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School district starts year with $350,000 deficit

Original post made on Sep 23, 2009

It's early in the school year, but the Pleasanton Unified School District is already talking about budget cuts. In the regular board meeting Tuesday night, the trustees looked over the 2009-10 budget that will soon be looked over by independent auditors and then passed on to the county and state for review and approval.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, September 23, 2009, 1:55 PM

Comments (33)

Posted by CEASAR, a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Sep 23, 2009 at 8:58 pm



Didn't the board vote to postpone payment of around 300k that is owed to cover pension costs to next year's budget? So this time it will be around 600k.

Casey has been touted as a great administrator. If he is, why doesn't he tackle the strutctural defecit caused by unreasonable pay increases. BART did it.


Posted by anonymous, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 23, 2009 at 9:06 pm

Unreasonable pay increases??? The problem isn't overspending in this situation. It is the decrease in revenue. Same number of students and less income from the state. Teachers have a hard time living in this area as it is. . .


Posted by Concerned, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 23, 2009 at 10:14 pm

PPIE/PSEE should try another mid-year fundraiser. With the kids actually in school at the time, perhaps it will be more successful than the last one.


Posted by Johnny, a resident of Country Fair
on Sep 24, 2009 at 6:51 am

Huge problem here and it is going to get far worse before better. Unemployment at 12.2% in the state and expected to climb even more as more companies leave the state and more wealthy leave the state as well. I bet they wish they had the $300,000 back that they dumped on measure G. Money just flushed.


Posted by facereality, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Sep 24, 2009 at 7:55 am

this is the new reality for atleast a few years to come.

we need an administrator who can put together a plan to stay in budget and not kick the can down the round.

renegotiate all contracts for starters.


Posted by Long Time Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 24, 2009 at 8:30 am

Would someone please shed some light whether the PUSD staff and employees received their COLA (Cost of Living Adjustments) this past year? There is some evidence that it was around 4.25% COLA. Is this what is driving the PUSD budget into the red?


Posted by PtownW, a resident of Valley View Elementary School
on Sep 24, 2009 at 9:19 am

The following quote is TOTALLY misleading:

"voted to approve a $1,106,972 loan after that amount wasn't received through the Capital Facilities Fund....these usually are funded through developer fees. These haven't been collected because of the lack of new development in Pleasanton, which has been blamed on the economy."

Let's state the facts folks:
The lack of new development in Pleasanton can't be blamed entirely on the economy - it is more a product of lack of development OPPORTUNITY. This is what happens when we live in a city with a no-growth and NIMBY (not-in-my-backyard) attitude. Not only do we experience higher real estate prices (which is great until we realize our kids cannot/will not be able to afford to live here, let alone our teachers, law officers, etc.) but we also miss out on the abundance of funds that were coming from the developers who were providing new housing opportunities in our beautiful city.

Unless we change our attitudes about growth in this city, this funding source is gone for good. And our schools/kids will continue to suffer because of it.


Posted by Terry, a resident of Highland Oaks
on Sep 24, 2009 at 9:37 am

For starters, the Schools will never have "enough" money. The leaders have never been trained to do with less, only thing they know is to request more money. As most government type leaders say, "blame it (the money problem) on Prop 13.

Most Teachers and Administrators are not old enough to know what tough times are, so when they are faced with challenges, they do not have a solution.

Casey is the smart one, He is taking his retirement and leaving. He can, probably, make more in retirement than he can working.

Of course, our National, local and State leaders are in the same boat.


Posted by Terry, a resident of Highland Oaks
on Sep 24, 2009 at 9:48 am


One problem that we have is that many people are without jobs.

You can check this, but I heard that with the unemployed, the under employed and the people who have given up searching for a job, the total is closer to 26% That is a bunch of people !


Posted by Geesh, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 24, 2009 at 10:03 am

Its' going to be a loooooooooooooong school year ;-)


Posted by Reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 24, 2009 at 10:33 am

You said "There is some evidence that it was around 4.25% COLA"

THAT IS TOTALLY WRONG. THE COLA LAST YEAR WAS ZERO. WHERE DID YOU GET THAT? IS THAT MADE UP?


Posted by Youth sports suffer, a resident of Del Prado
on Sep 24, 2009 at 11:32 am

Now the youth sports who use school fields are going to suffer as well. Pleasanton lacrosse jumped the fee $50 per person this year as the rental of the school fields has risen as well.


Posted by Get Educated, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 24, 2009 at 4:05 pm

Long Time Resident- There hasn't been a COLA increase in two years. 0% in 07-08, 0% in 08-09, and I have been told it will be 0% in 09-10.

Terry- the schools have been dealing with less money for quite some time now. Every year they have taken a cut in the millions, with last years cuts totaling $17.5 million.

