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Guest Opinion

Original post made on Dec 26, 2008

For schools in Pleasanton, along with those in the rest of California, 2009 bodes to be a year of great challenge. Given the economic climate and status of the state budget, Pleasanton Unified School District is bracing for a hard hit. Through careful and conservative money management, we have been able to keep our students from feeling the impact of the $2 million in cuts made this year. This will change. An anticipated second year of no cost-of-living adjustment means that, at a minimum, our board would have to make spending reductions of another $2 million. However, it is likely that our state funding will be reduced further, requiring deeper and more damaging cuts. As a result, the board will be forced to consider drastic reductions in services.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, December 26, 2008, 12:00 AM

Comments (16)

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 26, 2008 at 5:49 pm

I am disappointed to yet again, read how John Casey perceives and explains the budget crisis. Yes, these are tough times, so what makes him think he and all of the PUSD employees are so special that they must receive raises? John Casey, in my opinion, seems willing to cut valuable programs just so he, his staff, everyone who works for the PUSD can get a raise.

No COLA means not getting money for "cost of living adjustments" - right? This means, among other things, no money for pay raises.

Here is my suggestion: do not give anyone a pay raise - do what the corporate world is doing!

If there are employees who want to quit due to a lack of pay raise: let them. There are plenty of qualified people, who, I am sure, would gladly fill those jobs, even at lower salaries (especially the highly paid management ones)

It is amazing that the district would rather cut programs than eliminate pay raises, which is what the state is kind of saying: no more salary increases, we are cutting COLA. The state should have laws that prevent the money for schools to be used for COLA when it was the COLA money that was not given to schools in the first place.


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Posted by Walt
a resident of Ruby Hill
on Dec 27, 2008 at 4:18 pm

John Casey has a lot of guts telling Pleasanton residents that we need to vote for a parcel tax because the school district is going to lose $2 million in tax revenue. I have a better idea. Casey should tell the residents of Pleasanton that he wasted $5 million on a law suit that he had no chance of winning and only persued becase he and the board did not want to tell the residents that they had no intention of building Neal school! He should then resign and give up all his ill gotten gains in wages pension etc. My guess is that a new competent superintendant will be able to run the district without scare tactics and without cutting good educational programs!


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Posted by taxpayer
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Dec 27, 2008 at 6:13 pm

Not one single employee of the school district, including teachers, should get a dollar of pay raises. Tighten your belts like the rest of us. At least you have jobs. Another way to fund these things is "pay to play". I work with a man whose wife just gave birth to child number 8. Yet he does not see that his personal choices put huge burdens on those people who have no kids using the system. Start making those who USE the system PAY FOR the system.


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 27, 2008 at 10:27 pm

We all use the system and we all pay when students become uneducated adults.


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Posted by Greed and Deception
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Dec 28, 2008 at 9:29 am

Why should programs be threatened or cut so the well paid PUSD employees can be guaranteed a raise? Why should we pay for our kids to play sports or pay for a parcel tax so they can have a raise when we are all having to cut back?
I suggest a 5% reduction in salary for all administration and a 3% reduction for everyone else in the district, don't threaten our kids!

Casey does not tell us that Pleasanton gets more money from the State that more than exceeds San Ramon or livermore revenue, even with their parcel tax we get more money per student.

Greed and Deception.................


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Posted by mismanagment
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 28, 2008 at 9:30 am

I agree with Walt.

Not only did Casey put millions of our dollars at risk and lose big when the Neal School lawsuit failed but now he is seeking recovery by sueing the attorneys that represented Pleasanton Schools. Sure, no cash outlay for this, but what about time and energy, efforts lost that could be spent dealing with other problems and opptys?

Doesn't he know about SUNK COSTS - if he knew about this concept the first lawsuit would not have been filed. The contract with Signature for the school was weak and favored Signature's position.

NO PAY RAISES EITHER!!


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Posted by Ceaser
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Dec 28, 2008 at 9:52 am

Dr. Casey once again displays a failure of leadership.

The state is in the worst economic downturn since the great depression.
Tax revenues supporting schools and cities are expected to plummet.
Instead of asking PUSD employees to share the burden, Casey goes right
into the classroom to cut costs. The COLA adjustment must be delayed.

