Suggestions for PUSD School Board to consider tonight Schools & Kids, posted by Concerned Parent, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 24, 2009 at 2:53 pm
I cannot attend tonight's school board meeting. However, I've read many comments for and against support of the parcel tax. Myself, I have mixed feelings about it. I am a parent of children who will be entering Kindergarten in the PUSD this fall. I'd also note that I, myself, am being laid off from my job.
For me to vote for this proposed parcel tax, and encourage others to, I would want to see the following enacted by the school board. I don't have all the answers to this situation, but if I was at tonight's meeting, this is what I would stand up and propose to the school board to consider as cost-saving ideas/suggestions that are worth seriously considering, with or without passage of the parcel tax:
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. All vice principal positions eliminated, and any and all support (i.e., assistants, etc.) and administrative positions also eliminated. These are also luxuries that can no longer be afforded in these unprecedented, lean economic times. Maximize funding for retaining as many as those possible on the front lines, the teachers.
3. Mr. Casey's entire 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 feels that he and his family can't live on $152,000, then I recommend he find employment elsewhere. If he refuses to have his contract renegotiated, pursue whatever legal action is required to either get him to the negotiating table or to fire him. The Pleasanton City Manager, Nelson Fialho, makes approx. $155,000 annually, plus benefits, 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. Mr. Casey's sacrifice is a small price to pay, I think.
4. 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 entirely, or better yet, redirect them right back into the California school system as a donation from teachers/the CTA, with each school district in the state getting 100% of the portion of the money donated from teachers of each respective school district that otherwise would be spent on this political lobbying.
5. If Sunol and Castlewood residents, or any other residents/property owners (besides seniors) outside of Pleasanton are exempted from paying the parcel tax, if it passes, and they have children that would be or are attending/assigned to a PUSD school, based on PUSD rules, then they MUST agree to pay the exact same parcel tax amount assessed to all Pleasanton property owners, 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.
6. Owners of rental units in Pleasanton who rent to parents of children attending PUSD schools can raise those specific renters' rent to an amount equal to the approved parcel tax amount, so those parents are also, in effect, paying the same school-related tax. The property owner would then be required to pass along that additional amount to PUSD. In lieu of the property owner assessing and forwarding that amount, the renters themselves would have to agree to pay an amount equal to the parcel tax directly to PUSD. No free ride/exemption for them.
7. 100 percent of the parcel tax, if passed, to be used for retaining as many teachers as possible. The funds raised from the parcel tax cannot be spent on any other purpose. The school board to approve an exception to parcel tax funds being put into the general fund in order to allow this to happen. This would help retain Class Size Reduction, and again, maximize funding on the maintaining the front lines, the teachers.
8. No pay raises/pay freeze for anyone working in PUSD until 2011 at the earliest.
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 tonight for their serious consideration.
Posted by Robert, a member of the Donlon Elementary School community, on Feb 24, 2009 at 3:35 pm
Concord Parent: Are you serious? I remember the day of no email and we actually had to prioritize our life and meet our concerns head on. No hiding behind assumed names. If the issue is this important, make time to go rather than blogging about your concerns under an assumed name. I long for the Pleasanton residents of the '70's!
Posted by John, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 24, 2009 at 4:01 pm
Robert, a member of the Donlon Elementary School community
Couldn't help but notice that you didn't provide your full name....just providing a first name makes you no different than Concerned Parent. And for all you know, maybe she's going to the City meeting tonight!
Posted by Concerned Parent, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 24, 2009 at 4:56 pm
As a poster named Jennifer on another string/blog on this site stated, "Unfortunately, only those community members who don't have children in the PUSD system can truly feel safe publicly expressing any anti-parcel tax comments. While we parents of school aged kids don't mind taking the heat if we express any concerns about the parcel tax, or PUSD spending decisions, many of us know from personal experience that if you dare to complain, it's your child that suffers."
I read input from and listen to others that I feel have more knowledge on issues like this than myself, and have the wisdom to be pragmatic when it comes to protecting the best interests of my children, irrespective of whether the parcel tax passes or not.
Furthermore, as John pointed out, your hypocrisy is amusing.
I also 'remember the day of no e-mail,' and I assure you, I certainly 'prioritize my life' and meet mine and my family's concerns 'head on.'
