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School board moves Tuesday's parcel tax debate to Amador Valley High

Original post made on Feb 19, 2009

The Pleasanton school district announced late today that the school board's meeting next Tuesday on deciding if it will ask voters to approve a parcel task will be held in the multi-purpose room of Amador Valley High School and will not be televised live on the local community television system.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, February 19, 2009, 7:48 PM

Comments (60)

Posted by The Lorax, a resident of Downtown
on Feb 19, 2009 at 7:52 pm

Not televising the budget cut meeting? Sounds pretty dodgy to me!


Posted by unclehomerr.., a resident of Downtown
on Feb 19, 2009 at 8:06 pm


They aren't televising because they don't want you to hear me shout "NOT ONE MORE PENNY"!!! We give the schools more money than we ever have before.. they waste it.. and come back for more. They'll 'punish' the kids if they don't get it. No arts, music, sports.. but not one teacher or administrator gets 'punished'. Tell them, people.. IT STOPS HERE AND NOW!!! Parents, stop the fundraising. Stop donating classroom supplies. Make them accountable! Too much wasted on overhead.. not enough going into the classrooms. ENOUGH!

unclehomerr..


Posted by Parent, a resident of Pleasanton Middle School
on Feb 19, 2009 at 8:10 pm

If you don't support the parcel tax and don't have kids in the schools please attend and speak at the meeting. It is unlikely that parents with kids in the district will speak publicly against the parcel tax as they will be labeled teacher bashers.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 19, 2009 at 8:11 pm

Hrm, school board meeting or city council meeting... so many choices!


Posted by Get the facts, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 19, 2009 at 8:58 pm

The board meeting has been moved due to the lack of seating at the District Office. The meeting will be webcast, then shown tape-delayed on TV.

If it "Sounds pretty dodgy", Lorax, or "they don't want to hear you shout . . .", unclehomerr, then as Parent said, "please attend and speak at the meeting". There will be much more capacity, so no excuses for not coming. And there is two opportunities to see it if you can't make it, so please don't complain about that either.


Posted by Curious, a resident of Birdland
on Feb 19, 2009 at 11:47 pm

Where is our share of the stimulus money?

Web Link


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 20, 2009 at 6:25 am

I hope the board makes good choices. It is very important that they vote to eliminate management positions (directors, public information officer, some clerical staff, management perks, salary freezes, etc) before they even try to cut programs/staff that directly affect the students. Only then would I support a parcel tax.

I cannot see myself paying more taxes so that Casey can continue to receive 1K per month for gas, plus a salary raise. I cannot pay more taxes so the unions can get their way and continue with their unnecessary non-student and teacher work days. I cannot see myself paying taxes so that the public information officer can keep the job....the list goes on.

I can, however, see myself paying a parcel tax if it is truly needed and if it is for the direct benefit of the students. This means getting rid of extras that do not help, like elementary school counselors and other staff that do not directly teach the students and that most students and their parents did not even know existed until now (elementary school counselors)


Posted by Get the facts, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 20, 2009 at 8:32 am

To Resident:

Good comments, I recommend that you go to the meeting on Tuesday and say exactly what is written. This blog is basically dismissed as being written by people from the fringe, so please go, speak, and be heard with your excellent ideas!


Posted by Parent in Pleasanton, a resident of Deer Oaks/Twelve Oaks
on Feb 20, 2009 at 8:34 am

Kudos to the school board for responding to parent requests to move the meeting to a larger venue so more people can attend. The board room at the disrtict is very small. The fact that it isn't being televised live isn't the fault or intent of the district. And by the way, if you've been following the budget discussions, administration is on the cut list to take a significant hit, even if the parcel tax passes, since the tax will only be for class-size reduction, counselors, and will state it is not for administrator salaries. So "Resident" -- looks like we parents can count on your yes vote for a parcel tax. Let's keep our property values up and our kids educated. $200 a year for a few years is a small price to pay.


Posted by Tim, a resident of Alisal Elementary School
on Feb 20, 2009 at 9:07 am

" tax will only be for class-size reduction, counselors, and will state it is not for administrator salaries. "

A game of hide the pea...........parcel tax will free up money in the general fund to make money funds available for administrative salary when people stop paying attention.

As Casey said for why the measure B oversight committee stopped meeting five years ago, "interest waned" which resulted in an abandonment of the commitments made to the voters and Millions of dollars were spent on non- voter approved projects.

PUSD has no credibility!!!!!!!


Posted by Wise Gal, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 20, 2009 at 9:13 am

"Let's keep our property values up and our kids educated. $200 a year for a few years is a small price to pay."

