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"No on G" guarantees larger class sizes

Original post made by Sandy, Mohr Park, on May 15, 2009

With the uncertainty about how the governor's May revise will affect next year's school budget, it is hard to know how severe the additional cuts to schools will be.

What is certain is that there will be more cuts. The governor has made it clear that he will continue his strategy of cutting across all the social services in the budget, including education.

The school board cannot make guarantees because they are dependent on the state's redistribution of tax revenues to set the budget. What measure G will do is increase our ability to make local decisions about what we think it is most important to protect in our schools.

A no vote on G is a vote to leave us dependent on Sacramento. It is a vote that guarantees that class sizes will go up, dramatically.

If measure G does not pass, the district will have no way to cushion the impact of the state budget cuts.

Voting YES gives the school district more options to protect the strength of our schools.

Comments (23)

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Posted by not really
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 15, 2009 at 11:04 am

The only reason to vote Yes is if you want to pay for a raise to the employees of the district in this time of financial problems. $15 million of the $18 million will go to raises. The $3 million over four years left has little impact on classroom size reductions.

The governor is a proponent of the propositions so he is not objective right now. He wants to scare people into voting for the propositions (just like our board and superintendent is trying to scare people into voting for Measure G). If the propositions loose, the legislature will have to reconvene and find real solutions. If Measure G looses, the same thing.

The federal stimulus money will go away if the state does not fund the schools to a specific amount so there is only so much more cuts they can do to education or they loose a significant amount of money. We have enough federal money to fund all our programs but we do not have enough money to continue to fund raises during this economic downturn.


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Posted by Ptown resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 15, 2009 at 12:47 pm

If voters want a parcel tax that guarantees CSR, they need to ask PUSD to write one that provides this guarantee. Measure G's language is vague for a reason - to provide an escape route when parents who believed G would retain CSR find out that it doesn't!

A NO on G vote does not mean larger class sizes. It means discerning voters see through the vague smokiness of Measure G's language for what it really is - a document created with the assistance of legal counsel to give PUSD an out to every single "promise."

Voting yes on G gives PUSD more options to spend taxpayers' money - but not in the way we have told PUSD we want it spent.

Vote NO ON G.


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Posted by Sandy
a resident of Mohr Park
on May 18, 2009 at 6:18 pm

The ballot language provides clear guidance about what categories of services the measure G funds can be used to pay.

"To preserve educational quality and protect Pleasanton schools from severe state budget cuts, keep class sizes small, maintain essential reading and math support programs, libraries, counselors, technology instruction, music, and safe, clean schools with no proceeds used for administrators' salaries."

Can measure G be used to pay for fancy new microwaves in school lunchrooms? Nope. No impact on educational quality.

Can measure G be used for pep rallies? Nope. Same reason.

There is flexibility in the language. This is important so that the school board members can respond to the changing budget issues with the state government. Otherwise, we could end up in the same situation that the state legislature is in -- required to allocate funds to so many different specific programs, that its ability to adapt to changing economic issues is restricted.

It is possible that measure G funds could be used for class size reduction, but without enough funds to prevent cuts to music instruction or libraries, for example. In theory, the reverse is also true -- board members could choose to use the funds for technology instruction, libraries, and custodian's pay, but not for class size reduction. In practice, that seems very unlikely, given that the board members have all acknowledged clear feedback from the community about the priority residents place on keeping class sizes small.

The insinuation that the board is looking for loopholes in order to take advantage of gullible taxpayers is a veiled insult to the members of the board, and to citizens who favor the measure.

Let's not argue about people's intentions. There's plenty to talk about... whether continuing to provide five days of library access is desirable, or whether it's worth the cost to keep kindergarten classes at 20 students... I promise that if you disagree with me, I won't call you names.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on May 18, 2009 at 6:58 pm

Sandy, The parcel tax money relieves pressure on the general fund and that, in turn, can be used for anything, including raises. And, as you point out, the language says "to keep class sizes small" - 25:1 is smaller than 30:1, but I don't think that is what parents think of when you say class size reduction. In addition, there is $8 million dollars coming from the feds--also relieving pressure on the general fund and negating the need for a parcel tax in the coming year.

"It is possible that measure G funds could be used for class size reduction . . . the reverse is also true . . . but not class size reduction. In practice, that seems very unlikely . . ." You've said it all. There is no guarantee, which is what those opposed have said all along.


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Posted by Trying to find facts...
a resident of Fairlands Elementary School
on May 18, 2009 at 8:44 pm

I'm a parent of kiddos heading into elementary; I am exactly who SPS is targeting - or seems to be: I'm a parent feeling 'threatened' (bad word choice?) by what will happen to my children in the coming years if CSR is lost.

As I understand it, the ARRA will give one time monies to the state, including PUSD for the 09-10 school year. If G does not pass, what then? What can we expect the district to realistically do? Another parcel tax next year? What are we asking them to specifically do? I'm not so worried about next year now with ARRA, since the deficit won't be that great at PUSD (although it is not a good deficit either), but then what? And will Props 1A-1F do anything to help next year alleviate the deficit after the relief from ARRA?

