http://pleasantonweekly.com/print/story/print/2011/04/29/letters


Pleasanton Weekly

Opinion - April 29, 2011

Letters

Vote Yes on E

Dear Editor,

Please vote Yes on E. All the money will go directly to our local schools. Pleasanton Unified School District has done a good job over the years of managing the school budget within the circumstances it has been given. Sacramento has caused the problems we now face in our schools and Measure E money will not go to Sacramento. It will stay here.

Education is necessary for a democracy to thrive. We can cut other places but we must fund education for our children. Our children need and deserve the best education we can give them.

In addition, good schools in Pleasanton help maintain our housing values. It is a win-win situation for everybody. Please join me in voting Yes on E today.

Jan Batcheller

What I like about E

Dear Editor,

As a Realtor who meets with prospective Pleasanton homeowners daily, I know firsthand that the caliber of our schools is what makes families want to move here. I can also tell you that Measure E will make a difference in maintaining our school district's reputation as it shows that we are a community that stands behind and supports our children. And more importantly, Measure E will make a difference helping to maintain the education that our children will receive.

What I like about Measure E is this:

* Measure E has focus, on core academic programs that improve reading, math and science skills.

* Measure E has promise; it will generate funds that by law cannot be taken away by the state or go to other school districts.

* Measure E has accountability: An independent citizens' oversight committee will ensure funds are spent as promised, and annual audits would be mandatory.

Please join me in voting Yes on Measure E.

Donna Garrison

Promises ignored

Dear Editor,

PUSD has not earned the right to ask Pleasanton taxpayers to trust the same promises again.

In Measure E, the Pleasanton Unified School District promises that "Strict accountability is mandated," and "an independent citizens oversight committee will provide oversight and accountability." Taxpayers of this community should have the facts on how those same promises were ignored on previous tax measures.

Pleasanton homeowners will continue to pay an average of $866 per parcel to PUSD until 2024 for the 1997 Measure B Bond. A Citizens Oversight Committee was promised for Measure B also but the committee only met twice. Requests to reinstate the oversight committee were refused, while at the same time the district was engaging in the practice of refunding and illegally cashing out more than $7 million from Measure B. That is exactly the type of practice that the disbanded oversight committee was intended to prevent.

The California Attorney General confirmed that "cash-out refunding bonds" violate the state constitution; school bond refinancing is permitted for the purpose of reducing taxpayer debt only. However PUSD used "cash-out" refinancing to generate at least $7 million to pay for non-voter approved purposes. The repayments of those proceeds, which have never been approved in an election, will result in an additional $16.1 million in taxes charged to Pleasanton taxpayers during the term of Measure E, 2011-14.

PUSD took over $7 million of tax money without the required voter approval. This time we have the choice to say No.

Julie Testa

Stable funds

Dear Editor,

We encourage all Pleasanton residents to vote yes on Measure E, which will bring approximately $2 million per year directly into school classrooms for the next four years and costs less than 27 cents a day.

We are fortunate to have outstanding schools here in Pleasanton. We have two daughters that have thrived in elementary school because of the 20 to 1 student/teacher ratio they experienced in K-third grade. The individual attention received from their teachers contributed to their confidence and love of learning. Students will lose that benefit as class size increases.

PUSD has already cut $19.4 million from the budget in the last two years. The next cuts will affect classroom instructional programs (i.e., math, reading and science) that will negatively impact student learning. Measure E ensures that sections for these subjects are available to students with minimal class size increases.

Measure E will not solve all of the problems the school district is currently facing. That is not its purpose. It does, for a minimal cost, offer a means to provide stable funds to maintain the important programs we have right now. Vote Yes on E.

Tina and John LaDue

Just say Yes

Dear Editor,

For those still uncertain about or unfamiliar with Measure E, the local school funding measure, here are the basic facts:

1. Measure E is a $98/year funding measure that will help protect Pleasanton schools from state budget cuts.

2. Any money raised by Measure E, by law, must stay here in Pleasanton. It cannot be taken by the state.

3. Measure E dollars will support core academic instruction, emphasizing math, science and reading skills.

4. No Measure E funds will be used to increase salaries or benefits.

5. Measure E includes provisions for an independent advisory board that will monitor how the funds are spent.

Measure E is needed to safeguard our high quality schools. In recent years, Pleasanton schools have lost $19.4 million in state funding and eliminated 67 teachers, 25 school staff members and 17 administrators. Just last week, due to the suspension of budget talks in Sacramento, Pleasanton learned of potential additional cuts of more than $5 million.