Parcel tax frees up money from the general fund so they can use those "freed" money for Step and Column RAISES!!! Will supporting these raises help keep our property values up and kids educated too?

What do we do next year when they run out of money for more raises? Another parcel tax? I already have to pay more taxes this year to bailout banks, wall street, irresponsible homeowners, and Suleman. Don't come asking me for more money so teachers can get a raise.

It is time to show the district that we won't be held hostage by their scary tactics. I have 4 children in the PUSD schools but even I will NOT support a parcel tax that supports salary increase (and that's EXACTLY what Step and Column represents), not to mention the outrageous administrators' compensations.

Did you know that Casey's annual base salary top that of our governor?

The governor of CA, who manages 235,000 state employees, makes only $212,179 per year. Casey's annual base salary is $227,002 and PUSD has only 1252 FTE. This type of irresponsible offers made by the board is EXACTLY why we have a budget crisis.

Control the spending, live within your means, then you won't need a parcel tax. Unlike Obama, I don't believe in rewarding poor judgement and bad behavior.


Posted by Tom, a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Feb 20, 2009 at 10:14 am

This meeting conflicts with the Special Council meeting to vote on the Staples property and extension of Stoneridge Drive.


Posted by Disagree w/B, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 20, 2009 at 10:19 am

I promised late last night that I would post this today (on the other thread). From a lobbying group in Sacramento; budget analysis for K-3 Class Size Reduction Flexibility:

Technically, there is no change to the statutory requirements of the K-3 class size reduction program. However, changes have been made to the penalty provision should a class exceed the current 20.4 to 1 ratio. The changes to the penalties are as follows:
• Up to 20.5 - no penalty
• Up to 21 - 5% penalty (20% penalty is current law)
• Up to 21.5 - 10% penalty (40% penalty is current law)
• Up to 22 - 15% penalty (out of compliance penalty is current law)
• From 22 to 25 - 20 % penalty (out of compliance penalty is current law)
• Over 25 - 30% penalty with no cap (out of compliance penalty is current law)

Question is, what does this do to the needs for a parcel tax when the state funding for CSR will remain the same?


Posted by People need to step up, a resident of Ruby Hill
on Feb 20, 2009 at 10:35 am

"I have 4 children in the PUSD schools but even I will NOT support a parcel tax "

Why should teachers get rollbacks, salary freezes, etc, so that your kids can have more programs? If you want the programs, than you should help fund them.


Posted by Kathy, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Feb 20, 2009 at 10:50 am

"Tell them, people.. IT STOPS HERE AND NOW!!! Parents, stop the fundraising. Stop donating classroom supplies. Make them accountable!"

Uncle Homerr, if parents do this, the people who will suffer are the kids. If parents completely stop contributing to fundraising activities or donating school supplies, and the state is not helping to contribute, then programs will completely die out. During times like these the community needs to come together, and stop being so quick to point fingers.


Posted by concerned, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 20, 2009 at 11:05 am

if they can get a 2/3rd vote for the parcel tax instead of paycuts to administrators, teachers and support staff then we are stupid and deserve what we get. I still think people are intelligent and can think for themselves. But never underestimate the stupidity of the public.


Posted by bel, a resident of Val Vista
on Feb 20, 2009 at 11:16 am

I'm sure as heck not going to stop donating to the classroom. I would rather donate to where its needed, not to the administrators over stuffed paychecks.

Children and their teachers are not the ones who caused this mess and they should not be the ones to have to suffer for it.


Posted by Kathy, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Feb 20, 2009 at 11:53 am

Bel,
I couldn't agree with you more. Children and teachers did not cause this mess, and they shouldn't be the ones who get punished. I do what I can to support my kids' classrooms, and their teachers are almost over the top with appreciation.

BTW, the administrators make almost double what a beginning to middle teacher makes.


Posted by Bob, a resident of Del Prado
on Feb 20, 2009 at 12:19 pm

Hey Tom, the School Board meeting has been scheduled for months. The Special Council meeting was just recently called, from what I have heard. They (the city) were dumb for scheduling that on the same night.


Posted by Concerned Parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 20, 2009 at 12:23 pm

Unfortunately, I can't attend Tuesday night's school board meeting, because I'm attending a Kindergarten preparatory meeting scheduled for that same night. I will have two children entering PUSD this fall.

That said, I support passage of the parcel tax, but want to see the following enacted by the school board (and keep in mind I'm a parent that will have 2 children in the PUSD system starting this fall). I don't have all the answers, but I think these cost-saving ideas/suggestions are worth considering:

1. Public Information Officer position eliminated. This is a luxury for PUSD that can no longer be justified paying a full-time salary for. PUSD can certainly survive without a PIO.

