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Editorial

Original post made on Aug 14, 2009

We applaud the summertime efforts of Pleasanton school supporters for their enthusiasm and some success in raising money for the school district following last June's defeat of a proposed four-year, $233-a-year parcel tax proposal. Merchants and restaurants especially deserve congratulations for stepping up to the plate to help with a Save Our Schools carnival that attracted hundreds to an otherwise usually less crowded Saturday night downtown. Many of them also donated 5 percent of their sales during the four hours stores were opened. The night brought in $15,000 to the fundraising efforts of the Pleasanton Partnerships in Education (PPIE) and the Pleasanton Schools Educational Enrichment (PSEE) foundations. That brought the total of the I Love Pleasanton Schools fundraising campaign to $380,000 as of Wednesday, a sizeable amount considering the campaign started June 15, but still a major disappointment given the group's goal of $2.8 million. The campaign officially ends today and it's unlikely that much more funding will trickle in by tonight's deadline.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, August 14, 2009, 12:00 AM

Comments (26)

Posted by Dave, a resident of Del Prado
on Aug 14, 2009 at 9:13 am

I suspect the majority of that money was specificaly earmarked for certain programs, such as CSR or the Strings Program. I think it's highly unlikely that it will be used to offset afterschool sports programs. Maybe the various Booster Clubs would be a better place to start with obtaining funds for those programs.


Posted by resident, a resident of Downtown
on Aug 14, 2009 at 9:38 am

This is exactly why I did not contribute to this fund -- it should be used for EDUCATION not sports! How many professional athletes are people to admire these days? Well, I guess if you think it's a good thing to use drugs, organize dog fights or any of the other things these overpaid idiots do then they might be admirable. The public pays to educate kids, whether or not we have any, I am not going to pay more to allow them to play sports.
The only thing Jeb said that makes sense is that the schools need to stop spending money they don't have. Watch for the board to increase Casey's pay so that his retirement calculation will go up. Just like Hosterman and crew did for Michael Roush, city attorney. When Kernan -- "I really, really do live here except when it's not convenient" -- and Ott -- "yes Dr. Casey, whatever you say Dr. Casey" -- are gone, along with Casey and his unconscionable greed, the district might get down to the cuts that still need to be made.


Posted by Uhhmm, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 14, 2009 at 9:59 am

Several hundred layoffs? Could we get the exact number please? I thought I saw that of the 250 pink slips sent only 60 were actually cut.


Posted by Me Too, a resident of Canyon Creek
on Aug 14, 2009 at 11:07 am

There were ~140 layoffs (and yes, about 60 teachers) which is approximately 10% of the district teachers.

Looking into the BART strike, do you realize we pay the people who sit in the little booths more than a teacher? PLUS they get health care.


Posted by Concerned, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 14, 2009 at 2:56 pm

There's no way that cutting "wasteful" spending (as some people like to call it) such as freezing teacher salaries and eliminating car and cell phone allowances is going to cover a budget deficit of $9+ million. These things add up to only a small fraction of that amount.

Face it, Pleasanton: we're going to have to face extreme cuts to our education system or pay to bring it up to the excellent standards we had.

It's all about priorities. For people who are struggling financially, their priority is keeping a roof over their heads. I can sympathize with that. But I also know people who would rather not give up their daily lattes and their pedicures to help out the community's schools and children.

I believe it should go both ways. PUSD could reduce costs, but even then it would not be enough to cover the huge budget gap the schools are facing. There needs to be support from the community as well.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 14, 2009 at 3:12 pm

"Hopefully, some of the $380,000 raised in the last two months can go to students who want to participate in these extra-curricular activities but whose parents can't afford them."

That should not be done! Those of us who donated did so for specific programs, such as measure g key programs and music.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 14, 2009 at 3:46 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

I don't think anyone expects that cutting the perks will cover the total amount. That doesn't mean the perks can't be cut. The $12,000 Casey gets alone for a car allowance goes a long way towards the salary of a reading specialist and is much more money than a single household could probably afford to donate. Like Concerned said, it is about priorities. Car allowance or reading specialist?


Posted by Me Too, a resident of Canyon Creek
on Aug 14, 2009 at 6:55 pm

And if the superintendent was a voluntary position, that would pay for quite a few more reading specialists.

