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Time for a Measure G Town Hall before the June 2 vote?

Original post made by Carl on May 13, 2009

With three weeks to go before the June 2 vote, and with all the new fiscal troubles at the state level that are projected by PUSD to greatly negatively impact school finances, does anyone think it's time to hold another Town Hall so that these issues are adressed with the voters?

The governor is expected to announce updated state budget scenarios May 14, the state proposition election is May 19, so a town hall meeting around May 26 would probably be good timing. Any other suggestions?

If PUSD doesn't have a town hall meeting before June 2, what might be the logical reason?

Comments (65)

Posted by Fear being blackballed, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 13, 2009 at 8:14 am

Carl, the citizens of Pleasanton should have their/our own town hall meeting. It shouldn't be run by the PUSD. Rules of engagement should be enforced, including all voices should be allowed to speak, regardless of what side of the issues one is on. We need to have a civilized, open debate. I'm a PUSD teacher and I don't support Measure G. I don't believe I can be at any open forum, since I will most likely be blackballed within my peer group.


Posted by resident, a resident of Birdland
on May 13, 2009 at 9:11 am

I agree that it would be a good idea. The fiscal landscape is changing so rapidly that it's hard to separate fact from fiction. The federal money is GREAT news but the state budget is looking worse(I heard PUSD stands to lose about $5 million more if the state initiatives don't pass - which would almost negate the federal money). I think it could be very informative and productive. I don't know if PUSD needs to run it, but representatives from the district who are "in the know" (Casey, and/or school board members) should certainly be there to answer questions. I think people like Kathy Ruegseggar, Kay Ayala, and Steve Brozoski should also be there.




Posted by Molly, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on May 13, 2009 at 9:26 am

It would just turn into another union rally where anyone that opposes Measure G would be unable to speak.

No on G!


Posted by stop playing the victim, a resident of Birdland
on May 13, 2009 at 9:34 am

I keep seeing those who are against the measure casting themselves in the role of victim (if we speak out against the measure we will be blackballed, our children will be discriminated against, etc.). It's ridiculous.

If you have reasonable concerns, be a LEADER in your community and voice them! A town hall meeting would only be a union rally if the "no on G" people allowed it to be.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on May 13, 2009 at 9:57 am

Stacey is a registered user.

"Stop playing the victim" apparently has no idea nor compassion for what it must be like to be a teacher who is against Measure G and the social stigma they'd have to endure at work. Thankfully the ballot box is still secret.


Posted by apathy, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 13, 2009 at 10:06 am

There have been two town hall meetings already - granted they were put together by the pro-G people but they were held at churches who insisted on neutrality and no rally activities all all. Hardly anyone showed up. They were hardly a platform for the "fear of retribution" the anti-Measure G people on this forum keep repeating.

Don't worry Carl, Stacey, Kathleen, tax revolt 2, jay, Get out of the wagon, and frank - Measure G may very well die - not because of the cleverness of you few, but because Pleasanton simply didn't show up. At least you guys and gals are fighting. Albeit, in a bizarre, twist a newspaper town hall forum into a political tool kind of way. Again, clever.

P-Town will eventually figure it out though - it may be later rather than sooner. With $21.3 billion more in state cuts ($3.9 billion more cuts to education) coming quickly, the ugliness of what that means for all of us - kids or not - will force us to make some real hard choices on what we value. I admit, funding education vs. releasing 40,000 prisoners becomes a real tough call.

I'd love to see a town hall meeting where people actually show up - yes or no on G. After all we are all literally in the same sinking boat called California.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on May 13, 2009 at 10:33 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Those weren't real town hall meetings. There was no opposition voice on the panel. No one was invited.


Posted by Cut waste and abuse of tax dollars, a resident of Birdland
on May 13, 2009 at 11:05 am

One thing that rankles a lot of people I know in this town is that PUSD insisted on holding a special June 2 election, apart from next weeks election. They rolled the dice, plunked down, from what I have heard, close to, if not a bit more than $300,000 for this one measure election. What an incredible, colossal waste of tax payer money. All for the hope that at least two-thirds of the voters would vote for "G". There is no better example of school district waste in action.

When will the car allowances and free cell phone use end?

Stop all COLA increases.

Cut wages for all PUSD employees 10%, across the board. Those that don't like it are welcome to leave their jobs.

We have two children in PUSD schools - Harvest Park Middle School and Amador Valley High School. Will both of them most likely have to do with less next year? Yes, absolutely. As a family, as a city, county state and nation, will we all have to do with less? Yes again.