Measure E won't prevent all the cuts, but it will provide stable funding that our schools need to ensure our children receive the highest quality education we can provide.

Please join me in voting Yes on Measure E.

Jodie Vashistha

Shameless tax grab

Dear Editor,

Senior citizens who vote Yes on Measure E with the idea of filing an exemption so they aren't taxed are demonstrating hypocrisy and intellectual dishonesty. They are saying that they are in favor of yet another shameless governmental tax grab so long as someone else pays for it. What a wonderful message for "the children."

Oh, by the way, I'm a senior citizen who has always supported education, but who strongly urges a No vote.

Bill Eastman, Retired Police Chief, Pleasanton

Ongoing value

Dear Editor,

When we moved to Pleasanton 40 years ago, schools were primarily locally funded. Today, school funding comes primarily from the state. As the state's funding goes, so goes the fate of the public schools.

Property values in Pleasanton have not declined recently to the extent they have in other communities because people who appreciate a quality education for their children want to buy a home here. Vote Yes on Measure E to help maintain the quality of education and the value of our homes for 27 cents a day.

Looking over the annual family budget, how many cups of Starbucks coffee, or bottles of wine, or cartons of cigarettes would $98 buy? The value of these expenditures is transient, but the value of Measure E is ongoing. While older and disabled residents for whom the parcel tax would be a financial burden may request an exemption, there are many others of us who are willing and able to continue to support our schools.

It is in the interest of us all to support an educational system that is among the best in the state. And how often do we have a citizens' oversight committee to review the use of taxes we pay and report back to us?

Barbara Hempill, Past President, Livermore Amador Valley League of Women Voters

Grim imaginings

Dear Editor,

Imagine -- they cut music programs and library hours.

Reading specialists, P.E. staff and high school counselor positions were eliminated.

Class sizes grew and the number of teachers shrunk. The school year was shortened.

Then college recruiters sought bright, educated leaders of tomorrow...and there were no qualified applicants.

Don't let this be the future of Pleasanton schools. Vote Yes on Measure E to establish stable funding for our schools.

Antonia Hume

If E doesn't pass

Dear Editor,

What happens to Pleasanton schools if we don't pass Measure E? Let's take a look:

* Fewer Teachers -- Pleasanton school board braces for reduced funding from the state -- which has a $26 billion deficit -- and cuts 62 full-time teachers, counselors, specialists and staff.

* Bigger Classes -- K-3 classrooms reach 30 or more kids. Just two years ago, there were only 20 children in these early years of formative learning.

* Shorter School Days -- Once a week, the school day for elementary school age children is 45 minutes shorter

* Marginalized Course Offerings and Counseling -- High school students have access to fewer courses and counselors.

Measure E won't prevent all these scenarios from becoming a reality, but it will provide stable local funding that our schools desperately need. With your help, we can help preserve the quality of Pleasanton schools.

Please mark your mail-in Measure E ballot with a Yes.

Matt Evans

Reform needed

Dear Editor,

Change and reform is necessary for Pleasanton schools to continue performing. Over 40% of the state general funds go to schools. This does not include the funds from the government and the lottery. Where does it go? Not to the schools. Over 80% goes to the salaries, healthcare and pensions of the teachers and other school workers. The starting salary for a teacher for only 180 days of work is over $58,000. That is almost $120,000 for a full year. Most taxpayers do not even get $58,000 for a full year's work. A number of Pleasanton teachers will be retiring at over $100,000 a year pensions this year. A majority of the taxpayers will be retiring at less than $24,000 pension a year. Then there is Step and Column that increases the base salary by another 3.5%. We have to stop this lunacy and vote No on Measure E. We want reform and not continuation of the status quo.

Rajinder Ghatoaura

Reverse downward slide

Dear Editor,

In recent years, Pleasanton schools have lost $19.4 million in state funding. At first, the cuts were away from the classroom: 25 school staff members and 17 administrators (almost 30 percent of management positions in the district office). But as cuts grew more severe, students could not be protected entirely. Class sizes grew larger and the school year was shortened. Sixty-seven teaching positions were eliminated. The seven-period day was suspended for high school students.

