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Measure G informative letter?

Original post made by Pleasanton Parent, Pleasanton Meadows, on Apr 29, 2009

I've noticed two homes in my neighborhood with "Yes on G" signs posted in their yards. I respect my neighbors' right to form their own opinion on the matter but would like to send them a non-confrontational letter highlighting some of the concerns many of us share regarding why measure G (as currently written) is wrong. Does one already exist? If not, maybe I'll write my own and post it to see what others think. Thank you.

Comments (36)

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Posted by Parent who is voting NO ON G
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 29, 2009 at 7:46 pm

check out Web Link


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Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Apr 29, 2009 at 7:51 pm

Thank you. I looked at the printable flyers and its not quite what I'm looking for. I was thinking of something more "personalized" in the form of a letter that highlighted some of the specific issues regarding why measure G is wrong. I will definitely include a reference to the website and encourage them to get a well rounded opinion prior to voting.


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Posted by resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 29, 2009 at 7:53 pm

I think Steve Brozosky's letter is pretty good and absolutely non-confrontational. I think you might be able to co-opt some of the text to create a personal version. I would include the line you wrote on the other thread about feeling taken advantage of. I think you were spot on target there.


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Posted by resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 29, 2009 at 8:56 pm

I can only speak for myself, but I am one of the people with a sign on my lawn. I have read everything that Ann Martin, Steve Brozosky, and Kathy R (sorry can't remember the spelling and I don't want to butcher it) and "Stacy" have written against it. I understand the concerns on the other side very well and am not discounting them. I think there are arguments on both sides of this issue that have merit. After carefully weighing both sides, though, I have decided to vote "yes".

My point: people who are supporting Measure G are not doing so because they are uninformed of the dissenting opinion. On this site, we have been made to look like a bunch of lemmings running toward a precipice shouting "Save the children! Save the Children!" (ok, that was dramatic, but hopefully you get my point). Contrary to this propaganda many of us do have critical thinking skills use them to decide on issues :)


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Posted by resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 29, 2009 at 9:49 pm

... or the lemming thing, you decide.


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Posted by Russell
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Apr 29, 2009 at 10:00 pm

Lemmings? Stampede of Measure G supporters headed over a cliff? That does sound a little extreme. People are asking questions and doing critical thinking.


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Posted by Long time lurker
a resident of Avila
on Apr 29, 2009 at 10:35 pm

Yes, I've read everything Kathleen, SOS/Ann Martin, Stacey, and the rest and I get that they don't like taxes and this tax in particular. And the various, less lucid postings by others with various axes to grind over public education.

It's not reasonable to subject the District to midyear budget cuts and expect services to remain at the same level. The schools in Pleasanton are excellent by any measure, and I'm not about to suggest that an absurd auto-da-fe over cell phones and mileage is going to come close to solving the problem.

A parcel tax as a buffer against state-level budget issues is long overdue. I'm a strong supporter of Measure G.


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Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Apr 29, 2009 at 10:54 pm

Long time lurker - While the business sense in me wants to say it is possible to maintain the current level of education while imposing expense cuts, I do understand there is a point where cuts are going to cause a decrease in services.

My main problem is that the district is planning on paying $15 million over the next four years for step and column increases. I find it insulting that the district is claiming there is no money for the programs that are important and critical to maintaining the level of education Pleasanton schools are known for, yet they have money to pay out these step and column increases. $18 million in parcel tax funds vs $15 million in salary increases. What are your thoughts? Can you shed some light on why this makes sense? To me it seems ethically, morally, and fiscally irresponsible.


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Posted by Get out of the wagon
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 29, 2009 at 11:23 pm

"My main problem is that the district is planning on paying $15 million over the next four years for step and column increases. I find it insulting that the district is claiming there is no money for the programs that are important and critical to maintaining the level of education Pleasanton schools are known for, yet they have money to pay out these step and column increases. $18 million in parcel tax funds vs $15 million in salary increases. What are your thoughts? Can you shed some light on why this makes sense? To me it seems ethically, morally, and fiscally irresponsible."

Nicely stated Pleasanton Parent.


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Posted by Ann Martin
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Apr 30, 2009 at 7:49 am

Long time lurker,
I wasn't aware that anyone liked taxes.

While I intially considered posting a lengthy response to your statements, I realized that would be futuile because your posting leads me to believe you're not reading through other posts carefully.

