Pleasanton Weekly

News - January 22, 2010

Quality of education could be at stake with cuts

Forum participants say $6.9M deficit could decimate programs that support PUSD's reputation

by Emily West

Community members gathered again Tuesday night to ask questions, express concerns and offer possible solutions regarding the $6.9-million school budget shortfall.


Posted by Wake up people, a resident of Jensen Tract
on Jan 28, 2010 at 9:41 am

I thought one of the benefits of living in a community like Pleasanton would be that the vast majority of our residents would be educated, thoughtful, and vocal about serious issues impacting school and local government. I have found the opposite to be true. Instead of banding together to find solutions to the budget crisis and paying what we need to pay to maintain a higher quality of education in our schools, our citizens have engaged in sniping and political posturing.

Brozosky & Ayala are ruining our schools, and as the schools go, so goes our city. Brozosky, Ayala, and their blind followers (who are obviously out of touch with what goes on in the classroom) are pretending that we are immune to the effects of the statewide financial crisis. These people are the minority, but they are vocal and they are not afraid to lie to advance their position. They maintained that last year's proposed layoffs were just a facade - just a threat so that teachers and administrators could maintain their opulent lifestyles. Clearly, this was not the case, as many teachers and staff were laid off, lower grade class sizes went from 20 to 25, and the district is still out of money and facing a huge deficit.

The bottom line is that we, the majority, are failing to take effective measures to maintain the quality of our schools. Many of you did not bother to vote for the parcel tax last year because you thought like I did - that a city like ours would never oppose funding to maintain the foundation on which it was built. We were wrong, and now we are expecting our teachers and school administrators to pick up all of the slack. That may have worked marginally well for one year, with class sizes going from 20 to 25 and the elimination of a variety of support staff, but next year our teachers cannot, and will not, effectively teach classes of 33 students to the same levels as in past years.

Teaching is not a "part-time job". I know many teachers personally, and I know that they average 50-60 hours per week. Classroom time is only a portion of the time they spend on the job. They pay for their own medical and dental benefits, and they DO NOT get unemployment income in the summer months as some people would have you believe. They DO NOT have district-paid cell phones or similar perks (another lie from last year's parcel tax opposition). In fact, they spend hundreds of dollars of their own money each year for classroom supplies, and what do they get for it? They get a vocal minority that wants them to take a pay cut, work harder, and spend more of their own money for supplies and on programs that will be cut when the specialist positions are eliminated.

Do you really think a teacher with no musical background, who is already overloaded with 50% more students, will offer the same quality of instruction and generate the same level of interest and enthusiasm as a music specialist? Of course not, and the same goes for all the specialties - our kids will get a minimal education, because we are minimally supporting our schools. Apparently, we are deciding to wait until AFTER test scores fall, property values fall, and everything else tied to our schools is negatively impacted before we generate the necessary support.

We do not have an attractive educational system and phenomenal test scores by accident. It is not by coincidence that property values in Pleasanton have not been affected by the economy as much as in other parts of the state. It is not by chance that we have a robust local economy, which has seen less significant cuts than most cities. The only way we can maintain our quality of life in the long term is to support our schools in the short term. It is time to wake up people.

Posted by Dark Corners of Town, a resident of Country Fair
on Jan 28, 2010 at 10:30 am

Brozosky? Ruining our schools? Does Brozosky have any power over how Grant/Kernan/Ott/Hintzk/Arkin are voting? It was the PUSD Board that voted to cut the teacher/staff positions, reduce services to the kids, raise CSR ratios, reduce funds to accounts, eliminate principal positions, kowtow to the teachers union and degrade the quality of PUSD education. The real power lies in the Board of Trustees, not with Brozosky/Ayala.

Posted by parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2010 at 10:46 am

To Wake Up People,
Wow, you must have a personal axe to grind with Brozosky and Ayala. But for those who prefer objectivity, go back and read Brozosky's letter to the editor in the April 24, 2009 PW. Nowhere in there does he reference how a parcel tax would support an opulent lifestyle for teachers.
The rest of your post has food for thought, and I particularly agree with you about how hard most Pleasanton teachers work.
But I do object to your personal and unsupported by facts attack on community members. It's unnecessary and affects how other readers interpret your other comments.
DCOT - agreed. The power lies with the school board majority.

Posted by another resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2010 at 10:52 am

Did anyone else notice that the prepared statement at the top of the page was submitted within a minute of the original article posted by the editor? That was either some extremely fast typing with really concise thinking on the fly or just maybe (just maybe, eh?) you had your "press release" prepared? I also find the timing interesting, as the first scheduled negotiation between the board and the APT union was last night.

Dear Editor, Any chance you're well known conflict of interest had some influence on this posting?

Wake up... but only to the fact that a well organized machine is starting to roll down the tracks to protect the interest of the union members at PUSD. This is a political campaign. And in this town the press is FAR from neutral.

Posted by another resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2010 at 11:01 am

For the record, when I first read the "article" by the Editor the posting read "57 minutes ago". The allegedly neutral comment by "Wake Up People" was also posted "57 minutes ago". Within an hour the time stamp changes to a larger resolution. However, as they used to say back in the day BUSTED!

