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School board to discuss parcel tax, budget crisis tonight

Original post made on Jan 27, 2009

Tonight the school board will discuss the budget crisis and take action on whether to employ a survey firm to conduct a parcel tax feasibility study. This comes one night after the first of two budget forums held at the district high schools.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, January 27, 2009, 6:46 AM

Comments (98)

Posted by Resident again, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 27, 2009 at 7:51 am

"On the list is the possibility of ending class-size reductions in the kindergarten through third grades and similar reductions for freshmen math and language classes in high school. Other proposed cuts could include some certified teaching positions, counselors, administraators and classified personnel. Cuts in athletics, academic intervention programs and operational functions are also on the list of possible reductions."

Why aren't they talking about doing without raises for the superintendent and other highly paid employees? Why do they have to go directly for the classroom cuts?

Why aren't they talking, among other things, about the following cuts instead:

"Salary Rollback – Each 1% would save $1 million

Staff Development Days – Currently have 3 on the salary schedule.

(Each day encroaches on the general fund about $200,000. In addition, we have 2 paid "non student" days for teachers. These cost about $450,000 per day.)

Assistant Director Student Nutrition Services $90

Director of Architectural Planning $96

Coordinator of Data Processing $120

Coordinator of Categorical Programs $120

Coordinator of Vocational Education $120

Public Information Office Position $120

Director of Human Resources 1 FTE $120

Director of Assessment and Program Evaluation $120

Assistant Director of Special Education $100

Assistant Director M&O 2 FTE $240

Cell Phone Bill Backs and Reductions by Program Change $75

Deferred Maintenance Match $600

APT $695

CSEA $195

Management $81;

Voluntary Staff Development Reform Program Eliminate $360

Defer Step and Column Increases $1.5 mil

Furlough Day $450/day

Elementary preparation period provided by a shortened student day.

Retirement Incentives?

Village Staff Reduction to Reflect Lower Enrollment

4/10 summer work week for district employees – Saving $?"


Posted by Davis, a resident of Birdland
on Jan 27, 2009 at 7:53 am

I'll save you the cost of the consulting contract. If union and non-union salaries and benefits packages remain unassailable negotiation points, any attempt to pass a parcel tax will fail. Please use the money you would have spent on this survey for a more pressing use.


Posted by Resident again, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 27, 2009 at 7:56 am

"Staff Development Days – Currently have 3 on the salary schedule.
(Each day encroaches on the general fund about $200,000. In addition, we have 2 paid "non student" days for teachers. These cost about $450,000 per day.)"

This right here is a lot of money in savings. 8 million deficit? Who in their right mind approves of 450K per day so the teachers can get paid yet the students don't go to school (ie, no revenue for those days)?


Posted by patron of Main St, a resident of Downtown
on Jan 27, 2009 at 8:00 am

"Many residents in attendance seemed to support a parcel tax that they believe could ensure a quality education for their children."
Either those of us who are tired of paying for the entitled kids of some P-town parents get together to fight this parcel tax or those with the kids will cram it down our throats.
If you parents demand CSR then pay for it yourself. I have paid far too much to "educate" your children. That so-called education should not include voluntary sports or other activities that should be paid for by the parents. I have paid to "motivate" your lazy kids to get off the couch and do something productive. I have paid to teach your kids to behave as responsible adults yet I read daily of their drinking, drugs and partying. I am done paying to "parent" your kids, you do it.


Posted by parent/Taxpayer, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Jan 27, 2009 at 8:19 am

The district is not hearing from the public that does not support the parcel tax, last night they heard a lot of support.
There is an email campaign in favor of the PT but they are not getting email against. I believe there is a large number of the public that shares the NO PT position expressed on these bloggs but we are afraid to speak publicly. I have kids in the district and will not risk retaliation against my kids.
If you are in a position to go public please speak at the meetings and send emails to the Board.

The superintendent has been adamant he will not consider a salary reduction.

Does everyone understand the budget shortfall is misleading because it includes their COLA raises. Take out future raises and the shortfall is millions less. Rollback recent raises and the shortfall is millions less again.
They are taking the programs away from our kids to pay for their raises!

Extortion, we must agree to pay for their raises or they hurt our kids!!!!!!!!!!!


Posted by Parent/Taxpayer, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Jan 27, 2009 at 8:27 am

Please don't make this about parent verse non parents I have kids in the district and do not support the manipulation of the district. I know many parents that share my concerns but we must be responsible to not have the union after our kids!
Don't insult our kids. This is about greed and manipulation of the district administration.


Posted by Don L., a resident of California Reflections
on Jan 27, 2009 at 8:31 am

No one wants to stand up in front of a bunch of angry parents and the school board and admit that they can't afford yet another tax while they are struggling on many other fronts. All of the teachers and administrators in question have fully funded retirement programs, generous benefit packages, comparatively low hours, and jobs that have almost no measurable metrics of performance. How many of those things do you have? Fortunately the angry mob will not be looking over our collective shoulders in the voting booth.


Posted by Resident again, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 27, 2009 at 8:32 am

I am a parent, a taxpayer, homeowner, voter and will vote NO on the parcel tax if the district and unions do not come up with reasonable cuts such as the ones I have already mentioned.

The unions don't care about the quality of education, just about keeping the dinosaur teachers on board even if they are not good (my child got stuck with one of them last year), getting their goodies, their time off. The administrators right now, seem to only care about their jobs and too high a pay for what they really do.

I care about my children's education but will not be scared into voting for a parcel tax before I see reasonable actions from the district and unions.

No programs need to be cut. Think about it: the non-student days pay for some of the programs they talk about cutting, if the unions only agreed to give up this "work" day. And what about paycuts and no salary increases especially for the administrators like Casey?

President Obama is all for merit pay for teachers, even he realizes that the unions are simply not needed anymore.


Posted by A Parent, a resident of Del Prado
on Jan 27, 2009 at 8:43 am

Why aren't people aware of the $ that could be saved from the non-attendance days? Why are we not discussing at these meetings the $ saved from COLA? I would think teachers would be willing to forgo a raise and still have a job rather than being unemployed. How much could be saved from not going to school a few extra days at the beginning or end of the school year? How much $ would that save the district? I am a little perplexed that there don't seem to be many solutions on the table other than the parcel tax. It will be EXTREMELY difficult to get it passed by 2/3...there need to be some other ideas, back-ups. If the district took the stand, there will be no cuts to teachers, maybe creative thinking would help.


Posted by Richard Rinderle, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 27, 2009 at 8:45 am

"I believe there is a large number of the public that shares the NO PT position expressed on these bloggs but we are afraid to speak publicly."

It's much easier to blog your opposition to a parcel tax with the anonymity a forum like this provides. If you feel so strongly against the parcel tax you should stand up at the board meetings and forums or at least post your full name when you blog.

I can see how it would be a little intimidating to publicly show opposition to a parcel tax. And for those of you making comments here that didn't go to the forum last night, rollbacks & salary reductions are being considered. The PUSD is trying very hard to meet the demands of the community. I was leaning against the parcel tax before the forum last night, but the PUSD presented a very compelling case. The blogs on this weekly forum are very misleading and a lot of what people are saying here is simply untrue. I'm going to stop reading these posts and focus my energy on rallying community support to support the education of Pleasanton's children.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 27, 2009 at 8:54 am

"The blogs on this weekly forum are very misleading"

Oh right, it wasn't at all misleading of Casey at the forum to claim there is a salary freeze and then in the same breath mention "step and column" increases. Bottom line: personnel costs are going up.


Posted by A Responsible Parent, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Jan 27, 2009 at 9:04 am

<<< …it wasn't at all misleading of Casey at the forum to claim there is a salary freeze and then in the same breath mention "step and column" increases.>>> That's because salary increase and cost of living increase are not the same thing to government employees. Only those of us that work in the private sector have to live without mandated raises or accept cuts when revenues fall short.


Posted by Mae, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Jan 27, 2009 at 9:14 am

I am fairly new to the Pleasanton area but I am a homeowner and have a student in school here. I would vote NO to a parcel tax. We are already over taxed in this community and there are other options available. Lets get back to the type and style of teaching that ensures our children of a basic education.


Posted by An involved AVHS parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 27, 2009 at 9:32 am

I attended the forum last night and was most dismayed by Dr. Casey's contention that he wanted to wait and see what/if any parcel tax passed and THEN tell us what cuts would then be needed to bridge the gap. He said point blank that he did not feel it was right to have the people most affected by the budget bear the brunt of the cost (by the list of proposed cuts, he clearly was refering to employees and NOT students)....I took this to mean he really did not support salary freezes (let alone rollbacks) of even a minor amount in order to show the public he has a grasp of the situation and community feeling??? While he did not strike me as a dumb man, this line of thinking has me wondering where exactly his head is in terms of this backwords approach???

