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Why is the district cutting Class Size Reduction? Is this a scare tactic to get a “YES” vote on Measure G?....YOU BET IT IS!

Original post made by Tanner, Another Pleasanton neighborhood, on Apr 28, 2009

The Big Picture found at [Web Link]

In various news sources, it has been reported that the Pleasanton Unified School District (PUSD) will receive $2.1 million from the federal stimulus act. That isn't quite the whole picture. To get the full view, we must pull back the camera lens.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), became law on February 17, 2009. The act names almost $100 billion for education with half of that available now and the other half available in six months. The largest programs constituting that amount break down as follows (from link):

* $48 billion in stabilization funds
* $13 billion for low-income students through the so-called Title I programs
* $12 billion for students with disabilities, normally called IDEA
* $5 billion for early childhood programs (i.e., Head Start)
* $5 billion in "Race to the Top"

The $2.1 million currently being quoted for PUSD comes from the funds for IDEA Part B and are intended for students with disabilities. But there's been almost no mention of Title XIV of ARRA, called the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund (SFSF).
Intended to Prevent Teacher Layoffs

The State Fiscal Stabilization Fund (SFSF) is intended to prevent layoffs of teachers, administrators, and other staff. California, the first state in the nation to receive SFSF monies as of April 17th, has obtained a total of $4.9 billion over two years from SFSF with $3.1 billion of that going to education. According to California's application which was submitted April 1st, the State intends to use roughly 50% of that money to restore cuts to district revenue limits and the other 50% to categorical funding. Since the State budget cuts to education amounted to about $2.4 million, the money from SFSF could completely wipe out the shortfall. This doesn't excuse anyone from returning to status quo spending though.
Opportunity Knocks

The Federal stimulus dollars buy California and PUSD plenty of time to reform the way they spend taxpayer money and it would be disappointing to see this opportunity squandered by any attempt to continue wasteful spending. The District has shown an inclination to call the money from ARRA a "one-time" fund. Not to state the obvious, but Measure G is also a "one-time" fund. Not labelling Measure G as "one-time" also gives the appearance that the District fully expects the parcel tax to be renewed by voters in the future. That makes Measure G nothing more than a foot in the door to your wallet.

There also appears to be further opportunity to PUSD in the form of the "Race to the Top" part of the SFSF, which must be applied for. We'd like to see PUSD pursue all available opportunities.

These scare tactics are commonly used by the Edu Unions.. Same tactic different city...

Comments (22)

 +   Like this comment
Posted by T.R. Ollman
a resident of Jensen Tract
on Apr 29, 2009 at 6:28 am

Tanner,

Usually, for information to be considered reliable and authoritative, independently verifiable facts have to be provided. This anti-parcel tax web site you've linked to makes claims, but does not back them up. Can you please tell me where the specific information on exactly how much PUSD is to receive from each of these programs, can be found?

P.S. Just putting info in a box labeled "fact," like this site does, does not actually make it a fact.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Apr 29, 2009 at 7:15 am

TR Ollman - You can comb through these blogs, plenty of facts have been presented with the links or sources attributed. You can also access information at pleasantonparceltaxinfo.com . . . it is the website from those of us opposed. There are a few of us who are willing to provide personal email addresses to send you all the information from the district being requested under the pubic records act.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Apr 29, 2009 at 7:33 am

Stacey is a registered user.

TR Ollman,

If you visit the website, they link to where you can verify the information. Those links didn't make it over in Tanner's post. Here: Web Link Web Link Web Link

Also, in answer to your specific question, $2.1MM has been reported all over. There's no report yet on the rest of the amount because PUSD only applied for it yesterday.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Apr 29, 2009 at 7:38 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Here's more facts from that website Web Link

* Pleasanton received $622 per ADA, (nearly 11%) more state funding than San Ramon
* Pleasanton teachers were paid on average over 25% more than San Ramon teachers
* Pleasanton spent almost 7% more per pupil than San Ramon
* San Ramon schools met nearly 15% more API targets
* San Ramon had 1.2% better Language Proficiency scores
* San Ramon had 1.7% better Math Proficiency scores


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Apr 29, 2009 at 7:39 am

Stacey is a registered user.

