Pleasanton Weekly

Opinion - March 13, 2009


Save Pleasanton Schools

The newly-formed Save Pleasanton Schools citizens' coalition kicked off its campaign last Sunday to gain voter support for a $233 a year parcel tax, a measure that the Pleasanton school board has placed on the ballot in a special election to be held Tuesday, June 2. The tax, if approved by a two-thirds majority plus one of those voting, will provide an estimated $4,584,000 to a district that otherwise must cut $8.7 million from its budget through the 2009-10 school year. Already, notices have gone out to more than 150 district employees who, unless funds can be found to reduce the projected budget shortfalls, will likely receive termination notices on May 15. These notices went to 98 teachers, 40 classified employees (i.e., administrative assistants, clerks, custodians and other hourly employees), and 19 managers. In addition to reducing staff, the district has identified other reductions it will make to meet its budget shortfall, including $2 million in class-size reductions and $1 million of operational functions.

Except for the parcel tax, there's little financial relief on the horizon. Word is that an estimated $2.1 million could be heading this way in federal stimulus funds earmarked for special education programs. That could reduce the impact on the district's general fund that now pays the cost of these programs, freeing up an equivalent amount, or some of it, to help stem the budget shortfall. On May 19, Gov. Schwarzenegger and the Legislature are floating a number of measures that, if approved, would provide more tax revenue and allow the state to borrow from specific funding resources to reduce part of the state's current deficit. Some of those new funds could go to replace some of the state's reductions in education funding, but school analysts don't believe there will be enough statewide to make much of an impact on Pleasanton. The parcel tax, on the other hand, would provide specific, predictable and stable revenue. These funds would allow the continuation of class-size reduction at the current levels of no more than 20 students in kindergarten through third grade and no more than 20 in freshmen English and mathematics classes at Foothill and Amador Valley high schools. Also, the parcel tax would maintain the current level of counselors at the elementary and middle schools and, most important, at the comprehensive high schools, where only recently the district was able to boost the numbers to a counseling to student ratio of 1 to 395, close to the national average. Before that, the two high schools were at a 1 to 685 counselor-to-student ratio. Without the parcel tax, the number of counselors would be cut to a new ratio of 600 to 1.

We support the parcel tax proposal. In fact, we wish it was higher, like the dollar-a-day as one school board member suggested--or $365 a year--or even $400, which would have spared the district any cuts in personnel or programs. In a series of meetings in the community, at school sites and public hearings by the school board, commentators repeatedly said that most dear to their hearts are small class sizes, reading and math support programs, regular library hours, counseling services, technology instruction, elementary school strings and band programs and full-scale custodial services to make sure Pleasanton schools are safe and clean. Adding up the costs of maintaining these programs gave the school board the $4.5 million total they needed from a parcel tax, or $233 a year. With the board also establishing a parcel tax oversight committee to report regularly and publicly on how the tax receipts are being spent, we believe the safeguards are in place to make sure those programs and the personnel needed to support them will be in place to meet the public's demand for continued quality education in Pleasanton.


Posted by pay mine please, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 13, 2009 at 8:59 am

Well, Jeb if you feel so strongly go ahead and pay my $233 and my child's $233 who live in Ptown. You are a silly man.

Posted by Buford, a resident of Birdland
on Mar 13, 2009 at 9:01 am

Sorry, but why should I pay some liberal parcel taxes for the spoiled, latte-drinking, sushi-eating, Volvo-driving, New York Times-reading, body-piercing, Hollywood-loving, students of our district. What these kids need is an education in pulling up their bootstraps at the Richard Pombo Ranch. So what if they don't get into some fancy college, the Bible is the only book they need to learn about anyway. I didn't have no fancy programs at my school in Amarillo, Texas when I was growing up, but still learned to trust my gut and fight for the dream we call America. Look people, GW Bush came from a poor Texas family with little education and he became the greatest leader this land has ever seen, so maybe these tax loving students should follow his lead. I talkin' bout America!

Posted by This thread is already started don't continue a new one., a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 13, 2009 at 9:06 am

This thread is already started don't continue a new one.

