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Casey says goodbye as school board splits on funding programs

Original post made on Jun 24, 2010

A farewell to retiring Superintendent John Casey and wrangling over money took up the bulk of Tuesday night's school board meeting in Pleasanton.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, June 24, 2010, 7:05 AM

Comments (20)

Posted by Brian, a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Jun 24, 2010 at 8:38 am

If Arkin and Hintske refuse to help out the technology at the schools, they had better revise their position and allow individual school sites to fill in the missing funds at their own school sites.

This is completely short-sighted because as it currently stands, the Board's position is that the minimum elementary tech hours have not been met and therefore school PTA's cannot apply more money at their school sites.

Wow.


Posted by for kids, a resident of Birdland
on Jun 24, 2010 at 8:52 am

It's imperative that sites be allowed to fundraise for their own library and tech programs. Some people I have spoken with are hesitant to donate to a cause (CORE) that is still somewhat vague about where the funding is being spent - ie - one tech clerk is pink slipped who knows everything at one site just to give more hours to a more senior tech clerk at another site. With all the driving around and individual needs of each site, they will never be the same level of service. Equity is very important, but if one site can raise enough for themselves, they may not need as much of the big CORE pot, thus enabling all sites to be better funded.


Posted by For Our Students, a resident of Carriage Gardens
on Jun 24, 2010 at 10:49 am

Arkin & Hintzke claim to be fiscally responsible, when in fact, they fail to see the bigger picture and long term implications of their decisions to not fund the small deficit required to get elementary and middle schools to 4 hours of tech support per day. The community came together and raised OVER A HALF MILLION DOLLARS and only $23K is being requested. AND.....there is a high likelihood that this number will go down. Small request to reap big opportunities!! I'd like to see them go to the community again next year for support as they've turned their noses up at these volunteers / donors after a lot of hard work. I hope they will come to their senses in July when they will re-visit this recommendation. This is not a power struggle.....this is about our students!!!!!!
It is my understanding after watching the PUSD board meeting that no tech specialist will lose their job.....they could potentially lose hours. Just clarifying.....


Posted by Erika, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jun 24, 2010 at 11:00 am

I am so very disappointed to hear this. I had previously emailed Jamie & Valerie (since they are the only board members who reply to my emails) asking them to support this because we were so close to meeting our minimum where all the librarians & computer techs would be safe. As far as I understand it, unless we meet the $354K we will not be able to save their jobs plus the PTA for each school will not be able to fund any of these positions.

All because of a $24K shortfall after raising $330K!

This is so frustrating for all the parents who all made their requested donations of $150 per student...even tho we did that we will still lose our techs & librarians & not be able to use PTA fund money to pay for them even if we are able to cover it!

I hope Valerie & Jamie reconsider their decisions. It seems like such a small amount of money that will make all the difference to our kids.


Posted by no more teacher raises, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 24, 2010 at 12:29 pm

Don't forget that if the PUSD gave up cell phone and car allowances and the teachers gave up step and column raises we would not even be having this conversation. Greed, greed, greed.
Good riddance to Casey, may he forever suffer the shame of what he did to this district.


Posted by Mary, a resident of Birdland
on Jun 24, 2010 at 12:48 pm

No more "borrowing". We can't keep living on credit. I support this decision. Raise the money or cut something. Our country is in ruin because we can't find the fortitude to live within our means.


Posted by To Erika, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 24, 2010 at 12:57 pm

"I am so very disappointed to hear this. I had previously emailed Jamie & Valerie (since they are the only board members who reply to my emails) asking them to support this because we were so close to meeting our minimum where all the librarians & computer techs would be safe. As far as I understand it, unless we meet the $354K we will not be able to save their jobs plus the PTA for each school will not be able to fund any of these positions. "


You are not thinking long term. So what if you save the jobs this year? What about next? Are you suggesting that they keep borrowing?

I agree with Arkin and Hintzke about NOT borrowing. If the elementary parents can't raise the money, that shows how important it is for them to keep the tech and librarians on board.

Elementary parents: either give the money or STOP whining. NO borrowing should take place.

That is how we got in this housing mess in the first place: the "borrowing without knowing how you are going to pay" mentality HAS TO STOP.

Arkin is right: how are they expected to re-pay if the agree to borrow the money? If the elementary parents won't give to save tech and library hours, why would they give to pay off a loan?

Stop being so ignorant, Erika. THINK! Many people have foreclosed because of YOUR mentality. Let's not apply that way of thinking to the school district.


Posted by To Erika - one more thing, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 24, 2010 at 1:07 pm

Elementary parents already managed to keep THEIR programs (music, PE, etc) at the expense of the high schools.

STOP the whining, and if you want 24K, then raise it, do NOT demand that the district borrows it, because in the long run that would affect in a negative way, the entire district. And all for what? So elementary parents can continue to get their way and have everything they ask for? NO!