Get smart - there are ways to keep cuts as far as possible from classrooms.

There is waste that needs to eliminated.

I support PUSD. I don't support the "leadership". I will also vote for new representatives for school board - since this entire group acts like a rubber stamp for the unions and administration - no real oversight here.

Please think about these things when you go to the ballet box on June 2.

Thank you Pleasanton Weekly - our electronic town hall forum!


Posted by resident, a resident of Birdland
on May 13, 2009 at 11:28 am

So let me get this straight:

If there is a Town Hall Meeting, you won't go to it for fear of being blackballed, etc... And if you don't go to the meeting, you'll say it wasn't a real Town Hall Meeting because there was no opposition present?? Hmmm...


Posted by apathy, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 13, 2009 at 11:35 am

Oh yes they were real Stacey and they spoke volumes to me. Do you know how I found about them? They were published in the Pleasanton Weekly, plain as day. Why did they speak volumes to me? Because HARDLY ANYONE showed up for this incredibly divisive issue for our city - Pro, Con or otherwise. As for inviting opposition, Stacey, who would that be? Judging by the pleasaton parcel tax info website the same few of you keeping mentioning, I can't tell who the opposition is with the exception of Mr. Brozowsky who has a "guest letter" posted. I can at least respect that he's willing to fight for what he believes is right. Again, I'd love to see a town hall meeting where pro and con could be heard but my original statement still stands: there have been two town hall meetings already and yes, they were real.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on May 13, 2009 at 11:38 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Resident,

Don't be facetious. There's opposition to Measure G that has made their names known. Some of them even signed the ballot arguments. None of them were invited to speak.


Posted by Jeff, a resident of Foothill Knolls
on May 13, 2009 at 11:43 am

resident,

Please don't lump everyone in the same basket. One person commented about a fear of being blackballed because they are a PUSD teacher. This teacher has a right to feel this way.

Another person made the point that the only town forum we had was a pro-"G" rally.

Two different voices, two different perspective.

No on G - stop out-of-control spending first!


Posted by Think for yourself, a resident of Civic Square
on May 13, 2009 at 1:08 pm

Politicians and unelected bureaucrats are completely out of touch and out of control with spending at all levels of government - from local to federal. We, the people, need to hold our representatives accountable. When they fail us, we need to terminate their representation of us. On the other hand, we the people, have become addicted to social programs – be honest, just about every has a favorite, or ten! Most of these programs do more harm than good. They sap individuals of their will "to do" and instead make them wards of the state.


Posted by to apathy, a resident of Birdland
on May 13, 2009 at 1:46 pm

My favorite part of the Anti-G website is the section with fake quotes about "What people are saying"... with no names next to them! lol

Seriously, it's ridiculous to run a political campaign as a bunch of anonymous bloggers - like some warped underground society.

yes, yes, I know. You're afraid of those mean teachers...


Posted by Not Right Now, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 13, 2009 at 3:10 pm

Apathy:

The annonymous nature of this blog has been successful in convincing me from a very vigerous "yes on G", to a "no" vote that's in the mail.

My children's teacher's are much too professional to retaliate against a child for the decisions we, as parents, have made on Measure G. Thank you teachers, you are very loved and appreciated in this family!!!

Now, that being said...I am not comfortable speaking my mind to the parents of my children's friends who remain very loyal to the measure G campaign. This is where I fear retaliation and I'm not just speaking for myself.


Posted by Ann Martin, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on May 13, 2009 at 5:01 pm

Not Right Now,
I have no concerns about the teachers! They are very professional and like you, I very much appreciate them and consider some to be friends...people I will stay in touch with long after my child is no longer a PUSD student.
I think the teachers realize that my opposition to Measure G has nothing to do with their dedication or performance. I am very hopeful that PUSD will use Federal Stimulus funds for the purpose for which the funds are being given - to prevent lay offs and keep programs intact.
Also, despite my many requests for records, the PUSD Business Services Dept., specifically Luz Cazares and Sue Connolly, have been very cordial and yes, even friendly to me. No complaints there whatsoever.
I will however also agree with you that those very loyal to the Measure G campaign can allow their passion to affect their behavior. Mostly, I would say that the temperature around them is a bit chilly for me!
I just try to keep in mind that while we may see the ways and means differently, we all share the same goal of wanting the best education possible for all children.
Whatever the outcome of the election, it is very gratifying to live in a community where so many people care so much about education.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on May 13, 2009 at 7:54 pm

Apathy: I've been on these blogs for a while, with my full name, and clearly anti-G.