2. Vice principal positions eliminated. Any and all support (i.e., assistant) and administrative positions should be eliminated. These are all luxuries that can no longer be afforded in lean times. Maximize funding for retaining as many as those possible on the front lines, the teachers.

2. Mr. Casey's contract, including his salary and perks (i.e., allowances, housing subsidy, etc.) to be renegotiated by the school board. His salary alone, at $227,000 annually, should be reduced by $75,000, with all other perks, aside from insurance and pension (presumably CalPERS) benefits, including his special housing subsidy, eliminated. If he and his family can't live on $152,000, then I recommend he find employment elsewhere. The Pleasanton City Manager, Nelson Fialho, makes approx. $155,000 annually, and I would argue that Mr. Fialho has as much, if not more, responsibility and workload as does Mr. Casey. $75,000 saved by PUSD from paying Mr. Casey I think would fund at least 1 full-time teacher position, or 2 part-time ones.

3. No more funding of political campaigns by the California Teachers Association. I believe they contributed approximately $1.8 million to fight passage of the recently passed Proposition 8 in last November's election. While I understand that teachers elect to contribute into the CTA's fund, the CTA should either discourage those contributions, or instead, redirect them back into the California school system, with each District getting a percentage of the money that otherwise would be spent on their unnecessary political lobbying.

4. Disallow children to attend a particular PUSD school that is not one in their assigned/pre-determined neighborhood. This, I think, will help ease the issue of the pending elimination of class size reductions. Everyone's children must attend the elementary, middle, or high school(s) that are designated for the neighborhood you reside in. No exceptions.

5. No one residing outside of the PUSD boundaries should be permitted to attend PUSD schools. You live in Dublin, Livermore, or elsewhere, your children must attend those schools.

6. Exempt senior citizens from the parcel tax. They've paid their fare share.

7. If Sunol residents or other residents/property owners (besides seniors) are exempted from paying the parcel tax, and their children typically would be attending/be assigned to a PUSD school, based on PUSD rules, then unfortunately, their children are now exempted/disallowed from attending any PUSD school, unless they agree to pay the exact same parcel tax, which would be a special fee billed to them representing the exact same amount of the parcel tax, in lieu of them paying the parcel tax through their property tax bill.

8. 100 percent of the parcel tax to be used for retaining as many teachers as possible. The funds raised from the parcel tax cannot be spent on any other purpose.

Again, I don't have all the answers, and I wish I could present these ideas in person, but by putting these out here in this forum for discussion, I hope that perhaps they'll at least be shared by others with the school board on Tuesday night for their serious consideration.


Posted by Disagree w/B, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 20, 2009 at 12:50 pm

Concerned Parent: Like what you have to say, but there are limitations in place.
4. That is likely to mean boundary changes; not all the schools can house the children that reside in their neighborhood. And then where would you house the special programs--Discovery at Walnut Grove, Spanish Immersion at Valley View?
5. Law requires the district to accept students under certain circumstances on a space available basis--the major part of the funding (tax dollars) from the other district follows the student to Pleasanton's budget.
7. There is likely an agreement in place with Sunol that could preclude fees, just as fees can't be demanded of you for your two children. Does anyone know if Sunol is paying anything to have their high school students in Pleasanton?
8. I agree with this. The problem, as pointed out elsewhere, is that parcel tax funds will relieve pressure on the general fund and there is no apparent way to limit how those funds are spent.

I'll ask this question again, too, now that CSR survived the state budget, why is the parcel tax needed and exactly for what?


Posted by marie, a resident of Castlewood
on Feb 20, 2009 at 12:54 pm

When you live in the county and your children attend PUSD you still pay taxes for the schools. Sunol like Castlewood is county and yes we pay. The thing about parcel tax renters do NOT pay this tax only those of us who own property. Start at the top let's have Mr Casey show us the things he is willing to give up to help our children. Let's see how many children attend our schools from other areas and see what that does to our enrollment numbers.


Posted by Ben, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 20, 2009 at 12:55 pm

I like hippies!
I completely agree with Concerned Parent on 1,2,2,3, 4 makes no sense, 6 is a given.
Most of what is suggested in 7 is legally unenforceable.
The reason PUSD allows kids from outside of Pleasanton is they bring ADA dollars, without the extra dollars we would have a greater shortfall. The more overcrowded our schools are the more cost efficient they are.
As for #8, are you aware of the abuse of measure B voter promises?

