleasanton. Keep in mind cities being discussed -- specifically Palo Alto and Piedmont -- had growth levels in excess of Pleasanton when I moved to Pleasanton 19 years ago. They have 20+ years of appreciation that Pleasanton doesn't -- thus their housing prices are in excess of this town. Another thing many of these communities have that Pleasanton does not is the ability to boast they are at build out. Example - Belmont (with a sucko school system, BTW!). The home I grew up in was built the same year as those in Pleasanton Valley. In fact, the floor plans are nearly identical in some models -- yet they were completely different builders. You can't touch a home in what is known as "Belmont Heights" for under $1.1 Million -- and that will get you the smallest model at just over 1,700 square feet. So, it's not about slower appreciation. It's about other cities all ready having a head start and no more land on which to build.

BTW, you make those people who may want to live in a slower paced, less aspirational town sound like they are choosing to live in a Leper Colony. Perhaps their definition of "Quality Of Life" is simply different from yours.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Another Gatetree Resident
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Dec 17, 2009 at 7:49 am

Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, 10 hours ago
Stacey is a member (registered user) of Pleasanton Weekly

A reader wrote: "Sounds like you are arguing in favor of slower home appreciation for Pleasanton. I don't think it is what most residents want, but the idea has merit. Some people may want to live in a slower paced, less aspirational town."

The fallacy of thought here is that the rate at which homes appreciate is solely due to school district quality. In that case, we should hand over all our money to the school district.
_____________________________

Stacey -- Great Minds. See my post immediately above.

______________________________


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Another Gatetree Resident
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Dec 17, 2009 at 7:54 am

Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, 8 hours ago
Stacey is a member (registered user) of Pleasanton Weekly

A reader,

It is a fallacy of thought in the assumption you made. I apologize for not being more clear. You argue that Another Gatetree Resident is advocating for slower appreciation of housing prices because that person said that Palo Alto and Piedmont school districts have higher housing values than Pleasanton. That kind of argument requires an underlying assumption that housing prices appreciate faster than otherwise because of school quality, which is supposedly a function of amount spent per pupil. Of course it totally ignores Palo Alto's location on the Peninsula. So no, you didn't outright say it, but that underlying assumption (which is unsupported) is necessary in order for your argument to be solid.

The point being made by Another Gatetree Resident is that Palo Alto will always have higher property values than Pleasanton and that it has nothing to do with school district quality. You expect us to be like them but it is impossible.

________________________________________________________

Stacey -- again I state, Great Minds. Based on my most recent post, you and I are in lock-step.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Einstein
a resident of Mohr Elementary School
on Dec 17, 2009 at 10:06 am

Einstein is a registered user.

I am quite concerned with the following link and thought this might happen for awhile here. I believe in terms of discussion going forward with school initiatives this will come into play and the bigger picture in the town and with the economy in general must come into play. With these numbers being projected it is very important that the council acts quickly and cuts deeply otherwise it will just impact everything else.


Web Link


 +   Like this comment
Posted by a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 17, 2009 at 10:25 pm

"The point being made by Another Gatetree Resident is that Palo Alto will always have higher property values than Pleasanton and that it has nothing to do with school district quality. You expect us to be like them but it is impossible."

I do not expect us to have property values as high as Palo Alto. I have never said that.

"BTW, you make those people who may want to live in a slower paced, less aspirational town sound like they are choosing to live in a Leper Colony. Perhaps their definition of "Quality Of Life" is simply different from yours."

I don't think there is anything wrong with that choice, I just don't think Pleasanton is the right place to look for that. It may have been in the past, but the town is changing, I think for the better. Good schools continue to be part of the draw and I hope we support them. A diverse group of ambitious new citizens are making their home in Pleasanton. They continue to bring in valuable revenue and make Pleasanton a great place to live.


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Email:


Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: *

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Not Endorsements
By Roz Rogoff | 9 comments | 1,246 views

A second half of life exceptionally well lived
By Tim Hunt | 1 comment | 667 views