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School trustees takes first step toward parcel tax

Original post made on Aug 26, 2010

The Pleasanton school board has taken its first official step toward getting a parcel tax on the ballot in the spring.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, August 26, 2010, 6:36 AM

Comments (71)

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Posted by resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 26, 2010 at 7:58 am

A few months ago the board and good doctor rushed to approve a new contract with the teacher's union. Negotiations were held in private and the meeting to review and simultaneously approve the contract was moved forward to assure there was no input or review from the public. The contract contained no modification of the automatic raise schedule known as step and column or long term concessions. The die was cast from that moment in time.

The school board and union will say "it's out of our hands. There is a contract in place." However the district admitted at the time the contract was being negotiated (out of the public eye) that a minor concession would negate any need for a new tax.

Bottom line … there will be some support for a parcel tax, as there are those that will always champion additional funding for education (especially if the funding doesn't come from them). And the wording of the survey will determine the percentages to some extent. But it only takes a third of the voters to defeat a tax measure. There will be no parcel tax for raises this year.


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Posted by Art Graham
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 26, 2010 at 8:31 am

"The contract contained no modification of the automatic raise schedule known as step and column "

I don't understand the strange obsession with this or why some people associate this system is some way with support for a parcel tax.

"There will be no parcel tax for raises this year"

This sentence really mischaracterized the whole parcel tax issue. If I understand correctly, about half of the teachers got no raise
at all in the last year, and the others got small raises in the 2% to 3% range. A number of others lost their jobs entirely. That is very much in line with what is happening the population at large. Given the excellent performance of teachers in the Pleasanton school system and the current economic climate, I think that is quite reasonable. As I said on another thread, across the board wage freezes are seldom good payroll policy.

Do you attend school board meetings, are other community meetings? Maybe we can discuss these matters personally?


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Posted by Really?
a resident of Amador Estates
on Aug 26, 2010 at 8:31 am

To Resident
Wheather or not you believe that the teachers union threw the district a budget life preserver to get through this year nearly all collective barganing is conducted in private. That is why it is expelcitly excluded from the Brown Act. The new contract


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Posted by Really?
a resident of Amador Estates
on Aug 26, 2010 at 8:33 am

FIXED

To Resident
Whether or not you believe that the teachers union threw the district a budget life preserver to get through this year nearly all collective bargaining is conducted in private. THEY DID. This is why collective bargaining is explicitly excluded from the Brown Act. The new contract, which expires this year, allowed the district to preserve class size reduction to 25:1, reading specialists and some counselors. Please feel free to attend a board meeting to express your opinion before the board votes on an issue. Remember we will be back with the same issue next spring. You will get your chance.


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Posted by Concerned
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 26, 2010 at 9:02 am

Here we go again. Until bigger cuts are taken by the teachers' union no parcel tax. The taxpayers have to organise again. Looks like a never-ending struggle but we are nearing the end game.


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Posted by Nosy Neighbors
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Aug 26, 2010 at 9:24 am

I wonder if the PUSD has seen fit to cut some of it's mid-upper level management positions during the past year? My personal favorites for the chopping block was the nice fellow making $96,000 a year as the ASSISTANT Dir. of Nutritional Development, that hard working civic servant pulling in a meager $88,000 a year for serving as the districts Fitness Liaison Officer, or that real gem of the educational system who's position was only classified as the "Workability Coordinator" who was being forced to eak out their existence on a pittance of $72,500 a year.

Pleasanton definitely needs to build more affordable housing because how can we expect these hard working civil servants to possibly afford real estate in this town with the poverty level incomes our own city is paying them?

...gimmee a break, or better yet break the union, dismantle the entire PUSD management structure, institute a merit grade pay scale, scrap tenure & privatize the food, athletics, extracurricular, elective & any ROP/work skills programs. Above all else make them accountable!

Thanks & Happy Back to School Week!


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Posted by Tired
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 26, 2010 at 9:30 am

It's just never enough why not learn to live within your means. So many of us contribute and volunteer countless hours. Why not have the Board Members Personally call the Community, Voters and Stakeholders (that would save the District $66,770.00)and you should get a real feel for the suffering in the Community. What 10-20% unemployed and UnderEmployed to boot


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 26, 2010 at 9:45 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Art wrote: "I don't understand the strange obsession with this or why some people associate this system is some way with support for a parcel tax."

Because when taxpayers found out that even though they were losing their own jobs or were taking real pay cuts (not furloughs), even though there was a budget crisis, and even though services were being cut, employees (not just teachers) were getting raises. And to add insult to injury, these raises could not be frozen or managed like the average citizen understands happens in the private sector due to arcane rules with a steep learning curve.

So in other words, services had to be cut to pay for raises. The district asked for a new tax in order to replace the funds for services lost to rising salaries. Normally the State provides additional funds each year to districts to pay for these raises, but they actually provided a negative cost of living adjustment because there's been some deflation (notice the deflation in your property tax bill?) The amount is not insignificant. The district says it costs an _additional_ $1.5MM each year to fund step and column raises. That means the district needs $3MM in year two and so on. And when that money doesn't come from the State, it comes from cutting services (K-3 CSR, for example, costs roughly the same amount).

The teachers came through with some concessions in the form of furloughs and a few teachers unfortunately got laid off. The problem with furloughs is that the unit cost of labor stays the same while the number of days of production have been reduced. That means productivity has gone down. And with automatic step raises, it means that the unit cost of labor continues to rise every year even if there's no money for it. Private sector companies look at employee costs in these terms, not in individual terms like 50% of employees got raises and 50% didn't.