As for 'longing for the Pleasanton residents of the '70s,' please, spare me. My family has lived here since 1972. So have many of their friends and neighbors. Hope that's good enough for you. Maybe you should ask the Pleasanton residents of the '50s and '60s, who were here before I-680 was built and the subsequent major population growth of Pleasanton began (which includes you, presumably, since you have a fondness for Pleasanton of the '70s), how they feel about you being here.
Posted by Another Gatetree Resident, a member of the Amador Valley High School community, on Feb 24, 2009 at 6:05 pm
Here is my suggestion -- Those without children should not be forced to fund those that do. Kids are registered to attend school by address. The District knows where the kids live and who is utilizing their services. Parcel tax ONLY the address of those using the schools -- pass the cost on to the cost causer.
Use the available address data to apply your parcel tax appropriately.
Posted by PtownParent, a resident of the Parkside neighborhood, on Feb 24, 2009 at 8:19 pm
I'm not throwing my support one way or the other regarding the passage of a parcel tax, but I would suggest that the entire community should be considered "cost causers," as you put it, when it comes to the necessity of ensuring adequate funding of the public schools. I know this sounds cliche, but I believe it to be true: the quality of our community, now and in the future, is directly linked to the citizens we create. And, in large part, our future citizens and leaders will come out of our schools. We all have a stake in this.
Posted by concerned, a member of the Foothill High School community, on Feb 24, 2009 at 9:12 pm
I am not sure how I will vote on the parcel tax yet but I do know that if the parcel tax is to be effective - ALL who use the services of the PUSD must also pay a tax. There should be no free lunches whether you live in Ruby Hills, Sunol, an apartment complex or are an interdistrict student. If citizens of Pleasanton who have no children in the district are obligated to pay just because they happen to own a house then those with children utilizing the services should definitely pay. It's the same people over and over who do not contribute to operation of our schools. They don't pay for sports, fundraisers nor do they volunteer. Homeowners already pay hefty property taxes so if they are expected to fund the schools with additional funds than so should non homeowners that use the services.
Posted by bring it on, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Feb 24, 2009 at 10:09 pm
"It's the same people over and over who do not contribute to operation of our schools. They don't pay for sports, fundraisers nor do they volunteer."
Spare us from your assumptions, please. CA taxpayers pay for the operation of our schools, and that's almost everyone in Pleasanton. Our family isn't wealthy but we donated $200 to each of our children's teachers and I help grade papers twice a week. Yes, we can't afford to purchase a home in Pleasanton. But we sure as heck do as much, if not more, for our schools than typical homeowners. I'm sure my landlord pays his share of property tax using the rent we pay.
Posted by for kids, a member of the Walnut Grove Elementary School community, on Feb 24, 2009 at 10:32 pm
We are residents of the state that is ranked 50th in the nation in spending for education. We live in a community that is supportive of education - just look back to your own - how many Pleasanton residents are high school dropouts? How many are college graduates or further? Quit playing the blame game - there is simply not enough money to go around. We elected our Board to make the tough decisions, which they did tonight. The only alternative is the parcel tax. If you don't vote yes, prepare for the value of your homes to drop. More importantly, if a parcel tax is not passed, prepare to pay for the next decade for the cuts that were made tonight. Seriously, is a buck a day too much to pay?
Posted by J the Kid, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Feb 25, 2009 at 12:17 am
"is a buck a day too much to pay?"
Absolutely, especially when that buck a day is going to pay for administrators' expensed lunches, gas, mortgage, and other perks. I'm a parent of 4 and even I would not support a parcel tax that will be used to free up other funds to pay for those perks.
Posted by Another Gatetree Resident, a member of the Amador Valley High School community, on Feb 25, 2009 at 6:29 am
I appreciate your "suggestion." However, if you really believe the quality of our community, now and in the future, is directly linked to the citizens we create then I would be afraid -- VERY afraid.
I agree, we all have a stake in the future. I pay taxes today. Those taxes currently support the schools and the children all ready in attendance. If more is needed, let those that enjoyed the intercourse required to spawn them pay the extra.
Where those children live is public record -- data the schools all ready have to properly apply the parcel tax. However, I can understand where you might feel those that don't have kids should help defray your cost of being a parent.
Posted by Terry, a member of the Amador Valley High School community, on Feb 25, 2009 at 7:41 am
Last night was another Union rally with earsplitting applause for the teachers that demanded the the Board "pass" a BIG parcel tax. It was hundreds of union members not a community friendly atmosphere.
There was one courageous gentleman that said we must keep CRS but end all step-and-column and raises, I am not sure anyone was listening.
