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School board restores some administrative jobs

Original post made on Jun 30, 2009

As the fiscal year for Pleasanton Unified School District closed today, the board got down to the nitty gritty as tit weighed funding positions or possibly putting that money towards other programs.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, June 30, 2009, 5:35 PM

Comments (78)

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Posted by parent
a resident of Amador Estates
on Jun 30, 2009 at 7:30 pm

"Had the new position not been approved by the board, Cazares said there would not have been a savings going to the general fund. The role is funded by administrator givebacks as well as money already budgeted under another position, she added. "
Thanks administrators- let's see the teachers union step up now!


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Posted by Cholo
a resident of Livermore
on Jun 30, 2009 at 7:43 pm

Perhaps administrative focus/conflicts have impacted student achievement in the PUSD.
Web Link

Student achievement always suffers if the conflicts are not resolved. Maybe this paper will be helpful in understanding why PUSD high schools so down on the list re: top US high school?


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Posted by Feeling duped
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Jun 30, 2009 at 10:07 pm

I was told Arkin wanted a elementary vice-principal instead of the PIO. That Casey pushed for the importance of a PIO during this critical time. Um, doesn't he have a secretary who is also part of "cabinet" that can send out press releases to the papers?

What happened to Kids come first? Cuts away from the classroom? The PIO/management combined position is over $100,000! Why are more people not concerned about this? How about bringing back an elementary vice principal, music teacher or counselor? Way to go Arkin and shame on the rest of the board for not doing what is right!


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Posted by Concerned WG Parent
a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Jun 30, 2009 at 10:10 pm

What is so important about this PIO? I don't get it. Why is that position more important than a vice principal / teacher / counselor? Was this PIO responsible in any way for me not being able to see the school board meeting last night on the public broadcast? Something smells fishy.


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Posted by Typo
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 30, 2009 at 10:16 pm

Editor/Emily,

There is a suggestive typo in both the teaser line of your post and the article. Y'all might want to fix that! *Blush*


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Posted by Yes
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 30, 2009 at 10:22 pm

Yes, I agree with Concerned WG Parent...

Was this the same PIO that couldn't keep us updated very well on the kids that got sick during the swine flu deal? Did we ever find out what the results were???

Exactly what would this supposed "officer" do that any admin, principal, or assis/super do?

And by the way, why do we need to extend a contract to insure any smooth transitioning? Aren't we paying them a sweet pension? What they can't find it in their scary black heart to help out those next year with info? Flying off for their world tour too soon?

When my company was bought out, even I helped the new staff get the details worked out. Oh, sorry, that's right, I'm a private industry guy that cares about my reputation. I don't stand behind "tenure" or a union.


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Posted by Concerned WG Parent
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Jun 30, 2009 at 10:40 pm

Thanks for the imput and shame on you Dr. Casey. You hypocrit. Kids don't come first in Pleasanton Unified. By the way, considering the "sweet pension" these retirees were offered, what will Casey be expecting when he retires?


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jun 30, 2009 at 10:45 pm

I think what is less clear is that a couple of these changes are on the backs of the classified staff--people bumped out of management back into the classified ranks with subsequent cuts to other classified members because the positions filled or used were actually vacant (not a current expense).

I'm much in favor of the VPs being saved at the middle schools, but contrary to what is affirmed elsewhere, the district can make it without the staff they kept at the DO. Most districts cut PIOs long ago; contracts can be negotiated and other business handed of to others like the CBO. That is what happens when cuts occur, those who remain must take up the duties. Most importantly, with the exception of the VPs, the benefit to students is remote at best and not a priority for the community at its worst. How many counselors or resource specialists or elementary VPs or remaining middle school VPs could have been saved instead?

Unfortunately, the shell game continues--the public is being handed a 1,000 piece puzzle, but with only a few inside the district having access to the whole picture from the lid on the box.


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Posted by What?
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 1, 2009 at 8:48 am


Kathleen - How is it done in Palo Alto? The Office of the Superintendent for PA shows the superintendent, you as the administrative assistant, and a position called "digital publications." Looks even larger than Pleasanton - 3 people in the superintendent office, with the superintendent, admin asst, and portion of PIO. Is there a reason that your district does not "make it without" less staff in the superintendent office. Your claim that "most districts cut PIOs long ago" is also a concern. Has your district merely changed the name of the PIO to "digital publications"?

Only ask because you seem to have all the answers for PUSD and don't understand why your answers do not apply to the district for which you are an administrator.


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Posted by Follow the motive
a resident of Birdland
on Jul 1, 2009 at 9:15 am

Good question posed by "What?" -- Kathleen has an answer for everything, and her views are all critical of Dr. Casey. Of couse, we shouldn't be surprised, given her motives. This the same Kathleen Ruegsegger who abruptly departed the superintendent's office at PUSD some years ago when our former superintendent thankfully moved on to Palo Alto from Pleasanton and took Kathleen with her.


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Posted by Sandy
a resident of Mohr Park
on Jul 1, 2009 at 9:44 am

Feeling duped --

I shared your concerns going into the meeting. It would be possible to pass on some of these duties to the administrators who remain after the layoffs. Fifteen other administrators were cut in February, out of a total of about 60. Chris Grant and Pat Kernan both made the point that they will be running at a lower admin-to-student ratio next year than anywhere else around us (Livermore, Dublin, San Ramon, etc.) I think there will be more than 400 students per admin. Also, that they brought back 33 teachers two or three weeks ago.

In the IT area, I believe that 5 of the 6 staff were eliminated -- this was used as a reason to shift the PIO position down to 40% and bring back the technology coordinator position to 60%. What wasn't really addressed was why the PIO duties couldn't be carried out by the superintendent's administrative assistant. The idea of restructuring the former PIO's job description seemed to be, though, that she would be doing more technology work with Zangle, to make sure that students, teachers and parents could keep track of homework, test grades, and other assignments through this system (which was only implemented last year.)

