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Emotions run high with school cuts on the line

Original post made on Jan 29, 2009

With the elimination of class-size reductions on their worry lists, parents, educators and others packed a school district meeting Tuesday night as the board discussed two hot topics: cuts and a parcel tax. Both are needed to balance the district budget, according to the board.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, January 29, 2009, 6:40 AM

Comments (99)

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Posted by Concerned
a resident of Pleasanton Middle School
on Jan 29, 2009 at 8:40 am

We must all be responsible for the future of this country, and that is held in the hands of the children who are being educated right NOW. Whether we have children in school or not, they are the one who will drive through the success of America as we have known it in the past. We must encourage all friends and neighbors to support the introduction of a parcel tax. The success of our children, and our school district, affects our housing prices and the draw for new businesses to come to Pleasanton, which is good for all of us in the end.


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Posted by concerned too
a resident of Del Prado
on Jan 29, 2009 at 8:59 am

How much is this tax going to cost? Has anyone heard any details on the cost to individuals?


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Posted by Tax Payer
a resident of Del Prado
on Jan 29, 2009 at 9:20 am

Taxes, taxes, and more taxes. Though it is one of the two things that's certain in life, less is always better than more. PUSD can look for other ways to generate revenue, for example, donations, salary reductions, stipend elimination, etc. There are many ways to make this work. Just flat out rejecting all ideas other than the parcel tax doesn't resolve anything. Oh yes, the sales pitch that we don't have time to look at other options. Given the federal aid, we do have time to sort things out. A thorough cost and benefit analysis need to be conducted to explore what works and what doesn't.

If we approve a parcel tax, PUSD will come back for more money in the future. We need to root cause the problems in PUSD (excessive spending) and take the necessary corrective actions. That is the ONLY long-term fix to the problem. Throwing more money at those problems don't make them go away. So, our children's interest is NOT best served by the parcel tax, but by a long term resolution.

Parents: If you truly want the best education for your children, spend a couple of hours with them every night on their school work or simply read with them. Turn off that TV and computer. That, I assure you, would raise your children's interest in school, their grades, and parent-child bond. You can't rake in these benefits with the parcel tax that we don't need. Just my 2 cents...



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Posted by PTA Parent
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Jan 29, 2009 at 9:27 am

To address "Taxpayer"

Did you attend the meetings as of late? The superintendent requested (strongly encouraged) that community members email the board with ALL suggestions. The board and district are looking at all sources of possible revenue to find a solution.

Quit being the problem and help find a solution. Your children and ALL children will benefit from this. Have you noticed what the FEDS will be doing with the passing of yesterday's bill? Pleasanton's School District is a meager request in comparison (the parcel tax possibility). Please educate yourself and help rather than hurt!


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Posted by No More Tax
a resident of Downtown
on Jan 29, 2009 at 9:30 am

A lot has happened in the last few years, and what was once marginal, but inadequate support for a parcel tax in 2007 cannot be now construed as evidence that this path is a valid consideration. We are all in favor of quality education and support for our schools, but if the district continues to press forward with attempting to scare people into assessing yet another tax on themselves as quickly as possible, the initiative will be soundly defeated. Services must expand and contract with the associated revenue stream. Each of us has to make those decisions for our personal finances. Why do government services consider themselves exempt? Many alternate approaches have been suggested, but Dr. Casey insists that they should be considered as a last resort and only after the results of this "Cash Grab" campaign are determined. Work on solving the problem by balancing the budget. Then we can talk about ways to garner extra funding for programs and services that are worth perusing.


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Posted by Al Cohen
a resident of Del Prado
on Jan 29, 2009 at 9:46 am

I believe it is clear to all of the stakeholders in the budget crisis that this is a SHARED SACRIFICE solution. Some issues cannot be discussed in the public forum until all parties concerned in SHARED SACRIFICE have had a chance to agree to and get approval by their constituencies. Patience is key. I also believe the board and the district clearly hear what is being said by the public. They know SHARED SACRIFICE is needed. Several board members articulated this specifically.

There is a certain undercurrent of opinion in the community that these folks are tone deaf and are praying on the emotions of the CSR and other issues to get a parcel tax passed. As a member of several committees, and no i am no lacky for anyone, and someone who runs a technology company who has had to slash 40% of it's employees in the last 12 months, none of this is taken lightly. These are hard working people who had the courage to run for public office and work tirelessly for the community. They do not hide behind anonymous pseudonyms on a blog and cast stones and not provide solutions. From what I have seen they are listening and listening hard. However, we need to be constructive nd provide solutions and not just say NO to everything. We need to come together and make the hard decisions for a SHARED SACRIFICE.


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Posted by Tax Payer
a resident of Del Prado
on Jan 29, 2009 at 9:51 am

To "No More Tax": Very well said. I couldn't agree more.

It's quite clear that Casey is using those scary tactics because he knows those are the issues that press our buttons after the last survey:

"Alex Evans, president of EMC Research, told the board that while education was not a big worry, voters would support a tax that would address class-size reduction, vocational education and upgraded technology."

So, they proposed to cut the programs that voters care about most in-order to get a parcel tax passed. You won't win my vote that way.

With the economy continuing its nose-dive, everyone in the private sectors are expected to do more with less. We don't expect any less from the government that we fund. I expect a lot more from the 46% taxes that I paid last year. So, go back to the drawing board and make it work. No more excuses!







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Posted by Lori
a resident of Parkside
on Jan 29, 2009 at 10:24 am

Thank you, Mr. Cohen. It is in the best interests of this community to try to find a fair solution to this real budgetary problem. Since a good number of PUSD employees live in Pleasanton, we should feel some sense of responsibility to try to keep as many of those folks out of the unemployment system. I am looking forward to attending the meeting at Foothill on Wednesday, Feb. 4, to hear more information directly from district leaders. They are working very hard to present reasonable solutions and they deserve our respect for the job they are doing.
Please let's not fall into the "I don't have kids in school" mentality. My husband and I worked very hard for Pleasanton schools as volunteers (PFC's and boosters) for the years our kids were in school. Many of the facilities and programs we sought while campaigning for school bonds didn't become a reality until AFTER my children were graduated, but it still gives us alot of pride to know that the younger generation of families that live in our neighborhood can now enjoy what we worked to get for future generations. And it isn't just about property values! It's about doing the right thing for the children of our community.
If there are concerns and questions you would like answers to, please attend a public meeting (i.e. at Foothill or the board meetings) and let them be known. I believe that Dr. Casey and staff are willing to hear your comments, but they also have to act responsibly to keep the quality of education that we have come to expect in Pleasanton. You would probably be amazed at the wealth of knowledge these district staff folks have to offer and the intricate system of state and federal requirements that make these issues so complicated. Don't hide behind your computers and take the easy way out by complaining--be willing to be fully educated about funding our Pleasanton schools and giving your opinion publicly.


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Posted by Parent & Tax Payer
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 29, 2009 at 11:16 am

The amount that is being floated around is $200-$400. In my mind the amount of the tax is not the problem but the tactics surrounding the way the money is being asked for.

The first thing that is being talked about is class size reductions. Since this point hits home to parents very fast. Then next thing we are told that if we dont support parcel tax, people will lose jobs, our property values will fall, there will be crime, threat after threat. Not ok at all.

We are all suffering and worried about our economic futures. We have all had to give up things these past few months and will continue to over the next two years. In the private sector when there is a downturn people are let go and businesses figure out how to generate more revenue and cut costs. It should be the same in Public Sector as well. PUSD should first try all ways before it starts asking us to
pay.


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Posted by Parent 2 & Tax Payer 2
a resident of Del Prado
on Jan 29, 2009 at 11:37 am

I also agree that the amount is not the issue for me; it's the way the money is being asked that infuriates me. Shelling out another few hundred dollars a year to help our kids and the community is not a problem for me financially. I donate thousands of dollars to various local charities, including school's fund-raising, every year and still plan to do the same this year, in-spite of the bleak economic outlook. What I don't like is the scary tactics deployed by PUSD. You won't see my submission to those threats!


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Posted by Emily West
Pleasanton Weekly reporter
on Jan 29, 2009 at 11:48 am

Emily West is a registered user.

