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Rethinking the Parcel Tax

Original post made by Tracy, Another Pleasanton neighborhood, on Apr 29, 2009

I'm so confused! I am doing my homework, reading lots about this proposed parcel tax. And I'm just not convinced anymore. Don't get me wrong, I am a mother of 4 school age kids and when I first heard about Measure G, I was in total support, just for the mere fact that I would do just about anything for our schools. But I am not sure anymore that the school board has done everything they can. This is a tough economic time for all of us, I just don't see the sacrifice made from Casey and his counterparts. I have read the rebuttals from Casey and they are not convincing. They just don't make absolute sense.
I think this mom has changed her vote to NO on Measure G.
I would love for the Measure G supporters to convince me otherwise, but at this point, I don't see it happening. Show me where the sacrifices from the Superintendant, board and teachers have been made and show me how there is NO OTHER OPTION. No scare tactics or tugging at my heartstrings- I want FACTS.

Comments (18)

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Posted by Pleasanton Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 29, 2009 at 5:32 pm

For Tracy:
Here is 1 post from another thread:
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a member of the Vintage Hills Elementary School community, on Apr 27, 2009 at 10:19 pm

The real cause for the district's shortfall is three years of raises (at the first column first step for teachers, this was about a $7,800 salary increase; at the last column, last step, it was about a $10,600 increase) that the district could not sustain without a growing economy and growing enrollment. They gambled and lost.

The district also spent down reserves rather than trying to reach its original goal of a seven percent reserve. That reserve would give us enough time to work within the community to determine what we value and what additional dollars, if any, we are willing to pay for services such as counselors, assistant principals at the elementary level, and other services.

There are many other examples of mismanagement of taxpayer dollars that show more needs to be done to clean up the district's fiscal house before we provide them additional funding to the tune of $18+ million. There are federal funds coming in the millions. There are suggestions for efficiencies that maintain CSR.

Voting NO now will give us the time to do this right.
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Posted by Pleasanton Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 29, 2009 at 5:36 pm

For Tracy:
Here is another post....I picked posts that give you the information you asked for and were posted with posters names, not anonymously.
You can also see the website Web Link for more information.

Posted by Ann Martin, a member of the Amador Valley High School community, on Apr 28, 2009 at 2:16 pm

Stacey wrote:

...The problem in CA is that the State mandates districts to spend money on these things but then doesn't fully fund them. Mandate reform is part of the critical work to reform education funding in CA that needs to be done. I encourage everyone to write to their Assemblymember, especially the ones who are endorsing Measure G, and let them know that they need to get their act together and tackle these large elephants in the room instead of supporting local tax measures.

Regarding the above post by Stacey...I agree. We should be writing our state legislators and asking them to reform education funding in California.

Last year at about this time, our local PTA leaders urged us to do this. Many of them pointed out that state cuts in funding would create some difficulties in Pleasanton, but would be nothing compared to what school districts like Richmond and Oakland would face. They often correlated a lack of quality education with an increase in criminal activity and overflowing jails. They reminded us that PTAs speak for all children and we should protest against state budget cuts in education, not only for our Pleasanton children, but the children throughout the state.

One of my concerns with local parcel taxes is that they create a state of have and have nots.

One day our kids are going to grow up and many of them will leave Pleasanton to live elswhere in California. They may have to raise their children in communities that aren't as safe and don't have the wonderful amenities Pleasanton offers. They may have to raise their children in communities where the school districts have been struggling for years - where sports programs and music programs are very limited, there are few AP classes and technology lags behind.

I'd like to see the California Teachers Unions and the California State PTA use their political power and financial resources to demand as Stacey put it that the State "get their act together."

If, as these groups have been saying, the current budget crisis PUSD is facing is solely because of state budget problems, then the focus should be on resolving these problems at the state level.

I don't agree that PUSD's budget problems are solely because of budget cuts from the state. PUSD's budget problems have been exacerbated by the State's budget problems, but the cuts from the State have shone a huge spotlight on PUSD spending and financial planning.

That I believe, is a good thing. Even in a good economy, PUSD should always be monitoring its spending and always be evaluating its financial policies to ensure that our tax dollars are being used for their primary purpose - providing a quality education for our children.

It's been said by many posters that PUSD isn't a private company and we shouldn't expect it to be run like one.

The perks, and some would say excesses of private companies such as bonuses, lunches being charged back to the company, generous car allowances, and cell phones users permitted to rack up thousands of dollars in personal calls - these are also enjoyed by PUSD administration.

Some have said that the total of these expenses don't really matter because they probably aren't enough to make a difference in the PUSD budget. I don't agree. Every dollar spent on non-essentials is a dollar not spent to benefit the schools...it's a dollar not there for teachers to purchase dry erase markers, for the library not to have for new books, and for technology to not be upgraded. It's a dollar not available to hire the people who keep our schools safe and clean, and provide the office support we realize how much we rely upon when phones can't be answered promptly and paperwork is delayed.