I've been reading these posts for some time and I am hoping to hear from Kathleen, Stacey, Sandy / Russell.

Thank you so much in advance

Thanks!


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Posted by Sandy
a resident of Mohr Park
on May 18, 2009 at 8:52 pm

Kathleen, what an interesting example of selective listening. The most important parts of my comment turned into ellipses... in your quote.

The parcel tax money cannot be used for anything.

Your assumption is that the amount of money in the general fund will be the same as in the past. You can't guarantee that assumption is true.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on May 18, 2009 at 9:12 pm

Sandy, I hit the high notes, but I read (listened) to all of it.

"It is possible that measure G funds could be used for class size reduction, but without enough funds to prevent cuts to music instruction or libraries, for example. In theory, the reverse is also true -- board members could choose to use the funds for technology instruction, libraries, and custodian's pay, but not for class size reduction. In practice, that seems very unlikely, given that the board members have all acknowledged clear feedback from the community about the priority residents place on keeping class sizes small."

There is the whole of what you said. Nowhere is there a guarantee about keeping class size reduction or even a number 20:1, 22:1, just the word small, which is open to interpretation.

The statement from the district is it will need to cut an estimated $9.7 million. They are getting $8 million to cover special ed costs (an encroachment on the general fund) and layoffs (salaries that would be paid out of the general fund). It is $8 million in relief to the general fund, and general fund money can be spent in multiple areas.

The $8 million is $1.7 million less than the estimated cuts, yet it is $3.5 million more than the parcel tax would have covered. So, we have a year to determine how to put the budget back on a path of living within its means.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on May 18, 2009 at 9:39 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Trying to find facts,

Considering that what you're asking about are events that have yet to occur, you'll have a hard time finding facts based on them.

My opinion is that the State props are band-aids just like Measure G. Schwarzenegger tells us that things will be bad even if the props pass. That means the props don't fix the real problem and are therefore useless. The real problem is that the State is trying to let the tail wag the dog. The private sector is the dog and this ol' dog doesn't have the revenue generation it used to have anymore. So while the private sector has been busy adjusting (layoffs, true wage freezes, salary reductions, etc.) and correcting for past years fanciful activities, the public sector is still trying to live the high life. Government is too inflexible sometimes. That's why Measure G is absolutely the wrong tax at the wrong time.


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Posted by Sandy
a resident of Mohr Park
on May 19, 2009 at 10:50 am

Trying to find facts...

I wish I could tell you what will happen if G does not pass. The best prediction so far is that the budget cuts identified in March at the school board meetings will be put in place. Even if the federal stimulus money protects us from some of those cuts for a year, it seems unlikely that the economy could bounce back quickly enough that the state funds for schools would recover. More cuts would be needed after the stimulus runs out.

If props 1A and 1B pass (which does not seem likely) then schools will start to be "repaid" in 2011 for the funds that proposition 98 guaranteed them, but that are not being fully paid out for the state right now.

The best way to find out what is going on is to attend a school board meeting. There's a budget hearing tonight at 6:30, and a full board meeting scheduled for next Tuesday (5/25).

If you can't attend the meeting, and you have a high-speed internet connection, you can watch and listen to the meeting from home. Follow the instructions at this link: Web Link

Some folks also have access to a cable tv broadcast (but I don't, so I can't tell you how to find it.)


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Posted by Trina
a resident of Civic Square
on May 19, 2009 at 11:02 am

Sandy,

Did you read the editorial linked on many threads from today's Wall street Journal? Web Link

Just curious about what you think, since you care deeply about what is happening in our city and state, just like I do, but, unlike me, you support "G".


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Posted by Trying to find facts...
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 19, 2009 at 12:37 pm

Stacey, Thank you for responding, I see your point, but my questions still remain and so far the No on G supporters and perspectives just haven't helped me much.

Sandy,
Thank you for responding. I will watch tonight. I am not sure how to come down on this and I don't feel the Yes on G supporters have helped me yet decided either.

I think a lot of Ptowners are a lot like me and while **theoretically** it is wrong to give more money to any entity who mismanages it, AND, as much as I am against it, I want PUSD to succeed in spite of our economy - the students, the teachers, the community.

I know this seems silly, but I just don't see how voting No will solve anything right now. We need resources and depriving these resources while at the same time asking for reform just won't work. Or can a No on G point me in a direction of a previous occurence of similar concerns did?

I'm not neccessarily for G, but I think I am pretty typical in town when I say, we not only need a stop-gap, but ALSO a better look at the budget/spending of PUSD to not repeat this in the future.

I know the NO on G supporters whole-heartedly and SINCERELY believe it is in the communities best interest to withhold more money to finally get the district to change, but I don't think we should do this at this time, because we have little alternatives if we do. I think we should vote on behalf of our kids (which means keeping staff to teach them) this time, and then during the next 4 years of the parcel tax, we should work with the district to change spending and expectations of the union during contract negotiations (which expire in a year).

Ideally, I would like to see the teaching union and administrators pledge to take a salary freeze, but still give them their COLA, and also vote in G to save staff positions and CSR and other community priorities at PUSD. I just don't see where the majority of these priorities fall...in Yes or No on G. Do any of you?