Since they have not officially decided to put the parcel tax on the ballot, they haven't specified the rate per parcel. In a handout given at the budget forum meeting on Monday, the district put the estimated amount of money coming from the district at three rate points: $100, $200 and $300. I hadn't heard $400 thrown out there in discussion, but maybe it has been said elsewhere. At Tuesday night's meeting Valerie Arkin suggested the rate be less than $200.


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Posted by Mary
a resident of Birdland
on Jan 29, 2009 at 12:34 pm

I've been following this very closely and no board member has suggested a parcel tax of $400. The likely figure would be in the $200 range. As far as suggesting that class-size reduction is being used to scare people into voting for a tax, I disagree. Class size reduction is on the top of the cut list because it is the most expense program in our schools. Cutting it would save $2 million of the $8.7 million reductions required to balance the budget. I hope people realize that the quality of education we have enjoyed in Pleasanton is about to disappear because of the state's fiscal crisis. While cuts to staff and programs are inevitable, we need to do what other districts surrounding us have done to save their schools, and that is vote yes on a parcel tax. There really are no other fixes this time.


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Posted by Kelly
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Jan 29, 2009 at 12:48 pm

Is it possible that those of us directly involved in the schools (parents, teachers) have created all the buzz about CSR? The PUSD never said that CSR was at the top of the list to be cut. It is one of many possible cuts on the non-prioritized Cabinet Identified Possible Cuts. It has become quite apparent that CSR is deemed valuable by many of us in the community. I feel strongly that CSR was not put on the list as a political scare tactic by the PUSD in order to trick the community into voting in favor of a parcel tax. CSR is on the list because it costs money to have it and the district might not have that money to support it. The revenues from the state are so uncertain that we really need to decide as a community if we are willing to provide direct financial support to PUSD via a parcel tax in order to protect the specific programs we care about most. The PUSD will be making drastic cuts. I am hopeful that our wonderful community will come together and accept the concept of a shared sacrifice.


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Posted by Resident again
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 29, 2009 at 1:01 pm

". Class size reduction is on the top of the cut list because it is the most expense program in our schools. Cutting it would save $2 million of the $8.7 million reductions required to balance the budget."

Eliminating 2 teacher work days = 900K

Eliminating the 3 development days = 600K

Eliminating Public Information Officer = 120K

Eliminating a Director = 120K

1 Assistant Director M&O 120K

Director of Architectural Planning 96K

That right there is about 1.9 million


Yet they say CSR is the most expensive? What about the above highly unnecessary expenses?

And what about this one:
Salary Rollback – Each 1% would save $1 million


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Posted by Mike
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 29, 2009 at 1:19 pm

I think Resident again is the one employing scare tactics. The "highly unnecessary expenses" that he/she lists are all going to get cut in my opionion. Still doesn't solve the problem.


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Posted by Resident again
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 29, 2009 at 6:45 pm

"I think Resident again is the one employing scare tactics. The "highly unnecessary expenses" that he/she lists are all going to get cut in my opionion. Still doesn't solve the problem."

I am not the one threatening the community with elimination of programs, or trying to get the community to accept a parcel tax before examining other options. I am a homeowner who will have to pay a tax I feel is being promoted incorrectly and without first making cuts that obviously do not affect the students or quality of education.

You are right that the cuts I mentioned will not solve the problem, but they would save about 2.9 million. Take that from the 8.7 million, and it will reduce the amount you need for a parcel tax.


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Posted by ParksideParent
a resident of Parkside
on Jan 29, 2009 at 8:06 pm

Resident Again, do you have any data on the average salary of PUSD teachers? From what I understand, it's around 60K give or take, but upwards of 30% of that goes towards providing health care benefits for their families. Please, let's respect those that give so much of themselves to provide the quality education the children of this community have received for so long. Teachers did not create this problem and should not bear the burden of paying for it. And FYI, those teachers that live within this community will be paying for any parcel tax that is passed--they'll be paying right along with you. Lastly, I'd venture to guess that there is no teacher out there that wouldn't gladly sacrifice teacher workdays and developmental days to save their jobs, but to ask teachers to give more of themselves than they already do in terms of financial sacrifice is pure ignorance.


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Posted by Barney
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Jan 29, 2009 at 8:35 pm

Does anybody know what kind of union dues teachers pay? Why not ask teachers to keep all or a portion of those dues to offset any potential salary reductions?


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Posted by ParksideParent
a resident of Parkside
on Jan 29, 2009 at 8:51 pm

Barney,
Teachers and unions are not the problem here. Redirect your attention towards the state legislature. They are the problem. They are the individuals who should pay for this crisis through the loss of their jobs. The whole lot of them should be tossed out right along with Arnold. You are insulting good people with your misguided insinuations.


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Posted by patron of Main St
a resident of Downtown
on Jan 29, 2009 at 8:55 pm

Shared sacrifice -- nice words, no follow through. When EVERY employee in the district, including Casey, SHARES by virtue of pay and benefit cuts I might consider my portion. Do not come to me asking for money until each and every person who is employed there gives back at least as much.
NO PARCEL TAX, EVER, WITHOUT CUTS IN PAY AND BENEFITS


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Posted by concerned
a resident of Foothill High School
on Jan 29, 2009 at 9:58 pm

EVERYONE should dig deep and look at what cuts make sense. CSR is only one of many items that make sense. Maybe we could reduce class size to 25 instead of 32....there are midway points for everything. We also need to employ some common sense here. I don't want a parcel tax and I don't want to be threatened into a parcel tax. We all talk about education and how much more money it will cost while the quality of education is continuing to nosedive in the state of california. Something is wrong with the union system in caifornia which is why I don't want to throw any more money than what I already pay in state, property and sales taxes at the problem. Pay for performance - not seniority. Make teachers responsible for teaching curriculum not MANAGING curriculum. Parents start encouraging education at home. Turn off the computer, TV and video games. Get involved in what your kids are doing in school. Cut "fluff" programs that aren't directly related to the 3R's and technology. A parcel tax is not the only answer and I don't appreciate the school department thinking that it is. We need to see all line items of where we're spending today. TRANSPARENCY!!! Then we can go forward with a parcel tax.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 29, 2009 at 10:24 pm

Concerned,

Your idea about 25:1 sounds like a good compromise until... The State rules on the CSR categorical funding program requires a ratio of 20:1 in order for the district to receive the categorical funds. I believe Schwarzenegger proposed a relaxation of this rule. I'm not 100% sure about that though.


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Posted by anonymous pseudonym
a resident of Valley Trails
on Jan 30, 2009 at 1:12 am

Mr. Cohen,

You almost had me until your "They do not hide behind anonymous pseudonyms on a blog and cast stones and not provide solutions".

Could be you need to go back and read the threads concerning this subject. You just might see many solutions have been suggested. They may not be to your liking but they are there. Not everyone drinks the parcel tax cool-aid no matter how it is flavored.

If you are foolish enough to post your full name on the Internet, that is your choice but don't cast stones at others that may have better judgement.

Care to share what type SHARED SACRIFICE your business instituted before you "slashed 40% of your employees". Do you suppose that "slashed 40%" would approve a parcel tax if they live in Pleasanton and are still un-employed.


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Posted by Resident again
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 30, 2009 at 6:42 am

Concerned has a point. 25 students is a good compromise. That combined with other savings, should reduce the amount of the parcel tax needed. It may eliminate it altogether.

I just saw on the PUSD website that the superintendent receives 1K per month for car stipend. Why? He also got an interest free loan to buy a house in Pleasanton, therefore, there is no commuting, why do we need to subsidize his car and gasoline? That right there is 24K per year. And that is only the car stipend for one of the top administrators. Imagine what else we could save if we just had the information.

Let's look at everything, and see how much we can get rid of (unnecessary expenses, that is)


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Posted by Resident again
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 30, 2009 at 6:44 am

"right there is 24K per year."

Sorry, I meant 12K per year


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Posted by Resident again
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 30, 2009 at 6:50 am

"Teachers and unions are not the problem here. "

The unions are a problem. The 2 teacher work days will not be cut, just wait and see. And that is 900K, the teachers should share the sacrifice and prevent some of her fellow teachers from being laid off. But they are not willing to give these 2 very expensive and unnecessary no-student days. And what about the staff development days, 200k each?

