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A taxing situation

Original post made on Feb 19, 2009

The time for the school district to deal with the budget crisis has come. The state budget was finalized Thursday morning, and now on Tuesday the board will identify reductions to popular programs as well as deciding whether or not to put a parcel tax on a June ballot.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, February 19, 2009, 3:09 PM

Comments (97)

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Posted by Thanks
a resident of Birdland
on Feb 19, 2009 at 3:32 pm

Thank you, Emily for the wonderful summary and for your continual coverage on this developing story.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 19, 2009 at 4:39 pm

"==BHow we got here=="

These are interesting typos. Does Sopebox use Mediawiki style markup?


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Posted by Julie
a resident of Foothill High School
on Feb 19, 2009 at 5:32 pm

Good and balanced article Emily.


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Posted by Seasoned Resident
a resident of Val Vista
on Feb 19, 2009 at 5:51 pm

Would a parcel tax for the Pleasanton School district exempt Senior Citizens, who live in the city?
Several school districts that currently have a parcel tax have that provision.

Also, as we all know we are in tough times and certain extracurricular activities will need to be cut accordingly.

The goal of any additional money for schools should be devoted the classroom , and yes class size might need to be increased, or school hours staggered or facilities shared.


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Posted by Emily West
Pleasanton Weekly reporter
on Feb 19, 2009 at 6:17 pm

Emily West is a registered user.

Stacey, I messed up the coding. Our IT people came up with the code, I don't know its origin.

Seasoned, yes, the plan is to exempt seniors as well as those on disability.


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Posted by Disagree w/B
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 19, 2009 at 7:40 pm

My first question is about CSR. Funding has not been cut by the state, but the penalties for increasing student:teacher ratios are steep. What effect will this have on cuts or a need for a parcel tax?


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 19, 2009 at 7:59 pm

Disagree,

The State is supposedly relaxing the CSR requirements so that districts could increase to 25:1 without penalties. I haven't investigated the details of what actually passed today so I don't know if that change was implemented or not.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 19, 2009 at 8:10 pm

Emily,

Thanks for the reply.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 19, 2009 at 8:44 pm

"Sunol property owners also would not be assessed a parcel tax even though children there are eligible to attend Pleasanton high schools"

If they will be exempt from the parcel tax, then their children should either not be allowed to attend Pleasanton High schools OR they should pay to get the extra services. It is not fair to have them enjoy services paid for by the rest of Pleasanton residents. If they want Pleasanton schools, they need to cooperate and pay the tax too. Otherwise, send those kids to Livermore or Dublin.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 19, 2009 at 8:48 pm

"First, is that changing step-in-column pay increases is difficult, because districts would be required by law to pay it back. "

This is where the unions get in the way, just like the Auto Workers Union - they refuse to do what is right, hide behind technicalities, and prefer to make everyone else suffer. The AUW prefer to see the car industry go down rather than be reasonable. The teachers' union, it seems, are doing the same and could care less about the students.

Please write to Washington, your senator: unions need to go!


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Posted by Disagree w/B
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 19, 2009 at 9:28 pm

Stacey, The fines run up to 15%. I'll try to get the analysis tomorrow.

I agree a clear picture of the budget is necessary. Here are some additional questions.

Beyond the parcel tax language, is there a list indicating exactly how the parcel tax funds will be spent as a commitment to the voters?
For the exemptions: How many potential exemptions are possible (seniors/disabled)? Will that loss of funds be covered by the general fund?

Is there more information on using the foundations to pay for families who cannot afford it? Would it be income tested? What if there are no donations to cover those families; would other enhancements provided by the foundations be lost? What are those enhancements? Is it realistic to expect families paying the $180 (or another amount) to donate more?


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Posted by feeling singled out
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 20, 2009 at 8:52 am

So how come only the property owners get slammed with a proposed parcel tax? There are many many people who rent in Pleasanton who have children in Pleasanton schools who are exempt from paying the parcel tax. Seems unfair as does all of the former residents who use "Pleasanton addresses" and whose children attend Pleasanton schools. Every school has these "poachers" using Pleasanton schools.. and they laugh about getting away with it!

Seems like if you invested in a Pleasanton property you are being targeted. Why not let the families who use the Pleasanton schools pay for using those same schools


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 20, 2009 at 9:04 am

PW, what is it about your software that causes a great many posters to accidentally post the same message multiple times? I think it is time to review interface usability.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by K
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 20, 2009 at 9:14 am

Sorry ... I totally goofed it.. I didn't mean for it to post so many times...


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Posted by patron of Main St
a resident of Downtown
on Feb 20, 2009 at 9:17 am

PW IT people -- the typed message does not leave the comment box as is should and therefore does not appear to have been posted. It is annoying to have the same message posted numerous times due to users failing to scroll up and see their mssg has posted.
The comments about renters and non-residents getting off for free are valid and represent much of my reasoning for a refusal to ever support a parcel tax. Ruby Hill residents that are "part of Livermore" need to send their kids there to school. Are they doing that? Yeah, right. Every parent with a child in our schools needs to prove residence in Pleasanton or pay the actual cost of using the system. Proof should be a combination of DMV, utility bills, or even a tax return (directly from the IRS and NOT printed by them with Turbotax and their phony address). No one living outside of Pleasanton should be able to use our schools without paying the actual cost of educating their kids. It should not be free when you don't go to the school where you live and pay taxes. Renters with kids in the schools need to pay a fee in lieu of a parcel tax, no freeloaders.
And again, my standard comment, no tax until every single employee from Casey on down takes a pay cut. Shared sacrifice not extortion for pay raises.
NO PARCEL TAX


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Smart Gal of Main St
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 20, 2009 at 9:27 am

The owners of those rental units are going to pay the parcel tax, just like you and me. Renters indirectly pay for those taxes throught their rent. Stop singling out the renters!


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 20, 2009 at 9:31 am

I use Firefox and have never had the multiple post problem (I do have to scroll up after posting). I suspect there is something defective in the website when it has to interact with Microsoft's Internet Explorer that causes the comment box to not be cleared.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 20, 2009 at 9:34 am

Owners of rental units do have to pay also and can pass on the cost in rent, but is it fair? Consider $197 split amongst a large number of renters of an apartment complex versus a single-family home owner. That's why a parcel tax based upon square footage is considered more fair than the flat tax.


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Posted by another parent
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 20, 2009 at 9:35 am

I think the numerous posting was my fault. I didn't see it post so thought it didn't go through. I'm annoyed at myself.


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Posted by another parent
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 20, 2009 at 9:38 am

Exactly how do you think that "renters" pay the parcel tax through their rent? You are incorrect if you think it gets paid by the renters through their rent. The property owner pays per the property not the number of units!