As a parent with a child in the district I would support a parcel tax IF it is needed and is PART of an overall solution. I know it is early days yet and maybe my take was wrong, but last night I did not get the overall impression that cost cutting was as big a factor in the solution as a parcel tax and I feel they need to have equal importance??

With this line of thinking, I belive PUSD itself will hinder a realistic chance of passage of a parcel tax.....sad really!!


Posted by parent volunteer, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 27, 2009 at 9:50 am

I was also at the forum last night and I did not come away from it with that message at all. Dr. Casey said that the Budget Advisory Committee is going to be making recommendations to the PUSD Board of Trustees on Feb 10th regarding what should be cut. Then the Board has the job of making those cuts, determining what programs they would like to save (hopefully CSR) and then determining how much of a parcel tax is needed to keep those clearly defined programs from being on the chopping block. The parcel tax would likely include a senior citizen exemption and it would have a clear expiration date.


Posted by Community Day School supporter, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 27, 2009 at 9:58 am

Cuts are happening. Didn't you listen last night? The Community Day School has already closed. :(

Dr. Casey specifically listed 12 administrative positions that will likely be cut. The district is cutting. Can't we come together as a community and support the programs that we can't afford to have cut?
I feel like the district is doing their part, now let's do ours! I'm not saying that I agree with a $300 parcel tax, but $250 would be acceptable to me.

I am eager to hear the recommendations from the Budget Advisory Committee, so that we can become more educated on whether or not to support a parcel tax. IF the district follows through with the cuts that they are proposing to cut, I would be willing to do my part and pay a parcel tax.


Posted by Cheryl, a resident of Livermore
on Jan 27, 2009 at 10:10 am

I am shocked by the commentary on this website. As a neighboring resident, I've always been impressed that the Pleasanton school district has avoided the fiscal pitfalls that the rest of us in surrounding communities have had to endure over the years. Your district has been fiscally responsible in good times and hasn't had to run to the community for a parcel tax like ours. And now that the economy has turned sour and Pleasanton really does need help from the community, it seems that the community is turning it's back. Who could've predicted how bad things were going to get. I've always wanted to send my kids to school in Pleasanton, but now I'm glad that I'm in a city with a parcel tax, a reliable source of revenue for the school district (unlike state funding).

Poor Pleasanton. The timing is bad and their children are going to bear the brunt of this because their school district was fiscally responsible in the good times. The problems are at the state level and everyone knows that those problems aren't going away anytime soon. In the meantime, I anticipate that I will be watching great schools turn into mediocre schools if the Pleasanton community doesn't step up to the plate and support education. I hope your community pulls it together and supports a parcel tax.


Posted by Elsey, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jan 27, 2009 at 10:20 am

I was at the forum last night and I agree that Dr. Casey sounded open to salary cuts (including his own). He did not state that he would wait until the parcel tax was passed. He did state that he wanted to hear what parcel tax (if any) the board decides to propose to the voters first. Then he would begin negotiations with the unions. He mentioned many teachers who have already come to him stating that they would be willing to take a pay cut to keep our schools excellent.

Dr. Casey also made a very good point about salary cuts: We, the residents of Pleasanton, who reap the benefits of an excellent school system, (and yes, we all benefit even if we do not have children in school because of higher property values) are asking those who provide this service to us to subsidize that service by taking a pay cut. I had not thought of it that way and now I think how presumptious of us to argue that they need to make concessions first, when we are the ones who reap the benefits of the schools. I think we should be nothing but grateful if the teachers end up with a pay cut, and only after we as a community have stepped up to do our part with a parcel tax and a willingness to cut where we can without impacting the classrooms. For those of you who don't believe that we all benefit from our excellent schools, think seriously about how much more you are willing to see your home values drop.


Posted by Sarah L., a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 27, 2009 at 10:23 am

These are hard economic times. My husband has made it through six rounds of lay-offs, but will likely be unemployed within the next couple of months. Our kids went through Pleasanton schools and we're "empty-nesters" now. Paying an additional parcel tax will not be easy for us, but I feel strongly about supporting education. YES on a parcel tax!


Posted by Resident again, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 27, 2009 at 10:32 am

"rollbacks & salary reductions are being considered. "

Yes, they were before too, but when the cuts are announced, somehow the rollbacks are not mentioned. They are "under consideration" whereas programs have already been placed on the list of things to eliminate.

If the district is serious, they will place the rollbacks and salary reductions FIRST on the list, before mentioning cuts to any programs.


Posted by Resident again, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 27, 2009 at 10:39 am

"I feel like the district is doing their part"

If the district and unions were doing their part, that the community day school would NOT have closed. (I assume you are correct claiming the school already closed, I do not know that right now)

Instead, we would right NOW have rollbacks, salary freezes, no public information officer, no development days, the list goes on....but the community day school would still be open.

The district and union have, once again, put themselves first, students last. I will not support a parcel tax under these circumstances.


Posted by Resident again, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 27, 2009 at 10:43 am

"I've always wanted to send my kids to school in Pleasanton, but now I'm glad that I'm in a city with a parcel tax"

Do your research. Communities like Dublin and Livermore do not have good schools even with the parcel tax. There is much waste, and the parcel tax was passed even before it was needed.... and it went to pay for all the unnecessary spending.

Pleasanton is simply demanding better. I know people in Livermore and Dublin, the schools are not that good, so ask these districts what they are doing with the money... better yet: go over to any of the schools and see for your self!


Posted by Mary, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 27, 2009 at 11:10 am

"they will place the rollbacks and salary reductions FIRST on the list, before mentioning cuts to any programs."

I do not agree with this. First, the excess should be cut, then the salary reductions should be put in place, if needed. Teachers are not exactly high paid individuals, especially in a city like this that is oozing with wealth.


Posted by annoyed parent, a resident of Stoneridge
on Jan 27, 2009 at 11:15 am

While I agree that there should be cuts at the administration level of the district, I absolutely do not support a cut in teacher salaries. When you factor in how much these teachers have to pay for a health care benefits package, they don't make that much money. And, starting salaries are low, which is why they have step and column increases (years of experience and education units). Plus, beginning teachers are usually hired as Temporary. Next level, is probationary. It is up to the district when they move the employee through the different levels and finally give them tenure. It is when teachers FINALLY receive tenure that they have job protection. From all the teaches I am acquainted with, it is much more difficult to secure tenure now then it was years ago. Teachers aren't in the profession to get rich.

I can't believe members in the community want to cut (not just freeze) these salaries.


Posted by 38 Year resident, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jan 27, 2009 at 11:27 am

Resident Again - You and Stacey must go to the same fact pool, since your information is invariably wrong.

First Teacher's did not receive any Salary increase this year.

Second, you are under some illusion that the Teacher's are overpaid. I don't think I can even justify that one with an argument. You are clearly totally clueless on like pay scales for hours and education.

Third, why should the teachers take a pay cut to subsidize public education? It is for the benefit of the public, the public should pay for it.

You may disagree with the idea that teachers have tenure and there is no pay for performance, but that is a statewide issue that cannot be solved at a local level.

You should know that teachers work longer hours than the time spent in the classroom, lesson planning, grading and educating them on current curriculum. They also use plenty of their own funds to provide materials for classroom consumption. This can be evidenced by the Federal Governments tax policy recognition, allowing direct write off of teacher's expenses o schedule A.

Did you know that both of our high schools were ranked among the top in the nation for college acceptance?
Sure educated and motivated parents have some to do with that. But there are educated and motivated parent in districts that do not do as well.

Our children's education, our community experiences and culture are the sum of all the parts. Are you really willing to throw that away for $20 a month? Wow!!

I challenge you "Resident Again" to contact your employer and offer to take an 8.7% pay reduction, asking your employer to donate it to the school district. Then you may have some credibility.

I graduated from Foothill when it was an incomplete school due to Jarvis Gann cutbacks. It was much less than ideal. I, as most adults do, want more for the next generation of kids.


Yes on Parcel TAX







Posted by Kelly, a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Jan 27, 2009 at 11:32 am

Thank you 38 year resident! I couldn't agree more.

YES on a parcel tax to support our excellent schools!


Posted by patron of Main St, a resident of Downtown
on Jan 27, 2009 at 11:39 am

Some of us have tken substantially more than an 8.7% cut. Many have taken a 100% cut by way of being out of work entirely. COLAs and pay raises, whatever the district wants to call them, are completely unwarranted in view of the economy. Pleasanton teachers are at the highest pay level in the state, whether or not they are doing it for the money. They have all summer off and every school holiday. I would settle for an entire weekend off sometimes and I have taken nearly a 50% pay cut. Until everyone takes a pay cut and every ounce of fat is out of the budget there should be no parcel tax even mentioned. For those who want to give away my money, please just pay it yourselves. If it is such an insignificant amount that should be easy for you to do.


