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Pleasanton school official sings budget blues

Original post made on Jan 12, 2012

The Pleasanton school district is looking at "bad news and worse news" for the its 2012-13 fiscal year budget, Luz Cazares, assistant superintendent of business services, said Tuesday.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, January 11, 2012, 8:09 PM

Comments (15)

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Posted by darlene
a resident of Old Towne
on Jan 12, 2012 at 11:01 am

So sad..... the parcel tax would have helped!


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Posted by Bill
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 12, 2012 at 12:23 pm

What would help is for the state to start living within its budget. Not passing bills that lock-in over priced pensions and Cadillac health care. Getting rid of commissions whose time has passed. The high speed rail authority is spending 750,000 dollars a day for nothing. This would buy a lot of education. Getting rid of agencies that duplicate each other.

The voters could help to by not approving propositions whose primary intent is to spend money. You want your kid to have an education, then don't approve propositions that continually siphon off state money.



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Posted by Money for schools
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 12, 2012 at 1:01 pm

Echoing Bill's comments, STOP THE HIGH SPEED RAIL BOONDOGGLE!!

Take those billions and put them in schools.

As Bill said, the high speed rail authority is spending 750,000 dollars a day for nothing.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jan 12, 2012 at 1:57 pm

From today's Chronicle: Web Link Kinda says it all.


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Posted by Lessismore
a resident of Mohr Elementary School
on Jan 12, 2012 at 3:57 pm

Yes here we go one more time.
Yes a parcel tax would have helped and I was a support of the parcel tax. But I will not support any tax increases. Money we control at the locale level is one thing but the state has never demonstrated I can spend our money wisely. The money will be give to the same failed education programs of the past and cities like Pleasanton will see little of the money.
I do have to laugh. The Teacher union spent $25.5 million on ballot initiatives to get Jerry Brown elected.
"Jerry Brown gets it," says CTA President David A. Sanchez. "He knows that California's future depends on a world-class, quality public school system. He understands that schools must have the resources they need to succeed.
"It looks like that's happening"
PUSD can cut more programs but can not layoff teacher. So teacher who in the past I have supported, the next school board meeting I attend you have better not start crying.
You want my respect stand up to the joke of a union you follow so blindly.
Money will not fix our education problems in this state as long as the teacher union is in control. They appear to be close minded and only out for them self. If they cared about our kids and the teaching profession they would stop blocking change and help correct the problem.
Teacher please stop telling me kids come first. If that was true then you would force your union to be part of the solution and not a part of the problem.


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Posted by Libertarian
a resident of Birdland
on Jan 12, 2012 at 4:11 pm

The unions are communist. High speed rail won't work because we can fly trailored goods anywhere we want, and anyone who can't afford a plane ticket deserves to walk, not take a train. Teachers should be replaced by people who have held a job in the real world.


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Posted by Arnold
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 12, 2012 at 4:44 pm

"Beyond that, should the new taxes not pass...Brown has indicated that state-level cuts would be about the cost of 15 instructional days, a possible hint that he would approve a shortened school year."


Are a shortened school year and/or increased taxes the only two possible solutions to this problem?

What happens when the teacher's retirement system, CalSTRS, gets their pension rate increase? According to CalSTRS, if the sate approves the increased pension contributions in 2012 (wont happen because there isn't any money) it would add 15% to the cost of payroll for every school district employee under the CalSTRS plan. Statewide that represents 4 Billion dollars of education funding that will leave the classroom and go toward paying down unfunded pension liability. If the state waits until 2015 (likely), the additional cost of payroll goes up 17 percent of payroll, or almost 100% above current pension costs (an additional 17 thousand dollars for every 100 thousand of salary raising total pensions cost to about 35 percent of payroll, for 30 years). Here is what CalSTRS has to say about this soon to be rising cost. The Cost of Waiting:

"The longer we wait, the more difficult and costly the funding gap will be to solve. Based on current actuarial assumptions, CalSTRS actuaries project that the Defined Benefit Program will deplete its assets by the early 2040s.

At that time, the state of California—as the plan sponsor—would be obligated to fund benefits on a pay-as-you-go basis. The impact on the state General Fund is estimated in today's dollars at $9 billion a year.

Deferring contribution increases and providing for a gradual increase in rates over time is possible. But the cost of waiting does affect the long term costs of the plan. Deferring increases by as much as 15 years can increase the required rate increase by almost 60 percent - 63 percent. Phasing in those increases over a period of years would further increase the long-term required contribution rate (See their Chart linked below)."

It sounds like the increased pension costs could add 12-15 million dollars to the districts annual employee costs. How many school days will be cut when that happens? I understand the PUSD has a very difficult task at hand but, responding to budget issues by cutting school days or raising taxes doesn't sound like an all encompassing solution. My hope is that the school board gets out in front of this issue and engages in honest discussions with all stakeholders. The financial turbulence these increased pension costs represent is rapidly approaching; the unfunded liability is compounding at an annual interest rate of 7.75 percent.

Here is the chart, from CalSTRS, that shows how the delay in action increases the cost: Web Link


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jan 12, 2012 at 4:54 pm

The way the two parcel taxes were proposed would not have helped us with these cuts. Without language on the ballot to maintain specific services or programs (counselors, class size reduction, operating fees for a new elementary school), the money is like water and disappears into the cracks--like the bond refinancing money.