Posted by Concerned, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 13, 2009 at 9:35 am

Past is Prologue. We are going exactly in the sane direction as the U.S. auto industry with lack of competition and union control in the Education business. Mangaement and local politicians are in for the ride as well as they either cannot or will not stop this rush into disaster. This applies to cities and states as well.

Being against the Parcel tax is like being against motherhood and apple pie. But the system is broken. There have been no givebacks in pay and benefits to bring the compensation in line to where it was a decade ago adjusted for inflation and no. of students.

We cannot compete against rallies. Just vote NO. We only need 1/3rd of the vote. Then we can take on the other public sector unions and management in the city. I think the tax payer has had enough. The tax paying private sector employee has been broken and is ready for his Pleasanton Tea Party.

Posted by BNG, a resident of Avila
on Mar 13, 2009 at 10:18 am

Concerened, I'm with you - Pleasanton Tea Party time!

Reform first, before asking for another dime of my hard earned tax dollars!

If anyone is offended by my tone, I apologize. I'm just very tired of being asked to pay more without seeing real effort by those on the other side to change from business as usual. Please don't tell me about all the cuts that are on the table - I've heard the scare tactics and I'm not buying them.

Vote No on G unless PUSD really sets a course of real reform.

Posted by Ray, a resident of Downtown
on Mar 13, 2009 at 11:12 am

Oh God, a Tea Party!!! Rush Limbaugh alert! Nothing like rich, selfish, white republicans getting together to whine about a small tax rather than helping students in this district. Oh gee, we wouldn't want to use your money to help students when you can put the money toward your next SUV or a deluxe gas bbq. Have fun being caught up in your own greed.

Posted by bait and switch, a resident of Apperson Ridge
on Mar 13, 2009 at 11:28 am

"Superintendent John Casey said they estimate the special election to cost $200,000 to $230,000...This money would be taken out of the reserves from the current school year."

Why the bait and switch, Dr. Casey? We were told by you in numerous meetings that the funds used to cover this election would come from community donations. I was going to support your parcel tax but you've just lost my vote with your lies.

I will vote no on Dr. Casey's parcel tax.

Posted by BNG, a resident of Avila
on Mar 13, 2009 at 11:31 am

Ray, I am deeply offended by your snarky, sarcastic, class dividing tone. Yes, you have a right to post, and I have just as much of a right to call you out. Why don't you simply pass your wallet right on down to the PUSD, then send it to Sacramento and then, if there is anything left in it, to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington D.C. I'm sure they'll all appreciate it.

By the way, I'm not a republican, I'm not white, I don't listen to Rush, I'm not selfish, we (the four of us in our family) volunteer in our community, I don't own and never have owned an SUV and don't plan to, I don't have or want a deluxe gas BBQ and I'm not greedy. By the way, is holding on to a little bit of my hard earned money now considered greedy? And what will be next, all those who where glasses will be marched off to re-education camps, or worse? From class warfare, to socialism, to totalitarianism, to extermination. The slippery slope is frightening and it is all too possible, since we are but humans, like the humans that did awful things to their fellow humans in Russia, then the Soviet Union, Germany, Soviet satellite states, China, Cambodia, Cuba and North Korea. I've left out hundreds of other repressive states over the past 100 years.
Read history - understand human nature - be very concerned.

Posted by BNG, a resident of Avila
on Mar 13, 2009 at 11:34 am

Can anyone verify what bait and switch is citing? Perhaps B&S can do this. If true, what Dr. Casey has said and is doing is truly shocking! If true, our school board needs to investigate this.

Posted by Disagree w/B, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 13, 2009 at 11:35 am

Ray . . . It is interesting to me that those who say they work hard, got an education, deserve their job, and deserve their pay are often the same people that say those who work hard, got an education, deserve their job, deserve their pay, BUT make more money than them are somehow rich, selfish, white republicans, and greedy to boot.

Our family does pretty well, is very generous (by choice), happen to be white (accident of birth), and are not republicans (also by choice). We despise Rush too.

We can and do help students and teachers and will continue to do so without giving more of our money to the district first.