Posted by Sandy Piderit, a resident of Mohr Park
on Jan 27, 2009 at 11:49 am

Neither the Superintendent nor the school board can unilaterally implement salary freezes for teachers, or for other unionized employees. I spoke with Superintendent Casey after the meeting last night, and he suggested that talks with the union have already begun. I think it's likely that they will occur. It's just not something the board can count on in order to make the budget balance.

Any parcel tax proposal has to be used to support specific things in the schools, like class size reductions or academic counseling. The parcel tax expires after a fixed number of years.


Posted by annoyed parent, a resident of Stoneridge
on Jan 27, 2009 at 12:00 pm

It is also worth mentioning that No Child Left Behind Act changed the standards as well as the fact that these teachers are dealing with classroom inclusion (ESL Learners, plus all sorts of other issues)that require significantly more than years ago.


Posted by Kay Ayala, a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Jan 27, 2009 at 12:03 pm

I attended the meeting last night at Amador High School. I wanted to give input regarding my concerns with adding another tax. It was quickly obvious that this meeting was not about gathering information but a political campaign led by our Superintendent to pass a parcel tax that he supports. I believe there are many citizens who share my concern. Please respond if you want me to organize a committee to delve into possible cuts that do not reach the students as well as slow down this rush to add another tax in June.


Posted by Steve Rosefield, a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Jan 27, 2009 at 12:14 pm

Thank you Kay. I'll second that motion.


Posted by annoyed parent, a resident of Stoneridge
on Jan 27, 2009 at 12:15 pm

Kay,

If you can also do it without cutting the salaries of teachers, you would gain my support.


Posted by Kelly, a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Jan 27, 2009 at 12:22 pm

Kay,

There is already a 31 member committee, the Budget Advisory Committee, that has been working diligently to identify what should be cut.


Posted by reg, a resident of Bridle Creek
on Jan 27, 2009 at 12:22 pm

While I agree that a parcel tax is a bad idea, one of the last people I would want "organizing a committee" to deal with it is Kay Ayala. She will politicize the hell out of this and make a tough situation even worse. Aren't there more level-headed, less mean-spirited people to lead the charge against this parcel tax?


Posted by An involved AVHS parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 27, 2009 at 12:30 pm

I'll support your efforts, Kay!

Something in my head is just not comfortable with an automatic "YES" on a parcel tax BEFORE we really know how much we can cut without hitting those items we P-towners see as core (CSR, counselors, teacher salary rollbacks, etc..). Once this is done, maybe a parcel tax is needed and I would be first in line to support it......but not blindly....sorry, but I do not call this non-support, but doing my job as a voter, a parent, a homeowner and a responsible Pleasanton citizen.


Posted by What?, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Jan 27, 2009 at 1:44 pm

Now that would be a solution - Kay Ayala leading the charge. All we need now is Steve Brozosky - we would have a truly non-political committee - get serious. Focus on solutions, not politics. Voters said no to both - just stay away.


Posted by Green Girl, a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Jan 27, 2009 at 1:52 pm

Yes, I would like to help (Kay) represent those interested in exhausting ALL options before resorting to this classic tax and spend paradigm. I attended the meeting last night at Amador and also felt as if Casey had already made his decision to, as a 'non campaigner', to convince the community that this was our 'last hope'. I felt almost 'blackmailed' with the threat of class size reduction when that is NOT our only alternative. Why shouldn't the teachers, administrators, etc. have to have their benefits cut, salaries frozen, etc. just like the rest of us have had to deal with for the last year?!

Those of you out there that oppose - let your opinions be heard as well. Don't sit scared in silence.


Posted by Ann, a resident of Pleasanton Middle School
on Jan 27, 2009 at 2:09 pm

Kay,
I would be so grateful to you if you would do this.
Any parent with kids currently in the district must be less high profile.


Posted by Resident again, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 27, 2009 at 2:26 pm

38 year old resident:

you are either clueless or part of the Casey propaganda. Teachers and the unions are out of control. The staff took a pay raise last year, just look it up. That is why we were threatened with the elimination of reading specialists, but then the district "found a way" to make it all better, and they borrowed.

I have a friend who teaches at a very prestigious private high school, she does a lot of work, but even my friend admits her work is too easy compared to her former corporate job. She gets summers off, is home by 5. Unlike public school teachers, private school teachers do NOT get work days. Parents paying tuition would not go for it, having to pay for a day where the teachers "work" and the kids don't go to school. In Pleasanton (and that comes directly from the district, posted by the PW):

"In addition, we have 2 paid "non student" days for teachers. These cost about $450,000 per day."

2 "teacher work days" means 900K in savings, according to the list released by the people you so admire - the district.

Before you post your "facts" why don't you do me a favor?

Post a chart that indicates how many administrators we have (directors, assistants, etc), their pay, their goodies (stipends, etc), their benefits, and the work they really do. Oh yeah, and how many hours they truly put in.

Do the same for the teachers. You will be surprised at what you find.

No one is asking teachers to subsidize public education, just like no one asked the auto workers unions to subsidize the recession. We are simply telling them that we, the taxpayers will not subsidize their very unreasonable goodies. Just like I did not want my money to pay for Joe Smith the car worker who was laid off and collected 90% of his pay, indefinitely, thanks to the union, I do not want my money to pay for a "work day" where teachers really don't do much, students are not there and the district spends 450K - this is just an example.

And I do not want my money to pay for the pay raise of a superintendent who so far, is willing to cut programs before cutting truly unnecessary expenses.


Posted by Tim, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Jan 27, 2009 at 3:07 pm

Kay, I share your concern.

Thanks for being willing to step into this role, I would like your help.


Posted by Another Gatetree Resident, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Jan 27, 2009 at 3:15 pm

Kay;

I am one of the many citizens in Pleasanton who share your concern regarding a parcel tax. I would welcome your organizing a committee to delve into possible cuts that do not reach the students and avoid another tax in June. Let us know how we might help you.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 27, 2009 at 4:25 pm

Here's my meeting report:

- PUSD is forecasting a 4-5 year problem (Dr. Casey said 3-5 years).
- Community Day School is already closed now due to low enrollment.
- Casey said he's open to other funding sources; i.e., municipal funding district (whatever that is)
- Casey mentioned surrounding communities that have parcel taxes, yet he avoided mentioning that they're looking at cuts too.
- School Board to discuss on Feb. 10th what to reduce. They need input from the public regarding which cuts get priority.
- Have to make a final decision on the 24th.

Some of the questions and comments from audience members:
- One person was concerned about the General Fund getting sucked into any deficits in expected parcel tax funds caused by too many senior exemptions.
- One person asked about the ability to rejoin the CSR categorical funding program after leaving it. PUSD said the program is still open. A teacher stood up and said CTA is telling teachers that districts won't be able to rejoin. Does anyone know the truth? Someone was concerned about the $4MM in State funding that would be lost if we drop CSR. It seemed to me that they didn't understand that CSR is one of those categorical fund programs and the $4MM wouldn't be able to be used elsewhere. They were more focused upon the dollar amount.
- One person asked Casey about reducing the reserve fund below 3% (PUSD normally likes it at 4.5%) and redirecting that money into programs. Casey wasn't hot on that idea because creditors don't like when districts fall below a certain percentage and the district faces a loss of local control when that happens, but admitted that that only happens when districts operate like that for a long time. He didn't define "long time".
- Without CSR, ratio of students to teachers would be 30:1 and no more than 32:1.
- One person asked if there was any districts that have never renewed their parcel taxes once passed. PUSD didn't know the answer and said they'll put one up on the website.
- One person asked what the numbers are in students that would be impacted by program on the cut list, i.e. how many students were in Community Day School. PUSD will put numbers on the website.
- Someone brought up the fact that $3MM is lost to absenteeism. They suggested that schools ask for donations. Obviously as parents we can't help when our kids are sick and we should keep them from infecting other children, but if we're pulling our kids out of school for vacation and other similar activities, we need to realize that that's money the district loses. If I recall correctly, someone said some parents have written checks to PUSD for the day. It got me wondering if the budget is based upon 180 day 100% attendance or do they factor in some percentage of absenteeism.
- Someone wondered how much is saved if PUSD reduced the school year by 5 days. The answer is $2.7MM. Then Casey explained why it was a bad idea. Because schools already lose educational time to things like the day before Spring Break. Frankly, I didn't see any real difference between that and the current educational time lost to things like staff development days.
- Casey at one point spoke and said that he thinks we're mostly wasting time thinking there's some alternatives to a parcel tax because other districts are facing these same problems and no one so far has found alternatives that worked. Someone took exception to that statement, probably because it sounded rather arrogant in delivery. I don't remember then what they said...
- Someone asked what percentage of households with children are rentals. Look on the website later.
- Some discussion occurred regarding salaries. Casey talked about how they already have a salary freeze, but then mentioned "step and column" increases.
- Another person asked about the difference in assessing tax by square footage versus a flat rate per parcel. PUSD said the tax by square footage can be seen as more fair and it tends to generate more in revenue.
- Yep, Kay Ayala was there. She doesn't understand what the rush is about. (It's part of the tactic used to get a tax passed.) She pointed out that this is an opportune time to get educational reforms at the State level in place.
- Didn't catch her name or quite what she does, but some sort of lobbyist representing local school districts responded to someone's question of what poorer communities that can't fund parcel taxes are doing for their districts. They're just cutting away. She also urged everyone to contact the legislators and let them know that these levels of cuts to educational funding is unacceptable.
- Someone asked about the CTA's efforts to get a measure on the ballot. Casey said they're currently gathering signatures and didn't think it would qualify in time for the June election. CTA's initiative would only be for funding CSR "beyond the current program". Either that means CSR in more grade levels or possibly smaller sizes than 20:1 in K-3. It means that it wouldn't help any in the current crisis. To me it sounded like CTA finding a way to get more teachers hired.