Posted by Michael, a resident of Livermore
on May 13, 2009 at 9:00 pm

Don't know why anyone from the no on G group would want to participate in one of these town halls as I believe they would just be cited or singled out for retribution and hostility by others. Voting is a very private thing and actually I think more should be done to indentify waste before just taxing more. Besides from what I have read this isn't really about the kids as it is about the teachers getting raises correct?


Posted by Barry & Liz P., a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 14, 2009 at 6:33 am

Michael,

From what I understand, $1,500,000. is the number talked about for teacher raises.

Not Right Now,

I agree with you - I don't think teachers would retaliate against my children. As for neighbors and other family members in town, when the topic comes up, I let them know that I'm still studying both sides of the issue. Without getting into a pros/cons debate, we move on to other topics.

My wife and I are strongly against G.


Posted by Not Right Now, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 14, 2009 at 7:48 am

Larry & Liz P.:

From all the research I've collected on this subject, The $1.5 MM is only for 2009-2010 school year. Subsuquest years go as follows:

2009-2010: 1.5 MM
2010-1011: 1.5MM + 1.5 MM= 3.00 MM
2011-2012: 1.5MM + 1.5 MM + 1.5MM = 4.5MM
2012-2013: 1.5MM + 1.5 MM + 1.5MM + 1.5MM = 6.00MM

This is the life of the tax, where 15MM will go to Step and Column.

I completely agree with you that an "undecided" stance is the way to approach with the loyal supporters. I despirately wish this issue wasn't so divisive, I'll be glad when it's all over!


Posted by Not Right Now, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 14, 2009 at 9:55 am

Barry,

Sorry for the name typo:-)


Posted by My head hurts already!, a resident of Canyon Creek
on May 14, 2009 at 10:07 am

Not Right Now,

Unfortunately, once June 3rd rolls around, the issue will not be resolved. Our long term obligations at every level of government are unsustainable. Headaches for a lifetime.


Posted by Sandy, a resident of Mohr Park
on May 14, 2009 at 12:02 pm

There is no contract with teachers after June 2010. We cannot predict what the cost of step-and-column will be after that point. Projecting out based on an assumption that the contract will not be changed seems unwise.


Posted by Ptown resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 14, 2009 at 12:22 pm

Sandy,
Has there been a PUSD contract that has ever decreased teacher salaries?
Are you suggesting that APT would consider a wage freeze or a pay cut?


Posted by Ellen, a resident of Carlton Oaks
on May 14, 2009 at 3:03 pm

Not Right Now:

Your numbers on Step and Column increases are incorrect. The amount is $1.5M per year, so over 4 years, the total is $6.0M.

You are saying that if I got a 10% raise this year, then the following year I would get a 10% raise and then another 10% raise.

Remember, within the life of the parcel tax the expected salary increase for those in the Class Size Reduction program would be significantly lower ($400k in my estimation).

Bottom line, $400k in anticipated salary increases over the term of the parcel tax ($18M or 2.5%). Not the $16M (or 89%) as you are implying.


Posted by Einstein, a resident of Mohr Elementary School
on May 14, 2009 at 3:06 pm

Einstein is a registered user.

Regardless of the amount it is irresponsible to give raises out in this economy at all. The state of Washington just announced they will be laying off 2500 teachers this year. They will be allowed to finish the year and not start next year. Pleasanton is not an island of the wealthy which can hold back the tide of the economy which is sinking. We need to look at the big picture of cost reduction and possibly some reductions in service which might go with it as it will be be affordable. Teachers should feel the same way most of us who still have jobs feel and that is fortunate.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on May 14, 2009 at 4:11 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Ellen,

It's $15MM paid out TOTAL for step and column after four years. Your $6MM number is only the amount of the annual INCREASES after four years. You need to add up $1.5MM + $3MM + $4.5MM + $6MM to understand how much the total cost is.


Posted by Ptown resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 14, 2009 at 4:40 pm

Ellen,
You're probably feeling a bit shocked right now to hear that step and column increases are additive and the total of $15 million over four years is correct.
I know when I first heard this information, I didn't believe it could be right particularly since PUSD was saying $1.5 million a year, and I added that up to $6 million just as you did.
But I contacted a school board member who confirmed that the costs are additive, and the $15 million was approximately correct.
I encourage you to do the same or contact PUSD (probably the public information officer Myla Grasso - the woman who sends out econnect) to verify the $15 million.
That $15 million has a way of changing the way you view information provided by PUSD.