Posted by Concerned, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2010 at 11:02 am

Thanks are due to Brozosky and Ayala for standing up to the union,administrators and the council that is in their pockets. I have seen no cuts in the salaries, pensions or medical retiree benefits of teachers, support staff and above all, the administrators. This is the first order of business before we discuss anything else. I admire Brozosky and Ayala for standing up to the public sector complex, which is much more dangerous than the military-industrial complex, and is driving us all to ruin. You have finally pushed the taxpayers too far and they are wising up.

Posted by a reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2010 at 1:11 pm

To Concerned,

"I admire Brozosky and Ayala for standing up to the public sector complex, which is much more dangerous than the military-industrial complex..."

"public sector complex"? Isn't that a bit overly dramatic? I agree that pensions for state workers in general have grown more generous than we can afford. It does not follow from that that a parcel tax couldn't be effective maintaining the quality of education provided by our schools right here in Pleasanton. It is a local issue. I think a good first step would be to get a survey in front of Pleasanton voters to see what they would support. Why not take that step?

Posted by shadowbozo, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2010 at 1:33 pm

I love the comment that "Teaching is not a part time job". No. it is an 8 months a year job. They may work 50-60 hours per week but lots of us do that all year long. We don't get all the vacation days and the summer off. Why should they get paid as if they work the whole year?

The economy is bad for everyone right now. Teachers should be happy with what they get for the 2/3 of a year they work currently. I'm just happy to be working.

Posted by To Another Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2010 at 1:58 pm

How do you know someone didn't already post it elsewhere and just copied and pasted it? That could easily have been done within a minute. Wake up, Another Resident, there are a lot of different opinions than yours (thankfully!).

Posted by Common sense, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2010 at 5:34 pm

It looks like even districts with parcel taxes are about to make some cuts and/or ask their communities for more money. This is true in Cupertino:

Web Link

and in Palo Alto:

Web Link

Livermore, also with a parcel tax, is getting ready to increase class sizes.

So for those who advocate a parcel tax and blame the failure of G for PUSD situation: chances are even with a parcel tax, we would be looking at CSR in danger, and other programs in danger, and the teachers would still want their step and column.

Why? I talked to an acquaintance who is an HR person in another school district. They are using the parcel tax money (earmarked originally for certain items, CSR included) to make up for deficits form the state (COLA included)

So districts can ask for money and promise to use it for X, but when money for step and column and COLA is not quite there, they have to get it from somewhere. They get it from the programs (general fund), then they go to the community again. PUSD, if I understood correctly, is going to take money from an Arts Grant and put it in the general fund. This should be illegal but is not. The grant was given for the arts, not so Casey could put it in the general fund and do as he wishes.

Read the link to the Palo Alto online, even over there, they had an "informal" and mild class size increase, even with the 400 dollar parcel tax! And now they want to go to the community and increase that to over 500 per parcel. All to make up for an expected 5.1 million deficit. Web Link

It looks like school districts do not have their priorities straight, and no matter how much money they get their hands on, they will always find a way to have a deficit, come for handouts to the community.

Posted by bottom line, a resident of Birdland
on Jan 28, 2010 at 6:36 pm

Reading these comments only makes me more disgusted with this community. I moved here so that my children would attend Pleasanton schools. When the state's budget crisis threatened education, I thought to myself, "The people in Pleasanton won't let the state's problems destroy our school district." Boy, was I wrong. Not only did the community fail to support the schools by voting for a parcel tax, there was clear opposition. I get that times are tough and cuts are being made all over, but Pleasanton residents had an opportunity to ensure that the education of the children in this city would not suffer from the devastating cuts like the rest of the state. Rather than supporting the district's motto "Kids Come First," members of this community have decided that they come first, at the expense of our children and their futures.

Posted by resident, a resident of Downtown
on Jan 28, 2010 at 6:53 pm

Bottom Line
How much did you contribute to the fund? How much did you "donate" for each of your kids in the schools. Don't ask everyone else to support your kids until you have paid your fair share and then some.
Or just move. Find a community that feels the need to support your kids at the expense of the residents. Many of us in Pleasanton are tired of the teachers and administrators bleeding us for more money every year.

Posted by do your research, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2010 at 7:00 pm

Of course Brozosky didn't have power over how the school board member's voted, but he did have a lot of influence over the community's perception of the budget crisis based on his comments. There was A LOT of misinformation circulating, including lies printed in the official sample ballot. I started investigating the allegations, because if they were true, I wouldn't have been able to support the parcel tax myself. What I discovered was that some of the information regarding per pupil funding was incorrect, but no one else would have known that unless they actually took the time to find out. So, did Brozosky have an impact on voters? Most definitely. And here we are a year later...class size going to 30 for K-3, losing science, P.E., music, and reading you think he would have led such opposition if his children were in grades k through 3?

Posted by Beth, a resident of Del Prado
on Jan 28, 2010 at 7:10 pm

I agree with Bottom Line. It's appalling that a community like ours would fail to support its children's education and people would in fact actively oppose efforts like the parcel tax.

For the record, my family voted for the parcel tax and made a large donation to the "I Love Pleasanton" fund.

It's shocking to me that people like "resident" would fail to see the value in education. Resident - did you have children go through the district? Are you planning to? Why do you not see how important this issue is to the community as a whole?