I don't know what the PIO's role was in communicating about the swine flu outbreak. I do know she does not supervise the people who televise the meetings.

I keep reminding myself that the school district is 14,000 students, and there are about 1400 jobs (850 of those are teachers represented by the APT.) In that context, 45 administrators does not sound like as many, especially since many (half?) are principals and vice principals.

I would be curious to hear from Kathleen what the comparable numbers are in Palo Alto, since the board does not usually refer to schools on the other side of the bay when they are making such statistical comparisons. Is PAUSD larger or smaller than PUSD in student size? In the size of administration?

I do wish people would stop maligning Kathleen's motives. She has a grandson in the district, and she cares about her community. Isn't that reason enough to ask some questions?


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Posted by Sandy
a resident of Mohr Park
on Jul 1, 2009 at 9:47 am

One thing left out of the article -- the board did actually approve a shorter extension of the nutrition coordinator position (only till September 1). Hintzke, Grant, and Arkin voted in favor. (This is after the vote to approve the extension for a longer period failed.)

Thank you, Emily, for your continued reporting on the school board!


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Posted by Kudos
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 1, 2009 at 9:49 am

Kudos to the above last two blogs. They are right-on.
KR - Another wolf in sheep's clothing.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jul 1, 2009 at 10:19 am

I am not administration or management; I'm the administrative assistant to the supt. The digi pub position is not a PIO. There is no PIO. It is a document production slot, everything from school progress reports to graduation programs (it supports school sites). Also not a management position. I speak to the press often to be certain they reach the right person. The assistant sperintendents respond directly to the media depending on the topic. Sorry, no wolves clothing.


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Posted by colette
a resident of Del Prado
on Jul 1, 2009 at 11:05 am

Just curious...who was the superintendent from PUSD who Kathleen followed to Palo Alto Unified?


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Posted by Response
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 1, 2009 at 11:40 am

Kathleen followed Mary Frances Callen to Palo Alto. She has stated in the blog that she does not like John Casey ("and the feeling is mutual" Kathleeen's quote.) To state "administrative assistant to the superintendent" is not an administrative job is using word games - confidential employees are administrative positions. Take a look at the admin. salary schedule for Palo Alto - much higher than Pleasanton's. I understand that Kathleen has a grandchild attending Pleasanton schools. From her messages, I do feel that her attacks are somewhat personal and directed at the superintendent. By the way, how big was your raise - this year. Classified received a 2.5% increase in Palo Alto, this year. A district with a parcel tax gave a 2.5% raise on 3/31/09. I see more wolf than sheep.

Web Link


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Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 1, 2009 at 11:43 am

Palo Alto has a parcel tax. That is why they can afford so much stuff. On top of that, parents donate to the PTA and educational foundation.

Didn't Kathleen oppose measure G?

Why not campaign against a parcel tax where you work, so maybe you get laid off? Why the negative attitude where you live but not where you work?


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Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 1, 2009 at 11:52 am

Measure A (bond) in Palo Alto:
Web Link

"On June 3, 2008, voters in the Palo Alto Unified School District approved a $378 million bond issue(Measure A). The percentage of YES votes was 77.59%. "

Check the office of the superintendent and other staff in Palo Alto:
Web Link


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Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 1, 2009 at 12:00 pm

I wonder if Palo Alto residents and board knosw that someone who is an assistant to their superintendent is so vocal against another school district's administration and another school's district's parcel tax.


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Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 1, 2009 at 12:05 pm

"I wonder if Palo Alto residents and board knosw that someone who is an assistant to their superintendent is so vocal against another school district's administration and another school's district's parcel tax."

My comment was not complete. I wonder about that because Kathleen in a post above uses information from her job in Palo Alto to criticize another school district's decisions.


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Posted by Sandy
a resident of Mohr Park
on Jul 1, 2009 at 12:05 pm

(Although I'm not sure you were asking this question of me -- My raise this year was zero. And I work for the Navy.)

A bond is usually something different from a parcel tax measure. Bonds (including Palo Alto's measure A) are dedicated to capital improvements -- building or renovating facilities. Pleasanton passed measure B back in 1998, I believe.

Palo Alto does also have a parcel tax in place, but I believe it was voted in several years ago, not recently.

I don't think any district should or would lay off the administrative assistant to the superintendent. Would you expect a CEO of a company with 1400 employees to go without an assistant? I wouldn't. Even if there were other layoffs in the company.

Anonymous people who take shots at people using their real names, and who could never say those same things politely to that real person face-to-face.... you frustrate me!


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 1, 2009 at 12:18 pm

Does anyone know when the board meeting will be posted online? (webcast)


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jul 1, 2009 at 12:43 pm

Response and Anonymous: It's Callan. I have a grandchild in Pleasanton schools; I opposed Measure G (you can find my op ed or letter to the editor) and the most recent staffing decisions. This has been about the bad decisions made, not the people themselves. I can balance my comment about John Casey by saying Pat Kernan was my neighbor for eight years; I like him; at this point he may or may not like me. I definitely disagree with his decisions.

I am not on the management team here; it is a management role in Pleasanton. I don't attend any of the various management meetings. Insisting it is administration doesn't make it so; sorry. For the period I disagreed with Pleasanton's raises (2005-2008), Palo Alto received 0, 1, and 2%. That's not a complaint; I'm paid well. This year we were fortunate to receive 2.5% on the salary schedule; and you missed the 2.5% we were given off the schedule, a bonus by any other name.

Palo Alto has a large parcel tax and is what is referred to as a basic aid district, not a revenue limit district like Pleasanton. Each year districts calculate their property tax income and can end up being basic aid. The likelihood is increasing. You can ask Luz Cazares to explain. The foundation recently raised over $2 million. The PTAs raise funds for their sites and volunteer time in what easily equates to the same amount. I cannot vote in Palo Alto parcel tax elections, but others did oppose and defeat the first attempted renewal. The second attempt passed with a high percentage.