Posted by ??, a resident of Val Vista
on May 14, 2009 at 5:30 pm

Can someone explain why that number would double each year? It doesn't make sense to me. Every year aren't there teachers who retire and are replaced by younger (cheaper) ones? Shouldn't that offset the s&c raises to a large degree? I don't get it...


Posted by Ellen, a resident of Carlton Oaks
on May 14, 2009 at 5:54 pm

My information came directly from Luz Casares.

Example: If I earned $100 a year and got 3% raises each year:

Year 1: $100 + 3% raise = $103
Year 2: $103 + 3% raise = $106
Year 3: $106 + 3% raise = $109
Year 4: $109 + 3% raise = $112

If I never got a raise over 4 years, I would have made $400. But getting 3% raise during that 4 year period gave me $430. The net change is $30.

I trust my instincts, my MBA and Luz on this.


Posted by Doris, a resident of Carlton Oaks
on May 14, 2009 at 6:00 pm

Send me back to reform school. I looked at the numbers again and agree with the above that the number is closer to $14.5M total paid over the 4 years.

I eat my words!


Posted by Ptown resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 14, 2009 at 7:44 pm

Ellen/Doris,
You got the Aha! moment. Had the same trouble figuring the additive nature of step & column, but once I got it, I got it.
No need for reform school...just budget reform!


Posted by Einstein, a resident of Mohr Elementary School
on May 14, 2009 at 8:18 pm

Einstein is a registered user.

Regardless of the amount it is irresponsible to give raises out in this economy at all. The state of Washington just announced they will be laying off 2500 teachers this year. They will be allowed to finish the year and not start next year. Pleasanton is not an island of the wealthy which can hold back the tide of the economy which is sinking. We need to look at the big picture of cost reduction and possibly some reductions in service which might go with it as it will be be affordable. Teachers should feel the same way most of us who still have jobs feel and that is fortunate.


Posted by optimistic, a resident of Golden Eagle
on May 14, 2009 at 8:48 pm

I think APT has made it very clear that there will be no freeze on step and column this year, in fact, it is not even a discussion because we all know it won't happen. So, how about we all quit talking about it and find something else?? Complaining about it over and over and over and over again will not change anything. Move on.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on May 14, 2009 at 9:24 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

APT has made it clear that even though the State and Feds are not funding their raises, they expect them anyway. Let's withhold the Fed money for saving jobs.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on May 14, 2009 at 9:24 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

I guess it isn't about the kids after all.


Posted by Mary, a resident of Country Fair
on May 14, 2009 at 9:26 pm

stacey,

it has always been about th eteachers I believe.


Posted by Not Right Now, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 14, 2009 at 9:49 pm

Ellen:

I wish the 15MM over 4 year's was an incorrect figure, but unfortunately it's been confirmed by PUSD.

Mary:

This is NOT about the teacher's, they are SMACK-DAB in the center and should not be blamed. PUSD is the accountable party, they dug the hole, they need to figure a way out without tax payer's $$.


Posted by about the teachers, a resident of Highland Oaks
on May 14, 2009 at 9:54 pm

Mary, personally I don't think it is all about the teachers. I believe it is all about the union. If you asked teachers, I believe they would agree to a freeze in step and column as the right thing to do. The unions will not let them say that; especially now. The union feels they can get their raise if the parcel tax passes, so they will campaign for it. As a teacher, it would be quite hard to speak up against the union. Just like people who speak up against measure G are labeled "anti school", teachers that spoke up against the need for a raise would be labeled "not a team player". It would be like crossing a picket line. Teachers would be scared to make this statement.

If things are really this bad, I might support a parcel tax like measure G that had explicit language saying no raises of any kind, including step and column, would be given out during the term of the parcel tax. This would ensure all the money went directly towards programs for our students. The beauty of language like this is there is an incentive for the administration to cut excess spending so they could let the parcel tax expire and they could then get their raises. The current measure has no incentive for the district to do anything to fix the problem. They will be dependent on this money to be business as usual and will ask for another "fix" for their spending habit and say you have to continue the tax once it expires. I guarantee, if this parcel tax passes, in four year we will be in exactly the same position and they will be saying that we will have to fire all these teachers unless the community passes another parcel tax.


Posted by ?? - again, a resident of Val Vista
on May 14, 2009 at 9:56 pm

Not Right Now and Stacey:

You just keep saying that that figure is right because, according to anonymous you, you got the info from PUSD. Can you please explain why Ellen's way of computing it it wrong and your mathematical strategy is right?

