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CUT THE FAT FROM THE TOP FOR SCHOOL SUCCESS

Original post made by Main Street & Main Stream, Another Pleasanton neighborhood, on Nov 14, 2010

Is it me, or is the answer to ALL the schools problems is cutting the FAT FROM THE TOP in our school district. It's the same in all levels of life. In the private world the CEO makes $10 gazillion dollars and everyone fights over medical coverage. In the government, the top guys rack in the dough from pension funds for life as they figure out how to raise our taxes to cover their fat. Is it me, or doesn't it make sense to cut the FAT AT THE TOP. A few big whigs will pay for all that people need ... but you know me, I'm just a simple mind ... but please explain how cutting loose the greed at the top does not make sense.

Comments (32)

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Posted by Sandy Piderit
a resident of Mohr Park
on Nov 14, 2010 at 6:50 pm

What fat?

The district has eliminated 27 management and district office positions in the last two years. There are no assistant principals at elementary schools any more, and enrollment at each school is over 700 students. Each high school enrolls over 2000 students and there are three or four assistant principals. Clerical positions have been significantly reduced, library and tech hours have been cut back, and there are 150 fewer teachers than two years ago.

There are still almost 15,000 students in the district. The Education Code that schools must adhere to is still just as long, complicated, and tedious as it always have been.

I have read through the entire budget and I have made suggestions to school board members about expenses to review, but there is no line item in there for "fat". Do you have specific suggestions?


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Posted by How about
a resident of Del Prado
on Nov 14, 2010 at 7:25 pm

How about consolidating operations with say Dublin or Livermore? I don't mean district offices, although downstream as things get worse we should look at that but what about maintenance, IT, Payroll, etc. seems to me those things could be consolidated or streamlined. People may not like it but it is going to be a way of living going forward.


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Posted by Alan Pogue
a resident of Mohr Elementary School
on Nov 14, 2010 at 7:29 pm

"How about consolidating operations with say Dublin or Livermore?"

Because the schools in Pleasanton are much better than those in Dublin or Livermore and parents pay a premium for their homes so that their children can attend.


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Posted by How about
a resident of Del Prado
on Nov 14, 2010 at 8:20 pm

Alan,

Those are just some suggestions to reduce costs. Do you have any ideas about what costs can be reduced? I would be surprised if considating maintenance, IT, Payroll et al would impact the quality of education unless you are saying that the teachers and leaders of education in Dublin and Livermore are stupid.

By the way, I did not move to Pleasanton for the schools but rather at the more affordable housing. If I were in it for the schools I would have kept my family in the Mission San Jose area of Fremont because that high school, junior highs, and elementary schools run rings around ours. Maybe we should put a bounty out and hire MSJ's teachers away because they seem significantly better than ours.


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Posted by Alan Pogue
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 14, 2010 at 8:29 pm

"By the way, I did not move to Pleasanton for the schools but rather at the more affordable housing"

I said "parents". Are you a parent?

"Mission San Jose area of Fremont"

Was more expensive, and district lines are changed, so a home could be re-districted out -- huge disadvantages.

"schools run rings around ours"

An exaggeration, to say the least. They also passed a parcel tax there. Sounds like what we need to do.


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Posted by How about
a resident of Del Prado
on Nov 14, 2010 at 8:38 pm

Alan,

I sure am a parent. Two of my children graduated from Mission San Jose, one graduated from Amador, and the last one graduated from Foothill so I have a little experience on the issue of schools. By the way, inform yourself, Mission San Jose High School ranked as the 31st best high school in the nation last year and that included private schools as well. We lived in Mission Highlands which is across the street from the high school so I doubt we would have redistricted out of the area. Mission's parents are very engaged and committed to providing funds for their childrens education through donations, fundraisers etc. This is also what it was like in Pleasanton when we moved here. Somehow the "recent" movers to Pleasanton have forgetten nor maybe experienced this work effort and committment and want others to support their kids for them. The parcel tax will not work.


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Posted by Alan Pogue
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 14, 2010 at 8:56 pm

"... the way, inform yourself, Mission San Jose High School ranked as the 31st best high school in the nation last year"

That's the high school, and you were lumping that in with the middle schools and elementary schools.

"Somehow the "recent" movers to Pleasanton have forgetten nor maybe experienced this work effort and committment and want others to support their kids for them."

Do you homework. Fremont passed a parcel tax. Maybe you're saying that we need a parcel tax here too?

"We lived in Mission Highlands which is across the street from the high school so I doubt we would have redistricted out of the area. "

Let's see, because you lived across the street from the high school, that means everyone can? Good luck with that reasoning. What a selfish way of looking at things.

So let me get this straight. Now that your children are out of school, you are doing everything you can to defeat a parcel tax? Sounds like you would probably be exempt anyway?


