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COMMENTARY: Steps we can take to keep our schools great

Original post made on Jan 23, 2009

With the current economic crisis greatly impacting California, public schools, which are dependent on state funds, are facing serious budget cutbacks with even greater uncertainties that funding will improve in years to come.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, January 23, 2009, 6:34 AM

Comments (47)

Posted by patron of Main St, a resident of Downtown
on Jan 23, 2009 at 8:02 am

Read my lips -- NO PARCEL TAX. Show me the pay cuts, starting right at the top. Casey needs to take the lead on this. Without MASSIVE pay and benefit cuts no parcel tax stands a snowball's chance in this town. Too many of us have brains and are not willing to continue to fund the excess pay and benefits packages while these economic lightweights try to shove a new tax up our collective behinds. Not gonna happen Casey!

Posted by baffled, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Jan 23, 2009 at 8:32 am

I keep asking the same question. What happened to all the funds that the California State Lotto was going to provide to our schools? Wasn't that part of the deal?

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 23, 2009 at 8:35 am

Reading specialists and smaller class sizes in K-3 seem to target the same need. A small number of reading specialists to help struggling kids is probably cheaper and more effective to have than running K-3 CSR. Any data on this?

Posted by Tony, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jan 23, 2009 at 8:37 am

Hmm - a few hundred dollars parcel tax to maintain schools with an average API in the low 900's or no parcel tax and see those schools' API potentially plummet. It's clear what API's mean to property values. It's been a key driving force in P-Town's real estate appreciation the last decade or more, even despite the recent downturn. We're the only city in the Tri-Valley, and other surrounding regions, without a parcel tax to help fund our local public education. I would think the idea of parcel tax bears investigation and understanding to determine if it proves to be a good investment in our kids, community and ourselves.

Posted by Timothy T, a resident of Downtown
on Jan 23, 2009 at 9:40 am

I find it fascinating that so many people move to Pleasanton because of the schools but have no interest in doing what it takes to continue to make those schools successful.

Our ability to pay excellent teachers and administrators is what attracts the best and brightest, just like any other job or industry. Lower pay means few applications to choose from when hiring a teacher and it means that current teachers go to other communities to teach because they have bills to pay too.

They'll probably go to a community that instituted a parcel tax because they felt their schools were more important than a few extra bucks.

Posted by Mary, a resident of Birdland
on Jan 23, 2009 at 9:52 am

I'm an interesed parent on this issue. I've done some checking, and Pleasanton schools receive only $1.9 million dollars a year from the California Lottery. The budget to run our schools is about $100 million. Right now this year because of the state's fiscal crisis, the district needs to cut $4 million (on top of the $2 million they already cut before this fiscal year started--which included administration). Next year they need to cut $8.7 million.

The proposed budget cuts include more than $2 million to administration. It looks to me like they are addressing spending issues, but overall the district doesn't have a spending problem, but rather a revenue issue.

Posted by Matt, a resident of Stoneridge
on Jan 23, 2009 at 10:49 am

A penny wise, pounds foolish.

I hope we'll study this carefully. I know many people move to Pleasanton due to the school reputation; myself included. Our kids can only go to school once; they can't repeat the whole elementary, middle school and high school over and over again. As a parent, it's best to give them the best that it can be.

Posted by *42*, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 23, 2009 at 10:50 am

K-3 teachers teach reading, writing, math, science, social studies, art, and character Ed.. All of these state standards are much more rigorous than when you and I were in school.

They don't target the same need.

Posted by Brad, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Jan 23, 2009 at 11:52 am

Of course the Principals are going to be good soldiers giving us the party line and telling us they need a parcel tax.

It is easier to get parents at the K-5 level to support this because they are still naive with less history with the district.

Just say NO parcel tax.

Posted by Another Gatetree Resident, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Jan 23, 2009 at 12:35 pm

I didn't move to Pleasanton for the schools. I moved here for the small town feel (which has since disappeared) and for the property values that were touted to be above the Tri-Valley norm.

With that in mind, why should I fund what I don't use? NO parcel tax.