Just from a common sense standpoint, it doesn't make sense that the cost of step and column raises should double every single year so that the raises grow exponentially. It seems like a way to over inflate the number so you can be the town criers yelling "$15 Million in raises!" If you can show my that I'm wrong, I'll apologize, but Ellen's math seems much more realistic.


Posted by Mary, a resident of Country Fair
on May 14, 2009 at 9:57 pm

Maybe we should see what the teachers at Mission San Jose in Fremont are doing right as they are ranked as the 60th best high school in the nation. None of the schools in the Pleasanton, Livermore, Dublin, or San Ramon were in the top 500. It only went to 500. Our teachers are just fortunate to have children with smart parents.


Posted by ?? reply, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 14, 2009 at 10:04 pm

To ??:

Here is how it works.

If you give a raise of $1.5M this year, it costs $1.5M this year, $1.5M next year, $1.5M the year after, and so on. You do not give a raise and then take it back the next year. So a $1.5M raise this year costs $6.0M over 4 years ($1.5 + $1.5 + $1.5 + $1.5).

Next next year, they give out another $1.5M raise. This is added on to the raise from the previous year. So the second year they are paying the $1.5M raise from the previous year plus $1.5M for the raise this year. The raise given out this year also continues forever, just like the previous year's raise. So the second year the raises cost $3.0M

In the third year, they are paying $1.5M for the first year's raise, $1.5M for the second year's raise, and then they give out another $1.5M raise in the third year. So the cost of the third year is $4.5M.

In the forth year, they are paying $1.5M for the first year's raise, $1.5M for the second year's raise, $1.5M for the third year's raise and then they give out another $1.5M raise in the fourth year. So the cost in the fourth year is $6.0M.

So the cost is $1.5M for the first year, $1.5M + $1.5M for the second year, $1.5M + $1.5M + $1.5M in the third year, and $1.5M + $1.5M + $1.5M + $1.5M in the fourth year. You add up all the years and the total cost is $15M.


Posted by ?? - again, a resident of Del Prado
on May 14, 2009 at 10:31 pm

Ok, I thank you for your explanation, but here's what still doesn't make sense:

Why is there an assumption that every year the aggregate payroll will increase by 1.5 million? I would think that every year teachers at the top steps & columns will retire, and they can be replaced by teachers who are lower on the pay scale, and this would offset the S&C raises (this visual I have is an escalator where some get one and some get off, but ultimately you can't have more than a certain number of people on it).

Shouldn't that keep the aggregate payroll relatively stable (unless everyone runs out and gets their Master's Degree in one year)?

Hope this makes sense. I'm really trying to understand...


Posted by Not Right Now, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 14, 2009 at 10:38 pm

?? Reply:

Thank you for spelling the above out.

??-again:

As a parent of very young childen, I have many years left in PUSD. The $$ that will go to Step and Column over the life of the Parcel Tax was not my "flip-flop" moment from support of "G" to a "no vote".

I could NOT get a single person to GUARANTEE that Class Size reduction (20:1) would remain in K-3. I volunteer in my child's class, and can see first hand, the difficulties of teaching 20 children of varying abilities. I can't imagine what it would be like teaching, even just 5 more children (25:1).

There is NO GUARANTEE classes will stay small if Measure G passes.


Posted by Russell, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on May 14, 2009 at 10:39 pm

Mary,

What ranking are you talking about? Do you mean they are not ranked in the top 100?

We're you looking at this:

Web Link

Those rankings appear to stop at 100. Mission San Jose was the only East Bay school that ranked in the top 100 there.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on May 14, 2009 at 10:42 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

??,

Ellen's example is the same as Not Right Now's example.

Here's what Ellen wrote:

Year 1: $100 + 3% raise = $103
Year 2: $103 + 3% raise = $106
Year 3: $106 + 3% raise = $109
Year 4: $109 + 3% raise = $112

Then she adds up the totals in the far right column to show $430.

Here's the S&C costs written out using Ellen's same algorithm:

Year 1: $0 + $1.5MM = $1.5MM
Year 2: $1.5MM + $1.5MM = $3MM
Year 3: $3MM + $1.5MM = $4.5MM
Year 4: $4.5MM + $1.5MM = $6MM

Add up the totals in the far right column to get $15MM.

Now I get Ellen's point of net. That's exactly the point that's trying to be made. If S&C is frozen in one of those years, there's a net savings to the District in S&C that they won't pay. So the total amount paid out by the District would be less than $15MM. Wow, saving money. Novel concept.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on May 14, 2009 at 10:44 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

?? wrote: "Why is there an assumption that every year the aggregate payroll will increase by 1.5 million?"