And hey I'm not asking you to support MY kids - I do that just fine. But supporting the public school system and the values it encompasses is ALL of our responsibility.

And no I'm not going to move. Because we love Pleasanton. I am, however, looking into private schools so my children aren't at the mercy of people like "resident".

Posted by To the teacher bashers, a resident of Happy Valley
on Jan 28, 2010 at 7:18 pm

Here is the salary schedule for San Ramon
Web Link

Keep in mind that for a PUSD teacher paying benefits you need to DEDUCT about 18-20K from the PUSD salary schedule. San Ramon covers benefits for their teacher and I am a former PUSD elementary teacher who was hired in San Ramon last year after PUSD let me go. My job is secure for next year as is class size reduction. PUSD falling apart is the best thing that could have happened to me, I got a raise and job security. Now I am wondering if I need to move also? My kids will be starting school in a couple of years and I am leaning toward getting them into the San Ramon district because they will have more resources. We all do what's best for our families right?
It's just a shame, I grew up in Pleasanton and loved my experience. Naturally I want that for my kids, sadly I think I will have to leave Pleasanton to get that great experience.

Posted by another resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2010 at 7:27 pm

To clarify, if you pay taxes you are already supporting public schools. Stop hiding behind the kids while you continue to ask for your raise. The APT and like unions have made it VERY clear where their priorities lay. We (the residents of Pleasanton) are doing our part. And have been for a long time. There are already TWO voter approved special taxes on our property tax bills to support the local skills above and beyond the normal tax system. What exactly have the district employees done to solve the shortfall?

Posted by resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2010 at 7:31 pm

re: to teacher basher

Anyone else get the sense that the paid political consultants have entered the room? This is a planted thread with planted responses throughout.

Posted by resident, a resident of Del Prado
on Jan 28, 2010 at 7:32 pm

San Ramon teacher, I hope you read the Valley Times today. It says that San Ramon Unified is projecting $30 million in cuts over the next 2 years. Although a list of cuts has not been published, they are looking at the same type of cuts as Livermore and Pleasanton. This includes potential school closures and eliminating class size reduction. A parcel tax doesn't solve everything. Unfortunately right now the funds don't exist. I wish you well, but you might not want to move just yet. Valley Times-section A pages 3 & 4.

Posted by To the teacher bashers, a resident of Happy Valley
on Jan 28, 2010 at 7:38 pm

To another resident,
Just to clarify for you and others like you, you get what you pay for. I can't explain any further to people like you that we are not overpaid. That in fact toward the bottom of the pay scale we are operating at just above the poverty level. When I was teaching in PUSD I paid $1750 per month for benefits. Please remove that from the pay scale and you will begin to understand how this affects the amount of money we earn. I think it's fine if you think we are paid too much but you must remember that we are highly educated and WILL (or already have) go elsewhere. Pleasanton used to be a very high paying district but because of the benefits debacle it no longer is. You will get what you pay for. Teachers, just like anyone working, will go to the places of employment that pay the best and treat them the best. PUSD is no longer the district of choice as it once was. You can say all you want that teachers won't find other jobs however I do not know one teacher who was laid off last year who did not find a job in another district. The fact of the matter remains that this is a difficult job and attrition is high. Again, I respect your opinion you are certainly entitled to it but please keep in mind you get what you pay for. Your district will soon look like very different as people will leave and property values decrease.

Posted by To Another Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2010 at 7:40 pm

Those 2 school items on your tax bill are for voter-approved facilities bonds for a local community college and PUSD.

Posted by To Resident and Another Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2010 at 7:46 pm

Funny how you commented that there must be political consultants on the forum. I was going to ask you the same thing: are you guys from Howard Jarvis?

Posted by bottom line, a resident of Birdland
on Jan 28, 2010 at 7:46 pm

I have donated a lot to the schools--I've donated money and volunteer in the classrooms. Without having data to compare, I'd guess I've given more than the typical parent. I want to be a part of the solution. I don't expect others to do it all. I just know how much more we could accomplish. I believe that our children deserve and need a great education to be able to compete in this world. And I have thought about moving. Unfortunately it means taking my children away from the only home they have ever had and all their friends. It means that both my husband and I would have to find new jobs or commute. Finding a buyer to want my house now that the schools can't be a selling point, would be a lot harder to do as well. If it were that simple, I would have already been working on it.

By the way, how have the teachers and administrators been "bleeding" you year after year? Other districts in the tri-valley have asked for donations in the hundreds of dollars per student for several years. Pleasanton has prided itself on not doing that, but I happen to think we need to start. If parents want a mediocre public education, then that's what they will be getting with increased class size and no specialists. If parents want their children to receive a great education, one like they've been receiving, then helping schools during these tough times is crucial.

Posted by To the teacher bashers, a resident of Happy Valley
on Jan 28, 2010 at 7:48 pm

To Resident,
Paid political consultant? Are you serious? And yes, I am well aware of the cuts coming in SRVUSD and my job is secure, thank you!
There will always be a demand for teachers, not many people can do this job and there will always be kids to teach. Unless we all decide to home school?
Let's shift the anger of this debate away from the people on the front lines and to the inherent failure of our government. We should have an abundance of money to pay the amazing talent we need to do this vital job. We pay the investment bankers more money in a year than a teacher will see in a lifetime. An educated society is a civilized society. Do you ever wonder if this is happening because there is some segment of our population that would benefit from not educating everyone equally?