Instead of saying "Most Teachers and Administrators are not old enough to know what tough times are, so when they are faced with challenges, they do not have a solution." you should come to a school site and see how the schools are running every day with such a dramatic decrease to their budgets. Since they have not "closed" for business, you can only imagine the solutions that have been enacted by very dedicated professionals in order to maintain the high quality education that has come to be expected in this community.

Maybe the problem you are having is because you haven't noticed the changes.


Posted by Arnie, a resident of Del Prado
on Sep 24, 2009 at 6:58 pm

Looks like we are going to need to run it like a business and make real decisions and not like we live in a make believe world of printing money when we need it. We need someone to run the district like a business.


Posted by Dark Corners of Town, a resident of Country Fair
on Sep 24, 2009 at 7:10 pm

There may have been no COLA, but don't forget that annual movement along the steps in the step/column schedule brings salary increases depending on where one is on the grid.


Posted by run like a business, a resident of Birdland
on Sep 24, 2009 at 7:12 pm

If the district were run like a business, it could pick and choose its clients. Look at the history of school districts across the nation that have tried to have businesses run public education-they all got out FAST! You can't treat mandatory clients of all walks of life like a business. Good idea, but it just doesn't work.


Posted by Arnie, a resident of Del Prado
on Sep 24, 2009 at 7:15 pm

We haven't tried the best business model but one thing is for sure.......doing the status quo without significantly reducing costs is going to be a disaster as revenue continues to go down. To much overhead, to many cars, phones, vice principals, counselors, to many district employees, wages, pay increases, overhead etc. Costs must be cut and soon.


Posted by Parent, a resident of Amador Estates
on Sep 24, 2009 at 9:24 pm

Arnie,
Those things have been cut. What's left- classrooms of 30-1?


Posted by Reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 24, 2009 at 9:25 pm

Annie,

I appreciate your well reasoned and well thought out comments. I personally believe an important part of protecting the future quality of our schools will be enacting a parcel tax. This is the solution that worked in other quality districts, like San Ramon and Palo Alto. There must also be cost cutting and belt tightening, but we know it won't be enough. We are following the pattern of San Ramon, were the first attempt at a parcel tax failed, only to be followed by a second, better proposal that passed.

If you have some ideas on the specific amounts of cuts you would make, please let us know. I look forward to working with you on making sure PUSD continues to be one of the best in the Bay Area!


Posted by Resident, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Sep 25, 2009 at 3:26 am

The state needs to look at many things - which is complex in a state our size. However, Prop 13 definitely needs to be dealt with. The percentage of actual tax-payers versus tax-users needs to be understood.
The unionization of the educational system most definitely needs to be looked at. The fact that government employees get lifetime benefits and pensions is adding to the overall burden in a big way. The college system needs to raise fees and reduce financial aid especially to international students. We need to make huge changes in the way we operate and then slowly go back to our currently generous system if and when it makes sense. We can't just keep spending and doing things the same old way unless we expect the same end result.


Posted by Arnie, a resident of Del Prado
on Sep 25, 2009 at 7:00 am

I have watched this issue very closely for the psst year since it was first discussed and have quite a few observations based on where we are right now and unfortunately I do not have all of the answers but can only provide some observations I have and a couple of ideas with the end goal of protecting the level of teaching provided the kids. With the California state economy being as bad as it is and getting worse to think a parcel tax would pass now is just a waste of time because most are justring to make ends meet as it is. The horse has riden out of tax on prop 13. It was enacted back in 1978 and was driven by high property taxes and it was thought then that property taxes would grow to be 10% of the total value of a home not the current 2% can you imagine trying to sell that on either one and expecting 2/3 approval? never happen. I believe a couple of things. First, people who use the services should be required to pay an additional use tax or educational tax, significant cost savings and headcount reductions should be enacted, state revenue from programs such as healthcare for illegal aliens, free school lunches for non qualified kids should be eliminated, immediate renegotiation of state workers retirement provisions, etc. Secondly, as mentioned up above that we need people who are using services to pay taxes. If I am paying 10% state income tax then everyone should be paying. I have seen it printed where 60% of Californians pay no income tax at all......come on this is outrageous! As I said earlier if we sit back and expect doing the same thing will work we are going to see more of the same.


Posted by Reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 25, 2009 at 7:49 am

Arnie,

Thank you for your comments. I think we can pass a parcel tax now, for various reasons, but one of which is that a newer parcel tax needs to be improved over the last one in that it will include specific language on cuts and sacrifices made. This is the same thing San Ramon did. There is a study that was done in Palo Alto that showed the only way they could maintain the high quality of education in that district was a parcel tax. I can look up the link again if someone wants to read it. I think cutting education quality is not an option for Pleasanton.