The problem becomes where does it stop. The superindendent is responsible for running the district. That is a big responsibility (and most larger districts only hire those with doctorates) and should come with appropriate pay.

Whether Dr. Casey has done a good job or not is a different issue, because if you get rid of Casey and cut all "perks" and cut the salary, who are you going to get next? If you keep cutting, nobody is going to want to do the job.

I've thrown out this question for months, but have yet to receive one response - how much should a teacher, principal, or superindenent make? If you were to magically start a new school district in Pleasanton, what would be your salaries for those positions?


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 14, 2009 at 7:16 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

One would start with the number of students then compare the average salaries of superintendents for similar districts.

"Salary Data for School Superintendent in CA as of August 2009" Web Link

Wow, the 75th percentile is only $120,000.00.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 14, 2009 at 7:18 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Here's some comparisons of median school superintendent salaries by state: Web Link

Median is probably better than average...


Posted by Still waiting, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 14, 2009 at 8:05 pm

Me Too

I like your post. Again and again the arguments against Measure G and donations were based on a list of prerequisites that often reminded me of saying "No, the lifeboat needs to be painted the right shade of blue before I'll lend a hand to those trying to escape that big wave." In this case, the escapees are just our children. Our future.

Perhaps ideally the life boat should be that perfect shade of blue. In nominal times, or even just a "normal" budget crisis, sure, make right all the injustices done by John Casey and his evil minions. Although I haven't seen any of those myself. What I have seen is a district committed to kids, committed to quality education and measurably increasing test scores year after year. Have they made mistakes? Yes. Who doesn't? Are there always inefficiencies is any organization? Yup. Do egos clash and resentments build up? Yes. Should they and the entire district be damned in this extraordinary STATEWIDE crisis, despite the potential damage to the kids and the whole city?

We have a loud few whose answer has been and continues to be a resounding YES! Just keep cutting baby! And these people have been successful at getting their message out. Blame is so viral isn't it? Especially in times like these.

Either way, I agree with Jeb. Our window of opportunity is closed. I believe this city is tapped out of donations.

I agree with other posts I've read about families locally just trying to stay afloat now. Food and shelter trump schools and it's gotten much worse the last few months. My heart goes out to these people. If I question any reason why I shouldn't have voted for Measure G, the additional burden on families on the verge is that reason.

But make no mistake, for the rest of us, mid-year cuts are on the way and 2010-2011 offers no federal stimulus monies. I hope we can hang on. A really big wave is coming.


Posted by Amy Taylor, a resident of Valley View Elementary School
on Aug 14, 2009 at 8:06 pm

Who is the author of this article?
Sounds like he/she didn't do his homework. The ILPS has guaranteed the raised funds will go toward ONLY the 4 programs specified. It will not be going to offset sport program costs.
Just wanted to set the facts straight.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 14, 2009 at 8:38 pm

Amy. It's and editorial, so Jeb or Gina or some combination of them and others wrote this.

Me Too, Concerned, and Still Waiting, For the no side, it was the wasteful spending, no proposed changes to tate ethic, unspecific parcel tax language, and other issues that the no side addressed. We could come together on this and demand more of our board and administration, and then I think a parcel tax is possible. This is a supportive community. We can do this if we demand the customer service that should come with our taxpayer dollars. No one has to take sides to make it happen.


Posted by I think..., a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 14, 2009 at 8:55 pm

I think that donations are down, because people really got to talking once G didn't pass.

People that I spoke to were shocked at the lack of action from APT specifically - especially after G failed. They really didn't educate themselves on the issue prior - assuming it was a good thing. When it didn't pass, a lot of them started to ask a bit more and have been educated quickly...

The donations are a far cry from those that voted to pass the parcel tax. Interesting to me. I think to waste another 2-300K for another Parcel tax is disgusting. All told over half a million will be spent and no guarantees.

To post a similar question as one of my favorite posters, Parcel tax or reading specialist/teachers?


Posted by Parent volunteer, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 14, 2009 at 9:57 pm

Did you drive by any elementary school this week? The parking lots are full of teachers who are spending numerous unpaid hours preparing for the new year. Numerous teachers have moved to new schools, new grade levels, added five to all their supplies with no financial assistance- they are paying for it themselves. Teachers annually give hundreds of dollars to support their classrooms with supplies and time preparing them. I spent the afternoon hanging bulletin board paper in one teacher's new room. She had been there everyday this week and had countless hours to go.