Posted by Meadows Resident, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jan 23, 2009 at 1:05 pm

It's sad that so many comments are being made attacking everyone at the top of the school board. Do the Math..even if you cut salaries that doesn't come close to the amount we need to cut. Come to the meetings and really get informed and stop making it personal. Every town around us has a parcel tax. Why should we not work together as a community? If you don't care about community efforts than you are in the wrong town. Stop playing the blame game, nobody wins!

Posted by Timothy T, a resident of Downtown
on Jan 23, 2009 at 2:07 pm

Even if you think you didn't move to Pleasanton for the schools, you probably did anyway.

Better schools mean lower crime rate, lower drug use rate, more job opportunities, and *gasp* higher property values.

Let's not be short-sighted just because you think you don't use something though you absolutely benefit from it.

Posted by Another Gatetree Resident, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Jan 23, 2009 at 3:40 pm

Timothy T -- I disagree with your perspective. Many of our highly educated P-town kids are recreational drug users.

Opportunities -- looked at Hacienda Business Park lately? Vacancy signs abound.

Property Values? They've dropped -- as have values elsewhere in California.

I didn't breed the kids. Let the cost causers pay.

Posted by Bob, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jan 23, 2009 at 3:48 pm

What ever happened to the community of character? Many comments talking about why "I" came here, what "I" use or don't use, what the "I" use. Anybody thinking about what would benefit their neighbors or the rest of the community?

Posted by Jerry, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 23, 2009 at 5:06 pm

Don't make your kids' education my problem.

If we're to pass a parcel tax, it should be used to support the revival of downtown and other services that everyone in Pleasanton can enjoy.

I think you all are wonderful people but that doesn't mean I have to foot the bill for your kids' education.

Posted by parent, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jan 23, 2009 at 5:38 pm

Jerry, I am horrified by your attitude (as well as many of the others who post on these forums). The kids who are in school now are our future generations! Shame on you and your selfishness. You are already helping to pay for education, and if the Pleasanton community doesn't step up and take care of their own, there will be an even bigger price to pay when these kids are turned out of our school system and are expected to compete in the global marketplace.

I support a reasonable parcel tax for a finite period of time, until the state gets their act together and funds education more appropriately and consistently.

I encourage all of you to educate yourself on the parcel tax issue. Attend meetings, review online information, read, provide appropriate and constructive criticism...we have a responsibility to make an educated and informed decision, not a decision based on selfishness and incorrect information.

Posted by Jerry, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 23, 2009 at 6:21 pm

There are a lot of people in our community who are out of work and are struggling to put food on the table. How can you sit there and suggest burdening them with yet another tax? If YOUR kids are our future, who's going to take care of the present? Now that's selfishness in my dictionary.

Posted by parent, a resident of Alisal Elementary School
on Jan 23, 2009 at 6:28 pm

I read the list of proposed budget cuts and I have one question - why is PUSD still in the child care business? Our surrounding communities (Livermore, Dublin, San Ramon, Castro Valley) have all left the child care business in order to focus on SCHOOLS. Child care in these communities is provided by outside vendors that pay rent to the school district every month - which means the District loses the expense but gains revenue!!! Makes sense to me!!!! Let's make some money and get rid of PUSD child care! It's not even licensed! There are plenty of vendors that would love to come in and provide LICENSED child care for us.

Posted by patron of Main St, a resident of Downtown
on Jan 23, 2009 at 6:47 pm

For Jerry and Another Gatetree Res -- thanks, I agree, I just did not quite put it that way. I am more than fed up with the expectation that I will pay to educate/babysit/entertain everyone else's children. And for Parent in Pleasanton Meadows -- holy sh**, are these drug using, drinking, partying, entitled brats the hope for our future???? Just kill me now. I have never seen such a self-centered bunch of spoiled people in one place as I witness almost daily in this town. Do you doubt it? Try going to any of the businesses in the Tully's plaza when those nasty kids are out of school. The police are called on a regular basis just to try to maintain order -- and I ask again, are these worthless brats our future??? You parents have more balls than I can imagine just asking me to pay up to try to reform your kids. Start teaching them some manners, motivate them yourselves, volunteer in the classrooms and pay out of your own pockets for their extras. I am not a willing participant in that extortion and will fight to the death to avoid another tax. My home is paid for, I have no plans to ever sell, I have left everything to a charitable trust and I absolutely do not care if the value goes to zero -- so much for that argument! Just do not come to me to support your kids, I will not do it.

