Opinion - May 29, 2009
Letter: Cuts will radically affect our community
In my 37 years in Pleasanton I have seen Prop 13 and numerous state boom and bust cycles impact our schools. While Pleasanton has survived, the devastating cuts facing our schools will radically affect our community. With the additional $6 million in cuts announced by the governor the district will have no choice but to close one or two schools.
Think about it: larger class sizes means empty classroom. Empty classroom mean inefficient schools. With the budget cut to the bone the only other viable option is to consolidate the schools and change the boundaries. The opposition to Measure G talks about the wrong tax at the wrong time. If not now then when? When children don't get attend their neighborhood school? When neighborhoods are disrupted with boundary changes? When our schools are falling apart? How bad does it have to get?
The school board has asked the community to support our schools for the next four years to protect one of the pillars of our community. Ask yourself the question: Why did I move here? Why did I stay?
Support your community, support our next generation of leaders, and vote "yes" on Measure G.
Posted by Mom2,
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 31, 2009 at 11:13 pm
The reasons to vote "yes"- I know your mind is made up, Kathleen, but here you go.
To maintain reading specialists and the Barton Reading program, two stellar reading intervention programs which few districts have been able to maintain or implement (Fremont, Dublin, and Livermore no longer have reading specialists, San Ramon funds their reading specialists through parent donation monies)
To maintain elementary, middle, and high school counselors. Again, I don't know of any elementary school district which has counselors on campus. The elementary school counselors contribute, in my humble opinion, to the nearly conflict free environment in on our elementary school campuses. Counselors provide a much needed intervention which frees up the classroom teacher to focus on academics. The peaceful environment on our elementary school campuses was the biggest difference I experienced moving from Fremont schools.
The bands and strings program - children need the opportunity to start a musical instrument as soon as possible. If not for school music programs, some children would never realize they have a gift. These elementary school children become our awarding winning middle school and high school students.
Class Size Reduction - Pleasanton will not be able to maintain class sizes at their current levels of 20-1 without the parcel tax. Formulas will change and class size will rise. I think raising the class size will affect our students' social and academic growth and Pleasanton's draw to families. I have a young child, and I would not choose to move to district with a 25-1 or 30-1 over a district that is maintaining smaller class size under 22-1. Livermore, Dublin, and San Ramon will most likely have smaller class sizes than PUSD next year if the parcel doesn't pass. I was just speaking to my sister-in-law today, and her daughter's fourth grade class in So. Cal is 36 because of budget cuts.
It will take 4-5 years for California to rebound, and the parcel guarantees that the district is responsible for maintaining the essential programs. With that guarantee, how can salaries rise? I know this. I am already frozen on the salary schedule, and I willingly voted to take two days off my pay next year. I don't foresee or expect any COLA or raise for the next five+ years. However, I will donate more to my son's classroom and supplement my own classroom to compensate for having no SLIP funds next year. We didn't have SLIP funds this year, and most of my fellow teachers, did spend their own money to ensure programs and activities would proceed as normal. I don't know of any greedy teachers on my particular campus. Like many of the bloggers, the economic downturn has affected my family's and many teachers' families economic stability as well.
However, without the parcel, the programs which have made Pleasanton unique and successful will most likely be cut. We have already lost programs which the parcel will not restore. I think losing our Vice Principals especially on the larger campuses will be a much larger loss than we can imagine. Kathleen, if you have ever written or read an application for a California Distinguished or Blue Ribbon school, you know that these programs gain the district points and are often the cause for winning such awards. The reviewers are particularly interested in how a district provides interventions and services for English Language Learners, the special education population, and struggling readers.
And Kathleen, since you worked/work for our previous superintendent, I am sure you know that cutting such programs and raising class size will most likely affect the amount of awards this district will receive. Those Distinguished and Blue Ribbon schools do place our district in the top ten percent. I am proud to have worked in Pleasanton schools which received these rewards. I had been a teacher for fourteen years in two other districts before Pleasanton, and none of my schools were honored with Distinguished or Blue Ribbon. I can tell you it makes a difference. As a teacher on a awarding winning campus, you have a responsibility to maintain the quality which earned these rewards. The elementary PUSD teachers are the most dedicated group of educators that I have ever worked alongside. I have become a stronger teacher because I am surrounded with teachers interested in becoming the best they can be and helping students do the same.
Kathleen, I realize you don't particularly care for Dr. Casey and you work for our previous administrator, but I know you can at least appreciate the value of our school being able to maintain programs which earned such prestigious awards.
Like Jeff Bowser, I have been in education long enough to see the ups and downs. However, I must say, I have never seen the cuts this deep, and it disturbs me that so many bloggers are taking their frustration and anger out on each other. I have written countless letters to those who hold the strings in Sacramento. The department of education has become a huge albatross around our necks with regulation after regulation, yet the state doesn't provide adequate funding for mandated services. Sacramento cut the funding for Miller-Uhruh reading specialists even as districts were to provide interventions to meet No Child Left Behind standards. Many districts dropped their reading specialists once the state pulled the funding. Pleasanton kept ours, and of course, it has cost them. Last year, the board had to dip into the reserves to keep them for this year. I don't see that as irresponsible because children's intervention plans were at stake. Of course, I see those struggling readers each and every day and am thankful that we have a trained reading specialist to give them another round of reading instruction at least four times a week. They do catch up with their peers and it's priceless!
Please vote YES!