Pleasanton Weekly

News - March 26, 2010

Board gets budget back on track, for now

Unanimous vote shows PUSD support for changing majority rule for school funding measures

by Emily West

School Board members were pleased to certify their budget as positive Tuesday night -- a sign of a balanced budget -- for the first time in a year and a half. The status of the fourth interim report shows that Pleasanton Unified School District would be able to meet its financial obligations for the current and two subsequent years.

The interim reports, which happen four times over a fiscal year, had in the recent past been certified as qualified, which says the district may not be able to fulfill its financial obligations.

While praising the budget solidarity, board president Chris Grant noted that it was a "dramatic team effort" that put them there. These efforts include cutting the budget and concessions from the teacher's union and district management.

"Congratulations," Grant said Tuesday night. "We're one of a handful of districts that have moved to solid financial ground."

Some unknowns still exist, however, as the governor's updated budget, also called the May Revise, is scheduled to come out in mid-May; the district is still in talks with the classified employees union, which could result in further concessions; and the CORE (Community OutReach for Education) fundraiser has already garnered just over $42,000 from parents.

Luz Cazares, assistant superintendent of business services, said other factors that could also impact the budget is the need for further mold remediation work at Hearst Elementary School and a possible special education encroachment.

With past talks of securing additional funding from a parcel tax, the board unanimously voted to support the Local Control of Local Classrooms Funding Act, which would lower the required majority for school funding measures.

Jeff Bowser, chair of the legislative committee for the Pleasanton PTA Council, had petitions circulating the community to support this initiative.

If put on the November ballot and passed, the new initiative would change school parcel tax requirements to only need 55 percent of the votes instead of a two-thirds majority. In order to qualify, a parcel tax would need to be approved by two-thirds of the governing body, be for $250 or less, offer a senior exemption and include a citizens audit and oversight committee.

Under these criteria, the latest parcel tax effort last June would have passed with 67 percent of voters in favor.

Trustee Jim Ott noted the concern for taxpayers, but said the conditions, including a 55-percent majority instead of 51, would help. He also noted that a two-thirds majority was essentially like giving the minority the power to decide.

Grant said the initiative would be a baby step in the right direction to allow solutions for the local community while the system in Sacramento is broken.

Trustee Jamie Hintzke agreed.

"It's going to take a lot of effort to get the problem fixed," she said. "In the meanwhile, we just can't wait. We've got kids to educate."

To learn more about the initiative, visit


Posted by Dark Corners of Town, a resident of Country Fair
on Jun 10, 2010 at 1:54 pm

According to the website (Web Link) this initiative was unable to qualify. Given the next milestone was signature gathering, why wasn't the CA PTA organization able to get enough support? Does this mean CA voters want taxpayer protections maintained?
Are the school board members who supported this initiative on the wrong side of this issue?

Posted by a reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 10, 2010 at 9:26 pm

This article makes some interesting and relevant points.

California: Land of Governance Gimmicks

"...In practice, it's idiocy, for two reasons. First, it violates the core tenet of federalism: local issues are best decided at the local level. Why shouldn't Berkeley be able to tax itself more to fund a community project? Nobody in Orange County has to pay for it. (To get your mind around the federalism issue, imagine that the state passed a law precluding local communities from cutting their property taxes -- that wouldn't make the "local government knows best" crowd real happy.)"

Web Link

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jun 10, 2010 at 9:34 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Prop. 13 still lets a community tax itself more! The author of the article clearly has only a rudimentary understanding of Prop. 13.

Posted by TaxFree, a resident of Amador Estates
on Jun 10, 2010 at 10:12 pm

So are we free from the parcel tax nonsense? Will the staff be asking for more mmoney?

Posted by a reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 12, 2010 at 2:44 pm

"Prop. 13 still lets a community tax itself more! The author of the article clearly has only a rudimentary understanding of Prop. 13."

Only if the minority allows it. That is his point.

Posted by Dark Corners of Town, a resident of Country Fair
on Jun 12, 2010 at 2:53 pm

Only if the super-majority wants it. That is how the state constitution is written.

Posted by a reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 12, 2010 at 5:40 pm

"Only if the super-majority wants it. "

That's the problem and it is going to get fixed. Prop 14 is a step in that direction. Finally we'll see an end to the unions and state employees saying "no concessions or cuts in benefits ever" and no more anti-tax zealots saying "no tax increases ever".

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