Unions are also responsible for keeping bad teachers. My child was stuck with one last year, and that teacher was highly unpopular at our school, but she is still there. No parent can do anything about bad teachers. You can complain all you want, and it does not matter, the teacher is protected by the union and that is the end of that.


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Posted by Barney
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Jan 30, 2009 at 7:38 am

I'd still like to know what the teachers union dues are. Does anybody know?


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Posted by Bob
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jan 30, 2009 at 8:27 am

We have three choices:

We can try to maintain the current levels (or increase them) by increasing taxes via a parcel tax. No one likes more taxes on themselves. Still, cutting one double latte per week would pay the proposed parcel tax, so it is a possible solution.

We can cut some programs and services. Are their unneeded items out there? Of course there are, some more obvious than others. We really need custodians and teachers. We have a lesser need for principals. Lower down are assistant principals and counselors (too many?), office and district staff. And then there are positions that we've only seen when we had to talk about the budget. For example, we have two district mucic and visual arts coordinators. My student (final year) has three music classes per day and has never heard of, seen or been influenced by them. I'm sure there are other equally mysterious positions. Nice to have, but in a crunch... IF we do nothing but cut, we will lower the quality of education here. How, much, depends on what is cut and how.

The final choice is a combination of the two above. Some cutting, some tax increase. The best answer won't retain everything nor will it please the "no taxes ever" supporters. It does share the pain and reminds both the school ditrict leaders and the community that nothing worth having is truly free and that sacrificing a little together can keep our community strong.

Choose wisely.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 30, 2009 at 9:06 am

We don't drink double lattes. Our coffee is brewed at home.


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Posted by NO PARCEL TAX!
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 30, 2009 at 9:24 am

"Still, cutting one double latte per week would pay the proposed parcel tax, so it is a possible solution."

Why in the world would I want to cut my one double latte per week to pay yet another tax when I'm already paying 46% of my income in taxes???? In fact, why would I want to change anything in my life to pay a tax that is absolutely unnecessary?

PUSD can easily make enough cuts to save the programs and services that are important to the parents, like CSR. There is NO NEED for a new tax, period. In this economy, we need to reduce government and their services, not tag on more taxes to keep useless programs and administrators.

Moreover, why isn't Casey skipping his one double latte per week and start paying for his own car, gas, and mortgage interests like the rest of us? Proposing to cut programs and services for the community while sipping on his double latte in the car that's funded by our taxes "is the height of irresponsibility. It is shameful,". "We shouldn't have to do that because they should know better. And we will continue to send that message loud and clear,".

Sounds familiar? Those are quotes from Obama's reactions to those ridiculous Wall Street bonuses yesterday. PUSD needs to do the right thing and make the cuts...not propose new taxes.





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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 30, 2009 at 10:05 am

I am new to this forum but been reading a lot of Pleasanton responses on the PUSD budget issues. I found this posted in the Q&A of the PUSD website. A little disturbing for me as a taxpayers that the superintendent makes this much plus monthly allowance when I think a lot of parents such as myself are struggling to make ends meet in this economic situation. I am an advocate for the betterment of our schools, but I think sacrifices also have to be made by PUSD employees and administrators as they are also part of our community.

What are the terms of the Superintendent's contract?
Superintendent Dr. John Casey is employed under a contract which ends June 30, 2010. His annual salary is $227,002, with a 12-month work calendar and 24 days of vacation. Medical and other health insurance may be purchased at his sole expense, and the District contributes $5,000 annually for life insurance premiums. At the completion of each year of the contract where he has worked at least 85% of the days, he receives a payment of $10,000 into a tax-sheltered annuity. He receives $1,000 per month as a transportation allowance and membership in professional organizations as appropriate and necessary. When Dr. Casey moved to Pleasanton, he received a $200,000 loan to help purchase a home in the community. This loan is interest free and must be repaid within 18 months of the termination of his employment. There is no provision or expectation that the loan would be "forgiven." The current balance of this loan is $190,000.

Why does it cost the District more to operate each year?
Historically and contractually, teachers move along a salary schedule based on years of experience and units of continuing education. Credit for years of experience (up to 20) allows an employee to "move down" the schedule (step). Every 15 units of continuing education (up to 75) allow an employee to move across the schedule (column). The increase in salary from one step or column to the next varies from 0% to about 3%. The current salary schedule goes from $60,371 (Step 1, Column 1) to $98,045 (Step 20, Column 5). For classified and management employees, there is a salary schedule that provides a 2% increase for years of experience up to 6 years.


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Posted by Parent 2
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 30, 2009 at 10:23 am

WOW! If you add up the benefits and employment taxes, that's nearly $500,000 (HALF A MILLION!) spent on just one person. I understand why CEOs in the private sectors deserve this kind of money, but a superintendent who's only in charge of spending (and not making) our tax dollars gets that much? How many teacher jobs or programs can we save with that money? Wow!


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Posted by Parent 2
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 30, 2009 at 10:43 am

Why are these identified as "Negotiable Items For Consideration"? These are the cuts that would impact the students least. They should be considered high priority cuts. They're all the cuts you need to balance the budget:

Salary Rollback – Each 1% would save $1 million
APT $695; CSEA $195; Management $81;Other (e.g. hourly) $29

Voluntary Staff Development Reform Program Eliminate $360

Suspend High School Collaboration Period
Seven period day at the high schools – 5.6 FTE $448

Elementary Science Specialists $227

Defer Step and Column Increases $1.5 mil

Elementary PE Specialists (9 FTE) $720

Elementary Music Reductions (4.5 FTE) $360

Furlough Day $450/day

Elementary preparation period provided by a shortened student day.

Staff Development Days – Currently have 3 on the salary schedule. Each
day encroaches on the general fund about $200,000. In addition, we
have 2 paid "non student" days for teachers. These cost about
$450,000 per day.


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Posted by Scott
a resident of Country Fair
on Jan 30, 2009 at 10:48 am

The district does not ever see the 3 million in Federal money as relief to reconsider the Parcel Tax.
They are irresponsible!


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 30, 2009 at 11:30 am

"Why are these identified as "Negotiable Items For Consideration"?"

Because they must be negotiated with the union whereas the district can implement other cuts listed without such restrictions. I don't agree with salary rollbacks (it isn't fair), but "step and column" raises should absolutely be looked at. It costs the district around $1.5MM to $2MM each year to fund those raises and in four years that amount will double! And yes, they are raises because they increase personnel costs despite any attempts to spin them as anything else. It isn't fair to taxpayers who aren't getting any salary increases because of the economy to have to fund raises for those in the public sector. Is that where the double lattes really are going?


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Posted by Resident again
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 30, 2009 at 11:50 am

Special legal notice to California teachers:

Web Link

Web Link

(it's about how to get rid of the union and their fees, it's your choice)

A teacher should tell us how much she/he pays in union dues. Just look at this from the CTA (California Teacher Association) website, and it looks like they employ so many people, the dues must be significant. Why don't we get rid of this organization and put the money back in the schools where it belongs?

Web Link

"PROGRAMS AND STAFF:

Headquartered in Burlingame in San Mateo County, CTA employs a statewide staff of some 500 people spread out in dozens of offices across California. Its Governmental Relations Division is based in Sacramento. Supported by CTA's legal, field, negotiations, communications and other staff, CTA members continue to have a powerful voice in today's public education issues. Members continue to shape state policies on testing, school funding, class size and other critical matters. Annual CTA conferences cover good teaching methods, human rights, and urban and rural school issues."

I agree with the above postings. Casey has an unrealistic deal for what he does, especially during a financial crisis. 1K per month for car stipend, that must be some car and expensive gasoline. He lives in Pleasanton, how long can his commute to work be? How much money does he really spend on gasoline? And what about the other administrators? Do they get stipends too?

And my children, too have never seen these performing art coordinators, or elementary school counselors. What do these people really do? I did not realize so many window jobs existed in the school system.


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Posted by YES on Double Latte
a resident of Castlewood
on Jan 30, 2009 at 12:04 pm

We love our daily visit to the local cafe for a cup of double latte. We think of it as a way to keep our local economy thriving.