Posted by New Resident, a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Jan 23, 2009 at 7:00 pm

In a tough real-estate market, good schools help reduce perceived risk in the home purchase, and thus make a huge difference in slowing the decrease in home prices.

We bought a house recently despite the downturn, mainly because Pleasanton has a uniformly good school system and a kid-friendly environment. This proved attractive despite the much higher cost of housing than neighbouring areas, and we bought our house pretty close to the asking price.

The majority of current residents have a vested interest in either maintaining attractiveness of Pleasanton housing to potential home-buyers, or in the quality of the education of their kids. This holds even if we don't consider the obligation to raise the next generation as best as we can.

If we have to invest in the schools with a parcel tax to keep them well-funded and competitive in this tough environment, let us move on it, before we lose some of the school's resources due to budget woes.

I'll willingly pitch in my share.

Posted by Steve, a resident of Highland Oaks
on Jan 23, 2009 at 8:07 pm

What happened to the idea that when times are good you save money to have in the bank when times are bad? The politicians decided to spend and not save. They just figured that they could always raise taxes or go in debt. This is irresponsible behavior. No wonder so many people default on their mortgages... its not their fault, as they're just following the example our schools are teaching.

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 23, 2009 at 8:11 pm

The doom and gloom predictions are getting old. To think that housing prices in Pleasanton are going to "plummet" suddenly is silly. Housing prices are going down already, possibly haven't hit bottom yet, and it certainly has nothing to do with whether we have a parcel tax or not. The other prediction, that somehow our schools are going to become, to use the word school board member Pat Kernan likes, "crap" because we didn't want to fund a parcel tax is also silly. Today's school kids aren't going to suddenly do poorly on standardized tests within one year's or even two year's time. These things have inertia. It will take several years before anyone sees some sort of drop in the measurables. By that time perhaps the CTA's initiative for a one cent education sales tax will pass. Perhaps we'll see some funding reform at the State level.

Posted by Lilly, a resident of Amador Estates
on Jan 23, 2009 at 8:55 pm

Parent from Pleasanton Meadows said this: "I support a reasonable parcel tax for a finite period of time, until the state gets their act together and funds education more appropriately and consistently."

You got to be kidding??? You don't really think this way do you??? Please tell me you are not a parent who BELIEVES any tax is "finite" ? Oh please, tell me you don't really BELIEVE that the state would "get their act together"?

Need I say more?

Posted by Terri, a resident of Foothill Knolls
on Jan 23, 2009 at 9:00 pm

NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO to any kind of tax

Don't hit me with my real estate investment (meaning my home) and don't hit me with "the children". And yes I have do have 3 of them in this school district. And I cannot wait for them to be out!

NO NO NO NO NO NO NO to a parcel tax

NO NO NO NO NO to any kind of tax

Posted by Jerry, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 23, 2009 at 9:22 pm

Let's face it, PUSD is not going to get the 2/3 majority it needs to pass the parcel tax. You have a better chance trying to pass a bond measure instead. These are desperate times, and too many people have either lost or is at the verge of losing their job. So PUSD will just have to be creative on its cost cutting efforts.

We need less government, not more. Instead of helping PUSD in pursuing a parcel tax, you parents should consider enrolling your kids into private schools. The quality of education is far superior to that of public schools and your children would benefit from the smaller class size and personal attention. Your precious children deserve it.

Posted by Jill, a resident of Birdland
on Jan 23, 2009 at 9:56 pm

My children are in college and no longer in the PUSD system, but since they were in elementary school I spent alot of volunteer time helping in their classes. Every time I have been in the office of their elementary, middle, and high schools, I was noticing the number of office staff who sat around talking and not working. Sometimes I wondered what their function was and why they had nothing to do. So, of course now that we have a budget crisis, I do NOT support a parcel tax and say those with little to do should be let go. Save a teacher's job.

Posted by Tom, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 24, 2009 at 2:55 am

Just say NO!

Posted by critic, a resident of another community
on Jan 24, 2009 at 6:11 am

Guess that big bag of real estate developer the former school board decided to just give back to the developers a few years ago might have come in real handy right now, no?