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Posted by Alan Pogue
a resident of Mohr Elementary School
on Nov 14, 2010 at 8:59 pm

"and want others to support their kids for them. "

What a strange and a little bit creepy thing to say. You get the idea of public schools, right? Everybody "supports" them, whether they have children in them or not? I know David Harmer had a problem with that, but he is very much in the minority on that opinion.


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Posted by How about
a resident of Del Prado
on Nov 14, 2010 at 9:04 pm

We were talking about quality of schools and Mission San Jose, Hopkins, and Chadboune were the schools my children went to in Fremont and really learned a lot. I think Pleasanton Superintendent came from Fremont? Yes? You should ask her thoughts on a parcel tax and if it would do any good. I suspect if she were honest she would say a little but not much. $53 dollars or whatever it is will get chewed up with the first teacher raises and PUSD is well aware of this fact. My point is that you cannot spend your way out of a problem because the issue will just become bigger. I am not exempt from anything and even though my kids are out of school I donated $750.00 dollars for school supplies not salary increases. You put togetehr a parcel tax which only goes for school supplies and not raises or for more administrators then you might have a chance but in this economy it is still a crap shoot.


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Posted by Alan Pogue
a resident of Mohr Elementary School
on Nov 14, 2010 at 9:16 pm

" I am not exempt from anything"

I know, you are not exempt because there is no parcel tax.

"it is will get chewed up with the first teacher raises"

I believe Fremont has step and column increases, just like Pleasanton, and I believe their former superintendent does support a parcel tax in Pleasanton.


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Posted by Alan Pogue
a resident of Mohr Elementary School
on Nov 14, 2010 at 9:18 pm

"My point is that you cannot spend your way out of a problem because the issue will just become bigger."

But you can. This is exactly what Google just did.

Web Link


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Posted by How about
a resident of Del Prado
on Nov 14, 2010 at 9:22 pm

Alan,

I am not exempt because I pay taxes and also still pay the school bond tax which we have. You can vote for a tax increase if you wish but I firmly believe it will not work nor change a thing. Ask yourself this question? Mission San Jose, Washington, Irvington, Kennedy, and American make up the Fremont Unified School District. Mission San Jose and Washington performed well before the parcel tax of $53 dollars and the other floundered. After the parcel tax Mission and Washington still perform well and Mission as I mentioned is one of the best high schools in the nation but the others still continue to flounder and yet they all go equal parcel money........why? Money does not buy education, committed parents do.


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Posted by Alan Pogue
a resident of Mohr Elementary School
on Nov 14, 2010 at 9:25 pm

"Money does not buy education, committed parents do."

No, you need both. If I were to tell my superiors that money can't buy good computer programmers, so we don't have to give any more raises, I'd get taken to the woodshed. We need both.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Alan Pogue
a resident of Mohr Elementary School
on Nov 14, 2010 at 9:26 pm

"I am not exempt because I pay taxes "

You'd probably be exempt from a parcel tax if you are over 65.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by How about
a resident of Del Prado
on Nov 14, 2010 at 9:27 pm

A) Google is a profitable company which is floating in cash which we are not and..........

B) Schmidt has a huge morale issue because he purchased a home for $185,000,000 and it rubbed his employees the wrong way and they started quitting.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by How about
a resident of Del Prado
on Nov 14, 2010 at 9:29 pm

I am not 65 and I am wsating my time talking with you but lese think about a couple of things I have said. Good night I have to go to bed, work at 0400.


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Posted by Me Too
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 14, 2010 at 9:35 pm

@How About: Finally someone who can objectively rate the schools - please let us know how much more successful your children that graduated from Fremont schools are than those that graduated from Pleasanton schools - we can finally put to rest this nonsense of Pleasanton schools be excellent.


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Posted by Eliza
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 14, 2010 at 11:16 pm

The higher the socioeconomic status of the child, the better the academic performance. Schools are not 'much better' in Pleasanton.


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Posted by How about
a resident of Del Prado
on Nov 15, 2010 at 6:08 am

Me Too,

I can only speak of MSJ and associated feeder schools. At Mission the focus is on academics first and foremost. My understanding is that the money is less for teachers in Fremont than Pleasanton but the Mission San Jose teachers are very committed and want to teach at the school becaue of the level of committment by the kids as well as the PARENTS. My feeling was that they parents considered themselves an extension of the school. One big difference I notice is that many if not most of the families had an adult home when the kids got in from school so I believe that helped quite a bit with the homework. Parents were very giving of their personal time and money for their childrens education. Far less focus on athletics there than academics. As a matter of fact, for a couple of years Mission did not even field a varsity football team for lack of interest while at the same time debate and such activities were at record highs.