YES ON DOUBLE LATTE & NO ON PARCEL TAX!


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Posted by Parent III
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 30, 2009 at 12:34 pm

I too, am an advocate for the betterment of our children's education. And I am involved by volunteering 8 hours or more every week in my kids schools. So please, no one come along and tell me to step up and be part of the solution.
My question is why should the school district as a government agency be any different than other sectors?
My husband has just announced to me that his company (a large nationwide business) is most likely instituting a 10% across the board paycut. This after many layoffs.
Now I am not suggesting a 10% cut for our staff but why should they be immune to a smaller percentage? I would interpret the suggestion of shared sacrifice as including some of the proposed cuts, salary rollbacks and some partial tax. Others seem to imply that 'shared' means the burden is only shared amongst the community.
It is my opinion that our board needs to tell Casey to start negotiating now. Nothing is premature as we face this deficit.


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Posted by Overpaid & Underworked
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 30, 2009 at 1:58 pm

Looks like it's worth spending $20K and a couple of years on one of those online EdD degrees if the profession is so lucrative and there's so much job security. I would be content with half of what Casey's making after getting the EdD.


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Posted by Get the facts
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jan 30, 2009 at 3:37 pm

To be a superintendant, you must first have your college degree and a teaching credential, so that is five years. You must teach at least three years before getting into year one of an administrative credential. Then you will spend numerous years as a VP, Principal, and District Office person before you can hope to be a superintendant of a small district. To get to Pleasanton, you will have been a superintendant somewhere else for a while before coming here. And somewhere in there you took your second year of your administrative credential and got your doctorate as well.

I'm not saying Dr. Casey or any executive in the public or private sector is worth 200+ K yearly, but please don't say "a couple of years and one of those online EdD degrees." It takes much longer than that. If his salary sounds good, go get your teaching credential and go for it!

Way too many guesses and very little factual info on these blogs.


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Posted by To Get the facts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 30, 2009 at 4:49 pm

"ay too many guesses and very little factual info on these blogs."

No, you just chose a post that I personally took as sarcasm, not fact.

Many have posted facts that the district and their supporters simply ignore. You obviously did too.

Most parents do not go to these nonsense meetings, and we choose not to be vocal but we vote based on facts. We can see through the nonsense going on right now, even if you choose to close your eyes and ignore the game the district is playing.

Who cares how long Casey studied? Most of us have graduate studies in more difficult fields. The point is we are in a recession, everyone in the private sector has seen 401Ks decrease, some have even been laid off. Why should the district keep everything the way it is when the rest of the nation and world is eliminating the excess?


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Posted by Get the facts
a resident of Country Fair
on Jan 30, 2009 at 5:19 pm

Read my blog a little more closely. I never said that "the district keep everything the way it is."

I simply stated facts about Casey's background. I do not think anyone is worth 200+ K, whether it be a superintendant, a CEO, a politician, a business owner, a football player, whatever. But the little sarcastic comments are taken as truth by many. I'm glad you saw through it, but many don't.

And, "Most of us have graduate studies in more difficult fields."?? According to what? You might, but I don't, and most people I know have no college degree or no college beyond a BA/BS. If you have research to back this statement, great, bring it on. But it's false, it's simply an incorrect, off the cuff statement.

Again, way too much false information on these blogs.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 30, 2009 at 5:37 pm

According to the US Census, 56% of us in Pleasanton have a Bachlor's degree or higher. Web Link


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Posted by YES ON DOUBLE LATTE & NO ON PARCEL TAX!
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 30, 2009 at 5:42 pm

You people really have too much time on your hands. Go do something productive (like campaigning against the parcel tax etc) for a change...Geez!

YES ON DOUBLE LATTE & NO ON PARCEL TAX!


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Posted by Barbara
a resident of Bordeaux Estates
on Jan 30, 2009 at 5:55 pm

At the Amador meeting someone was waving a clipboard to sign up parcel tax supporters for the district. I want to know where is the clipboard to sign up to force the district to make every reasonable cut first. I would like to work productively with a team not face the intimidation at the districts meetings.


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Posted by Get the facts
a resident of Canyon Oaks
on Jan 30, 2009 at 6:11 pm

Thanks, Stacey, for backing my point. If 56% of Pleasanton residents have a bachelor's degree or higher, I would imagine that only half of those 56%(or less) have more than the bachelor's degree. So the comment that "most of us have graduate degrees in more difficult fields" is false. And who is to say what field is more difficult than another? That's a very subjective argument.

Again, way too much misinformation on these pages.


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Posted by To Get the facts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 30, 2009 at 6:35 pm

""most of us have graduate degrees in more difficult fields" is false. "

Again you are just grabbing comments here and there and do not look at the whole picture. Most people I know have graduate studies and do not rely on public handouts to make it through the recession.

The point is that Casey's years of study are completely irrelevant to the current situation. He is not making good decisions, and those who choose to blindly believe what nonsense the district is selling should learn more about what is really going on.

Casey's salary is acceptable in the private sector, but for those in companies that are profitable, those who make those profits happen. The minute profits stop coming, the company may downsize and the bonus and options may not be that good anymore.

PUSD does not have profits and relies on public funding, which right now has decreased. Casey's package is not justified, not right now.


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Posted by Get the facts
a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Jan 30, 2009 at 8:29 pm

I'm not disagreeing with the other things you are saying. Please read what I am writing! I already stated that I don't think anyone is worth 200+ K a year. I never said his years of study (and don't forget experience) are worth what he makes. I was simply correcting someone who thought it was easy to get his job. Then, I took time to correct you and your "Most of us have graduate studies in more difficult fields" comment, which was basically confirmed by Stacey's statistics. (I'm very happy for you, by the way, that your family and freinds and "most people that I know have graduate studies". I am forced to live a humble life with my family and friends who have no degree or simply a bachelor's. I though we were doing okay, but I guess I live on a different tier than you.)

So yes, I am just "grabbing comments here and there", but these are the comments that are incorrect and destructive. I have no problem with anyone expressing their views on either side of this tax, but I simply wish the facts were correct.

Way too much fiction out there.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 30, 2009 at 10:45 pm

If you drill down further in the weblink, it breaks out "Bachelor and higher" into "Graduate and professional degrees" which was around 23% IIRC.


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Posted by Get the facts
a resident of Deer Oaks/Twelve Oaks
on Jan 30, 2009 at 11:16 pm

Thank you Stacey, for helping to get the facts on this. I guess I don't run around with the smart people in that 23% like "To Get the facts" does.

Information and facts are what we need, not fallacies. Thanks for the statistics.


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Posted by Kevin
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 31, 2009 at 2:35 am

The Livermore Charter Schools ask parents to donate up to $1000 per attending child. The also request parent time in the classroom supporting the teachers. Parents sit on the board and all are involved in the decision making.

There is no need for a pacel tax......just a little more interest in your childs education from the parents.

You have a great example of how to fix the educational problems - look to the Livermore Charter Schools.

In only a few years, the charter school test scores are also on par with Pleasanton.






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Posted by Jerry
a resident of Oak Hill
on Jan 31, 2009 at 2:52 am

Thanks Bob,

This is not an attack - just a "Thank You"...

You won me $10. I bet myself 10 bucks someone would bring the "cup of coffee" to the discussion. It was just a matter of time...

I wanted to bet $20 but I wouldn't let me...:)

Thanks again...:)


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Posted by Sam
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 31, 2009 at 7:36 am

I will vote for a parcel tax if PUSD serves free latte every morning to cover my loss.
Hey Jerry since you are $10 flush will you buy my latte?

NO PARCEL TAX!


