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Original post made on Feb 6, 2009

The current discussion about the proposed parcel tax for schools in the Pleasanton Weekly thus far has me worried. For those homeowners who balk at paying a parcel tax to keep our schools from making devastating cuts to their programs, I must say that I think you are missing a very important point.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, February 6, 2009, 12:00 AM

Comments (70)

Posted by reader, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Feb 6, 2009 at 9:02 pm

Very good point about correlating property values with school quality. We need to pass this tax for our community and our children.


Posted by Fred, a resident of Carlton Oaks
on Feb 6, 2009 at 10:13 pm

I agree, the parcel tax is needed. However we should not vote for a parcel tax if the top administrators are not willing to cut the great benefits they all get. Why should we give them high salaries, and lifetime health benefits when they were not watching the spending. Isn't this what President Obama is saying about the companies that want a piece of the stimulus money, they need to freeze salaries of those in charge and take away these bonuses? Come on school board members, if cuts are going to happen, then what are you cutting from these adminstrators? My understanding is that the district had a negative 2.5 million in the hole this year, and for the most part it was due to poor management decisions. Why do we need a superintendent and three other assistant superintendents? These are the people who should be watching the spending, but they are really spending at will. Sounds like they are asking for a bail out plan due to mistakes. Maybe we need an outside agency to come in and really audit the district, not the district's auditor. Come on board step up to the plate, if you really want a parcel tax to pass!


Posted by Tim, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 6, 2009 at 10:46 pm

Beth Limesand stated that our property values have only decreased by 2.9% the last year (she referenced www.rereport.com as the source). I know my home was selling for $1.2 million a year or two ago and is now worth less than $900,000. This is a 25% reduction. I couldn't find any 2.9% number on their website, but she may have more or their report. In any case, I don't believe the numbers.


Posted by Ptown Mom, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Feb 6, 2009 at 11:46 pm

Beth is the one that is missing the point. Our district has enough money without the parcel tax if they spend more responsibly.

San Ramon: ADA (per student dollar) is $5,501 API base score 893
Pleasanton: ADA is $6,199 API base score 893
Even with San Ramon's parcel tax Pleasanton has more than $600 per student more to work with.

San Ramon has class size reduction..
San Ramon scores the exact same as Pleasanton on API scores 893.
San Ramon outscores Pleasanton on SAT scores, and every other school ranking.
How do they do better than Pleasanton with $600 dollars per student less?

I suport our teachers.
I support our kids and community.
I DO NOT support a parcel tax!


Posted by Amy, a resident of Castlewood
on Feb 7, 2009 at 1:55 am

NO PARCEL TAX:

P Town Mom: Keep making those same points over and over again. They are concise, show evidence to support your argument for NO PARCEL TAX and are completely objective. Good jo

NO PARCEL TAX....and frankly I don't care how much that affects my property value....I AM SICK OF GOV TAKING MY $$$$$$$


Posted by Another Gatetree Resident, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Feb 7, 2009 at 5:03 am

*clapping for both Ptown Mom and Amy*

Those that spawned the kids are free to "contribute" some of their hard earned cash towards educating THEIR children. Those of us who are classified as "DINKs" are tired of supporting your decision to further populate the planet.

I ALSO support our teachers.

I ALSO support our kids and community.

I ALSO DO NOT support a parcel tax!


Posted by Sherri, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 7, 2009 at 8:40 am

Let's start by cutting this piece of fat first...

Superintendent Dr. John Casey is employed under a contract which ends June 30, 2010. His annual salary is $227,002, with a 12-month work calendar and 24 days of vacation. Medical and other health insurance may be purchased at his sole expense, and the District contributes $5,000 annually for life insurance premiums. At the completion of each year of the contract where he has worked at least 85% of the days, he receives a payment of $10,000 into a tax-sheltered annuity. He receives $1,000 per month as a transportation allowance and membership in professional organizations as appropriate and necessary. When Dr. Casey moved to Pleasanton, he received a $200,000 loan to help purchase a home in the community. This loan is interest free and must be repaid within 18 months of the termination of his employment. There is no provision or expectation that the loan would be "forgiven." The current balance of this loan is $190,000.


Posted by Sherri, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 7, 2009 at 8:44 am

"For those homeowners who balk at paying a parcel tax to keep our schools from making devastating cuts to their programs, I must say that I think you are missing a very important point."

For those who keep pressing for a parcel tax, I must say that YOU are missing MANY very important points. The PUSD administration staff and teachers are overpaid and underworked. They can shed a small percentage of their excessive pay to compensate for the losses in the state's budget revenue. The time is ripe for a shakeup from top to bottom in the district.

NO! We won't throw more money so PUSD can keep the status quo.

NO! We won't accept giving teachers raises on our backs.

NO! We won't allow Casey to extort us for more of our hard earned money.

NO! We won't fund all the excessive spending PUSD is known for: Vice Principles, Vice Vice Principles, Asst to the Vice Vice Principles, all 5 Assistant Superintendents and all those Assistants to the Assistant Superintendent. They've all gotta go.


NO! We won't sit here quietly watching Casey suck up a quarter of a million of our school's budget and only doing the little that he does.

NO NO NO PARCEL TAX!!!


Posted by think about it, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 7, 2009 at 9:34 am

While the comparison with San Ramon sounds reasonable, it does not account for the fact that San Ramon will also be cutting its budget because CA state income from taxes is down and all schools are having to cut. The parcel tax is not extra money but will replace what Pleasanton WILL NOT GET FROM THE STATE. That money is gone.

Comparing one school district with another is sometimes apples and oranges. This community has made decisions about valuable activities or services we think our kids should have. . .One bad thing about NCLB is that we are put in a mindset that everything schools do can be measured by standardized test scores.

We should value the band programs and the art programs and physical education, among other things, none of which are measured through API scores.

Realtors use the schools as an advertising tool for a reason.


We enjoy a very high standard of living for a reason and our schools are part of that. FYI, I no longer have kids in the public school system. I would gladly pay the $150 a year, less than 50 cents a day!


Posted by Ptown Mom, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Feb 7, 2009 at 12:24 pm

To "think about it",

Are you kidding? The extracurricular activities like band, sports, parking, class room supplies, computer paper (one year the principle asked us to bring toilet paper) are paid for by parents(and what arts programs?). We pay hundreds of dollars each year. We are already paying to make this district as good as it is. It is also the strong families(good parents) and safe community that supports Pleasanton property values. Casey has been here six years and people want to give him credit for our great community?

San Ramon outperforms us in everything with $600. per kid less. If San Ramon had that $600. per kid they would not be cutting anything, why are we??????

The district is asking us to keep them in the excessive lifestyle that they have become accustumed to while the rest of us are being forced to change our lifestyle.
Our district has enough money without the parcel tax if they spend more responsibly.

I suport our teachers.

I support our kids and community.

I DO NOT support a parcel tax!








Posted by Ptown Mom, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Feb 7, 2009 at 12:37 pm

In addition every class my kids have asks me to pay the cost of supplies. Workbooks for language classes $20, Bio $25, PE Inflated prices on locks, shorts shirt, contribution $60, high school electives classes $25 average, so much more I can't think of it all.

When the district was asked if we would no longer be extorted for these dollars if the parcel tax passed they said we would still be asked for all the other money.

