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Beyond the Traditional Bobblehead Trustee

Original post made by Liz, Another Pleasanton neighborhood, on Mar 7, 2009

One of our newest Board Members has taken her role beyond the traditional bobblehead Trustee that only nods yes to the Superintendent and Unions. At least one Board Member has not waited to be spoon fed by the District.

Valerie Arkin seemed surprised when her fellow board members did not actively work on their own version of budget cuts, but they instead waited to be directed by the District and budget committee. The budget committee is made up of a couple of parents but primarily district employees and Union reps each with their own special interests.

Arkin presented her own plan. Arkin's proposal would save Class Size Reduction, Academic Intervention programs and Counselors. It includes $2,146,000 in cuts to Administration, plus Management salary rollback (3 days, per mgmt) $121,500,and Car Allowances (per mgmt) $120,000.

Web Link
“The cuts and the $175 parcel tax revenue would provide the district enough money to more than balance the budget in this fiscal year, and would keep it solvent for the next fiscal year, said Arkin. “I think with all of this (the cuts, without losing CSR and other programs), I could get the community on board (for a parcel tax).” She got applause from the audience.”
Trustee Jim Ott said, “I applaud you putting pen to paper. These are things that are important.”
Pat Kernan added, “Great job. You are light years ahead of me. I’m at the macro level. I'll catch up.”

Gee… there is a surprise someone that is light years ahead of non-resident trustee Kernan.

I applaud trustee Arkin for looking beyond what the District wants us to see. She concedes her plan still needs work. The District should not waste the money on a special election in June and further explore this kind of thinking. With this kind of leadership the school board may have a proposal that the community can embrace by the November ballot , saving the $230,000 cost of a special election.

Comments (17)

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Posted by raven
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 7, 2009 at 4:45 pm

Thanks for posting and the web link. She is a free thinker. Can't say the same about Hinske. Too bad, but not surprising. her backers are the district staff, and the PTA council. She was in such a hurry to leave at the parcel tax vote, on March 5, it was surprising that Pat Kernan
spoke as long as he did.

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Posted by John
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 7, 2009 at 6:52 pm

Bravo Ms. Arkin!

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Posted by fyi
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 7, 2009 at 7:06 pm

I like Ms. Arkin's efforts to find a workable solution too.
But in all fairness, I overheard someone say that Jamie H. had a plane to catch that evening.

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Posted by raven
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 7, 2009 at 8:37 pm

In a ll fairness, timing is everything!

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Posted by Tim
a resident of California Reflections
on Mar 7, 2009 at 9:07 pm

Arkin's plan keeps any teachers from getting laid off.
Why couldn't the superintendent and staff come up with this plan. Oh thats right, because they want to panic parents and teachers into giving them a BIG parcel tax. And they do not want any of the cuts to touch them.

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Posted by Sandy
a resident of Mohr Park
on Mar 8, 2009 at 9:22 am

Sandy is a registered user.

I applaud Valerie Arkin for brainstorming some alternatives.

However, her proposal made several assumptions that cannot yet be confirmed. She assumed that $2 million would come to the district in federal stimulus funds, for example. Much of the stimulus funds are earmarked, such as for school building or renovation. Given that our schools have been well maintained, we may not see much of that money.

She also voted in favor of the parcel tax.

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Posted by Jan
a resident of Jensen Tract
on Mar 8, 2009 at 11:36 am

I understand the Federal money is confirmed with slight question about the amount. The money is targeted for special ED, to replace the 4mil encroachment on the general fund that now exists. This will free up more than 2mil in the general fund.

Your point that some things are still not yet determined points to the recklessness of not waiting until we have a clear picture before determining the need for a parcel tax. Waiting until the November election would save money on a special election and would be the responsible thing to do.

Arkin has indicated that after appropriate cuts are made she would probably still support a parcel tax to bring back extracurricular and less essential programs but only after honestly identifying the reasons for the tax.
I am disappointed that Arkin did not vote no for the proposal as it stands, but I understand she is trying to take the board in a more responsible direction and she is only one vote.

Will you be comfortable being a part of a deception?

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Posted by Sandy
a resident of Mohr Park
on Mar 8, 2009 at 3:43 pm

Sandy is a registered user.