If this is SOOO important for elementary parents, and 24K is SOOO little of an amount, then RAISE the money, so simple!


Posted by Brian, a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Jun 24, 2010 at 3:04 pm

Many of you are missing the point. Elementary school parents and PTA's want to raise the rest of the money and more at their individual school sites but are told we can't.

Not much more money is going to come into PPIE because of the perceptionthat they mismanaged the situation last summer. However school PTA's have thd money and want to use it at their school sites.

Valerie and jamie need to get out of the individual school communities' way if they are not going to help.


Posted by Dark Corners of Town, a resident of Country Fair
on Jun 24, 2010 at 4:05 pm

Brian - The point is that parents, PTAs and anyone can give their money to PPIE/CORE and then the funds will be equitably distributed as designed.


Posted by Naila, a resident of Harvest Park Middle School
on Jun 24, 2010 at 7:54 pm

CORE raised over $553,000. The proposal to bring the funds up to the base level for tech was for a loan -- a *LOAN* -- from the Sycamore Fund, to finalize the positions, get the specialists in place, let everyone know know that they had a funded job. While fully intending to raise the money to pay back the loan.

Jamie and Valerie think that an amazing force of nature that can raise OVER A HALF MILLION DOLLARS IN THE SPACE OF 3 OR 4 MONTHS, isn't going to be able to raise $23,000 to repay, when it would have over the entire school year to do so? REALLY??

That's crap. Let me tell you what's really going on here. Jamie detests DR. Casey, always has, and saw this as her moment to deny him a victory at his final Board meeting. Got Valerie on board in womanly solidarity. Guess what Jamie and Valerie, the plan didn't originate with John. It came from the grassroots -- the people out in the trenches raising this money so that the schools you oversee don't have to cut services.

The idea for the loan (again, LOAN), came out of a meeting of parents, principals, PPIE, and CORE committee members, the people who stood in front of the schools collecting money at the "DROP OFF AND DONATE" events. The people who arranged restaurant nights at TGIF's, El Balazo, Sweet Tomatoes, etc., with proceeds benefiting CORE. The people selling Jamba Juices on Fridays, the people selling coupon books, the people arranging the shopping fundraiser at 99 Ranch. The PTAs, PFCs, ABCs who either directly donated money or had fundraisers devoted to donate money to CORE. In short, NOT JOHN CASEY.

We had donations not only from private individuals, but from estates, from foundations, from grandparents, even a check from the girl scouts who donated a percentage of their cookie sales, and one from a 5th grade leadership club, that sold Earth Day t-shirts and donated the proceeds to CORE.

So, Jamie and Valerie, you didn't just slap John Casey in the face on Tuesday, you slapped your most devoted, hardest working volunteers.

And we won't forget it.


Posted by Naila, a resident of Harvest Park Middle School
on Jun 24, 2010 at 8:36 pm

Just so there's no confusion -- the proposal wasn't to borrow money from an outside source. The Sycamore Fund is money that he district has -- it's an asset. It came from proceeds from property the district sold, long ago. The district used to match donations collected by individual schools for technology -- up to $10,000 a year per school.

When the economy went south, they stopped spending it to match donations. It now has about $4.5 million in it. Granting the loan wouldn't even have removed any money from it -- it would just be a guarantee that the salaries could be paid all year -- most of the funds already raised and in the bank, so the Sycamore Fund wouldn't have been touched unless for some unfathomable reason $23,000 couldn't be raised by about May. By people who proved they could raise half a million in 3 months.


Posted by Newcomer, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 24, 2010 at 8:54 pm

Can someone please explain to me what the "Sycamore Fund" is intended for? If there is this large pot of money, why shouldn't it be spent? Why the need to borrow against it? Is it some kind of reserve fund? I don't understand the controversy.


Posted by Naila, a resident of Harvest Park Middle School
on Jun 24, 2010 at 9:25 pm

"Can someone please explain to me what the "Sycamore Fund" is intended for? If there is this large pot of money, why shouldn't it be spent? Why the need to borrow against it? Is it some kind of reserve fund? I don't understand the controversy."

Well, it provides a certain measure of liquidity for the district. So, when for instance, the Hearst Elementary school was found to have mold damage, the district had the means to get it cleaned up. If another emergency arose, there's that flexibility.

Trustee Hintzke mentioned that as a reason to not loan the $23,000 to the CORE fund. But when you're talking about a potential disaster, a $23,000 liability against a $4.5 million fund is negligible. Funds would be raised to pay off that liability before dollar ONE would be withdrawn from the fund. If $23,000 could break the district, let's hang it up now. Even the $200,000 proposed and shot down for the textbooks -- a majority of which would not be required to be spent for 2-3 years ... again, these would be PAPER liabilities. On paper. Accounted for in the books, on spreadsheets, rather than spent. Not monies actually withdrawn from the fund.