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Posted by teacher
a resident of Birdland
on Jan 31, 2009 at 9:00 am

As a first year teacher, I am saddened first by the fact that I am probably (99%) not going to be re-hired next year due to the budget crisis. I was hoping to find support and evidence of the high parent involvement that PUSD is noted for. However, after reading this blog and the other threads associated to this issue, I am not sure if this community supports their teachers, much less their children?
Statistically, first year teachers do not return to the profession for various reasons. The #1 reason, is the lack of support professionally. This would include community support as well. In the business world, professional development is not even considered and the turn over rate is high, with job satisfaction and dedication on a great decline.
In the teaching profession, PUSD is considered the #1 school district to work for, due to the support in professional development thus, increasing the job satisfaction factor and improvement in curriculum within the classroom.
For the last seven years, I have worked very hard to get into this school district, and I have had a wonderful year teaching my middle-high students. I view this blog (with hope)as the (few) silent minority (because I don't feel you have the character to attend the meetings and voice your opinions there) of ney sayers. Parcel tax or not, you may want to consider how your School District has given all the residents of Pleasanton much more than just an education to ALL children, it has added a great deal of satisfaction and value to the quality of life that residents enjoy in this community. Especially, those that do not have children enrolled in PUSD.


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Posted by Parent/Taxpayer
a resident of Harvest Park Middle School
on Jan 31, 2009 at 10:02 am

I have kids in the district. I respect and appreciate the majority of our teachers. I have given thousands of dollars in donations and thousands of volunteer hours in this district. I have been laid off from my job and my husband has had a 30% reduction in his income.
Do not say I do not support our kids, community or teachers because I will not blindly submit to a parcel tax.
That perception is why the taxpaying majority CAN NOT speak at the forums and will vote this parcel tax down.


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Posted by YES ON DOUBLE LATTE & NO ON PARCEL TAX!
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 31, 2009 at 10:28 am

To "teacher":

For you to bash those of us who are not in favor of a parcel tax is unfair and unjust. I certainly hope you're not a teacher of logic, otherwise I would have to question the competency in your school to pick teachers (no offense).

Like Parent/Taxpayer, I also donate thousands of dollars each year to my kids' schools and also volunteer there 8 hours a week. People like me are not unwilling to support our schools and our children. We simply disagree with the approaches PUSD is taking in solving the budget crisis and that we believe a new parcel tax will not resolve our long term problem of overspending in the district.

We, at the minimum, expect the district to explore cutting their administrators' salary and eliminate the redundancies and inefficiencies in the district. Is that really too much to ask? Throwing more money to keep the status quo is UNACCEPTABLE! Burdening the community with additional taxes in this economy to fund those status quo is outrageous!

We are entitled to our opinions, you know...

YES ON DOUBLE LATTE & NO ON PARCEL TAX!


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 31, 2009 at 5:18 pm

First year teacher wrote:
"The #1 reason, is the lack of support professionally."

This is a big problem historically with unions and other organized labor. The effect of the "protections" put in place for having things like automatic raises, aka "step and column", favors seniority and results in forcing companies to have to resort to layoffs instead because they're obligated by contract to pay for the raises.


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Posted by Anonymous supporter
a resident of Castlewood
on Jan 31, 2009 at 5:51 pm

To Anonymous pseudonym:

I, like you, do not care to have my name revealed in these highly emotional, amd some times inane blogs. However, Mr. Cohen had the courage to do so and for you to question what sort of sacrifices were made for his company, clearly reinforces the mean spirited rep this blog has gotten in the community. Perhaps you can tell us what you have done for the community lately and what constructive ideas you have?


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Jan 31, 2009 at 5:55 pm

Stacey, in general you have proven to be a reasonable provider of facts. Occasionally getting a few things wrong. However, your comment at the community forum about having people sentenced to community service work at the schools seems orthogonal with your normally thoughtful comments. Is that what you really mean? Did I misunderstand your position?


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 31, 2009 at 6:49 pm

"Stacey...your comment at the community forum about having people sentenced to community service work at the schools... Did I misunderstand your position?"

By community forum are you referring to this blog or the meetings that took place recently? I never said anything in that regard either here or at the forum Monday.


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Posted by Carl
a resident of Del Prado
on Jan 31, 2009 at 7:56 pm

Why is it that there has been no voices from either Mr. Cohen, or from teachers, or from PUSD administration, about the issues relating to unions, seniority and the inability to fire poor teachers. There are many young teachers who by leaps and bounds outperform older tenured teachers, yet it is the best and the brightest who get laid off in times like this. For this alone, and the PUSD's seemingly incapability to deliver the best teacher workforce possible, I will refuse to support the parcel tax, and will vigorously campaign against it.

If you know the salary scale and teacher tenure distribution at PUSD, you'll know that by firing poor performing teachers at the upper end of the pay scale, you'll let go less teachers overall, and end up with a better performing teacher workforce. What's not to like about that? Except that the union won't allow it. I'm sorry, these are MY tax dollars paying you. And I want the best teachers.

Who among you is defending the union's stranglehold on the PUSD cost structure and their perpetuation of ineptitude among tenured teachers?


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Posted by Carl
a resident of Del Prado
on Jan 31, 2009 at 8:01 pm

There is no need for any program cuts and there is no need for a parcel tax. Fire the bottom 10% performing teachers, hire the best and brightest available in the marketplace today (there's quite a few) at the entry salaries and reduce all salaries by 5%.

Done. Move on and get back to the work of education.


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Posted by Karen
a resident of Birdland
on Jan 31, 2009 at 8:46 pm

To "teacher"

I can't help but post....teacher...you are barking up the wrong tree. Your perspective speaks to your lack of knowledge about Pleasanton parents. I cannot even begin to count the number of hours I have spent volunteering and the amount of money I have taken out of my personal bank account and spent on this district's needs. I have worked full time in this community for 12 years and managed to provide hundreds of hours and dollars to make this a better district and all without asking for anything in return. I know of numerous other parents who have done the same and more. Before you draw any conclusions, you should speak to the other teachers who know us. Don't be so ignorant or speak from lack of wisdom or experience. It might be best that you don't come back next year.


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Posted by Budget Advisory Member
a resident of Birdland
on Jan 31, 2009 at 9:16 pm

Carl, as someone who has been to the budget meetings, I would like to let you know that Mr. Cohen was the only one to directly ask the unions if they were willing to share the pain and sacrifice needed to deal with the budget issue. It helps to know ALL of the facts.


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Posted by Anonymous supporter
a resident of Mohr Elementary School
on Jan 31, 2009 at 9:27 pm

Oh! OH! Parents and Teachers chill! This is not just your problem.

Let us think out of the box! Read one solution above given by - (Carl, a resident of the Del Prado neighborhood)

Another solution is that who ever is staying in the apartments and or children entering Kindergarten should pitch in the most.
A) In an apartment, they do not have to make mortgage payments.
B) Parents whose kids entering Kindergarten should take this as an investment.
C) In 2009 Families either living or will be moving into our community and renting an apartment so that their kids can go to our school district. I think from those families it will be fair to ask to pay little amount (amount no. need to be decided). They should take it as move in registration fees for this school district.


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Posted by Carl
a resident of Del Prado
on Jan 31, 2009 at 9:54 pm

Budget Advisory Member - Thank you for letting me know of Mr. Cohen's question to the unions. It does help to know.

What was the unions' answer to Mr. Cohen's question? That is the more important fact. Along with why we don't hear from Dr. Casey about managing the performance of the teachers.

After all, we pay their salaries. They work for us. It will be a shame if Dr. Casey allows a top performing teacher to be let go. If that happens, Dr. Casey and the PUSD board should be the next to go. Last I checked, the teachers (and their union proxies) work for us. Not the other way around.

Thanks to Valerie Arkin for voting to save $30,000


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Posted by Carl
a resident of Del Prado
on Jan 31, 2009 at 9:55 pm

The last statement was supposed to say.

Thanks to the Board for voting to save $30000.


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Posted by Budget Advisory member
a resident of Birdland
on Jan 31, 2009 at 10:14 pm

Carl, the unions stated that they had been discussing various ways of participating in solving the budget problem. However, any participation needs to be approved by the union execs as well as the rank and file. As in any union situation, this is done privately and is not discussed in a public forum.


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Posted by YES ON DOUBLE LATTE & NO ON PARCEL TAX!
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 31, 2009 at 11:48 pm

Who are these people that form the Budget Advisory Committee? Were they elected by the taxpayers or appointed by Casey or the Board? What qualifications do these people have?

How do we know if these people represent the interest of the taxpayers who fund the district and schools and that they're qualified to advise on budget matters?