All, of course, backed up by data from Ed-Data, an excellent website run by the California Department of Education.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Apr 29, 2009 at 7:56 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Hey TR Ollman, I found this for you: Web Link

"The Governor shall use 81.8 percent of the funds allocated to the state to restore support to education to the greater of Fiscal Year 2008 or Fiscal Year 2009 level. These funds must go towards filling shortfalls in elementary, secondary, and higher education, and, as applicable, early childhood education programs and services."

(81.8% is $3.1MM)


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Facts Please
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 29, 2009 at 8:41 am

TR Ollman
You're coming late to the fray, so do your homework becuase there are some well informed people here with facts and links to facts at their fingertips. "Don't mess with eagles unless you can fly".


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Phil
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Apr 29, 2009 at 9:27 am

Does anyone have a sense or poll info which shows if measure "G" is expected to pass or fail and if it fails which I believe it will what are the next steps or ideas going forward?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 29, 2009 at 9:42 am

Web Link

Next step is to acknowledge the federal stimulus money and negotiate with the union. This should have been the first step. It would have saved about $500,000 (conservative total of consultant fees, legal fees, special election costs, and campaign materials).


 +   Like this comment
Posted by ChangedmyMind
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 29, 2009 at 10:05 am

Of course its scare tactics, its in the "playbook", but unfortunately most people don't take time to look at the facts. If I can quote Kathleen Ruegsegger form a comment on another post:
"Presenting it as an emergency is the only way the district can use the emotional hammer (CSR) so that you don't think".
"...I would suggest you follow the facts and not the people."


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Ann Martin
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Apr 29, 2009 at 10:13 am

Another fact, not an opinion.
The California Teachers Association has proposed a measure to make the temporary 1% increase in sales tax (as of April 1, 9.75% for us) permanent.
This information is readily available from a number of sites, including the California State Attorney General's Office.
Web Link


 +   Like this comment
Posted by ChangedmyMind
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 29, 2009 at 10:18 am

Ann,
I read a number of weeks back that they were seeking to raise it to 10.75%.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Ann Martin
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Apr 29, 2009 at 10:44 am

Changed my mind,
I thought I'd read that too, but haven't had a chance to go back yet and confirm it.
If you find a link to a reliable source, please post it.
Thanks, Ann


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Ann Martin
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Apr 29, 2009 at 10:51 am

Actually, the more I think about this, the more I think that the proposal was a one cent sales tax increase, but I'm not sure.
There are lots of people who read these blogs with great research skills, so I'm going to rely on them to look into this and thank them in advance for providing verifiable facts.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Phil
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Apr 29, 2009 at 10:54 am

so Changed my mind and Ann;

If they increase the sales tax to 10.75% who in there right mind is going to buy in California? Sales tax is already one of the highest in the nation. At some point they are going to need to look at reducing COST and that may mean either reductions in salaries or eliminating the 3 point retirement program in California. I read where California is the only state in the nation with the 3 point system and this alone will bankrupt the state.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Facts Please
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 29, 2009 at 10:55 am

That's a big "emotional hammer" because when parents/voters get hit with it they become dizzy and they can't see the facts. But isn't that the real purpose of any campaign-one side tries to spread the truth and the other tries to hide it?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Community of Character
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 29, 2009 at 3:57 pm

Let's stick to the facts:

Fact #1: The quality of education in Ptown would deteriorate without this parcel tax

Fact #2: Teachers and PUSD staff are making personal sacrifice by donating 2 days of pay to educate our children

Fact #3: Step and column adjustments accounts for only a very minor portion of the budget and is a necessity to keep our schools competitive

Fact #4: Home values are held relatively steady in Ptown largely because our high API scores.


And the list goes on...

Think about our children, our schools, and our community.