All neighboring districts have passed parcel taxes without any APT concessions. How much more do you want PUSD teachers to pay? Would you have donated a weeks vacation to working for free? They are the ones who are feeling the effects of the cuts in ways too numerous to list.

Why is it that people still feel teachers haven't done enough, and that is their reason to not donate? How does this reflect the education priorities of this community?


Posted by Me Too, a resident of Canyon Creek
on Aug 14, 2009 at 11:02 pm

Kathleen - I didn't mention measure G as my respnse had nothing to do with it. I was talking about the salary of the superintemndent (and later teachers and principals). I don't care about measure G, I care what people think that our education is worth...you want to cut the superindendents "perks" and salary, fine (I'm not a superindendent and never plan to be one)...you tell me what a fair compensation package is. That is all I am looking for, could someone, anyone, tell me what we should be paying our educators.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 15, 2009 at 12:08 pm

Me too, sorry about the misunderstanding. I was inferring an approval of the superintendent's work on the budget. Fair compensation isn't an easy topic. I am realistic about what it takes to attract the best. I don't think you get a supt in proem fir less than $200,000, but I also don't believe you should pay a car allowance and mileage. There should be a limit on memberships and conferences. I think phones are necessary. All benefits need to be scrutinized and probably reduced (Obama plan?). The problem with looking at teacher pay is CTA. I'd prefer to pay great teachers more. I see a value in using student performance in evaluation (cannot be the sole measure). I'm against tenure. I can see that great teacher making more than a principal. ($125,000?). This is the best I can offer from my phone at the moment, but will be happy to continue the dialogue if you are interested.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 15, 2009 at 12:11 pm

Should be supt in Ptown for


Posted by I'll answer that..., a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 15, 2009 at 2:03 pm

Parent Volunteer:

I'd like to answer your question...

Yes, I've actually seen the schools first-hand and how many teachers go in early, usually the week before their contract requires them to. But not all do. Certainly none are required to.

I used to teach and I always headed back a week early as well. This wasn't some heroing selfless dedication nor was it driven by anything other than, I had the time, and I used to choose to go in a few hours a day to put up new bulletin boards and get copying done, sorting, class lists, etc. This isn't difficult work - it is just busy work and something I preferred to do prior to the students arriving. I could put in a few hours a day around my schedule and get some stuff done, so why wouldn't I?

Teachers, per their contract, are required to be on campus for three work days prior to students (this may vary per district but is the case here). Usually we spend most of those days in faculty meetings, a union meeting, or grade level meetings, and get a couple hours a day in the classroom. If we show up a few days earlier it is to get ourselves organized - it's for self, not selfless. Equating that with "The parking lots are full of teachers who are spending numerous unpaid hours preparing for the new year" as though they are pouring over curriculum is ridiculous. It's not the case.

As far as the money goes, yes teachers spend a lot of their own money - for things they want in their classrooms. This is tax deductible if they choose to do so, but it is rarely necessary. There are ample supplies donated every year by families per the classroom lists, as well as money donations. Teachers usually spend money on things like books or other self-interests that they want to keep. Anything purchased by a school budget belongs to a school. Rare is the case - if ever - that here in Pleasanton a teacher is the one buying the crayons, paper, glue, rulers, - necessary classroom supplies - FOR the students because the parents aren't providing it. Parents in Pleasanton provide a great deal of supplies.

This is all true every year. What gets purchased by teachers depends entirely on the personality of the teachers and their relative needs - not all teachers find it necessary to have all the cutesie things each school year for their classrooms. It isn't necessary - the teacher supply room has what they need. Anything they want above and beyond should, IMO, come out of their own pocket. And since they are keeping it, it really should.

I do not think that your two quasi-arguments in any way contributes to the logical defense of why the teachers shouldn't need to give real concessions during this fiscal crisis. They are in part responsible for the unsustainable fiscal crisis we are in - after their union demands. Time to get real.

I don't pity teachers or feel sorry for them - I was one and know how good we have it.

I actually feel sorry for the position the kids are in this year because those responsible for running a solid ship - the district and unions - decided to play tug of war with the check books of the residents. The tax payers of Pleasanton have had enough and I don't blame them.