I am one person plowing through pages and pages of records looking for ways PUSD can cut expenses and I share what I've learned with PUSD.

But I shouldn't be the one doing this...the PUSD should be going through their budget line by line and identifying the areas where they can make cuts that don't directly affect students' education.

Regardless of what happens at the state level, or the amount of federal stimulus funds available to PUSD, PUSD should work towards putting its financial affairs in order.

I think we should all remember that if want our children and our children's children to lead quality lives in California, we have to think beyond our community, beyond the next few years, and work for and support quality education for all the children in California.

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Posted by Russell
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Apr 29, 2009 at 9:56 pm

"beyond the next few years, and work for and support quality education for all the children in California."

and the all children in the USA and all children in the world.


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Posted by Ann Martin
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Apr 29, 2009 at 10:10 pm

Absolutely Russell (you were't kidding, were you?)
Ann


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Posted by broadview
a resident of another community
on Apr 30, 2009 at 7:16 am

....and for children not yet born and for children on other undiscovered planets and for the children in all of us and so on..


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Posted by Tracy
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 30, 2009 at 7:36 am

So Ann....are you supporting the parcel tax or not? Sounds like a "no" to me.


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Posted by Robert Paul Perez
a resident of Dublin
on Apr 30, 2009 at 8:22 am

The shcools need more money like they need a hole in the head! Its about time the Unions stop serving themselves and start serving the children their members are supposed to be teaching. Money is not the answer to improved schools never was, its about quality teachers and the home culture the children are living in. Tax,Tax,Tax,Tax.......and some how its all going to get better. The teachers are subjects to the unions, when they should be servants to the people. If they need more money, Tell them to get it from their leaders, the Unions. Cut,Cut,Cut,Cut....and leave my wallet and my kid out of your corruption.


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Posted by Cindy
a resident of Danbury Park
on Apr 30, 2009 at 8:38 am

All tax should be equitable. I live on a small parcel of land in a PUD. I pay $233 under the proposed plan. The guy in Ruby Hills has a vineyard on acres of land worth 5 times the value of my parcel. I have no kids, this guy has 4 kids in school. Why is his share $233?


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Posted by Ann Martin
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Apr 30, 2009 at 8:53 am

Tracey,
No I don't support this parcel tax.
Believe me, it's been a tough decision for me. I've been an active PTA member for the past 7 years. I've served on the PTA board at Harvest Park, Amador and Pleasanton Council. I've chaired many committees and have donated hundreds of hours and dollars to the schools. It's not at all comfortable to take a position in opposition to those I've worked alongside and who I number among my friends.
All along, my pleas to the School Board and PUSD have focused on asking them to prove to me and the community that there is no other option but a parcel tax. I've asked, often, that they go through the budget and eliminate all the items that can be cut that don't directly impact students.
I haven't been convinced that they've done this and while Pleasanton is a relatively affluent community, the three years I've been involved with the Crisis & Caring committee at Amador have made me realize that there are a great many people in Pleasanton who already were experiencing financial distress, and in the current economy, there are more. They are not, as many assume, just renters, but often single parents and families who pushed themselves to the financial limit to move to a safe area for their children. I worry about them.
I think they, and everyone else in the community deserves to feel confident that PUSD is doing everything it can to efficiently manage the funds it already receives from taxpayers.
My own research hasn't given me that confidence.
I've been asked if I would support any parcel tax and my answer is I probably would, but only if I felt confident that it was the only option and that PUSD had put into place financial practices that would not only prevent overspending, but work towards ensuring that a parcel tax would be the temporary measure it's being advertised as being.
My "probably" answer is in part due to my concern that local funding for schools only provides help to the more affluent communities...what happens to all the rest?
Call me naive, but I did buy into the PTA motto of "every child, one voice." I'm having a difficult time reconciling local parcel tax support with supporting all children. There's a bit of the "as long as we're okay, that's all that matters" feel to that support that gives me the heebie jeebies.
I believe we need to hammer at our legislators to enact education reform. The state mandates programs, but doesn't provide support for them, and instead punishes districts that don't meet state mandated policies. That just doesn't make sense to me.
I hope this answers your question Tracy, and I'm happy to respond even more fully if you want to email me directly (ann0819@aol.com)


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Posted by Not Right Now
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 30, 2009 at 9:26 am

Tracy,

You're not alone!! I just finished posting under another thread and felt compelled to re-post under your thread....

I have done a complete 180 from total support of the measure to a "no" vote. Here is my original post:


"I have spent day's reviewing all the the blogs related to measure G, along with the links provided by those who disagree with the tax at this time. I also took some time to talk with people whom I respect and are informed from boths sides of this issue. I have a very young family and have quite a few years ahead of me in the PUSD.

I was very supportive of this parcel tax because we have seen the benefits of Class Size Reduction. I would do anything to keep class sizes small.

