Town Square

Post a New Topic

A parcel tax is a thinly veiled excuse to have access to a pot of discretionary funds.

Original post made by Mike on Feb 13, 2008

The superintendent is using scare tactics saying they will cut teachers and programs. He has threatened that our children will suffer from the cuts.
Every few years there is a new budget crisis. There is alway a panic and campaign to make the taxpayers feel the pain for it. We don't know what the true amount will be yet, historically the cuts have been much less than first threatened.
PUSD wants taxpayers to give them more money in the form of a parcel tax to cover the cuts. The district has been working on a strategy to get a parcel tax passed for more than two years. They are now exploiting this latest " budget crisis" as their latest excuse.
The purpose of reserves is to get us through lean years but the district should be looking at belt tightening and all ways that do not touch our kids first. The roll back of administrative salaries should be the first cuts. The unions should share the burden with pay freezes to preserve jobs.
A parcel tax is a thinly veiled excuse to have access to a new pot of discretionary funds. Unlike a bond where the funds must be used for capital, a parcel tax is used for salary. Program is code for salary to support program.
It would be like paying a parcel tax to pay those administrative salary increases.
It is foolish to talk about a parcel tax for a short term budget tightening.

Comments (82)

Posted by paula, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 13, 2008 at 7:18 pm

I do agree with Mike. However I do believe that the district has already dipped into the reserves for these past years, and any money used must be returned in a certain amount of time. having said that the administration has received their salary increase before Superintendent Casey made the announcement.


Posted by Sue, a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Feb 13, 2008 at 7:36 pm

The timing of the superintendents raise was just before the budget announcement. They knew the budget announcement was coming.
Does anyone remember the amount of the raise and the administrators salaries?

I don't remember what they used the reserves for but I do remember it was at the same meeting as the superintendents raise. Was there a connection?

I will not support a parcel tax!


Posted by Agatha, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 13, 2008 at 10:15 pm

You know, in other states like New York, where I'm from, the money for public schools doesn't fluctuate year to year. There is never a 'crisis'. There are no 'bonds'. You never hear about budget cuts for public schools. The way California funds public schools is not intelligent. This is weird, and weirder still because it doesn't have to be this way. Look at how other states fund schools. Look and learn. This is dumb.


Posted by John, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Feb 14, 2008 at 10:19 am

I keep hearing the district administrators saying that other cities have a parcel tax and so should we. What I found interesting is San Ramon receives $5,742.86 per average daily attendance from the state while Pleasanton receives $6,367.70 per average daily attendance. That means that Pleasanton is already receiving an extra $624.84 per student than San Ramon. With our attendance at 14,297, Pleasanton is receiving $8,833,337.48 more from the state than San Ramon would for the number of students we have. We should compare our expenses against San Ramon's and find out why our expenses are so much more than theirs. Their test scores are about the same as ours. They should be embarrassed to be asking for a parcel tax when their spending is already significantly highter than San Ramon.

One of the school board members was right in saying that a parcel tax would not solve the problem of the state cutting funds. If we did pass a parcel tax, we would be spending all the money. If the state gave us more money, you know that the district would find something to spend the tax on (more raises possibly?). Then when the state later has a downturn, the district administrators will be coming back to you saying that we need another parcel tax!

I was also annoyed when a school board member said that cutting the budget would be the easiest thing to do right now. Then he said we would fix the deficit by demanding for more taxes. I have already heard from some school employees that they are not going to seriously look at ways to reduce spending since they they were essentially told by the school board that "cuts are not an option; we will raise taxes."


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 14, 2008 at 2:27 pm

Isn't it true that other states fund education through high, annual-market-based property taxes and distribute based upon the tax base? Then schools end up with funds based upon the wealth of the community rather than attendance and you end up with poorly funded schools in some places AND high property tax (which isn't fair to people with no children). California's system attempts to spread the wealth evenly rather than telling poor communities and their children to take a hike. I agree with the poster, I'm against any parcel taxes. Throwing money at a problem doesn't make it go away.


Posted by Nicole, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 14, 2008 at 7:17 pm

California limited its tax base when prop 13 was passed. Before prop 13 our school day was longer, science was taught in both 7th and 8th grade and students had a period of English literature(reading) and a period of writing in junior high. High Schools fully funded their elective programs as well as the academics and parents weren't coming up with thousand of dollars per child to pay "their fair share". Vocational ed was taught in each high school. It sounds like a lot of money when you report the gross amounts districts receive but its not. Pleasanton has done a great job of keeping up, most districts have not. In most of the state there are aging buildings with no categorical funds to address the issue. The cost of doing business is escalating. Books have almost doubled from the last time they were adopted and they don't last the 7-9 years that they are used. There's more but you get the idea.