For next year, the board has already approved the elimination of 62 more positions. But the cuts made in February will not be enough. Last week, Pleasanton learned that Sacramento is considering even more cuts to education. These could translate into a loss of an additional $5 million for our schools.

When will this end? Not any time soon. But passing Measure E can help reverse the downward slide. Vote Yes on Measure E.

Mark Torres-Gil

Senior supports E

Dear Editor,

I'm a retiree and a 30-year Pleasanton resident without children who plans to vote Yes on Measure E, the parcel tax to support our schools. I want all seniors to know they can file for an exemption from the parcel tax and still vote in favor of the measure. And you only have to file the exemption once. As long as you don't move, the exemption is automatically renewed for four years -- the entire life of the parcel tax.

Measure E will provide a stable source of revenue for our schools, which have weathered $19.4 million in cuts in recent years. What I especially like about Measure E is that it includes provisions to make sure taxpayer funds reach the classroom. For example, no Measure E moneys may be used for administrator salaries or benefits, and the state cannot usurp the money. In addition, an independent oversight committee monitors how the funds are used, reporting their findings to the public.

With all this oversight, I feel confident that Measure E will help our kids.

Nancy Snover

Children stand to lose

Dear Editor,

Those opposed to Measure E believe defeating it will resolve their issues with the public school system. It won't. Here's what a No vote on Measure E will do for Pleasanton schools:

* A No vote will increase class sizes for the children in grades K-1 and ninth-grade English.

* A No vote will decrease instruction time for children in grades 1-5.

* A No vote will eliminate the elementary student's opportunity to learn P.E. from specialists.

* A No vote will ensure that high school students can't take some of the classes they need to get into the college they'd like to attend.

* A No vote will reduce the availability of counselors to middle and high school students.

* A No vote will lessen the time available for our children to utilize libraries on campus.

* A No vote wll decrease the quality of education for Pleasanton students.

Who the real losers are behind a No vote? The children of Pleasanton. Measure E will help maintain our children's education in Pleasanton. Please join me in voting Yes on E.

Teri Banholzer

Facts for seniors

Dear Editor,

As a senior and a retired teacher from the Pleasanton school district, I want to share a few facts regarding Measure E, the local school funding measure. These will be of special interest to seniors and recipients of SSI disability benefits.

1. Filing for an exemption only needs to be done once. So long as you don't move, the exemption will be automatically renewed.

2. It is possible to file for the exemption and still vote Yes on Measure E.

3. The deadline for filing for an exemption is June 30. You can file the exemption via mail or drop it off at the school district office on Bernal Avenue.

4. If you have difficulty completing the form, contact the district's parcel tax administrator toll free at (800) 273-5167.

Measure E is necessary to protect our high-quality schools. We need a stable, local source of funding for our schools to offset the significantly reduced funding our schools receive from the state.

Please vote Yes on Measure E. Remember, ballots must be received by May 3 so mail it soon.

Marilyn Foreman

Small change, big effect

Dear Editor,

Twenty-seven cents a day. That amount of small change won't buy much in a store, but if each Pleasanton household pools that amount, it can mean a big change in the impact the California budget has on students in our schools.

Please join me in voting Yes on Measure E, the $98-per-year parcel tax that would help offset some of the deep cuts the local school board is forced to make (again) due to the budget situation in Sacramento. Teachers, support staff and administrators all have made sacrifices and continue to do so in order to protect the high quality of education that Pleasanton is known for.

We have no family members currently in the local schools. We would be eligible to take the senior waiver for this parcel tax. However, we value the education our son received, and we choose to do our part to help current students have similar benefit.

Young students cannot vote, but you can. Don't lose that ballot in your stack of mail. This is a vote-by-mail only election. Vote Yes on Measure E and mail your ballot back by April 29 to be counted (May 3) on students' behalf.

Jerri Pantages Long

Schools in jeopardy

Dear Editor,

Did you know that the majority of Pleasanton school funding is supposed to come from the state of California? But it's increasingly apparent that we can't rely on the state to provide consistent funding to our schools. It seems we can count on Sacramento to cut school funding, and then, a few months later, it cuts our budget again.