Because the District told us so. They've been publishing this information right from the beginning.

Web Link

"Why does it cost the District more to operate each year?
Historically and contractually, teachers move along a salary schedule based on years of experience and units of continuing education. Credit for years of experience (up to 20) allows an employee to "move down" the schedule (step). Every 15 units of continuing education (up to 75) allow an employee to move across the schedule (column). The increase in salary from one step or column to the next varies from 0% to about 3%. The current salary schedule goes from $60,371 (Step 1, Column 1) to $98,045 (Step 20, Column 5). For classified and management employees, there is a salary schedule that provides a 2% increase for years of experience up to 6 years. The Superintendent is not on a salary schedule. His salary is determined by a contract with the Board. The year-to-year increased cost due to this movement on the salary schedule is about $1.5 million. The District must budget an additional $500,000 annually to cover increases in cost for utilities, insurance, supplies and equipment, and other contracted services. Consequently, if there is no additional money provided by the state, the District must make $2 million in reductions from current levels to provide a balanced budget for the following year."


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on May 14, 2009 at 10:49 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

?? also wrote: "I would think that every year teachers at the top steps & columns will retire"

Yes that happens, but it also happens that these teachers are replaced. Others take up the position at the top of the pay scale. I agree that there is probably some fluctuation in the $1.5MM amount, but the District has been saying that this is the number they go with based upon their experience. They're using this number too when they calculate the shortfall as $9.7MM.


Posted by Ptown resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 15, 2009 at 7:05 am

Mary,
You have pointed out a big concern about the parcel tax ballot language - it's vague. CSR is something the community has said it wants, but Measure G only states that PUSD will use the funds to keep class sizes small.
So if other school districts increase kindergarten classes to 35 students in a class, but PUSD has only 30, than compared to others PUSD will be keeping classes small.
But that's not what parents are expecting from Measure G. They are expecting that keeping class sizes small means keeping the pupil-teacher ratio as it is today.
PUSD could have written the ballot language to state that CSR levels would remain as they are today, or even provided specific figures on student-teacher ratios in K-3 and 9th grade.
PUSD did not do this because they wanted flexibility in the ballot language.
Any parent of children grades K-3 who believes Measure G will guarantee CSR should read the ballot language carefully.
MEASURE G DOES NOT GUARANTEE CSR.


Posted by behind the scenes teacher, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 15, 2009 at 7:14 am

Here's the behind-the-scenes of that happened with the union & teachers:

A negotiating committee had been meeting with each other for several weeks to decide what kind of concession could or should be made. During this time, all communication on the PUSD e-mail server, which is the main way teachers communicate with each other (on big campuses, at least), was highly discouraged. When teachers tried to start discussions, they were first told by a union person that there were "labor laws" involved and that said we couldn't discuss union issues on PUSD's e-mail. A teacher called her out on that and the truth came out that it was really about negotiating leverage. One teacher asked if a Yahoo Group or something like that could be opened up so that meaningful dialogue could be had OFF the PUSD server. That idea was squashed b/c there would be no way to limit it to teachers and not have it open to the whole community. Basically, all open dialogue was shut down.

So, we teachers waited with great anticipation to see what the union negotiating committee would come up with. Many of us wondered why a poll wasn't taken to see where peoples' heads were at, but we hoped for the best.

When the negotiating team did come up with a possible concession, we were told on a Friday that it would be unveiled at a meeting the following Tuesday and then we'd be required to vote on it right after the meeting. Many teachers were angered by this set-up and a big controversy ensued about the lack of time given to think about it before having to vote... so they moved the vote back to Friday.

In the time between Tuesday and Friday, I heard a lot of different perspectives. In truth, the teacher bashing that had gone on on this website at that time had driven some teachers to feeling obstinate (i.e. why should I take a pay cut to subsidize services for the children of a community I don't live in when that community doesn't even value what we do?). Others thought it was a reasonable concession because it matched the amount of the parcel tax and allowed us to be part of the solution. Others thought that we should give more, but realized that a "no" vote on the 2-day concession would send the message that we weren't willing to make ANY concession and not the message that we thought the concession was not big enough. I think overall, most of the teachers I talked to felt like they had to say "yes" to what the union presented or the community was going to perceive us as greedy and make us the scapegoats in this whole issue. So, the teachers passed the proposal we were presented with. Would many have considered a freeze in step and column? Of course! It was never an option for us, though.