What do people point to when they talk about where the money is spent? Of course salaries! Teachers and administrators spend 5-8 years in college to become credentialed and then must continue their education. New teachers can't live in the communities in which they teach. We are about to hit a teacher shortage like we have never seen before. Most people don't realize that teachers in Pleasanton pay for benefits out of their salary. The amount added to the salary years ago to accommodate benefits amounts to about half of what healthcare cost now. If you add up the per cent raise received you would see that the salaries have not kept up. The raises have been eaten up by the increase in health care. Why is this important? Because teachers pick up the slack when any cuts are made. They are the ones who deliver the product. The state assembly's education committee agreed with the Governor today. Education is going to suffer from severe cuts this year. The job of the school district is to keep them as far away from the classroom as possible.

Does this mean we need a parcel tax? We need some way to pay for the quality education we have enjoyed for our children in Pleasanton. It is far preferable to realize as a state that you can't cut taxes and continue to pay for services. A state solution would be much better. I might turn blue before that happens. Our quality of life is connected to the educational level.

It may have been politically correct for the Superintendent to go without a raise. The amount of money received would not have changed the situation. Dr. Casey is running one of the best school districts in the state. Operating the schools should not be on the back of the school administration or the teachers. The cost of educating our children should be shouldered by all of us.

(And I no longer have children in any school and I think the cost is worth it!)


Posted by Amy, a resident of Birdland
on Feb 14, 2008 at 8:19 pm

It IS fair to people with no children because EVERYONE pays when children are not educated, or poorly educated. It matters to every person in this country that all children receive education, whether they have children or not.


Posted by Bumpers, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 15, 2008 at 7:59 am

Talk to 4 time school board president, 17 year school board member Joan Buchanan how the San Ramon Valley School District does it better than PUSD. The best thing the PUSD administrators have done, having put two children through Pleasanton Schools, is continue to pat themselves on the back and say how great PUSD is; and it is a snow job. While good it doesn't improve and become insular from budget crisis. No forward thinking, very little evolvement, teach only to state test scoring purposes, etc. 20 years ago San Ramon School District was a mess---in my opinion today they have become a model school district in our area, doing it on less money, producing a model that PUSD's highly paid and unimaginative administrators seem to ignore. I feel for the three high school principals and Teachers at AVHS, FHS and Village; and those at the middle schools too, as it is a war zone for them some days, with little supoort from parents or "Administrators". Have you ever looked at how many we have and what they make for what they do? As for the Superintendant, he will continue to get along fine on his $200-$250,000 plus salary, not including benefits without a raise. If it is true that administrators have gotten their raises before this "latest financial crisis," and I don't know this to be true, then those monies should be frozen. AND then that only speaks volumes about his character and ethics and he should be sent packing.....one last thing-we as parents, tax payers and voters are responsible for this mess. We elected these people who hired these administrators and we "farm" out our kids to the schools to do our parenting and teach our kids because we are too busy making the big bucks and looking regal. Drugs are rampant because of lots of money. Such as it is; now let the attacks on me from supporters of school district administrators and of the school district in general BEGIN! God Blees America and our Troops!!!


Posted by Gene, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 15, 2008 at 8:23 am

Actually, we haven't elected most of the School Board. They were appointed. We can't seem to get people to run for school board. . .Maybe this is an opportunity for someone to run.


Posted by Karen, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 15, 2008 at 9:08 am

Yes, the administrators received a raise just before the budget problems. San Ramon has not given their administrators a raise yet and they rightfully put them on hold when they learned of the budget problems.

Nicole, did you know that teachers in Pleasanton have a starting salary of $60,000 per year and go up to just a bit below $100,000 per year and they get summers and a lot of vacation time. While I do not feel teachers are overpaid, people who say that teachers cannot afford to live in our community do not know how much our teacher do make. Also, after the last raise given out this year, every single administrator in our district makes over $100,000 per year with top management each making over $160,000 per year. The raises just given out to administration a few months ago would pay for the complete salaries of 4-6 teachers. Does not seem right that they keep this rise while they lay-off teachers.