These are my favorites:
2. Mr. Casey's contract, including his salary and perks (i.e., allowances, housing subsidy, etc.) to be renegotiated by the school board. His salary alone, at $227,000 annually, should be reduced by $75,000, with all other perks, aside from insurance and pension (presumably CalPERS) benefits, including his special housing subsidy, eliminated. If he and his family can't live on $152,000, then I recommend he find employment elsewhere. The Pleasanton City Manager, Nelson Fialho, makes approx. $155,000 annually, and I would argue that Mr. Fialho has as much, if not more, responsibility and workload as does Mr. Casey. $75,000 saved by PUSD from paying Mr. Casey I think would fund at least 1 full-time teacher position, or 2 part-time ones.

3. No more funding of political campaigns by the California Teachers Association.


Posted by Concerned Parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 20, 2009 at 1:24 pm

Thanks to the more knowledgeable folks reading this string for your feedback and comments, and apologies for my typo on item 6 (should be 'fair' instead of 'fare', of course).

I really appreciate the additional info being shared--I'm getting a good education (pardon the pun) from those of you 'in the know' on school district-related policies and procedures, and what can and can't be done, and I'm sure I'll learn more in the months ahead.


Posted by parent 6, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 20, 2009 at 1:38 pm

Concerned Parent:

Agree on all except 4-7.

4 & 5 won't change anything. Many elementary schools in the district are already overcrowded so kids are being assigned to different schools within the district to deal with the overcrowding. Disallowing that would create more problems than it solves.

6 - Why should seniors be exempt from this tax? What defines a "fair" share? If they choose to live in Ptown, they should pay their fair share.

7 - Those kids who come from other districts, as mentioned by other bloggers, bring money to the district. Losing them would reduce the district's budget.

Completely agree with the second #2 and #3. Casey is overpaid for what he does and unions are a plaque to this country and need to be eradicated.


Posted by In Your Face!, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 20, 2009 at 1:52 pm

"People have criticized Casey's salary ($227,002) and management perks, and he said he makes no apologies for his earnings"

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.


Posted by Kim, a resident of Del Prado
on Feb 20, 2009 at 3:41 pm

Why do teachers think they have been unfairly singled out? Everyone must take reductions.

I expect our school administrator to take a 10% reduction also.

Buchanan talks about state budget:Web Link

"As part of the state's attempt to trim back expenditures, members of the Assembly have chosen to reduce their budget by 10 percent. The cost savings has been directed to the Employment Development Department.

Buchanan herself took it a step further, asking the State Controller's Office to reduce her salary by another 10 percent as well.

"I've always believed that people in leadership positions should lead by example. If we're willing to cut funds to programs around the state we should be willing to cut our own funding, too," she explained."


Posted by Concerned2, a resident of Las Positas
on Feb 20, 2009 at 8:34 pm

To Disagree w/B: Regarding funds for CSR... The state gives the district money specifically for CSR (cannot be used for anything else). If the district went over the CSR limit, the district would be penalized and would lose that money permanently. What the state is doing now is giving the district the CSR money, but without the CSR restriction, which means the district can use the money in other areas because the state is shorting the district over $8 million. I hope I explained this well. This is one reason why the parcel tax would help with CSR. It would put the money back into this program.


Posted by Disagree w/B, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 21, 2009 at 9:13 am

Concerned 2: I don't think that's exactly right. There previously was a permanent loss, yes; and now there are a series of fines IF the district goes over 20:1 (below), but the state DID NOT cut CSR funding--so the district WILL receive the money. So, if the loss of CSR funds (a substantial amount) was included in the $8+ million the district was cutting (that was the "threat" wasn't it: parcel tax or no CSR) and they aren't losing that money from the state, why is a parcel tax needed and for what purposes?

• Up to 20.5 - no penalty

• Up to 21 - 5% penalty (20% penalty is current law)

• Up to 21.5 - 10% penalty (40% penalty is current law)

• Up to 22 - 15% penalty (out of compliance penalty is current law)

• From 22 to 25 - 20 % penalty (out of compliance penalty is current law)

• Over 25 - 30% penalty with no cap (out of compliance penalty is current law)"


Posted by Disagree w/B, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 21, 2009 at 9:46 am

I realize it could be as simple as something else got cut, but the district should be clarifying that picture. The analysis I have from Frost Davis & Donnelly speaks to categorical funding cuts in two of three identified tiers at 15%--some with flexibility for districts to put the money into the general fund to spend where it is needed and some not. If the district comes out Tuesday with the same $8 million in cuts without a better explanation, I would be even more skeptical than I am already.

This community has been very supportive of schools and teachers, but I agree this parcel tax will fail, not just because of the economy or because the majority of community members don't have kids in the schools, but because the whole approach with the community was botched from the start.