We are paying the Bond tax until 2021.

When can we say it is too much... without being labeled teacher haters?

I suport our teachers.

I support our kids and community.

I DO NOT support a parcel tax!


Posted by Matt, a resident of Stoneridge
on Feb 7, 2009 at 2:03 pm

San Ramon is putting parcel tax on the ballot this April. It'll call for $144 / parcel, via mail.

Web Link


Posted by Ptown Mom, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Feb 7, 2009 at 2:38 pm

San Ramon parcel tax is figured into the fact that Pleasanton still has $600 more per kid than San Ramon without a parcel tax.

SR had a $90 parcel tax, tried to raise it to $166, it did not pass so they are trying for $144. How greedy is PUSD to suggest $350 with all the money we already pay?
PUSD should not need more if they would spend more responsibly.

San Ramon Valley Unified 06/07 ADA (dollars per student) is $5,501 API base score 893

Pleasanton Unified, 06/07 ADA (dollars per student) is $6,199 API base score 893

The San Ramon Valley Unified School District (SRVUSD) Board of Trustees voted to place a measure on a mail-only ballot that will be mailed to voters in April. The "Excellence in Education Act" would protect teachers and academic programs in local classrooms if it garners the 67% vote needed for passage. The $144 annual parcel tax carries a term of seven years, and would replace the district's existing parcel tax that expires in June 2009.

The District received 63% of the vote in its attempt to pass a $166 parcel tax last June (67% needed for passage), and is now asking the community for a lower amount. "We know that this will not come close to bridging the gap we are seeing in State funding, but we want the voters of the community to know that we listened to them and that we fully understand the impact of the slumping economy," said Enoch


Posted by Don, a resident of Lydiksen Elementary School
on Feb 7, 2009 at 2:50 pm

Is my math right?

If PUSD has $600 (give or take) more per student than San Ramon, and PUSD has 14,864 students that is $8,918,400. (give or take) more to work with than our neighboring school district that outperforms us.
The Federal bailout should bring PUSD another 3 million to the district.
PUSD predicts, worst case, a $8.7mil shortfall (maybe less).

Would someone who is good at math help me understand why PUSD needs a parcel tax?


Posted by Sherri, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 7, 2009 at 3:30 pm

"Would someone who is good at math help me understand why PUSD needs a parcel tax?"

Here's one of the many reasons. PUSD spends a good chunk of education dollars on hiring these overpaid staff. Teachers in Pleasanton are also paid a lot more than those in other nearby districts. Now, they want to ask for a parcel tax to pay for more raises. Please stop treating us like 2nd graders. We're not stupid enough to pass another tax to fund your pay raises.

Superintendent Dr. John Casey is employed under a contract which ends June 30, 2010. His annual salary is $227,002, with a 12-month work calendar and 24 days of vacation. Medical and other health insurance may be purchased at his sole expense, and the District contributes $5,000 annually for life insurance premiums. At the completion of each year of the contract where he has worked at least 85% of the days, he receives a payment of $10,000 into a tax-sheltered annuity. He receives $1,000 per month as a transportation allowance and membership in professional organizations as appropriate and necessary. When Dr. Casey moved to Pleasanton, he received a $200,000 loan to help purchase a home in the community. This loan is interest free and must be repaid within 18 months of the termination of his employment. There is no provision or expectation that the loan would be "forgiven." The current balance of this loan is $190,000.


Posted by Smarter than you!, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 7, 2009 at 3:50 pm

San Ramon receives Mello Roos for the new construction, this adds a considerable amount of money to their working budget. Teachers in San Ramon are paid just as well as Pleasanton. Their top pay is $84000 and the benefits are included, so actually, they make more than Ptown teachers.


Posted by Smarter than Smarter than you!, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 7, 2009 at 4:02 pm

You better go check your facts. Out of all the good schools in the Bay Area, teachers in Pleasanton are the highest paid in the profession. Yet, they're not nearly as good as teachers in other districts.

Web Link

Teacher Salaries:

Pleasanton Unified:

Lowest Offered $55,646

Average Paid $81,446



San Ramon Valley:

Lowest Offered $42,805

Average Paid3 $64,878



Fremont Unified:

Lowest Offered $54,866

Average Paid $75,621



Cupertino Unified:

Lowest Offered $54,866

Average Paid $75,621



Piedmont Unified:

Lowest Offered $43,590

Average Paid $69,703



Cupertino Union:

Lowest Offered $51,984

Average Paid $69,165


Posted by Ann, a resident of Birdland
on Feb 7, 2009 at 4:17 pm

"think about it" says:
"The parcel tax is not extra money but will replace what Pleasanton WILL NOT GET FROM THE STATE. That money is gone."

YOU do not get it....much of the 8.7mil shortfall is for future staff raises (called step/column increases). New money is needed to keep up with the raises.
Without new raises (pay freeze) and if the administration returns their (money grab) raise taken days before the budget crisis was announced, the 3mil in federal bailout money would eliminate the illusion of need for a parcel tax.

YOU THINK ABOUT IT!!!



Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 7, 2009 at 5:43 pm

HAHA! Ann, I have to laugh at the last line you wrote. My son and husband like to joke around with each other by saying back and forth in a gruff voice, "No, YOU think about it!"


Posted by ?, a resident of California Reflections
on Feb 7, 2009 at 8:49 pm

I don't see anyway the parcel tax will pass....2/3 vote, no way.


Posted by Carl, a resident of Del Prado
on Feb 7, 2009 at 10:33 pm

Beth's list is the same list that Dr. Casey and the principals have been promoting all along in their campaign to sow fear and to distract attention away from the union lock on entitlement automatic salary increases. They refuse to show an option that will keep all teachers, all programs and all services intact. That option is a straight 8.7% pay cut from today's salaries. That will generate the $8.7M in budget savings. No impact to API scores, keeps the class size reduction, keeps our kids safe, keeps every single item in Beth's list from going into effect.

If one teacher is given a layoff notice by the PUSD in the next 8 weeks, then the outrage over the parcel tax will go up another notch. There is no reason for a single teacher to be let go.

NO on the parcel tax.


Posted by Carl, a resident of Del Prado
on Feb 7, 2009 at 11:12 pm

If all of Chico's unions can give concessions, and if the firefighters union can freeze wages for two years in order to save jobs, then the APT (teacher) and CSEA (non-teacher) unions working for us can do the same.

NO layoffs, NO program cuts, NO parcel tax.

Web Link


Posted by Jeff, a resident of Birdland
on Feb 7, 2009 at 11:25 pm

There is zero chance that this new tax passes. The fallacy of need has been amply exposed on this forum and in discussions around town. Move on PUSD.


Posted by Jack, a resident of Downtown
on Feb 7, 2009 at 11:54 pm

Pleasanton has always been great to children. We've passed and re-passed bond measures, we have always supported our schools AND our teachers. Here's the rub: The recent leadership within the district has not shown the fiscal responsiblity to warrant broad support for a parcel tax. If somebody could guarantee that the money would not be wasted on frivolous lawsuits against local developers, or wasted in some other similar fashion, I for one, would vote for it...