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Posted by Claudette McDermott
a resident of Del Prado
on Feb 20, 2009 at 9:38 am

Each Family must register their kids each school year. At that time I feel A Check needs to be paid by each family of RENTERS as PROPERTY OWNERS would have already paid or been billed. PROPERTY OWNERS ONLY NEED show their property tax bill. Those that don't pay the additional fee we property owners are paying for our children to go to school here in Pleasanton.

This is an Easy Fix to the problem. Simple and clear as checkbooks are already brought when we go to register our kids each year.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 20, 2009 at 9:46 am

"That's why a parcel tax based upon square footage is considered more fair than the flat tax."

That's nonsense! I own a 3000 sqft home with only one child who attends private school, and we use the same amount of public services (if not less) than everyone else in PTown. Why should I pay more than someone else who owns a 1500 sqft house that has 4 kids in school?

No Parcel Tax!


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Posted by standard of residency fraud
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 20, 2009 at 9:46 am

Pat Kernan has set the standard of residency fraud in PUSD. All anyone needs to do is use a friend or relatives address in Pleasanton to qualify as a Pleasanton resident. The PUSD Board of Trustees has endorsed the policy by allowing Kernan to keep the seat on the Pleasanton School Board. How is it reasonable to hold children to a stricter standard.

Kernan is pushing for a Parcel Tax when he owns no property and will not pay any tax in Pleasanton, his property taxes are paid in Camino, Ca. The address that he claims in Pleasanton is a rented apartment occupied by his adult daughters that are teachers in the district who will benefit from the parcel Tax.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 20, 2009 at 9:50 am

I'm glad someone brought this up again. If Kernan votes for putting a parcel tax on the ballot, Pleasanton property owners are well within their rights to start a recall on him. Julie Testa should have waited to push this issue of Kernan's questionable residency status until now.


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Posted by huh?
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 20, 2009 at 9:56 am

Claudette McDermott - I read your post twice and I still have no idea what you just said. It's not as "simple and clear" as you think!

Education in Pleasanton is funded by CA taxpayers. We taxpayers have already paid our fair share. Not a dime more for schools that can't properly manage their funding.


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Posted by another parent
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 20, 2009 at 10:21 am

The school district wasn't watching the money when it ignored the ongoing litigation with the builders on the not built Neal School.

The district wasn't watching the money when the lawyers charged the district 4.5 Million dollars in fees for the unbuilt school.

The district lost to the developers 2.2 million in still unpaid judgment.

The district is still spending money on this issue.. when is enough enough?.. Why continue to spend money which isn't there?

The district doesn't watch the budget ... where is the oversight? Why do they think that Pleasanton is an open piggy bank? The district needs to be more fiscally responisble and not do the "quick" temporary fix of going after the property owners.


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Posted by Disagree w/B
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 20, 2009 at 10:21 am

I promised late last night that I would post this today. From a lobbying group in Sacramento; budget analysis for K-3 Class Size Reduction Flexibility:

"Technically, there is no change to the statutory requirements of the K-3 class size reduction program. However, changes have been made to the penalty provision should a class exceed the current 20.4 to 1 ratio. The changes to the penalties are as follows:

• Up to 20.5 - no penalty

• Up to 21 - 5% penalty (20% penalty is current law)

• Up to 21.5 - 10% penalty (40% penalty is current law)

• Up to 22 - 15% penalty (out of compliance penalty is current law)

• From 22 to 25 - 20 % penalty (out of compliance penalty is current law)

• Over 25 - 30% penalty with no cap (out of compliance penalty is current law)"

Question is, what does this do to the needs for a parcel tax when the state funding for CSR will remain the same?


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Posted by Mike
a resident of Birdland
on Feb 20, 2009 at 10:24 am

Stacey,
I recall reading that the reason Kernan's residency fraud was made public was when he first began publicly supporting a parcel tax. Ignoring the fraud was no longer tolerable when Kernan began imposing a tax on this community that he will never pay but it does benefit his daughters.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Questions about
a resident of Mission Park
on Feb 20, 2009 at 10:33 am

So, is the parcel tax levied on each parcel, regardless of use? There are lots of property parcel owners, not just residential. Commercial properties will pass on the amount - small to them, depending on the size of the building, # of tenants, etc. This is where a flat tax is disproportionate. Has any assessment been done to see how many kids attend schools here that are Hacienda Business Park employees, as well as Sunol, & unincorporated areas? Hacienda Park employees can have their kids attend school here as benefit of working in the Park. Downtown merchants will see slight increases in their rents, and we know they are hurting, and decreases in spending. From what I have heard & read, it's a forgone conclusion that this is on the ballot, just at what rate. Maybe Pleasanton needs more private schools - we all know an available site. This feels incredibly rushed to the ballot. Haven't decided if I'm for or against it yet. Too much lack of information.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by bobbi
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 20, 2009 at 10:35 am

I agree, patron of Main st.

those with kids in the district pay $150 at registration. That way the 'freeloaders' will have to pay.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Curious
a resident of Birdland
on Feb 20, 2009 at 10:47 am

Does that mean those of us with no kids shouldn't have to pay anything? Put that into the ballot and I'll vote yes.


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Posted by New to the blog
a resident of Birdland
on Feb 20, 2009 at 11:02 am

I keep hearing about the "blog" so I wanted to take a look for myself. Wow. What a massive attempt to warp what is happening with our schools and the budget.

Emily, I appreciate your "balanced" reporting of the budget views, but it's unfortuate that we have to listen to nonsense from Kay Ayala. Dozens of people stand up and demand that the board put a tax on the ballot, and when one person--Kay Ayala--stands up, you have to report it to be balanced. It's obvious she has some political agena when she says: "What concerns me is we don't have a clear financial picture for the district," she said. "I want complete information before you decide if you're for or against." Not a clear picture? The budget is 100% open to the public, has been discussed ad naseum in board meetings, has been reviewed by the budget committee, and administrative positions have been placed on the chopping block. If Kay doesn't have a clear picture, it's because she hasn't done her homework or paid attention. Thank goodness this woman wasn't elected mayor. It's negative naysayers like her and her pal Brozowski (who resisted a parcel tax as a school board trustee) that want for their own political gain to put a stake in the heart of what is great about Pleasanton.


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Posted by Bill
a resident of California Reflections
on Feb 20, 2009 at 11:06 am

It is not legal to require money at registration, although they do employ high pressure tactics. They must pass a parcel tax to guarantee money from unwilling payers.
As a past poster pointed out with the changing demographics in Pleasanton many of the new immigrant families, even if wealthy, are not paying the voluntary fees at the schools.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Feb 20, 2009 at 11:10 am

Thank goodness Kay is willing to be the voice of parents that are questioning this Tax.