Maybe the former school board members who gave away all that public money should be asked to make it up out of their own pockets?

Posted by An involved AVHS parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 24, 2009 at 11:19 am

I have GOT to respond to the comment made about private schools: "The quality of education is far superior to that of public schools and your children would benefit from the smaller class size and personal attention".

Our daughters entire elementary education was at a local private school touted to be one of the best. While it was not a bad experience, it was the same academic experience she could have received at a PUSD elemtary school....and we paid approx $60K total for it?!? When we entered the PUSD in middle school we were shocked to find out the same "extras" we thought our hard earned money paid for were also available and encouraged in our public school system. At private school we still encountered the same issues and problems we sometimes now face in the public school system.....SOME poor teachers, SOME money needed for "extras", SOME poor administrators, etc.....The big differnece was that it was not a democracy, you got no voice. Private schools chase the money, so those of us with 1 child (AKA: one paid tuition) always got trumped by those with 2 children (AKA: two paid tuitions) and those folks got trumped by others with 3 children (AKA: 3 paid tuitions)....get the picture??

Smaller class sizes are an advantage for those who need it, but not all children do and it lessens the overall social experience which our children also need in order to become well rounded, mentally healthy adults. One of the several reasons we left was because we felt our daughter was at the point where she would benefit from a larger social environment. At private schools, you do it their way or get out. That was there perogitive, we understood it and accepted it until we chose to no longer accept it.

This is not a slam on a private education at all, just an attempt to dispell the myth that private school educatioins in P-town are superior to the PUSD experience on an overall basis....they are not.

We do have a superior public school system compared to many other communities around us and we ALL benefit from that in one way or another whether we choose to acknowledge it or not.

Let's stop the blaming and, together, find a way to fix the problem which will be to the benefit of the entire community.

Posted by Another Gatetree Resident, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Jan 24, 2009 at 12:23 pm

An involved AVHS parent:

Wonderful insight! Thank you for sharing private school life and recommending we "find a way to fix the problem which will be to the benefit of the entire community."

Can I make a suggestion?

Ask the Boosters to invest in TRUE educational items that "benefit the entire community." I suspect there are some who would like to see the funds raised for a new marquee (Web Link) spent on saving a good teacher or two. Not to mention those all ready spent on a sports field sound system (Web Link).

Posted by An involved AVHS parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 24, 2009 at 4:07 pm

Another Gatetree Resident,

I understand your comment about the Boosters and their marquee issue and I personally feel exactly the same way! To that end, I do not support the Boosters (either financially or otherwise) and given a vote (especially at this time) I would say "no way" to a new marquee and further, "NO WAY" to the "grand dame" of marquees that has been promoted!!! However, since I do not support the cause and others who do support the cause have given of their own time and money for this exact purpose, it is their right to use the funds how they see fit even if I and others do not see it as a responsible use of funds. It would be awesome if within their own organizaiton they felt the same way, but in reality, that group's goal is to support the athletic progams, I believe, not the academic programs.

If anyone chooses to support an AVHS cause that puts students and teachers first it should be the PTSA. I understand that last year when this issue came up that group voted NOT to use any donations on the marquee because they wanted their money to be put to use inside the classrooms or to student programs that directly benefit the academic experience. I believe that remains their goal today and for that line of thinking they have my support both financial and otherwise ESPECIALLY in light of the current situation.

Posted by FHS Parent, a resident of Castlewood
on Jan 24, 2009 at 8:19 pm

AVHS Parent: Based on your comment "Smaller class sizes are an advantage for those who need it, but not all children do and it lessens the overall social experience which our children also need in order to become well rounded, mentally healthy adults.", eliminating CSR would actually benefit the K-3 kids. So we won't need the parcel tax afterall.

Posted by An involved AVHS parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 25, 2009 at 1:29 am

FHS Parent,

You've clearly taken my comment out of context and attempted to twist it to meet your views, but I am sure you already know that and this is yet one more attempt to divert attention away from doing the grown up job of finding real solutions to real problems......jeez, why am I not surprised?

Posted by Lydiksen Parent, a resident of Highland Oaks
on Jan 25, 2009 at 11:25 am

I am so tired of being spammed with propaganda supporting a parcel tax both from our PFC and the school district. I do not understand people who think you just keep throwing money at a problem and it will get better.