Posted by To the teacher bashers, a resident of Happy Valley
on Jan 28, 2010 at 8:08 pm

Hey Gunslinger,
I am a teacher, I openly admitted that in a previous post. No hidden agenda here. I demand a living wage for what I do and if Pleasanton does not want to pay it someone else will. No worries for me, really. I am on the inside of this business and I can tell you that your children are not all you think that they are and I KNOW that the reason they do/did so well in Pleasanton was because of the collaboration between Parents/Teachers and the Community. That is steadily eroding and you will see consequences. Take a look at the histories of many surrounding school districts and you will see that there were similar turning points. Pleasanton is a great community but it's in a location that is just asking for it to become a Union City or San Lorenzo. We are very close to two major freeways, a lot of the housing is older, BART is here and the neighboring cities are exploding with growth. Pleasanton is not exactly the quaint little town it used to be. Wake up and smell the coffee people. If you don't care please don't expect your teachers to care either.

Posted by Susan, a resident of Mohr Park
on Jan 28, 2010 at 8:19 pm

To the teacher bashers:
Thank you for reminding us that all this is due to the inherent failure of our government. Why is the community blaming teachers for this situation? Teachers seem to be getting the short end of the stick. Our society somehow values people who play baseball and football for a living so much that they get paid millions of dollars each year. Yet teachers who educate and prepare children to become intelligent, productive individuals in our society are belittled.

Teachers typically enter the profession for reasons other than money. They are incredibly dedicated and care deeply about the academic and emotional success of other people's children. I'm glad you have job security in San Ramon. San Ramon faces challenges as well, but at least you have a community that supports the schools through a parcel tax and parent donations. That will help buffer more state cuts.

Posted by To the teacher bashers, a resident of Happy Valley
on Jan 28, 2010 at 8:47 pm

I appreciate your perspective. It's obvious that you have never tried teaching because if you had you would understand that teachers are, in fact, extremely beneficial. It's odd how despite the books the kids don't teach themselves. And having the benefit of being raised in Pleasanton schools then teaching in Pleasanton schools I can tell you that your arrogant attitude about how you can teach your kids is complete insanity! If it were that easy why not just do it now? Everyone pull your kids out of school and do it yourself. You are allowed to home school in this state. It's not happening because parents can not educate their children to the same high standards that an excellent public school can.

You may be correct, maybe there are too many teachers? Maybe class size reduction is crap. Do some research and bring it to the district. Just please, get your people together and make a resolve to help. To not bash, to not ask teachers to solve these problems for you. We are doing our jobs educating your kids and if you think it's all sunshine and puppies I invite you to my classroom to take a look at what I have to deal with. Even teaching kids from well educated families has many challenges. Many, many kids from middle-class homes are resistant to learning and one of my tasks is to get through that resistance. Yes, I know you can say "just teach those who want to learn" and yes, sometimes I too feel that way. But, it would be counterproductive for our society.

And you are correct that kids are smart because of their parents and on the flip side some kids are really, really stupid despite their parents. All of the kids need to be educated. What happens to the children of stupid parents? You do know they tend to reproduce more than educated parents. What happens to our society when we do not educate those who need to be educated the most?
Gunslinger, I only ask of you to help the situation. If you think more money will not solve our hopefully temporary problem then propose something that will.

Posted by Beth, a resident of Del Prado
on Jan 28, 2010 at 8:49 pm

Gunslinger - nice try - I'm NOT a teacher.

You didn't answer my question - have you had children in the schools? Are you planning to have children in the schools? We have lived here since way before having children, so guess what I have paid to have your children in the schools. And if you are planning to have children in the schools, then I will be paying for that as well. And I don't mind. Why? Because public school education is a cornerstone of our society. I don't see why you don't get that.

If the parents alone could solve this problem, we would. But we can't. The problem is too big. It stinks to have to ask for help from other people, but your attitude makes it even worse. Thanks. Oh and as for your offer to teach 500 kids - please stay the heck away from my kids.

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 28, 2010 at 9:21 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Common sense wrote: "So districts can ask for money and promise to use it for X, "

Unless it says right in the legal text of a parcel tax that X amount of money is going to be devoted to CSR, those are empty promises. But that's been written about many many times during the Measure G campaign...

Posted by To the teacher bashers, a resident of Happy Valley
on Jan 28, 2010 at 9:27 pm

Oh Gunslinger,
Your posts are making it more and more clear what a zealot you are. I do believe you would move mountains for YOUR children. I do not believe you would move a grain of sand for other children in the community. Unfortunately the world is not filled with well cared for children of privilege. We, as educators, have a responsibility to care for and teach all children who walk through our doors.
The teachers unions are not the downfall of California. Mismanagement by the people we elected to govern this state is at fault, pandering to special interests who can buy what they want is at fault. I do realize that the unions represent a special interest however because my profession subjects me to dealing with people like you who feel that my job is trivial I see no other realistic options for teachers other than to seek the protection of a union. I can not do my job and have to worry about pleasing every parent I deal with. Do you know what havoc a few parents can cause? Do I think the union is ideal, nope. I wish we did not need it but it is precisely because of people like you (who I chose to believe represent a minority of parents in the community)that I need to have a union in an effort to practice my craft in peace and to have a greater body of people negotiating my wages for me because I really do not have the time to do so. The needs of your children are very, very immense.
And I am not threatening people to leave the system. Go for it, really. If the whole thing falls apart I am fine. I am well educated, I CAN do something else for a living. If you think that gathering your people and leaving the system will prove a point I say go for it! Do something, because your ranting about teachers is useless. And if you think an attack on my integrity is warranted I say go for that too. Why not? Your children will be watching and I do think it would be an incredible teaching opportunity.

