Pleasanton property values have stayed relatively stable during these trying economic times, unlike our neighboring cities. Over the last year, prices for Alameda County houses have dropped on average 26.7 percent. Our closest neighbors, Dublin and Livermore, have dropped 15.9 percent and 25.1 percent respectively. Pleasanton, on the other hand, has dropped a mere 2.9 percent. (Source: Real Estate Report www.rereport.com)
Why has Pleasanton property retained so much more value than the property value of the county and of its immediate neighbors?
Two words: our schools. Pleasanton Unified School District is consistently at the top of the county's schools. Our schools have a state ranking of 10 out of 10 of all California elementary schools. This rank comes from the 2007 California Academic Performance Index (API) Base report. By contrast, Dublin schools average ranking is 9, Livermore schools range from 2-10, with an average of 7.6. (Source: http://school-ratings.com/counties/Alameda.html). US News and World Report ranked Foothill and Amador Valley High Schools among the top 3 percent in the nation in December 2007.
Many people want to move here because of our schools. This, in turn, keeps the real estate inventory (the amount of homes for sale at a given time) low, and our sale prices high. Supply and demand.
So, what will happen when our tests scores fall? Don't think they will?
Think we can increase class sizes for children in grades kindergarten through third grade from 20 to 30 students, and cut reading specialists and counselors without consequence to the children's education and test scores? That the teachers will be able to cover the same amount of material as thoroughly for 30 students as they did for 20? That seems unlikely. Because there will be 10 more hands raised needing the teacher's individual attention, and 10 more students who potentially could really benefit from the intervention of a reading specialist or a counselor, but will be unable to get that help because these positions will be eliminated by proposed cuts.
The proposed cuts to our schools include the following:
* Elimination of the class size reduction program, resulting in a 50 percent increase in class size for grades kindergarten through third grade, and ninth-grade math and English classes;
* 50 percent decrease in reading specialists for elementary schools;
* Complete elimination of many academic intervention programs designed to help students struggling with reading, writing and language arts;
* 50 percent decrease in counseling staff to elementary students (that will mean one counselor per 2,400 students);
* Decreasing counseling ratios in middle school and high school to one counselor per every 600 students (imagine what happens when kids need help planning for college);
* One vice principal to serve all nine elementary schools;
* 33 percent decrease in vice principals for secondary schools;
* Complete elimination of elementary strings and band programs;
* Complete elimination of athletic coaches for all schools;
* Elimination of support for English language learners;
* 50 percent reduction of library hours for elementary and middle schools
A parcel tax will go a long way to fix this. Vote for it. The estimated $15/month investment is worth it. Protect our schools, our home values, and our children's futures.