Take note... one rich woman told the Board to go for a $500 parcel tax and she will pay for anyone that cannot afford it. Would someone please get her name from the public record and we can all send her our tax bills?
Did anyone watch the budget portion? What big concessions from admin were announced?
Posted by John, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 25, 2009 at 8:25 am
The audience at the meeting last night was dominated by teachers and PUSD employees....one after another PE Specialist or Barton Reading program advocate came to the podium and pleaded that their program not be cut for the kids' sake. While these programs are wonderful, so are all the others offered students in this district. No one wants any cuts, but cuts have to be made somewhere. Even cutting the $2 million of PUSD administrator expenses won't be enough to save programs. A $190/year parcel tax won't be enough to save programs. A $500/year parcel tax would be enough to balance the budget - today, but the possibility of more state funding cuts in May (tied in with lottery) means that even a $500/year parcel tax isn't enough. If a parcel tax goes on the ballot and passes in June, we may find ourselves in the same situation as Livermore and San Ramon - putting a second parcel tax to the community.
The reality is that cuts have to be made in what PUSD offers, just the same way we've all had to make cuts in our personal spending because these are tough economic times.
Unfortunately, while the PUSD employees made passionate pleas for their programs, they didn't have any solutions except for a parcel tax. And they don't seem to realize that a parcel tax isn't going to provide the bailout they expect - and won't save all their jobs.
Everyone wants to know the name of the woman who volunteered to pay the parcel tax bill of any who couldn't pay. Her first name was Lynn and she said she and her husband could afford to build a home anywhere, but chose to build a home in Pleasanton. She came from Livermore.
Eventually the meeting is supposed to be aired on TV 30, and I'm sure many people will try to get this woman's name and give her the opportunity to follow through on her promise!
Posted by Another Voice, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 25, 2009 at 9:22 am
Cuts needs need to be deep and effective before a parcel tax is put to a vote. Those cuts need to remain (especially those assigned to salary increases) as long as the parcel tax is out there.
No crying wolf, getting rescued, and then going back to spending as usual.
Unfortunately, there are several of us that are interested in this issue but could not attend the meeting last night.
And should we also contribute to the police and fire protection according to use? I've never had to use the fire department and I've never needed the services of the police specifically at my property. Should that portion of my taxes be removed? Should only those needing these public services pay?
This country was founded upon the idea that education has a cost to be shared by a community because the community ultimately benefits from that education.
I can't send my kids to private school and ask for a state credit to go to the private school instead of the public school. The community has a responsibility to support schools.
I have kids in school. Until I see more permanent sacrifice on the part of the DISTRICT OFFICES, I will vote NO on a parcel tax.
Posted by Mark, a resident of the Ponderosa neighborhood, on Feb 25, 2009 at 9:38 am
When a company falls on difficult times, one of the things that happens is they give salary reductions and reduce their staff and workers. The remaining workers need to find ways to continue to do a good job or risk that their job would be eliminated as well.
Our District and the Unions should not be immune from similar realities of this economy. I hope we can save jobs but another bailout is not going to happen.
Posted by Sandy, a resident of the Mohr Park neighborhood, on Feb 25, 2009 at 9:48 am Sandy is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
"Those who do not have children should not have to fund those that do." - Another Gatetree resident
As you said later, you do already fund schools, through property taxes. Would you rather see public schools abolished entirely? Fewer taxes for those who choose to remain childless. Really?
Did you go to public school? Why did you benefit from the childless who were paying taxes back then?
I paid taxes before my daughter was born, and I will pay taxes after she graduates from high school. I am just as responsible for the children who will be in school then.
If they are not well educated, then I will pay the price, and so will you. Our cashiers will not know how to add. The health care aides to seniors will not understand the basics of science and how to prevent infection. They might get our medication doses wrong. And if Pleasanton's children cannot become contributing members of society, we will deal with rising poverty and unrest all around us.
Just my opinion. I can tell you disagree. I object to your writing that only "those who enjoyed the intercourse to spawn" children should pay extra. Please let's be civil when we disagree.
Posted by Another Gatetree Resident, a member of the Amador Valley High School community, on Feb 25, 2009 at 10:13 am
Posted by Sandy, a resident of the Mohr Park neighborhood:
"As you said later, you do already fund schools, through property taxes. Would you rather see public schools abolished entirely? Fewer taxes for those who choose to remain childless. Really??"
I said nothing about abolishing public schools, but I honestly do feel that I pay more than my fair share.