Posted by Newcomer, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 24, 2010 at 10:04 pm

Thank you for that explanation. Borrowing those amounts does sound like a reasonable thing to do. I'm hoping for the best with new supervisor taking over.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jun 24, 2010 at 10:19 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

The "Sycamore Fund" is more complicated than that. The fund is money from the sale of property intended for a third high school that was invested. The _principal_ investment constitutes capital monies, not operational. So they can only legally use the money on facilities, like fixing the Hearst mold issue. California law gives districts the flexibility to use the _interest_ for operational costs like salaries, if I recall correctly. There's also a whole slew of rules governing the borrowing against such a fund, like when it must be paid back.

So when it is said that the fund is $4.5M, how much of that is actual interest that can be spent on operational costs? Is it really negligible? And I think they've already borrowed against the Sycamore Fund last year so that amount has to be added in too. When money is borrowed from the fund, that money isn't earning interest!


Posted by Rob, a resident of Parkside
on Jun 24, 2010 at 11:45 pm

A family's home and farmland was seized by the school district long ago against their will using the false claim of building a new high school using eminent domain. Their house was then destroyed by the district using a bulldozer.

The district then sat on the empty land until 15 years ago, then sold it to a developer(Greenbriar) to build high end housing. It was supposed to be for technology, but the district, since Juanita Haugen passed away, has been using it as its piggy bank, spending about $3 million dollars of it to cover its shortfalls.

The school district has taken out Certificates of Participation (COPS) and is in debt. It has been on a spending spree spending more than it has.

There are now almost $3 million dollars in loans outstanding that must be repaid from the Sycamore Fund. How is it ever going to pay back the $3 million if they keep borrowing from it?

Until the $3 million is repaid, there needs to be a freeze on anymore so called "loans" from this fund. See how much has been borrowed.
Web Link


Posted by Unhappy Volunteer, a resident of Downtown
on Jun 25, 2010 at 12:16 pm

This whole thing is so sad. Yes...the community along with PPIE have raised over a HALF MILLION DOLLARS to support the programs / cuts defined by the principals, school site representatives, and district. As I understand it, the donations are still trickling in, as well as proceeds from the coupon book sales. I'm dissappointed that Hintzke and Arkin are so narrow minded and short-sided that they cannot look for a way to "cover" the small shortfall from the CORE efforts. I also believe that this was a personal vendetta against Dr. Casey and they irresponsibly put this in front of doing the right thing for the 14,000 students in PUSD. I have volunteered for PPIE for many years and witnessed the MANY people that worked so very hard to raise these funds. There has to be a way to make this work and I'm holding out hope that they will come to their senses by the meeting in July. Oh....and by the way.....the comment that PPIE mis-managed the fundraising campaign last summer? Are you serious? Did you volunteer? Did you help in any way? They raised nearly a half million dollars (that totals 1 million for the year!) in just 8 short weeks without the help of the school sites. The campaign was laid out, faciliated in an ethical and appropriate manner. The sad thing was that the community / parents didn't come up with the needed funds and the district and PPIE Board had to make the tough decision to fund what they could. I drove by the PPIE office in the evening many times last summer. Yes, the lights were still on as they continiued to put in the time to attempt to raise the funds needed. Please.....if you question the "management" of the campaign, question PPIE versus making snide comments on this platform. I will continue to support PPIE, our schools, students, and volunteer with great enthusiasm......


Posted by Brian, a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Jun 25, 2010 at 1:12 pm

Unhappy Volunteer,

You're not reading what I wrote - I didn't say PPIE mismanaged the fundraising campaign last summer. I said there was a PERCEPTION that they mismanaged it.

Yes, I was very involved in the PPIE campaign last summer, so thanks for your assumption to the contrary.

There was an explicit promise that directed donations would be used in the manner directed. There was no explanation of what would happen if the target wasn't met. And many people felt that the communication wasn't there, that they were misled. And THAT is what I mean about perception about last summer's campaign.

And therefore there are many people gunshy about donating to PPIE's current campaign (I am not one) who would gladly and generously donate to their school sites for the items PPIE is working for.

I hope I better explained it.


Posted by Dark Corners of Town, a resident of Country Fair
on Jul 4, 2010 at 11:34 am

If the twelve schools (9 elem and 3 ms) want to use their funds to supplement what CORE raised, but are prevented from doing so because CORE is $24K short.........nothing stops each school from loaning $2K to CORE and be paid back as additional funds/donations are raised. If supporters (PTAs, principals, etc.) are so sure that $24K in funds/donations will come in, then put your own money in the game, it's better incentive to make sure the fundraising happens.

Alternatively, CSEA could load the $24K, since it's their workers (right?), or maybe APT would gladly loan the $24K since the tech/library staff serve to help the teachers throughout the year.


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