I have certainly read, repeatedly, posts by Kathleen R. that she could and would support a parcel tax if/when PUSD put its financial house in order and proved that a parcel tax was absolutely necessary.

I appreciate those on both sides of the issue who choose to have dicussions not only about the parcel tax, but the need for education reform, and the need to look for long term solutions to school budget issues.





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Posted by Not Right Now
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 30, 2009 at 9:02 am

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 ptown res
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 30, 2009 at 10:40 am

If there were significant budget reductions the district could make (OTHER than freezing the step and column which I believe has been earned. I am in favor or freezing any other type of raise.), then perhaps my YES vote could be swayed.


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Posted by Parent of Two
a resident of Val Vista
on Apr 30, 2009 at 10:59 am

Parent of Two is a registered user.

I have no argument with well-reasoned, thoughtful parcel tax proponents (of which there are a couple on this board). My argument is with the "If you're not for the tax, you hate teachers/kids/puppies" kind of rhetoric that is MUCH more prevalent than the well-reasoned thoughtful posts.

If the parcel tax was the LAST option to retaining staff, educational standards, and class sizes, I don't think anyone would be against it. Unfortunately, this was the FIRST volley fired, before any discussion of program cuts, union concessions, or state funding requests, and is purely a money grab by the district. Why else SPEND money on a special election? Why else SPEND district resources to promote the parcel tax?


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Posted by Debbie
a resident of Birdland
on Apr 30, 2009 at 11:09 am

ptown res,

I believe that my money has been earned too, so shouldn't I have the right to keep it in my wallet? I am currently without a job because the company I work(ed) for recently went under. I find it callous and shameful that anyone would vote to impose a new tax to support raises for public employees (who have retirement benefits that vastly eclipse what is available in the public sector) at this time.


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Posted by Rio
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 30, 2009 at 11:19 am

"My main problem is that the district is planning on paying $15 million over the next four years for step and column increases. I find it insulting that the district is claiming there is no money for the programs that are important and critical to maintaining the level of education Pleasanton schools are known for, yet they have money to pay out these step and column increases. $18 million in parcel tax funds vs $15 million in salary increases.

RESPONSE:

The $15M is based on an assumption that the current contract, with the current increases, would be in effect over the next 4 years.

It is my understanding that the current contract expires next year (12 month from now ). At that time, the contract and all raises will need to re-negotiated between the district and the teacher's union for the following 3 year contract period (school years 2010/2011, 2011/2012, and 2012/2013).

There will be a tremendous amount of pressure on the teacher's union to change the terms of the contract given the state of the economy.

Posting that there are $15M in raises coming over the next 4 years is misleading as there is no contract supporting these numbers for step and column raises for 3 of the 4 years comprising the $15M number at this time.

Additionally, Measure G will expire at the end of the 4 years. In order for it to continue beyond four years, there will need to be an additional campaign as well as another 2/3 majority 'yes' vote at that time.

The hope is that four years from now, the national and state economies will have recovered to the point that Measure G will no longer be necessary.

We can start this process by changing who we vote into office in the upcoming election cycles.

In the mean time, there will be stable funding for the specific programs identified in the Measure G language.



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Posted by Russell
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Apr 30, 2009 at 11:56 am

@Rio

Thanks for that post. I had no idea the contracts expire on a twelve month basis.

I agree that we need to look closely at who we put into office at the next elections.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Apr 30, 2009 at 12:11 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Long Time Lurker,

Please don't misunderstand me. I never said I don't like taxes. I'm for taxation as long as government is not being wasteful with those taxes and citizens are receiving proper benefit proportionate to that. I want insurance that if Measure G is supposed to pay for CSR, then I want it to go to CSR and not rely upon some oversight committee (which PUSD has a poor record of on the current bond). I don't like the fuzzy ballot language of Measure G that doesn't specify funding x, y, and z in absolutes.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Apr 30, 2009 at 12:13 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Contracts can be re-opened before they expire. If you think in four years there will be no need for a parcel tax, then how does anyone expect that there will be enough "space" in the General Fund to fit those programs Measure G is supposed to fund back into the GF after that "space" will be taken up with raises? It's a shell game!