Now in the long-term, we should recognize that while companies are making their profits again, the private sector jobs have not returned. Companies here generate large numbers of jobs in other countries. But we need private sector jobs here because they fund government services. If there's 5 people in a room and one of them is a government employee, that means there's only 4 people generating the funds to pay for the one person's salary. Now lay off one of the private workers. Precarious. Do we take more funds from those 3 people in order to not only pay for the government employee, but give him a raise too?

Unfortunately, there's no political party proposing policy to address the issue in a serious manner. So far it has only been lip service or feel-good pie-in-the-sky ideas.


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Posted by Steve
a resident of Stoneridge
on Aug 26, 2010 at 9:46 am

Does everyone realize that the 25 student limit on class size requires an additional teacher to instruct a class of 5-10 students? At Lydiksen Elementary last year, there were 7 2nd graders that were taught by a 3rd grade teacher so that they wouldn't break the 25 student limit. Does that make sense for the students? Why couldn't there be 28 students in one class and 29 in another? Because the teacher's union has a rule, that's why.

Public employees don't need unions. The voters are their union. If working conditions are bad, public employees should rely on the voters to make it better. All that public employee unions do is work against the voters and, in this case, work against parents and their kids (and get between parents and teachers).


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Posted by So much has been said...
a resident of Parkside
on Aug 26, 2010 at 10:46 am



We will no doubt get to re-read all the pros and cons of a parcel tax - things that were hashed out ad nauseam last year. Oh boy. The PW will see thread after thread created – and probably a ton of copy-and-paste comments from last time. How exciting ;-)


While we all have the right to 'banter' back and forth, I sure hope we will see more civility this time around.

I no longer have students in the system myself but I do FAVOR a parcel tax. I know we have elementary classrooms with 34 children per class this year. That's the highest I have ever seen in my years here. It keeps growing and the responsibilities of teachers rise.

Think about that for a moment…………………….

34 children sitting in front of you and the need to teach each one, knowing that each child learns in their own way. Now, add in parents and their concerns, and the need to keep them informed about their own child's progress. The 'needs' rise and rise………..

Also, Stacy may not think a furlough day is a 'real' pay cut – but the fact is the Teacher's salary DID GO DOWN. To me, less money does equal a very 'real' pay cut.

And, thanks to the teachers that have bargained with the district.

You don't believe we need as many 'administrators' – Fine. Show up at meetings and ask questions. Find out exactly what they do and demand some accountability. I am all for that as well.

But, PLEASE – as this discussion heats up once again, do not belittle teachers or blame the union for all the ills of this situation or the economy. We all have to live with past decisions…and perhaps you feel that many of them have been detrimental. Fine. But, please don't close your eyes and ears to the discussion based on past rhetoric.

Try looking forward with a positive tone. You will learn more along the way, and feel better about your decision – whatever it turns out to be. I am hoping it will be YES to a parcel tax.


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Posted by Steve
a resident of Stoneridge
on Aug 26, 2010 at 11:09 am

When given a chance to donate the equivalent of a parcel tax last year, those who voted YES last year couldn't even bring themselves to contribute.

Before implementing a parcel tax to forceably take our money, why don't we poll Pleasanton voters to find out why people would vote "YES" for a tax, but vote "NO" for charity.


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Posted by NO unless....
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 26, 2010 at 11:21 am

Once again, I will have to vote no IF the parcel tax includes language that it will go to fund counselors (elementary especially).

Students who need help should seek it through their private medical insurance (most in Pleasanton can do this). Those who cannot afford it should have it through the state social services. We should not hire a counselor for the few students who might need psychological services and cannot afford it (again, these are few if you look at the demographics of our schools)

Schools are here to educate and we have a budget deficit. We cannot afford to also provide psychological care, nurses. That should be taken care of outside of school and financed by the parents/guardians.

As far as the teachers: the problem with the unions is that they make it very hard to get rid of bad teachers. Students have to put up with, and survive, these teachers. Administrators should have the ability to get rid of bad teachers without the circus from the unions. Bad teachers are well known to the parental community, but we are helpless to do anything about it.

As far as class size reduction: why do 9th graders need class size reduction? Students have been in a class WITHOUT CSR from 4th grade to 8th grade, then again in 10th-12th grade. Why the need for this in 9th grade? Someone told me that Hintzke feels strongly about CSR in 9th grade, but is she doing this for what reason other than perhaps her own kids?

I will vote NO on any parcel tax that funds CSR for 9th grade, counselors (especially if it funds elementary counselors).

I want to give money and support a parcel tax, but for the right things.

I am tired of seeing good programs eliminated so we can keep a counselor in elementary, so the teachers get their raise (yes, step and column is a raise), so the administrators continue with their perks, etc.

I would gladly pay a parcel tax and donate money if I see our schools doing the right things. Right now, they have cancelled valuable programs, yet we have elementary counselors, teachers got a raise (yes, look it up), and these furlough days do not fool anyone and it is something everyone is having to deal with (not just the teachers).

Have you seen the calendar for elementary? Plenty of half days, why?


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Posted by LOL
a resident of Apperson Ridge
on Aug 26, 2010 at 12:10 pm

Counselors, the numerous VPs, and PE "Specialists" are all a waste of money. Chop those fat and then we can talk about a parcel tax.


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Posted by Looking for Info.
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 26, 2010 at 1:15 pm

I'm curious how this survey will be conducted. Will the consultants randomly choose phone numbers at homes with registered voters? Will the results be confidential? Will we know, ahead of time, the proposed ballot language?