So here we sit. I, personally, will be losing several hundred dollars next year if the parcel tax passes because of the furlough days and the cost of the tax (I'm not up for a step or column raise) at a time when my husband's job security and income are greatly diminished. I voted yes on the furlough days and I'll vote yes on G, though, because I see the bigger picture in helping the community. I just wish the sacrifice was valued by the community that benefits from it!


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on May 15, 2009 at 7:38 am

Stacey is a registered user.

behind the scenes wrote: "One teacher asked if a Yahoo Group or something like that could be opened up so that meaningful dialogue could be had OFF the PUSD server. That idea was squashed b/c there would be no way to limit it to teachers and not have it open to the whole community."

Do you know that this is not true? Yahoo Groups gives the ability to restrict membership and make messages private so that only members can see it.

I think some in the community do value the two day furlough. Others do not. I think that there's frustration by everyone because our leaders seem to try to be operating as if business is usual.


Posted by Mary, a resident of Country Fair
on May 15, 2009 at 8:10 am

I am not sure behinds the scene teacher is being completely forthright in here dialogue here as I am part of a union and the bargaining committee has an obligation under federal of full disclosure to its members including answering questions regarding what conversations to place related to freezing step and column. Let's keep in mind that they union representatives or bargaining committee are voted in by the teachers. Sometimes you get what you vote for and if the teachers are getting a bad knock or perception in the community it is not because of them but rather the union officials they voted into positions of power.


Posted by John Adams, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on May 15, 2009 at 8:11 am

Behind the scenes: first, remember that the furlough days are contingent on the passage of Measure D (and that's what makes it sound greedy). If it doesn't pass you won't lose several hundred dollars, either in taxes OR furlough days.

What is needed is real reform. If the district keeps giving unsustainable raises, the problem will only get worse. Really, is it right for senior teachers to get raises while newer ones are laid off?

I'll never understand why teachers go along with the union policy of supporting their poorest performers at the expense of the best. Teachers like you are our most valuable. Remember the union contract is up for negotiation next year. Speak up as a group and don't let the union make you victims.


Posted by behind the scenes teacher, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 15, 2009 at 8:38 am

@ Mary
"I am not sure behinds the scene teacher is being completely forthright in here dialogue here as I am part of a union and the bargaining committee has an obligation under federal of full disclosure to its members including answering questions regarding what conversations to place related to freezing step and column."

Mary, I am being forthright. Nothing I said there is intentionally misconstrued. To your point, I guess if each individual union member took it upon him or herself to contact a member of the negotiating team, then that member would've answered the specific questions.

My point is that the union never reached out to its membership to ask what they wanted. It was a "top-down" decision, not one that was reached by taking a poll or reaching out to the membership.

Am I wrong about that? Maybe I missed a memo?


Posted by Need Clarity, a resident of Del Prado
on May 15, 2009 at 8:41 am

Can someone explain the give back of the two furlough days? And please explain if substitute teachers typically cover for regular teachers when they take furlough days off.

Mary, please run a grammer check before you post. Tip: write a pre-post as a Word Doc, then post. ;)


Posted by Need Clarity, a resident of Del Prado
on May 15, 2009 at 8:44 am

grammar grammar grammar grammar grammar grammar grammar grammar!


Posted by behind the scenes teacher, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 15, 2009 at 8:45 am

@ John Adams

I'll never understand why teachers go along with the union policy of supporting their poorest performers at the expense of the best.

I think the biggest thing going for the union is that it protects teachers from crazy parents and administrators. That is the one service the union if valued for, and it's the biggest reason teachers hold onto tenure.

As a sidenote, I see a lot of comments made here that reflect an underlying belief that senior teachers are the poorest performers while new teachers are the best. I think younger teachers are in a better position to make connections with kids outside of the classroom by coaching, etc, because they don't have their own family obligations; However, in the classroom itself I would argue that senior teachers are the better lot overall. They've had the time and experience to refine the craft of teaching. Of course there are exceptional new teachers and there are bad old teachers, but there seems to be a general bias in these comments that is based on a misconception.


Posted by Sue, a resident of Bridle Creek
on May 15, 2009 at 8:45 am

Thank you "behind the scenes" for your report of discussions. That is much how I imagined it might have been. But it is still interesting to hear directly how union leaders tried to squelch any real talk before the vote. Thus my criticism of unions.