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 28, 2010 at 9:28 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

do your research wrote: "What I discovered was that some of the information regarding per pupil funding was incorrect, but no one else would have known that unless they actually took the time to find out."

Excellent moniker, by the way! All the data is at the Ed-Data website. Did you know that the Measure G opponents made corrections to their arguments on their website? They also pointed out where the proponents were wrong in their arguments.

Posted by Common Sense, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2010 at 9:59 pm

Gunslinger is a resident of Danville. That is the San Ramon School district, isn't it? Don't they have a newspaper over there where this person has voice his/her opinions? This is Pleasanton, not Danville or San Ramon!

To the former PUSD teacher that is now in San Ramon: you are just new over there. I know people in San Ramon whose kids go to private school, there is a reason for that. The community may not be as supportive as you think, just give it some time until you learn more. Many are angry about the upcoming cuts because they just passed a parcel tax. And a teacher over there just got moved from one high school to another based on parental complaints, could not fire her because of the union stuff. The same kind of problems we have in PUSD exist in San Ramon, except we do not have a tax.

Posted by To the teacher bashers, a resident of Happy Valley
on Jan 28, 2010 at 10:18 pm

Hey Gunslinger so, what are you going to do? How are you going to solve this problem for all the kids? ALL the kids? Not just yours and those of your cronies but ALL the kids? The kids of the liberals, the kids of the uneducated, the kids of the just plain stupid and uninvolved? ALL those kids Gunslinger. How are you going to fix this for ALL of them. What about the kids of the people who are on welfare and don't pay taxes. How are you going to mobilize them since I am mobilizing against all the parents? Hmmmm Gunslinger? How are you going to do this? If you can figure it out kudos!! I will be your biggest fan because at the end of the day Gunslinger I could care less about unions and taxes and wealthy taxpayers all I am passionate about is teaching all kids and giving all kids a fair start. Kids can't decide to be born into your wonderful and perfect family Gunslinger. Lots and lots of them are born into chaos, poverty and instability. You live in a bubble of entitlement. I need all kids to have a fair shot at the "American Dream". I don't propose to know how to accomplish this and I don't care that I am limited in my abilities to solve major social equity problems. BUT, I do know it needs to happen and I am not going to go away. I also know that I work my tail off every day trying to make it happen while you just sit around and complain about the man taking all of your money. Wah, wah, wah poor Gunslinger.

Posted by Common sense, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2010 at 10:19 pm

to the person who posted as "to the teacher bashers":

One of the reasons San Ramon was able to pass a parcel tax (talk to residents) is because they did a mail-in vote. Many people did not even know there was a parcel tax vote going on (you can get the percentages of how many people voted by calling the registrar of voters).

Mail in votes are a smart move by the leadership of a district because chances are, most people won't know about it. This happened in other districts too, like Cupertino.

So don't assume that there was community support for a parcel tax. There was a smart way to do it, and that I can say the leadership was a bit smarter than the PUSD leadership because here it was a special election at the polls.

I have the feeling that these days, asking for taxes and money will not be popular in most districts.

The Mercury News has a good blog where Cupertino parents are letting their voice be heard. Many are complaining about the district, and why are they compromising the educational experience of their kids if the voters just approved a parcel tax? Good question, let's wait and see what all these districts with parcel taxes will look like come this May.

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 28, 2010 at 10:26 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

To the teacher bashers,

Web Link

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 28, 2010 at 10:30 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Oh look, they even have a website to go along with the book: Web Link

Posted by To the teacher bashers, a resident of Happy Valley
on Jan 28, 2010 at 10:55 pm

Thanks Stacey,
I'm actually very fortunate to be a Teach for America alum. 3 years at Castlemont before coming "home". The thing that sucks is that it's not really working. Most of us head to the burbs eventually because the challenges are so great and as we age and start families of our own we generally don't want to live in those areas.

I don't know how to make it work but I firmly believe it's in our best interest to figure it out.

Posted by Pleasanton Parent, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jan 28, 2010 at 11:36 pm

I am so tired of "teacher's have to pay their own health benefits" argument. This was something they voted on in exchange for a higher salary and future pension payout.

And to the poster who stated many teachers work 50-60hrs per week.....guess what, so do I (and many of us in the private sector) only my 50-60hr work week doesn't take a summer hiatus.

Posted by Get Educated, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 29, 2010 at 1:08 am

How does the fact that "teachers voted for it" change the fact that they -are- paying for their benefits, their pay is not as high as the inflated number shows, and even if they are not receiving benefits, they are still among average pay in California? With no cola increases for two years, those paying for their benefits have had a pay cut due to rising benefit costs.