Posted by Get the facts, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 21, 2009 at 11:15 am

To Disagree:

Since the budget wasn't settled until Thursday morning, you need to give the district a chance to "clarify the picture." Give them the benefit of the doubt that they will do that on Tuesday, since that is their first public forum since the settlement. Comment during the public time that you want that done, if need be.


Posted by Agree with Disagree, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 21, 2009 at 11:18 am

"...the whole approach with the community was botched from the start."

You're right, Disagree. Casey came out with both guns blazing right from the start. His sales pitch was purely hostile: give us a parcel tax or we hurt your kids. I, for one, will not give into that kind of pressure from any public employees.

If Casey offered to trim all administrators' salary and benefits by xx percent, reduce the administrative headcounts by consolidating the work, and eliminate some of the non-essential programs like P.E. and music as part of the solution from the very beginning, he may have a better shot at getting a parcel tax passed.

He may come out this Tuesday and offer to take 5-15% paycuts at the administrative level but it's too little, too late. A 15% paycut still leaves him with $192,951 per year. We need to see that number come down to $100,000, which is inline with the salary of other public officials of similar ranks and duties.


Posted by Jimmy, a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Feb 21, 2009 at 1:40 pm

"non-essential programs like PE" Did you know that only one subject has a mandatory minimum number of minutes that need to be taught each week, and it is PE? So how is PE non-essential?

You can say that "Casey came out with both guns blazing from the start", but really what he was saying was that there will be 8.7 million less to work with next year, and we can either see 8.7 in cuts, or less if there is a parcel tax. That is how I see it. No parcel tax, 8.7 in cuts. Yes parcel tax, 4.7 (roughly) in cuts. Your choice. Just don't complain if a parcel tax fails and budgets are slashed and the education of the students in Pleasanton suffers.


Posted by Scott, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Feb 21, 2009 at 2:03 pm

Fear-mongering!!!!!

If we do not have 2 million per year deficit due to salary, together with the 4 million PUSD will get from the Fed stimulus, we should not need a parcel tax.


Posted by Disagree w/B, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 21, 2009 at 2:04 pm

Gtf: I'm happy to give them time to clarify, but I think I'll make sure it's said now so they have the answers by Tuesday.

Jimmy: What we're hearing from the district is: "Ooops, please pay a parcel tax so teachers and children won't suffer in 30:1 classrooms." And they avoided discussing the errors they made. By example, if it is accurate that the two lawsuits they lost against Signature cost $2 million, that would cover CSR for a year. I've lost track along the way about what a 1% raise is in dollars (let's say it's $1 million), simple math (raises if 4, 5, and 6% leading up to 08-09) says that's in the range of $15,000,000 in ongoing costs added over three years. Whole lotta CSR in there, and smaller raises, and some money socked away for a rainy day.

Someone needs to be accountable, so if the parcel tax fails and students suffer, the tab will still be in the hands of the people who put the students and teachers in this predicament--district and state.


Posted by Parent and Teacher, a resident of Amador Estates
on Feb 21, 2009 at 3:07 pm

If it is solely PUSD's fault that we're in the mess, due to mismanagement of funds, the lawsuits, etc., then why did other districts (San Ramon, Livermore...) already pass parcel taxes? Are those districts also mismanaging funds, spending money on lawsuits, etc.? No! So why then is PUSD the bad guy here? The state of California made this mess-not the district, not the teachers, not the teacher union, and not the kids-but who will suffer in the end....the kids! PUSD has done an excellent job of not needing monies from a parcel tax unlike other neighboring districts. Some bloggers are stating that the schools are not the main reason families come to PTown. I disagree. I stated this in a previous blogg, but I have 4 new families this year to my classroom. Their reason for being at my school.....the school district and the high-quality of education that their children will get from attending PTown schools. Losing school programs will have an affect on whether or not families choose to move to Pleasanton, remain in Pleasanton, or move elsewhere. Losing school programs will have an affect on your house values. Losing school programs will have an affect on test scores. All of this is pure common sense. If we want PUSD to still be one of the top performing school districts that it has been known as, then these programs must stay in place - especially CSR. APT has put out a very informative FAQs. I will try to see if I can forward it, or link the site. I think it will address a lot of the community's questions and concerns that have been raised in these different blogs. Please support the schools-the kids are the ones that will suffer in the long run.


Posted by Again, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Feb 21, 2009 at 3:36 pm

"then why did other districts (San Ramon, Livermore...) already pass parcel taxes?"
Even with our neighboring districts parcel taxes, PUSD still has more money per student than they do!
Do the math Pleasanton has far more money to work with than San Ramon even after their parcel tax….they have the same API scores as we do.
ED-Data Web Link

"PUSD has done an excellent job of not needing monies from a parcel tax unlike other neighboring districts."
We are paying a local school tax to PUSD.
Pleasanton taxpayers are paying off 155 MILLION dollars in Bond taxes to our school district now!

