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Money less of a worry, but PUSD still has challenges

Original post made on Sep 23, 2013

While Pleasanton School District officials are optimistic they've turned the corner on their biggest worry, school funding, there are a number of issues that present challenges for the current school year and beyond. Among those are gearing up for the Common Core State Standards, meeting the need for new technology across the district and school safety.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, September 23, 2013, 7:19 AM

Comments (18)

Posted by OBP, a resident of Downtown
on Sep 23, 2013 at 8:48 am

Dear Glenn/PUSD,

How is it that money isn't a problem if our district can't get back to K-3 and Grade 9 CSR until the next decade? Plenty of other "good school districts" have maintained it or reinstated it. Have we changed the set of school districts with whom we compare ourselves? Is our community simply accepting these class sizes as a new normal for PUSD?

"The state is also allocating additional money to reduce class sizes in grades one through five, although it won't fully fund those reductions until the 2020-21 school year"


Posted by Chemist, a resident of Downtown
on Sep 23, 2013 at 9:15 am

Well, well. Guess we did not need Measure E after all. We now have money to implement Common Core. How about saving that money and bringing back reading, writing and arithmetic.
Chemist


Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Sep 23, 2013 at 9:54 am

Not enuf $$$$$ can be utilized to educate America's children. They all deserve the highest quality education possible.

Reading, writing, and arithmetic...YES! Candy + sugar for all fourth graders...NOT!

VIVA AMERICA! VIVA!


Posted by kbenson, a resident of Bordeaux Estates
on Sep 23, 2013 at 12:36 pm

I agree with all 3 comments above-

Especially (reduce class sizes now) wait till 2020? No get it done NOW- I see the schools allocating the money towards pay increases instead of reduced class sizes. School district needs to regain focus on what matters... students education- Kids are falling through the cracks and larger class sizes makes it difficult on both the students and the teacher (needing to take care of 30 +)

re: measure E- I suggest they do limited measure(s) in the future. To tell residents that they will need to pay higher prop tax and not have an end date is never good. 2-3 years would get more of an positive feedback. Considering the state gov has a windfall of cash (due to inreased sales tax) hopefully more money will funnel towards educating our students, and less time will be wasted asking people to pay more.
Another thing- I heard measure e cost several hundred K to sponsor? where did that money ome from and who got it?


Posted by local, a resident of Birdland
on Sep 23, 2013 at 2:12 pm

The cost to run the election, two times, was paid for by the school district. That money came out of operations (programs). I think it was over $300K for each election so a total around $600K.

As for another election, I believe the district administration needs to build trust first. Saying they are broke and then giving pay raises and enhanced benefit to the finance director, plus keeping cell phone stipends for administrators, does not build trust.

Also, the district is currently planning for another bond to pay for more facilities so they will not want to take on a parcel tax at the same time. The bonds they are looking at will be real expensive to Pleasanton residents and are mostly needed because the district is allowing the new development that is going on now to be done without them having to pay the necessary mitigation fees. The district has also done some very poor financial planning and all of the developer fees that have been collected are going to pay off "short-medium term" debt that the district took on. Even after the district did the illegal cash-out financing which brought in millions of dollars without asking for voter approval, they want to come back to us for more bonds.


Posted by Christina, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 23, 2013 at 8:18 pm

Thanks for the detailed article!


Posted by john, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 23, 2013 at 10:33 pm

"How about saving that money and bringing back reading, writing and arithmetic."

I have no idea how to make sense of this comment. I read the information on Common Core, and it is all about "reading, writing and arithmetic."

What are you talking about?


Posted by Diana, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Sep 24, 2013 at 7:16 am

New homes are being approved by the thousands in Pleasanton. Both the City Council and School Board acknowledge all Pleasanton school campuses are already over capacity and there is NO ability to build new schools, No plans and No money!

Class size reduction requires more space for more classrooms. It can not happen when the campuses are already overcrowded and need space for thousands of new growth students.

Pleasanton schools will soon be a mess and Pleasanton taxpayers will be asked to pay, again, for the impact of new growth in the form of another bond. PUSD will be forever chasing it's tail with no way of catching up.

New growth should pay it's own impacts but it does not!! So STOP approving new housing!!!!


Posted by Frank Lynn, a resident of Donlon Elementary School
on Sep 24, 2013 at 8:24 am

@ local from Birdland

I don't think the School Board gets to decide to allow developers to build without paying the school impact/mitigation fees - and if they did, I don't think they'd vote to give developers a break or pass. The city council may be a different story - since most members are financed by developers and unions regardless of their perceived conservative/liberal ideology.

Unfortunately, under California law high-density housing developers get a break on school impact fees as part of the state's social engineering to encourage the building of more high-density housing. The (flawed) argument has been that high density housing won't have as many people with kids (or people with cars), although the reality in California is quite the opposite.

Since it looks like more high-density housing is inevitable in the Tri-Valley, we should at least fight to change the school impact/mitigation fee law and have school impact fees that are based on the number of units and paid at the same rate as developers of single-family homes. Maybe one of the politicians vying for state office in the next election would want to author/carry such a bill? We can ask them and make our vote conditional.