I supported measure G early on during the campaign. After my spouse and I did our research, we found the ballot language very misleading and felt duped by PUSD as parents and voters. We chose to vote no, and after it failed we did our part by donating to the last minute fundraiser in summer 2009 and to the CORE campaign this past spring. We are always willing to do our part financially and we volunteer on a regular basis, but I don't like to be bullied or tricked by anyone, let alone by my children's school district.

I think a parcel tax is a good thing for Pleasanton, but this time around we are much better educated and instead of jumping on the parcel tax bandwagon immediately we will be watching the board very carefully and ask many questions before we support another ballot measure.


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Posted by WOW
a resident of Canyon Meadows
on Aug 26, 2010 at 2:04 pm

Obviously a few of you have no idea what Counselors and VP's actually do in our schools. Instead of criticizing, once again, find out the truth and what actually goes on in the classrooms of these great schools instead of believing everything you read on Pleasanton Weekly. Without counselors or VP's, our schools would be a zoo.


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Posted by Joe
a resident of Ruby Hill
on Aug 26, 2010 at 2:05 pm

LOL and No unless...at the risk of being 'unrespectful' and back to being educated about the issues, school 'counselors' are not shrinks and you would be surprised at the issues they are being asked to deal with in order to keep some form of normalcy in some of these kids lives (and reduces the amount of disruption to the other students around them), VP's are the most over-stressed positions in the school (ask ANY principal at AVHS/Foothill/PMS/HP/Hart if they could function without VP's). Seriously, your ignorance only distracts from the bigger issues. If you really believe these positions should go, show up at a Board meeting and voice it or better yet, go ask one of those people who fill the positions you advocate eliminating and find out what they really do.


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Posted by Steve
a resident of Stoneridge
on Aug 26, 2010 at 3:09 pm

When will we sue the state for our funds? The state is illegally taking our education funds guaranteed by prop 98.

I heard that local communities were planning a law suit, but I haven't heard whether it was going forward.

Also, the parcel tax is being advertised as an emergency measure to shore up school funding. Why should it be required for 4 years? When some people came door-to-door last year to convince me to vote YES, I said that I didn't like the provision that it would last more than 1-2 years. They misunderstood me, and told me that in San Ramon, the parcel tax has become a permanent fixture, so the limit of 4 years shouldn't be such a concern.

In other words, these pro-parcel taxers were happy that the parcel tax was permanent in San Ramon! They thought that I didn't like the fact that after 4 years it would go away, and tried to reassure me that it will be easy to make the tax permanent.


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Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 26, 2010 at 3:49 pm

I will vote no until our high school gets control of some it's teachers. Some teachers don't even stay in the room during class. Also, all teachers should be required to be on Zangle. Some just make up the grades they give to the students.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 26, 2010 at 4:05 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Steve,

There is a suit out there now. Is this the one you're referring to?

Web Link


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Posted by resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 26, 2010 at 4:19 pm

Art said "I don't understand the strange obsession with this or why some people associate this system is some way with support for a parcel tax."

Frankly Art, if you don't understand the outrage the taxpayers are feeling toward self granted and insider negotiated pay raises in the public sector, you haven't been paying much attention. You should read the news from around the state on the subject. The discussion has been pretty tame here, by comparison.

Art responded to my statement that "There will be no parcel tax for raises this year" by saying "This sentence really mischaracterized the whole parcel tax issue."

I couldn't disagree more and feel it cuts directly to the heart of the issue. Stacey addressed this topic well within this thread, so I won't spend any additional time restating the content.

On the "Here we go again" thread Art said "I don't think language like "No means no" advances the conversation or brings us any closer to an understanding."

Again I, very respectfully, but very strongly disagree. There are no extenuating new circumstances. This subject has been bantered around for two full years. There is nothing new to discuss. There are no new revelations. The subject was put to vote at tremendous expense. Much to the surprise of the District, it was defeated. No means no. That does not mean keep probing with taxpayer money until you find a weakness to exploit. It means NO. Go back and negotiate a better solution.


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Posted by voter
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 26, 2010 at 5:28 pm

I will vote for a parcel tax as long as pay is frozen for the duration of the parcel tax - one year, two years however long we expect to need this. I'm very happy to help iin this case. I can't support pay rises in this economic climate.


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Posted by Steve
a resident of Stoneridge
on Aug 26, 2010 at 6:05 pm

Thanks Stacy, but that's not the suit I was referring to. I've heard of that lawsuit and I think it's a good one too. The suit to which I was referring is being sponsored by local communities. It may be the one mentioned at the bottom of this article: Web Link


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Posted by lets see
a resident of Birdland
on Aug 26, 2010 at 6:43 pm

lets see what those lousy teachers are up to

Web Link


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Posted by Pat
a resident of Canyon Meadows
on Aug 26, 2010 at 8:35 pm

Stacey did a great job of explaining the issue with Step and Column. S&C is why I will not support a parcel tax.


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Posted by Really?
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 26, 2010 at 8:52 pm

The teacher's concessions saved the district $4.5 million dollars this year. This is not a "fake" savings, so I'm confused at the cry for a real pay cut. Why would a teacher ever vote to do this sort of concession again when the community that directly benefited from it continues to degrade and write incorrect information about the job that is actually being done with $23 million less in its budget?


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Posted by voter
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 26, 2010 at 9:11 pm

I mentioned a pay freeze, not pay a cut. Just like much of the private sector.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 26, 2010 at 9:16 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Steve,

That's probably the same one, Robles-Wong v. California. There's another similar one, but it is more specifically focused on the effects upon low-income students. My worry is that adequacy suits tend to drag on for years, according to something I read once. The State can do much better before then. It all depends upon us and our pressure upon our representatives. The State has already started deferring money due to districts because there's no budget yet!