The sky will not fall if PUSD makes reasonable cuts.

I support our teachers and care about our kids.
No ParcelTax!!!



Posted by Austin, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 21, 2009 at 4:44 pm

Parent and Teacher - Right! It's all gloom and doom. The world will come to an end if we don't pass this parcel tax!!!

Spare us those scary tactics, my dear. We've heard them all before. Most children don't learn much from their classes anyway. The exercise of favoritism in the classroom is far too prevalent in this district, as my children often remind me, hampering their abilities to participate and learn. My money can be better spent on my children's extracirricular programs.


Posted by Disagree w/B, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 21, 2009 at 5:29 pm

Parent and Teacher: There are many districts that have parcel taxes and they were voted on before the state issues arose; the majority were for adding program or other enhancements. Pleasanton's is about covering poor management of public dollars. Yes, the state crisis compounded Pleasanton's problem, but the district painted itself into a corner by not planning ahead and from a lack of fiscal prudence.

As to housing values, test scores, people moving away, and others not moving here, it's just isn't true. This was a great community before CSR and there's no empirical data to support it increasing test scores. I think it does help teachers, and students do benefit from some small increase in individual attention. And so I support CSR, but I do not support giving more money to a district that has already proven they cannot manage it responsibly.


Posted by enough of this, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 21, 2009 at 7:20 pm

If you don't support a parcel tax you are told by some: "The value of your home will be effected if you don't pass the parcel tax", "people will move if a parcel tax isn't passed and it will effect the value of your home", "you don't support the schools", "you don't support the teachers", and lastly, but by no means the least, "the kids will suffer". I'm sure there are more but those come to mind most often.

I'm sure no sane person wants the kids to suffer but there are times when everyone(yes, even the kids)must make sacrifices. Unfortunately, those times are upon us. I wonder how many parents that have been severly hit by the present financial crisis and trying to make ends meet will support a parcel tax when every penny counts toward the well being of their family.

Public agencies(Yes, even schools and associated parents)must understand you can only squeeze the taxpayer so much. Make do with what you have as the families with reduced income, and in some cases no income, are forced to do and stop using scare tactics and silly threats. Maybe the fortunate families with a steady income can afford more taxes but others can't.

Enough all ready!


Posted by Concerned2, a resident of Las Positas
on Feb 21, 2009 at 8:33 pm

To Disagree.. : I don't think I was clear in my previous post. Yes, the district will get the $4m CSR money, however, because the district is getting shorted $8m by the state, the state is not requiring the districts to use that money specifically for CSR, as previously required. We are not sure yet what the specifics of the parcel tax would be (hence Tuesdays meeting), but the talk is that some (not necessarily all) of the money would go to CSR. I hope this makes sense. This is an unfortunate situation we are facing. I think attending these meetings is vital for the citizens of Pleasanton to be properly informed on what we are potentially facing, instead of feeling like they are being "threatened".


Posted by Beth, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Feb 21, 2009 at 10:00 pm

Concerned2--Have you read the draft language of the parcel tax?? There are NO specifics, that is the problem. "Keep class sizes small" does not guarantee or protect CSR as we currently know it. They will not make the language that specific because they do not want to be locked into anything.


Posted by Concerned2, a resident of Las Positas
on Feb 21, 2009 at 10:57 pm

Beth: No, I have not read the Parcel Tax draft, but if you have that, please do share!! I have heard the board mention they wanted to add something to the affect of "keeping class size small", however I have yet to see that in writing. I will be at the meeting on Tuesday to see exactly what they intend to put in the wording. Nevertheless, I am leaning toward supporting the tax because I feel too much is at stake. Bickering online will not solve any of the valid concerns people are voicing. That's why I think it is important to find out what is really going on. I for one, will continue to attend the meetings because I obviously miss very important information when I miss one. I would really like to see the draft because I'm sure I'll have questions about it, too.


Posted by Beth, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Feb 22, 2009 at 12:21 am

I hope you do attend the meeting to find out what is really going on because you are missing what has been put out in print. Be sure to read the feature story in this past Friday's PW. Here is the link with many posts on the blog following. Web Link
But here is the part you are looking for.