I feel that the state of California is mismanaged and the public schools are mismanaged. My daughter's teacher is now telling the children that she could lose her job. While I think that would be sad, she is a young person who I am sure could find another job in a country that is always in need of teachers. I also feel it is totally inappropriate to share your job worries with an elementary classroom.

Each and every time I receive a "Budget Crisis" email from a parent, teacher, administrator, or PFC, I always think that person's time could be better spent tutoring a child than writing up a letter. But then, the children really aren't the first priority in all of this, are they?

One thing is for sure. I will not be joining, or donating one cent to, our PFC again next year.

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 25, 2009 at 11:57 am

Lydiksen Parent,

That's right. Call it what it is; propaganda. Question all "facts" presented by the interested party. Be wary of scare tactics. Don't believe something is true because we want it to be true.

The State's Legislative Analyst's Office has some good third-party information on their website. There's also some other third-party publications out there detailing education funding practices in California and suggested reforms. For example, check out "For Better Or for Worse?: School Finance Reform in California‎" by Jon Sonstelie, Eric Brunner, Kenneth Ardon. Demand cost-benefit analysis reports of school district programs. Demand State legislators review and reform how schools are being funded. Request zero-based budgeting practice to review the PUSD budget. As taxpayers, we have a right to hold government accountable for what they spend the money on.

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 25, 2009 at 12:04 pm

When PUSD says, "We need this.", ask why. If they give a general or vague answer like "Our quality will decrease.", push them for more detail. Don't settle for Pat Kernan's "crap" answer. How will this or that cause quality to decrease? How does it directly affect quality? Oh, it'll affect housing prices? What measurables of school quality play a role in housing prices? Which programs directly contribute to promoting a high level on the measurables that factor into housing prices?

Posted by Jen, a resident of Canyon Oaks
on Jan 25, 2009 at 5:42 pm

Fellow citizens, have fewer children or consider having yourselves fixed by a doctor. It might save some money! And, stop all the squabbling on this community blog.

Posted by Mercury News Article, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 25, 2009 at 9:04 pm

Some school districts fear running out of money for salaries, bills by spring

By Sharon Noguchi

Mercury News
Posted: 01/24/2009 06:33:14 PM PST

With the state of California delaying payment on its obligations, some school districts may run out of money in the spring to pay salaries and bills.

"I've had to stand in front of teachers and say that we are worried about paying you with real money because of our cash flow,'' said Superintendent Kathleen Howard of the tiny Soquel Union Elementary School District in Santa Cruz County. "What happens when we run out of cash?''

The answer is unclear.

Howard was one of about 150 people crowding into the board room of the Palo Alto Unified School District on Saturday morning to hear state Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, give his annual chat on the state education budget — which this year is in dire straits. As Howard spoke out at the anxious gathering, many heads nodded vigorously in a room filled with superintendents, board members, PTA leaders and school employees and parents.

The state budget deficit has ballooned to about $40 billion for the 18 months from now through July 2010. While legislators wrangle over a fix, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed his solution, beginning with a $6.6 billion cut in the current fiscal year for K-12 and community college districts.

The governor's plan includes deferring until July about $2.8 billion that Sacramento normally would pay school districts in February and March.

Cutting deeply into budgets in the middle of the school year is not simple, especially when districts
must deal with employee contracts and when overall costs have risen.

"We have contracts we have to honor. PG&E is not going to give us electricity if we don't pay the bill,'' Tim McClary, deputy superintendent of the Franklin-McKinley School District in San Jose, said in a separate interview. Like others, the K-8 district has frozen budgets and shed employees.

The state's crisis is particularly hard on schools that rely heavily on state aid. All public schools get a share of local property taxes, so they receive a chunk of cash around December and April, when landowners pay their county property taxes. For districts whose property tax revenue falls short of a minimum state guarantee, the state makes up the difference. In addition, the state pays for specific programs, such as transportation, special education and small-size classes.

Sort of.

Howard pointed out that Soquel has gotten only $100,000 of $750,000 owed it to support the 20-1 student-teacher ratio in primary grades.