I find these anonymous comments increase when I hit some unknowable nerve. I have been as open and responsive as I can. Attempts to discredit me or to question my motives won't change the reality of what is happening at the corner of Bernal and First.


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Posted by Kudos
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 1, 2009 at 1:04 pm

OOOOPS! A couple of blogs got in before mine. So these are the two blogs I was referring to per the comment I made:
Kudos to the above last two blogs. They are right-on.
KR - Another wolf in sheep's clothing.

Blog 1: Kathleen - How is it done in Palo Alto? The Office of the Superintendent for PA shows the superintendent, you as the administrative assistant, and a position called "digital publications." Looks even larger than Pleasanton - 3 people in the superintendent office, with the superintendent, admin asst, and portion of PIO. Is there a reason that your district does not "make it without" less staff in the superintendent office. Your claim that "most districts cut PIOs long ago" is also a concern. Has your district merely changed the name of the PIO to "digital publications"?




Only ask because you seem to have all the answers for PUSD and don't understand why your answers do not apply to the district for which you are an administrator.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Blog 2:
Posted by Follow the motive, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, 3 hours ago

Good question posed by "What?" -- Kathleen has an answer for everything, and her views are all critical of Dr. Casey. Of couse, we shouldn't be surprised, given her motives. This the same Kathleen Ruegsegger who abruptly departed the superintendent's office at PUSD some years ago when our former superintendent thankfully moved on to Palo Alto from Pleasanton and took Kathleen with her.



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Posted by Anonymous by choice
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 1, 2009 at 2:17 pm

Once again, the same people, using different blog names, are attacking Kathleen R., but the attackers are too cowardly to use their own names.
It's not only just getting old, it's ridiculous.
The topic is about some administrators at PUSD getting their jobs back. Can we get back on topic?
I don't understand why administration believes that because they made earlier cuts, they get to decide how the money saved by these cuts can be used in any way they choose, including creating new jobs in the district office? Wasn't the point to these cuts to make more funds available for our students and their education? Didn't PUSD administration say that this was their way of helping the community? How are they giving back, how are they supporting our kids' education when they are using funds that became available through cuts to create new district office jobs?
The PIO job was cut, but PUSD has created two new district office jobs in order to insure that employee gets full time employment with PUSD. How is this fair to all the other classified employees who either had their hours cut, or lost their jobs? I understand that if Ms. Grasso has seniority, she can bump someone else in the office out of their job, but what I don't understand is why two new positions were created specifically for her. That seems unfair to other employees.
Other positions were also cut, but instead of staying cut, PUSD has chosen to extend those positions until the people in them retire. How is that fair? The money being spent to keep these people on is money that could have been used to provide technology specialists.
I am so disappointed in most of the Board members. They are supposed to be putting our kids first, but it seems as if, with the exception of Valerie Arkin and sometimes Jamie Hintzke, they aren't doing that.
I can guess that it's very hard to make decisions that affect people's livelihood, and no one wants to be responsible for making anyone lose any income, but the Board is supposed to represent the community first - and that's not happening with the current board.


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Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 1, 2009 at 2:35 pm

At this point aren't we really just rearranging the furniture and trying how to figure out how to do with less? It doesn't matter what you call it certain administrative functions need to be filled. Combining, rearranging, and eliminating any duplications are the name of the game. What I would like to see this school board do as we go forward is to build into the budget some sort of reserve to be used for essential programs, money that is ear marked and untouchable to be used when the economic climate is unfavorable. This "chicken-little, the sky is falling" approach is the root of the problem here. No one, for years, on the school board has thought about provisioning for a downturn. It is my hope that this will be the lesson learned. In the meantime the least bad decisions need to be made and scape-goating one administrative position really isn't productive.


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Posted by Parent of Two
a resident of Val Vista
on Jul 1, 2009 at 3:12 pm

Parent of Two is a registered user.

Here's an easy solution to the whole PIO issue: Why not hire a college student or recent grad to be an intern? A public administration student would be an ideal (and inexpensive) alternative to a full-time, fully-vested, full-benefits "officer". In addition, an intern is likely well-versed in some of the more modern ways of information management and public policy. So, for about HALF the cost of a PIO, we could have an intern with upside, both professional and technical.

Money is saved, Pleasanton gets better, fresher eyes on a tired subject, and we might just develop a long-term public official.


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Posted by CEASAR
a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Jul 1, 2009 at 3:28 pm

Regarding Zangle.

The teachers are not required to use Zangle.
So even though the district is spending like crazy to implement it,
the teachers can disregard it.

I know this because one of my child's teachers said she does not participate with Zangle. Apparently, the union contract makes it voluntary.

I talked to the VP for some help and he just shrugged his shoulders and said there was nothing he could do.

In the wacky, upside down, absurd world the PUSD lives in, they can spend millions on something, and the workforce can say, "no thanks, I don't have time for that".

Don't waste my money PUSD, then ask for more.


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Posted by WTF
a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on Jul 1, 2009 at 4:16 pm

That is not true. We have been zangle trained and that his how we turn in attendance. There were many bugs in the program this year and by the end of the year everything was up and running. The primary does not have the online grade book option.. yet, but being that were are one of the very last districts that still does hand written report cards, it's about time. There is no "opting out". Get your facts straight.


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Posted by Thanks Kathleen
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 1, 2009 at 4:48 pm

Hi Kathleen,

I asked the question of you last evening about what we can do now.

I cannot believe the grief you get on this forum.

If these "fact checkers" here used 1/2 the energy they direct at you to those who are actually supposed to be serving our community, perhaps things here in PUSD would work a little better.