At that point I left.

Overall, it sounded like CSR is an important program to parents. No one really seemed to speak in support of any other program on the cut list. It costs the district $1.6MM to fund K-3 CSR (I'm not convinced it is needed in 9th grade). If we fund that $1.6MM through a parcel tax, what guarantees can be made that the General Fund will be able to reabsorb $1.6MM when the State is able to increase funding again? Or will rising personnel costs consume more of the General Fund?


Posted by Venkatesan, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 27, 2009 at 6:44 pm

I have been posting in several blogs. I am in total agreement with Kay and the others. It is about time someone belled the cat and stop this rampant public sector pay and benefit inflation at the federal,state,county,city and school level. It is almost as if they are the lords and we are the serfs working to pay the taxes. If we do not get some changes now we never will.

We need to go back to the levels of 10 years ago and adjust for inflation and the number of students. Remove all superfluous items. We are in a different era and we all have to tighten our belts.

Venky


Posted by Pleasanton Teacher, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 27, 2009 at 8:57 pm

I am a sixth year teacher and I was just notified today that 75 teacher jobs will be cut based on seniority. I am number 68 on this list, toward the end of being cut, but not the first.
Many of you on this blog are criticizing the high salaries of teachers in this district. This district is very competitive, not only in salary, but in teacher quality- thus our high test scores and quality teachers. According to the books, I make $62,000 a year, but I also (unlike other school districts with lower salaries) pay $495 for myself for health benefits, $100 for eye care, and $50 for dental. At the end of the month after all deductions, I take home $3,000 (multiply that by 12 and I make $36,000 a year). I also put at least $100 back into my classroom monthly (at the very least), not to mention the money that I pay personally and time that I spend going to school, classes, and after school meetings to make me a better teacher.
And now, you are asking me to take a pay cut. It is because of teachers like me, who work our butts off, stay up late at night, correct papers endlessly and plan the best lessons possible to help your children succeed. Believe me, I wouldn't have it any other way because my heart is in this and helping children be successful is my greatest joy. Yet, I get on here and I read some of these posts and my heart aches because I cannot believe what you are asking me to do- like these economic times are my fault and my fellow teachers and I are the ones that should take a pay cut to pay help subsidize this gap?
Teachers are not the greedy ones here and I agree that we need to cut some fat from our district, however, please put yourself in our shoes before you make such hurtful comments and think about what we can do together to help maintain the quality of schools here in Pleasanton.


Posted by Julie, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 27, 2009 at 9:44 pm

Julie is a registered user.

Pleasanton Teacher, thank you for your personal insight and information. I am not a Pleasanton Teacher, but I too have been appalled by some of the comments about teachers I've read on these boards. One guy wanted pity that he earned 92K. I don't believe he ever answered my questions regarding how much education he had or how much experience in his field he had to reach that level. How much you want to bet that his pay was in addition to health (& other) benefits?

So many people take issue with the fact that teachers have summers off. I'm betting the average person posting here would not trade their 12 month jobs for the "honor" of earning your pay and working your hours. I know I couldn't pay my mortgage netting 3k/month! Is it any wonder that most teachers are women? I love my field of early childhood, but I have to be married to someone earning "real" money in order to have the "honor" of pursuing it as a career!

I thank you for all of your hard work and hope that you & your colleagues do not have to suffer pay cuts (or layoffs). And for anyone thinking that teachers are "greedy", here's a clue - if they were "greedy" they would have pursued a different career!


Posted by Resident again, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 27, 2009 at 9:56 pm

Pleasanton teacher:

I am sorry if our comments were hurtful. The paycuts should be mostly for those at the top. I still think that 450K for a teacher work day is unreasonable, and it may be one reason why you and others may get laid off. If you make 62K per year, one work day that costs 450K would pay for about 7 teachers like you. 2 days would pay for 14....If your fellow teachers and their union agreed to some reasonable cuts: development days, work days, get rid of late start days for example, perhaps there would be a way to save more teachers' jobs.

If the administration agreed to cut the fat, there would be no need to layoff any teachers.

The community would be more supportive of a parcel tax if the money is no longer being spent on unnecessary items.

That being said, I am confused about the math here. Taking home only 50% of your income seems wrong. You should consult an accountant to help you figure out how to keep more of your income. Also, I believe union dues and mandatory % contributions to your pension/retirement account may have something to do with that. I believe there is something similar to the 401K but it is where teachers put a % of their income and it is matched by the district.
If you need to take home more of your pay, again this is something the unions must deal with.

You may be one of the good teachers, but the very fact that you are on a list to potentially be laid off explains what is wrong with the union. Layoffs should not happen because of seniority but based on merit. Let the good teachers stay, get rid of the bad ones. I can name a few I would like to see go yet they are probably staying because they have been in the district so long.

We cannot undo unions overnight, but PUSD can certainly come up with a creative way to deal with them.

I have already emailed my senator and government officials. I know it will not do much, but at some point, this nation has to figure out a way to get rid of unions. Their time is past, their use is no longer what it was meant to be. The car industry is a perfect example of what happens when unions get their way. Teaching, I believe, is going that direction. The unions and collective bargaining must end.


Posted by Resident again, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 27, 2009 at 9:59 pm

"That being said, I am confused about the math here. Taking home only 50% of your income seems wrong"

I mean, it seems wrong given that you are not on the high earner tax bracket


Posted by Teresa, a resident of Birdland
on Jan 27, 2009 at 10:01 pm

Dear Kay -- I believe that the superintendent is also on a propaganda campaign for a parcel tax. Please help organize a citizen's group to come up with real solutions. I have full faith in any effort that you would put together would achieve excellent results.


Posted by Janice, a resident of Canyon Creek
on Jan 27, 2009 at 10:25 pm

If you vote no on the parcel tax you may as well take the equity out of the current value of your home, throw it in your fireplace and watch it burn. That's what will happen if the quality of our children's education is decreased due to larger class sizes and other major cuts that are the cause of their test scores decreasing; in turn decreasing the values of your homes people! We moved here because of the great school system!! Let's keep it that way!!


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 27, 2009 at 10:31 pm

38 year resident wrote:

"Resident Again - You and Stacey must go to the same fact pool, since your information is invariably wrong.

First Teacher's did not receive any Salary increase this year."

38 year resident is displaying his lack of understanding in how teacher salaries work. Teacher raises occur in three ways, 1) negotiated, 2) step, and 3) column. Step and column are automatic increases. When 38 year resident claims teachers did not receive any salary increase this year, he is apparently referring to type 1 only. Yet the district itself has put the information out there regarding this. Whatever "fact pool" 38 year resident is fishing in, he's certainly not catching any fish.

From a Google cache of the Budget FAQ on the PUSD website: Web Link

Why does it cost the District more to operate each year?
Historically and contractually, teachers move along a salary schedule based on years of experience and units of continuing education. Credit for years of experience (up to 20) allows an employee to "move down" the schedule (step). Every 15 units of continuing education (up to 75) allow an employee to move across the schedule (column). The increase in salary from one step or column to the next varies from 0% to about 3%. The current salary schedule goes from $60,371 (Step 1, Column 1) to $98,045 (Step 20, Column 5). For classified and management employees, there is a salary schedule that provides a 2% increase for years of experience up to 6 years. The Superintendent is not on a salary schedule. His salary is determined by a contract with the Board. The year-to-year increased cost due to this movement on the salary schedule is about $1.5 million. The District must budget an additional $500,000 annually to cover increases in cost for utilities, insurance, supplies and equipment, and other contracted services. Consequently, if there is no additional money provided by the state, the District must make $2 million in reductions from current levels to provide a balanced budget for the following year.

Also note from the handout last night in the first section "Proposal's impact on PUSD" where it says "It costs the District [$2MM] to "roll-over" the budget from one year to the next with no changes in personnel or programs."