Posted by unclehomerr.., a resident of Downtown
on Mar 13, 2009 at 11:41 am

The schools don't need more money... they need more accountability!

They're turning out a product which can't make change for a purchase, or balance their own checkbooks. They're washing their hands of the kids and passing them on to the community colleges where they have to take remedial Math and English. The kids can't spell, separate a clause in a sentence, or fill out a job application.

If they were an independent business.. they'd have closed long ago.

When the President of the United States makes $400k a year.. and the Superintendent of Schools in little Pleasanton makes $250k a year.. there's something wrong.

The schools are receiving more money today than they ever have in the past, and they still can't function. They're spending like drunken sailors and then running to the loan stores every time they can't afford another beer! [Sorry USN.. it's to make a point!] If they don't get what they want, they threaten sports, arts and class size!

They don't care what the future costs are.. they just want more money now! It's a never ending cycle.. unless it stops now! This is a great time to stop!

Not one penny more!! Make do with what you have.


Posted by BNG, a resident of Avila
on Mar 13, 2009 at 11:49 am

Sorry, "wear" instead of "where", in my first post.;)

Posted by duh!, a resident of Avignon
on Mar 13, 2009 at 12:31 pm

$212,179 - Salary of a governor who manages 239,791 employees in the great state of California

$227,002 - Salary of a small town school Superintendent who manages 1200 employees

You do the math.

Yes on Responsible Spending!

Yes on More Accountability!

No on Parcel Tax!

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Mar 13, 2009 at 1:25 pm

I feel that the community is missing the opportunity for real change at the State level, where it needs to happen.

What was irresponsible about Jeb's commentary isn't that he's advocating the parcel tax, but that he completely ignored the State problems. The parcel tax can only ever be a bandage for a system that's been bleeding for a very long time. Now is a very opportunity to address the shortcomings of that system and get them fixed for the long-term. Why did Jeb not write about that? It can be argued that this is a local issue for a local paper, but the problem is really much bigger than that.

Posted by Mike, a resident of Birdland
on Mar 13, 2009 at 3:02 pm


Please give full disclosure does any member of your family work in this or any school district?

Posted by Concerned, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 13, 2009 at 7:47 pm

I e theam getting inspired by all the comments. I know the state and federal govts. are broken but we can have the max. impact at the city level. Let us beat this parcel tax and move on to the City's unfunded pension and medical liabilities. These contracts have to be rewritten or the city is going bankrupt.

Posted by MG, a resident of Val Vista
on Mar 14, 2009 at 4:40 pm

As a mother of two young children, I am deeply concerned about the state of our school system. I moved to Pleasanton, (paid top dollar for my house) just to be in an OUTSTANDING school system. It is a draw to our city and it must be maintained. I think it's terrible that residents are being asked to decide between their pocket books and education. If we pass the tax our system will move forward, but will it still be a broken system? At what point is enough, enough? So many teachers wanted to take pay cuts or look at other options, but the union wouldn't let them. This system is broken and it needs to be addressed. But we can't allow our school system to suffer. If by paying a small tax, my children get a better education and my property values don't drop further, then it is worth it to me.

Posted by Concerned, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 14, 2009 at 9:14 pm

The only way to force a change is by voting NO and putting the ball in the Union's court. Let the union come up with an agreement with administration where everyone takes a cut. Next year there will be bigger cuts as the State budget is dead on arrival. The real deficit is $20 billion or more. Let us get on with some real problem solving. Everyone should share the pain as companies such as HP are doing.

Posted by Jeb Bing, editor of the Pleasanton Weekly
on Mar 15, 2009 at 9:46 pm

Jeb Bing is a registered user.

We're intentionally giving topics pertaining to the June 2 parcel tax measure and teacher layoffs a rest because the postings have become repetitive and, in some instances, accusatory and hurtful to teachers and other employees of the school district who are unable to respond to postings, most of which are made under the cloak of anonymity. The postings online will remain, but future postings to these threads or new ones dealing with teacher layoffs and the parcel tax can be made only by registered users of the Pleasanton Weekly forum.

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