Many of us do realize that it can be difficult for anyone who disagrees with the union 'line.' And while I would never want to paint teachers as the "scapegoat" as you wrote, I find the approximately 1% concession to be not much more than a token when compared to the 10% or more that everyone else I talk to is experiencing. I don't believe any group should believe they are exempt from this depression.
Don't read anything into that though because I am not suggesting that large of a cut for teachers now. It may come to that if the state continues in this economic slide, but who knows at this time. PUSD needs to use the federal money to try and preserve as many teachers as possible this next year and they when those union contracts are open next year, everything including step and column needs to be out there for discussion.


Posted by behind the scenes teacher, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 15, 2009 at 8:51 am

@ Need Clarity

"Can someone explain the give back of the two furlough days? And please explain if substitute teachers typically cover for regular teachers when they take furlough days off."

Hi Need Clarity,
Whoever posted that comment about substitute teachers didn't know what they were talking about. The 2 furlough days are teacher training days that normally take place the two days before school starts for the kids. No substitutes would be needed, as classes are not in session. Basically, the district will not have to pay for training sessions on these days, and teachers will get paid for 2 less days of work. Instructional time will not be impacted, which is why teachers thought it would be a desirable concession to the community.


Posted by Pleasanton Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 15, 2009 at 8:51 am

John Adams said:
I'll never understand why teachers go along with the union policy of supporting their poorest performers at the expense of the best. Teachers like you are our most valuable. Remember the union contract is up for negotiation next year. Speak up as a group and don't let the union make you victims.

John Adams, you are so right! It's well past time for the unions to institute merit pay so the best and brightest, no matter how long they have been teachers, are paid more and their performance determines their job security.

@behind the scenes - it's very unfair that PUSD and the union would make an agreement that all teachers would give up two paid work days without making a provision that teachers who live in Pleasanton should be exempted from the parcel tax. Those teachers are being asked to take a double hit.

It doesn't sound as if the Union leaders were interested in exploring any other options beyond the one they and PUSD already determined was the one they had chosen.

I think most parents would say they would rather see wages frozen for a year instead of cuts in teacher pay or layoffs.
Would that have been an option you would have preferred?


Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on May 15, 2009 at 8:52 am

Need Clarity,

(Comment deemed inappropriate by Pleasanton Weekly Online staff) ha ha ha ha he he he...........................must be a teacher


Posted by behind the scenes teacher, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 15, 2009 at 4:35 pm

"I think most parents would say they would rather see wages frozen for a year instead of cuts in teacher pay or layoffs.

Would that have been an option you would have preferred?"

I don't have all the data to know what kind of impact this would have, but I would've liked to have entertained the idea of having just step freezes. I would be very hesitant to agree to a column freeze for this reason: teachers are not rich and post graduate education is very expensive. When we decide to get our Master's Degrees, we take out loans and count on the column raise to pay back those loans. I would hate to pull the rug out from under my colleagues by agreeing to column freezes for that reason. Now, step raises are a little different because, in this situation, teachers don't have to pay money to make more money. Therefore, it's less economically harmful to freeze steps than columns. Hope this makes sense.
Again, I don't know if it's something that is even feasible, but it's something that could've been explored if there had been more dialogue.


Posted by Anne, a resident of Golden Eagle
on May 16, 2009 at 8:53 pm

"John Adams, you are so right! It's well past time for the unions to institute merit pay so the best and brightest, no matter how long they have been teachers, are paid more and their performance determines their job security."


I don't know how people can on the one hand argue that merit pay is needed, but then argue against column raises for getting a Master's Degree. The are the same concept (unless you think continuing education for teachers has no merit). Weird logic...


Posted by Privatization, a resident of another community
on May 16, 2009 at 9:49 pm

John Adams,

We really need to think outside the box on this one. Our substandard school system gets worse every year and every year the taxpayers pay more for less.

Web Link

"the fact of deterioration of elementary and secondary schools is not disputable."

"high dropout rates, increasing violence, lower performance and demoralized students ..."

Teachers who do everything to get more and more pay and do everything except teach our kids to read and write.

What we need is privatization. Vouchers are the way to get ourselves there. Ask yourself this, how many people would keep their children in these schools if they could get a voucher to get them into a private school? Not very many.

"Second, the political revolution discredited the idea of central planning. It led everywhere to greater confidence in market mechanisms as opposed to central control by government. And that in turn fostered international trade and international cooperation. "


Posted by resident, a resident of Castlewood
on May 17, 2009 at 9:31 pm

"Teachers who do everything to get more and more pay and do everything except teach our kids to read and write."

Come on, really? I think this is a ridiculous statement... and I'm not a teacher.


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