Vote YES on G!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Phil
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Apr 29, 2009 at 4:09 pm

Cummunity:

I believe that another solution other than G will be in order here because it is not going to pass for probably all of the right reasons. PUSD needs to go back and reassess what they spend money on.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Apr 29, 2009 at 4:13 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

1) Opinion and scare tactic.
2) Fact mixed with opinion. Only teachers have agreed to a 2 day furlough IF the parcel tax passes. Moreover, no student is getting educated when a teacher is furloughed.
3) Statistical spin followed by opinion. Salaries make up over 80% of PUSD's budget.
4) Opinion. Home values have dropped in Pleasanton despite having a high API score.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Bored with C of C
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 29, 2009 at 4:51 pm

Community of Character,
You say basically the same thing in every comment you post. You want to stick to the facts, but you never present and real facts-you just throw the same opinion out there. You are a BORE, either amke a real contribution to the discussion or turn off your computer and go do you homework.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Rio
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 29, 2009 at 4:55 pm

There is consistant mention that a 'political consultant' was hired by PUSD and the Measure G campaign.

Where is this documented and what is the supposed amount? Have not been able to verify it anywhere. Please clarify.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Pleasanton Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 29, 2009 at 5:29 pm

To Rio,
This was posted on another thread
Posted by Ann Martin, a member of the Amador Valley High School community, on Apr 28, 2009 at 4:39 pm

To Facts Please:

There is a contract between PUSD and Lew Edwards Group dated May 10, 2006.

Here's what the contract says are the services to be provided:

Consultant shall, with consultation from Client, provide bond feasibility and communications services related to a potential March 2007 Parcel Tax Measure. Consultant services may include the following:

(a) strategic advice and planning, including a timeline for communications services, benchmark dates, and a project budget;

(b) assisting and overseeing Clients' designated polling firm in the design and implementation of survey research and assessment for Client;

(c) communications services, including - with the input of Client - conceiving, writing and producing direct mail to external and internal audiences;

(d) developing nonpartisan public information materials issued by the District to describe its student support, class size reduction, technology, and curriculum advancement needs;

(e) reviewing the proposed Parcel Tax Expenditure list and making recommendations as to the characterization, appeal or weaknesses of specific funding items; and

(f) working with Client's other professionals and vendors such as district bond counsel or financial advisors in developing a potential ballot question, other voter handbook materials, and a coordinated strategy.

The fee is $37,500 payable in monthly increments of $5,357.14 due on the last business day of each month commencing May 2006 thru November 2006. The only payments I see that have been made are showing (on the Vendor History Report) that they were "last paid 9/24/07" and one payment is for $16,064.28 and the other is $5,357.14. The reports show a last edit date of 6/6/2006. I haven't seen any other payments that would bring PUSD payments to the total amount of the contract.

I will ask PUSD if there are any addendums or change orders to the Lew Edwards Group contract. I will also ask if PUSD contracted with any other companies recommended by Lew Edwards Group to provide parcel tax related services.

I will ask the School Board members if any consulting group, attorney, or vendor has been hired by PUSD to provide any services related to Measure G.

Generally speaking, I have to ask very specific questions to elicit the records I'm looking for. For example, I was curious if PUSD still was paying Lozano Smith, the legal firm PUSD is suing for malpractice.

According to the Vendor History Report, a date of 1/27/09 is shown as the last paid date, but there's also a last edit date of 1/25.05. The amount showing paid is $55,029.54 I thought I could answer my own question by requesting a copy of the contract between PUSD and Lozano Smith.

The contract I received is dated August 1, 2006 and a letter dated June 6, 2007 thanks PUSD for its ongoing relationship with Lozano Smith and indicates that legal fees charged to PUSD will not increase. The scope of work in the contract is whatever matters the Client (PUSD) refers to the Attorney (Lozano Smith).

So I'm still unclear on whether or not PUSD is still paying Lozano Smith, and if so for what.

So I've asked to see the bills submitted to PUSD by Lozano Smith from 2005 to date. When I see the actual bills, I will know what legal matters Lozano Smith has billed PUSD for.

The Vendor History Report is useful in identifying vendors. Besides Lozano Smith, the Vendor History Report identifies the following legal firms: Kinglsey, Bogard Thompson, Stubbs & Leone, and Jon Hudak. However, all legal counsel fees are categorized under legal counsel, not under the issue for which counseling was provided (e.g. special ed, facilities, etc.) So to determine why PUSD was billed, the actual bills have to be pulled.

When I hear back from PUSD, I will post the information, or you can email me directly (ann0819@aol.com) and I will forward on to you any information I receive.

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