And only in government can employees not get "raises" but they make more money each year. Even if a teacher or administrator does not get a "raise", they still get what is called a step salary increase for experience and/or if they get further education for themselves. As part of the union contracts these employees automatically get raises each year for experience, even if the district does not give out cost of living increases. If the district gives out cost of living increases, the employees get cost of living increases (last year was over 4%) and in addition they receive a higher salary because they worked another year in the district (experience). Maybe if the unions would agree to suspend the step increases for a single year we would not have to do any layoffs. Somebody told me that the "step" increases for this year will cost the district $1,500,000 (I have not been able to verify this so maybe somebody from the district could confirm this number or give us the correct number). If we assume a new teacher makes $60,000 per year, and it will be the new teachers that would be laid off because of seniority, suspending this step increase for one year would save the jobs of 25 teachers!

My husband has had to go years with out a pay increase when times were tough at his job. And when they did not have pay increases, they really did not have pay increases. None of this automatic salary adjustments for working another year at the company.

Personally I am glad our teachers in Pleasanton are paid well but I do not give in to the sad stories that they cannot afford to live in our communities.


Posted by Karen, a resident of Avila
on Feb 15, 2008 at 11:41 am

I don't believe a person making 60,000 a year could afford a house in Pleasanton.


Posted by Janna, a resident of Mission Park
on Feb 15, 2008 at 12:22 pm

Karen (Avila neighborhood)-

You are absolutely right, they could not. Even those making something over six figures can't either. The median salary in Pleasanton is about $103-107k and it's not enough to buy a house here, much less afford property taxes, insurance, etc. I think the other Karen above is clueless and probably owns a house already. Actually, I'd really like to know how someone making $60k/year lives and saves 20% for a down-payment on a house here without living on cat food. In fact I'd really like Karen above to break it down for us, exactly how all that is afforded in Pleasanton on $60k. I'll be waiting for that I'm sure, for an eternity.


Posted by Karen, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 15, 2008 at 1:15 pm

Perhaps I wrote that a bit quickly so let me clarify. First, $60,000 is not a bad salary for somebody coming right out of college (teacher, engineer, etc.). I don't think we expect that somebody who just starts a profession can immediately purchase a home. Somebody on $60,000 can rent however. As they work for more years and most likely have a spouse (as I don't know how anybody in California can purchase a house on a single income; that is not a Pleasanton issue), they are making enough money to purchase a house (or at least they are making as much as others looking to purchase a house and find some way to make it work). I know when I graduated from college I did not start a new job and immediately purchase a house. I had to work for many years and along with my husband we could afford a house here. Nobody is saying it is easy.

But this is a bit off track on the topic of conversation. I have talked with many people who think that our teachers make $40,000 and it did not go much higher. The teachers in Pleasanton do make a "decent" salary and get quite a few days off of work. Nothing to brag about. Should they make more? Probably but do you want that based on performance or just on longevity (oops, a whole other topic)? The administrators make pretty good salaries.


Posted by anonymous, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 15, 2008 at 2:27 pm

I think it is important to let everyone know that those salary numbers are before insurance. Pleasanton pays higher salaries, but teachers are responsible to fund their own insurance.


Posted by Megan, a resident of Canyon Oaks
on Feb 15, 2008 at 2:38 pm

I believe starting pay for teachers in Pleasanton is 54,000 and the limit is 94,000. Administrators make more. That's odd that they have to pay for their own insurance. I thought they had a strong union. What's up with that?


Posted by Nicole, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 15, 2008 at 4:39 pm

The step and column raises you speak about have something to do with longevity but it also has to do with increase in education. There comes a point when you no longer get longevity raises without increasing your college units beyond the credential requirement. This increase in education is paid for out of the teachers' salary. Any body who teaches will tell you that they spend many of their off hours grading and preparing, which is part of the job. Teachers do not get paid vacations. The salary is based on the number of days worked. Much of the off time is spent on keeping up with continuing education paid for out of pocket. I don't think the argument, my spouse has not had a raise therefore teachers don't deserve them works.

My additional point is that one of the things that helps student connect with teachers and school is to see their teachers at their soccer game or drama production. This is impossible if they teacher does not live in the community in which he or she teaches. Teachers are part of the fabric of our community and should be able to work hard, save and eventually buy a home near where they teach.

Yes teachers buy their benefits. I think this was negotiated (wrongly in my opinion) when some thought teachers primarily were women who had spouses with insurance, therefore could fold the benefit amount into their salary. To be fair, State teachers Retirement system is based on the teacher's highest earned year. The trade off was supposed to result in hire pensions during retirement. I don't think anyone thought the cost of health care would escalate the way it has.