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Posted by concerned
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 20, 2009 at 11:18 am

if they can get a 2/3rd vote for the parcel tax instead of paycuts to administrators, teachers and support staff then we are stupid and deserve what we get. I still think people are intelligent and can think for themselves. But never underestimate the stupidity of the public.


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Posted by parent
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 20, 2009 at 11:30 am

It is so true about the pressure tactics to get the parents to give money at registration. Many immigrant families don't pay nor do the poachers from other cities who send their kids to Pleasanton schools.
A fair solution would be for only those parents who "live" in the city to pay a fee per child. The homeowners already pay through their property taxes and have no need to pay more for services they won't use! They should also require more stringent registration requirements! The problem is that each school asks for different amounts... I have experience 4 of Pleasantons schools and all of them ask for different amounts with the parents not getting any say in how it is actually spent.


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Posted by Greed and Stupidity
a resident of Birdland
on Feb 20, 2009 at 11:58 am

Let's privatize all public schools and make everyone who use those services pay for them. That way, I can get my tax cuts and wouldn't have to pay for your kids' education.


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Posted by parent II
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 20, 2009 at 12:10 pm

"It is so true about the pressure tactics to get the parents to give money at registration."

Pressure me all they want but they aren't getting a penny from me. Free public education is an entitlement, funded by our taxes. Why would I be stupid enough to dig deeper into my pockets when I already paid my fair share of taxes?

The only freeloaders are those irresponsible homeowners who expect the government to bail them out.


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Posted by Concerned Parent
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 20, 2009 at 12:25 pm

Unfortunately, I can't attend Tuesday night's school board meeting, because I'm attending a Kindergarten preparatory meeting scheduled for that same night. I will have two children entering PUSD this fall.

That said, I support passage of the parcel tax, but want to see the following enacted by the school board (and keep in mind I'm a parent that will have 2 children in the PUSD system starting this fall). I don't have all the answers, but I think these cost-saving ideas/suggestions are worth considering:

1. Public Information Officer position eliminated. This is a luxury for PUSD that can no longer be justified paying a full-time salary for. PUSD can certainly survive without a PIO.

2. Vice principal positions eliminated. Any and all support (i.e., assistant) and administrative positions should be eliminated. These are all luxuries that can no longer be afforded in lean times. Maximize funding for retaining as many as those possible on the front lines, the teachers.

2. Mr. Casey's contract, including his salary and perks (i.e., allowances, housing subsidy, etc.) to be renegotiated by the school board. His salary alone, at $227,000 annually, should be reduced by $75,000, with all other perks, aside from insurance and pension (presumably CalPERS) benefits, including his special housing subsidy, eliminated. If he and his family can't live on $152,000, then I recommend he find employment elsewhere. The Pleasanton City Manager, Nelson Fialho, makes approx. $155,000 annually, and I would argue that Mr. Fialho has as much, if not more, responsibility and workload as does Mr. Casey. $75,000 saved by PUSD from paying Mr. Casey I think would fund at least 1 full-time teacher position, or 2 part-time ones.

3. No more funding of political campaigns by the California Teachers Association. I believe they contributed approximately $1.8 million to fight passage of the recently passed Proposition 8 in last November's election. While I understand that teachers elect to contribute into the CTA's fund, the CTA should either discourage those contributions, or instead, redirect them back into the California school system, with each District getting a percentage of the money that otherwise would be spent on their unnecessary political lobbying.

4. Disallow children to attend a particular PUSD school that is not one in their assigned/pre-determined neighborhood. This, I think, will help ease the issue of the pending elimination of class size reductions. Everyone's children must attend the elementary, middle, or high school(s) that are designated for the neighborhood you reside in. No exceptions.

5. No one residing outside of the PUSD boundaries should be permitted to attend PUSD schools. You live in Dublin, Livermore, or elsewhere, your children must attend those schools.

6. Exempt senior citizens from the parcel tax. They've paid their fare share.

7. If Sunol residents or other residents/property owners (besides seniors) are exempted from paying the parcel tax, and their children typically would be attending/be assigned to a PUSD school, based on PUSD rules, then unfortunately, their children are now exempted/disallowed from attending any PUSD school, unless they agree to pay the exact same parcel tax, which would be a special fee billed to them representing the exact same amount of the parcel tax, in lieu of them paying the parcel tax through their property tax bill.

8. 100 percent of the parcel tax to be used for retaining as many teachers as possible. The funds raised from the parcel tax cannot be spent on any other purpose.

Again, I don't have all the answers, and I wish I could present these ideas in person, but by putting these out here in this forum for discussion, I hope that perhaps they'll at least be shared by others with the school board on Tuesday night for their serious consideration.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Lydiksen Parent
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Feb 20, 2009 at 12:36 pm

Concerned Parent-
Those are all great points. It looks like you have thought out your position. Unfortunately, I will never support a parcel tax because none of those things will ever happen.

As an aside, our PFC is run by a couple of aging hippies who send Pro-parcel tax emails on at least a weekly basis. Therefore, I am going to stop supporting our PFC both financially and otherwise from now on.

Nobody wants to lose teachers, but a parcel tax will not necessarily stop this from happening. The other problem with any tax is if we have good financial years, the tax will never be eliminated. It is there forever.



 +   Like this comment
Posted by Ben
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 20, 2009 at 12:52 pm

I like hippies!
I completely agree with Concerned Parent on 1,2,2,3, 4 makes no sense, 6 is a given.
Most of what is suggested in 7 is legally unenforceable.
The reason PUSD allows kids from outside of Pleasanton is they bring ADA dollars, without the extra dollars we would have a greater shortfall. The more overcrowded our schools are the more cost efficient they are.
As for #8, are you aware of the abuse of measure B voter promises?

These are my favorites:
2. Mr. Casey's contract, including his salary and perks (i.e., allowances, housing subsidy, etc.) to be renegotiated by the school board. His salary alone, at $227,000 annually, should be reduced by $75,000, with all other perks, aside from insurance and pension (presumably CalPERS) benefits, including his special housing subsidy, eliminated. If he and his family can't live on $152,000, then I recommend he find employment elsewhere. The Pleasanton City Manager, Nelson Fialho, makes approx. $155,000 annually, and I would argue that Mr. Fialho has as much, if not more, responsibility and workload as does Mr. Casey. $75,000 saved by PUSD from paying Mr. Casey I think would fund at least 1 full-time teacher position, or 2 part-time ones.