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Posted by Really?
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 26, 2010 at 9:38 pm

Funny, my husband just got back from his "business retreat" at a lovely Santa Barbara resort, including the annual bonus, and an increase in pay for the year.

Your generalizations that all teachers are receiving a pay raise is the same as my generalization that all private sector employees are getting bonuses. Their profits went up, a job well done, business is picking up. Then you would apply that logic to PUSD- test scores went up, job well done, yet teachers should freeze their pay while their benefit costs continue to rise and their annual take home decreases?

50% of PUSD teachers had a pay freeze for multiple years(S&C), just like much of the private sector, just as you request. Until this community learns the truth about teacher compensation, I say they shouldn't make any more concessions.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 26, 2010 at 9:43 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Compensation in the private sector is typically designed to align to the company's goals through a meaningful employee evaluation system. Compensation in a school district is not aligned or very loosely aligned to district goals and the evaluation system is just lip service. It's a difficult comparison to make. The "Getting Down to Facts" series of studies lays it all out.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 26, 2010 at 9:46 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

How often have you been paid a bonus when you've met a company goal? Perhaps the district could explore setting up such a reward system for teachers. I'm sure it would be met with resistance.


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Posted by voter
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 26, 2010 at 9:48 pm

Funny, my husband is making 80% of what he used to and less than many Pleasanton teachers. Then there are healthcare costs and some kind of effort to contribute to a pension scheme. Times are tough for some of us. We contribute more than we are asked to fundraisers and volunteer anyhow for the sake of our kids. You need to realise not everyone is doing as well as your husband and life is changing for many of us.


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Posted by Diana
a resident of Hart Middle School
on Aug 26, 2010 at 9:58 pm

Really?,

If you read what Stacey explained, you will understand that the parcel tax is a salary tax, to pay PUSD raises, at a time when many of us have had our incomes dramatically reduced.

" services had to be cut to pay for raises. The district asked for a new tax in order to replace the funds for services lost to rising salaries."

It is not reasonable to ask for a salary tax, for raises, in this economy.


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Posted by Art Graham
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 26, 2010 at 9:59 pm

Stacey wrote,

"Now in the long-term, we should recognize that while companies are making their profits again, the private sector jobs have not returned. Companies here generate large numbers of jobs in other countries. But we need private sector jobs here because they fund government services."

That's true enough. I've seen proposals from business leaders to put in place import taxes to stem some of that off-shoring. For political reasons, that seems to be getting no where.

"Unfortunately, there's no political party proposing policy to address the issue in a serious manner. So far it has only been lip service or feel-good pie-in-the-sky ideas."

I agree with you about 100% there.

"Because when taxpayers found out that even though they were losing their own jobs or were taking real pay cuts (not furloughs), even though there was a budget crisis, and even though services were being cut, employees (not just teachers) were getting raises. "

I can easily see that an individual who has lost his job might not want to vote for a tax increase because of his individual situation, but I would not extrapolate that to every voter. I am saying the level of raises (for the ones who got raises) were in line with what people were getting in California at large -- about half got nothing, some were fired, and some got 2% to 3% raises. I'm not defending step and column as the best system to set pay or by any means suggesting that we shouldn't look for alternatives, such as some form of merit pay. What I'm saying is the across the board pay freezes are seldom good payroll policy. Like I said, we haven't done that at my company, and for good reason.

"So in other words, services had to be cut to pay for raises. "

That is exactly what is happening at my company, and many organizations. We have cut some of our offerings, and some of our employees have gotten raises. I don't see this as insulting or injurious to our customers. It is obvious that any time a raise is given, the money for that raise could have been used for something else, some other service. It is always the case. We'll just have to disagree on this point.

Again, I'm not defending step and column, I'm just saying I don't think it is a good idea to freeze pay for all workers.


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Posted by Art Graham
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 26, 2010 at 10:13 pm

"There are no extenuating new circumstances. This subject has been bantered around for two full years. There is nothing new to discuss. There are no new revelations. The subject was put to vote at tremendous expense. Much to the surprise of the District, it was defeated."

It seems to me there are new circumstances.

1. PUSD is conducting a survey this time around. They did not last time.

2. There is a new school superintendent.

3. There will be a new board member elected this fall.

4. One of the candidates is proposing a "watchdog" committee to make sure any money raised from a parcel tax is spent as was promised.

I've been reading many of the postings on these forums from when Measure G was on the ballot, any many said they would support a parcel tax if conditions such as these were met. We haven't even seen the language of the new proposal.

It also appears that many communities have succeeded in passing parcel taxes on a second try after failing on a first try. So in these cases maybe no means yes. ;-)


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Posted by Anonymous Teacher
a resident of Foothill High School
on Aug 26, 2010 at 10:14 pm

One place that PUSD can cut is its school libraries. Pleasanton has an excellent public library. The city library can add a bookmobile and the bookmobile can go to the elementary schools so the young kids can still get their books.

The middle school and high school kids are old enough to visit the public library on their own.

The librarians at the two high schools get paid a lot of money, same as the teachers, and contribute absolutely nothing to the schools. School libraries are beyond useless when we have the Internet and a good public library.

By eliminating school libraries in Pleasanton, you can save $500,000 in salaries and another $250,000 in maintenance costs--$750,000 a more in the taxpayers' pockets.

Everybody thinks Pleasanton is a rich community. It's not. Pleasanton is an economically distressed community; drive around Pleasanton for 10 minutes and you will see that it is fast becoming a ghetto.