Between the ridiculous property taxes in this town for the district and other fees for the "necessities" of this district, I will not support any further tax until those charged with keeping fiscal house in order do their jobs. An individual teacher doesn't negotiate for what their union does on their behalf when bargaining for their compensation and benefits, so why should they then get to be an "individual" and complain about how many hours they put in or how much of their own money they find it necessary to give. You are either behind the union or you are an individual. You don't get to play it both ways.

It's time for APT to get their act together. Many of us are not happy with them, even though they have managed to stay relatively quiet lately. Their contract is up this year, and I, for one, am going to remember exactly how much they offered this last year, "for the children."


Posted by resident, a resident of Downtown
on Aug 15, 2009 at 5:34 pm

For I'll answer that -- finally, finally!, a teacher (or former teacher) who has earned my respect. Thanks for your honest comments. They will win you no friends among the current teachers but those of us who refused to submit to the blackmail can admire your attitude and honesty.


Posted by Dan Mentor, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 16, 2009 at 9:34 pm

I'll answer that....

What a wonderful attitude. Really exemplifies the "its all about me" tone I hear on this site so often.

I am glad you are not in the classroom...wouldnt want my kid to have to listen to your lack compassion and with you only using three days of prep before walking in the door!

Way to go Parent Volunteer- you are helping be a part of the answer, volunteering already, how many others were there doing the same thing like they said they would do instead of donating?


Posted by To "I'll anwer that", a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 16, 2009 at 10:39 pm

You are a fiction! You weren't a teacher and aren't a teacher. "I used to teach". What a joke. You sit at home all day and overdose on Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter. You don't know anyting about this district or how it works.

"ridiculous property taxes ... " The only way Pleasanton property taxes are different than any other district in the area is that they are LOWER. We don't have a parcel tax. Other districts have them. Do your homework! But wait you flunked out of high school. Never went to college.

Look if you actually live in Pleasanton, I would suggest you move to Texas.


Posted by To "I'll anwer that",, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 16, 2009 at 10:40 pm

And another thing. I'm fifteen years old, and I already know more than you do.


Posted by Demo, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 16, 2009 at 11:27 pm

True, I believe there are more Republicans in this town than the neighboring cities (Dublin, Livermore, San Ramon). They will vote against any tax, even if it's for the schools.

Now that they have managed to ruin Pleasanton's once-excellent schools and make them worse than our more liberal neighbors' schools, they are now clamoring for teachers' heads on top of that.

If Republicans had had their way in the past, we would not have Social Security and Medicare, among other social programs. I really hope you Republicans put your money where your mouth is and donate any social security money you receive to your community's schools.


Posted by INFO, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 17, 2009 at 7:39 am

A bipartisan proposal likely to go on the state ballot next year will, among other things, lower the requirement for local school tax measures to a simple majority from the current two thirds rule. There was an article in Sunday's Valley Times where you can read more about it.


Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 25, 2009 at 10:27 am

Having spoken to many teachers, and have friends among them, I would support what "I'll answer that" states. Most teachers in Pleasanton are very happy with the support they get from parents. Teachers put out a request for facial tissue, paper towels, dry erase markers, whatever, and parents and parent groups make donations. Science teachers have told me that while not all the students in their classes contribute towards lab fees, many parents pay more than the requested lab fee to help cover the costs for those who cannot afford to pay. In general, teachers are very satisfied with the generosity of Pleasanton parents and their willingness to donate their time and money.

I found the PW Editorial very interesting because the PW has acknowledged that it is unlikely that another parcel tax will pass. Indirectly, it appears the editorial is commenting that Ott and Kiernan, along with Casey, were the ones promoting the parcel tax. With those three gone, it seems unlikely that the School Board will vote again to spend taxpayers' funds to put another parcel tax on the ballot.

The PW editorial stated that it may be time to give school funding campaigns a rest and to reduce costs to meet what's likely to be less money to operate the Pleasanton school district.

With Ott, Kiernan and Casey gone, perhaps that hard look at every single expenditure that many voters requested will happen and more money will be "found." It may not be enough to restore this district to what it was a few years ago, but any funds that can be "found" and used towards retaining teachers, reading specialists and the many other dedicated and hardworking staff including custodians and district staff is a good thing.




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