Yes this was voted for, but that is not the point. The point is that teachers in Pleasanton are not the highest paid as many here like to claim, and many have lost pay for the last two years as many here like to ignore. This fact has to be repeated because people keep posting false information and misleading the community for the benefit of their own agenda.

I am still wondering what concessions other teachers in surrounding districts are making? That would be an interesting comparison. I'm willing to bet, that no matter what PUSD teachers decide, it will not be enough for this community.

Posted by Common sense, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 29, 2010 at 6:06 am

"How does the fact that "teachers voted for it" change the fact that they -..."

It makes a difference. Why would teachers vote for it and then complain about it?

Obviously, it was in the teachers' best interest to have this option and receive a bigger check and pension. Otherwise, why would they accept it? My guess is, the majority of teachers here in Pleasanton have healthcare taken care of by a spouse, and since they are the mejority, this "pay for your own healthcare and get more salary" option got implemented despite the fact that many younger teachers got screwed along the way.

Then again, younger teachers are getting screwed now too, they are the ones getting laid off while the ones with more seniority even the bad ones have job security and oh yeah, their precious step and column.

Selfish moves from the ones with more seniority. If you ask me, the sooner we can do without the seniority system, the better off everyone will be and education will start being better.

With the current seniority system, everyone loses: students get stuck with horrible teachers, excellent young teachers are laid off, the bad teachers stay and make everyone miserable.

I hope the governor proposed reforms are approved, because the seniority system needs urgent reform

Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jan 29, 2010 at 7:16 am

Common Sense: Amen.

Posted by a reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 29, 2010 at 8:36 am

To "Common sense and Kathleen",

"Why would teachers vote for it and then complain about it?"

Complaining about it? This is another case of just stating facts and distorting facts. Just like people on this board were stating that "everybody else was taking pay cuts" which was factually wrong, people are claiming that PUSD teachers make the highest pay in Bay Area, when they are not paying attention to total compensation. It is not an apples to apples comparison. It is misleading and distorts the facts. I'm complaining about people using the raw numbers on teachers salaries for comparisons, not complaining about the fact that PUSD teachers don't get paid health benefits. Do you get the difference? And I'm not a teacher. It makes no sense to compare those numbers directly without compensating for benefits.

Reforming the seniority system is another matter entirely, and I agree that I hope Arnold's reforms get some traction.

Posted by Bruce, a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Jan 29, 2010 at 9:24 am

I wish people had the common sense to understand that California collects enough tax revenue to fund the best schools in the world. It is just that our elected leaders chose to spend those dollars getting reelected instead of educating our children. When we pay $50,000 a year to keep unskilled, undereducated people in prison, while paying unskilled prison guards $120,000 a year and our collage educated teachers half that amount, there is something wrong with the average voter. Don't ask me to pay more taxes to fix the schools because it will not go to the classroom, it will go to the next union that will back another jerk for reelection.

Posted by Paretn, a resident of Country Fair
on Jan 29, 2010 at 9:37 am

shadowbozo I'd like to point out two things: One is teachers work with children. A bad one CAN affect a childs life. I've seen it personally. I would expect their job to pay more than any job I am qualified to do. Second, when the economy is good and people are flush with stock options and bennies even taking their freaking dogs to work, where are the teachers salaries and benefits? They don't get as much benefit from the rise of the economy as others so why should they be expected to take the brunt to the same extent?

Posted by Common sense, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 29, 2010 at 9:38 am


If you want to compare apples to apples, then we need the percentage of teachers in PUSD that are actually paying for healthcare.

My guess is that since teachers agreed to "more pay and pension but we pay for our own healthcare" that most have health care covered by a spouse. Otherwise, it makes no sense to have had this agreement that is quite unique to Pleasanton.

For those teachers whose spouse covers healtcare, then yes, their salary is a lot higher than in surrounding areas.

I am all for doing an accurate comparison. So, can you find out what percentage of teachers decline the healthcare in PUSD? How many actually pay for it? Because most teachers my kids have had, did NOT pay for healthcare because of a spouse plan and therefore were paid higher than in surrounding areas.

Posted by Common sense, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 29, 2010 at 9:46 am

"Don't ask me to pay more taxes to fix the schools because it will not go to the classroom, it will go to the next union that will back another jerk for reelection."

True, very few dollars we are asked for end up going to the classroom.

It is sickening to see how much we spend for prisons, for illegals, and how little we actually spend for education.

That being said, once dollars are actually allocated to education, they still don't end up being spent for the benefit of the students. We have administrators, unions, bad teachers with perks, all kinds of expenses that we could do without (county of education, etc).

Reform the system: allocate more money for education BUT make sure that money is spent the correct way: in the classroom, for programs, paying more for GOOD teachers (not continuing to subsidize raises for the bad teachers who are making students hate school, and we have quite a few of those here in PUSD - the ones that unfortunately will escape this round of layoffs)

Posted by a reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 29, 2010 at 9:49 am

To Common sense,

I haven't been able to find the actual numbers. I've seen people post that something like 2/3 take the spouse's benefits, but I don't know if that is true. Then next question to answer is which 2/3. It could be that those 2/3 tend to be more senior, so that would mean less of a correction for health benefits would be needed in comparing salaries.