Thank you for your dedication and selflessness. You are an amazing example of someone of moral fortitude and community involvement. I'm looking forward to contacting the Board who are supposed to serve us, not Dr. Casey or the Unions. Thanks for keeping the focus where it belongs.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jul 1, 2009 at 5:07 pm

Anon, You make a good point about one position or another, and Anonymous by choice speaks well about the difficulties of making decisions when you know an actual person's livelihood is at stake. Of the $666,159 spent on Monday, at least $216,124 was questionable and better used for more VPs, counselors, resource specialists, or CSR. Aren't those the areas identified for the fund raising efforts?


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jul 1, 2009 at 5:21 pm

Thanks Kathleen, Thanks.


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Posted by Rosemarie Pease
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Jul 1, 2009 at 7:08 pm

Why am I not surprised that ADMINISTRATORS WERE REHIRED BEFORE TEACHERS? THEY HAVE FORGOTTEN THAT TEACHING CHILDREN IS THEIR JOB NOT MORE ADINISTRATION WORK!


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Posted by Lost in all this
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 1, 2009 at 9:31 pm

is that fact that CSR for K-3 and 9 is going up due to failure to pass the parcel tax. A lot of parents aren't too happy about this. Personal attacks are fair game on a public forum like this. I would say I saw worse behavior from the No on G side than from Yes on G side on these forums.

Kathleen campaigned against the tax. It failed, and class sizes increased. There are consequences.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jul 1, 2009 at 10:54 pm

Lost, Had Measure G passed, would it be okay to berate yes supporters on a personal level because I would have to pay a tax I opposed? It wouldn't cross my mind to do ao.

I am allowed my vote and the opportunity to speak freely about what I do or do not support. I did not support the tax; I gave my reasons and presented information that supported my opinion. So did the measure's supporters. Each Pleasanton voter had the opportunity to mark a ballot. Not enough people voted yes; sufficient people voted no; many more didn't vote.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jul 1, 2009 at 10:56 pm

Meant to say It wouldn't cross my mind to do so.


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Posted by Beth W
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 2, 2009 at 12:21 am

I don't understand how the district could make these decisions! In March they told us what the priorities for the district were by way of the list of programs to be saved by the parcel tax.
Then a couple of weeks ago they more narrowly identified priorities of things to be saved with the fundraising efforts. But then when funding is found (it doesn't matter how)suddenly the priorities are COMPLETELY different. I am starting to understand the distrust in our school administrators!
So if I donate money to the campaign, how am I supposed to trust that it will be spent where I intend it? I don't think I can. Dr. Casey, et al, you just made a huge mistake.


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Posted by Dark Corners of Town
a resident of Country Fair
on Jul 2, 2009 at 9:08 am

Lost in all this -

CSR is being reduced because PUSD employees did not defer their annual automatic raises for one year. That would have generated $1.5M to cover CSR. This one year deferment saves $1.5M each year, which would have paid for CSR for years to come.

A lot of parents aren't too happy about this.

So, you can blame it on Meausre G not passing, or you can blame it on PUSD employees for not participating in the 'shared sacrifice' program. Just as actions have consequences, so does the lack of action.


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Posted by Perfect!
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 2, 2009 at 9:33 am

DCoT

Excellent reasoning. Those who are upset that G didn't pass are seeing the reason why the rest of us that voted against G did so...no accountability.

This crew at the DO is only motivated by self interest - not our kids. We had foresight at asking for a tighter "leash" before signing up for a parcel tax without any limits in the language.

The current fundraising is great, however, it has done exactly what the parcel tax would have: guaranteed continued misuse of funding. Manipulating voters isn't smart on any level.

I won't add to the accurate info you posted about the Union - you made a perfect argument.

Some supporters of G love to state that Union contracts aren't simple to negotiate. The point is, any group can call for a time-out. It would easily work if they got their act together...

It would be for the "children" right? Funny how the loyalty changes when any responsibility lays at their feet.


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Posted by teachers who paid
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 2, 2009 at 11:57 am

Manipulating voters isn't smart on any level.- I agree Perfect! that is why I am frustrated to hear the continual claim of "automatic raises" when referring to teacher's salary schedule, and that the current fund-raising is "guaranteed continued misuse of funding."

There is plenty of information about negotiations Web Link
and how step and column works, it is important not to simply state this as a reason for measure G failing. There has been no COLA increase last year with health care costs rising 14%, that equates to loss of wages for many teachers. It is at the cost of a teacher to move across the columns when earning units, and out of the 30 possible steps, only 15 of them are increases to salaries. I personally have been frozen for three years with a rising benefits bill. This method of paying teachers has been in effect for years in the entire state of California and has not been complained about when times were good, many industries were seeing annual bonuses while teachers were anchored to a schedule.

The "Shared sacrifice" you write about has taken place in PUSD with a cut of $10 million to the budget. Now many in the community are generously donating their time and funds. I personally donated the parcel tax cost plus my two days concession. I will also be working harder to provide the same services this coming school year with numerous cuts to our school. To say that we are not in it for the kids is "manipulating voters" as you stated.


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Posted by That is ludicrous
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 2, 2009 at 12:45 pm

DCOT,

Fact: Class size is going up.
Fact: Measure G would have prevented it.

All the "No new taxes" clowns with the Tea Bag tantrum parties and factually incorrect postings here played a role in defeating Measure G.

You guys are very much in the minority.
Own up to your actions. You caused this.

Move out if you want to, but if the rest of us make you feel unwelcome, then you might as well get used to it.


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Posted by Katheryn
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Jul 2, 2009 at 12:48 pm

teachers who paid,

You may have already answered this on another thread, but I don't have it in me to re-read all the posts on the varous topics regarding $$, PUSD and The Board. You have made very valid points above and in my quest for more well-rounded information...

I was wondering what your opinion was on The District hiring back admin positions instead of bringing back some of our teachers?

