http://pleasantonweekly.com/print/story/print/2011/04/29/parcel-tax-opponents-blast-board-decisions


Pleasanton Weekly

News - April 29, 2011

Parcel tax opponents blast board decisions

Lack of trust cited as key

by Glenn Wohltmann

Opponents of the Measure E parcel tax were out in force again at the Pleasanton school board meeting Tuesday night, questioning, among other things, the district's recent revision requiring seniors to register only once to be exempt from the tax.

Last week, the district changed the requirement, which originally required seniors to register each year for the exemption. The change brought out a number of people who were upset over the idea of school officials changing language on the ballot measure.

That was not the case, though, according to Luz Cazares, assistant superintendent of business services. She and Superintendent Parvin Ahmadi explained that nothing was changed on the ballot measure; the requirement will remain in place, but the district will do the work to exempt seniors after they register the first year.

That did little to assuage Measure E opponents, such as David Miller, who said the change was confusing.

"Now you're changing in midstream," Miller told the board. "This is unacceptable. Shame on you."

Other opponents said the district had lost their trust. Anne Fox brought an email sent from the principal at one of the district's schools, supporting Measure E. Fox said the email was a violation of both the state education code and the district's email policy.

"I'm really disappointed the district would do this," Fox said.

Raquel Vargas read off a list of the district's highest-paid employees from a recent publication. Three of the top four are assistant superintendents Luz Casares, Cindy Galbo and Bill Faraghan, all of whom make more than $200,000, including pension contributions by the district and miscellaneous expenses. Ahmadi, who was not listed by Vargas, makes $220,000.

Julie Testa repeated her claim that a refunding done by the district was illegal; Cazares said, however, that what the district did was standard practice across the state until an opinion from then-Attorney General Jerry Brown said it wasn't. Cazares noted that no district was ever prosecuted for breaking the law.

Doug Miller said it's not only Measure E opponents who don't trust the district.

"Neither side trusts the board. If they trusted the board ... there would be no restrictions," he said, referring to the measure's wording that requires the board to spend the money on specific items.

He, like some of the other opponents, criticized Cazares for the way she explained step and column increases that will add up to $15 million in the four years while Measure E, if passed, will raise about $8 million.

Two pro-Measure E supporters spoke, with Bill Clatworthy noting that each generation is responsible for the education of the next, and Andrea Stokoe, who said quality education helps keep property values high.

In her report to the board, Ahmadi steered the conversation away from budget cuts and Measure E and pointed toward some positives in the district. She noted, for example, that many graduating students have been accepted to several colleges, giving them their pick of colleges. She also noted that Pleasanton students excel in everything from science fairs to the arts and have won state level competitions across the board.

In her briefing about the fiscal outlook for the district and the state's budget, Cazares said there was good news: California state revenues were up $1 billion in March, more than originally projected. State officials also realized one of the assumption made last year -- projected profits from the sale of buildings -- was a bad assumption, and removed that from budget calculations. Although that wound up with a net loss for the state in March, Cazares said that, too, was good news, because it made budget projections more realistic.

Cazares also said if Gov. Brown goes to an all-cut budget as he's threatened to do, the district could have to cut its budget $3 million to $5.4 million for the 2011-12 school year. In addition, she said the district could be looking at $7 million in cuts for 2012-13.

With no budget passed, plans to put a tax extension on the ballot on hold, and Proposition 98, which guarantees a minimum payment from the state -- with annual increases -- likely to be suspended by the Legislature, school officials are waiting for the governor's revised budget, the May revise, to find out where they stand.

The board also heard a report on a proposed new homework policy that would set standards for the amount of time each grade should spend on assignments and require more coordination between teachers when assigning homework. The policy is set to go before the board for a vote in May.

The district is also considering a seal of bi-literacy for students who are proficient in a language in addition to English. That seal would appear on transcripts and diplomas; if approved, Pleasanton would be the first district in Alameda County to have such a program.

Trevor Knaggs, president of the Association of Pleasanton Teachers (APT), said in his regular address to the board that teachers, parents and students from across the state plan to hold a sit-in at the state capital next month to pressure legislators to pass the tax extensions bogged down in the Legislature.

