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Mt. Diablo Unified. A glimpse into our future if Measure G fails?

Original post made by The future, Another Pleasanton neighborhood, on May 31, 2009

In today's paper. You may remember their parcel tax failed on May 19.

"In other districts, where fewer teachers are losing jobs, voters
have approved parcel taxes and school boards are cutting costs in different ways, such as closing schools."

Web Link

Comments (18)

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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on May 31, 2009 at 11:55 am

While I certainly hope the following will not be the case for our district, there is a reason for the voters choosing not to support a parcel tax at this time for Mt. Diablo.

From the Contra Costa County Grand Jury Report and Response: Web Link

TO: The Board of Trustees of the Mt Diablo Unified School District
SUMMARY:
The Board of Trustees of the Mount Diablo School District is responsible for over one quarter of a billion dollars of annual expenditures. Disbursements have been made without Board approval, required Federal Payroll Taxes have not been paid, and Legal
Services contracts have not been properly administered. These actions contribute to a lack of confidence in the district's leadership. Investigative evidence indicates the Superintendent and the Board of Trustees have failed in their respective administrative roles. Corrective policies and procedures are recommended to address these problems.


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Posted by Duh
a resident of Apperson Ridge
on May 31, 2009 at 1:02 pm

I will be voting no on measure G simply because I could care less about public education.
I don't care about people who can not afford to educate their children, they should be compelled to get better jobs so they can afford private school. I am personally in favor of creating as much of an "us and them" situation as possible since I am guaranteed an education for my kids. It will make their lives that much easier, less competition.

VOTE NO ON G!


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Posted by Another perspective
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 31, 2009 at 1:17 pm

MDUSD is my district. We went through a major lay off in 2003 also because of the economy that struck the private sector in 2001 and 02. It took a bit to catch up to the state revenue and then the districts.

We weathered it and lots of teachers were hired back. Some decided to take early retirement to keep some of the younger teachers. Each school site was given a budget goal and we figured out how to meet it by some of the teacher agreeing to go part time, etc. We worked it out.

Before everyone begins to believe that Pleasanton will suffer the same fate as MD if we don't pass the parcel tax here, I want to explain one difference between MDUSD and PUSD. Mt. Diablo is literally 150 sq miles in size. We are the equivalent to Dublin, Livermore, Pleasanton, Mt. House, Patterson, and Sunol combined. We are a very large district and 400 teachers, while a sizeable amount to pink slip, it is relative to the size of the district and is not the final count of those actually losing jobs.

The boundaries of our distict include the communities of Pleasant Hill, parts of Walnut Creek and unicorporated Lafayette, all of Concord, Clayton, and a bit of Martinez. We have students that come into our district from all over the bay area for our state sponsored charter schools (one was profiled in the article - Eagle Peak Montessori) and we have such extensive special education programs, other neighboring district sometimes "pay" to have thier students IEP needs served by us. To put it one way, we are a MASSIVE district. It just isn't fair on any level to make comparisons to what will happen here in Pleasanton if the parcel tax doesn't pass.

The district has been mismanaged under McHenry and we all know it. MDEA (our Union) has sucked them dry. I personally donate my union dues to charity because I do not believe in our union. I have no legal representation in the district so I pay $50 a year annually to have insurance through a well known private insurance company for professional liabilty.

There is no reason for us to vote in the parcel tax just because MDUSD is facing so many problems. The one fair comparison of PUSD to MDUSD is that all the problems started in the district office prior to the economic downturn.

The problems have been magnified now that there isn't the same amount of revenue from the state being thrown at the district.

As an educator, I'm voting NO to the Pleasanton Parcel Tax.


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Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on May 31, 2009 at 2:00 pm

It is really a shame the district couldn't craft a solution that is equitable, fair, and responsible. They had the opportunity to and made a conscious effort not to. It should come as no surprise to the district why measure G is failing.


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Posted by Russell
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on May 31, 2009 at 2:21 pm

I can't see how a failure for Measure G wouldn't impact our children's education. And yes, private schools are an alternative for some of us though it wouldn't be easy.

@Another

"There is no reason for us to vote in the parcel tax just because MDUSD is facing so many problems. "

So how did voting against the tax solve the problems?


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on May 31, 2009 at 2:56 pm

Russell, Despite facts and a Grand Jury, the best you can state is "why not."

If someone doesn't need a reason, they'll accept ANY reason.


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Posted by Another perspective
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 31, 2009 at 3:15 pm

Russell,

The article was written/posted to inform one community (Pleasanton USD) what happened when another community (MDUSD) did not pass a parcel tax.

You asked, "So how did voting against the tax solve the problems?"

It didn't because it didn't have anything to do with it. MDUSD (if you read the Grand Jury link provided very graciously, I might add, by Kathleen) specifically outlined point by point the fiscal mismanagement of the 1/4 of a billion dollars annual budget by Gary McHenry, our Superintendent (well, he's resigned now because of this) and the fiscal mismanagement of both he and our Board. I think there is a similiar relationship to our Board and Dr. Casey. He seems to direct them more often than not.