3. No more funding of political campaigns by the California Teachers Association.


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Posted by In Your Face!
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 20, 2009 at 1:52 pm

"People have criticized Casey's salary ($227,002) and management perks, and he said he makes no apologies for his earnings"

What are the terms of the Superintendent's contract?
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.


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Posted by Kim
a resident of Del Prado
on Feb 20, 2009 at 3:41 pm


Why do teachers think they have been unfairly singled out? Everyone must take reductions.

I expect our school administrator to take a 10% reduction also.

Buchanan talks about state budget:Web Link

"As part of the state's attempt to trim back expenditures, members of the Assembly have chosen to reduce their budget by 10 percent. The cost savings has been directed to the Employment Development Department.

Buchanan herself took it a step further, asking the State Controller's Office to reduce her salary by another 10 percent as well.

"I've always believed that people in leadership positions should lead by example. If we're willing to cut funds to programs around the state we should be willing to cut our own funding, too," she explained."


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Posted by Another
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 20, 2009 at 5:00 pm

"And again, my standard comment, no tax until every single employee from Casey on down takes a pay cut. Shared sacrifice not extortion for pay raises."

How come the person or persons who write these types of messages never answer my question?

How is it a "shared sacrifice" if only district employees (i.e teachers) need to take a pay cut to benefit the children?

I'm not saying that I support a parcel tax, but I don't see how only PUSD workers taking a pay cut is a "shared sacrifice". Isn't it a shared sacrifice if a PUSD employee also pays the parcel tax?


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Posted by Newbie
a resident of Birdland
on Feb 20, 2009 at 5:18 pm

I saw this question on another thread and am very curious about the answer. What do you think a fair salary is for a teacher?


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Posted by Newbie
a resident of Birdland
on Feb 20, 2009 at 5:27 pm

Just to add to my previous post regarding "What do you think a fair salary is for a teacher?". What if it were placed on the election ballot and you had the following question, which would you answer?

A school teacher in Pleasanton with 10 years experience should have an annual salary of (please note that this salary does not include any medical benefits)?



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Posted by Fair Salary
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 20, 2009 at 5:39 pm

"What do you think a fair salary is for a teacher?"

The average salary at San Ramon Valley Unified is $64,878 so anything above that would be fair.

How about $67,387?


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Posted by Fair Salary
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 20, 2009 at 5:42 pm

The highest salary offer at San Ramon Valley Unified is $83,949 (I assume this is for a teacher with 20+ years of service) so anything below that would be fair.

How about $74,387? That will leave some room for them to grow.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Valley View Elementary School
on Feb 20, 2009 at 5:44 pm

Who says Dr Casey and his team are unwilling to take a pay cut? I was at a meeting the other night where he clearly stated that he wants to be part of the solution. Do you? He stated that he will take a pay cut and he will be asking his team to do the same so I think it's time we stopped banging that drum and started to look for solutions. I'm tired of people making accusations- someone at the meeting actually accused Dr Casey of using CSR to blackmail parents. Fortunately Dr. Casey was able to "patiently" explain in simple language that this is not the case. Livermore has a parcel tax and they're cutting CSR- poor oversight there. I hope that the person who made that comment now understands how it works-I'm sure the rest of us did! Who knows, maybe they too will step up and become part of the solution!


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Posted by Informed Parent
a resident of Valley View Elementary School
on Feb 20, 2009 at 5:58 pm

Parent - Casey stated in MANY public meetings that the topic of paycuts is "off the table". He went onto give countless lame excuses as to why it is unfair to even discuss the option of paycuts. Get your facts straight before you come out blabbing.

The proposal to cut CSR is politically-driven and Casey knows it. Gullible parents will fall for his tactics. Thankfully, most of Ptown isn't like you.

No Parcel Tax!


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Posted by frank
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Feb 20, 2009 at 9:39 pm

Why would anyone vote for a parcel tax since it just supports "step and column" increases for teachers? Realistically, there is no way that money really gets earmarked for a particular use. Money into any financial entity can, once inside, be shuffled on the chart of accounts to make the input appear earmarked. But, at the end of the day, it ends up supporting union-driven increases in pay to teachers.

They need to join the real world of today. There exists no government sector without a private sector, and the private sector is suffering greatly economically. Government costs have got decrease.

Those teachers who disagree are welcome to compete for better positions elsewhere. Buon fortunato!!!


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Posted by Big Mike
a resident of Del Prado
on Feb 20, 2009 at 11:51 pm

Ahhhh, the class warfare that our Failed President encourages if here. No new taxes of anykind. Cut and slash every Govt budget by 25%. It's time to get back to personal responisibility.


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Posted by Another
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 21, 2009 at 7:35 am

"Those teachers who disagree are welcome to compete for better positions elsewhere. Buon fortunato!!!"

Those in the private sector who can not afford a property tax are welcome to compete for better jobs elsewhere.


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Posted by Another
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 21, 2009 at 7:41 am

Actually, I don't support the property tax, but that prior statement about competing for better jobs elsewhere was ridiculous.

And of course, the property tax has little to no chance of passing. In the best economic times its very difficult to get a tax to pass by 2/3 majority. In economic times like these, the turn out will be large and with the large number of people that do not have school age children will show up and vote it down. And on that note, stop whining about "I can't speak my mind to the school boards...they are going to steam roll a property tax no matter what anyone says." WHO CARES? It has to go to a vote. If you are dead set against the tax don't spend your time whining, spend your time on the phone lines when the vote comes along.


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Posted by Craig
a resident of California Reflections
on Feb 21, 2009 at 8:12 am

I was at the standing room only Foothill /Amador game last night, I was glad to hear the parents saying they did not know anyone that supports the parcel tax but that no one wants to be the bad guy and say so.
The district is wasting not only the $150,000 for the special election but also a lot of money that will be raised from the community to run a campaign.


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Posted by Another
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 21, 2009 at 8:24 am

"but that no one wants to be the bad guy and say so"

That's the reason that election or private. You get to voice your opinion without being harassed. So get out and vote!

Of course maybe if we had more of our elected officials in Sacramento and DC willing to be the "bad guy" we wouldn't be in this position as a community, state, and country. But its just about building another highway or dam so the officials can say they are creating jobs in their state or district.


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Posted by Another
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 21, 2009 at 8:29 am

One other note that I haven't really seen mentioned. As far as I know, the district budget has to be in place long before any parcel tax vote (sometime in May, I believe, but please correct me if my info is wrong). That means the community gets to see the extent of the cuts necessary and the cuts will be in place before the vote. So it won't just be lip service from the district, everyone will be able to see the actual spending for the upcoming year.