Posted by Amelia, a resident of Beratlis Place
on Feb 15, 2008 at 5:09 pm

I hope there are plans to renegotiate. Health care is incredibly expensive.
All that time off may sound cushy, but trust me, the vacation days become the only way you can survive the job. I don't teach now, but I did 20 years ago, and I'll never forget the exhaustion. I felt like the old woman in the shoe with hundreds of kids. I basically got in bed on my days off and breathed. Without the vacation days, I would have quit before I did.


Posted by frank, a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Feb 15, 2008 at 7:51 pm

Back to the topic of parcel taxes.

They are an attempt to work around Prop 13, which returned fairness to property taxation. An earlier poster praised the taxation mechanism of other states and said we should learn from them.

Here's the news for that poster. California did learn from them because pre- Prop 13, it had the same, devastating, unfair system of taxation. I know because I had this unfair system when I lived in Ohio, and moved to CA soon after Prop 13. Finally, a more fair system! (And New York and other NE states. Ridiculous! I know people there.)

So, market value of homes have risen historically at a rate that far outpaced inflation and people's incomes. Based upon the fact the local, comparable homes rise in value, which in turn is based upon the decisions of buyers over whom you as a homeowner have no control, your property taxes rise abnormally and provide government with a windfall. What in the world did government do for you in the mean time that deserves this windfall? If homes rose 30 percent over 3 years for example, did government deliver you 30 percent more in services? Did their costs for the same services reasonably rise 30 percent in that time? Should folks be priced out of their homes because they are on fixed incomes because the market around them decided that their home rose in price by 30 percent? Of course not!

Prop 13 simply re-defined property tax increases to be more proportionate to actual growth of wealth in the general economy. It made property taxation MORE FAIR!

The parcel tax comes about because bureaucrats can't rely any longer upon a system of unfair rules to create windfalls for them. So they have to convince the voters to self impose additional taxes. Therein lies the basis for the subject of this thread.


Posted by Tim, a resident of Birdland
on Feb 16, 2008 at 9:40 am

Better schools benefit all property owners, even those without children, as they have a postive impact on property values. I'm all for a parcel tax if it will make the schools better. However, I would also like to see government behave more like the private sector relative to fiscal responsibility. A private company would outsource support postions like payroll, facilities maintenance, foodservice, etc. Costs would decline, service would improve and the school district could be focused solely on education.


Posted by Beth, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 16, 2008 at 9:55 am

Everyone should email the board of trustees. The superintendent has already announced his budget reductions, and it includes staff like reading specialists. There is no mention of top administrative cuts. Unnecessary positions will be spared, yet teachers will be laid off, hurting our children. I cannot possibly imagine a kindergarten class with one teacher and 33 students, it will be pure chaos.

I cannot believe that PUSD parents put up with this, and calmly accept this non-sense budget cuts, and do not question how it is that PUSD can afford to: increase the budget shortfall by more than a million to acommodate salary increases, continue to have a Public Information Department while laying off reading specialists....the list goes on.

PUSD must trim administration and all unnecessary expenses first, then release the TRUE budget shortfall (which should NOT include the more than a million needed for pay raises). This is truly unbelievable.

I will not support a parcel tax until I see PUSD making some fiscally responsible decisions.


Posted by Mary, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Feb 16, 2008 at 3:37 pm

In the Nov. 1 issue of The Independent, the lead story on page 1 was about PUSD administrators' pay raises with the headline "Dip Into Reserves Will Cover Raises." Link to article is

Web Link

The PW did not seem to cover this discussion---interesting to note. The first paragraph read as follows:

"The Pleasanton school board has approved raises of 4 percent
for the current school year to administrators at the school site and
district headquarters levels at a cost to the district of $407,000."

And that is for the current year. I agree with previous posters that before looking at other cuts OR a parcel tax, those raises should be frozen!