When we moved to Pleasanton the schools were very good and the parents were very committed. Honestly speaking I did not get the feeling that the teachers were as committed as MSJ. My son was having difficulty in math and when we asked for teacher assistance were we told that we could work with him on that at home. All said more focus at MSJ on academics. Pleasanton in my opinion, has changed significantly over the last 10 years as many new people have moved in. If Pleasanton does not resolve the teachers union issue they are in deep trouble. No amount of money will fix the problem.


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Posted by Huh?
a resident of Pheasant Ridge
on Nov 15, 2010 at 8:20 am

The original poster Main Street is either a high school kid or not very well educated, but I am not going to give MS an economics lesson.

The problem with California is that there are so many workers on the Government payroll...heck were Greece, and yes, that includes teachers. Back in the day, our new / old Governer signed a law giving the governement unions collective barginning rights...and that is currently our down fall. I will use teachers as an example, but this could apply to toll booth workers, or any other state employee as well.

Work 9 months out of the year, make a decent salary, especially when you consider their cadillac benefit plans, retire at 55 at 65% or more of their salaries...and we in the private sectors pay for it. It's really simple, that is where our huge budget holes are coming from and with 15% unemployment and folks fleeing CA in droves, the revenue base is shrinking. So no...it's not just cutting at the top...it's cutting everywhere. BUT, while we are being told we have to retire at around 100...the teachers and the rest of the governement union workers put their hands out and scream for more!


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Posted by Why ESL ?
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 15, 2010 at 8:54 am

The more subsidized housing we keep pushing, means more ESL students and teachers. Life's choices....learn English or flip burgers. It's ok we'll step in and enable you with more subsidized housing.
On second thought, hmmmmm?


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 15, 2010 at 2:22 pm

Cutting fat means: be reasonable when it comes to salaries and benefits for union employees as well as management. Eliminate unnecessary positions and waste. Release a list of all positions with salaries and duties if you want the community to give specific solutions/ideas as to where to cut.

I read that a parcel tax study said that at 98 dollars per year it would pass. I don't think the amount matters. What matters is what the money is for.

Be honest with the community and do not lie like San Ramon did. Over there, the parcel tax passed and saved programs for one year. After that, the parcel tax funds were used for COLA, step and column, and programs were cut anyway. NO to that nonsense.

PUSD: you are not dealing with uneducated people, and at least I will vote NO if you are not forthcoming. The language of the parcel tax must be very specific, with no room for "moving funds around" without legal consequences. So, make the language specific, that way if someone decides to use parcel tax funds from certain programs to keep teacher raises, we can sue to get the parcel tax reversed (it was done in Santa Clara County with a non-education tax not long ago). Also, do not cancel program A to free funds for raises and then cry to us how you need money for program A

I will support a parcel tax, regardless of the amount, if it is for the right things.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 15, 2010 at 2:33 pm

I agree with "Why ESL?"

No other country (I was raised abroad) will accept students that do not speak the official language of the country, into schools.

Students who do not know English should be taught English only in special classes. Once they are fluent, they can move to the regular classes. It is nonsense to have non-English speakers who barely understand simple commands attend middle school or high school level classes. Teach English first. Even elementary after the second grade will be hard for those not knowing basic English.

Even public universities demand knowledge of English. Those who do not do well in the English portion of the SAT or GRE must take the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) in order to be accepted. A certain proficiency level is expected.

Before people criticize me and call me a racist, etc: I am a foreigner who came to the US and learned English, I know it can be done, but it requires a lot of effort. I have never agreed with the groups that choose to isolate themselves and speak their foreign tongue and send their non-English speaking kids to school, making it a huge problem for all.

If a family chooses to speak a certain language that is not English at home, that is their right, but do not expect the schools to deal with children who struggle with the most basic tasks because of their limited or non-existent knowledge of the official language of this country: English.


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Posted by member
a resident of Kottinger Ranch
on Nov 15, 2010 at 3:58 pm

I believe the schools have cut back as much as they can. But the salaries of the existing teachers continue to go up even during these tough times. I would highly recommend watching the movie
"Waiting for Superman". It sheds light on our education system and offers some ideas for help. We'll need a lot more volunteer help from parents for the next few years.


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Posted by Official Language
a resident of Apperson Ridge
on Nov 15, 2010 at 11:12 pm

The official second language in this country is Spanish. As Americans, I expect all of you to speak the first and second language of this country. Our schools should be taught in both of these languages.

@ Why ESL ?: "learn English or flip burgers" Last I checked, those working at In and Out and McD all spoke English, fluently.


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Posted by Alan Pogue
a resident of Mohr Elementary School
on Nov 16, 2010 at 7:07 am

""Waiting for Superman". It sheds light on our education system and offers some ideas for help."