$2MM out of the $8.7MM is because of these increases in personnel costs! And this grows by around $500K every year!


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 27, 2009 at 10:38 pm

BTW, if the assumptions are correct and growth is relatively the same, in four years it will cost the district $4MM to "roll-over" the budget. Without historical data available, it is difficult to tell if the assumptions are correct. Like I wrote previously, without knowing where we've been, there is no way to make a clear decision upon where we're going. There are no reference points.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 27, 2009 at 10:42 pm

Here was another helpful link in understanding teacher pay: Web Link

Note that in the education industry, step and column is considered to be different from a "raise". In the private sector, there is no distinction made.

"Bowen did not contest the accuracy of the analysis, but questioned the district's definition of step and
column increases as "raises."
"There's an increase in salary, but it's not a raise," Bowen said. "It's for your experience and education ----
which we pay for."
Moors said any increase in teacher pay is a raise no matter what it's called."


Posted by Pleasanton Teacher, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 27, 2009 at 10:53 pm

Clarification
I do not have a 401k or 403b as I cannot afford to. $500 a month is taken out of my check for my state teacher's retirement, which will only be 18% of my current salary when I actually do retire.
I live by myself and pay $1200 a month for an apartment.
I pay close to $700 a month for health insurance which is deducted from my check. Many districts do not do that. Although if I bought my own insurance for around $200 a month, I cannot do that. I have to prove that I am on my spouse's group plan or I cannot opt out.
I am almost thirty and have been teaching for 7 years. I cannot even think about becoming a home owner because I cannot put enough away a month.
However, I do know that if I leave this district, I will be making less money. However, salary is part of why Pleasanton is able to hold on to such qualified teachers and what lures them here. Six years ago my principal told me that there were 253 applicants for my job posting alone. HR has been able to be selective because of this.
Cut our salaries and you are cutting off your nose to spite your face. I'm not saying give me a raise by any means. Heck, I'll even give back 1%, but don't take more from me when you aren't willing to dig into your own pockets to keep the quality education and all that it brings to your community.

Although I do not always agree with my union, I am thankful that they are there to protect me and my rights. This past year my rights were denied by an administrator and I was treated unfairly, basically passed over for an administrator's friend even though I was more qualified. I called my union and they protected my rights.

I do know that I:

*Get paid for working 10 months a year. I do not work 12 months out of the year. If I did work 12 months a year, I should be making a lot more. You've seen the forwards: I make less than your average babysitter considering the number of kids I have for the hours a day.

*I get to work at 7:00 and don't leave until around 5:00 every night. I take home grading and lesson plans nightly.

*I work about 6 hours every other weekend- I work about a 60 hour work week and then some.

*I definitely did not choose this profession because I would get rich. I love kids and could think of nothing better than doing with my life than helping them succeed.

*Do know that I will need to marry a "real breadwinner" so that I can afford a home. Most people in this profession are women. Teachers do not make enough generally to be the main provider of a family.

*Am seriously offended about the previous post:

"Oh yeah, and how many hours they truly put in.
Dothe same for the teachers. You will be surprised at what you find."



If you actually do the math, I make less than your average babysitter for the amount of students I have and the hours that I have them.

Hmm.. makes you think- doesn't it.


Posted by April, a resident of Valley View Elementary School
on Jan 27, 2009 at 11:26 pm



Hear no evil…

PUSD decided not to survey the community to determine if there is support for a parcel tax. They decided they would run the parcel tax even if the survey showed there would not be enough support to pass it, so why bother. Last year they surveyed the community and the results showed there was nowhere near the support needed to pass a parcel tax.

They will spend money for the special election, knowing the community does not want a parcel tax.

Tonight PUSD announced that there would be financial relief from the federal stimulus plan. They will know later this week how much will come to PUSD. It was indicated that the money may relieve the 8mil shortfall that they anticipate. However they did not miss a beat agreeing that they will continue to pursue a parcel tax regardless of the federal money.
This is outrageous how many times must we pay them before they are satisfied?

To Laura that spoke tonight, great job! Too bad they did not hear you.

Kay, thanks...sign me up!


Posted by A Teacher, Too, a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Jan 27, 2009 at 11:55 pm

Unfortunately, I have read too many of these blogs over the past few days, and like the other teacher, I am shocked by the mean spirited comments about teachers, especially our pay and hours "off". Mostly, I am saddened to hear dedicated teachers criticized in such hurtful ways. During the school year, I work on average 60 hours a week and rarely is there a weekend that I don't steal some time away from my own family to work at school preparing lessons. Currently, this year, I have spent over $1,000.00 of my family's money on my classroom. Most of you "bloggers" don't realize that our site level funds have already been frozen, but I, like most teachers, can't let my current students go without the activities I have provided in previous years. So this year, I expect to take about $1,500 of our my family's very tight budget....I guess you might say I have already taken a salary reduction. A few of you need to look at the salary schedule, for there are blocks of years which there are no changes in salary, so without a COLA, there is truly no raise. I am okay with not receiving a COLA in these tough economic times even though my son's daycare went up 30% this year and our medical costs have been rising steadily each year. PUSD salaries do not include benefits and some teachers paid upwards to $1500+ a month to cover their families.

As a teacher, I don't mind the questions and the true problem solving, but the mean spirited comments which are not based upon the facts or any true knowledge of a teacher's working day, week, or year are hurtful and I know have caused a lot of hurt to teachers who read the Weekly blogs.

And Kay, wow, I was once a fan of yours when you ran for mayor for our city. My husband and I campaigned for you. I didn't realize you, of all people, don't see the connection between high quality schools and the economic health of a city. You are a leader and you have shed doubt on our superintendent and board. You will very likely create a following and take pride in defeating a parcel tax that could keep this district from becoming average. I hope that in five years when API scores fall, you don't regret your decision to lead this campaign, but of course, it's your right. This board already made cuts last year and will need to cut nearly everything besides a "basic" education to meet this budget.
I didn't plan to raise my children in town that excepted "basic" even in tough times. I lived in Fremont when the property values were higher there than in Pleasanton. I bought my first condo here because it was more affordable than Fremont. Once I lived here, I wanted to teach here because the community seemed so focused upon schools, families, and seniors. It appeared that it was a community that cared about citizens at all stages of life. Since that purchase, API scores appeared on the educational scene and many families moved over the hills to Pleasanton from Fremont and the San Jose area because there wasn't a poor quality school in town...and the Pleasanton realtors' were waving our API scores like golden nuggets in front of those eager, young families wanting to provide the best for their children and this city benefitted from those developments. You were there on the council enjoying the revenue brought to this town from Ruby Hills and many other "new" developments. Those families sent our property values soaring and have kept them stable. All of my friends from Fremont occurred larger property taxes by purchasing a newer home in Pleasanton because of one reason, the schools, the safe, well staffed schools.

At least 7-8 staff members at each elementary school will be laid off or displaced to another location next year because of the loss of class size reduction. About 80+ teachers, community members of Pleasanton, will lose their jobs this spring.

Finally, it was community members and parents, like myself, who wrote the board asking them to please work on a parcel tax, so that this spring we won't lose the programs we have worked tirelessly over the past 13 years to implement. The attacks on Dr. Casey are really unjust! He cares deeply about these children and of course, and thankfully, he cares deeply about his employees. I have never worked for a superintendent that actually knew his district employees so well or took the time to visit schools and listen to the students.

Okay, bloggers, ATTACK. But, I won't be back to check because this is way to negative for a believer like me. See, I see little miracles each and every day in the children I teach. I believe we, as a community, will get through this and protect Pleasanton's crowning jewel, our school district. The 60% of you that don't have children at home, I am sure that this district provided your children a wonderful education or at least has elevated your property taxes. I realize we don't have a crystal ball, but I see our property values falling if Livermore and Dublin keep class size reduction and we don't. Where would a young family want to take their children? Remember, they moved over the hill from Fremont, why not down the road to Livermore?


Posted by Green Girl, a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Jan 28, 2009 at 12:49 am

April,

Thanks for the comments about Laura. I agree.

To all:
We don't want to debate the ins and outs of teacher salary structure. We don't want our education to decline. We don't want to hurt people's feelings. We probably all want the same thing at the end of the day: peace, good schools, safety, etc.

BUT, these ARE very unique and challenging times. We need to be compassionate and realize that this is a time, as Chris Grant and Dan Copenhagen stated, that we must ALL SHARE THE SACRIFICES. If I understood correctly, the Board even voluntarily proposed to take 1% reduction. I wonder how many of our principals will take that lead and announce the same tomorrow morning??? Hey - maybe the teacher that proposes to take the biggest reduction gets their health care paid for for one year or something creative like that.

And, while we are complaining about our situation, lets pause and reflect how fortunate we really are. We have clean water, clothing, and a community that cares.