Carl - you made some interesting points about keeping good teachers. But are there any regular focal reviews conducted for teachers? If so, by whom? I don't recall students or parents being asked to rate the teachers in any grade. If not, where does the school/district get their feedbacks on the performance of their teachers? I agree that merit should dictate pay and job security, not merely seniority. It's time to boot these underperforming campers off the gravy train.



YES ON DOUBLE LATTE & NO ON PARCEL TAX!




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Posted by Fools
a resident of Mohr Park
on Feb 1, 2009 at 7:04 am

Four of the board members decided to forgo the 30K survey because the last one, done a year ago, showed there was NO chance a parcel tax could pass. As another poster put it they made it clear they would go for the "money grab" regardless of the outcome of the survey. Arkin felt it was foolish to spend 150K on a special election and tear the community apart if there is strong reason to believe a parcel tax can not pass.

They barely acknowledged the 3 million they will be getting from the fed to put toward the shortfall.

Arkin sits among fools.


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Posted by patron of Main St
a resident of Downtown
on Feb 1, 2009 at 8:48 am

They could easily get the same results without a survey by reading -- and heeding -- these blogs. Jim Ott claims that those of us who post know nothing about this and have no influence. So go ahead Mr Ott, put a parcel tax on the ballot, waste all of that money and see what you should already know. Those of us with a brain will squash it. There are so many ways to cut the fat, starting with an across the board slash in pay. The rest of the nation has been hit with pay and benefit cuts, teachers, administrators and all other PUSD employees should be treated no differently. Casey and his board have made no efforts to PERSONALLY assist in the problem, that means cutting their own pay and benefits ($1000 per month for a car allowance!) first. Then and only then can they say they are "sharing the burden".
NO PARCEL TAX


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Posted by Parent III
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 1, 2009 at 10:07 am

I agree with patron! The board is being foolish to ignore these comments. Those of us who are parents are reluctant to speak publicly in opposition because of the possible repercussions to our children. But we are here and we will vote NO unless the proposed package changes.
While I certainly want the best for my kids and all students of Pleasanton, I am not willing to give PUSD more money. I do not wish to see 'teacher' from above lose her job but I do not think that is necessary. Rollbacks are called for in this economy and for the good of the whole. Shave a couple of percentage points off and save dozens of teacher's jobs. And call those step and column increases what you will but most of the world views them as raises.
If the district and/or the union hold to the position of no rollbacks, they will waste $150,000 on an election--or 2 more teachers lost. The actions will show us, the voters, what their priorities really are.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 1, 2009 at 10:33 am

I have mixed feelings regarding the survey thing. On the one hand, spending $30K to hire a company to do a community survey sounds like a waste of money. On the other hand, there is a big risk being made by not taking one. Opinions posted on this blog and spoken at the board meetings form a sort of accidental or self-selected survey, which means only those with a more-than-passing interest are speaking up. To get a proper sampling of opinion, a random survey would need to be taken that includes disinterested people.


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Posted by patron of Main St
a resident of Downtown
on Feb 1, 2009 at 10:44 am

Stacey, I disagree. The only people who even bother to vote are people like us -- with more than a passing interest in the issue. This blog is not by any means a scientific sampling of anyone, but I would bet that the parcel tax would be voted down in about the same percentage that you can read on this forum. Taking a survey only wastes another $30K. Having it on the ballot wastes even more. Casey, Ott and the board should get smart about this and make MAJOR cuts elsewhere before even considering a vote on a parcel tax. Most of us would vote no just because of the arrogance of Casey and the rest in thinking they can extort money from us this way.
NO PARCEL TAX


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Carl
a resident of Del Prado
on Feb 1, 2009 at 12:23 pm

Budget Advisory Member - First...Thank-you for being a member of the committee. We each in our own way volunteer to help our educational community. The hours/effort you and the committee are devoting to this challenging situation is greatly appreciated. I also appreciate your filling in the gaps in understanding what is happening.

I don't understand why the union gets to be 'private'. Everything else is out in the open. All the fiscal options are being discussed openly and in the public forum. Sure, there are some matters that must remain confidential such as individual teacher salaries or disciplinary matters. Extraordinary times calls for extraordinary measures and actions. And union 'privacy' is uncalled for at this time. We are supposed to be in an era of 'Change' and 'Responsibility'. The unions appear to be in an era of 'Same Old' and 'IrResponsibility'. Who are the union execs? When and where do they meet? How big is their budget (which ultimately comes from yours/my tax money)? How are they being held accountable for their protection of the tenured poor performing teacher at the expense of the good young teacher who is being targeted for layoff? Who out there has some of these details about the teachers union?

When will someone add up all the hours and dollars being spent in research, debate, study, community dialoge, and more. This is lost productivity and wasted money; none of this hardly results in better education.

I don't want a single person let go purely because of budget. I do want the poor performers replaced with better workers, in both teaching and administration. If all PUSD employees took an 8.7% pay reduction right now, we would stop all this expense and get back to providing great education for our children. We can restore the pay reduction when the economy and tax dollars resume their flow. I would bet that if the 8.7% salary reduction occurred, parents and community would volunteer and contribute more directly to the classroom. There are legions of quiet, concerned and caring parents out there who will rise to the occasion to help their children's classrooms and teachers. I believe that much about this great community of Pleasanton.

What these quiet/caring parents don't want is another tax. We all know that taxes have a discounting effect in that $1 in tax results in something less than $1 going to the classroom. As an example, right now, I have a $20 bag of supplies going to a teacher who asked for help. This is a far better use of my money than paying a parcel tax.

The 50 or so 'interested' silent parents and homeowners and 'likely voters' I speak with are about 90% against the tax. When faced with an increase in the state sales tax, increased DMV fees, increased gasoline tax, BART fare hikes, state income tax hike, ongoing layoffs in all industries, and more.........there is no chance the parcel tax will pass anytime soon.

So, to the unions and PUSD....stop the drama, stop the analysis/paralysis, stop the 'private' posturing, stop the threats of program cuts and layoffs, stop the increased taxes. Do the across the board salary reduction. Increase student results by replacing all the poor performers. Save ALL the jobs and ALL the programs.


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Posted by Anonymous supporter
a resident of Mohr Elementary School
on Feb 1, 2009 at 2:52 pm

Carl,

Really! What you are proposing can work? How can we make it happen?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Rabbit
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 1, 2009 at 8:02 pm

Blabbedy bloo blah, bloo blabbedy bloo blah.

/more angry yelling.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by frank
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Feb 1, 2009 at 10:13 pm

I am a NO PARCEL TAX advocate for a variety of reasons. However, after reading this thread I noticed Carl's post and its subsequent embrace by many, and it struck me that it promotes an unfairness. Carl states:

"If you know the salary scale and teacher tenure distribution at PUSD, you'll know that by firing poor performing teachers at the upper end of the pay scale, you'll let go less teachers overall, and end up with a better performing teacher workforce. What's not to like about that?"

Why is he picking on only poor performing teachers at the upper end? Are there none within the rest of the pay scale? Is he age discriminating? Why not fire all poor performers irrespective of where they sit in the pay scale?

Come on folks, you have to offer up better suggestions than Carl's. Private industry is well known for laying off the higher paid older employees. That's why the unions arose in the first place and Carl's recommendation only solidifies their position.

My point of view is that teacher performance and living within one's budget are separate issues. In good times or bad, poor performers should be shown the door. In bad times, ALL should shoulder the burden, good teacher or bad. Union rules, unfortunately, lead to the intermixing of issues such as in this thread.

Governments can never cut budgets, they only spend money, including the usual windfalls that occur because of housing bubbles or stock market bubbles. With the onset of what increasingly appears to be a full blown depression as opposed to a deep recession, they will just have to join the real world and live within the means provided them. Even government schools, which public education is.


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Posted by Tax Revolt
a resident of Country Fair
on Feb 1, 2009 at 10:37 pm

Frank - In Carl's concluding last paragraph, he recommends an across the board salary reduction and replacing all poor performers. I think you two are aligned. Regarding his use of comparing an older teacher to a younger one, I heard from a parent this week about a young high school teacher whose freshman math class consistently scored 10 points higher on the math tests, than an older tenured teacher. That's a whole letter grade higher. Given the layoff rules listed on the PUSD website, it will be the better teacher who will be laid off due to seniority. That should not be happening.