I agree, the high schools don't need counselors or VPs. One principal can run a school if the teachers would actually do their jobs and discipline the kids. Counselors are even more useless than librarians!


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Posted by Art Graham
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 26, 2010 at 10:22 pm

"Pleasanton for 10 minutes and you will see that it is fast becoming a ghetto."

Where exactly are you driving? You're kidding, right? Are you using the dictionary meaning of that word or some kind of metaphorical meaning. You should see the neighborhood where I went to school -- It doesn't look much like Pleasanton.

You teach at Foothill? Have you made any of these proposals directly to the school?


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Posted by K
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Aug 26, 2010 at 10:25 pm

"Counselors are even more useless than librarians!"

I could not disagree with you more. My daughter's current career path was guided by the awesome counselors at AVHS. They found her the one and only university that had a program in her field. Instead of spending years and hundreds of thousands of dollars on peripheral areas of study, they nailed it for her. I asked her to include them in her future Nobel prize acceptance speech.

I will vote YES on most issues related to PUSD funding because her work could someday save your life, and you have AVHS counselors to thank.


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Posted by Anonymous Teacher
a resident of Foothill High School
on Aug 26, 2010 at 10:35 pm

Pleasanton is declining economically. The jobless rate in Pleasanton is almost 6%! I see people who used to buy new BMWs every year now buying only every other year. Parents are forced to buy Honda Civics for their kids instead of fancier sports cars. People are only going on vacation in France and Hawaii maybe 4 weeks in the summer instead of the entire summer. People are really hurting and all my fellow teachers can think of are their fat salaries and their pensions.

Yes, counselors, VPs, and librarians are all useless. The parents should be guiding their children, not some overpaid civil servant. Teachers should be disciplining children, not the VPs. The Internet has made librarians and libraries obsolete.

We are spending millions every year on these people's salaries when that money would be better circulated in the economy on cars, vacations, and renovations to our homes.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 26, 2010 at 10:41 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Art,

Thank you for your response. Could you expand upon your idea about salary freezes being poor payroll policy? It was done at my company and I'm interested in understanding why you think that is a poor idea.


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Posted by teacher
a resident of Mohr Park
on Aug 27, 2010 at 6:09 am

"How often have you been paid a bonus when you've met a company goal? Perhaps the district could explore setting up such a reward system for teachers. I'm sure it would be met with resistance."

This is a great idea in theory, however, the problem is teachers are working with humans to meet their goals. There is a tremendous amount of variability associated with that. Full disclosure - I am a teacher. Last year, I had a child who was struggling. I worked with him one on one in class. I tutored him (for free) after school for weeks. I pulled extra support staff in to work with this child. Then testing came around. This child still scored lower than he did the year before. It wasn't that he didn't know it; he freaked out on the test. I know I worked my hardest and best with this child, yet if I were designated for merit pay, I would not get it because this child didn't meet the goal. Does that mean I did not fulfill my responsibilities?

I wholeheartedly believe that there is some validity to merit pay, as I have worked my behind off for years for these kids, above and beyond what I am expected to, with little more than a thank you from the community. However, it needs to be based on more than just test scores because no one will want to accommodate language learners, overflow students, or special needs students if their salary is dependent solely on test scores... and these are the kids that can benefit most from the experienced, hard working teachers.


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Posted by Art Graham
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 27, 2010 at 8:17 am

"It was done at my company and I'm interested in understanding why you think that is a poor idea."

One reason is that it tends to demoralize the best workers. I don't always agree with what Jack Welch says, and I think GE went too far by encouraging managers to fire the bottom 10% of employees each year, but I think he got this right:

"Companies should be working to keep up morale and motivation of its employees, particularly the top performers, Welch said. He denounced across-the-board pay freezes that some companies have instituted in the downturn.

"It's nuts to give everyone a pay freeze," Welch said. "Why give a great employee a pay freeze?" "

Web Link

He also says "Failing to give employees honest assessments of their work and treating them equally amounts to "false kindness"", which is a lot like what happens under step and column (I'm not defending that system). Of course a school district is not like General Electric, so you really couldn't implement the same kinds of pay systems in PUSD. I think it would be good to put some kind of bonus system in place, or some form of merit pay. But given what we have in place now, and the level of performance we are getting out of our schools and teachers, I don't think we should freeze pay, and I would support a properly constructed parcel tax.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Dark Corners of Town
a resident of Country Fair
on Aug 27, 2010 at 8:30 am

To 'Art Graham' - What is a 'properly constructed parcel tax'? Thanks!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Emperors new clothes
a resident of California Reflections
on Aug 27, 2010 at 9:35 am

The State said there is no money for raises in this economy. The state did not give money for raises.

PUSD staff still wanted raises, so they cut student programs to use that money for their continued raises.

PUSD then tells the community if you want your student programs back you must give us more money.

More days off for PUSD employees (work 180 days, get 185 days a year off) is not a salary freeze and does not restore the deficit that the raises cause in the budget.

Until salaries are backed up to the point when the state called for a salary freeze, then PUSD truly freezes all salaries for the life of the tax, (administrators also) this is a salary tax!

Do Not Believe that the Emperor has new clothes! NO SALARY TAX!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Diana
a resident of Hart Middle School
on Aug 27, 2010 at 10:22 am

"One reason is that it tends to demoralize the best workers."
In this economy they are rewarded by keeping their jobs.

""Why give a great employee a pay freeze?" "
Because there is no rainy day fund due to giving excessive raises in the good years. Also, due to the union, raises are not targeted to the great employees.