At Feb. 17's budget workshop meeting, the district passed around version three draft of the potential ballot language. It reads:

"To maintain educational quality and protect Pleasanton schools from the impact of state budget cuts; keep class sizes small; prepare students for 21st century careers; maintain important school services like libraries, counselors, and music; ensure current classroom technology; and continue to provide safe and clean schools for our children; shall Pleasanton Unified School District be authorized to levy $180 per parcel with guaranteed annual audits and Independent Citizens' Oversight?"


This wording may be typical for parcel tax language but it is much too vague for me. It guarantees nothing so I cannot give it my support.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 22, 2009 at 6:18 am

We need to see the board making cuts such as public information officer, some directors, some perks, etc. Then they can talk about the parcel tax. Even with the parcel tax, there will need to be cuts, and those cuts better be from the administration, away from the classroom or programs....if this is not done, the parcel tax has little chance to pass.


Posted by Disagree w/B, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 22, 2009 at 12:35 pm

Concerned2: Clearly it's me who is not getting the point across very well.
• The district is talking about $8-9 million in cuts.
• CSR cost $6 million for PUSD, $4 million of which was provided by the state, and $2 million from the district's general fund (an ongoing cost the district should be budgeting for into the foreseeable future).
• If the original request for a parcel tax was to cover the entire $6 million (assuming a total loss of revenue from the state), and now we aren't losing the $4 million—that amount should not need to be covered by a parcel tax to maintain the program.
• AND, if the district has budgeted the $2 million for CSR from the general fund, as it should have, that amount, too, should not need to be covered by a parcel tax to maintain the program.

So for $6 million of the $8-9 million in proposed cuts, I don't see the need for a parcel tax.

There are cuts coming, of course (excerpted from Frost, Davis & Donnelly): "Current year K-12 funding cuts eliminate the current year .68% revenue limit COLA. However, this agreement does not make the entire cut through a revenue limit reduction. The remainder of the reduction is split 50/50 – with half coming from revenue limits (a little over 1% additional cut) and the remainder through a 15% cut to over 50 categorical programs (Tiers II and III)."

I can't list all 50, but ones that most likely affect PUSD are adult education, ROP, library programs, professional development, deferred maintenance, instructional materials, and high school CSR. And while there are 15% in cuts, the state provides "maximum programmatic flexibility . . . including transfer to the unrestricted General Fund to the districts for this year and the following four years." (FD&D) So, loosely, the district could spend funds from all those programs only on high school CSR.

Admittedly, there may be subtleties I'm missing, but this feels like a game of hide the pea.


Posted by Larry, a resident of Alisal Elementary School
on Feb 22, 2009 at 1:23 pm

"this feels like a game of hide the pea."
Absolutely!!!!!
And why isn't anyone acknowledging the 4 mil from the Feds?
I don't think there is justification for needing a parcel tax.


Posted by Get the facts, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 22, 2009 at 8:14 pm

Larry, please come to the Board meeting Tuesday night. It is the job of Luz Cazares to explain all the money information. Up until this point the PUSD has had to assume the worst-case scenario, since we had no numbers from the state. She will probably be giving a much longer report this time, since she now has numbers to go on. If you want her to talk about the federal money, then speak and bring it up in the public comments time, and I'm sure she will talk about that.

If you want the facts, then go and listen on Tuesday.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 23, 2009 at 5:07 am

Can Casey learn from Buchanan? The PW has an article and this is a quote from it:

"Buchanan herself took it a step further, asking the State Controller's Office to reduce her salary by another 10 percent as well.

"I've always believed that people in leadership positions should lead by example. If we're willing to cut funds to programs around the state we should be willing to cut our own funding, too," she explained."


Posted by Sandy, a resident of Mohr Park
on Feb 23, 2009 at 8:24 am

Sandy is a registered user.

At the Alisal PTA meeting Tuesday night, Casey said that the management team and the teachers are putting together a list of voluntary give-backs to help the school district get through lean times, and suggested that we would hear more about it at the board meeting Tuesday night.

I would like to see him pay for his own car travel. $12,000 in savings doesn't seem like much when we talk about an $8.7 million deficit, but to a custodian who might be laid off, it could make the difference between a job and no job.

Casey specifically mentioned management taking unpaid days off this summer (the equivalent of furloughs for unionized state workers).

By the way, although the meeting will not be televised live, it will be live on streaming video from the school district website. Here's the link:

Web Link

I think that Windows Media Player is required.


Posted by Get the facts, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 23, 2009 at 8:30 am

That's great that Buchanan took a cut, but in the new deal signed last Thursday, was there a cut in pay for state legislators? No. Did they cut their personal car allowance, which is 300-500 monthly? No. Any other perks cut? No.

So much for them (other than Buchanan) showing leadership in this way, for "leading by example".