Also, if you had a parent that wasn't able to donate to both the PPIE fundraiser and the classroom supply fee and additional classroom supplies throughout the year, as a teacher, what would you prefer the parent to do?


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Posted by Teacher
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 2, 2009 at 1:20 pm

As a teacher, I completely understand bringing back admin positions to keep the district running. They took a big hit. Admin did give up three days to bring back positions. Teaching and counseling positions were brought back early in the month. I do wish that we, as a teacher's association, would consider doing what the admin did and give up three days in order to bring back the remaining teachers.


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Posted by teachers who paid
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 2, 2009 at 4:08 pm

Katheryn, you ask a great question!
I am devastated at the loss of many exceptional teachers. The elementary schools will be feeling this in many ways- larger classes, less teachers to do the same amount of work on committees, many teachers being moved to new grade levels and schools, taking on VP duties, and I would love to be a part of the equation that brings them back (by giving back days). I hope that the fund-raising efforts can be successful at bringing the numbers back to 20:1. At the same time, I understand the need for the district personnel that were hired back. Two of the positions are being paid for by contracts that they will be able to fulfill, not costing the district anything. The third position is being covered by Administration concessions. I can't do business as usual in my classroom without the support from administration and the services they provide. We had 30 teachers hired back last week, as well as counselors, and reading specialists. Not that we are back to where we were, but it is definitely a balance and a compromise.

If a parent truly values smaller class sizes and wants to bring teachers back, then I would encourage everyone to donate what they are able to the PPIE and PSEE organizations. To bring the ratio down, it is not about one or two teachers, but many and that is the purpose of the large-scale fundraising. Classroom budgets are also reduced next year, which include graphics and supplies, but support can be easy to accomplish on a smaller scale. I once had a parent who had a copy machine and helped me so much with some of my graphics orders. In my own children's classrooms, I try to give occasional whiteboard markers, pencils, and even Kleenex. These little things really add up and helps teachers who often times spend their own money.

Whatever people choose to do, the teachers in this district will work harder to make up for what is lost. We will do it for the children we teach because that is the job and because we care deeply about the job we do.


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Posted by teachers who paid
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Jul 2, 2009 at 10:47 pm

Thank you, teachers who paid:

That's helpful to my family and to other's. My perception is there are many families who are supportive of our teacher's, but are skeptical of PUSD business and are reluctant to donate unless it's directly to our teachers via $$ or supplies (pencil's, kleenex, eraser's, purell, special holiday supplies, etc.).

I speak only for myself, I'm hesitant to give to the PPIE or PSEE since there hasen't been much information on oversight of the funds. This is an amazing issue in an amazing time I hope our children never have to see in their lives. Thanks for your input!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Katheryn
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Jul 2, 2009 at 10:48 pm

Sorry, the last post was authored by Katheryn, not "teachers who paid". Rookie PW poster move:-)


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Posted by Oversight
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 3, 2009 at 9:21 am

Looks like pretty obvious oversight to me - a certain amount of money is needed to restore 20 to 1 for K-3. Another amount is needed for to restore elementary music. Money donated = return of programs. Not much oversight is needed here.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 3, 2009 at 4:43 pm

Measure G failed because community members objected to the language of Measure G and because PUSD has given the community reasons to distrust the way PUSD handles the funding it already receives through taxes.
Unfortunately, PUSD has not done anything to restore confidence in their financial decision making.
PUSD and the School Board continue to make decisions that don't address the community's concerns and wishes.
If they had not kept on the administrative positions which they originally cut, and had they not created new jobs for an employee whose position had been cut, they would have shown they were serious about taking all the money that is being raised and putting it towards student education and programs.
Instead they keep proving that those who were against G had accurately assessed what the district's priorities are - providing jobs and income first, and education second.
It is sad that PUSD employees are losing their jobs or having their hours cut as are so many people in the private sector.
But the PUSD and School Board priority should be education first.
The Board will probably put a parcel tax on a ballot again, but their actions have only made the possibility of a parcel tax passing less than it was in June.
I've lost faith in PUSD or the School Board being willing or able put kids first.



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Posted by Yo Parent
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 5, 2009 at 7:56 am

You say you are concerned that PUSD doesn't put children first. I am wondering myself: do you put children first? Have you donated to the PPIE/PSEE fundraiser?

All this complaining about PUSD's misuse of funds isn't helping the children at all. You think you are punishing PUSD, but let's not forget who the real victims are here: the kids. PUSD has its faults and I don't agree with everything they do, but I also blame a lot of the misinformation being passed along in the community for denigrating the quality of the schools here.

There is nothing to argue about regarding the fundraiser. The writing on the wall is clear. If you want to save CSR, counselors, teachers, reading and math specialists, and music programs, then donate to the PPIE/PSEE fundraiser. There is no misrepresentation.

The recent restoration of some administrative positions could have been handled better, sure. But as Teachers who paid said, 2 of the positions were already paid for, and one was paid for by concessions. Currently Pleasanton has the worst ratio of administrative positions per student than any other city in the Tri-Valley. And also, if the fundraiser fails, it will have the worst CSR ratio in the Tri-Valley as well. Do you also want the teachers here to be the worst paid?


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Posted by Sandy
a resident of Mohr Park
on Jul 5, 2009 at 9:38 am

Yo Parent -- well said.

- more students per administrator than any other city in the Tri-Valley.

- if more funds aren't raised, the class sizes for K-3 in Pleasanton (target 25) will be worse than Dublin's (target 23) Livermore's (target 22) or San Ramon's (target 24)

There are other cuts that have been made in those cities as well, but to my knowledge, none are as deep as what PUSD will have to absorb without fundraising.

The writing is on the wall -- these donations are needed.

Teachers -- if you want your union to consider concessions to be a part of the solution, now is the time to contact your union leaders (emails are available at www.pleasantonteachers.org/contact)

Parents -- if you want to donate, you can do so at www.ilovepleasantonschools.com


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jul 5, 2009 at 12:12 pm

Yo . . . the most positive spin you can try to put on this is that administrative concessions saved administrators.