That movie deals mainly with bad or broken school districts. Pleasanton has excellent schools. Parents pay a premium on houses here for the better schools. Get informed.


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Posted by Alan Pogue
a resident of Mohr Elementary School
on Nov 16, 2010 at 7:11 am

"If Pleasanton does not resolve the teachers union issue they are in deep trouble."

What issue? How is the union any different in Fremont than in Pleasanton?


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Posted by Liz
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Nov 16, 2010 at 11:10 am

I understand many are upset with union policies and rules, but to take it out on our teachers. Has anyone looked at what our teachers are making per hour worked? Teachers' days do not start and end when the bells ring. As illustrated by a teacher poster on one of these threads, they spend a lot of "off" time working. Before you go and claim you do too (professionals) - compare how much you make to what they are getting per hour. I have volunteered in our schools for over 15 years (have another 8 to go), and have nothing but admiration for our teachers and administrators, and the work they do and the success they and our parents have made with this district. Yes, we have many tough decisions to make for cutting - but blaming and name calling and scapegoating is not going to help. We all need to put the hatred behind us; we have a new superintendent - who does listen to parents; and 2 new board members - we need to be positive that this board will be open, communicative and worthy of our trust. My personal concern is how many times Jeff will have to excuse himself from decisions and votes because his wife is a teacher/union rep. I hope the board is looking into the fine print of the law so there is no appearance of conflict of interest here. We need to work together instead of hamstringing - and all need to compromise some more; board, teachers, certificated staff, administrators AND PARENTS.


@ Official Language,

Could you refer me to the law, bill or Admendment that says Spanish is the official second language of the U.S.?

The only documentation I could find on ANY language law in the U.S. was to the immigration act of 2008, about English.

There's actually no law or Admendment that even says English is the official language.

These are the two pieces of legislation I found: first is U.S. Senate sight; second is Project Vote Smart site.
Web Link
Web Link


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 16, 2010 at 12:48 pm

Liz:

I too admire teachers. I do not like the union, however. I believe that we have some excellent teachers (my child was lucky enough to get excellent teachers for all classes this year), but I think that the union rules also keeps some bad teachers on board. Good teachers were laid off in the past while some that should have been fired are still around, thanks to the union. I support teachers but have issues with the union.

About Jeff: that is why I did not vote for him. He will have to excuse himself from voting on most issues, as they will have to do with teachers. I am surprised the community elected him, and that the teachers backed him: it could well work against them as he will not be able to vote on teacher type issues.

And for the record: English is the ONLY official language of this country. Sure, we have many others and can even get voting ballots in several languages, but that those not make those languages official.


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Posted by resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 16, 2010 at 4:16 pm

re:"Has anyone looked at what our teachers are making per hour worked?"

Yep. Pretty astonishing for a part time job.

Web Link


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 17, 2010 at 10:56 am

resident:

I think that some teachers are underpaid, given how excellent they are and the positive influence they have on their students. These excellent teachers deserve to be paid more, and it is not a part-time work in their case: they spend a lot of time outside of the classroom preparing interesting lectures, grading worthwhile assignments, etc. My child has a teacher like that this year, and I can't tell you how much this teacher has influenced my child, and how much my child is learning.

Other teachers are overpaid because they are lazy: keep re-using the same material and tests over and over, have a bad attitude, and unlike the good teachers, these bad teachers do not even grade the work: they have the students grade each others' work, or simply stamp it without giving feedback.

So let's remember that some teachers DO DESERVE a raise, they have earned it.

The union is a problem because of its collective bargaining. Not all teachers should be given a raise and some should actually be fired. But for those excellent teachers: by all means let's give them a raise to keep them happy and in our schools, our kids benefit from having them. A teacher can make a student love or hate school. Let's get rid of the ones that make students hate school, and let's reward those who making learning fun, who actually teach the material and whose students develop a lifelong love for learning.


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Posted by A Mom
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 17, 2010 at 2:17 pm

@ resident

"Yep. Pretty astonishing for a part time job"

I still don't see how you qualify it as a part-time job. The majority of the teachers I know spend until 10 pm every night grading papers or creating lesson plans, they work over the weekend and are back in the classroom in early August. Let's not forget the amount of their own money they spend for classroom supplies (especially at elementary and middle school levels). Since they all have to have 6 years of schooling (at least) beyond high school and median wage in Pleasanton is $95,000 - I really don't think the wages are out of line. Especially when you consider how much someone with a MA or MSc can make in the Bay Area.

I do agree that the way the union and contract have things set up is unfair to the excellent teachers who don't have seniority. Yes, there are those teachers that are not as good as others, and the unions should help create a new way of assessing things - or the Federal Government will have it's way and base teachers success on achievement tests....bad for teachers and bad for students.


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