Web Link


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Posted by ptown res
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 30, 2009 at 1:38 pm

Debbie -

I didn't say you should vote YES on the parcel tax. If you don't feel that is the right decision, then you don't have to vote in that way. However, I am just saying that the teacher's union does NOT have to forfeit their step and column raises just as you DON'T have to vote YES.

So, let's find a way to balance that budget without a parcel tax (which probably won't pass) and without freezing step and column (which I don't think it going to happen anyway). Let's discuss that!


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Posted by ptwon res
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 30, 2009 at 1:43 pm

Also...

One side says PARCEL TAX.

The other side says FREE STEP and COLUMN.

That is basically what this is boiling down too.

And, Debbie, you chose to work in the private sector and there is never a guarantee that a company will remain solvent (i.e. the dot com bust). These teachers choose to work in the public sector and accepted a decent wage (they aren't getting rich any time soon) with an excellent retirement package. We all could have made that choice. You didn't and neither did I . With the private sector, there have been MANY MANY plush years were MANY MANY folks made a good deal of money. During those times you didn't hear a cry out about how teachers make too much and have it too easy, etc. etc. Now, that the private sector is having issues, everyone is complaining.

I find that interesting.

I'd like to hear some solutions/balance of the budget without a tax and without freezing step and column.


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Posted by Not Right Now
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 30, 2009 at 2:23 pm

ptown res,

I read in the Independent and on one of these many threads that Valerie Arkin, school board member, came up with a budget without imposing a parcel tax, without laying off teachers, and without cutting programs. For whatever reason, she was voted down by her pier board members, thus the knee-jerk reaction of the Parcel Tax.

Stacey, Ann Martin or Kathy R. do you have a handy link to Valerie's budget proposal from the school board meeting she presented it at (not sure of the date of the meeting)? This was another factor in changing my position from Pro-measure G to a "no" vote, a reasonable solution was presented, but turned down.

I too agree that freezing Step & Column is a bit extreme, maybe for 1 year it's reasonable to get us through these horrible times, but not for the life of the tax. We have been blessed with FANTASTIC teachers and they shouldn't have to pay for the fiscal irresponsibility of the district.


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Posted by Community of Character
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 30, 2009 at 2:27 pm

Open your hearts and your wallet for our children, our schools, and our community.

Vote YES on G!


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Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Apr 30, 2009 at 2:56 pm

Rio-
I noticed you conveniently left this out of your response to my original question:

"What are your thoughts? Can you shed some light on why this makes sense? To me it seems ethically, morally, and fiscally irresponsible."

ptown res -
I met all my deliverables this past year, was ranked amongst the highest in my company. In a good year, I would have shared in the profitability of the company. Unfortunately this isn't a good year for the company. In fact it was such a bad year we're being required to take non-paid days off, take salary cuts, and have had two rounds of layoffs. Did I "earn" these de-merits? No. Bottom line is, if there isn't any money coming in, I'm not getting any additional money in my pocket either - in fact its being taken out. The teacher's may have earned their S&C increases, but if the money isn't available for our kids, it shouldn't be available for salary increases.

You say during the good years no one complained about how much teachers were making, and I agree. In fact, I'm not complaining today about how much they're making. I'm not asking them to take pay cuts, I'm simply asking for them not to take pay increases.

Community of Character -
I have no problem opening my heart and my wallet to support our children, schools, and community. How about you ask the district employees to open their hearts and minds to the economic realities the majority of us are facing today. A S&C freeze is more than a reasonable request.


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Posted by Long time lurker
a resident of Avila
on Apr 30, 2009 at 9:28 pm

Heh!

We certainly agree on one thing Ann: talking to each other is like talking to a brick wall.

Sorry I'm not worthy of your lengthy response.

Ciao.

-L


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Posted by Long time lurker
a resident of Avila
on Apr 30, 2009 at 9:34 pm

Fair enough Stacey, I appreciate your position.

It's a fundamental, and when you get down to fundamentals it gets hard.

Me, I'm a bit less critical than some because the schools perform well, and think the district should have the buffer a parcel tax will provide.

Yeah, I'm sure that some things can be done more efficiently....but I feel that the District budgeted reasonably based on expected revenue limit income (and the much smaller amount that comes from prop taxes, lottery, etc) and think that the root cause is our legislature's chronic failure to pass a decent budget on time. All CA school districts are scrambling, check out www.fcmat.org for the latest budget gyrations elsewhere in the state.