If payments to districts are further delayed, "doesn't the state understand that teachers are going to be loaning the state money?'' she asked.

Others echoed that concern and added to the list, including: the state's proposal to pull money from schools with struggling students, the changes to community college funding and the freeze on state money for building projects already under way.

"If property taxes go down, that's a cash-flow issue for us,'' said Rick Hausman, chief budget officer of the Cupertino Union School District. "If we don't have enough money to pay our bills, we'll get a short-term loan.''

Districts first may approach the county treasurer, who by law acts as the schools' banker and who may extend a loan. But if numerous agencies need such handouts, county funds will run short. So, like homeowners needing to pay the mortgage or grocery bill, districts may have to seek loans from banks.

Not all districts are in dire straits yet. Cupertino is not seeking loans, Hausman said. San Jose Unified has enough reserves to last through June, said spokeswoman Karen Fuqua.

State Senate and Assembly leaders are meeting with Schwarzenegger to try to work out a compromise between "no new taxes" Republicans and "no cuts to programs" Democrats.

As for what people can do to help unstick the legislative jam, Simitian, a Democrat, suggested contacting Sacramento. "They need to let Republicans know that they think new revenue has to be part of the solution.''

Contact Sharon Noguchi at or (408) 271-3775.

Posted by concerned, a resident of Foothill High School
on Jan 25, 2009 at 9:58 pm

Just say NO to a parcel tax. Parents of school aged children....step up to the plate. You pay for video games, new cars, and cell phones. Consider cutting these perks from your kids in light of the economic down turn and put those dollars towards school and extra-curricular activities. Why should couples with no children continue to supplement the schools when they already pay astronomical property taxes. Especially when they may be experiencing a job loss or economic crisis of their own. PUSD - cut the extras. We need "back to basics" education and safe - clean schools. We do not need all the fluff. From volunteering in the schools, I know you can cut without ever having to touch teachers. Stop the scare tactics. Parents - take responsibility for supplementing your child's needs. Stop expecting the school district to be the solution to everything in your child's life. And get rid of the teacher's has outlived its purpose. It's funny that the entities that are experiencing the biggest issues in this economic down turn are the big union houses like the auto industry and the government.

Posted by curious, a resident of Foothill High School
on Jan 25, 2009 at 10:11 pm

Residents are taking pay cuts, losing their jobs, losing their investment funds while prices continue to go up. Why does the school district think the answer is to charge them more money through a parcel tax without taking any cuts themselves. No pay cuts for school personnel????? Taxpayers are just expected to bail out the inefficient system once again. Come on people - EVERYONE is expected to do their part in this problem. I cannot support a parcel tax until I see a school district that cuts its inefficiencies and takes responsibility for running their business. I think you can find cuts without even touching the teacher to student ratio. Let's get creative.

Posted by Agree with Curious, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 26, 2009 at 8:36 am

I have to agree with Curious. Why are school employees so special? The rest of the nation is in a financial crisis, doing more with less, yet our schools want to keep things the way they are?

Get rid of the staff development days. Middle school and high school students have the day off today, some sort of teacher work day. So here I am, having to work from home so that our special teachers can have their development day. Excuse me, but most of us have to stay current in our field, and we do so in our own time. Tell me what these teachers do on the so called teacher work days like today. No students in schools means no ADA for that day. Do the math and that is a lot of money, and for what?

The car industry will go through big pains just because of the unreasonable union contracts. Teachers: don't let that happen to you. As we go through changes as a nation, my first thing is: get rid of the unions, they cause more trouble than anyone.

Administrators: get a clue, you do not need assistant superintendents, directors, and assistants to directors for one area for example. A public information officer will not teach my child to read. The superintendent not getting a raise will not, in any way, affect my child's education.

Posted by former AVHS parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 26, 2009 at 8:41 am

We have managed to spend $100,000 every year on senior activities for our very privileged children, which,in my humble opinion is ridiculous,and most likely not that much appreciated, we need to spend our money on the more important school issues.

