So much for freedom of speech and welcoming public input: Pleasanton school district officially changed its board policy to restrict speakers from five to three minutes. At three minutes and one second a metaphoric trapdoor opens, effectively quieting concerned residents like myself. At the Jan. 29 board meeting two public speakers were given a total of six minutes to address a $500 million school facilities plan that will be used to support hundreds of millions of dollars in future bond taxes. Trustees and staff continue to have unlimited time to pontificate and self congratulate.
I used three minutes, condensing 20 years of advocacy, addressing my concern for PUSD's seriously overcrowded campuses. My message was that the community should not support a facilities plan, with a $500 million price tag, that leaves our schools shamefully overcrowded by California Department of Education standards.
I had other concerns to express, such as the waste of $250,000 paid to consultants for this Facilities Plan while Pleasanton's Eastside Plan is not yet developed, my confusion over the inflated cost of building an elementary school and discussions to build moveable wall classrooms that we spent millions of dollars to get rid of in the last facilities plan. I wanted to challenge PUSD's complicit acceptance of new growth students, who we have no space for, with an expectation that existing residents will pay a bond to fund the added burden of new growth, as well as the low student yield projections. I would have questioned why Pleasanton should support a plan for $500 million when so many million dollars have been siphoned away from capital projects by the "Gift Agreement" and not effectively spent for facilities. There is so much more that was not said but at three minutes Board President Jeff Bowser cut me off, his finger on the trapdoor button.