Voting against the measure by the MDUSD community sent the message to thier comparable school board to ours that they wouldn't see more money until the fiscal house was in order - including discovery of what was spent on what, etc.

The passage or not of a parcel tax is not the question, it is the appropriateness that is the correlate you should draw from the article. I hope you would see enough similarities in thier's and our circumstances to draw that conclusion, no?


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Posted by LOL!
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 31, 2009 at 8:46 pm

Duh: We'll be casting 4 Yes votes on Measure G so people like you can pay to educate all 6 of my children.


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Posted by Russell
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on May 31, 2009 at 9:32 pm

@Another

I'm less interested in sending a message than I am in preserving programs, even it is only $3 million out of 18 million.


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Posted by Russell
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on May 31, 2009 at 9:41 pm

Kathleen and Another,

Are you saying that the quality of education in Pleasanton will be improved defeating Measure G?

As far as I can tell the PUSD spent a lot of money on teacher's salaries. It didn't seem wasteful or illegal.

In comparison, should San Ramon, Dublin, Livermore, and the rest have sent the same message to their school boards? Is there any school district that has a parcel tax that is doing a good job of money management?


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Posted by Mom2
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 31, 2009 at 11:20 pm

The reasons to vote "yes"- I know your mind is made up, Kathleen, but here you go.

To maintain reading specialists and the Barton Reading program, two stellar reading intervention programs which few districts have been able to maintain or implement (Fremont, Dublin, and Livermore no longer have reading specialists, San Ramon funds their reading specialists through parent donation monies)

To maintain elementary, middle, and high school counselors. Again, I don't know of any elementary school district which has counselors on campus. The elementary school counselors contribute, in my humble opinion, to the nearly conflict free environment in on our elementary school campuses. Counselors provide a much needed intervention which frees up the classroom teacher to focus on academics. The peaceful environment on our elementary school campuses was the biggest difference I experienced moving from Fremont schools.

The bands and strings program - children need the opportunity to start a musical instrument as soon as possible. If not for school music programs, some children would never realize they have a gift. These elementary school children become our awarding winning middle school and high school students.

Class Size Reduction - Pleasanton will not be able to maintain class sizes at their current levels of 20-1 without the parcel tax. Formulas will change and class size will rise. I think raising the class size will affect our students' social and academic growth and Pleasanton's draw to families. I have a young child, and I would not choose to move to district with a 25-1 or 30-1 over a district that is maintaining smaller class size under 22-1. Livermore, Dublin, and San Ramon will most likely have smaller class sizes than PUSD next year if the parcel doesn't pass. I was just speaking to my sister-in-law today, and her daughter's fourth grade class in So. Cal is 36 because of budget cuts.

It will take 4-5 years for California to rebound, and the parcel guarantees that the district is responsible for maintaining the essential programs. With that guarantee, how can salaries rise? I know this. I am already frozen on the salary schedule, and I willingly voted to take two days off my pay next year. I don't foresee or expect any COLA or raise for the next five+ years. However, I will donate more to my son's classroom and supplement my own classroom to compensate for having no SLIP funds next year. We didn't have SLIP funds this year, and most of my fellow teachers, did spend their own money to ensure programs and activities would proceed as normal. I don't know of any greedy teachers on my particular campus. Like many of the bloggers, the economic downturn has affected my family's and many teachers' families economic stability as well.

However, without the parcel, the programs which have made Pleasanton unique and successful will most likely be cut. We have already lost programs which the parcel will not restore. I think losing our Vice Principals especially on the larger campuses will be a much larger loss than we can imagine. Kathleen, if you have ever written or read an application for a California Distinguished or Blue Ribbon school, you know that these programs gain the district points and are often the cause for winning such awards. The reviewers are particularly interested in how a district provides interventions and services for English Language Learners, the special education population, and struggling readers.

And Kathleen, since you worked/work for our previous superintendent, I am sure you know that cutting such programs and raising class size will most likely affect the amount of awards this district will receive. Those Distinguished and Blue Ribbon schools do place our district in the top ten percent. I am proud to have worked in Pleasanton schools which received these rewards. I had been a teacher for fourteen years in two other districts before Pleasanton, and none of my schools were honored with Distinguished or Blue Ribbon. I can tell you it makes a difference. As a teacher on a awarding winning campus, you have a responsibility to maintain the quality which earned these rewards. The elementary PUSD teachers are the most dedicated group of educators that I have ever worked alongside. I have become a stronger teacher because I am surrounded with teachers interested in becoming the best they can be and helping students do the same.

Kathleen, I realize you don't particularly care for Dr. Casey and you work for our previous administrator, but I know you can at least appreciate the value of our school being able to maintain programs which earned such prestigious awards.