Posted by Pleasanton Mom, a resident of Mission Park
on Feb 8, 2009 at 2:22 am

I don't understand why everyone is saying the budget shortage is due to poor management of funds on the school's part when it is a FACT that it is due to a cut in state funding. Pleasanton Schools have never been in the red or even questionable in meeting their budget until now - which is due to the FUNDING CUTS BY THE STATE. Why the desire to throw stones at the teachers?


Posted by Another Gatetree Resident, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Feb 8, 2009 at 3:44 am

Pleasanton Mom -- Several of the neighbors that worked with the District to reconfigure the Amador Softball Fields some years back predicted this situation. While the funding cuts by the State do not help, PUSD (and the city as a whole) have long relied on Developer fees to foster a grand lifestyle. Now at near build-out, the money train is heading into the station for a final "All Aboard!"

With the current state of affairs we should ALL be worrying about more than just our school system. "The Golden State" is headed for a world of hurt financially.

One has to wonder why California is seen as so progressive when we seem to never learn...


Posted by Ptown Mom, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Feb 8, 2009 at 7:03 am

Pleasanton Mom,

You seem to genuinely want to understand what we are saying.

While we don't know how much yet, we acknowledge there will be some cut or lack of increase to state funding. PUSD needs a 2mil increase in funding every year to cover what they call step and column increases. They don't want to call this raises but that is what they would be in the real world (this is hide the pea). These pay increases account for 4mil of the 8.7 shortfall. All pay increases must be frozen until the budget crisis has ended.
The fed stimulus money will be around 3mil for PUSD (they won't acknowledge this funding source because it is not ongoing funding). We have now reduced the 8.7 down to 1.7.
If the unions and management donate back 1.7 (better yet 6% back from management) of their recent raises, until the economy rebounds, we are whole again without any loss of teachers or program.

Sadly this is not what PUSD wants, because they are accustomed to living large, they are demanding that we give them a pot of ongoing discretionary money that can be used on salary otherwise known as a parcel tax.

PUSD has pouted and said "everyone else gets a parcel tax so we should get one too". We can see with unbiased documentation that PUSD should not need a parcel tax because they have significantly more dollars than our neighboring districts even with their parcel taxes. We can see that San Ramon is outperforming PUSD with $600 per student less.

This community has always supported our schools through 155mil in bond taxes, high developer fees, parent donations/volunteering and fundraising. PUSD must be responsible with it's spending and the unions must be reasonable. We taxpayers have reached our saturation point.

"Pleasanton Mom" If you are still unclear let's have coffee. Stacey would you like to join us?

I suport our teachers.

I support CRS

I support our kids and community.

I DO NOT support a parcel tax!



Posted by Qwerty, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 8, 2009 at 11:45 am



I don't support the parcel tax either. Trim the fat and control spending PUSD!


Posted by parent and property owner, a resident of Lydiksen Elementary School
on Feb 8, 2009 at 3:00 pm

Great article! Wake up people of Pleasanton! If you are questioning this parcel tax, than I DARE YOU to volunteer in a first grade class for 1 hour with 20 students! TRY IT and you will understand how hard it is to teach these children the standards of reading, writing and math, etc. with the class size at 20! Thirty Five kids in a class will be such a set back! We will go back to childcare instead of education! We have worked so hard to acheive these great test scores and to be in the top 10 in CA! If we cannot support our future who will! Look beyond your pocket books, look at the souls of our kids! It is their future! You probably moved here for the great schools! We need to think about our future as a community!


Posted by Qwerty, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 8, 2009 at 3:20 pm

As other people have pointed out, if the unions and other organizations have been willing to make concessions and take paycuts, then PUSD should trim the fat before taking more money from private citizens. If other districts can do just as well or better with less money, why should we have to support a parcel tax.

to "Parent and property owner": Plenty of us in the community have been willing to volunteer in the school districts to support the schools in this time of need. So, don't be so hasty in your judgements of other people.




Posted by Dave, a resident of Birdland
on Feb 8, 2009 at 3:25 pm

parent and property owner,

It is like you don't know how to read. The CRS is being used to extort the parent community.
Just say NO!


Posted by Mom, a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Feb 8, 2009 at 4:56 pm

For those of you who think educators are overpaid.......... just something to think about. The folks that guard prisoners are paid better than the people who teach our children. And the guards received a raise last year. So, rather than, turn on each other, write the GOVERNOR!!!

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that a nurse at a state prison collected $198,000 in overtime last year, which brought her total pay to more than $310,000.
Schwarzenegger imposed a one-year contract on California's 30,000 prison guards last year that gave them raises and benefit increases totaling about 7.5 percent. The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office criticized the administration, saying the state couldn't afford the raises.
Prison guards already were paid more than $70,000 in base salary before the contract, although hundreds of correctional and parole officers make more than $100,000 with overtime.
According to the state employee pension system, the average state worker receives $2,291 every month in retirement, as well as health coverage.
That kind of security is a stark contrast to the uncertainty faced by many private-sector workers.


Posted by Concerned, a resident of Foothill High School
on Feb 8, 2009 at 6:32 pm

PTown Mom brings up a good point about the extra dollars that are already paid above taxes in our schools. Workbooks, sports donations, science fees, t-shirts, club fees, library, etc...the problem is that only a FEW are actually paying those fees. We have a large population of non - Caucasian students in the community and they are choosing to NOT pay those extra fees. The fees are actually donations requested and this population is choosing not to pay. Therefore, extra funds have been decreasing in the local schools. I know this because I have worked the cash register at "walk through" for the last 5 years. I believe the fees should be mandatory for all whether it's a public school or not. Also, I have given science fees every year of school where it has been asked and my child NEVER had a teacher that did experiments or used those funds for what they are intended which are science laboratory fees. What is wrong with this picture and what was that money used for? There are too many examples of mismanagement but the first scare tactic is to say that teachers and class size reduction will be affected. They know that will motivate parents to give even more money. I say FIX what is broken. Stop spinning and reinventing the wheel each year. Work smarter! Stop using Union fees for unnecessary advertising fees which is what the California Teachers Union has done over the last few elections. I am in full support of working to better our schools but I do not think that is happening right now. And even though I am very supportive of our teachers and have spent many hours volunteering.....I am reluctant to say yes to a parcel tax at this time.


Posted by Beth, a resident of Downtown
on Feb 8, 2009 at 8:41 pm

I realize that we have a contract with Dr. Casey, but I don't understand how we can give him a tax free loan for $200,000 and it doesn't have to be repaid until 18 months before he terminates. This is taxpayer monies. I am sure that could be applied for something that would benefit our students.