"We've given everything and we can't give more," Knaggs told the board. He said the week of May 9-13 will be "action week," with each day focusing on one of the letters in L-E-A-R-N. May 9, for example, will focus on Legislative activities.

The board also approved an agreement that will let special education students continue to receive services from Alameda County through the end of the school year, with the district picking up the tab for any new students who are added. The district will be required to pay for services in the future, and has budgeted $1.7 for that in the upcoming school year.

Comments

Posted by Start Afresh, a resident of Country Fair
on Apr 29, 2011 at 10:39 am

Trevor Knaggs said "We've given everything and we can't give any more". (see short video here Web Link)
But please, don't look behind the curtain to see that we just negotiated with PUSD for an across the board 2.7% raise. Web Link
Let's all go march on Sacramento and across California and show how there's an 'Emergency for Thee, but not for Me', and lobby for higher taxes for thee, while pocketing higher salaries for (me) teachers.
Outrageous.


Posted by Enough Tea Party, a resident of Downtown
on Apr 29, 2011 at 12:55 pm

Make no mistake about it, the Tea Party mentality inflicting this town has the potential to be quite destructive to Pleasanton public schools. The Conservatives/Tea Party members can give us the old lines about "fiscal responsibility" and "we can't trust the district", but those statements are simply a cover for their fundamental dislike of public education. Perhaps they think home schooling, conservative pixy dust, and Jesus will magically compensate for the lack of funding for our public schools. Of course, much of the animus directed at the PUSD is grounded in fear, hatred, ignorance, and a willingness to advance outright lies. They are taking AM radio/Fox News right-wing ideology of "anti everything" and applying it to our local school issues. I willing to bet many of the No of E supporters are the same people that worship Sarah Palin and believe the Birther conspiracy. It doesn't matter what the district does to accommodate their "outrage", they'll simply move the goal posts, demand more, and spread more misinformation.


Posted by Texas Jim, a resident of Parkside
on Apr 29, 2011 at 1:09 pm

That's it! I've had it! I wake up and the first thing I read is this??? You mean the teachers were ferlowed in past years and now this year their not? How can they justify such RAISES? What greedy monsters THEY ARE!!!

I was two lazy to get off my duff and vote on this measure e thing yer'll talking about. But this really tics my off. I'm going to turn off my tv, pull on some pantz and hitchhike to the nearest police station and complaint.


Posted by Phil O'donnell, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 29, 2011 at 1:36 pm

Shame on "Start Afresh" for deliberately lying on this forum. Have you no decency?

There was no 2.7% "raise" negotiated. That is just a falsehood. Kind of like the one about "abortions make up more than 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does."

Web Link

You need to lay off the Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Mark Levine. Do you really just believe everything those people say? Did you ever pick up a legitimate newspaper and just read it? Or is everything outside talk radio just the "lame-stream" media to you?


Posted by just a resient, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 29, 2011 at 10:50 pm

To Phil O'donnel who asks "Did you ever pick up a legitimate newspaper and just read it?

Just because I want to be as smart as you, are you talking about those elite, "legitimate newspapers" that are at deaths door.... on their way to the recycle bins???? Seriously???? If so, that explains a lot and nothing else really needs to be said.



Posted by translator, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 29, 2011 at 11:02 pm

Another tea party clown feels obliged to tack up some graffiti before going beddy-bye. He truly believes he's on a mission to save the world, one incoherent post after another.


Posted by Phil O'donnell, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 30, 2011 at 8:58 am

To "just a resident",

So, are you asking a question? I was referring to any legitimate news source. You can go online if you like. Read weekly news and opinions. Wall Street journal is a legitimate paper/website/mobile application. So are Bloomberg, Financial Times, and The Economist for instance.

Where do you get your news, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin's blog?


Posted by Start Afresh, a resident of Country Fair
on Apr 30, 2011 at 10:03 am

Phil - Rather than calling me a liar, and then immediately talking about abortions and conservative talk show hosts. Why don't you point out the lie?
I'll make it easier for you by summarizing my claim as this:
Not using furlough days for the 2011-12 school year increases teacher salary/benefits expense by $1.8M (2.7%) over last year. Step and Column (and longevity bonuses) will increase expenses by $1.4M. How can PUSD afford a $3.2M increase in expenses? By laying off 62 teachers which hurt the kids, by eliminating CSR, Barton, and more.
Where is the lie?