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Posted by Disagree w/B
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 21, 2009 at 9:40 am

Another: The district has to send layoff notices to teachers by March 15. The district has to adopt a budget by June 30. They CAN rehire all the teachers they send layoff notices to--so there isn't a clear picture in May, even if they provide a list of cuts (as they have) before we vote.

Which brings me to this question: There was a threat at the state level that CSR funds would be cut; but instead there are a series of fines IF the district goes over 20:1 (I posted them previously in the thread). But the state DID NOT cut CSR funding and the district WILL receive the money. So if the loss of CSR funds (a substantial amount) was included in the $8+ million the district was cutting (that was the "threat" wasn't it: parcel tax or no CSR) and they aren't losing that money from the state, why is a parcel tax needed and for what purposes?

I realize it could be as simple as something else got cut, but the district should be clarifying that picture. The analysis I have from Frost Davis & Donnelly speaks to categorical funding cuts in two of three identified tiers at 15%--some with flexibility for districts to put the money into the general fund to spend where it is needed and some not. If the district comes out Tuesday with the same $8 million in cuts without a better explanation, I would be even more skeptical than I am already.

This community has been very supportive of schools and teachers, but I agree this parcel tax will fail, not just because of the economy or because the majority of community members don't have kids in the schools, but because the whole approach with the community was botched from the start.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 21, 2009 at 10:02 am

My understanding is that the incentive categorical funds on CSR the district receives from the state (~$4MM) was not in danger of being cut. It was the $2MM it costs the district out of the General Fund to fully fund CSR because the State was cutting revenue limits. CSR funding from the State is an incentive type of categorical fund. They don't pay for the full program, just dangle a carrot.


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Posted by mom
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Feb 21, 2009 at 10:30 am

The cuts did not include the possible cuts to CSR funding, so the district is still facing the same amount of cuts. If the state had cut the CSR funding, the district would had to "give up" the entire program. The additional 1.6 million needed to fund the district's part of class size reduction will not be available without a parcel tax, so the district will be forced to forfeit the state's share of the CSR costs. I believe the state is counting on district's having to drop CSR and then the monies go back to the state. This will be particularly awful in districts where parents can't make up the difference. My guess is that most inner city school children who need class size reduction the most will lose it. Shame on California! On Thursday, California officially sunk to the lowest per pupil spending in the nation. Please keep in mind that this is not PUSD's fault that the state doesn't value our children.


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Posted by Yes
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 21, 2009 at 10:49 am

As much as I don't want to pay any tax, I also do not want my property values to sink as much as they have in Fremont. I think you are fooling yourselves if you think our "cute" downtown (which because of poor city planning can't compete with Livermore or Danville's downtown), sports, and location are the reasons families choose Pleasanton. Bottom line is and has been the schools. Family after family move here because of the safe, well staffed schools which provide programs no longer available in other districts. Do you really think highly education parents don't check? Ask any real estate agent about the inquiries they receive about test scores. Why do you high the property values on patio homes near Mohr Elementary skyrocketed? Check out their API scores. Just as these families deserted Fremont when their schools weren't providing enough and API scores weren't competitive throughout the district, they will leave Pleasanton if Livermore and Dublin offer more than PUSD can. Parents are driven to provide the best for their children above anything else. I have seen families make huge sacrifices (longer commutes, higher daycare costs, small homes) for their children's educations. Three families on my street researched schools before moving from other bay area towns.

I know that's why we stayed in our small house in Pleasanton instead of moving to a much more spacious home in Livermore six years ago. Two hundred a year to ensure that we don't become another Fremont? My friend's property value in Fremont sunk 35% and he can't refinance because his loan to value ratio. If you can't think of children, consider the value of your biggest asset, your house. It wasn't that long ago when Fremont's property values were higher than Pleasanton's. I forsee Livermore making that jump ahead of us because we will be the only tri-valley district without a parcel tax. I wish I had money to invest in property in Livermore because I can already see the migration of families from Fremont and South Bay to there, not here! It's not a scare tactic, it's reality!


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Posted by No
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 21, 2009 at 12:01 pm

Home prices in the Mission San Jose area of Fremont are actually rising as inventories are always low due to their outstanding schools and an affluent community. The rest of Fremont have fallen significantly due to the high number of foreclosure and short sales.

I do agree with you that high test scores do play a part in the rise in home prices but you cannot discount the clean, friendly, and safe neighborhood we offer to potential home buyers also. Pleasanton offers larger and newer homes than most of the other good school districts, a bang for your buck. Commutes from Pleasanton to Silicon Valley or the city are relatively easier than from other neighboring cities. Majority of residence in Pleasanton are skilled professionals with a steady income. That helps keep the housing inventory low and prices steady. All these factors play an important role in maintaining our steady home prices.

Our schools will remain top-notch with or without this parcel tax. Many families that moved to Pleasanton in recent years value education. That plays a larger role in the high test scores than anything the schools have to offer.


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Posted by Disagree w/B
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 21, 2009 at 12:20 pm

Stacey and Mom, I understand the hydraulics of CSR, just like textbook adoptions--the state gives X and districts pay Z. The points you both raise bring us right back to the recent generous raises the district could not afford. As to housing values, great schools help hold real estate value, but it isn't all that brings us to Pleasanton. Proximity to jobs and a social outlet weigh high as well. As does the socio-economic makeup of the community. And relative affordability in the cost of living counts (otherwise we'd all be in Atherton, Woodside, Palo Alto, Menlo Park). And so San Ramon, Danville, and Walnut Creek are similar to Pleasanton.

I don't, however, see that as an argument for a parcel tax.

What we're hearing from the district is: "Ooops, please pay a parcel tax so teachers and children won't suffer in 30:1 classrooms." And all along they avoided discussing the errors they made along the way. By example, if it is accurate that those lawsuits they lost against Signature cost $2 million, that would cover CSR for a year. I've lost track along the way about what a 1% raise is in dollars (let's say it's $1 million), simple math (raises if 4, 5, and 6% leading up to 08-09) says that's in the range of $15,000,000 in ongoing costs added over three years. Whole lotta CSR in there, and smaller raises, and some money socked away for a rainy day.

What's that saying about "bad planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part"? That's how it feels to me.


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Posted by Jeff
a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Feb 21, 2009 at 1:20 pm

Does anyone understand why the teachers get the money (in the form of unplanned raises) when more students than the demographer expected show up at the beginning of the year? It has been yet another way to add salary without calling it raises. I have been told it is in the union contract but I don't understand it. Rather than putting a windfall of unexpected ADA dollars in reserve it must go directly to salary. Anyone able to enlighten me on this?