Posted by Teacher & Parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 8, 2009 at 9:22 pm

I don't think this has been mentioned in any of the posts....California standards have become much more rigorous over the past several years. Concepts that we used to teach 4th grade students used to be 5th grade standards. The standards have trickled down through all of the grades. Kindergartners are expected to be reading at the end of the school year - this used to be a 1st grade standard! As a teacher and as a parent in this community, it really saddens me to read some of these posts. I understand that the general community should have a say in what happens in the educational system. However, the people that are in the classroom everyday are the most informed in knowing how important CSR is to our elementary students. I know that I do not want my own children to be put into a classroom of 30+ students. I am able to give my students more individual attention (high achieving students and my low-performing students) with a lower ratio. Within Pleasanton, students that are not English Speaking are becoming more and more common. 10 years ago, we had only 6 students in my entire elementary school that were classified as "EL". Now, in many classrooms we have at least 2-3 students who are classified as EL (some parents have a higher education, but most do not). Instruction within the classroom has to be modified to help these students, coupled with the fact that we have to communicate with their non-English speaking parents via interpreters or getting information translated so they are informed about the happenings in the school and in the classroom. I understand that times are really tough, but getting this parcel tax passed is so vital. Again, it is been stated, but it bears repeating, that the PUSD teachers and administration did not cause these economic troubles. PUSD has been lucky that we haven't had to go this route as other districts have had to do in the past years. Many bloggers have stated that the schools are not the main reason as to why people move to Pleasanton. I beg to differ, as my four new students to my school are new to Pleasanton and moved here specifically for our top rated schools. The community will suffer with the elimination of CSR: the schools, your housing values, and, most importantly, the kids. I also urge some of you to be a little more cautious with your words. Teachers are feeling extremely down with all of the negative comments-either from reading these blogs or by word-of-mouth. We are not only in a very touchy situation, but reading how some in the community view us PUSD teachers is very hurtful. Some of these comments have labeled us as money grubbing, over-paid, yet under-worked people. It is hurtful, and absolutely not true. What will I be doing tomorrow on one of my many days off? I will be spending at least 4-5 hours at school, after taking my own children to daycare while I go to work. Teaching is a very difficult job to do....rewarding, YES which is why we do it. Please get involved, write to the state, and attend the board meetings. Factual information is out there-PUSD is not trying to scare you into giving your hard-earned money to them. They have been upfront and have given the facts. I know it's cliché, but the kids are our future, and we need to do all that we can by ensuring that they have the best education possible.


Posted by raven, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 8, 2009 at 10:07 pm

My comments are the following:

My son was the last class to be the 30 plus students in the lower grades. I find it VERY offensive that a classroom will turn into day care. The graduating class was very successful.
That kind of crap is what is scaring parents.

The teachers chose this profession are are in Pleasanton getting paid very well for it. They knew going in the long hours, it's a love of the profession.

The PUSD has many problems but this is a crisis and parents are the ones who will have to step up at the school sites, much like our graduating parents did during the "day care" years. We fought hard as a PTA organization, parent helping parents, and parents helping teachers. Was it hard work on top of working full time, yes, but we did for THE KIDS.

Parcel Tax- No, not until more information is given out and this board steps up and speaks out about ALL the challenges that lay ahead for the kids and parents in the district.

PTA should stay out of politics. The role of any PTA, or council is to support teachers in the schools, not back PUSD board members. Reread the mission statement of the PTA.
Shame on you. Devote your time to helping the teachers in the classroom and the parents that are struggling with problems at the school. Fundraisers, support groups, and volunteer tiers should be your directive.

Good luck to all those who still have to deal with the PUSD and the board.

To the Pleasanton Weekly staff, run a poll find out right now who will vote for this parcel tax. Then after the pink slips go out do it again.



Posted by Janet, a resident of Castlewood Heights
on Feb 9, 2009 at 7:47 am

Raven, you are my hero!


Posted by Budget Issues, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 9, 2009 at 8:33 am

For Pleasanton Mom again:

They are asking us to replace the money that is PROPOSED to be taken away BY the state (nothing has happened yet). The DIFFERENCE is they have no rainy day funds left for an event like this because they squandered what they had on lawsuits and raises they could ill afford. Casey and those negotiating weren't looking past the next pay check. This was not putting children or teachers first if class size reduction is lost and layoffs occur. The best they can come up with is to now raid the technology fund and to raise taxes with big "or else" threats about CSR, etc.

I don't know how you can give more money to the same people under this kind of stewardship.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 9, 2009 at 8:39 am

Pleasanton Mom,

Monetary resources expand and contract yearly. This year is an extreme contraction after several years of extreme expansion. If the district was able to find ways to spend the extra money during the expansion years, why is it unreasonable for them to have to cut spending during contraction years?


Posted by Jennifer, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Feb 9, 2009 at 9:32 am

To those who want examples of PUSD mismanaging funds....question the $100K PUSD now has to pay to relocate solar panels at FHS. PUSD didn't do it's homework, and now $100K of PUSD funds - funds which could be put to much better use - have to be spent to correct an error made by PUSD management.
PUSD wants to make cuts where they will be most visible to the community - custodians, teachers, educational programs. But ask the School Board how many PUSD employees who are paid $100K and up are getting pink slips....the answer will be none.
Wake up School Board - the community isn't going to support a parcel tax until you vote to make cuts at the top....and School Board, with the exception of one or two of you, you're not looking as if you're representing the community's wants and needs, you're looking as if you represent John Casey's wants and needs.


Posted by Mom, a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Feb 9, 2009 at 9:42 am

Stacy,


Please explain "extreme expansion". Then, you might note the cuts taken last year.
Some of the "expansion" I have seen is required by NCLB, state laws, or standards:

English Language Learners
Special Education Population
Reading Interventions at High School - to help children pass the High School exit exam
Counselors -

Do you consider having reading specialists which the district has always had....extreme expansion? A few year ago the state (good old state) took the state-contribution to reading specialists away. The district had to "pick up" that cost.

The state doesn't fund special education, but PUSD would break the law not to serve special education students to the full extent required by law. If anyone of the negative bloggers were actually on campuses, you might notice the "expansion" of children needing special education classes. There are two classes for autistic children on our child's school campus. I am sure the state is not funding these classroom costs fully. Yet, the district would "break the law" if not providing services. The state underfunds nearly every program which cuts into general education funds for all children.

If this is not the "expansion" you are talking about, please clarify?



Posted by Disagree with Beth, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 9, 2009 at 10:06 am

I'm afraid this article passes along more incorrect/incomplete data. Someone on the blog has already pointed out the errors on the real estate figures. Schools are only one reason (a big one) people choose this community. Proximity to jobs, lifestyle, and the city and arts, all are part of the equation.

The US News and World Report and Newsweek rankings are only one measure, and not always the best measure, of school performance. To understand the success of any school district, you need test scores, graduation rates, parent satisfaction with their child's experience, student success (not always related to higher education), overall community satisfaction, and yes—teachers and other staff members for their ability to teach the curriculum with latitude and with provisions for professional growth. That also includes looking beyond K-12 education to see how our high school graduates perform in the workplace, in college, and as a part of society.

Baby boomers like myself and my children have all been successful without class size reduction—some of those classes had 35 students and more. Class size reduction is wonderful for classroom management and for the experience of each child, but there is no empirical data to support 20:1 and resulting higher test scores. Now, I support CSR for the lower stress it provides teachers and students, but it is an expensive stress reliever. One report speaks to results in CA and WI: Web Link

This is the conversation I don't see occurring, and that should be coming from the leadership of this district. What is the cost to reduce class size to 25—K-3; K-5; and in core high school courses (math, language arts, science)? If CSR is dropped, what creative ways can additional counselors be used to supplement teachers and students? What other creative solutions are being ignored or aren't even being brought to the table?

In fact, I see no leadership at all. This conversation should have begun with—there is a problem looming, how can we brainstorm solutions for our community? Who are the right leaders to begin this discussion—teachers, other staff, parents, business leaders, families with grown children or no children? Instead it began, as already pointed out many times, with threats. And the response could only be the anger we see here.