However, the cut list and the priorities for reinstating programs must have been face down on a desk when the recommendations were made to the board. The recommendations were placed on a consent calendar--no discussion, just a vote. So if a couple of board members hadn't pulled the item for discussion and pushed it out a week, it would have slipped past most people's attention. Seems purposeful.

There were comments and emails opposing a couple of the decisions, but the majority of the board chose to move forward. The writing I see on the wall says, "if we can find a way to do what we want instead of what you might believe or despite what we might have committed to earlier, we'll do so." The fundraising is at risk because public trust continues to be abused . . . probably because they too believe that we will do this for the children, even if they don't hold themselves to that ideal.

Over $200,000 of what was spent was arguably not a priority and not positions that are a direct value to students. If this is to be about the community's children, then that begins at the top and wherever and whenever savings can be found.

To Sandy's last two thoughts: perhaps the fundraising would go better if teachers agreed to match what parents give . . . that could mean $1.4 million on each side. Certainly there is a better chance for those goals than $2.8 million totally from the community. If the argument is that CSR is worth the cost, then this saves the programs and teachers' jobs.


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Posted by unclehomerr..
a resident of Downtown
on Jul 5, 2009 at 1:29 pm


Kathleen is saying the Board is gonna do what they damn well please knowing the parents will self-impose a tax to fund programs.

When that stops.. and only then.. will they make any attempt at meaningful restructuring and fiscal responsibility.

In a proper world... they would fund education.. and then use the leftovers on administration. Remember the one room schoolhouses? They did amazing jobs, with dedicated teachers, and without 1st Assistant Superintendents for nutrition.

Waste cutting MUST start at the TOP!!! And, it won't until WE demand it!!!

unclehomerr..


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Posted by teachers who paid
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 5, 2009 at 5:34 pm

Since measure G failed, PUSD brought classes sizes back down to 25:1, they brought back 30 teachers, reading specialists, counselors, funding for the Barton Reading program. Because of administration concessions, they were able to to pay for positions that they feel are necessary for the success of PUSD. Two of the three positions pay for themselves. They cut 30% of the administrative staff. Bringing us down to the lowest administration per pupil in the area. PUSD cut $10 million from it's budget, submitted a balanced budget on time with a plan for restoring the required 3% reserve.

This is what voters asked for. It is all public information that can be found in any of the school board meetings, or by watching them online. It is the truth.

Public trust is being affected by poster's speculation about what the board must be thinking, speculation on what positions are a priority to the administration staff, and insinuations about staff's motives. These are not accurate and blatantly incorrect. Why do you fail to mention what PUSD did accomplish since Measure G failed? What is the motivation behind these posts that fail to tell the whole story?


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Posted by Sandy
a resident of Mohr Park
on Jul 5, 2009 at 7:14 pm

Unclehomerrr... As far as I recall, there are no one-room schoolhouses with 14,000 students. Some level of administration is necessary. I'm not defending the board's decisions -- in fact, I was the first speaker at the board meeting, and I spoke against them. But I do think it's important for community members to understand that the school district is a complex organization, and cannot be run by teachers alone.

Kathleen, I do agree that there would be a higher chance of the fundraising succeeding in bringing class sizes back to 20-to-1 if the teachers also participated through their union (and not just as individuals, as I know many have done).

I think the danger is in fundraising to cover salaries. It's one thing to ask people to contribute to renovate a building, or buy library books, or pay for new computers in classrooms... if the fundraising comes up short in a particular year, no one's job is on the line. But this kind of fundraising to restore teaching positions invites problems, because it will not be sustainable year after year.


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Posted by justwondering
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 5, 2009 at 8:08 pm

The two positions that pay for themselves--why were they cut in the first place if they generate enough revenue to pay for themselves? What am I missing here?


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Posted by Privatize
a resident of another community
on Jul 5, 2009 at 10:24 pm

unclehomerr,

"In a proper world... they would fund education.. "

I didn't know you loved taxes that much. I didn't know you were a socialist. In a proper world they would not fund education, they would give back your hard earned money and trust you to use it as you please. Stop supporting organized legalized child abuse.

GET YOUR ACT TOGETHER OR STOP PRETENDING TO BE A CONSERVATIVE!!!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jul 5, 2009 at 10:56 pm

TWP, The district knew in advance it could have classes at 25:1 and save some jobs with the flexibility provided by the state and the money from the feds. The positions that pay for themselves are not in question, except for why they were cut in the first place. The district is legally required to submit a balanced budget on time, so no brownie points there. It's good to know there is a plan for a 3% reserve, but I remain skeptical because there once was a goal for a much larger reserve that could be helping to save program now.

I've contacted all the board members about community's priorities and have heard from three of them. If administration was so high on everyone's lists, then why not the other 1.5 middle school VPs or elementary VPs? Others can tell me if I'm incorrect, but I think this is about what the community, your customers--the taxpayers--want for the community's children (and that is the motivation).


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Posted by Pat
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jul 6, 2009 at 12:48 pm

Brownie points...really Kathleen, what TWP was saying were the facts that you conveniently left out as usual, painting a negative view about the fiscal responsibility of the district. I'm confused that you would say delivering a balanced budget is no big deal. They cut $10 million dollars from the budget, 60 teachers, 30% of the administration and more. That is a big deal, and people are interested in knowing this.