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Posted by Parent and Teacher
a resident of Amador Estates
on Feb 21, 2009 at 3:06 pm

If it is solely PUSD's fault that we're in the mess, due to mismanagement of funds, the lawsuits, etc., then why did other districts (San Ramon, Livermore...) already pass parcel taxes? Are those districts also mismanaging funds, spending money on lawsuits, etc.? No! So why then is PUSD the bad guy here? The state of California made this mess-not the district, not the teachers, not the teacher union, and not the kids-but who will suffer in the end....the kids! PUSD has done an excellent job of not needing monies from a parcel tax unlike other neighboring districts. Some bloggers are stating that the schools are not the main reason families come to PTown. I disagree. I stated this in a previous blogg, but I have 4 new families this year to my classroom. Their reason for being at my school.....the school district and the high-quality of education that their children will get from attending PTown schools. Losing school programs will have an affect on whether or not families choose to move to Pleasanton, remain in Pleasanton, or move elsewhere. Losing school programs will have an affect on your house values. Losing school programs will have an affect on test scores. All of this is pure common sense. If we want PUSD to still be one of the top performing school districts that it has been known as, then these programs must stay in place - especially CSR. APT has put out a very informative FAQs. I will try to see if I can forward it, or link the site. I think it will address a lot of the community's questions and concerns that have been raised in these different blogs. Please support the schools-the kids are the ones that will suffer in the long run.


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Posted by Beth
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Feb 21, 2009 at 3:11 pm

That is a question I have wondered in past years also Jeff. I assume it comes down to contract negotiations but it is has always seemed ridiculous that they start a school year with a budget and salaries in place and then just because more kids show up than they planned for, teachers across the board get an increase in pay. You would think that ADA money would be needed otherwise and yes, if nothing else hold onto it to plan for the next year.
As for the comments about the Neal lawsuit legal fees paying for CSR---you have to remember that they are from distinctly different pots of money! The lawsuit money came out of the facilities pot and CSR comes from general budget. And please also note that the continuing suit is now on a contingent basis so there should not be ongoing legal fees. I am getting tired of people dragging this issue into the budget discussion when it is a separate issue.


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Posted by Again
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Feb 21, 2009 at 3:33 pm

"then why did other districts (San Ramon, Livermore...) already pass parcel taxes?"
Even with our neighboring districts parcel taxes, PUSD still has more money per student than they do!
Do the math Pleasanton has far more money to work with than San Ramon even after their parcel tax….they have the same API scores as we do.
ED-Data Web Link

"PUSD has done an excellent job of not needing monies from a parcel tax unlike other neighboring districts."
We are paying a local school tax to PUSD.
Pleasanton taxpayers are paying off 155 MILLION dollars in Bond taxes to our school district now!

The sky will not fall if PUSD makes reasonable cuts.

I support our teachers and care about our kids.
No ParcelTax!!!



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Posted by Interesting
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 21, 2009 at 4:49 pm

I heard that the PTA had recently sent out an e-mail to its members with a link to the PW Poll on the Parcel Tax. The PTA is urging all its members to cast their "yes" vote. That explains the lopsided results we saw last week.


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Posted by Disagree w/B
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 21, 2009 at 5:37 pm

Beth: Still bad management of funds, not matter the pot it comes from. And that only responds to the $2 million, leaving the other $15 million I mentioned which does come from the general fund.

Parent and Teacher: As I posted on the other thread minus the typo . . . There are many districts that have parcel taxes and they were voted on before the state issues arose; the majority were for adding program or other enhancements. Pleasanton's is about covering poor management of public dollars. Yes, the state crisis compounded Pleasanton's problem, but the district painted itself into a corner by not planning ahead and from a lack of fiscal prudence.

As to housing values, test scores, people moving away, and others not moving here, it just isn't true. This was a great community before CSR and there's no empirical data to support it increasing test scores. I think it does help teachers, and students do benefit from some small increase in individual attention. And so I support CSR, but I do not support giving more money to a district that has already proven they cannot manage it responsibly.


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Posted by Another
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 21, 2009 at 5:52 pm

"This was a great community before CSR and there's no empirical data to support it increasing test scores"

Ridiculous standardized tests aside (don't get me into a discussion on that), there is a HUGE amount of empirical evidence that a reduction in the number of students in the classroom directly attributes to increased achievement in elementary grades (specifically K-3). (of course there is nothing on Pleasanton specifically)


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Posted by Another
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 21, 2009 at 6:00 pm

Ok, you got me started on standardized test. First off, why do our students need to take them every year in every grade? There a huge cost savings there across the country.

But let's look at what a standardized test really means...let's say a student in 3rd grade is suppose to know that 3 x 3 = 9. On a standardized test, if the questions was simply "Q1) 3 x 3 = ?" and 100% of the students go it correct that would be great right? That means every 3rd grader in the state learned this bit of information. WRONG! It means that the question is invalid - hence the term standardized. So instead of simple questions to test 3 x 3, the test makers must come up with other questions, such as "Q1) a group of apples is divided into three separate groups. Each of these groups contains 3 apples. How many totals apples were in the original group?" Hmmm, only 50% of the students got that one correct, now that's a great question! Why do only 50% of our 3rd grades know that 3 x 3 is 9?


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Posted by Math Sux
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 21, 2009 at 6:36 pm

Another - it's application vs calculation. Application has always been challenging for students. Learning to use a tool and knowing when, where, and how best to use the tool are two different things. Surely you must know that 1+1=2. If I were to ask you to prove it to me, you'll likely have a very difficult time. ;)


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 21, 2009 at 7:49 pm

You purchase a baseball bat and a ball. The bat costs a dollar more than the ball. You spent $1.10. How much did the ball cost?


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 21, 2009 at 7:53 pm

"there is a HUGE amount of empirical evidence that a reduction in the number of students in the classroom directly attributes to increased achievement in elementary grades"

That's true, but how MUCH is the increase? Therein lies the problem. We can say it is common sense that there is a benefit, but there is no quantification. The answer is only 4% more on standardized tests.

It is common sense that if you put your money into an account that pays you back interest, you are getting a benefit. But how much interest are you getting paid back for your investment? Is it enough to keep ahead of inflation?


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Posted by Math Sux
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 21, 2009 at 8:09 pm

5 cents


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 21, 2009 at 8:55 pm

Now explain how. :D


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Posted by Math Sux
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 21, 2009 at 9:02 pm

If you really want to know...