And my supposition is it had to begin there because of the bad management of our children's resources and the reluctance to say, "we screwed up, badly." To say this $8.5 million problem is because of the state is disingenuous. There was $4.5 million wasted on two lawsuits for a school that enrollment figures didn't support and that the district could not afford to operate. (Longer-range thinking might have presented an idea to the community for a parcel tax for operating costs to use that campus for reducing school size at every campus. We can't answer that question now.) To follow this up with another ill advised lawsuit is a classic case of throwing good money after bad.

There were a series of COLAs awarded (read raises) that could not be sustained with ongoing funding. Worse yet, there were raises awarded to management that were taken from the very reserves we should have in place now to soften any blows coming from the state. There is now a suggestion to raid the technology fund. A one-time source of funds that may never be replaced for its intended use and that WILL NOT solve the ongoing commitment.

I don't think it is too strong a statement to say that good will with this community; the people who have overwhelming supported schools in the myriad ways already listed, has been squandered, or worse, assumed to be an enterprise of blind faith from us. And if it true that Dr. Casey hopes to retire in a year(ish), what will we be left with after he's scored his highest year of pay for retirement calculations? (I expect this to be denied.)

In short, there are no credible suggestions coming from and no credibility left with this leadership (one Board member did suggest management and non-teaching staff take furlough days, which seems out of balance to me), and, more importantly, no leadership to begin a more creative discussion about what can be done to engage this community in looking at what adds value and keeping it and what can be lost without impact to children. If you start with the children and move outward, it seems those answers won't be hard to come by. Realistically, that may mean a parcel tax, but it would be a parcel tax with meaning.


Posted by Ann, a resident of Birdland
on Feb 9, 2009 at 10:38 am

Ptown mom, Disagree with Beth, Raven, Stacey, and others, have made good points that need to make it to print to reach more of the community. There is a clear propaganda campaign by the district to get their message to the community. While I hear a lot of people commenting that they are reading these post the whole community needs to see this perspective. If you are in a position to submit to the three print papers please do so.
If you are not one of the people that has already contacted Kay Ayala <kayala1@sbcglobal.net>, please let her know you share her concerns.


Posted by a Pleasanton Teacher, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 9, 2009 at 10:46 am

Unbelievable. I love the "fact" that Pleasanton teachers are overpaid and underworked. I have been teaching in this district for 14 years. I get $5100 to use for my family a month. We do not get benefits in Pleasanton but they are available for us to purchase. That costs my family $1875 a month. So we are living on $3300 a month for everything. My husband was laid off from a poorly paid banking job 18 months ago with very dim prospects of ever getting another similar job. I have children in college. I get to school at 7:00 in the morning although I am paid to be here at 8:00. I leave sometime around 5, although I am only paid to be here until 3:00. I take home work to correct and spend the best part of every Sunday planning lessons,usually in the classroom. Not sure who out there thinks that our materials meet the needs of all students but teachers know that they don't and are constantly rearranging and thinking up new ideas to get the curriculum and standards to make sense to the kids. That costs me a minimum of $1000 a year out of my own pocket. I begin my year on August 15, although I am paid to begin on August 21. I end my year a week after school gets out, although I am paid only until 12:15 on June 13. My "vacations" are spent catching up, planning and replanning lessons. So leaving out the fabulous "3 month vacation time" I earn about $30 an hour for 5 years of college education and 14 years in profession. AND the only reason that I can make that insane amount of money is that I had to pay for graduate college credit units and up to date service training out of my own pocket at an average of $200 a unit. I am not alone-we all do it. We do it because that's what it takes to be successful and there is no better feeling in the world than having a child or a class "get it" and go on to be well informed, compassionate citizens. We also are very much aware that the parents and citizens in this city work hard and don't spend our time complaining about how much money you make. If takes the entire community to enrich the entire community. I can ill afford more taxes but I am not so blind to see that you get what you pay for. I am also not so blind to see that the community has changed much in the last 15 years. Sadly, teacher bashing has become a sport.
Stop aiming your regrets, your high school student's bad Algebra grade, your self doubt, "jealousy," and ill will at teachers. We don't deserve it. Support us and you support your child. And if your children are gone or you have none, support the community as a whole. You choose to live here, so choose to continue to be a part of it's success.


Posted by 38 Year resident, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Feb 9, 2009 at 10:53 am

Teachers take the position as public servants with the constraints that they will never get rich on their post graduate degree in economic boom, that they will work in a field where the public has a delusion about the amount of the required skills, efforts and time spent, where they are expected not only teach, but act social workers where under (over) privileged kids are trying to navigate their ways, when their parents have lost their ways. Their greatest rewards are like Christmas presents, the ones given.

In return society has provided that their income will increase in fair levels based on their experience (steps) and that they will get paid the same real dollars from year to year (cola). They will be able to retire and maintain a predictable standard of living.

The point is the choice is a low risk low return choice. They will never get rich, but should never be poor. If you invest in T-Bills, you should understand this equation.

In the debate comparing neighboring communities spending may be useful, but seems a little out of context with out level setting other factors, like medium home price. As pointed out by others it may also neglect to account for programs which have made Pleasanton proud, like;
Foothill Marching Band's years of success
Hart Middle School at Carnegie Hall
Civics – We the People
Athletics at high school
Including the Girls Soccer with 13 full rides to D1 school ranked #1 in US
Laptop programs
These are the types of levels of service that differentiates the Apples from the Oranges. Pleasanton vs San Ramon.
Fast food vs Gourmet


Posted by Disagree w/B, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 9, 2009 at 11:02 am

Pleasanton Teacher: I think many have indicated they support teachers. There is a longer conversation about paying well and the swap for tenure, but it isn't part of this conversation. It has also been pointed out that benefits were rolled onto the salary schedule ($10,000 many years ago), so you are getting benefits according to what I know. That the cost may exceed what you receive is unfortunate, but begs the question about who and how well your premiums are being negotiated and what benefits you are receiving. I think I tried to point out that support is necessary, but not blindly and without proper discourse. Bashing parents back (deserved or otherwise) is not helping a reasoned conversation to occur.

To Ann, I haven't found myself on the same side of an issue as Kay-- ever--because I generally find her approach is something I have yet to be able to support. I doubt it would be the case this time either.

If Jeb is interested in anything I had to say, I'd be happy to talk to him.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 9, 2009 at 11:55 am

Disagree w/B,

Excellent post! From your article link:

"Between 1960 and 1995, average student-teacher ratios in U.S. schools fell by one-third. Yet student achievement trends on both the SAT and the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) showed a general decline in test scores and achievement even as class-size fell during that period."


Posted by Ann, a resident of Birdland
on Feb 9, 2009 at 12:01 pm

I often disagree with a person on one issue but then welcome the opportunity to work with them on a different issue. I find it make future divergence of opinions more productive through a foundation of mutual respect. I have not often agreed with Stacey but have developed a new respect for her as we are aligned on this one. In future I will be less dismissive when we do not agree.

As parents with kids in the district many of us do not feel comfortable going public against a parcel tax when we are (wrongly) perceived as teacher haters.

I think it would be responsible for the PW to write and print an article summarizing these posts.