The community is in full swing fund-raising. A lot of people are donating their time and effort to make up for the lack of funding from Sacramento. Your posts are full of gossip, speculation, and hear say. I wondering along with TWP about the motivation behind this, are you trying to persuade people against donating, because each time I read your posts it sure seems like it. (And reading posts that follow you, it seems to be working) This isn't a parcel tax, why would you do this?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Yo Pat
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 6, 2009 at 1:48 pm

Well said, Pat. I have been wondering myself what Kathleen's motivations are. Why is she still pursuing this issue when it's VOLUNTARY?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Fred
a resident of Downtown
on Jul 6, 2009 at 2:06 pm

Probably because she knows as most people do that the fundraising will fall well short of what it needed or thought to be needed and at that point people will want the government to step in to supply the teachers with their raises and that is what this is really all about. Anybody ask why hundreds of teachers received pink slips but only 60 actually lost their jobs? Scare tactics sure and simple and now they have lost all integrity.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Julie
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 6, 2009 at 2:30 pm

Fred, you are spot-on!

Kathleen is someone willing to point out the issue with SPENDING and fiscal deterioration. Until the well runs dry at the District, the administration will continue to run their agenda as they see fit. That is why so many of us were against G and are against this "VOLUNTARY" stupidity (!!) fundraising as well.

It's time for responsibility and overhaul, not token measures of contrition that don't amount to anything other than public recognition. Did you catch that?

Kathleen has been an awesome voice for the rest of us. And instead of seeing them for the well reasoned points they are, the questions that are repeatedly asked about her are, "What is she up to?"..."What are her motivations?"..."What's in it for her?".

The answers are simple: Nothing, Our community, and Nothing.

Fairly simple that she stands back and calls a spade a spade. Then the village idiots stand back and want to know why? I think a better question is to ask all of you, why you aren't seeing a problem at the district and are willing to accept nothing short of apathy from those who are supposed to get this right.

The longer it takes for them to figure this out, delayed by these fundraising efforts, the more divided this community will become. It's about getting it right and keeping it right.

Reality check: Your kid screws up majorly and you have a choice: Is it more important for you to see your kid go to the prom or teach them the lesson that need to learn? That should reveal your own level of character. Figure it out, get on board with the right thing to do, and lay off Kathleen and others who already understand what is at stake here.

Geez, need any other hand-holding? Get a clue.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by unclehomerr..
a resident of Downtown
on Jul 6, 2009 at 3:14 pm

Privatize:
You clipped from my post:
"In a proper world... they would fund education.. "

What I posted was..

"In a proper world... they would fund education.. and then use the leftovers on administration."

When you clip a portion of a sentence, and then criticize it.. it devalues the entire rest of your post. Either you stopped reading in your haste to put me down.. or, you're misquoting to put me down.

In either case, you're a waste of space.

unclehomerr..


 +   Like this comment
Posted by unclehomerr..
a resident of Downtown
on Jul 6, 2009 at 3:38 pm

Unclehomerrr... As far as I recall, there are no one-room schoolhouses with 14,000 students. Some level of administration is necessary. I'm not defending the board's decisions -- in fact, I was the first speaker at the board meeting, and I spoke against them. But I do think it's important for community members to understand that the school district is a complex organization, and cannot be run by teachers alone.

Sandy.. I don't disagree with you at all. My reference to 'one room schoolhouses' was to quick track the growth in education and how we've crossed over into top heavy bureaucracies at all levels.. Federal, State, County and local. I'm a fan of teachers, and the amazing work they do, and not a fan of administrators who take money which would be better spent in the classrooms. I'm aware we need 'some' administration.. but we've gradually gone over the top!

Actually.. maybe 300 one-room schools wouldn't be such a bad idea!

unclehomerr..
ps. in the interest of full disclosure, I don't have kids in the Pleasanton schools. I'm merely a Pleasanton taxpayer who's tired of bureaucratic waste in all areas.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by unclehomerr..
a resident of Downtown
on Jul 6, 2009 at 3:40 pm

Sorry.. forgot to put quotation marks around Sandy's clip...

"Unclehomerrr... As far as I recall, there are no one-room schoolhouses with 14,000 students. Some level of administration is necessary. I'm not defending the board's decisions -- in fact, I was the first speaker at the board meeting, and I spoke against them. But I do think it's important for community members to understand that the school district is a complex organization, and cannot be run by teachers alone."

unk..


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Pat
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jul 6, 2009 at 4:19 pm

So Julie, it is ok for you to call me the village idiot, but I am not to question Kathleen about the leaving out the whole truth in her posts? She is posting opinions and people are taking them as facts. There is a big difference, and this attitude that what ever she says is untouchable, and anyone who calls her on it is attacking her, is really old.

I trust the district to run their agenda, this is a highly successful district. I could see your point if the schools were failing, API scores tanking, and kids unhappy, but that is not the case. They have taken drastic actions to preserve the quality of education they provide, and you call say is the fund-raising is stupidity?

TWP posted facts, you post gossip and opinions and insults thinking they are facts...who needs to get it straight?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jul 6, 2009 at 5:04 pm

Yo Pat, The thread is about administrative positions being reinstated, not fund raising.

Pat, My point was turning in a balanced budget is required. You're right, I could have left off the brownie points remark—it was unnecessary. I agree people are interested in the facts, but I already made reference to doling out puzzle pieces without having the box top to see the whole picture. Information about reduced penalties for changes in CSR was issued by education legislative watchdogs in February, so saying the district brought back teachers is skipping the piece of the picture indicating this was already very likely because of flexibility the state offered.

We differ on why the fundraising is necessary. I absolutely agree there are some amazing volunteers putting in their best efforts, but I think it is an enormous task to raise $2.8 million, even when school is in session. I suggested trying to raise half from APT (and I'll acknowledge, as Sandy has, that teachers have donated to the foundations) and half from the community. It would make it easier for the volunteers and much more likely the goal would be reached by August 15. I'm not against the fundraising. I'm not even against a parcel tax under circumstances I've noted previously. I don't believe I've posted gossip or hearsay, and I try to be clear about what is my opinion.