In the last two years, the state decreased its funding level of Pleasanton schools by $19.4 million. Just last week, they announced plans to potentially cut another $5 million from the current school year's budget.

This dramatic funding drop resulted in many cuts to our academic programs. We lost 67 teachers, critical math and reading support, and seventh period in high school. We gained larger class sizes.

We moved here because of the great Pleasanton schools. Now they are in jeopardy. The district is challenged to give our students the strong foundation they need to thrive and excel in college, or to secure a stable, well-paying position in the working world.

Measure E will give us a source of revenue that the state can't take away from Pleasanton, so please vote Yes on Measure E. We know we will.

Holly and Mike Sanders

Endorsements for E

Dear Editor,

Measure E, the local school funding measure, deserves your support. Don't take my word for it, consider the prestigious organizations who have endorsed the measure: Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce, League of Women Voters of Livermore-Amador Valley and the Bay East Association of Realtors. Further, the Pleasanton Weekly, the Independent and the Oakland Tribune have all written editorials of support, urging their readers to vote Yes on E.

It says something when such a diverse group of organizations all come together to support an issue. Each of these groups took a close look at Measure E and they all came to the same conclusion: It deserves our support.

Join me and these prestigious organizations and Vote Yes on Measure E.

Paul DeJarnett

Safeguard education

Dear Editor,

The clock is running out on Measure E, the local funding measure to protect Pleasanton schools.

Our schools lost $19.4 million in state funding over the past two years, and the state is threatening another $5 million budget cut this year. Measure E won't eliminate all cuts, but it will protect core academic programs like math, reading and science. We need Measure E to safeguard the quality education available in Pleasanton schools, and to help keep our property values high.

Children can't vote to protect their education. We must do it for them.

Please, mark your ballot Yes and mail it now.

Linda Trombadore

Can't do more with less

Dear Editor,

I'm not the type of person to write a Letter to the Editor about anything, but the debate over Measure E, the local school funding measure, compels me to share my perspective.

As the parent of a mainstreamed special needs child I am concerned how an increased class size will affect his education. I understand that money allocated for special education is considered protected, but he no longer requires special education classes. A class with a ratio of more than 25:1 would make it very difficult for him to get the help he needs to succeed in a typical environment.

I understand people have different opinions about Measure E and that it is about more than just class sizes. What I can't understand is how a No vote on Measure E will help any child get the education he deserves. The district can't do their job better with less financial resources. Teachers won't be more qualified if we reduce their salary and provide no incentive to further their education.

All a No vote will do is ensure our schools are less capable of doing their job: educating our kids. That's why I'm voting Yes on Measure E.

Laura Leavens

Uneasy over pay attack

Dear Editor,

The group opposed to "Vote Yes on Measure E" would be better served to focus its efforts on change at the state level and help achieve real education reform. Attacking our teachers Step and Column pay scale as a better alternative to save money is not only humiliating to our teachers but embarrassing for our community. If Measure E does not pass we will not only be the only community in the East Bay corridor without a parcel tax but also one that is considering removing one of the few incentives our wonderful teachers have to continue teaching our children. We will lose our teachers to other communities that are willing to take a stand with them.

I am disappointed in the divisiveness of our community on this issue. Pleasanton should be rallying right now to do the little we can to help preserve the quality of education and maintain our home values we have enjoyed over the years, and should not be taken for granted. I hope you will/have joined me in voting Yes on Measure E for our kids and community.

Kristen Stedman

Responsible for schools

Dear Editor,

After reading multiple articles and letters about Measure E, I'd like your readers to know three facts.

1. Seniors only need to file an application for exemption once.

2. A No vote on Measure E won't change "step and column." Voting against Measure E won't change how teachers are paid.

3. Figures associated with previous school funding measures are overstated. I'm not paying anything near what I've read has been associated with the previous school bond measure. Voting No on Measure E because you already pay for the bond measure is an apples to oranges comparison. The bond measure addressed school buildings and repair. Measure E addresses the quality of education students will receive.

As you decide how to vote, I hope that logic and concern for the welfare of our children's education -- and not sour grapes against Sacramento or school management -- guide your decision.