Posted by Dan R., a resident of Del Prado
on Jan 28, 2009 at 1:51 am

I attended the meeting last night but couldn't even watch tonight's board meeting so cannot say what was discussed tonight. But, I do not understand why everyone involved is not willing to consider something that can be accomplished before the Mar. 15 pink slip date. In order to save elementary CSR thereby saving 75 teachers' jobs and major disruption, $1.6M needs to be found. The 'Step and Column' increases (but don't call them raises!) amount to about $1.5M or almost a wash. If that is not acceptable to the unions, then how about a 2% salary rollback.
To the teaches posting above, I do understand where you are coming from BUT Pleasanton Teacher earns a gross amount of $62,000. A 2% rollback would reduce that by $1200 but the net difference to her is going to be more like $800 after taxes and according to her numbers. Maybe not something she wants proposed but on the plus side---SHE DOESN'T GET A PINK SLIP come March 15 and isn't faced with looking for a new job. Why wouldn't she agree to a slightly smaller check to have that peace of mind?
But why would teacher number 76 agree to such a proposal? Well perhaps because she gets to simply stay in her existing grade level, school and classroom without dealing with major shake-ups. Or because teaching 20 second graders is less demanding over the course of the year than having 32 in the classroom. There still should be plenty of value in simply making life less stressful in that regard.
There can be no resolution in any direction concerning a parcel tax until June. Negotiations with the unions could be happening now, possible agreements reached in Feb. and the March 15 date will then not affect nearly so many positions.
But I'm not any smarter than those folks down at the district office to think of this. So why aren't they starting talks this way? Because they know CSR is an extremely emotional item for parents. One that they can threaten in order to scare parents. The message is clear enough that the word extortion comes to mind.

Teachers---this is not an attack on you or the job that you do! Please understand that I think it is just the most expedient means if we truly are trying to save CSR.


Posted by Ben, a resident of California Reflections
on Jan 28, 2009 at 3:41 am

Tonight PUSD was told they would get Federal dollars that may be enough to cover the short fall but they still want the parcel tax also!!!!!!

Parcel tax is discretionary money that never ends!!!!!!

Parcel tax = pot of gold!!!



Posted by Mike, a resident of Birdland
on Jan 28, 2009 at 8:02 am

This is not a war with teachers they don't want more unnecessary taxes either.

Extortion is accurate.
PUSD is saying give us money or we will cut what will hurt the students and panic parents most.

The Superintendent and Board should have been celebrating when it was reported that there is relief in sight for the budget shortfall. Instead they seemed disappointed to hear about the federal stimulus dollars.

They should have been telling the community let's wait to see if we can manage with these new dollars. We may not need to spend money on a special election; we may not need to panic parents and tear this community apart with a parcel tax campaign.

Instead they said they plan to move forward with a parcel tax even if they get millions in federal money. They said the federal dollars may be one time dollars and they want a parcel tax that is ongoing.

What a nuisance to have new tax dollars come along and weaken their justification again just when the parcel tax is in sight. PUSD feels entitled to a parcel tax because "everyone else has one."

Last night their consultant warned them not to be fooled by the illusion of support that is close to them.
Jim Ott said those of us that post on these bloggs don't count. He is wrong... we vote. This community will stand up to their greed and manipulation.




Posted by patron of Main St, a resident of Downtown
on Jan 28, 2009 at 8:14 am

Maybe Jim Ott should be the first to go, free up some salary money to be used in the schools.
NO PARCEL TAX


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 28, 2009 at 8:16 am

Dan R wrote:

"Because they know CSR is an extremely emotional item for parents."

Exactly! Without anyone looking at metrics, it just remains an emotional item. The question no one seems willing to ask is, do we really need CSR?

Support for K-3 CSR in California is based most likely upon the Tennessee STAR project (Web Link). It seems to show some great benefit to the idea of smaller class sizes. But there's a _BIG PROBLEM_. In the STAR study, a "small" class size was a 15:1 student-teacher ratio while a "regular" class size was around 20:1. "Over 7,000 students in 79 schools were randomly assigned into one of three interventions: small class (13 to 17 students per teacher), regular class (22 to 25 students per teacher), and regular-with-aide class (22 to 25 students with a full-time teacher's aide)."

Then another study followed up STAR and looked at how the STAR participants performed on an 8th grade standard test. "A significantly larger percent of small-class students (52.9%) versus students who had attended regular (49.1%) and regular/aide (48.0%) classes passed the TCE Language requirement at grade 8. The same was true for the mathematics requirement, where 36.4% of the small-class students passed versus 32.3% of the regular class and 30.3% of the regular/aide class students."

"Significantly larger" appears to be spin. A roughly 4% difference (with no margin of error stated) is arguably NOT "significant". And note that in California, our CSR classes are considered "regular"! We're not even doing CSR properly. Where's the study showing the metrics between 30:1 and 20:1? We don't seem to be able to tell if we're getting our money's worth out of the current CSR program if we need to have a 15:1 student teacher ratio before we're achieving "significantly larger" benefits.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 28, 2009 at 8:21 am

I forgot to explain above why I'm looking at the follow-up on the 8th grade standardized test. It is because test scores are a key measurable that gets capitalized into housing prices, moreso than say, graduation rates, which the housing market practically ignores. Recall a number of years ago the accusations of cheating on a California standardized test over at Pleasanton Middle School? Yep, test scores are THAT important because society has made it that important.


Posted by Kay Ayala...NOT!, a resident of Birdland
on Jan 28, 2009 at 8:47 am

I have lived in Pleasanton for some time now and just don't understand Kay Ayala's love affair with...Kay Ayala! What are her credentials to begin an investigation into our school funding? Seems to me that Kay Ayala costs this town more than she benefits us. And seriously, what are your credentials? Accountant? Lawyer? Did you graduate from College?


Posted by Ann, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2009 at 8:56 am

Stacey,
I applaud your effort to be factual but you will never take the emotion out of CSR because parents know its value goes beyond academic benefit. As a parent you can feel the difference in the classroom. I believe we should retain CRS but I don't believe we need a parcel tax to do it.
What I think is significant is that there is new money but the district is still hellbent on going after the PT regardless.

NO PARCEL TAX!!!!!


Posted by Ann, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2009 at 8:56 am

Stacey,
I applaud your effort to be factual but you will never take the emotion out of CSR because parents know its value goes beyond academic benefit. As a parent you can feel the difference in the classroom. I believe we should retain CRS but I don't believe we need a parcel tax to do it.
What I think is significant is that there is new money but the district is still hellbent on going after the PT regardless.

NO PARCEL TAX!!!!!


Posted by Amused By Board Mtg, a resident of Downtown
on Jan 28, 2009 at 9:05 am

The two funniest comments last night:

"We will donate 2% of our $400 board member stipend" - $8 from Ms. Hintzke

"We should have people who have to do community service work in our classroom" - Lady who monopolized the microphone. Just what we need criminals in our classroom, lovely.


Posted by Go Girl, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2009 at 9:13 am

Kay has a great deal of history working with the district budget both as a past parent and as a council school liaison member. She was the only one to beg the district to not enter into the failed Signature contract. She was right everyone else, including Kernan (the lawyer), was wrong.
She recognizes she is in a position to be the voice of many of us with kids in the district that feel threatened.
Thank you Kay!


Posted by Storyteller, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2009 at 9:15 am

My husband and I own a consulting business---a service industry not unlike our school system. The economic downturn is hitting all of our clients. Some have simply had to make due without our services and others have had to close their doors. Our gross income is down more than double what the district anticipates--upwards of 20%. We too have had to make cuts, finding ways to trim corners but finally had to let a great admin assistant go. It was a hard decision and we were sorry we couldn't give her more than a few day's notice. Unfortunately, it still isn't enough. We are going to have to make more cuts but payroll is the only place left to look. We know it will be tough for our employees to find work elsewhere in this job market so we were planning to talk to them as a group and see if they would be willing to take a small pay cut so that no one else has to lose their job.

BUT THEN, we realized we can learn a thing or two from the school district! We can write a letter to the rest of our clients explaining to them that since we do our job and provide this service to them, it isn't fair that we bear the brunt of the consequences of this economy. After all, we are still working hard for them. We will simply tell them that the fees they are already paying are not enough and they have to help make up for our lost revenue. Then, not only will we not have to avoid lay-offs, but everyone can get a raise! But our clients won't like that if they get word of that so we will simply call it a salary adjustment.

Does this approach work in the private sector? NOT! Will it work for PUSD? They think so!


Posted by patron of Main St, a resident of Downtown
on Jan 28, 2009 at 9:59 am

Storyteller -- you almost got it right. What you really need to do is tell EVERYONE in town, whether or not they use your services, that they get to pay a fee since you need raises and this cannot be your fault. That is no different from a parcel tax that hits those of us who have never, ever, used the system.