Let's see what happens with the election.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Apr 30, 2009 at 9:45 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

The District didn't start looking at stuff like the cellphone usage and car allowances until opponents to Measure G pushed them about it. It takes citizen watchdogs to prod government like that sometimes. I'm glad they're taking a more serious look at their budget. Wish they would have done it earlier. We might not be in this mess if they had.


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Posted by tax payer too
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 30, 2009 at 10:23 pm

The only way to pay for anything in a school district is tax dollars. I am a teacher and have regularly spent my own money on supplies in addition to supporting four children through band and whatever other activity they chose with time and money. To freeze negotiated column raises is to not reward teachers for furthering their education. The only reason you move from column to column is if you have completed 15 units of college credit, for which the teacher paid. Column raises are not automatic. It is compensation for increased qualifications.

Step raises are for longevity. Teachers have lost money since we have started paying for our benefits since any increase has eaten any COLA received. Many teachers have the option for partner benefits but those have disappeared just like other private sector jobs and benefits.

To think that suspending cell phone usage and car allowances will make a dent in this problem misses the real issue. The state is out of money because we refuse to tax for what we need, allow for citizen sponsored law making without regard to what this does to the budget or thought about how something will be funded and borrow foreign money to balance the budget. Although there is some culpability in Sacramento across the board, we as the citizens of CA have done this to ourselves.

The problem is the state. No other employer could ask you to pay back what has already been given out in income and this is what the state is asking all districts to do. They are asking for money BACK that has already been spent. It is going to get worse next year.

Why should someone who doesn't have children support the schools? Because you live in this community and benefit from a highly educated populous. Because caring about those around you is the right thing to do. Caring about the least among us or those, like children, who can't speak for themselves is the right thing to do. The community is important.



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Posted by Russell
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Apr 30, 2009 at 10:23 pm

@Long Time Lurker

"and think that the root cause is our legislature's chronic failure to pass a decent budget on time."

I think there is even a deeper root than that; The global economy collapsed. That lead to a huge drop in state revenue.

The problem is that most voters don't have the time to study how the PUSD has managed its funds in great detail. There are plenty of people here who think they have habitually mismanaged funds, and are using the current economic downturn as an excuse to ask property owners for money to continue their wasteful and irresponsible behavior.

On the other hand, Pleasanton schools are known for their high quality of education, and many (but certainly not all) home buyers move to Pleasanton specifically for the schools. Even people with no plans to have children sometimes but in an area with good schools because of the correlation of good test scores with home values.

Some people have presented evidence that PUSD has spent money carelessly. But, as far as I know (and please correct me if I'm wrong), PUSD has not had a parcel tax on a ballot for something like 10 years, including during the last recession. Isn't that evidence that they are doing something right? If I've got that wrong please let me know. I'm here looking for information, there are a lot of good researchers on these blogs.

Others have said that the tax could be avoided at this time through the elimination of salary increases and other efficiencies. PUSD says failure of the tax to pass will result in cuts to programs.

So I'm likely to vote for the measure. But does the average voter really have time to research this in great detail? I think plenty of people are going to be giving PUSD the benefit of the doubt. The schools are really a point of pride for many in Pleasanton. People just don't think of them as "broken".


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Apr 30, 2009 at 10:42 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

"I've heard throughout the community people saying, 'The Excellence Committee is great, but you're just going to add a parcel tax and make us pay.' But that is not the case," Kernan said. The district recently hired a consulting firm to investigate the feasibility of a parcel tax for the March 2007 election. "We need to make a statement as a board, be leaders, and back the Excellence Study," he added.

Web Link


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Apr 30, 2009 at 10:43 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

"I hate being at the mercy of the state," said Trustee Pat Kernan. Kernan proposed that the board ask the district to hire new counselors, regardless if the state provides additional funding or not, by taking the money needed out of the district's reserve funds.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Apr 30, 2009 at 10:44 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Note: Pat Kernan will not have to pay for the tax if Measure G passes. He does not reside in Pleasanton.


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Posted by Mom2
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 1, 2009 at 7:18 am

I appreciate your thoughts, Russell. The lack of mistrust towards the district generated by a few people is most likely going to result in losing programs which draw parents to our town and district. Those bloggers who keep saying teachers will get raises during these times are generalizing. Any teacher with 20 years of experience will not receive a step advance because after 20 years, those teachers are already frozen on the salary schedule.
Yes, the newer teachers are receiving column advancements for attending classes and step advanced for years credit. No one on this blog knows for sure how much those increases will be, for over the next few years many senior teachers are set to retire (bringing down total costs).