From my review of the measure, I have concluded that the parcel tax will NOT GUARANTEE that classes will stay 20:1. I realize the pro language allows the district some flexibility on this, however, I have yet to get a definition of "keep class sizes small". Is this 22:1, 24:1, 30:1??? The language is subject to interpretation, therefore it leads be to believe there is no guarantee classes will actually stay small.

Additionally, on a personal note, as a parent and a taxpayer, I feel very taken advantage of by the school board and PUSD for using additional funds, they don't have, and putting this on a stand-alone ballot. This was the deciding factor that changed my mind and I will be voting "NO". I'm trying to teach my children to make good choices and do the right things....the Board and PUSD were sneaky and deceitful with this action and it goes against my beliefs.

Teachers will continue to receive my unending support, as they deserve it. I will continue to provide classroom donations and I will continue to work in the classroom and help out in anyway that I can to the benefit of my children and their fellow students.

I am urging all voters to please take the time to research Measure G (it will take DAY'S to comb the topics and review the links) but it's worth it.

Someday, I will support a parcel tax but not on June 2, 2009."


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Posted by FURDOG
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Apr 30, 2009 at 9:36 am

NO MORE BAILOUTS!!! The school district has a budget just like everyone else....figure out how to balance it! Don't come to each homeowner for a BAILOUT....COME ON NOW!

Sales tax just went up to 10% now we want another tax....DOUBT IT!!!

Please VOTE NO ON G!!!


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Posted by Ken in South Pleasanton
a resident of Downtown
on Apr 30, 2009 at 9:41 am

Another example of mis-management and poor judgement is the separation of state and local polling dates. The only reason to delay the local election (and spend several hundred thousand dollars in the process) is to give the proponents of G the opportunity to brow-beat the community into a frenzy of guilt. Don't be misled by the additional three weeks of 'poor-me' and 'save our children's education'. California schools have had many years of good funding to improve the quality of education given to our children. I don't think we got our money's worth during that time, and our children are the ones who suffer. Vote NO on measure G as many times as it is legal to do so!


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Posted by Guillermo Martin
a resident of Kottinger Ranch
on Apr 30, 2009 at 10:13 am

Sadly I have to agree with Tracy, Anne & the many others who now feel that this parcel tax is simply a band aid to the underlying problems of funds mis-management, top heavy pay to district officials & monies being spent on non-essential/academic programs.

The present economic times have made it extremely difficult for our family & for many of our friends as well & I know all too well the frustration we face when our children's future is being put at risk by the financial & bureaucratic mistakes made by the school board. Yes, $233 a year IS big deal for us. We are not waiting for help from the state or federal government but are taking some clues from our friends who have been home schooling their children for the past six years & are taking a much more hands-on approach to our children's education with extra course studies, summer readings, lessons & educational trips & it has paid off with BOTH our boys now having (almost)straight A's for the past three semesters. I understand that not all parents can afford the time it takes to do the extra tutoring, lesson planning & mentoring that our children get but what is the alternative?


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Posted by Bruce
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Apr 30, 2009 at 1:14 pm

I am curious about the argument that CSR has improved test scores or is it just that we have many more Asians in our classrooms today than we did 10 years ago, whose parents ensure that their kids get the grades necessary to get into the best schools.

I'm a firm believer in following the money and with all the teacher union dollars that flow to the democrats, I see CSR as nothing more than payback for getting them reelected.

I never had CSR and neither did my kids, and we fared well. I fear we are being conned into providing more teaching jobs than we need and at a much higher cost than necessary.


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Posted by erryja
a resident of Lydiksen Elementary School
on Apr 30, 2009 at 1:16 pm

It's a shame we must suffer and sacrifice for the education and future of our children in our community.
If we don't vote down all the tax increases, it will continue to send the wrong message to our political Leaders ( term used loosly) and they will not execute the necessary.
We must cut back and adjust our whole lifestyle and get the goverment off our backs.
We have too many chiefs pretending to uphold the beuacratic ( local & State) interest. Begin by cutting political heads, too many people sitting around doing nothing.
Send the message and just say NO to all new taxes, wait until you get your new auto renewal,see the cost per gallon og gas after the new CA tax or see the sales tax increse on a new $100 purchase and now you want your property tax to go up ?

Send the right message to our TAX leaders NOooooooo.


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Posted by Nosy Neighbors
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Apr 30, 2009 at 3:31 pm

Could somebody, with a better memory than me please remind this discussion of the over $6 Million that was wasted by the PUSD in legal fees, road construction, road re-construction, site assessments, architectural & engineering studies & plans for the ill-fated Neal Elementary School out in Vineyard Ave. area?

A boondoggle of biblical proportions that undoubtedly had some affect on the budget troubles has seemingly been forgotton.


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Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Canyon Creek
on Apr 30, 2009 at 4:38 pm

PUSD is run by knucklheads.
Don't give them more money.


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Posted by Tate Chen
a resident of Avignon
on May 13, 2009 at 9:39 pm

I say not to Measure G! Measure G will just give schools more money, while what the Pleasanton Unified School District really needs to learn is to save money. Giving them more money wont teach them to save!


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