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"Dirty Politics in a Community of Character"
Original post made
by Liz, Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Apr 3, 2009
"Dirty Politics in a Community of Character"
The superintendent of Pleasanton's public schools was caught last month using district resources to campaign for Measure G, the school parcel tax. In a memo sent to employees, then distributed through district E-Connect to parents, dated March 24th, Dr. John Casey responds to a document that has been circulating the community. The document details why a parcel tax is unnecessary. According to Casey's memo, the District felt compelled to address misstatements of facts.
While Superintendent Casey's document stopped short of explicitly urging a 'Yes' vote on Measure G it is clear that the style, tenor and timing of his document was designed primarily for the purpose of influencing the voters on the upcoming parcel tax election.
State Education Code, Section 7054:
(a) No school district funds, services, supplies, or equipment shall be used for the purpose of urging the support or defeat of any ballot.
" The Attorney General concluded that although it did not explicitly urge a 'Yes' vote the style, tenor and timing of the document placed by the board of trustees points plainly to the conclusion that the publication was designed primarily for the purpose of influencing the voters at the forthcoming school bond election.' (35 Ops.Cal.Atty.Gen. 112, 114.)"
Posted by Get educated!
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Apr 6, 2009 at 6:48 pm
Get educated! is a registered user.
" We actually don't know that $9 million in cuts have to occur, nor do we know the final budget, nor will we know that answer until after we vote, nor do we have any reason to trust the district based on the current administration's record. I have pointed out that three years of high raises, spending from current reserves, and not putting anything in the budget's fund "Designated for Economic Uncertainties" is the crux of the district's problems today. The state budget complicates things, but it did not cause the real problem."
You are continuing to post misinformation and then your accusing PUSD of not "earning trust".
You are right; we don't know the extent of the budget cuts. As quoted from the Valley times "Though much of the state budget remains undecided, school officials say they must prepare for a worst-case scenario." The May election may prove to bring even larger cuts to education. I agree, it is important to know the final impact of the cuts before voting on a parcel tax, hence the reason to wait for the June date, as many in the community asked for. Actually, you implied the same thing yourself in the quote above. Being fiscally responsible, PUSD prepared for this "worst case scenario" by giving time sensitive notification of employee layoffs. Without planning ahead for cuts, and the possibility of the parcel tax failing, the district would not be able to present a balanced budget. On one hand you say they are not planning ahead and then you state they are sending pink slips to more people than necessary. I say, if they didn't plan for the worst case scenario, and thinking a tax would pass, this would be highly irresponsible and a financial disaster.
You stated "Of course I understand the deadlines for a parcel tax, but if the district already cut $2 million last year, where was the planning to put a tax in front of the community last May or June or November? I would say it's because they continued to believe there was no need to plan and now they find themselves in a possible crunch."
I guess you were not closely following the issue when the district was handling it responsibly and not asking anything of the community. Web Link and be sure to read the response to this article Web Link
This was over a year ago. As you well know, the budget is ever-changing, yet PUSD communicated this with the community in January of 2008. The idea of a parcel tax in Pleasanton is not the "possible crunch" you responded to me about.
Valerie Arkin did propose ideas to save teacher's jobs. Many of her ideas are currently being implemented in order to continue running the schools amidst this year's cuts. Her ideas would only cover this current school year, she even told the Independent April 2, " the prospect for next year and probably beyond is so gloomy, that a parcel tax will be needed"
By posting responses as "facts" that are not true, you are aiding in this distrust of the district many people claim they have. Another misrepresentation of the facts, you state:
"Palo Alto has very large reserves, and during the years PUSD was giving 4, 5, and 6 percent raises, PA was giving 0, 1, or 2 percent, cutting millions, and tapping a healthy reserve."
This is not true. In 2007/08, the certificated unit negotiated a 0.738 % lower COLA in order to help fund $500,000 towards elementary science prep periods. In 2008/09 the COLA was increased by 0%. I can see how Palo Alto was able to do this since on the district website it states "On June 7, 2005, voters approved a Measure A Parcel Tax assessment of $493 per parcel for six years. Parcel Tax funds allow Palo Alto Unified School District (PAUSD) to pay higher salaries and to maintain current programs and targeted class size reduction."
Your right Kathleen, trust is earned. By originally posting as a former member of the school board, you are using that position to give credibility to your postings. By posting erroneous information designated to insight doubt in voter's minds, you are not showing your facts deserve to be trusted. This is a great example of the "transparency" that anti-tax posters are writing about.
When facts are presented by those concerned about the severe budget cuts coming from the State level, the issue of "trusting the district" is raised. By stating false information and half truths to fit your position, you are a big part of the distrust you speak of.
I urge you to stick to the issue, which is how to save our district from the worse cuts to education in California's history. Just read the paper, Web Link this is not an issue that PUSD is inflating or making up.
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