I would pay a parcel tax, and more than has been proposed either time, if the district administration and board members would give up the notion that they need "flexibility" so they can spend money "where it is needed most." They need to decide what they need most, show they have the support of the community that it is indeed what is needed most, determine what that will cost--then write it in the 75 words of ballot language. Or they can rerun the same experiment and come up with the same result.


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Posted by local
a resident of Birdland
on Jan 12, 2012 at 6:57 pm

And the school district employees continue to receive step and column raises during all of this. Layoff more new teachers so we can continue the raises. The administrators still receive their medical care paid for once they retire until they hit age 65. Money spent on retiree medical insurance is money that is not going to teaching. The current obligation for retiree medical, according to the district audit report from this weeks meeting, is $2,405,444. That could pay for a lot of teachers! That is only this year's obligation to fund the retiree medical. The current actuarial accrued liability for retiree medical is $11.9M and it is 100% unfunded as per the audit report (actuarial accrued liability $11.9M, unfunded actuarial accrued liability $11.9M).

The recent city council actions to approve a lot more zoning will only make the problem worse. We are told by the district that we do not receive enough money per student. Adding more students puts us deeper in the hole. And with no more state bond money, more and more students will be in portables...

I also echo Bill's comment above. The State is not spending money wisely. We have to stop the boondoggle of the high speed rail, that can be done immediately. We simply cannot afford all these bonds that end up on our ballot saying "this will not cost you anything." It might not cost you anything but it takes away money from other things like schools, unless you want to pay more money in taxes. I am sure none of those bond measures told the voters that.


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Posted by Patriot
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 12, 2012 at 10:03 pm

Don't forget all the money it will cost to deal with the drug sniffing dog lawsuits.


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Posted by Sam
a resident of Oak Hill
on Jan 12, 2012 at 10:17 pm

"Don't forget all the money it will cost to deal with the drug sniffing dog lawsuits."

Maybe they can pay for the dogs and the lawsuits by selling all the drugs that they find back to the students.


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Posted by Sandy Piderit
a resident of Mohr Park
on Jan 13, 2012 at 12:29 pm

It would be useful to know if other districts are making sense of the governor's budget proposals in the same way that Pleasanton's assistant superintendent is doing. I know this is the Pleasanton Weekly, but one source for a story seems pretty thin, even if she is in my opinion a credible source.

Lessismore -- it is untrue that the district cannot lay off teachers. Layoffs can and do occur, during a specified period each year (typically between March 15 and May 15) and with prior notice to the teachers. There have been layoffs each year for the past several years (both of teachers and of staff).

Perhaps you are confused because the district has been able to rescind some of the notices of potential layoff each year, for a variety of reasons?


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jan 13, 2012 at 1:16 pm

Sandy, It is true teachers are given notices of potential RIFs in March and May, but it is for the upcoming school year. With rare exceptions, teachers cannot be cut mid-year (even when there are cuts from the state mid-year). Which is why we lose classified staff and administrators. Plenty to discuss about who/what should stay or go.

Perhaps you have seen that some are hopeful you will run in November.


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Posted by local
a resident of Birdland
on Jan 13, 2012 at 1:24 pm

The district administration has always painted things in a much worse picture and will continue to do so. The reason? They want a grab at more of your money. If the District came out and said that there are a few blips but we will make it work, they have a harder change in asking for another parcel tax. The administration will do what it can to mess with the students so that it can take more of our money.

First thing that has to happen is to have a wage freeze (including step and column).

Next, remove the current "golden handshake" they have given themselves for retiree medical. They do not pay a cent into the program and it is paid for by reducing teaching services to our students, period.

Do not allow any staff to purchase "airtime" for retirement. If they want a bigger retirement, they can invest in their own funded 456(b).

Get rid of all car allowances. We are a small enough city and there is limited driving. Those who drive has a much larger salary already.

Administrators make quite a bit of money but have a LOT of vacation time. They salary they receive should be for a full year of work. All administrators should be working with 3 weeks vacation, same pay. With the extra time they put in, they can reduce the number of administrative staff.

Define a salary schedule that works off of increases in funds as a source for pay increases. No additional money from the state, no money for raises. Any increase over that would require a vote of the people, with a separate vote for certified, classified, and administrative, so we could vote for raises from one or two classes of employees and leave out a third one if desired.

Contract out as much services as possible. We have a staff that fixes our autos and buses. We do not need this. The private sector can do this, or even the city corp yard can do this, but the district unions control the administration so the administration is afraid to do a change like this.

Full accounting records available on the website in a spreadsheet or database type format so we can validate financial claims and even make suggestions. Tired of them says "the finances are too complicated for you to understand so trust us." Let the taxpayers have the same number crunching capabilities as the employees. We have some smart people in this area that can make sense of it and help cost cutting.

At the State level, all bonds should raise our taxes. Forget about saying it will not cost us anything. It always costs us, or we get reduced services. If you want to vote for a bond, you are voting for a tax increase.

Eliminate the County Department of Education. They do a minimal amount of activity (maybe none) to educate our students. You eliminate this and I guarantee none of us would even notice, except we would have money available for educating our students.

Could keep going on and on...


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Posted by sigh
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2012 at 2:07 pm

The first thing to cut should be the recently agreed $250,000+ to give to consultants to do a "facilities study", which we clearly cannot afford or need right now. This should be cut before ANY kids programs get cut.


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