NO PARCEL TAX


Posted by Kelly, a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Jan 28, 2009 at 10:23 am

Laura,

I am glad we had a chance to exchange ideas after the school board meeting last night. I look forward to working with you on creative solutions in these very challenging economic times.

Kelly

P.S. I'm a Gingerbread mom (which is probably where you've heard my name before).


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 28, 2009 at 11:25 am

Ann wrote: "I applaud your effort to be factual but you will never take the emotion out of CSR"

I agree with you. It shall always be an emotional issue for many. I believe it is perhaps still important to try to understand these sorts of details. It is unfortunate that California's CSR program doesn't follow the 15:1 ratio in K-3 to reap the proper benefits CSR is supposed to provide. That'd certainly be more difficult to fund. And it isn't clear to me yet how the benefits of CSR affect API scores, which in turn affects property values. Given California's 20:1 ratio and HEROS' results of percentage of children in 20:1 classes who passed Tennessee's 8th grade standardized test, that isn't really a big margin.


Posted by Liz, a resident of Harvest Park Middle School
on Jan 28, 2009 at 11:52 am

Good one Storyteller.
It is scary because it is true. Your bedtime story is going to give me nightmares!

NO PARCEL TAX!


Posted by chico, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2009 at 1:38 pm

Amused By Board Mtg,

i couldn't stop laughing when i heard Hintzke offer to donate what amounts to $8. my wife wanted to know what funny show i was watching.


Posted by B. Woods, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jan 28, 2009 at 2:18 pm

I was at the board meeting last night and I feel that many of the board members are out of touch with what the community is asking for. Most of the community realizes the excellence of our schools along with how that effects our property values. However I believe the school board needs to heed Kay's warning and they need not surround themselves with their supporters but present actual facts about were the school district is and what they need and for how long they will need the communities assistance.
It appears that some of the board members have a swing for the fences mentality that scares off many who might support a temporary parcel tax. Case in point, board member Arkin was talking up a separate tax based on square footage to all of our commercial buildings but then mentioned that the downtown area could be made exempt in this (heaven forbid they be treated the same). This is reckless why would we tax our large businesses that employ many of us and make Pleasanton even less desirable of a place to locate businesses. Hopefully the chamber of commerce will not back this part of the proposal.
I and many I have talked to would support a parcel tax IF the district would make some of the cuts people talking about including the cancelation of teacher in service days and the freezing of rank and column raises while the parcel tax is in effect. Furthermore this should be a TEMPORARY Parcel tax I heard very little from the board regarding this, it seems as if they want to keep this tax in the good years to fund other pet projects.
The board needs to stop drinking the Kool Aid they are being served by their supporters and start reaching out to those of us who want a fiscally conservative approach to this parcel tax or else as Kay warned it is destined to be defeated.


Posted by Resident again, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2009 at 2:38 pm

2 teacher work days = 900K

I wonder how many teachers making 62K we could keep if the rest of the veteran teachers agreed to give up their precious 2 work days.

And then 3 development days, at 200K each....the teachers and their union are acting selfish and going along with Casey. They would rather see some teachers be laid off than giving up just a little.

CSR has been an ongoing teacher fight for years, across California. CTA's website:

Web Link

(can't help but wonder where these teachers' organizations get all this money to be so political and engage in activities that have everything to do with their comfort, nothing to do with what is best for the students)

CSR does not need to be eliminated, Casey and the board know it. They are playing with parents' emotions.

In my opinion, Casey seems to propose: Let's keep unnecessary expenses, eliminate CSR, get hysteria from parents, pressure them into voting for a parcel tax, and we all live happily ever after... NOT!!!!

As for the teachers' postings: everyone has expenses that come out of their salary, you are not unique. Everyone works overtime. Unlike you though: Not everyone gets the entire summer off, not everyone can be home by 5, not everyone has union protection. Not everyone relies on public handouts each time things get tough. In a way, teachers have it pretty good, many of them thank to their union rather than whether they are competent or not.

In my opinion: Casey really needs to do his job, and if not, the board needs to make sure he does - Ott is irrelevant, we all vote, and in these times of financial crisis, I doubt many will offer their money to subsidize frivolous and unnecessary expenses.


Posted by Parent/Taxpayer, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2009 at 2:45 pm

Yes, even the consultant warned that they are hearing from a controlled group, indicating they need to recognize the support they feel is an illusion.
While I agree with all of your points, you may have missed them saying repeatedly they do not see the federal money as an alternative to the parcel tax because it is one time funding. They make it very clear the parcel tax is expected to be a long term funding source.

Have they told the community how many more years we will be paying on the measure B bond? Between measure A and B we have paid over 155 million in additional taxes to PUSD.
This community has always been generous with PUSD, they are not being realistic in this demand.


Posted by Matt, a resident of Stoneridge
on Jan 28, 2009 at 3:25 pm

This chart shows how much funding title I school may get from the stimulus fed bill.
Web Link

It only covers 2 years, 2009 and 2010; and looks like the money is geared toward specific area only. And.. from SF Chronicle, it also mentioned that the State may divert this additional funding toward something else if the bill does not specifically mention its for school / education.


Posted by Larry, a resident of Birdland
on Jan 28, 2009 at 4:10 pm

Maybe it's just the environment that they function within, but have you ever noticed that every negotiation with district administrators, the CTA, or their members effectively comes down to "Give me what I want or I'll hold my breath until I turn blue!"


Posted by FEDS, a resident of Birdland
on Jan 28, 2009 at 4:25 pm

The feds come and saves the day again! Looks like the new rescue fundings at the federal level will relief our budget crisis.


Posted by FEDS, a resident of Birdland
on Jan 28, 2009 at 4:29 pm

Story here:

Web Link


Posted by April, a resident of Valley View Elementary School
on Jan 28, 2009 at 4:32 pm

Thanks Matt,

$2,796,700 puts a big dent in the 8.7. We should be able to take CRS off the table.

Cash for school districts
Combined estimated construction, special education and Title I funding increases for school districts under the U.S. House Appropriations Committee's draft 2009 stimulus bill:

Pleasanton Unified 2009+$1,488,600 2010+$1,308,100 two year total $2,796,700


Posted by Wait A Minute, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2009 at 4:53 pm

I also caught the generous $8 donation offer, but I was stuck on a few other comments about the potential property tax that were casually thrown out. No one challenged these statistics, so I will repeat them. Please feel free to correct the data if it's inaccurate.

#1 25% of our "housing inventory" is multi unit properties (read rental properties – I question that stat, but no one seemed to question or challenge the statement).

#2 Per the consultant, commercial properties are typically not assessed and all residential properties are equally assessed regardless of how many units or residents they house.

#3 There is often a senior exemption. (A less subtle, but equally humorous moment was when one of the supervisors explained how her father now passionately advocated institution of a parcel tax while realizing mid sentence that he was now advocating a tax on others, but not himself.)

So if you moved your kids in to an apartment here to take advantage of the school system ….. campaign away, because it's free for you.

If you own a business jump on the band wagon. It shows that you have good community spirit, and it's free for you.

But if you own or are buying a single family home ……. GOTCHA!

My favorite part was the discussion was about skipping the survey because they were going to go for the cash grab anyway based on a significant losing percentage estimate from 2007. Have you read a newspaper since 2007 gang? Your chances have not improved!

I agree with Kay and many of the others on this forum. Let's slow down, stop the scare tactics, and let this thing unfold. The whole thing feels like a timeshare pitch.


Posted by Brian, a resident of Castlewood
on Jan 28, 2009 at 5:17 pm

With some help from the feds, we now need to look for a long term solution to the overspending problem in PUSD.

What is the process for ousting a superintendent? I'd like to see someone like Kay in office so we can really stretch our tax dollars. Also, how do we eradicate the teachers union?


Posted by Resident again, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2009 at 6:39 pm

Interesting articles about states/entities that want to undo the teachers' unions or have had problems because of it:

Web Link

Web Link

Web Link

Web Link

Web Link


Posted by Resident again, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2009 at 6:42 pm

"A School Chief Takes On Tenure, Stirring a Fight

By SAM DILLON
Published: November 12, 2008

WASHINGTON — Michelle Rhee, the hard-charging chancellor of the Washington public schools, thinks teacher tenure may be great for adults, those who go into teaching to get summer vacations and great health insurance, for instance. But it hurts children, she says, by making incompetent instructors harder to fire...."

Full article:
Web Link


Posted by just wondering, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2009 at 9:00 pm

Maybe Kay should dust off her clipboards and start a recall drive for school board trustees. That may be what it takes to get the attention of the trustees and administrators that don't seem to be understanding the perspective of citizens wanting fiscal responsibility from the district.

Sadly, the communication from the district is being horribly mismanaged thereby creating divisiveness in the community when we need to come together as a community to try and determine solutions.