As long as the state is not giving money for raises but PUSD continues to give raises, any parcel tax is a salary tax.

I value our teachers and our counselors very much, I do not want them to lose their jobs (well maybe a few teachers and one HS librarian). My family has dramatically downsized and changed our lifestyle because of the change in our income. I can not afford to vote to support a salary tax.

The survey must ask voters if they are willing to vote for a salary tax or it will not get an honest result.


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Posted by Get rid of the administrators
a resident of Del Prado
on Aug 27, 2010 at 2:59 pm

Come talk to me about a parcel tax when we have eliminated one of our superintendents, half of our administrators, and the teachers take a 20% pay cut like I have taken.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by David
a resident of Stoneridge
on Aug 27, 2010 at 3:51 pm

Here are the members of the $100K pension club at Pleasanton Unified. Guaranteed for life, with cost of living increases and gold plated medical benefits in addition. Until stuff like this is rectified, how dare they ask us for more money? Read Arnold's op-ed in the Wall Street Journal today.

DONALDSON, MERLIN $14,283.20 $171,398.40 PLEASANTON UNIFIED
JAMES, BILL $8,816.37 $105,796.44 PLEASANTON UNIFIED
KETTWIG, JOSEPH $8,789.81 $105,477.72 PLEASANTON UNIFIED
KREITZ, ROBERT $12,392.06 $148,704.72 PLEASANTON UNIFIED
KROETCH, ROBERT $11,288.03 $135,456.36 PLEASANTON UNIFIED
LEONARD, PATRICIA $8,556.81 $102,681.72 PLEASANTON UNIFIED


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Really?
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 27, 2010 at 5:26 pm

To Voter- not all teachers received raises, I have been frozen on the S&C for three years, health costs went up, and a reduced salary for furlough days all result in less pay for three years now. Yet you feel I should have a pay freeze? Do you not realize that I have had exactly that? You generalize that all teachers are getting raises. Well your wrong, just like I generalized all private sector companies are like my husbands to make a point.

Art has it correct, 50% of the teachers were frozen on S&C, the rest got a 2% increase, all lost due to being paid less for 8 fewer days. This is in step with what the private sector is experiencing. I'm sorry your personal story is not going well, but why would you ask that ALL teachers were experiencing the same when thats not how it is in business now?


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Posted by voter
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 27, 2010 at 5:58 pm

I never said that all teachers received raises. That must have been someone else.

I don't think that a parcel tax that covers pay increases will pass, as I'm guessing not 65% of the population has had their salaries go up in the last three years, many people have gone the other direction unfortunately. Therefore the electorate will be reluctant to pay someone else's salary increase by adding anther tax in a tax heavy state. I could be wrong though, as some people are still doing well. To be honest I hope a parcel tax passes, but it will be hard to sell with pay increases. My preference is that we keep the wonderful teachers and support staff we have and keep up the quality of the school system rather than fire some teachers because money has run out and give pay increases to those that remain, which will put a lot of stress on everyone, teachers and kids alike.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mary
a resident of Del Prado
on Aug 27, 2010 at 7:11 pm

There were 5 votes in my family for measure G last time but I am afraid that this time it will be 5 votes against any measure which increases our taxes. We are hurting but still have one child attending Pleasanton schools and would be happy to pay extra for her. To request others who either no longer have children in school or are retired to pay for our elected officials poor decisions, and teachers raises during these economic times is simply not fair. The teachers should feel fortunate that they even have jobs for so little hours during the year while other work full weeks, 60 plus, 52 weeks a year. Shameful


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Teacher
a resident of Mohr Park
on Aug 27, 2010 at 8:24 pm

FYI - None of these people work in Pleasanton anymore.
Joe Kettwig, for example, retired at least 3 years ago.
Check your facts.

DONALDSON, MERLIN $14,283.20 $171,398.40 PLEASANTON UNIFIED

JAMES, BILL $8,816.37 $105,796.44 PLEASANTON UNIFIED

KETTWIG, JOSEPH $8,789.81 $105,477.72 PLEASANTON UNIFIED

KREITZ, ROBERT $12,392.06 $148,704.72 PLEASANTON UNIFIED

KROETCH, ROBERT $11,288.03 $135,456.36 PLEASANTON UNIFIED

LEONARD, PATRICIA $8,556.81 $102,681.72 PLEASANTON UNIFIED


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Dark Corners of Town
a resident of Country Fair
on Aug 28, 2010 at 9:01 am

To 'Teacher' - Read more carefully. David said 'pension'.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Diana
a resident of Hart Middle School
on Aug 28, 2010 at 9:27 am

Teacher that is the point!
We will be paying them and many other absurdly high pensions for life.

DONALDSON, MERLIN $14,283.20 $171,398.40 PLEASANTON UNIFIED

This person (Clem) was brought with Casey when he came to Pleasanton, Casey's buddy. He was only here for a few years, he did nothing while he was here, and we are paying him 200K per year for the rest of his life. Add this to the list of what Casey took from this community.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Art Graham
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 28, 2010 at 10:45 am

To "Dark Corners of Town",

To me, a properly constructed parcel tax is one whose terms and conditions are reflect the desires and needs of our community. I think conducting a survey of residents is an important step that we need to take to see what our community will support.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by save $66,770
a resident of Foothill High School
on Aug 28, 2010 at 11:34 am


"The school district had solicited bids in June for a parcel tax survey, without consulting services, but no one responded."