Let x = cost of ball
cost of bat = x + 1
x + x + 1 = 1.10
2x + 1 = 1.10
2x = 1.10 - 1
2x = .10
x = .05


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 21, 2009 at 10:01 pm

Perfect display of algebraic problem solving! Unbelievably, most of America can't do that. The usual answer is $0.10 because the human brain is optimized to think intuitively. It takes longer and is harder to think logically and arrive at the correct answer. That's why the question on a test isn't "What is 3 x 3?"

Someone wrote here on another thread awhile ago something that really rubbed me the wrong way yet I didn't respond at the time. They said something to the effect that education is a passing on of knowledge. Totally wrong! Education is learning how to learn, how to figure things out for yourself. It is supposed to challenge all the knowledge that has been passed on so a person doesn't take that knowledge for granted. Again, that's why the question on a test isn't "What is 3 x 3?" That's too easy! That's just knowledge being passed on. That isn't testing that the student has gained the tools to figure things out on their own, which is the real goal.


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Posted by Another
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 21, 2009 at 10:13 pm

"Again, that's why the question on a test isn't "What is 3 x 3?" That's too easy! That's just knowledge being passed on. That isn't testing that the student has gained the tools to figure things out on their own, which is the real goal."

I completely agree, but first the students at a young age, must learn that 3 x 3 = 9. If the goal is that the students know how to derive the basis of mathematical calculations such that they can determine the foundation of multiplication, then its a different question then 3 x 3 = 9. Its all in the goal. If you look at the intellectual capabilities of a 3rd grader, they (in general) are not able to answer the more advanced question. Of course we should challenge our students, but to ask them to do thing beyond their actual capabilities based on brain development is just setting everyone up for failure.


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Posted by Another
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 21, 2009 at 10:21 pm

"Again, that's why the question on a test isn't "What is 3 x 3?" That's too easy! That's just knowledge being passed on. That isn't testing that the student has gained the tools to figure things out on their own, which is the real goal."

But in education, you have to pass on the knowledge before it can be expanded upon. In any subject, science, history, etc, if you do not pass on what others have learned, then everyone is starting at the beginning. We all have to discover the same thing over and over again, which is a huge waste of time and intellect.

I completely agree that higher education (high school, college, etc) is teaching people to teach themselves, think for themselves and come up with new ideas...actually THINK! That is what advances society, but if you don't first pass on knowledge than it is all fruitless. So education is a combination of the two. We must first pass on knowledge and then teach students how to think for themselves. That's it, pure and simple.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 21, 2009 at 10:26 pm

I agree with you that a certain amount of knowledge must be passed on first, but are you sure that a third grader can't comprehend application? Many other countries appear to have success teaching such word problems to students. Why does the US always lag behind in math?


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Posted by Another
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 21, 2009 at 10:28 pm

"That's true, but how MUCH is the increase? Therein lies the problem. We can say it is common sense that there is a benefit, but there is no quantification. The answer is only 4% more on standardized tests."

Did you just make up that 4% number or read just one report? Of course if you could judge a student's success just by a standardized test, colleges would only look at SAT scores and nothing else.

I bet if you asked most people in the US if you could choose between your current 401K performance and a guaranteed 4% increase, most would choose the 4% increase.

I guess it all comes down to the almighty dollar. Its a cost versus benefit analysis.


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Posted by Another
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 21, 2009 at 10:42 pm

"...but are you sure that a third grader can't comprehend application?"

Well, now we are getting hung up on actual brain function and capabilities. Which at this point I am not 100% sure of and will have to research.

My only point was, that if state standards say a 3rd grader should know that 3 x 3 = 9, then that is what should be tested. However, if the state standards say the a 3rd grader should understand the principle behind multiplication and the application of multiplication, then that is what should be tested. Again, that is what I was trying to convey.

I completely agree that we need to have students think and we need more people in general to actually think. But to your point, the reason we may be behind other countries is that we don't care that much about education. It is not a high priority. The government does not want to pay more than absolutely necessary (see current budget). People in the community don't want to pay (see all the postings here) and of course that trickles down to the students who wonder why they are in school. We've had many studies that say the education in the US is failing and that we need to do more, so what happens....we cut funding. It just doesn't add up in the end.


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Posted by Another
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 21, 2009 at 10:46 pm

2.2 Memorize to automaticity the multiplication table for numbers between 1 and 10.

Above is the actual state standard for third grade (strange that automaticity shows up in the spell checker). So, if they are suppose to memorize multiplication tables, isn't that what a test should ask as opposed to a deep comprehension of mathematics?


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Posted by Another
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 21, 2009 at 10:51 pm

"But how much interest are you getting paid back for your investment? Is it enough to keep ahead of inflation?"

EXACTLY!!!! If we keep doing the same thing in education and spending the same amount we aren't keeping our kids ahead of the "educational inflation." You make a great point, that we need to spend more every year just to keep up. If we want more success from education, we need to not only fund "inflation", but move beyond.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 21, 2009 at 11:30 pm

"Did you just make up that 4% number or read just one report?"

I've referenced it before, but it's buried in an old thread. Look up the Tennessee STAR study, which is praised as being a comprehensive study of K-3 CSR because it had all the hallmarks of good research. A follow-up was done of the students who were in the STAR study. It showed that 39 more students out of roughly 1000 (4%) from a 15:1 student-teacher ratio class passed an 8th grade standardized test compared to the students in a larger 20:1 class. But it cost Tennessee 67% more resources to achieve that 4% increase in test scores (note that the study only compared pass/fail and not by how much better a score students got on the test). CSR is an expensive way to increase student achievement.

Most of the literature I've read on CSR does indicate an increase in student performance, but it seems to benefit the low income and minority students best. But don't take my word for it. Greatschools.com has articles talking about CSR as does www.ed-data.ca.us.

"How Important is Class Size?" Web Link
"Gains associated with small classes generally appear when the class size is reduced to less than 20 students.
Gains are stronger for students who come from groups that are traditionally disadvantaged in education—minorities and immigrants.

"Class Size: Issues to Consider" Web Link


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Posted by Math Sux
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 22, 2009 at 2:03 am

"but to ask them to do thing beyond their actual capabilities based on brain development is just setting everyone up for failure."

Here's the perfect example of a quality PUSD education:

Web Link


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Posted by Another
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 22, 2009 at 6:42 am

"It showed that 39 more students out of roughly 1000 (4%) from a 15:1 student-teacher ratio class passed an 8th grade standardized test compared to the students in a larger 20:1 class."

I can't seem to find your information, sites and research I look conclude that CSR is successful (in TN, CA and elsewhere Web Link), but if we assume that your data is valid, you are comparing apples to oranges. We are not talking about going from 15:1 to 20:1. The schools are at 20:1 and to talk is going anywhere higher up to 30:1.