Posted by Working Mama, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 29, 2010 at 10:19 am

Times are tough for everyone, but I would've never expected the community to turn on its own the way that it has. I know many teachers who are willing to make concessions to help. Just like us they have kids who are affected by the cuts. Think about this, our teachers are willing to make concessions, but what are we willing to do? No one wants to pay more to ensure our children's education, but guess what, no one wants to pay higher gas prices or to spend on groceries or their electric bill BUT WE DO. We do it because we don't consider it an option. We do it because its a necessity. Why is fighting to provide an education and option for people? Didn't your kids at one time get a good education here?

What happens when we have beaten and blamed teachers so much that they leave this district or city? What happens when our teachers no longer have a vested interest in our schools because they are not part of our community? Many have taken this for granted. I love Pleasanton. Both my husband and I grew up here and we hoped our children would also, but we have to start working with each other instead of against each other.

Posted by Sandy Piderit, a resident of Mohr Park
on Jan 29, 2010 at 10:29 am

Working Mama -- I don't think the entire community has turned against children, or against teachers. There may be a lot of those sentiments on these discussion forums, but I'm not convinced that they are representative of community sentiments. (62% of voters voted in favor of measure G.)

I also don't know for sure that everyone who posts here is even eligible to vote in Pleasanton. Cholo's from Livermore, gunslinger's from Danville... I guess they just like to type. Not a problem for me, but I value more the opinions of people who show up at our community meetings.

Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 29, 2010 at 10:30 am

Seriously, is this really about teacher compensation or is it more about an embarrassing representation of a school board? Even if teachers scale back, this isn't going to solve the root of the problem! It's mis-management of district funds! I'm not a teacher and frankly I'm glad I'm not if this is what I'd have to put up with. If I ran a company the way this district has been run, I'd have been out of a job long aga. I would have been fired and someone new and capable would have been put in. Why are we blaming the workers and not the management here?!

Posted by Ann Martin, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 29, 2010 at 11:47 am

To Common Sense:
Since I've seen the question come up numerous times on this blog (and I was curious myself), I asked Trustee Valerie Arkin for the actual numbers on how many PUSD teachers pay for their health care (in other words, didn't opt out of the district plan because their benefits are covered by a spouse/partner's insurance).

Here's the response I received:
There are about 780 PUSD teachers and just over 300 take the insurance coverage.

I have re-typed the information as it was given to me, and this was the way the information was passed on by a PUSD administrator to Valerie Arkin.

I try to find answers to any questions I have on the PUSD website, but if the answer isn't there, I ask a School Board member.

In the interests of transparency, Valerie Arkin is a friend, so I am more comfortable contacting her with my questions. But I know that she welcomes all community input. When I told her the question about how many teachers take the health plan keeps coming up and asked her to check into it, she told me she was meeting with a PUSD administrator that week, and would add my question to others which had been asked of her.

If there's a particular school board member you feel comfortable contacting, then I recommend you and any others with specific questions contact that member. Otherwise, I'd suggest you send your questions to all five school board members. Their email addresses are available on the PUSD website, or you can mail your questions to any or all of them care of PUSD.

Posted by Sandy Piderit, a resident of Mohr Park
on Jan 29, 2010 at 11:53 am

Parent: Who are you saying should be fired? Board members? Two of the five are up for reelection this November, assuming they run again. Vote your conscience.

The Superintendent? He's retiring.

Assistant superintendents? You think somebody's embezzling? I really, really doubt that. I could be wrong.

You and I agree on this -- even if the teachers cut back, that will not address the root of the problem.

I'm not convinced that I see evidence of mismanagement of district funds, though. What evidence can you offer?

And gunslinger:

are you calling me an Astroturf vocalist, or were you referring to someone else? Why? I did not say you're my opponent, or that you have no right to express your opinion. I said I don't think you vote in Pleasanton elections. If I'm wrong, you can just say so.

Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 29, 2010 at 12:21 pm

Here's my problem with the Assistant Superintendents...just as Casey was on his way out they were renewed--because THAT team worked so well. To be clear, I'm not saying anyone is embezzling. I'm just saying that in the real world management like this would not be tolerated by stockholders. I'm a stockholder. Everyone in this city is a stockholder. While education may not be the only reason people live here, it is a big reason. If this leg of our "business" (education) goes bankrupt, all of our other assets are going to be hurt - like home values--oh and a littel something else called our children.

Who cares if teachers are using the benefits or not? It's there for them to choose. My employer doesn't dock my pay if I use my spouses benefits. Does that mean because I have the good fortune of a spouse with good benefits that I should be entitled to less? In any other profession, no one would be making a comparison as to whether or not you use your spouses benefits because it's irrelevant. This isn't the problem people.

Posted by Parent, a resident of Bridle Creek
on Jan 29, 2010 at 2:11 pm

To---to the teacher bashers.
You sound like a very bitter teacher. I hope that you keep the bitterness out of the classroom. You made the choice to be a teacher. If you feel you are underpaid and under appreciated perhaps you should change careers. Most careers will require you to work during the summer, so be prepared. San Ramon might be a better district for you, afterall, they passed a parcel tax.