Posted by Mad Mother, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 23, 2009 at 8:45 am

Teacher:

"The district allots about $250.00 a year to run a classroom of 20 for the entire year."

BUT

The same district allots $1000 a month, $12,000 a year, to run Casey's car (or make his car payments?). That's the equivalent of funding the supplies of 48 classrooms for an entire year!

Am I making some wrong assumptions here too?

AND

The same district lends out $200,000 of the district's money to Casey at zero interest. At 5% interest, those funds could generate an annual return of $10,000 for the district, which is equivalent to funding the supplies for another 40 classrooms.

That's not to mention Casey's base salary and other perks (expensed lunches) but you get the picture.

How can the district do this, you ask? Because naive parents are donating money to buy the supplies in the classrooms. The administrators can then allot those funds elsewhere (hint: their pockets).

What am I missing?


Posted by Mad Mother, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 23, 2009 at 8:56 am

This extract is from one of the earlier posts that I think is worthy of reposting:

"Mr. Casey's contract, including his salary and perks (i.e., allowances, housing subsidy, etc.) to be renegotiated by the school board. His salary alone, at $227,000 annually, should be reduced by $75,000, with all other perks, aside from insurance and pension (presumably CalPERS) benefits, including his special housing subsidy, eliminated."

"If he and his family can't live on $152,000, then I recommend he find employment elsewhere. The Pleasanton City Manager, Nelson Fialho, makes approx. $155,000 annually, and I would argue that Mr. Fialho has as much, if not more, responsibility and workload as does Mr. Casey. $75,000 saved by PUSD from paying Mr. Casey I think would fund at least 1 full-time teacher position, or 2 part-time ones."


Posted by Fact Check, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Feb 23, 2009 at 9:32 am

Do we just make up figures - from November Pleasanton Weekly "Andrade-Wax, who has 24 years of service in related work, will assume her new duties on Nov. 24, according to City Manager Nelson Fialho. In her mid-40s, she will earn a starting salary of $153,456." If the Director of the Rec Department for Pleasanton starts at 153K, how much do we really think the City Manager makes? Use facts.


Posted by Disagree w/B, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 23, 2009 at 9:51 am

Get the facts said: "That's great that Buchanan took a cut, but in the new deal signed last Thursday, was there a cut in pay for state legislators? No. Did they cut their personal car allowance, which is 300-500 monthly? No. Any other perks cut? No."

But voters will get the chance in May to freeze legislators' salaries in deficit years, and ultimately to vote them out of office if we are displeased.

"If you want the facts, then go and listen on Tuesday." There is a difference between asking or suggesting people attend Tuesday's Board meeting and telling people to attend. I think it has already been pointed out that listening is what the audience is expected to do; dissenting opinions seem not to be welcome.

Credible sources of information are being posted on this blog. This provides a forum for discussion and, I believe, is giving the community a place to express their genuine concerns. The district has used the questions raised here to respond on their web site. There doesn't seem to be a problem.


Posted by annoyed parent, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 23, 2009 at 11:25 am

For those who suggest cutting PE and Music programs, do you also agree with cutting the Spanish immersion program at Valley View and the Discovery program at (I think) Walnut Grove? How much do those programs cost and are they critical?


Posted by Get the facts, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 23, 2009 at 11:30 am

To Disagree: I never said there was a problem here.

I am not "telling people to attend". The statement, as you have quoted, is "IF you want the facts, then go and listen on Tuesday." How is that not "suggesting"? How would you like me to say that? "Pretty please go to the meeting on Tuesday"?

So, I will say it again, if you want the facts then go and listen on Tuesday. They have moved it to a bigger venue to hold more people, I think they want more people to be able to be there and to speak, if they desire.


Posted by Disagree w/B, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 23, 2009 at 1:07 pm

Okay, I'll leave it as I inferred it from your postings and blog nomenclature.


Posted by Bob, a resident of Birdland
on Feb 23, 2009 at 10:44 pm

Here's one cut that definitely makes sense:

Coordinator 2, Child Nutrition Services

In fact, they should eliminate that entire department. The lunch menu at the elementary schools are specially crafted for raising obese children. We need real nutritionists to draft a menu that promotes healthy eating habit.


Posted by Mom, a resident of Ruby Hill
on Feb 24, 2009 at 9:59 am

For those who suggest cutting PE and Music programs, do you also agree with cutting the Spanish immersion program at Valley View and the Discovery program at (I think) Walnut Grove? How much do those programs cost and are they critical?
They are to the families who are in them- particularly the Dual Immersion program which students open enroll into and commit to traveling across town to go to. It is now resourced and isn't a financial drain on the district.


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