Free online survey software.
Save $66,770
Web Link


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Why hate the unions?
a resident of Ruby Hill
on Aug 28, 2010 at 2:57 pm

So if all these people receiving pensions were from the district office, why in the world is there so much hatred for the teachers' union? Teachers do not receive pensions from the district. Teachers aren't even allowed to collect social security even if they qualified for it before they became a teacher. Worse yet, a teacher cannot collect a husband or wife's social security if they die. Teachers pay into their retirement account (STRS) and after they retire, receive nothing from the district.

Why in the world is there so much anger towards the teacher's union, when we should be FURIOUS with the DO?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jerry
a resident of Apperson Ridge
on Aug 28, 2010 at 3:05 pm

Life-long pensions burn a big fat hole in PUSD's pocket and will lead us nowhere but down the road to bankruptcy. Stop the insanity now!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Art Graham
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 28, 2010 at 9:28 pm

I'm not seeing the connection between pensions of current retirees and support for a parcel tax. Are these posts suggesting that we modify the pensions of current employees before these posters will support a parcel tax? Are they suggesting that we modify the pensions of currently retirees? New hires? Please help me understand.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Yet Another Teacher
a resident of Hart Middle School
on Aug 29, 2010 at 12:45 am

In the debate over public employee pensions, people often get confused over the difference between CAL-STRS (the California State Teacher Retirement System) and the pensions of California state workers.

California teachers:

#Contribute 8% of their salary to their pensions, and their employing school districts match that contribution with 8.25% of the salary
#Have their final pension benefit amount determined by an average of their last three years' salary
#Have a median retirement age of 61.6 years with 29 years of service credit
#Receive an average of $4,396 per month in retirement pay
#Are not eligible to receive Social Security payments, even if they have paid into Social Security at some time in their careers

State employees under Cal-PERS:

#Do not contribute to their own pensions (this is also the case with police officers and firefighters, by the way)
#Have their final retirement benefits calculated by their highest salary year, not an average of the last three years

Cal-STRS payments in the last fiscal year were $8.6 billion, which is money that is recirculated in the economy.

I, too, fail to see any connection between Cal-STRS pensions and support for a parcel tax. Pensions are not a matter negotiated by individual teacher unions but are rather a matter of state law; the amount of contribution is the same in every school district in California.

Of course the pensions are "life-long"...it makes no sense to pay a pension that doesn't last until death.

Teachers' pensions are not some gift from the taxpayers; teachers contribute half the amount and the other half is part of their overall compensation package. Teaching is a relatively low-paid profession, and teaching is a profession in which we don't receive bonuses for good performance. API scores are sky-high in PUSD but we don't get a performance bonus for helping students achieve those scores. One doesn't teach to get rich, but rather to serve young people and help them prepare for the future; however, teachers don't live in Dreamland, where rent and food is free, and must make some provision for their retirement.

I should also point out that in recent years, the cost of medical insurance for PUSD teachers has skyrocketed, particularly those for dependents. This is largely a consequence of PUSD allowing members to opt out of insurance if they have spouses who have medical coverage; the risk pool is therefore smaller and rates are much higher. I was shocked when I went to work for PUSD and learned that I would be paying 450% more for my medical benefits than I did when I worked for a nearby district; the cost of medical insurance for teachers in PUSD wipes out the small salary advantage that we have over comparable districts.

I'm sorry if these facts are inconvenient to the argument that all teachers are evil and that unions are the work of Satan himself, etc., but facts are, indeed, stubborn things.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Yet Another Teacher
a resident of Hart Middle School
on Aug 29, 2010 at 12:48 am

By the way, I happen to know who "Stacey" is and when she claims that across-the-board pay freezes occurred at "her company", she is not being honest.

"Stacey" is a stay-at-home Mom (an important job), but she misleads her audience when she claims to work outside the home.

"Could you expand upon your idea about salary freezes being poor payroll policy? It was done at my company and I'm interested in understanding why you think that is a poor idea."

Does that mean that "Stacey" has frozen her kids' allowances? :D


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 29, 2010 at 4:06 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Yet Another Teacher,
Well, you've just proved that you don't really know who I am because you would know that I worked for roughly three years without a raise when my company instituted pay freezes after the dotcom bust.

So no, I do not mislead my audience. I give my honest opinion here, in addition to using my real name. It is always easier to be honest rather than trying to remember some complex web of lies.

save $66,770,
SurveyMonkey does not produce a random sampling of data. There's the problem of selection bias when using such a system.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by To Yet Another Teacher
a resident of Ruby Hill
on Aug 29, 2010 at 8:21 pm

To Yet Another Teacher-
Thank you so much for your wonderful post. VERY well said!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Yet Another Teacher
a resident of Hart Middle School
on Aug 29, 2010 at 11:23 pm

Stacey:

1. You use your real first name but not your last name. So yes, you are hiding and let's not pretend otherwise. Remember, I know who are you are. When you start using your real first and last name, you'll be accountable to your audience because then they can see what your real agenda is in your non-stop blogging.

2. You did mislead your audience. You used to work outside the home but now you're a stay-at-home Mom. You made it sound as if you are currently employed when it's obvious you are not and haven't been for some time. The dotcom bust was YEARS ago and in a different economic climate than now. The bust resulted in far fewer clients for the company at which you worked; as a teacher, I have MORE "clients" (students) this year than I have at any time in my teaching career, thanks to layoffs of my colleagues. If PUSD had declining enrollment, then I'd say we should lay off teachers; but our enrollment is stable. The pay freezes in your company were a totally different situation, but of course you want your audience to believe that apples are the same as oranges.