The other issues (like prop 13 reform) are much longer term things. I don't think very many people want to repeal prop 13. Only small changes are proposed.


Posted by Arnie, a resident of Del Prado
on Sep 25, 2009 at 8:58 am

Reader,

Am now typing from blackberry so sorry for typos. I think parcel tax is like spitting in the ocean now and do not believe people would vote to tax themselves under current economic circumstances. The other districts passed when times were good and besides they will experience shortfalls even with them. Another thing to be considered are across the board. 10% wage reductions for all education employees or all non teachers take every other Friday off with no pay. The revenue is simply not going to be there so we need to adjust by making hard decisions. I voted for parcel tax beforebut would not now because can no longer afford it


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Sep 25, 2009 at 9:22 am

Stacey is a registered user.

SSA benefits have no COLA for 2010 and possibly longer due to deflation in the index SSA is tied to. California's CPI has also deflated and will cause higher income taxes and lower property taxes for California residents. A real cost of living adjustment to salaries would actually reduce them instead of keeping them the same. Wages in the private sector will deflate along with prices. Will government follow suit?


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Sep 25, 2009 at 9:35 am

Stacey is a registered user.

And to add to further confusion, the budget shortfall is caused by two forces: 1) real cuts to funding by the State and 2) cost increases that expand the budget. To say that this is caused only by cuts is seeing only half the picture. Increasing costs are within our local control while cuts by the State are not always so.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Sep 25, 2009 at 9:38 am

Stacey is a registered user.

On the subject of running PUSD like a business, it is wishful thinking. PUSD is a government monopoly that is not subject to market forces. Consumers don't have a choice in where they shop. Their tax money goes there regardless. Government could use its monopoly status to control costs but everyone is in bed with each other.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Sep 25, 2009 at 9:45 am

Stacey is a registered user.

I think when people write "run like a business" what they are looking for is a true sense of fiduciary duty from public administrators and electeds. Just because it is a monopoly doesn't mean leaders can shirk their fiduciary duties.


Posted by John, a resident of Bonde Ranch
on Sep 25, 2009 at 10:38 am

I think the school district should spend its money educating our kids. Take a hard look at programs that aren't "classroom related." One example is Kids' Club. The school district should NOT be in the childcare business. Reduce some of the adult ed offerings. There are classes that are pure fluff. The same classes can be taken elsewhere. How do either of those programs benefit the kids of this district? It's time to really fine tune that budget to meet the educational needs of our students.

As for COLAs and other salary issues, let's not make the teachers the scapegoats hre. Many Pleasanton residents wouldn't consider working for what teachers get paid. We all know how hard they work, how much of their own money they spend and how challenging their jobs can be. They aren't the problem!


Posted by Reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 25, 2009 at 11:03 am

I agree with you, we do need to reduce some of the extra stuff like Kid's Club. But we will need to find more savings or revenue than that if we're to maintain class sizes and education quality.


Posted by Long TIme Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 25, 2009 at 12:32 pm

I am sorry to disagree... built-in COLA in contracts are a drain in the budget and unless unions agree, it cannot be reversed. Where did the 4.25% COLA come from? For those who rent School District property got a letter stating that the COLA is 4.25%. So, where did they get that #? If someone says ZERO, why is PUSD stating 4.25% COLA? There is a disconnect.

To John, I realize Teacher is not the issue. MOST of them earn their keep. However, like the industry, when there is a bad year, employees don't get a raise... why should the public servant get one? Organizations need to be realistic when economy is in a crunch. I also agree with John that PUSD needs to look at all the programs and see what can be cut out for now. We won't be able to satisfy everyone but hard decisions need to be made.

There is just so many times one can go to the well...


Posted by Reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 25, 2009 at 1:06 pm

" For those who rent School District property got a letter stating that the COLA is 4.25%. "

I have no idea what that is. Do you have a link to that? At any rate, teachers in PUSD did not get a COLA increase at all, and haven't for years. That is well documented, and people have provided links to confirm this.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Sep 25, 2009 at 1:20 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

"and haven't for years."

The last COLA raise in PUSD was the 2007-2008 school year. It's only been 1 school year. Step and column raises were still paid.


Posted by Disagree w/B, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 10, 2009 at 10:34 am

Just to be accurate, this is from the PUSD website about COLAs
Certificated/Classified/Management
2007/08 3.382% * 4.12 % 4.12 %
2006/07 5.73% 5.73 % 5.73 %
2005/06 4.60% 4.6 % 4.6 %


Posted by Reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 25, 2009 at 5:42 pm

Stacey,

OK -- One year. But it is clear there was no COLA last year or this year. I have no idea what "Long TIme Resident" was talking about.


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