Posted by Sandy Piderit, a resident of Mohr Park
on Jan 29, 2010 at 2:28 pm

Parent -- I understand your concerns about the renewal of the assistant superintendents' contracts. I'm not real clear on why the board members agreed to that. It's not mismanagement in the sense of doing anything illegal, but I can understand why it rubs people the wrong way.

On the one hand, if any of those assistant superintendents quits before we have a new superintendent in place, that would be a huge challenge. On the other hand, once the new superindendent arrives, he or she should have the right to evaluate their performance and recommend pay adjustments without being locked into 2 more years of an existing contract.

I certainly hope that the assistant superintendents, principals, and other top management employees will take the lead in making voluntary concessions. They did so last summer, and helped contribute to being able to reinstate a lot of employees who interact directly with students. I hope they will announce the total dollar amount of concessions to be contributed from management soon, too -- that's the way to show leadership and leverage the concessions while negotiating with APT and CSEA. They shouldn't wait around until they think they're reaching an agreement with the unions.

Posted by From a teacher, a resident of Highland Oaks
on Jan 29, 2010 at 4:27 pm

I am a teacher and I just might work the type of work week and year schedule that many of you accuse us of working. That means don't send your kids in for help. Don't expect me to do all the extra work I do for your children on my own time. Don't expect me to sit around and wait for you to pick up your child. Don't expect me to come in early to help your child, give up my lunch time, stay late after school. Don't expect me to answer emails that do not pertain directly to your child's progress in my class. Don't expect me to be a counselor, an advisor, and mentor. I will start at 8 and end at 3. Don't expect me to spend most of June reorganizing and putting things away, and most of August preparing for your child to come n to a well-prepared classroom. Don't expect me to put in extra hours of my "unpaid" time preparing your child to do well on the standardized tests. Don't expect me to be in my classroom before the first day of school. It is not that I could step aside and not do any of these things with a clear conscious, but since the perception is we are part time and are overpaid, I am happy to meet your incredibly demeaning and low expectations! This community has no idea what is about to hit them next year!

Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 29, 2010 at 4:59 pm


Please do not feel as though all of us do not support you. There are a great many of us who feel like our children have greatly benefited from all the extra effort and time our teachers have graciously given--please know that and we are batting for you. My oldest child is a first grader and she loves school. We know it's because she had a kindergarten teacher who cared enough to spend a great deal of time planning and preparing her for the next year. The thought of our next child beginning school crammed in a class of 30 is unimaginable. We know this isn't because you were greedy and wanted those extra undeserved benefits I see people complaining about above. We know it is a greater problem and we hope that others understand we need to stop pointing the finger and find a way to fix this mess. We hope you still provide our next children with the same dedication and direction our daughter has been so lucky to have.

Posted by Sandy Piderit, a resident of Mohr Park
on Jan 30, 2010 at 11:36 am

Gunslinger, if you don't want your posts deleted, don't swear. It's that simple.

Posted by Another Pleasanton Parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 30, 2010 at 2:05 pm

To From A Teacher,
I appreciate what you do, but I don't expect it. I expect you to be in your classroom during school hours, available to meet with students during your prep period, and be available to meet with parents during parent-teacher conferences. Anything you do beyond that is on your time, and I recognize that. So do many other parents. I also recognize that your job is more than the hours in the classroom and includes lesson planning, grading and many other things you do to benefit our children.
I hope you can appreciate what many parents in this community do. When you send home a note asking for donations of classroom supplies, I send them in. When you ask for field trip chaperones, I volunteer. Whenever you ask for any parents to help with grading, setting up bulletin boards or doing any other work that a parent can do, I sign up. Every teacher luncheon, I am donating items and helping to set up and clean up.
I show my appreciation for your efforts every day. I often tell you how much I appreciate your work.
I do not withdraw my support and punish you because of a few negative comments made about the Pleasanton community by a few teachers.

I hope that your last comment "This community has no idea what is about to hit them next year!" was one made out of frustration, instead of a promise that you will not continue to do your best for our children.

Posted by mannyman, a resident of Birdland
on Jan 30, 2010 at 4:31 pm

mannyman is a registered user.

Let us be clear. Obviously if anyone gets beyond the borders of Pleasanton, almost every school district in the state is in serious financial problems. To completely blame anyone in the district, be it administration, school board, teachers or whoever, is ludicrous. The state has screwed up and we all have to pay for it. The school class sizes are going to increase no matter what we do as teacher layoffs are going to be part of the budget cuts no matter what happens. The problem here is like the frog in boiling water. Put a frog in boiling water and it will jump out, place a frog in cold water and slowly bring it to a boil and the frog will die. Sure, added a few more students to a classroom, probably won't have immediate noticeable affect, but if you keep adding a few more students to each class every year, quality will suffer. Pleasanton (and almost all other similar districts in the state) are going to slowly degrade until we can't figure out what happened and when schools used to be good. A $200 parcel tax is not going to fix it. A one year freeze or pay cut for teachers will not solve it as this problem is not going to end in 1 year and you can't ask teachers to take a pay cut every year. There is no salvation on the horizon. A long term plan must come into affect. The teachers are negotiating their next contract. Part of this long term solution needs to be put into place in that contract. But part of the long term solution is to plan for future, not one or two years, but 10, 20 30+ years. We have to plan for what to do when times are good again and for when we see tough times again. History will repeat itself and as the old saying goes, those that do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

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