I moved here 37 years ago. My daughter graduated from Foothill and my grandson attends Hart Middle School. It is the responsibility of older generations to pay for good schools; people before us paid for our public schools.

John Clatworthy

Time to do our share

Dear Editor,

It's not too late to vote Yes on Measure E, the school funding measure designed to shield our high quality schools from Sacramento's fiscal crises.

It's not too late to recognize the concessions teachers have already made -- eight furlough days, bigger middle and high school classes, loss of staff development hours and training for new teachers -- and decide, as a community, that it's time for us to do our share.

It's not too late to agree that $98/year is a small price to pay to ensure Pleasanton children have access to high quality education from seasoned, dedicated teachers.

It's not too late for you to help safeguard the education of Pleasanton kids. Mark Yes and mail your ballot now to ensure it arrives in time.

Alan Finke

Children pay the price

Dear Editor,

I have elementary and middle school age children and it pains me to know that my younger children may not receive the same quality of education that my elder child did.

In grades K-3, my elder child had only 19 classmates. She attended school 180 days/year. From first grade on, she had music, took science from a science specialist, and could have ample access to a reading specialist, if she needed it.

My younger children are in first grade. Next year, they will likely be in a class of 30-plus. They could have a shortened school day once a week and also attend school less than 180 days/year. They may not have music, may have limited school library access, and may not have access to a reading specialist, if they need it.

Do my younger children deserve a marginal education simply because they entered school at a time when our economy was suffering?

To those of you who have not yet decided on Measure E, the school parcel tax, I urge you to vote Yes. A No vote may save you $98/year, but the people who pay the price are the children in Pleasanton schools.

Tina Lim

Quality schools

Dear Editor,

I no longer have children in Pleasanton schools, but I have two who did go though the system and went on to four-year colleges, so I do recognize the value of our quality schools.

Quality schools help make Pleasanton a desirable place to live. Quality schools attract the interest, attention and support of parents and local businesses. Quality schools help build and maintain Pleasanton's strong community spirit. I plan to stay in this city through my senior years.

Pleasanton has reaped the benefits of its high-quality schools for many years. We residents now have the opportunity to return the favor. At this time of fiscal uncertainty at the state level, Pleasanton residents have the opportunity to protect the quality of education in Pleasanton by voting Yes on Measure E, the local school funding measure.

I plan to support our schools by voting Yes on Measure E.

Gillian McKie

Standards may decline

Dear Editor,

As the chief financial executive at a Bay Area technology company, I spend a lot of time with my business partners trying to create and keep jobs in the Bay Area. Good high paying jobs require a quality education. Jobs migrate when education standards decline. Schools need a stable source of local income to maintain standards in an era of unstable state and federal funding. Our children deserve this support in an increasingly competitive global job market.

Many local esteemed organizations support Measure E, the school funding measure, for these very reasons. Measure E has been endorsed by the Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce, the Bay East Association of Realtors and the League of Women Voters of Livermore-Amador Valley. In addition, editors of the Pleasanton Weekly, the Independent and the Oakland Tribune have all written in support of the measure.

Measure E is vital to the success of our schools and our community. These high-profile organizations recognize this fact, and have publicly voiced their support. Measure E deserves your support as well -- on the ballot. Please join me and these prestigious organizations and Vote Yes on Measure E.

Tim Lester

PPIE: Yes on E

Dear Editor,

Those of you who have not yet made up your minds about Measure E, the local school funding measure, should remember what's at stake: the education of the 14,500-plus children who attend Pleasanton schools.

Pleasanton schools have been ranked among the best in the state. In addition, most all our schools are California Distinguished Schools, National Blue Ribbon Schools or National Schools of Character. More than 90% of our students go onto college.

Unfortunately, the state's ongoing budget crisis and education funding cuts have had a major impact on our local schools. Our schools have lost approximately $19.4 million in state funding in two years. And additional cuts of up to $5 million are pending.

After consecutive years of budget shortfalls, there is nothing left to cut but teachers and classroom instructional programs that directly impact student learning.

Our children deserve every opportunity for success that we, as a community, can afford to bring them. At $98/year for four years, Measure E is a reasonable request.

Please join me and vote Yes on E.

Debi Covello, Pleasanton Partnerships in Education Foundation

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