When parents who care enough to research districts and choose our town based upon our schools move here, our town continues to be a place where people who care about their community reside. The internet has allowed parents from the east coast to research our schools before relocating. Remember many of these families are moving from states with "state of the art" schools and they are seeking similar situations for their children.

Those of you who wish the defeat of Proposition G might very well get your wish. However, be careful what you wish for!

It is truly impossible to predict how losing programs which make Pleasanton stand out above the others will affect our local economy, real estate value, and families who might or might not choose Pleasanton has their next home. My many friends and a relative in real estate community are all saying that they will vote yes on "G" because of the schools impact on real estate values. I don't think this is a scare tactic rather it is historical. There was a time when Fremont had higher real estate values than Pleasanton, but when those schools were starting to fall apart, programs dropped, and discipline problems rising, families fled to Pleasanton. Just recently visiting a friend at a Fremont school was an eye opening experience for me. I was amazed at how run down the school had become after years and years of no improvements and lack of general care such as painting.








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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on May 1, 2009 at 7:31 am

Russell and Mom2: Read the thread on CSR and what a small part of the district's budget it is. The district chose to send out pink slips to the least senior staff--pink shirts, teachers in tears, students crying . . . paint a picture of "overcrowded" classrooms at 30:1, Johnny and Susie aren't learning anything, some child sneezes . . . So, let's repeat, CSR is the biggest emotional hammer in the district's toolbox.

I'd like to think this community is smart enough to see past the bs and hold this district accountable for past fiscal practices and the drama they are intentionally creating. There is $2 million in the budget they can cut and still keep CSR (and I'm leaving out that they can move classes to 21:1 or 22:1, etc. and save money). That's about $8 million over the life of this proposed tax . . . what do they need the other $10 million for . . .

The "slick" I got at home says preserves, provides, protects . . . this isn't about program, stable funding, or property values. It's three years of raises the district could only afford with a growing economy and increasing enrollment--a chump's bet. "Our schools, our community" and they left off "our money." They have wasted what they had; they don't get to have more.

We need to hold the district accountable, dig into the budget, cut the excess, assess what it is we need, what we want, and what, if anything, we are willing to pay for in addition to what we already provide.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on May 1, 2009 at 8:11 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Mom2 wrote several things...

"saying teachers will get raises during these times are generalizing"

I don't understand this logic. The problem is with the _DISTRICT_'s costs and expenditures outstripping its income, not individual employee situations. Every time you create a "but what about" you're not going to balance your budget. That isn't to say that some consideration should not be given to personnel thoughts, only that there's a kind of triage that occurs and what must be considered is what benefits the majority. Take for example the time when the certificated staff elected to have their benefits put "on the schedule". When 63% of staff would pocket the extra cash and 37% would be forced to purchase their own health insurance, did anyone stop to think about that 37%?

"No one on this blog knows for sure how much those increases will be, for over the next few years many senior teachers are set to retire (bringing down total costs)."

Sure, we have a rough estimate of $1.5M from the District itself. That must be based upon their annual experience. Maybe your suggestion that senior teachers should retire is an excellent one to helping during this budget crisis.

"programs which make Pleasanton stand out above the others"

Which programs would these be? CSR? We don't have CSR in the higher grades like "the others". Counselor ratio? Who looks at counseling ratio when picking a school? I think you're thinking of special programs which individual schools have and I heard are funded out of their "Site discretionary" fund and/or parent supported, which isn't being cut by the way.

"I was amazed at how run down the school had become after years and years of no improvements and lack of general care such as painting."

Yes, this is a scare tactic. No one is suggesting that these level of cuts or "lack of general care" occur in our school district for "years and years". I think many on the No side would be horrified if that occurred. I know that I would. But if this is like Dr. Casey says, "the worst" he's seen in "17 years", then his business as usual doesn't cut it.


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Posted by Pleasanton Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 1, 2009 at 10:20 am

Pulitzer Prize winning political cartoonist made a statement about the California Teachers' Union

Web Link


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Posted by unclehomerr..
a resident of Downtown
on May 2, 2009 at 5:32 pm


'tis a pity they've banned bake sales.

unclehomerr..


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