And yes, I attended public schools and did benefit from the childless who were paying taxes back then, but it also did not involve a parcel tax above and beyond those taxes all ready established to support education. Until things like an overblown sound system for a sports stadium are considered "nice to haves" versus "must haves" and funds are channeled towards something truly educational, the parcel tax will never get my support. We talk about the PUSD being fiscally responsible. How about those doing the fundraising actually assessing priorities?
Posted by Sandy, a resident of the Mohr Park neighborhood:
"If they are not well educated, then I will pay the price, and so will you. Our cashiers will not know how to add. The health care aides to seniors will not understand the basics of science and how to prevent infection. They might get our medication doses wrong. And if Pleasanton's children cannot become contributing members of society, we will deal with rising poverty and unrest all around us."
When was the last time you actually had someone count change back to you? Few can do it today, so please tell me why I should give more when fundamental mathematics are lacking now? People are all ready being over-medicated. Need we remind people of the Dennis Quaid children and his successful litigation? As for your other points -- I agree, but until I see "Pleasanton's children" becoming "contributing members of society," I will continue to voice my objection to the parcel tax on that basis.
I don't disagree with your view. I simply have one that differs. As for picking my words for me -- No thanks. I've all ready been through school and learned how to formulate my own opinions and clearly have no problem expressing them. Trust me -- my choice of words were civil.
Posted by my 2 cents, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 25, 2009 at 10:18 am
The board voted on emotion rather than logic or intellect. Yes, I do feel bad for all the people that would lose their job. But the reality is that cuts will happen. It's happening to many people across the globe, in all walks of life. Suck it up!
Now, I do understand the need to have music instructors because music is a foreign lanuage...but PE specialists??? C'mon now, give me a break! It doesn't take years of college education to teach children how to run around the field and jump hoops. Casey had it right for a change but he folded like a matchbook at the end.
That large sum of money can be better spent on retaining real teachers, like those ladies in pink.
Posted by PE Teachers in HS a joke, a member of the Amador Valley High School community, on Feb 25, 2009 at 10:29 am
This is what my teens learned in PE in high school for the required year:
Be in your PE clothes and find you number by a specific time. Listen to whether the activity is required. If not required, you can quietly sit in the stadium.
How to get an A in high school PE:
Have the ability to change into the proper PE clothes.
Have the ability to be on your number by the right time.
Do not cause trouble.
If a PE teacher saw my kid in any other setting, the probably wouldn't even know if that was one of their students!
Back in the "old days", the PE teachers had to teach rules of various games and sports and TEST the kids on them! Grading a paper for a PE Teacher! Gasp!
And PE teachers had to give lessons on how to exercise properly, take care of your body and injuries, and would give students the opportunity to try various forms of physical activity to find something they enjoyed.
The sports kids get to play their games and everyone else sits around.
Heaven forbid we parents ask the teachers to change their lessons to include activities most of the kids would enjoy like yoga, pilates, weight lifting, and other activities they can continue as an average-joe college student or adult.
Our PE classes need to be LIFE LESSONS on physical activity and staying healthy.
Posted by NO P.E., a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 25, 2009 at 10:51 am
Many classroom teachers on campus have bodies that would put some beach models to shame. Did you see those out-of-shape PE specialists last night? Our children would be better served in the hands of the classroom teachers.
Posted by Another Gatetree Resident, a member of the Amador Valley High School community, on Feb 25, 2009 at 11:00 am
OMG, NO P.E. -- you have me rolling with laughter because your words are right on target!
Keep in mind it is these same people who believed blasting music over the new PA system during practice was necessary and "part of the school culture." Wait -- that was a statement that came out of Bill Coupe's mouth. But then, he is a soccer coach in addition to being a Principal, right?
Words that ridiculous suggest we have more to worry about than "out-of-shape PE specialists!" *going into another fit of laughter*
Posted by Teacher, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Feb 25, 2009 at 11:23 am
"My kids that did not have CRS were also doing multiplying & dividing in 2nd grade (love those multiplication timed tests). In fact the curriculum was pretty much the same for CRS and non-CRS until middle school math (no CRS there)."