It is interesting to note that according to the PUSD website there are four Pleasanton Teachers Association (union) and four California State Employees Association (AFL-CIO affiliated union) members on the budget advisory committee.

I want to also add that the California Teachers Association (union) is promoting an initiative to raise the state sales tax another 1%. As I see it, the unions want to raise both the sales tax and implement the parcel tax. (see www.pleasantonteachers.org)

I will campaign against any parcel tax.


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Posted by Outraged!
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 1, 2009 at 11:06 pm

Thanks for the info, Tax Revolt. I'm disgusted by the fact that we have unions trying to seek more taxes to burden us taxpayers in the eve of a depression. I'm seizing all my donations to the schools and classrooms from this day on. This is outrageous! I'm suppose to fork over more to support the union and their members at a time like this? This is beyond outrageous!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jerry
a resident of Oak Hill
on Feb 2, 2009 at 1:34 am

It's interesting to read Mr. Ott's opinion of the people that participate on this forum... If I remember correctly, Mr. Ott stated on one of the local TV channels that he's in the Banking Industry. Can someone help me recall just who's heavily involved in the fiscal mess this country is facing and who is being bailed out... Never mind.. I just remembered, it's the Banking Industry...:) Is it possible you know best and any thing goes when you're playing with someone elses money...

Sam - Another Pleasanton neighborhood,

It would be an honor to pay for your latte except for the fact I'm gonna need the 10 bucks to help pay my parcel tax. Would a cup of "Roach Coach" coffee suffice...:)


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Posted by Resident again
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 2, 2009 at 2:56 am

Thank you Tax Revolt. I just read about it. This caught my attention:
Web Link

"The new $5 billion to $6 billion generated annually from this Act could be spent to reduce class size in all grades; provide adequate and up-to-date textbooks and materials; provide quality teacher training; hire additional counselors, librarians and critical education support staff; restore arts and career technical programs; and recruit and retain highly qualified teachers. None of the money could be spent on administrative costs and misuse of funds is punishable by law."

Notice how the money would be spend on non-needed items. More counselors? More librarians? More teacher training? More grades with class size reduction? My children do well in the environment currently provided, they do not need class size reduction at all levels. That is just a union's way to make a teacher's job easier, hire more teachers and spend our money. As for teacher training, we already have headaches with the teachers getting so many "work" days.

The unions are out of control, and this country needs to figure out how to get rid of them. We can do our part in Pleasanton by now supporting their nonsense.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Resident again
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 2, 2009 at 3:00 am

Thank you Tax Revolt. I just read about it. This caught my attention:

Web Link

"The new $5 billion to $6 billion generated annually from this Act could be spent to reduce class size in all grades; provide adequate and up-to-date textbooks and materials; provide quality teacher training; hire additional counselors, librarians and critical education support staff; restore arts and career technical programs; and recruit and retain highly qualified teachers. None of the money could be spent on administrative costs and misuse of funds is punishable by law."

Notice how the money would be spent on non-needed items. More counselors? More librarians? More teacher training? More grades with class size reduction? My children do well in the environment currently provided, they do not need class size reduction at all levels. That is just a union's way to make a teacher's job easier, hire more teachers and spend our money. As for teacher training, we already have headaches with the teachers getting so many "work" days.

The unions are out of control, and this country needs to figure out how to get rid of them. We can do our part in Pleasanton by now supporting their nonsense.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Helen Chiang
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Feb 2, 2009 at 9:21 am

I reject the proposed parcel tax increase because the board/supporters have yet to demonstrate any level of due diligence in terms of evaluating the current budget and reducing any spending. The mantra is always raise taxes, raise taxes and raise taxes! They should not ask for more money until they can openly and honestly show their finances and account for every penny.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by John Adams
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Feb 2, 2009 at 9:26 am

This is how the propaganda looks to me:

Parcel Tax = new stuff

NO Parcel Tax = loss of old stuff

Does it look like a bully is trying to sell us a shiny new bike while threatening to steal our serviceable old bike if we don't buy the new one?


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Posted by Annonymous
a resident of Livermore
on Feb 2, 2009 at 12:36 pm

What would you do if you knew a students parent is lying about which district the child lives in order to go to a school where past elective poor behavior haunts he/she. Single parent had friend lie about child living in pleasanton. When tax dollars are really generated in Livermore, doesnt this seem wrong? Plus previous behavior includes burglery at gunpoint to another student. Should I just mind my own business?


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Posted by michael
a resident of Amador Estates
on Feb 2, 2009 at 6:25 pm

Pleasanton (still) enjoys good real estate value because of great public district school. Whatever you have or not kids in PUSD, if the PUSD goes down , all real estate market will go south further. Nobody wants more taxes but if a parcel tax can help keeping the teachers in place and deliver great education, we should consider it. We should as well reach out our representatives, district, State Assembly, Congress etc... President Obama said we should invest in education, cutting teachers in not investing in education!


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Posted by frank
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Feb 2, 2009 at 11:39 pm

Thank you Tax Revolt for the clarifying how we are all in agreement.

However...

On your one point of an anecdotal example about a great younger teacher versus an older teacher.... How about all of those examples that we know and have read about over the years involving great teachers in certain subjects, recognition of them, and their years of excellence? Often these cases appear in the local newspaper as newsworthy articles. How many of them fall within your example of the "young teacher" anecdote?

One anecdotal example does NOT constitute a trend. We all know that the great teachers are most often experienced and have a substantial track record.


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Posted by Jennifer
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Feb 3, 2009 at 7:26 am

At the last Board meeting, Board members voted to spend $100K to re-locate the solar panels installed at Foothill. Apparently, the installation was done without consulting Foothill's residential neighbors and the panels were installed in a way that blocked the neighbors' view of the ridge Don't want to get into a discussion about the right/wrong attitude about people and views. But there are city policies in place about contacting neighbors for input when a property is undergoing change that might affect the neighbors.
PUSD admitted they made a mistake in the way they installed the panels.
While $100K won't solve the budget issues PUSD is facing, better to have it than not.
PUSD calls the $100K a mistake - mismangement might be a more accurate description.


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Posted by Tax Revolt
a resident of Country Fair
on Feb 3, 2009 at 7:42 am

frank - PUSD is blessed with many great teachers. Any parent in the district can speak praises of many of their kids teachers over the years. If there were a performance based management system in place at PUSD, we would expect, even demand that the best teachers get bonuses, raises and recognition. On the flip side, a performance based system would also identify the poor performers and manage them out. Which was the point of the example, to show that the PUSD policy for deciding which teachers will be laid off, is purely seniority driven (see the PUSD website). I agree with you that the example I used does not signify a trend, neither does the claim that seniority equal excellent performance. The same parents above who sing praises of teachers can also identify the poor performing teachers.

Which gets to the point of this parcel tax. The question at hand is whether PUSD is a good steward of the taxpayer's dollars and deserves more. The use of committees, open forums, listing of options are all a discourse in identifying how best to use the available funds. They are also revealing the PUSD's refusal to consider a delay in the automatic step/column increases, or a reduction in pay. They are also not considering a change in the layoff policy such that the best teachers stay. Their policy is the teacher with more seniority stays. That is being a poor steward of our taxes. As long as PUSD has policies and positions that are not the best use of tax dollars in providing the best education for our children, and is willing to sacrifice programs, teacher jobs and school safety to protect entitlement programs like automatic pay increases, then this community will vote NO on the parcel tax.


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Posted by Mercury News article
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 3, 2009 at 8:34 am

Los Altos school board rejects parcel tax increase

By Joshua Melvin

Bay Area News Group
Posted: 02/03/2009 07:55:21 AM PST

Facing opposition from community members, the Los Altos school board voted Monday night not to proceed with a proposed parcel tax increase.

If it had passed in a May mail-only special election, the measure would have increased the flat rate tax collected from all property owners in the district by at least $168. The district has had a parcel tax since voters approved one in 1989. Property owners currently pay $597 per piece of land they possess in the district and that money is used by the district to cover various costs including staff salaries.