Posted by Teacher, a resident of Avignon
on Feb 7, 2009 at 8:45 pm

On teacher work days - teachers work. Cleaning, preparing, maintaining websites - tutoring - offering make up tests for kids who miss finals - answer parent emails (during the day instead of at 10 at night!) - preparing lessons for the upcoming semester - acquiring materials for upcoming lessons - maintain their computers... this list could go on and on and on. If you have never spent a day in the classroom, could you please just do me a huge favor and not pretend you could possibly understand what the job entails. I have been in the private sector and in teaching and teaching is much, much harder. It is also more rewarding in so many ways. I guarantee you that is the only reason we do it. It's not the pay and it's certainly not the respect. Remember in the heydays of stock options, bonuses and lavish company parties we were never invited. We were just slogging along working with kids, kids who have more needs than you could ever imagine. So what if NOW you are jealous that the profession affords a little bit of job security. You were not lining up to do it before when all was good in the private sector. Maybe you should have thought about being a little less greedy and spent some of your career teaching others. Then, you would know what it's really like and stop judging. I do hope your employer lets you work from home next time you need to, because that is just never an option for me. Poor you, working from home. I would have to take the day off knowing that the education of my students would suffer. It's a great position to be in.

Posted by Lydiksen Parent, a resident of Highland Oaks
on Feb 8, 2009 at 11:10 pm

Dear "Teacher",
My husband often works from home. However, when there is a downturn in the economy he does not ask that people pay more taxes in order to secure his job. By the way, teachers unions are greedy, even though all teachers are not. They demand over the top benefits and job security for each and every one of their members with zero accountability.

Posted by Teacher, a resident of Avignon
on Feb 9, 2009 at 5:00 pm

Dear Lydiksen Parent,
The teachers union does not demand zero accountability. The problem with the accountability is that there is not enough personnel within PUSD to provide any. We do not have enough "management" to supervise the teachers. I, in 12 years of being with PUSD, can count on one hand the number of times supervisors have been in my classroom. This is not because they are sitting somewhere with a margarita and a newspaper, they are overworked as well and according to most of the people on this blog they should be the first to go. With no proper level of supervision we need the union to protect us from parents who would love to have teachers fired for every little thing they disagree with. You don't even know how much judgment we endure from people who hear about what happens in our classroom from their kids. We can be judged like that either. So, imperfect is the system but it's all we have.
Our union will fight for top pay and benefits for teachers because we are highly educated and skilled and we provide a vital service that is necessary in any economy. We work hard and I will make no apologies for wanting to maintain our level of pay. It is still no where near what many of us would be paid in the private sector, yes, I do understand that the private world comes with a bit more uncertainty but it also comes with much greater financial opportunity. We do amazing things, for nothing. Nobody walks in our rooms to give us a raise or stock options or any of the other perks that come to many, many folks who share our level of skill and education. If you are not willing to fund your school district, that's fine, check the box that says NO. Just stop bashing the people who work day in and day out to make our district great. To many, many of us - both at the teaching and district levels - this is our passion, our life work. And, thankfully we have the union to protect our financial interests because we do not have the time.

Posted by Lydiksen Parent, a resident of Highland Oaks
on Feb 10, 2009 at 2:33 pm

Teacher, I am not doubting that you are a hard worker. I myself was once a hardworking teacher. However, I deeply feel that Teacher's Unions are a detriment to our society. By the way, I pay a lions share of taxes each year and do not believe I should be expected to pay even more to secure your job. Are you willing to pay more to pay taxes to secure my husband's job? He is in a very vital industry and I guarantee he has a higher education level than 99% of the teachers out there. I will happily check the box that says NO, because as I stated before I give more than my fair share to the district.

Posted by Teacher, a resident of Avignon
on Feb 10, 2009 at 6:27 pm

Lydiksen Parent
Bring on the accountability! You will, however, be expected to pay for the people who will hold the teachers accountable. Right now we have NOBODY and you certainly do not want to pay someone to do it. We will not and can not be hired and fired based on the whims and hearsay of the community. I would LOVE the opportunity to grow and work with a veteran of this "industry". But, it will not happen without money. I am sure your husband has had much opportunity to be mentored and guided throughout his career without being judged by the public. You have no idea how nutso people can get about their kids. We would have all been fired five times over without union protection. It's not a perfect system by any means, but, you get what you pay for! Again, your husband very likely has perks that go well above what we receive. And if not, and if he is so darn educated then he's a fool for not becoming a teacher!

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