As a elementary teacher for 11 years now here in Pleasanton, I can certainly tell you that the standards are much more difficult than then were pre-CSR days! So the fact that your children did just fine going through elementary school without CSR and beyond is frankly comparing apples to oranges. It is different now than it used to be. That is fact. Compare the standards from several years ago to now. You will see the difference. The trickling down of standards happened in all grades - not just at the middle school level. Ask any teacher if they are teaching the same standards that they used to be. They will tell you no. I now use many materials with my 2nd graders that I used to use with my 3rd graders! Standards are much more rigorous than they used to be. This is fact. This is why losing CSR will be devasting to our elementary school kids. Harder standards, more kids per classroom, loss of programs/specialists.....it's going to be just terrible for all of our kids. This is fact. Yes on a parcel tax!
Posted by Mom2, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 25, 2009 at 8:31 pm
Our Elementary Schools next year:
Class sizes of 33-1 in grades K-5
inadequate support for children learning English skills (52% of California's school speak another language other than English as their primary language - oh, and yes, Pleasanton, it IS changing here, too--something quite different than "when I was in school")
inadequate support for children needing counseling (50% of marriages end in divorce--even in Pleasanton--do you think this along with other social and behavior issues might get in the way of educating children today? - also quite different than "when I was in school")
only a once a month visit to the library
only a once a month visit to the computer lab and no one to upkeep the technology...expensive technology
minimal budgets at the school sites for supplies and copy costs (this already happened this year)
no money to fund the purchase of new and innovative teaching materials
no money for new and experienced teachers to attend training for the new math adoption
possibly no money to purchase the new math textbooks which align with the state adopted standards
no substitutes for office staff or custodians
possibly an earlier dismissal for K-3 than 4-5, this definitely won't be convenient for parents who already drive back and forth since California schools cut luxuries little buses
I am amazed that all the boggers are still venting at PUSD employees rather than working with PUSD to flood our legislatures and the governor with complaints about how our tax money is being spent. California is now the lowest per pupil spending state, but spends about $48,000 to house prisoners who are entitled high quality medical care and education. And just a bit of information, a prison nurse made over $300,00 last year including her overtime. Wow, more than a superintendent of an award winning school district...a man with a Phd.
This happened because prisoners won a law suit. Maybe, parents should file a lawsuit against the state of California? Let's work together, Pleasanton. PUSD's administration has consistently done a great job of managing money and providing more to our children than most California schools. Now, PUSD will only be able to provide the basics and an educational system which does not meet the needs of the children of TODAY! Stop comparing your education to these students' educational needs. California has become the most diverse state in the nation, and for that reason, we need more resources than we did in the past.
California used to provide a world class education. I realize that some of you brag that your kids did fine. I know mine will too because I have the "know how" to fill the gaps and provide the enrichment at home. However, I live in a community, and I feel a responsibility to all citizens of this community. We are a stronger community when the children are successful and have a sense that people, outside of their own families, truly care about their well-being. If you are anti-parcel tax, then at least, fight for children, all children, at the state level. Some of you are so incredibly passionate and articulate, so maybe you could vent that passionate anger towards the fools in Sacramento who are intimidated by the prisoner guard union, not the teachers' union.
Posted by Mom2, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 25, 2009 at 11:34 pm
I didn't suggest you pay any money. I suggested you write your complains to Sacramento.
I think your "blaa, blaa" is rude and shows that you aren't even thinking about working on solutions. These blogs are only a place for those of you who want to be negative and applaud each other for your nasty comments. Just as others have mentioned that you are afraid to be heard at school board meetings, it's clear you don't want to hear anything positive about PUSD. Signing off for good!
Posted by CastlewoodNeighbor, a resident of the Castlewood neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2009 at 8:28 am
Re: Comment #5
"5. If Sunol and Castlewood residents, or any other residents/property owners (besides seniors) outside of Pleasanton are exempted from paying the parcel tax, if it passes, and they have children that would be or are attending/assigned to a PUSD school, based on PUSD rules, then they MUST agree to pay the exact same parcel tax amount assessed to all Pleasanton property owners, 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."
Property owners in Castlewood, whether they have children or not, pay approximately $1,000 a year on their taxes for the privilege of sending our children to Pleasanton schools.
Posted by Jeb Bing, editor of the Pleasanton Weekly, on Mar 15, 2009 at 10:05 pm Jeb Bing is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
We're intentionally giving topics pertaining to the June 2 parcel tax measure and teacher layoffs a rest because the postings have become repetitive and, in some instances, accusatory and hurtful to teachers and other employees of the school district who are unable to respond to postings, most of which are made under the cloak of anonymity. The postings online will remain, but future postings to these threads or new ones dealing with teacher layoffs and the parcel tax can be made only by registered users of the Pleasanton Weekly forum.