Posted by Member of the Vintage Hills Community, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2009 at 10:06 pm

You people do not realize that the unions are backing their members because if they take a pay cut, that 1% seriously affects those that are retiring or will retire within a year.
I am all in favor of a pay free and a step and column freeze and being a younger teacher, I would gladly take a 1% pay cut to get the community to rally behind us, but I haven't seen one post up here that acknowledges the reason behind this issue and thinks that the unions are just being greedy. That's about $800-1000 a year that those retiring teachers will be missing after they retire. It's an important point that needs to be discussed here.
Retirement is generally 18% less than when they were working and this could decrese their retirement by 100 a month. For someone that has been working for 35 years, this is a big issue.


Posted by Bill E., a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2009 at 11:45 pm

Of course most of the people who work in the private sector have NO retirement plan, so the possibility of a minor reduction in your monthly benefit fails to impress. And let's hope you aren't an English teacher.


Posted by Dan R, a resident of Del Prado
on Jan 29, 2009 at 12:30 am

Ok, so retirement pay needs to be considered. That would be part of the negotiation process IF the district would ask the union to sit down and talk. A freeze on step and column is supposed to save approx. $1.5M or very near what elementary CSR costs. And a freeze on that aspect presumably would not touch those near retirement as they probably maxed out already. There must be a way they could protect those who are within 2-3 years of retirement.
But a reminder, for those of us with 401k accounts, we have seen our future retirement plummet. Who knows if it will recover to the level we thought we could plan on and on what timetable. Life is unpredictable and there are NO GUARANTEES. I don't know why unions should think otherwise.
But I am not pointing a finger at teachers or their union. It is Dr. Casey and the board who need to change their approach. At the Monday meeting at Amador, he said that any salary talks are "premature." They should not occur until after a parcel tax. What the?????? Premature? I thought we were just discussing a budget crisis! If I were a teacher looking at losing my job, I would be angry that district officials are postponing talks and causing me all this anquish.
Casey's response tells us that he wants the community to panic and therefore vote yes on a parcel tax. I wasn't opposed to a tax when I went to that meeting but if this approach with scare tactics continues, I will be voting no whatever the requested amount. Also seems to me reason to question why we bother with that whole Community of Character stuff.


Posted by 38 Year resident, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jan 29, 2009 at 8:58 am

Dan, your frustration with the approach of the school board may be justified. They seem to have dug in thier heals a little prematurely.

I urge you not to punish the children by digging in your's!!


Posted by Tax Payer, a resident of Del Prado
on Jan 29, 2009 at 9:23 am

Taxes, taxes, and more taxes. Though it is one of the two things that's certain in life, less is always better than more. PUSD can look for other ways to generate revenue, for example, donations, salary reductions, stipend elimination, etc. There are many ways to make this work. Just flat out rejecting all ideas other than the parcel tax doesn't resolve anything. Oh yes, the sales pitch that we don't have time to look at other options. Given the federal aid, we do have time to sort things out. A thorough cost and benefit analysis need to be conducted to explore what works and what doesn't.

If we approve a parcel tax, PUSD will come back for more money in the future. We need to root cause the problems in PUSD (excessive spending) and take the necessary corrective actions. That is the ONLY long-term fix to the problem. Throwing more money at those problems don't make them go away. So, our children's interest is NOT best served by the parcel tax, but by a long term resolution.

Parents: If you truly want the best education for your children, spend a couple of hours with them every night on their school work or simply read with them. Turn off that TV and computer. That, I assure you, would raise your children's interest in school, their grades, and parent-child bond. You can't rake in these benefits with the parcel tax that we don't need. Just my 2 cents...


Posted by 38 Year Resident, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jan 30, 2009 at 8:58 am

On this and other threads I have heard that elimination of CSR is being used as a threat to generate community support for a parcel tax. This seems synonymous to EBMUD saying mandatory water rationing may be needed, if it doesn't rain, is threat to get residents to stop drinking water. The fact is the PUSD budget and in fact every school' district's budget in nieghboring towns, are threaten by a worldwide economic collapse. Stating where the pontential cuts will be made is responsible. This will allow for a rational prioritization of cuts and revenue generation. Bigger, newer programs such as CSR are always going to get they eye of budget administrators. That is not a threat it is just being upfront.

Expecting the famalies of the teachers (who are often Parcel Tax payers) to share a bigger part of the burden, ignores three facts: teachers already are paid less $hour/education-level that industry (even with summer vacation) they did not create the problem and the community is the primary benefactor. Tax Payer I challenge you to start a campain of you and your cronies (starting in your wallett) to gain $500 donations from the community members in lui of a tax.

What many on this board forget is that it is the children (and obvioulsy future children) that will lose out. My bias is as a parent.

We all feel overtaxed, but common sense should tell you, if they have to make up revenues at the state level, the tax burden will be larger. More layers of bueracracy, more layes of unions, more layers of compliance, spending over 1/2 before it hits the local budget. (So $400 TAX = $200 BENEFIT)

Those who argue that the unions are to blame, miss the point, unions may protect the occasional unqualified instuctor, but the really do not effect the wage level (since there has been a shortage of teachers, the market has set this). The budeget crisis would be here either way.

Oh, and Kay Ayala, Theres's credibility – NOT – she just want to use this platform to reignite her flailing political career. Kay why not start a tax migation donation committee instead of muck raking???

Yes on Parcel Tax, Yes on fat trimming as well, No on salary reduction, No on red
herrings





Posted by support services change lives, a resident of Downtown
on Jan 30, 2009 at 8:36 pm

My feeling is that the support services available to my children have in deed helped them become the people they are today. The truth is that parents are not the only influence in their childrens lives (no matter how much we think we are). Peers and other adults in their lives where they spend 6 or more hours a day do have a significant impact on them. All my children had a close connection to their counselor at the elementary school and worked with the reading specialist, which I feel set the foundation for their school experience. To lose those support services affects all the kids. If you took the time to learn what they did and what issues are happening with our kids that our kids are talking about, you'd do anything to keep these support services instead of cutting them back. If you don't have children, you need to think about what kinds of people you want our future members of society to be. I want to keep Pleasanton the wonderful city it is with productive members of society.


Posted by Kay Ayala, a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Jan 31, 2009 at 11:30 am

I believe a "new tax" should be the last resort but let me clear up a few items first:

l) I do not want to eliminate any positions of employment if possible.
2) I have no political agenda.
3) I do have experience in both school and city finances that may be helpful.

I will list my email address for anyone interested in exploring means to solve the financial problems facing the school district without imposing a parcel tax. Please email kayala1@sbcglobal.net if share my concerns. This effort will concentrate on positive solutions only. I have already submitted financial questions to the school district and will be given the answers Monday afternoon.

This in only the second blog I have ever posted. I have never and will never post under another identity.

Kay Ayala


Posted by Dan R, a resident of Del Prado
on Feb 2, 2009 at 10:42 pm

Kay, I for one am glad to see you take this on. I'm sure with your background on city council that you have a good deal of local government financial knowledge that will help get through some of this info the district is putting out. And I applaud you for being able to put your name and face to the questions. Many of us parents do not feel that is wise to be outspoken in questioning the district for the sake of our children.
I will be sure and email you with my contact info.


Posted by Pleasanton Resident, a resident of Birdland
on Feb 3, 2009 at 9:57 pm

I've been a long time resident of Pleasanton and my kids are still in the school district. Pleasanton schools are pretty good compared to other area schools, but don't be fooled, compared to other states, they are not that great. There is a reason CA schools rank where they do compared to other state public schools. Education in this state is not and has not been a priority and you can thank the jokers sitting in Sacramento for that. If you live in California, your options are limited.

Additionally, we have a superintendant with CEO Syndrome. While telling us how budget cuts are going to mandate layoffs of the teachers who teach our kids, he pulls down an almost $240K salary, had his house and car purchased by the school district and we paid for it. I would personally like to see those school board folks who authorized those perks to stand up and admit those facts in front of a room full of parents and teachers being asked to happily approve ANOTHER TAX. Give us a break and I mean that literally. This isn't a Fortune 500 company with the CEO and board generating outstanding profits for stockholders, so let's stop handing them free homes, free cars and who knows what else. How about we stay resonable and real and figure out how to keep teachers and programs for the kids, since that's what the business of school is supposed to be about!


Posted by Harry, a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on May 8, 2009 at 5:13 pm

I find it very interesting that the application for senior exemption is impossible to find on the district website www.pleasanton.k12.ca.us

Why is this? Shouldn't it be right out there? sneaky, sneaky, sneaky


Posted by Sandy, a resident of Mohr Park
on May 8, 2009 at 5:59 pm

Sandy is a registered user.

Harry -- here's the link to the PDF

Web Link

www.pleasanton.k12.ca.us/businessservices/Budget/Downloads/SeniorExemptionForm090325.pdf


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