Posted by Ann, a resident of Birdland
on Feb 9, 2009 at 12:06 pm

Stacey the influx of non-English speakers has influenced the achievement trends.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 9, 2009 at 12:15 pm

Ann,

I have to admit that I'm slightly humored at finding Kay on the same side of this issue given the focus of public discussion last year, but am not surprised. Such things should be expected. :) I wish her best in standing up to PUSD for us.


Posted by Ann, a resident of Birdland
on Feb 9, 2009 at 1:35 pm

I am unsure about your reference to last year. I know Kay's position on the hillside issues but don't see the relationship. Kay is very familiar with PUSD budgets, she has always been conservative with spending and a staunch protector of tax dollars. She has great intuition.
I too am grateful she is standing up for us.


Posted by Parent who's been there, a resident of Carriage Gardens
on Feb 9, 2009 at 1:48 pm

38 Year resident......
Are you seriously suggesting that San Ramon Valley is "fast food" compared to the "gourmet" fair we enjoy here in Pleasanton?
And you list band, athletics and laptop program as evidence? What makes you believe that they don't have those programs either? And what makes you think the school district can take credit for all of that stuff anyway?

Band-district pays for teacher and classroom. Parent groups pay for EVERYTHING else, music, custom compositions, instruments, outside music lessons, uniforms, as well as the trucks and trailers to hall it all around in. Parents also give genrously of their time to accompany students to events and performances. Foothill and Amador bands would not be what they are without the parent support.

Athletics-there is a small coach stipend-Parents and booster groups pay for everything else. Without parents paying for, and driving their kids to untold practices and games throughout the years there would be NO success on the fields or courts. Those talented kids DO NOT walk into those sports without years of nonschool prior experience.

Laptop-huh? There is a teacher but he/she would be teaching something else if they were not in the laptop classroom-they do not receive extra money for these classes. Parents are required to purchase a VERY expensive (and unreliable) Mac laptop to participate in the program. (Trust me, my kids did a year of it, and while it improved their typing skills significantly, I can't say there was any other benefit at all!)

One last thing-all of these parent supported programs do something else, they support the kids who can't afford to participate in them. While PUSD may not exclude any child from participating in extracurricular activities they DO NOT pay for that to happen. We the paying parents do.
So please don't belittle the parents that feel they contribute enough already, or give all the credit to the teachers. Parents DO put a lot of time, effort and money into this district to make it what it is today. And don't be so smug, many other communities put in the time and effort as well.

"Shared sacrifice" should be just that, a burden shared by all-not just among ALL the parents!


Posted by Disagree w/B, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 9, 2009 at 2:02 pm

Ann and Stacey, Using one difficult person to counterbalance another difficult person will not ease the anger in these blogs. Both Casey and Kay cause polarization of opinion and essentially cancel each other out. It would be most helpful if they would both take a seat in the back of the room.

Whoever does take this on needs experience to see through the baloney and enough "street cred" for talking with people about their varying opinions on how we got here and how to get out. Those people exist, and it may take many rather than one. Without someone to genuinely LEAD, the possibilities for finding any real and viable solutions are lost in the rhetoric.

To Jeb Bing: Is there a way for The Weekly to dig at issues raised in the blogs? No one wants to bash teachers--but the questions of unsustainable raises are fair and for all PUSD employees. Exactly how was the reserve used up? What caused the district to miss its first interim financial report? Perhaps the real question is whether funds have been mismanaged. This community, the taxpayers, should have an unbiased look at what brought us to this point. It isn't just the state.


Posted by jake, a resident of Birdland
on Feb 9, 2009 at 2:13 pm

Think about it!! In order for a teacher to even be considered for employment they MUST have a BA and give a year to learn and grow in the classroom. I also think some people actually believe teachers have summers off and holidays etc.. They get paid for 6 hours of work a day and thats IT!!! Add up all the additional time they put in for OUR kids and they are the only profession out their that is that incredibly educated. I know MANY teachers who never stop taking classes, have a MA, and much more just to better themselves in their work. I DO NOT support a parcel tax and I think teachers are taking a pay cut each year they are paid the pathetic salaries they get. AND I beleive we could have the cream of the crop if their salaries went up. With all that said if a parcel tax is for teachers to get more pay then I'm for it if not I will not. We need to appreciate what we have. Overspending is a cause of this district for many years and they can help the kids without a parcel tax.


Posted by Ann, a resident of Birdland
on Feb 9, 2009 at 2:24 pm

This not a forum about Kay so I will simply say Kay has proven to be a good leader in this community.

The PW needs to also address the questions about Measure B. PUSD has not honored the promise of oversight or sticking to the promises made to voters on how the money would and would not be spent. This is relevant if voters are now being asked to trust the promises of a new tax.


Posted by Disagree w/B, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 9, 2009 at 2:50 pm

Jake, I know teachers like those you speak of (and I'll go so far as to say they are the majority). The problem, however, is twofold--the teachers who shut down after they get tenure (and they exist) and tenure itself. Anyone who has put their kids through a school system (not just P'town) can give you a list of underperforming teachers; heck, the other teachers could give you the list. And it isn't fair that those who work hard are paying the price for those who do not.

But I'm pretty sure that as long as the system of tenure is in place, we will continue to lose the best and brightest teachers at times like these because seniority wins the day--not ability or even dedication. And those who work outside a union framework, who don't know from day to day if they will have a job the next day, have a hard time paying higher taxes (though higher wages may be warranted) when they don't have a way to keep the best and to release the worst.

You say you are for the parcel tax if teachers will get more pay but against overspending. The district budget spends about 80% on personnel, which would seem to say that 80% of what is being overspent is on staff. It's not that simple, of course, and it's why sentiments run strongly on both sides.

I don't know if we can disengage from what is perceived to be teacher bashing from the very real problems at hand with the district's budget. With 80% of the budget locked up in salaries and benefits, the reality is that large COLAs/raises were given that couldn't be sustained and despite good will toward teachers, it will be hard to put balance back in place without everyone giving something, including teachers.


Posted by Disagree w/B, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 9, 2009 at 2:57 pm

Ann, Agree about the "lack of oversight committee." It is my understanding that yearly reports are supposed to be signed off by the committee members and presented to the Board for their approval. How was this passed over?


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 9, 2009 at 3:05 pm

Disagree w/B,

When you mention 80% of the budget tied up in salaries and benefits, I don't know what else you would expect the money to be spent on. A school district is a service where the primary asset is staff. It doesn't seem unexpected to me that such a large proportion of the budget would be personnel costs. 80% does not seem unreasonable. Anything higher is becomes unreasonable.


Posted by Ann, a resident of Birdland
on Feb 9, 2009 at 3:22 pm

If you look on ED-data you can see a much greater % of the budget going to salary in Pleasanton than in San Ramon. That accounts for the $600 more per student.

When the abuse of Measure B was repeatedly brought to their attention it was ignored. They felt entitled to use it however they saw fit. Casey is not honest saying he thought all of the project were in the blue book, they constantly boosted about doing more projects than in the origanal blue book.How can anyone believe it would be different with a new tax.


Posted by Disagree w/B, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 9, 2009 at 3:45 pm

Stacey, I make no judgment about 80% being too much. It was a response to Jake that if cuts are necessary, it will be difficult not to cut into salaries and benefits, including teachers. I believe his comment was he'd support a parcel tax for improving teacher pay, but not overspending. Two halves of the same coin maybe?