Pleasanton Teachers and Administrators are among the highest paid in the state. They must "get a haircut" as all of us are. Unemployment is approaching 10% in the state. It is doubtfull that our teachers will quit. Where will they go. All state school districts are in a terrible financial position.

Finally, if Casey proposes a parcel tax to fill the gap without getting the COLA delayed, it will be dead on arrival. The frustration with PUSD is widespread.
IT will manifest itself when this tax increase is proposed. If we must pay more,
PUSD employees must sacrafice as well.


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Posted by Cholo
a resident of Livermore
on Dec 28, 2008 at 1:56 pm

Teachers are doing an excellent job and they will continue to perform even during hard times.

I'll never understand why so many folks in Plutonia get so worked up about teachers earning a living?
Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm...jealous bugs?


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Posted by Ceaser
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Dec 28, 2008 at 7:16 pm

We are not jealous Cholo.

It's very simple.

Taxpayers are getting hammered by the State and Local government sector.

The public sector is running large deficits and will attempt to raise taxes on various levels.

PUSD will likely launch an initiative to raise the parcel tax in a referrendum.

Unless PUSD tightens its belt, it will fail.





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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Dec 30, 2008 at 4:43 pm

I encourage everyone to use the great tool known as the Internet to investigate every one of Dr. Casey's claims. Take for example this gem:

"Increasing class sizes for our elementary and ninth grade students."

A quick search about small class sizes yields studies showing that results are cost effective if grades K-3 have small classes. That is why California funds smaller class sizes for K-3 with the CSR initiative. Yet Dr. Casey misleads us by not defining what he means by "elementary students". Is he saying PUSD doesn't participate in the CSR program? Or is he saying that we need small class sizes for the rest of the elementary grades despite a lack of studies showing that it is cost effective? And where are the studies regarding the cost effectiveness of small class sizes in the ninth grade?

"Voters in [Livermore and Dublin] went to the polls in November and chose to provide budget predictability and stability through a parcel tax."

Here Dr. Casey hopes you won't realize that those school districts also cut their spending despite having parcel taxes. Go look up their budgets online! And what do Livermore and Dublin do with their parcel taxes? Why, they fund smaller classes for all grades. Seriously, if small class sizes for all grades were effective, California wouldn't limit the CSR program to K-3 only. Dr. Casey wants everyone to believe that parcel taxes solve budget issues.

Another aspect of this to research is look at PUSD's budget and how much they spend of it on staffing. Small class sizes require larger staff. The Internet also will show you how California had to reduce qualification requirements for teaching credentials in order to meet the staffing numbers required for implementing CSR.

So please, Dr. Casey, go ahead and increase the size of classes in those grades where research has shown no cost effective benefits to be had from smaller class sizes and stop with the fear-mongering letter. People are tired of taxes. I went through PUSD from K-12 and received a high quality education WITHOUT a parcel tax. Please explain why that was.

The most important message everyone should take away from Casey's letter is that folks should contact their legislators.


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Posted by Kim
a resident of Birdland
on Dec 30, 2008 at 7:16 pm

Stacey, I agree with many of your conclusions such as "fear mongering" and people are overburdened with taxes.
What I take exception to in Casey's letter is he wants to mislead us into believing San Ramon and Livermore have more money per student than PUSD does, that is not true. Even without a parcel tax PUSD has more.
Having had kids before class size reduction and kids that benefited from it (PUSD has K-3 and 9th grade math and english CRS), there is no doubt in my mind there is great benefit to CSR. The smaller math and english classes in 9th grade relieved a lot of the stress of transitioning to high school and my daughter was very disappointed when she started 10th grade with very large classes. It may not be measurable but it does make an important difference. The state pays for most of CRS, PUSD contributes partial. It would be foolish to lose it.... true fear mongering.
As always the kids and taxpayers will be the target of cuts instead of making the reasonable decision, freezing salaries until the economy strengthens.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Dec 30, 2008 at 8:02 pm

Kim,

Exactly. Dr. Casey is purposely misleading in his letter, whether he does it consciously or not, because people buy into the spin and will think a parcel tax will fix the problems. I hope everyone will educate themselves on this issue and not buy into the spin.