"This is not the time to go to the community and ask for money," said resident Katie Matice, referring to the recession. She and other speakers said the $260,000 cost to hold the election would be wasted.

In addition to a sour economy, meeting attendees said they were worried there would not be enough time to raise the support needed to pass the measure -- they estimated at least $100,000 would be needed to run a successful campaign. The deadline to hold a May mail-only special election is this week, according to Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters rules. Ballots would have been mailed to voters on April 6.

The district had been investigating the parcel tax increase as a means to respond to anticipated state budget cuts. Randall Kenyon, assistant superintendent for business services, said the district will likely lose $2.6 million of its roughly $42 million budget over the next two years.

If the state cuts come to pass, the district might have to lay off staff and cut programs like art and physical education, said Board Member David Luskin. The parcel tax increase could have raised an estimated $2 million.

Board Member Mark Goines said he voted against the proposal because there is no state budget yet. He said that it will be easier to convince the community to vote for a tax increase with hard numbers and added that voters are more likely to vote for a measure if they know what programs and services are on the chopping block.


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Posted by Karen
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 3, 2009 at 9:32 am

The bottom line is that PUSD and teachers will need to learn to live within their means like the rest of us in the eve of this depression.

You get what you get. Just make the necessary cuts to balance the budget. There are plenty of "fat" accumulated during the good years to trim. This is the time!

Ultimately, PUSD and teachers will need to decide where to make those cuts. They can trade in their step and column raises and COLA increases from the past couple of years to save some jobs, CSR, and other programs/services for the kids.

If we approve a parcel tax, the money can be used to free up millions from the general fund. PUSD can then use those "freed" general fund to support more raises instead of putting them back into the classroom.

Don't be fool by the usage restrictions set on the parcel tax. They can use the taxes to fund education programs and services while freeing up money elsewhere for raises.


NO ON PARCEL TAX!


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Posted by a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood
a resident of Mohr Elementary School
on Feb 3, 2009 at 12:09 pm

I want to know if I bail out Superintendent Dr. John Casey by voting -Yes on PARCEL TAX; Will Dr. Casey, bail me and my family out when my husband looses his job? (Who is on half salary at this time?) I do not think so.
When this downturn accrued, we knew right away that, my husband could loose his job completely. We took steps to ride this wave by not taking winter vacation, not eating out ands various other things to conserve for the bad days ahead.
We took responsibility. I want to see Dr. Casey and his team stepping up to their responsibility and not threatening teacher's job-cuts and compromise on our future generation by giving them inferior education.
So please Dr. Casey I request you to come up with plan B


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Posted by Dan Faraday
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 3, 2009 at 2:15 pm

Let's get something straight here "resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood" :

The parcel tax is NOT used to bail out our honorable Dr. John Casey the Great. Dr. Casey doesn't, and I repeat, DOESN'T need your stinking bail out. Whichever way this thing folds, Dr. Casey will still keep his (upto year 2010):

Annual salary of $227,002
24 days of vacation
$5,000 annually for life insurance premiums
$10,000 into a tax-sheltered annuity.
$1,000 per month as a transportation allowance
$200,000 interest-free loan to help purchase a home

So it's neither here nor there for him. Whatever tax is approved goes toward step and column raises for our wonderful administrators and teachers and PUSD may consider tossing the community a bone by not eliminating CSR. Salary reductions for Dr. Casey and his staff is unfair and should be strictly off limit!



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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 4, 2009 at 3:03 am

are these blogs really anonymous?


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Posted by Need Credibility
a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on Feb 4, 2009 at 9:16 am

There is a question about the $200,000 loan for Dr. Casey. There are some of us who remember it being $400,000. I have contacted a Board member, as requested, and hope to hear the history of this loan soon. In the meantime, I think there are two themes in all these blogs--everyone realizes the importance of educating children and there is a lack of leadership and integrity in dealing with the honest concerns of this community.


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Posted by Pleasanton neighborhood
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 4, 2009 at 9:56 am


I think there are two themes in all these blogs--everyone realizes the importance of educating children and there is a lack of leadership and integrity in dealing with the honest concerns of this community.

a resident of the Vineyard Avenue neighborhood -Can you please elaborate the above statement!


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Posted by teacher
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 4, 2009 at 1:53 pm

"The bottom line is that PUSD and teachers will need to learn to live within their means like the rest of us in the eve of this depression."

I am so sick and tired of you people up here saying that us teachers need to "learn to live within our means"- Last time I checked, I wasn't rolling in the dough. I don't eat out often, I haven't traveled anywhere since God knows when... and I spend my "summers" off (Mind you, I am only paid for a 10 month work year.. If I did get paid for three months off then I would certainly be making more than you and wouldn't everyone want my job?)going to school to better myself in this profession. I have taken 36 units since starting at PUSD. Who pays for that- I do. Do you pay for your own professional development in your line of work or do you just not attend the latest conferences, workshops, classes etc... I don't know many people in the private sector that try to better themselves in their profession the way that teachers do.

Yes, I it does move me over into the next step and I am truly a better teacher for it. That is partially why these step and columns exist. - To encourage teachers to stay abreast of good teaching practices and fine tune their craft. In PUSD I am observed several times a year. I have monthly meetings with my principal to figure out my plan for professional development that year and to see where I am on the instruction scale- beginning, applying, etc.. My principal then formally observes me several times a year.

I came from a district where there were no specialists, no CSR, no playground equipment. It was "bare bones" education to put it lightly. Scripted instruction quickly became part of that school district. Each teacher was on the same page on the same day. What has education come to? Pleasanton, I can assure you that you don't want that.

Then I came to PUSD, where only the most competitive teachers are hired, professional development to keep their teachers on the cutting edge of new techniques and strategies was offered, and parent support (which directly affects the success of students) was common place. Programs such as Music, Band, Strings, Art, Science Lab, Computer Lab, etc.. all give our PUSD students a quality education. This can be seen in our college acceptance and test scores.

Now, I am not so naive to think that all PUSD teachers are worth their salt. I might be laid off because of seniority after 4 years in this district. The Parcel tax is the only way to ensure that PUSD has the money to maintain its quality education within the next year. I would be paying it too and I think it would be well worth that money.

I do agree that everything should still be looked at, including teacher workdays, and those bogus car stipends that you have all been talking about, but attacking teachers is only going to divide the community and create resentment as I am already starting to feel after reading these blogs.

Thank you to so many of you on here that have defended teachers and volunteered countless hours and dollars helping teachers and PUSD.


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Posted by Need Credibility
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 4, 2009 at 2:06 pm

I think the question from "Pleasanton neighborhood" is about the integrity of the information being provided. I mentioned the loan to the superintendent as one area that I don't believe is factually complete. Without a definitive answer yet, my recollection is it was $400,000, which makes me wonder where the other $200,000 went IF that's correct. The district web site also indicates the balance on $200,000 is now $190,000. But there is no incentive for this to be paid down—it's interest free and due only once the superintendent leaves the district (and then not until he sells or after 18 months after his departure from the job). Beyond that, there are a lot of issues raised in the blogs about:
what can or can't be done to close the funding gap (there isn't much positive brainstorming, just threats of cuts to CSR, resource aids, and the like),
why reserves were spent and on what (some was wage increases—this district could not certify its first interim financial report to the county),
why money was spent on two lawsuits that failed (and for a school the district couldn't afford to operate if it was even needed—consensus all along has been enrollment didn't justify it's being built),
why yet another lawsuit is being considered,
why the amount is $8.5 million without furlough days or across the board salary cuts
Many other districts have passed parcel taxes, whether for enhancements to program or to save programs already in place. For Pleasanton, this debate started on a negative note and it doesn't seem to me that those presenting the issue can or are correcting that and reaching out to those 60% of residents who don't have children in the schools. The debate can't get to a reasoned discussion of what is best for students, teachers, and the community as a whole because it is being presented in a way that has divided the community rather than joining them in a common effort. If the approach is divisive, if people are finding holes in the information coming from the district, if the track record with tax dollars is weak, it's hard to trust that any additional money raised will be handled wisely. There are benefits to all of us to have a strong school system; I hope we can find a way to support that before it is too late.


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