Ann, Were any of those projects brought to the Board for approval? There are districts that use the interest they earn from bond money and efficiencies/low bids to do additional projects. Now, if this is not what was agreed to by voters in the first place, it should have been put to voters whether to use those windfalls for projects or to reimburse the taxpayers. There are other ways to pay down that debt load (have to do some homework here).

Interesting thought is if they completed projects and paid down the bond, would taxpayers have been willing to vote a parcel tax in its place? There is a track record for community's to keep a current tax in place IF they see it is managed correctly and there is transparency on what is being spent. Doesn't sound like we got either of those things.


Posted by Rick, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 9, 2009 at 4:59 pm

The most important thing we need is new management so our schools can reach their potential. Amador needs a new principal and Head of Athletics. Both Coupe and Cesario are doing a terrible job. More money won't make them better.


Posted by Mom, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 9, 2009 at 8:29 pm

FACTUAL INFORMATION...BELOW...
read article and see where your tax money has gone....the K-12 aren't the big spenders!!!
All of us should be upset about the misuse of our money, but at the state level. Hey, P-towners, stop beating up on each other. Since I moved to this town from Fremont, that is all I have seen over and over again, the same players arguing at council meetings, in the paper, in front of supermarkets. No wonder, Livermore is passing this town by in the arts, parks, services, restaurants, theatre, and soon the schools..... Maybe this isn't the best place to raise a child. I thought this town as KID-FRIENDLY. I feel after reading these blogs (a friend said to check them out) this town is full of angry, negative people who can't make their point without bashing someone else. What's wrong with arguing with the facts rather than the bashing. A person strong and informed doesn't need to bash and hurt others, at least that's what I'd like to teach my children. Maybe, not in Pleasanton. I guess those banners hanging around town are simply words. What a shame.


California budget mess: Where did our money go?

By Paul Rogers and Leigh Poitinger MediaNews
Posted: 02/08/2009 12:00:00 AM PST

and Leigh Poitinger
California is broke.
But lost in the day-to-day drama over IOUs, furloughs and huge deficits is a basic question many Californians might be asking: Where has all our money gone?
A MediaNews analysis of state spending since Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger took office in late 2003 found that he and the Democratic-controlled Legislature have spent money well beyond the rate of inflation and California's population growth — $10.2 billion more.
Yet the programs that received most of that money are priorities that Californians broadly support or have demanded at the ballot box: tougher prison sentences for criminals, health care for uninsured children and an aging population, and a cut in the "car tax" that they pay every year to register their vehicles.
The problem, according to a report last week from the state auditor, is that Republican and Democratic politicians in Sacramento have shirked their responsibility for the past decade, papering over shortfalls that started after the dot-com bubble popped in 2001.
Like homeowners paying off one credit card with another, they used accounting gimmicks and more debt, rather than raising taxes or cutting spending, to balance the books. As the economy worsened and tax receipts plummeted — from $102.5 billion last year to an estimated $87.5 billion this year — the house of cards collapsed.
"We got what we wanted and we've never figured out
Advertisement
how to pay for it. And then we had this recession, and that made everything worse," said Stephen Levy, director and senior economist of the Palo Alto-based Center for the Continuing Study of the California Economy.
"Everybody's got somebody to blame, but in the end these are services people wanted," Levy said. "Look at the screaming when you close a swimming pool, let alone try to cut education."
MediaNews analyzed state spending, line by line, from 2003 to 2008. The major conclusions:
California's general fund under Schwarzenegger's tenure has grown 34.9 percent — from $76.3 billion in the 2003-04 fiscal year to $102.9 billion in 2007-08.
In the 2003-04 fiscal year, population growth and inflation together grew by only 21.5 percent.
If state spending had grown only at that rate, it would have reached $92.7 billion last year. Instead, Schwarzenegger and the Legislature spent $10.2 billion more.
Top Democrats cite voter initiatives as big drivers in the state's spending — like the 1994 "three strikes" measure that increased the prison population, or Proposition 98, the 1988 measure guaranteeing at least 40 percent of the general fund for education. Add to that, they say, some major lawsuits the state lost, including a federal case requiring more spending to upgrade prison health care at about $1 billion a year so far.
So looking at the past five years, where did that "extra" $10.2 billion of state spending above the rate of inflation and population growth go? MediaNews found:
The state prison system received the biggest share, about $4.1 billion of it. Corrections spending has increased fivefold since 1994. At $13 billion last year, it now exceeds spending on higher education. Tough laws and voter-approved ballot measures have increased the prison population 82 percent in the past 20 years.
Public health spending — mostly Medi-Cal, the state program for the poor — received $2.9 billion above the rate of inflation and population growth. Part of that spike is due to an aging population; part is rising national health care costs. But state lawmakers also expanded Medi-Cal eligibility among children and low-income women a decade ago, increasing caseloads.
Schwarzenegger's first act as governor, signing an executive order to cut the vehicle license fee by two-thirds, blew a large hole in the state budget. It saved the average motorist about $200 a year but would have devastated the cities and counties that had been receiving the money. So Schwarzenegger agreed to repay them every year with state funds. That promise now costs the state $6 billion a year, or $2 billion more than the rate of inflation and population growth since early 2003.
Spending on a few other areas, such as higher education, general government, transportation and environment, also grew faster — by about $1 billion each — than inflation and population over the past five years. That was mostly to cover debt payments on bonds that voters approved for parks and highways, along with moves to limit university tuition increases.
General fund spending on K-12 schools and social services, like welfare, actually grew less than the rate of inflation and population growth.
Some budget observers say spending more than inflation and population growth is OK, particularly if the economy grows faster.
Conservatives call the spending an outrage.
"Like Reagan said, giving money to politicians is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys," said Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.
Coupal noted that even though California's revenue has fallen dramatically this year, the state general fund still brings in about $90 billion in annual taxes. That's nearly 20 percent more than it received five years ago — and only about 12 percent less than the peak last year before the economy tanked.
"Most business and families could take 10 to 12 percent out of their budget. They do, because they don't have a choice," he said.
One of the state's most famous tax-cut crusaders, U.S. Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Granite Bay, said the problem is that California's bureaucracy has grown too large and powerful. Salaries are too high, it's too difficult to fire state workers, and the entire system needs an overhaul, he said, including outsourcing to private firms everything from nonviolent inmates to highway engineering.
"We've got to put our wardens back in charge of prisons, and principals back in charge of teachers, and introduce competitive pressures back into those systems," McClintock said.
But Laird, the Democratic former budget chairman, said it isn't that easy to reduce the size of government.
"You can call teachers 'bureaucracy,' but in fact they are teachers," said Laird. "If you cut teachers, class sizes go up." His solution: More taxes are needed.
Fixing California's broken budget system will require a wide range of reforms, many experts say, from making it tougher to qualify ballot measures to spending caps to reexamining the two-thirds vote requirement to raise taxes.
In the meantime, legislative leaders say a budget deal could come as soon as this week. The "Big 5'' — the governor and four legislative leaders — are expected to resume talks this afternoon. Any deal is nearly certain to include big spending cuts and higher taxes.
"Our society is moving in the direction of, 'I want more from government but I don't want to pay for it,' " Genest said. "Right now we have leaders making hard choices out of necessity, and we need to continue that."