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Posted by Russell
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on May 19, 2009 at 1:23 pm

I agree with most of what Stacey said about the state government propositions. However, I don't see Measure G as a band aid. I don't recall a previous parcel tax in Pleasanton. This appears to be the first in a long time. I haven't seen the evidence of reckless spending. Even if there was reckless spending, I'm not a believer in "starve the government" tactics, where we "punish" the government by cutting taxes. I don't think a financial downturn as large as the current one could have been anticipated. I think the services provided by the Pleasanton school district are very good, and I'm willing to pay for them. I think a lot of Pleasanton residents feel the same way. If there has been fiscal recklessness, the time to do something about that is 2010, when we can elect board members.


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Posted by Russell
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on May 19, 2009 at 1:25 pm

@Trying to find facts,

I'll try to write answers to your questions if I get a break later, but like you, I just came here to get facts. I haven't changed my mind.


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Posted by Bob
a resident of Del Prado
on May 19, 2009 at 1:37 pm

Russell,

Please read and digest what is being written. Pleasanton already gets the most for education without a parcel tax, the parcel tax is for teachers pay increases, the parcel tax does not guarantee anything, the parcel tax is a bad bill and will go down to a bigtime defeat, the state is bankrupt and unemployment is approaching 12% so who would be stupid enough to vote for the teachers to get a raise?


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Posted by Sandy
a resident of Mohr Park
on May 19, 2009 at 7:06 pm

Trying to find facts,

We actually have very similar positions. You wrote "Ideally, I would like to see the teaching union and administrators pledge to take a salary freeze, but still give them their COLA, and also vote in G to save staff positions and CSR and other community priorities at PUSD."

I will vote for G, and continue to speak up as a community member to make sure that the school district makes the best possible use of public funds. Doing both is how I think of responsible citizenship.


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Posted by Trying to find facts...
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 19, 2009 at 7:56 pm

Sandy,
I was leaning toward No on G, but I am just not swayed. Are you willing to vote for this if the teaching staff won't take a salary freeze? That is the one "hang up" I have. I keep thinking that if the teaching staff is serious about "saving our schools" wouldn't they want to save positions and programs? This is the one thing I am stuck on. Otherwise, I think for now, we need to fix whatever is broken, because with a deficit, how can they fix anything? Where will they get the money to do this? I don't want a major staffing cut to save money. I want the district to function as it is now.

Sandy, if you can answer that question why teachers shouldn't have a salary freeze with good cause, I think I'll be swayed to vote for G.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Sandy
a resident of Mohr Park
on May 19, 2009 at 8:18 pm

Why do you think it's important to freeze salary, but not COLA?

I weigh the contract changes that teachers have agreed to as an indication that they are serious about saving the schools. Losing two paid work days is equivalent to a 2% pay cut.


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Posted by Felipe
a resident of Lydiksen Elementary School
on May 19, 2009 at 8:26 pm

What is plan B? Because I do not believe measure G has a chance. What would be the next step or steps if any?


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Posted by Sandy
a resident of Mohr Park
on May 19, 2009 at 10:12 pm

If you want measure G to have a chance, vote for it! And help with the campaign to Save Pleasanton Schools. Here's the website:

Web Link

If you want a plan B, you'll have to ask the board members directly.


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Posted by Russell
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on May 19, 2009 at 10:25 pm

" the state is bankrupt and unemployment is approaching 12% so who would be stupid enough to vote for the teachers to get a raise?"

Because they value education and think it is more important than many of the other tax dollars get wasted on. Because they want to reward excellence. Because are schools are very good and people want to keep them that way.


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Posted by Alee
a resident of Highland Oaks
on May 20, 2009 at 10:33 am

Thank you, Trina for the link. Unfortunately, the "save pleasanton schools," folks don't deal in hard facts. Instead, they like to feel like the protectors of the "poor, victimized children and teachers."
Frankly, I don't really see the problem with increasing the class sizes. I have found absolutely no proof from personal experience or otherwise that this has any type of negative effect on students.
In addition, there is already proof that more money does not correlate with higher test scores. The reason PUSD students do well and will continue to do well is because of parental involvement.
NO on the PUSD Bailout. NO on MEASURE G!


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Posted by Practical Parent
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 20, 2009 at 11:05 am

Sandy, you are wrong in your statement that teachers losing 2 work days is a 2% cut in pay. 2/185 work days is barely over 1% so please do not overstate the concession. It is measly compared to what everyone else is experiencing.
And that statement does not show the whole picture when those cuts will provide $720,000 yet salaries as a collective whole will increase by $1,500,000. That means there is a negative impact on the budge by the difference of nearly $800,000.
Total salaries need to be frozen and much more generous concessions offered by the administrators before I will vote for a parcel tax.

And your title on this blog is completely misleading but then I am sure that is what you intended. There are no guarantees to increase class sizes any more than G guarantees to keep class sizes of 20:1!


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Posted by Privatize
a resident of another community
on May 20, 2009 at 12:29 pm

@Practical

"It is measly compared to what everyone else is experiencing."

Not everyone. I got a raise and a bonus this year. If all schools were private, some teachers would be getting raises, some not.


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