I have not seen any evidence of a deception. I am an inquisitive person, and every single question I have asked of the school district has been answered.

If the federal funds have been clarified, I would like to see that documented. I have been following the news about education cuts around the state very closely, and I have not seen any articles in other districts that indicate any certainty has yet been provided.

I do not think it would be responsible to wait until November, when so many of the teachers and staff would already have been laid off, to take action. That would mean that students would be directly affected for at least one school year. I think the board members are fulfilling their responsibility to do what is best for students, by planning based on the most realistic scenarios, rather than waiting for the state or federal governments to rescue us.

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Posted by dumb and dummers
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 8, 2009 at 4:12 pm

They don't come any dummer than those 5 stooges.

Isn't one of them a resident of another city and has 2 daughters working for PUSD?

Talk about conflict of interest. It's no wonder voting yes on a parcel tax makes sense for this board.

Let's recall these 5 clowns and get some real leadership in the school board.

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Posted by Jenn
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 8, 2009 at 4:33 pm

I also applaud Arkin for doing her homework, unlike the other four trustees that came to the meeting with nothing to offer. If more of those trustees had done their homework, they might have more valuable inputs and solutions to offer. It's unforunate that Arkin folded like a cheap suit at the end, giving in to the union and other board members. 2 thumbs down for all of them!

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Posted by Jan
a resident of Jensen Tract
on Mar 8, 2009 at 5:05 pm

I think the point of this thread is that Arkin was pretty close to a plan that would not lay off teachers. It appears that it would be possible if there was a will to do so. That would buy time to refine the need for a parcel tax and put it on the ballot in November.

Why did they refuse to include language that would prohibit all salary increases for the term of the tax? The language that was put in is an illusion that does not prohibit raises out of general funds during the term of the parcel tax. That is a deception. There are many.

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Posted by Karen
a resident of Ruby Hill
on Mar 9, 2009 at 10:02 am

We need teachers more than administrators. That's the bottom line.

I support Arkin's plan.

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Posted by Sandy
a resident of Mohr Park
on Mar 9, 2009 at 5:41 pm

Jan, just because the language doesn't say what you think it should, does not mean it is deceptive. "no proceeds used for administrators' compensation" is plenty clear to me.

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Posted by Leslie
a resident of Foothill High School
on Mar 9, 2009 at 5:55 pm

I also congratulate Ms. Arkin for doing her homework. She obviously has broken the mold and is doing an exceptional job! I am proud to say that I supported her in the election and I am glad she is supporting us in doing such fantastic work. I hope Dr. Casey is shaking in his boots. For the last few years he has used his board as a rubber stamp, especially Jim Ott who has even used funds from his business to support the parcel tax. Conflict of interest or just poor judgment? Either way, I am very glad that Ms. Arkin can think for herself.

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Posted by Jan
a resident of Jensen Tract
on Mar 9, 2009 at 8:16 pm

The language that was put in is an ILLUSION that does not prohibit raises out of general funds during the term of the parcel tax. An Illusion leads you to believe something that is not true, that is a deception.
The deception is leading the voters to believe this money will not allow admin raises when in fact it is likely to free up other money to allow raises.

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Posted by Sandy
a resident of Mohr Park
on Mar 9, 2009 at 9:40 pm

I'm going to try to communicate my point one more time, and then I'll let it drop.

If there was deception in the language, it would state something like "no administrative compensation increases will occur during the time that this tax is in effect." But it doesn't.

It's true that there is a possibility that raises could occur, whether or not the parcel tax passes. You obviously don't think that's OK. But just because the parcel tax leaves that possibility open, does not mean that the parcel tax language is deceptive.

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Posted by Jeb Bing
editor of the Pleasanton Weekly
on Mar 15, 2009 at 9:51 pm

Jeb Bing is a registered user.

We're intentionally giving topics pertaining to the June 2 parcel tax measure and teacher layoffs a rest because the postings have become repetitive and, in some instances, accusatory and hurtful to teachers and other employees of the school district who are unable to respond to postings, most of which are made under the cloak of anonymity. The postings online will remain, but future postings to these threads or new ones dealing with teacher layoffs and the parcel tax can be made only by registered users of the Pleasanton Weekly forum.

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