3. Stacey, isn't it true that your husband's company pays an average of 20% bonuses to its executives and has given across-the-board raises? Hm, why is that? Because the company is successful? Well, PUSD teachers are successful, too, with a sky-high Academic Performance Index, a 99.6% high school graduation rate, and sterling SAT scores for its students. Yet you propose to cut the pay of the teachers who have delivered these results?

Stacey, you pretend to be a non-partisan dispenser of facts, but you have an agenda. It's a selfish one: you are an affluent housewife who doesn't want to pay 67 cents a day in parcel taxes for the schools your own children attend.

Since you are in favor of total honesty, I am being totally honest.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Art Graham
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 30, 2010 at 9:33 pm

To Stacey,

Is it true what was posted over on Sandy's thread (not by you) that you favor going to charter schools in Pleasanton? Do you think there would be any public support for that? How would it work?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 30, 2010 at 10:49 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Art,

I do not think there would be much public support for a charter school here. As was pointed out in one of these threads by another poster, families tend to move to Pleasanton for the public schools. It's my observation that charter schools tend to be found in districts where there isn't such quality or support for the schools.

I do know that some Pleasanton parents have advocated in the past for the district to create some sort of small third high school focused upon so-called career technical education. Perhaps there's an opening there for a charter school.

And "Yet Another Teacher" is wrong in the other thread to say that the debate is about charter schools vs. public schools. Charter schools are public schools operating under a special charter and under the jurisdiction of the district. Teachers from a union are just as free to create them as any private business or group of parents are.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 31, 2010 at 9:29 am

Stacey is a registered user.

"On the Internet, no one knows you're a dog."

Anyone can write anything about anybody here and readers have no real way of authenticating that information. For example, I have no real way of knowing if "Yet Another Teacher" is truly even a teacher. It could be someone trying to damage APT's reputation in the community by masquerading as a teacher and writing libelous things about other posters.

And even if "Yet Another Teacher" were to use their real name in writing here, that is still not good enough as anyone can use anyone's name here. And that is the primary reason I try to stick to arguments built upon information that is verifiable by a third party.

It is obvious to me that "Yet Another Teacher" is trying to find out who I am because this person wants to discredit me and damage my reputation in this community and is going so far as to print lies to do it.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by frank
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Aug 31, 2010 at 11:13 am

To Yet Another Teacher:

Please be totally honest by telling us who you are. That way Stacey can build her libel case against you. At least register yourself as a member of the PW community so you become traceable. After all, be accountable..... Or is it your dog who is typing out those lies?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 31, 2010 at 8:46 pm

Art,

You seem like a reasonable guy, so I will just politely disagree with your comments:

"It seems to me there are new circumstances.
1. PUSD is conducting a survey this time around. They did not last time."

I would argue that they held the ultimate survey … an election.

2. There is a new school superintendent.

While I have no feelings of loss for the used car salesman that formerly ran our district, I fail to see how this has any bearing on the discussion.

3. There will be a new board member elected this fall.

I have even less reason to think this changes anything.

4. One of the candidates is proposing a "watchdog" committee to make sure any money raised from a parcel tax is spent as was promised.

Again, a nice theory, but PUSD has a history of bending this rule to the point of stupidity. Trust me just isn't going to cut it.

The most important thing the consultant said to the School Board last year … in public … on TV … in front of hundreds of people at the district office was (paraphrased) the public will not be compelled to pass a tax on themselves just because you want (or think you need) a parcel tax.

Why is the board and new Superintendent STILL not listening?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 31, 2010 at 8:48 pm

And by the way, I like what you have said about rewarding the top as an argument against wage freeze. Unfortunately the union will not allow that. Hence the demand for a wage freeze.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 31, 2010 at 8:59 pm

And to the various teachers posting here:

We like you. We admire what you do. But if you think you have been unfairly singled out because:

a) Your healthcare costs have gone up

b) You have been asked to be evaluated on some parts of your job that are out of your control

c) You think you are unfairly compensated for the hours and days you put in to your job

d) You are being asked to forgo raises to make the budget work

e) There is taxpayer resentment to your taxpayer guaranteed retirement plan that is (on average) about double what social security pays and allows you to retire (on average) a decade earlier that the private sector.

… then you have been out of the private sector and out of touch with reality for far too long.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Thinking of being a Teacher
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Sep 1, 2010 at 1:10 pm

I am at CSUEB with the thought of being a teacher. Here are some facts that came up in one of my classes, for all those who think teacher's have it so great.

California teachers with only a bachelor's degree earned on average 23.54% LESS than non-teachers with the same degree.

California teachers with a master's degrees earned on average 35.45% LESS than non-teachers.

California teachers salaries exceed only two other non-teaching categories.
social workers
administrators of Pre-K & Childcare programs

Across the state starting salaries for Teachers ranged from a low $20,227 to a high of $49,720 .

Weekly Earnings Various Education Occupations
Elementary and Middle School Teachers $920
Secondary School Teachers $950
Education Administrators $1,275

Other Professional Occupations
Accountants and Auditors $1,160
Computer Software Engineers $1,410
Electrical and Electronics Engineers $1,409
Medical Scientists $1,162
Clergy $801
Lawyers $1,891
Designers $868
Physicians and Surgeons $1,847


Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Wage Data (2006)

Do you know teachers that take summer vacations to Hawaii or Disneyland? What kind of cars do you see teachers driving? You tout the pension, but if one really sits and figures out the retirement benefits of a teacher compared to the average family in Pleasanton, teachers end up on the short end of the stick.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 1, 2010 at 8:26 pm

Conveniently forgot to mention that they work 35% less also. By the way the starting salary in Pleasanton is above the highest figure you quoted.


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