Posted by Ann, a resident of Birdland
on Feb 9, 2009 at 8:43 pm

All projects were brought to the board for approval. The voters were told if less money was needed taxpayers would benefit, the money would not be used.
There was new money from State (also our tax dollars) giving a 50% match to all construction projects so only half of the money was needed, also with the increase in home values the $78per $100k value added up much faster than originally thought.
The commitment to the voters was clear, the money would only be used for projects in the "blue book". When they thought no one was looking that is not what PUSD did.


Posted by Get educated!, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 9, 2009 at 9:31 pm

It's once again amazing to me to see the complaining and blaming of Pleasanton schools and the dedicated teachers that go above and beyond everyday only to be misinterpreted, misunderstood, and unsupported when behind the closed doors of this blog.

If it works for you to compare our district to San Ramon's, then do so with some educated information. My family has a total of 5 children in the San Ramon district. The elementary schools ask for a registration donation to the "education fund" of $600 per child. They are also expected to participate in annual auction galas which the parents raise over $10,000 for their school. Could you imagine the response that would get here in Pleasanton. Our teachers should be able to do all that is expected with LESS pay is what I am hearing here. Wake up...they have been getting less pay for the past two years. If you don't know about that, then start getting educated about what is really going on in the profession instead of spreading paranoia and untruths.

Blaming administration, teachers, schools in such a misinformed manner really shows how powerful education can be. Instead of saying it is not my problem, get informed with the real facts and stop being so fiercely malicious with your gossip here. If not, I can't wait to hear your gripes when the $8 million in cuts starts to affect your family.


Posted by Back to School, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 10, 2009 at 9:16 am

A quick response to the rant above by Get Educated! ----
"It's once again amazing to me to see the complaining and blaming of Pleasanton schools and the dedicated teachers that go above and beyond everyday only to be misinterpreted, misunderstood, and unsupported when behind the closed doors of this blog."
Huh?
"If it works for you to compare our district to San Ramon's, then do so with some educated information."
I wasn't aware that information could become "educated". How much money do you suppose we should throw at that task? Will it affect our home values? ;-)
"My family has a total of 5 children in the San Ramon district. The elementary schools ask for a registration donation to the "education fund" of $600 per child. They are also expected to participate in annual auction galas which the parents raise over $10,000 for their school. Could you imagine the response that would get here in Pleasanton. "
Sounds like a reasonable solution. Has the district tried asking for help instead of applying pressure sales tactics? And isn't there supposed to be a question mark after that last line?
"Our teachers should be able to do all that is expected with LESS pay is what I am hearing here. Wake up...they have been getting less pay for the past two years. If you don't know about that, then start getting educated about what is really going on in the profession instead of spreading paranoia and untruths."
It's been fairly well documented on this site and elsewhere that this is simply untrue. In fact there has been regular step of cost of living + step and column raises.
"Blaming administration, teachers, schools in such a misinformed manner really shows how powerful education can be."
I have no idea what your point is with this line. But I will say that we all have some blame to share in our regional/state/national/global budget problem. And I firmly believe that more taxes are the wrong approach to most, if not all of the problems we are facing.
"Instead of saying it is not my problem, get informed with the real facts and stop being so fiercely malicious with your gossip here. If not, I can't wait to hear your gripes when the $8 million in cuts starts to affect your family."
Finally! Something we agree on!
The simple reality is that our country has been running like a giant Ponzi Scheme for some time. There have been, and will continue to be, numerous reality checks that will force us all to reel in some of our expenditures. This has already hit home for many of us. I know this is an emotional topic, especially for those with young children. But we are going to all have to face some difficult choices in the next few years. And this discomfort is just starting, so be careful what additional burden you hastily assign to the "rich homeowners". After all, your commitment to the community may be a six month lease, but many of us are in it for the long haul.


Posted by Dana, a resident of Happy Valley
on Feb 10, 2009 at 10:20 am

You people should considering using the time you spend posting your illogical arguments here to volunteer at our schools and the community. That, my friends, may bring more positive changes to our youth and the community than your endless postings.

Sorry to burst your bubble but none of you know what you're talking about and to think otherwise just shows how naive you really are.

Whether you believe in a parcel tax or not, make your statement wen you dip your index finger in blue ink. No one really cares about what you think here, as you can see from the endless tennis matches. You people are going onwhere with this.


Posted by I know enough, a resident of Birdland
on Feb 10, 2009 at 11:48 am

Dana, I'm confused by your post. You open with a blanket statement, assuming no one volunteers.

Your second paragraph is unsubstantiated.

In your final paragraph, you mention dipping a finger in blue ink. What does this mean? Yes, people do care about what is written here and I thank the Pleasanton Weekly for this valuable forum. Whatever side of the issue one is on, discussion of the issues needs to happen. This forum is safe and anonymous and allows for the free sharing of ideas. Benjamin Franklin would have loved this forum, save for the likelihood of the British government finding him out _ think Chinese government.

Finally, please spell check before you embarrass yourself by exposing how careless you are.

Here's my take: Cut all support staff salaries 10%. Cut all teacher salaries 10%. Cut all administrative support positions 10%. Cut the top salaried administrative positions 25%. All other administrators should take a 15% cut. Freeze all salaries for 36 months. Then let's talk about a parcel tax.

Oh, by the way, I'm a teacher in the PUSD and I have also taught in the San Ramon Valley Unified School District. Surprised?


Posted by Mike, a resident of Castlewood
on Feb 23, 2009 at 1:02 am

Get rid of all of the illegal criminals and their children that would free up hundred of millions in the California budget. You would save money too and get more exercise because you would have to do your own gardening you lazy ba#$&rds.


Posted by Mike, a resident of Castlewood
on Feb 23, 2009 at 8:43 am

Get rid of all of the illegal criminals and their children that would free up hundred of millions in the California budget. You would save money too and get more exercise because you would have to do your own gardening you lazy ba#$&rds.


Posted by Arijit De, a resident of Mohr Elementary School
on Mar 4, 2009 at 7:54 pm

I believe the parcel tax is needed. It is very unfotunate that the government/top administration does not take the responsibility for these kinds of decision (which is the reason they have been elected into office) and conviniently passes the decision onto the public.

I grew up in a country where majority of the citizens does not have a highschool diploma which makes the general public susceptible to deception by self-oriented politicians and corporate giants. The citizens of this country have a voice to defend their rights and the democratic process because their hearts and minds are opened through education. As was envisioned by the founding fathers of this country.

While I do not think we are in any the danger of loosing our hold on the democratic process by lack of education, I certainly am quite demoralized to see educational institutions are the first to be sacrificed when the state runs out of money and the last to be reimbursed when the state has funds.

I agree that everyone needs to sacfrice when the going gets tough but I have yet to see the Air Force or the Space Program do a cookie sale to buy a jet/slash a rocket. When time and again the edutational branch of the country is asked to make one sacrifce after another.

While no one likes to carry an extra burden I think it should our duty and priviledge to give our kids the kind of education that will not only make them successful citizens but will enable them to keep U.S.A where it is today --- one of the leading nations of the world.


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