Posted by Start Afresh, a resident of Country Fair
on Apr 30, 2011 at 10:06 am

And yes, Phil, I read the WSJ and the Economist.


Posted by Phil, a resident of Danbury Park
on Apr 30, 2011 at 10:20 am

The only thing that is going to make these people on the board and our elected "leaders" stop is to make this personal and make sure they are all in for the decisions they make. We should sue the members of this school board personally. I think that if they thought they might write huge checks out of their personal accounts they would think twice before they make some of the decisions they make.


Posted by Longtime resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 30, 2011 at 11:07 am

Start Afresh is just playing games with this community by twisting the truth to further her political point of view- just sorry to see so many fall for her propaganda.

Start Afresh is proposing cutting reliable funding for our schools, she is proposing we end the quality programs that have made PUSD one of the highest ranking schools in California all for the sake of winning. She has no interest in the actual education of our children but will only be happy when they fail. At that point she will begin her criticism of the teachers and the failure of our schools rather than the lack of funding. Start Afresh is all for the pubic sector/middle class losing pay, losing jobs, and as a result ending their ability to put money back into the economy. She is also for the decline of our community.

Hey, because I wrote it, it is true, right Start Afresh? Anyone can just reread your years of posts campaigning against the schools to see this for a fact!


Posted by Start Afresh, a resident of Country Fair
on Apr 30, 2011 at 11:16 am

To 'Longtime resident' - Can you answer 'Where is the lie?' or are you just speculating on who I am and what I care about?


Posted by Start Afresh, a resident of Country Fair
on Apr 30, 2011 at 12:45 pm

Longtime resident - It was "Phil O'donnell" who said I was lying. And you said I was twisting the truth. It's what you both said. So, show me where I'm lying or twisting the truth.
Sure, your point of view is valid. Except you haven't demonstrated where I'm inaccurate. All you do is speculate what I care about and what I want.
And completely deflect from the fact that in a time of decreasing revenue, PUSD is entering into agreements that increase per employee costs over last year.


Posted by Longtime resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 30, 2011 at 1:26 pm

For a year Start Afresh has been telling this community that PUSD employees did not take a pay cut. Now she attests that they are getting a pay raise since their salary is being restored after they voluntarily gave up to $4000.

Not only does Start Afresh want you to believe that this form of salary change is a raise- the kind that you see posted in the links below, she is trying to deceive Pleasanton community members on BOTH sides of the story.

Denying this, as we now see in your latest posts is not working. You are the one who has demonstrated this fact over and over- we are taking the words that you have said. You know exactly what you are doing, calling the end of the MOU a raise as if it were a bonus given on top of current salaries- this is a lie and an attempt to deceive Pleasanton residents.

Maybe Start Afresh should be reading more about the private sectors real raises and economic upswings being reported daily.
Web Link
Web Link
Web Link
Web Link


I read about a PUSD teacher Web Link who is a Google certified educator, an Apple distinguished educator, and an Adobe certified educator who is not making anything near these salaries posted above or getting this kind of real increase. Where is your outrage at this?


Posted by Pip, a resident of Civic Square
on Apr 30, 2011 at 1:56 pm

This is more realistic:
San Jose POA offer 10-percent pay cut to city
Web Link

They recognize the need to reduce salary to save jobs.

Trevor Knaggs said "We've given everything and we can't give any more".
Trevor you have got to be kidding!!!


Posted by I'm impressed, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 30, 2011 at 11:31 pm

I was very impressed yesterday when I heard about the SanJose workers...they really srepped up in every catagory ! !
....Honorable employees, with integrety ! !


Posted by ii2, a resident of Birdland
on May 1, 2011 at 12:03 am

(Post makes no sense and has been removed by Pleasanton Weekly Online staff.)


Posted by Larry, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on May 5, 2011 at 11:17 am

Bummer, Measure E failed. Good schools help property values way more than the $98/year levy. Come on people get a clue.