Like Jeff Bowser, I have been in education long enough to see the ups and downs. However, I must say, I have never seen the cuts this deep, and it disturbs me that so many bloggers are taking their frustration and anger out on each other. I have written countless letters to those who hold the strings in Sacramento. The department of education has become a huge albatross around our necks with regulation after regulation, yet the state doesn't provide adequate funding for mandated services. Sacramento cut the funding for Miller-Uhruh reading specialists even as districts were to provide interventions to meet No Child Left Behind standards. Many districts dropped their reading specialists once the state pulled the funding. Pleasanton kept ours, and of course, it has cost them. Last year, the board had to dip into the reserves to keep them for this year. I don't see that as irresponsible because children's intervention plans were at stake. Of course, I see those struggling readers each and every day and am thankful that we have a trained reading specialist to give them another round of reading instruction at least four times a week. They do catch up with their peers and it's priceless!

Please vote YES!


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Posted by Let it fail.
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on May 31, 2009 at 11:28 pm

Let it fail, those of you who think the district employees really care are so wrong. A few people care but the majority will continue collecting that paycheck no matter the outcome. As long as you continue to have kids in this district we will have to pay someone. So you see, they have no reason to really change until we start pulling our kids out of the district.


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Posted by Duh!
a resident of Apperson Ridge
on May 31, 2009 at 11:33 pm

To LOL!
You having that many kids is why we are in the situation we are. It's likely at least half of them are special ed too.
Have less kids, get better jobs then you don't need to worry about this crappy school district.
NO ON G
More money for me to give to the private schools that work just the way I want them to.


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Posted by mom2
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 1, 2009 at 7:13 am

Dear Let it Fail,
It appears that the only way that teachers can show they care is not to collect a salary? You remind me of my students who are shocked when they see in the grocery store, outside of school. Teachers do have mortgages, children, bills, and the need to go to the grocery store. Also, most of you who are so negative most likely believe teaching is easy. Well, give it a try. Substitute for a week and then report back. Most districts are in need of substitute teachers.
As far as private elementary schools go, sometimes children leaving private elementary come to the public schools behind in their academics or needing special education intervention which their private schools do not provide. Does the public realize that when a private school student needs speech or special education services, that a private school child comes to a public elementary school for a part of the day to receive the services? All public school services are available to all children, private or not.



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Posted by Duh!
a resident of Apperson Ridge
on Jun 1, 2009 at 5:42 pm

Uh yeah, teachers should not be collecting a salary. They are a collection of good for nothings that could not get a job doing anything else. As far as educating everyone, I just don't care! I only care about me and my family. We are republican, it's our way.

Privatize education. Educating everyone in their brother with all their problems is junk. Stupid people - learning disabled - should not be such a suck on the system. Just give them the grunt jobs. Maybe they could work in the fields then we can get rid of the immigrants. Killing two birds with one stone.

NO ON MEASURE G. My money is mine, all mine. I will decide how to spend it on my family and my interests.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jun 1, 2009 at 8:53 pm

Mom2 Your first four paragraphs, I have no issues with these programs—support them even. As to the fifth paragraph—there is nothing, real or implied, in the language that guarantees any of those worthy programs—though it could have. I have friends and family that are in education as teachers; I don't think they are greedy. Never said so either.

Not opposed to VPs either; but the community needs to decide if that is what they value over some other program or with additional tax dollars. They were never given that opportunity.

Worked for . . . Dr. Callan retired two years ago. Class sizes of 22:1, maybe more, are reasonable and cost less. Distinguished or blue ribbon school status, okay—applications take a lot of staff time. I happen to work in a district that doesn't apply for them and it is arguably one of the best districts in the state. They don't apply for the golden bell awards or for teacher of the year either. I'd rather spend the energy on the actual students instead of the awards that talk about how we help the students. The teacher's responsibility is there every day there is a child in front of them—awards or no, but I agree that most of the teachers here are very dedicated, and I'm ready to be told I'm wrong . . . but I don't think the best teachers give a hill of beans about awards.

This is not a personal issue about Dr. Casey for me—I assume the lack of regard goes both ways. It's been a very good, very educational seven years since I left, and I have no regrets.

These are difficult times, but funding has always ebbed and flowed and good administrations at least try to prepare (and 14.5% in raises and abandoning a 7% reserve is not how you get there). This one did not prepare, despite being given a financially solid district. I write to Sacramento too—I'm all for regionalizing if not eliminating county offices of education, for example. I won't be popular for that either. Unfortunate that some districts had to lose reading specialists, but maybe those who cut them are in better shape for today's challenges; I don't know. Again, I am not against reading specialists—but the community needs a change to determine if that is where to spend the money.

Vote no and let's take the next year to get this right.


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Posted by A question for Kathleen
a resident of Castlewood
on Jun 1, 2009 at 9:48 pm

PAUSD outspends PUSD by about 4 grand per student. Is that money wasted?


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Posted by Bottom Line
a resident of Foxborough Estates
on Jun 1, 2009 at 9:56 pm

Again, I encourage you all to take a look at this site.

Web Link

Spend some time comparing districts. When you find districts of our size in California you will see that less money and different student demographics (ours are changing, wake up people!) equals educational disaster.

If we want to remain a top rated district it is not going to be free.

Spend some time comparing districts. When you find districts of our size in California you will see that less money and different student demographics (ours are changing, wake up people!) equals educational disaster.

If we want to remain a top rated district it is not going to be free.


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