Also, your information says that the number of students who passed the test increased by 39. The information needed to compare that number to is not how many total kids took the test, but how many did not pass before. If only 40 students didn't pass out of 1000 and that number increased by 39 then I would say the program was a huge success. In Pleasanton approximately 97% of our students pass the high school exit exam as sophomores, if a program was implemented such that 100% of the students passed, would you consider that successful even thought the overall increase was only 3% of the students? Your first question would probably be "How much must does the program cost?" And that's the big question. There seems to be notion that we can continue to cut education spending and not see any effects. Everyone knows that in business you can only cut costs to a certain point and then quality begins to suffer unless you find a new way to do things. Well, in education we either have to stop cutting costs or find a much more effective approach.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 22, 2009 at 10:16 am

"you are comparing apples to oranges"

Yes, that's a problem with CSR in California. Our program isn't even designed to achieve the most effective small class size number, which is to have classes smaller than 18 students. Our "small" class size is comparable to the Tennessee STAR study's "regular" class. Another example of why needing to quantify a concept is important. Everyone thinks California's current CSR program is such a great thing, but is it?

"The information needed to compare that number to is not how many total kids took the test, but how many did not pass before."

I believe the information is there, but I suppose I presented the information incorrectly. The study compared students in a 15:1 class with students in a 20:1 class. Here's the study: Web Link Also: Web Link


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Posted by Disagree w/B
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 22, 2009 at 12:50 pm

Enjoyed the thread. I should have said "no empirical data at 20:1"; there is, as many have noted, data for 15 or less. As to the parcel tax, and with so many math whizzes here to help, I'm back to trying to get to the bottom of this.

• The district is talking about $8-9 million in cuts.
• CSR cost $6 million for PUSD, $4 million of which was provided by the state, and $2 million from the district's general fund (an ongoing cost the district should be budgeting for into the foreseeable future).
• If the original request for a parcel tax was to cover the entire $6 million (assuming a total loss of revenue from the state), and now we aren't losing the $4 million—that amount should not need to be covered by a parcel tax to maintain the program.
• AND, if the district has budgeted the $2 million for CSR from the general fund, as it should have, that amount, too, should not need to be covered by a parcel tax to maintain the program.

So for $6 million of the $8-9 million in proposed cuts, I don't see the need for a parcel tax.

There are cuts coming, of course (excerpted from Frost, Davis & Donnelly): "Current year K-12 funding cuts eliminate the current year .68% revenue limit COLA. However, this agreement does not make the entire cut through a revenue limit reduction. The remainder of the reduction is split 50/50 – with half coming from revenue limits (a little over 1% additional cut) and the remainder through a 15% cut to over 50 categorical programs (Tiers II and III)."

I can't list all 50, but ones that most likely affect PUSD are adult education, ROP, library programs, professional development, deferred maintenance, instructional materials, and high school CSR. And while there are 15% in cuts, the state provides "maximum programmatic flexibility . . . including transfer to the unrestricted General Fund to the districts for this year and the following four years." (FD&D) So, loosely, the district could spend funds from all those programs only on high school CSR.

Admittedly, there may be subtleties I'm missing, but this feels like a game of hide the pea.


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Posted by Another
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 22, 2009 at 4:35 pm

I guess the basic outlook here is that everything is a mess. First California jumped into CSR because of federal funding. While I support CSR I think the most benefit would be only having it in the K-3 grades. But at this point the money even for that just isn't there. I think the state should completely do away with it and just fund the districts and have the districts decide the best way to educate the kids.


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Posted by Get the facts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 22, 2009 at 11:59 pm

Thanks, Another, for keeping your eye on the ball. With the new state budget, California is now 49th in the country in spending per pupil. This, from what was once the 11th largest economy in the world. The problems in our schools were not caused by PUSD or the teacher's union, but by our state politicians who couldn't handle the budget of a lemonade stand, much less California's finances. PUSD is the only district to have not asked for a parcel tax up to this point, in small part because of a slightly higher level of $$$ given to Pleasanton by the state (but less than Dublin, which already has a parcel tax), but in large part to good management. Many bloggers here complain about the management, complain about Casey's salary, complain about the high-paid teachers (not the highest, by the way), but it is the state that has let us down. Keep that in mind, the state made this mess, not PUSD.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 23, 2009 at 5:13 am

Can Casey learn from Buchanan? The PW has an article and this is a quote from it:

"Buchanan herself took it a step further, asking the State Controller's Office to reduce her salary by another 10 percent as well.

"I've always believed that people in leadership positions should lead by example. If we're willing to cut funds to programs around the state we should be willing to cut our own funding, too," she explained."


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Posted by Mad Mother
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 23, 2009 at 8:44 am

Teacher:

"The district allots about $250.00 a year to run a classroom of 20 for the entire year."

BUT

The same district allots $1000 a month, $12,000 a year, to run Casey's car (or make his car payments?). That's the equivalent of funding the supplies of 48 classrooms for an entire year!

Am I making some wrong assumptions here too?

AND

The same district lends out $200,000 of the district's money to Casey at zero interest. At 5% interest, those funds could generate an annual return of $10,000 for the district, which is equivalent to funding the supplies for another 40 classrooms.

That's not to mention Casey's base salary and other perks (expensed lunches) but you get the picture.

How can the district do this, you ask? Because naive parents are donating money to buy the supplies in the classrooms. The administrators can then allot those funds elsewhere (hint: their pockets).

What am I missing?


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Posted by Mad Mother
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 23, 2009 at 8:56 am

This extract is from one of the other threads that I think is worthy of reposting:

"Mr. Casey's contract, including his salary and perks (i.e., allowances, housing subsidy, etc.) to be renegotiated by the school board. His salary alone, at $227,000 annually, should be reduced by $75,000, with all other perks, aside from insurance and pension (presumably CalPERS) benefits, including his special housing subsidy, eliminated."

"If he and his family can't live on $152,000, then I recommend he find employment elsewhere. The Pleasanton City Manager, Nelson Fialho, makes approx. $155,000 annually, and I would argue that Mr. Fialho has as much, if not more, responsibility and workload as does Mr. Casey. $75,000 saved by PUSD from paying Mr. Casey I think would fund at least 1 full-time teacher position, or 2 part-time ones."


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 23, 2009 at 9:21 am

Math Sux,

I forgot to thank you for helping me make my point. Thanks! :)


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Posted by another parent
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 23, 2009 at 9:42 am

Why does the PUSD not want to let the city of Pleasanton help them? I have heard they have offered several times but that the PUSD wants to keep everything to themself. Is the PUSD affraid of the city asking questions regarding their "suspect" business practices?


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