I do have to give props to the teachers at PUSD - they are doing a great job with the large class sizes we have - I'm sure they'd prefer smaller class sizes too - but they are really doing a tremendous job especially with the pressure of limited resources.


Posted by local, a resident of Birdland
on Sep 24, 2013 at 8:54 am

Frank, the school board can work with the city to help mitigate the fees (there are ways it can be done). In the past, the school district worked closely with the city but the current administration has not been involved or gone to the city council meetings to discuss the impacts of the new development on the schools. I believe the school district is chomping at the bit to get a new bond so they want the growth to force the issue. Because of mismanagement of development fees they are running out of capital fund money and a new bond will allow the district to hide their mistakes.


Posted by Frank Lynn, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 24, 2013 at 9:02 am

@ local - I hate to believe the school board would actually do such a thing - but when members go unchallenged in elections, I could see them acting against the will of the voters - because there's no competition to force them to be accountable.

By school bond, you're talking about a parcel tax, right? The last one failed, so you think the school board is willing to gamble (or rather play "chicken) with Pleasanton voters?


Posted by Diana, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Sep 24, 2013 at 9:13 am

Fighting for higher impact fees means fighting the building lobby, the same battle as fighting housing mandates. The School district has proven they should not be trusted with the capital dollars. Separate curriculum from Capital project oversight. The City should be required to provide the schools before they can approve housing.

The City Council and School Board should join with Pleasanton citizens to push back on the housing until schools are built!!

Parents will have a nightmare of overcrowded schools and taxpayers will be asked to pay for the mess.


Posted by Diana, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Sep 24, 2013 at 9:25 am

Frank you are new to the discussion if you do not understand the history of PUSD misuse of capital dollars. Bond requires a lower voter approval than a Parcel tax and they feel they could get the needed 55%. They are planning it now, even though Ptown taxpayers are still paying off the $155 million that we have given them in the past. I agree with Local on the motive to cover past misuse of funds.


Posted by Chemist, a resident of Downtown
on Sep 24, 2013 at 3:30 pm

Cholo is right in saying that our students deserve the highest quality education possible. However, Common Core is about insuring that the Federal Government dictates what our students learn and how they learn it. Anyone who thinks that Common Core will lead to uncommon excellence is sadly mistaken. I am greatly troubled to see that Pleasanton schools are gearing up for Common Core. When I say bring back reading, writing and arithmetic, I mean bring back local control of education where parents and teachers prepare students to function in the real world and to think for themselves. In other words, Pleasanton needs to pursue the uncommon, not the common.


Posted by john, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 24, 2013 at 5:20 pm

Chemist,

You might want to take a closer look.

Web Link

"There are a lot of people that believe that somehow this is a national takeover of what is the domain of local and state governments ... but in fact these are 45 states that have voluntarily come together to create fewer, higher, deeper standards that, when you benchmark them to the best of the world, they are world class. I'm for that. I'm not for the politics of education. I tire from the politics of education."

Read more here: Web Link

"The fight about Common Core is political. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, we have huge swaths of the next generation of Americans that can't calculate math."


Posted by Iratekate, a resident of Val Vista
on Sep 25, 2013 at 9:06 am

I see how the csr affects our children first hand. My son is now in 1st grade after having 30 children in his kindergarten class he now has 20. The reduction is huge but most of the children in his class cannot read and do not know how to write sentences. These things should have been taught in Kindergarten, but with the class size being so big it did not happen. This is huge because now these kids are behind and will probably stay behind going forward. I cannot stress enough the importance of csr and reading specialists in our schools.


Posted by Chemist, a resident of Downtown
on Sep 25, 2013 at 9:17 am

John,
I don't consider Jeb Bush an expert on education. On the other hand, many education experts from all over the country are coming out against Common Core. Perhaps it is political, but from what I have read, it is justified. I have seen the way that math is approached in the Common Core curriculum, and it is certainly not the way I would want math taught to my children. Have you actually seen the way that they try to teach addition and subtraction? They skip over borrowing from the next left column and try to get the kids to latch on to sophisticated concepts like breaking the numbers into hundreds, tens and ones, then regrouping and rearranging. This approach to addition and subtraction requires an understanding of numbers that comes AFTER you learn how to add and subtract, and it does not come to all people ever. Trust me, Common Core is a disaster. It reminds me of the "whole language" nonsense back in the late eighties and early nineties when the schools were intent on dropping phonics out of the curriculum in favor of a "new" approach. Whole language quietly failed and is now proven to be useless; however, a lot of children whose parents did not take the time to teach them phonics now are now functionally illiterate adults who cannot read or write. Children are not supposed to be the Guinea Pigs of the educational system.


Posted by markrobinson, a resident of Avila
on May 1, 2014 at 9:53 pm

The new model, known as the Local Control Funding Formula, will also send about $2.4 million in additional cash here, according to Deputy Superintendent Luz Cazares. Web Link Students will be expected to think more deeply and less broadly about problems. For example, they might be asked to read a passage and interpolate answers to several questions.


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