The actions taken on June 29 raised questions, even from board members. I asked fair questions; why not VPs; why not anything other than district positions? I contacted the board with limited success. The positions chosen were furthest from better choices that have a direct and positive impact on students. I will continue to raise these kinds of questions, because not everything is immediately known to the community, such as this June 30 press release (or even district sources for the same information) Web Link from the California Department of Education (there is a link at the bottom of the release).

As to facts, under the correct conditions you can say the sky is blue and that will be a fact, but to paraphrase George Carlin, if you don't point out the approaching ICBM, well, it isn't a complete fact.


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Posted by Privatize
a resident of another community
on Jul 6, 2009 at 9:01 pm

to unclehomerr

"In a proper world... they would fund education.. and then use the leftovers on administration."

You still don't get it. In a proper world none of my tax dollars would go to fund education. The founding fathers did not establish a public school system for a reason. It is not the responsibility of the government to "educate" children. IT IS THE PARENT'S RESPONSIBILITY.

YOU ARE THE ONE WHO IS WASTING SPACE IF YOU CAN'T FIGURE THAT OUT. STOP BEING A SOCIALIST AND START BEING AN AMERICAN.


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Posted by Privatize
a resident of another community
on Jul 6, 2009 at 9:17 pm

And to you, Mrs. Ruegsegger,

So you work for the wonderful Palo-Alto Unified School District. Maybe you have a fancy degree from some fancy college. Well I have no formal education, and guess what? Looks like I can string together a few sentences just fine. Your so-called Palo Alto schools aren't any better or worse than Pleasanton. They are equally crappy.

The endless spiral of apathy, lack of discipline, questionable subject matter, and complete lack of morality is out of control. Stop defending a system that is broken beyond repair. It should never have been built in the first place.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jul 6, 2009 at 10:16 pm

Privatize, I'm clearly missing something in your post. I responded to Yo Pat and Pat who are upset I'm NOT supporting the actions of PUSD and it seems you are unhappy because I support them too much. I'm actually not opposed to many other methods of delivery for education: magnet schools, private schools, home schooling, vouchers. Each has merit in different ways and in different areas of the country and for the needs of individual families.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by BLT
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 7, 2009 at 10:10 am

Privatize, I admire your spunk. Unfortunately, the cow left the barn many, many decades ago. Unless the United States of America ceases to exist, or a state breaks away, public schools are here to stay.
Without a doubt, the vast majority of school districts in the bay area are failures. Off the top, I would list the following as top districts, in no special order (this is just my opinion - I won't get into a sparring match with Privatize):
Saratoga-Los Gatos
Cupertino
Palo Alto
San Ramon Valley
Acalanes
Pleasanton
Piedmont
Seven districts listed, perhaps some of you can make a case for a few more (please make a case for only the very best public districts – Fremont has Mission San Jose High, but the other high schools are lacking, so Fremont doesn't make this list. Livermore and Dublin are fair districts, not great districts). There are a hundred + additional public school districts in the bay area. Most are poor performing. Why? Look at the lack of interest in education from the parents first. It all starts in the home. Then look at the community – safe? Dangerous?

So Privatize, hold your gun fire - I agree that the vast majority of districts in the bay area are bad - and this most likely carries to the entire state of California. Nation-wide, I can't say, since i haven't studied the national numbers. My guess would be there are more bad districts than good. This bodes poorly for the future of our nation.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Parent
a resident of Amador Estates
on Jul 7, 2009 at 11:39 am

Hmmmm- wonder how many of those districts have a parcel tax.......


 +   Like this comment
Posted by BLT
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 7, 2009 at 12:34 pm

I read some very interesting statistics a few weeks ago on district finance sourcing: local / state / federal / other (I'll try to dig up the online source).

Pleasanton got about 45% of funding from the state.

Palo Alto was less than 15%.

Saratoga-Los Gatos was less than 10%.

Across the board test scores were higher in PA and S-LG.

What I took from the information: The less a community controls funding, the less local control a community has.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Question
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 7, 2009 at 2:17 pm

I was under the impression that the school district is required to turn in a balanced budget and there are different "grades" for the budget the district turns in. I heard that because PUSD does not have the mandated reserves, they have been turning in what is called a "qualified" budget for the last two years - a grade below whatever is considered the best.
Has anyone else heard this?


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jul 7, 2009 at 4:38 pm

I posted this link earlier in this thread Web Link noting it is the CDE press release which has a link to how various districts stand on their watch list. PUSD is listed.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Privatize
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 7, 2009 at 9:23 pm

Mrs Ruegsegger,

Yes, I'm unhappy that you are supporting them at all. But, I don't seem to be getting to many people agreeing with me here.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Wow
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 7, 2009 at 9:56 pm

According to the qualified status, maintaining the 150MM isn't going to last.

I think it is time to break the plate of the local school Unions before they destroy this district in particular.

It's time to get honest and real about the future of this district. If there isn't more money coming in, money needs to be taken out. We clearly can't have less staff, but we can have their pay reduced. It is where things have gotten.

Privatize, I agree that vouchers are a terrific option - I just don't agree that everyone has to take them or that they will work for everyone (special needs children, etc). Plus, the private schools aren't prepared to handle a total collapse of the public school system. While we need to be thinking outside of the box, jumping all at once won't work well.


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Posted by Question
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 8, 2009 at 7:55 am

Thank you Kathleen. I couldn't remember where I had heard PUSD turned in a qualified budget and I must have read it when you posted it before!
I now understand why turning in a budget isn't necessarily anything to cheer about since even school districts that know they will not be able to meet their financial obligations turn in budgets.
Do you happen to know the last time PUSD turned in a budget that was not qualified?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jul 8, 2009 at 10:53 am

Question, I can only speak to recent history to say the answer is not in the time since 1985 that I recall (the first time our family moved here)--and the early 1990s were some tight budget years. The Alameda County Office of Education could tell you for certain or the California Department of Education, as could staff at PUSD. I'll see if I can find anything on line.


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