As for the CSR initiative, Dr. Casey doesn't specify which "elementary students" would be affected. Is he referring to K-3 or above? Is he saying the State CSR funding is being cut? We just don't know because Dr. Casey, instead of choosing to educate us on the subject, wrote a deceiving letter.

In this time of economic downturn that could reach 1930's Depression level extremes, it is completely wrong of Dr. Casey to be suggesting another tax. This is not "business as usual".

Everyone should write their legislators and ask for school financing reform, the real culprit behind district budget constraints.


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Posted by Kim
a resident of Birdland
on Dec 31, 2008 at 10:04 am

I could not agree with you more on your assessment of Casey's motive of fear mongering and spin!
The state is not cutting the CSR program but it is an emotional threat for the district to identify cutting the program to eliminate the PUSD contribution.
Casey is planning to retire; anyone near retirement will not consider freezing salary because their retirement is based on their salary at retirement. He wants to get as much as he can from our district before he retires.
Everyone should write the school board so they know the community does not support his thinking.


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Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 8, 2009 at 9:35 pm

I would like for just one of you to put your so called knowledge where your mouth is. PUSD employees did not get a COLA this year and more then likely will not get one next year either. In fact there will likely be a wage freeze next year too. How do you get off bashing the employees for not tightening their belts like you are. The last COLA that PUSD received was 7/1/07. So, please explain to the rest of us just where are you getting your information from.


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Posted by A Parent and Teacher's spouse
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 16, 2009 at 10:36 am

First of all, markets set the cost of hiring administrators and staff, do you really expect a well educated PHD (or even a MBA) administrator to work for below $300K? The one that runs the company I work for makes near $30 Million the mid level MBAs are making $300K.

Second, do you really think teachers are overpaid? Please, most people think, because they sat across the desk from a teacher, that they know what work it entails. I can tell you they way underestimate the time and commitment, effort and planning that it takes. It includes, lesson planning every evening, grading papers, dealing with (some) sub-standard parents and their children's inevitable problems, all while providing a safe and nurturing environment for your kids.

Trust me, most teacher's and administrators do not waste there talent for the money!! They are the last bastion of true community servants!

The Ruby Hill contingent seems bitter that a Neal School was not built. But, let's face it that was the fiscally responsible thing for the district to do. Even if it cost $5 million to make that decision, think about the further budget crisis that would exist if Neal had been built.

I forgot to mention the "Catcher in the Rye" counselors whose efforts have immediate but difficult to measure ROI (return on investment). First they help the general population of students make wise decisions about their education, resulting a working highly educated and highly taxed base. Second they deal with kids who have unique issues, helping prevent them from becoming tomorrow's criminals, drug addicts and otherwise costly losers of society. On blogger correctly pointed out that the state budget is fat with new jailing facilities, these are institutions that are exponentially more expensive than the counselors.

As to COLA adjustments, most the teachers I know would gladly forgo them to protect their less tenured colleagues' opportunity to serve the community.




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Posted by :)
a resident of Birdland
on Jan 20, 2009 at 7:04 pm

Just to emphasize again an earlier point as the stream seemed to part and go around it:

PUSD teachers are not getting a raise. They didn't get one, are not getting one, and don't even expect to get one in the near future!

Someone proposed (paraphrasing) --an 8.5% cut right to salaries and for those who don't like it, they can leave.-- This cut to my salary is substantial and I don't know if I could cover my mortgage and basic living expenses/insurance (and I mean basic!)

Every year, medical insurance premiums have risen, so I already receive less money this year than last, and, along with every person, pay the higher prices buying groceries, etc. Maybe I could put a tip cup on my desk to raise funds for my home insurance! :)


"Why, they fund smaller classes for all grades. Seriously, if small class sizes for all grades were effective, California wouldn't limit the CSR program to K-3 only."
CA rolled out CSR in phases because it's extremely expensive and one wants to hire quality teachers, not just anyone to fill a spot. Most other states are shocked by our high class size. People I've met from other states ask about my "partner teacher" when I say I have 33 students; they assume another teacher must be in the room - it's just too many kids for one teacher to get to.
I try my very best and work very, very long hours. I have no problem tightening my belt and doing more with less - I'm practiced at this from years of teaching!


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