That makes more sense to me that the proposal to eliminate 3 middle school VPs for a savings of $379,000. Or reducing half of the elementary reading specialists to save $440,000. Those are items on the district potential reductions list from the board packet the meeting of the 12th. Web Link


Posted by jim, a resident of Country Fair
on Feb 16, 2008 at 3:42 pm

Just as important, if not more important, is for parent to attend the budget committee meetings. There are a few parents on this and this meeting is open to the public. The problem with the committee is that it is run by the administrators so they will not be suggesting cuts to themselves. This committee has mostly district staff and a few parents. It is upside down. It really should be mostly parents/taxpayers (i.e., the customers). You should contact the district and find out when the budget committee meetings are and you need to attend, along with anybody else you can find. I imagine that the budget committee will make recommendations to the board of trustees and the board will accept something close, or the same, as what the committee comes up with. Their reasoning will be is the budget committee had more time to get into the details of the budget so we should go with their recommendations.

It is easy for people to come in and say what should not be cut. People need to show up with things that can be cut. The administrators will not suggest cuts to themselves and you will probably find non-management staff that is on the committee (which is probably mostly tenured employees) to support the administrators since the administrators are the ones that work on the union contracts. Self-interest to not bite the hand that feeds you. Better off having them go after a fellow employee that has less tenure than you.


Posted by frank, a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Feb 16, 2008 at 7:02 pm

So, reading this thread results in no real information based upon actual budget numbers and analysis of where money is currently spent.

I did a quick look at the PUSD web site and failed to find a current year budget. This MUST be public info, but they appear to have hidden it. Does anyone have a link to where it can be found?

Save me time, please, if you do......


Posted by frank, a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Feb 16, 2008 at 7:28 pm

Found 2007 budget at

Web Link

A quick look shows the budget was $147MM, $85MM in salaries and $15 MM in benefits (the benefits ratio to salaries appears to far exceed that which is paid in the private sector ((about 10 percent or less)), another earmark of government paying themselves excessive benefits). So, why in this thread are posters agonizing over $407K for raises for administrators? Maybe that's why you need some administrators who keep an eye on where the real money is spent. I would be worried about the $147MM, not the peanut money that is associated with the administrators' raises.


Posted by Beth, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 17, 2008 at 5:42 am

Frank: Mentioning the raises was only an example of poor choices made by the administration. Parents received information from schools detailing the cuts planned by the superintendent. In there, it is easy to see that low paid personnel that works directly with children (reading specialists, teachers) are on the table for getting laid off. But the administrators have not proposed cuts to highly paid and/or unnecessary positions.

The 407K which you say is peanuts would pay for all the reading specialists in the proposed cuts, for instance, and there would be money left after that.


Posted by Beth, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 17, 2008 at 5:52 am

Frank: the administration is responsible for the current budget, so if you are worried about what you see there (ratio of benefits to salary, the 147 MM), how does it help to have the same people who came up with that budget, oversee it?

I would be OK to hire an independent professional to come in and really look at the books, and come up with a sensible budget that starts cutting from the top, to unnecessary positions, keeping the cuts away from the classroom. The budget you posted a link for does not break down the salaries for the administrators, so it is not possible to see how much the district spends on salaires/benefits for say the PIO, Directors, etc vs. teachers and other certificated employees that work directly with the children.


Posted by Beth, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 17, 2008 at 6:00 am

For a list of proposed cuts, go to:
Web Link

Look at the February 12, 2008 "Board Packet File"


Posted by Mike, a resident of Birdland
on Feb 17, 2008 at 10:04 am

The district is choosing emotional cuts to exploit the opportunity to get parent support for a parcel tax. We would then be paying the parcel tax long after the state cuts have passed
.
The district proudly tells us how much more we got from our local bond measure. This was due to the state bond money matching 50% (we pay those taxes also), not clever money managing. Some of us remember being told if they did not need all of the bond money for the stated projects our taxes would be reduced. That did not happen and they are asking for more?

They have far more to work with than most districts.
Discretionary funds means little accountability a parcel tax is a blank check.



Posted by Beth, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 17, 2008 at 10:41 am

You are correct about this parcel tax, Mike.

The sad situation is that many parents will actually support the district on this one. I recently heard of a PTA letter-writing effort to the California legislature. But I have not heard of a PTA effort to address the district and suggest that they make fiscally responsible choices.

My guess is that either the cuts will be implemented and hurt our kids and schools, or a parcel tax will be passed.

I sadly see parents just ignoring the obvious: the district is not making fiscally responsible choices. They are cutting positions that will directly affect our children, while leaving alone highly paid, unnecessary positions and giving themselves raises (and with these raises, adding to the budget shortfall by more than a million)

I will oppose a parcel tax, and if the district goes through with their plans and lays off teachers, etc, while keeping positions that are unnecessary and while refusing to "take back" those raises, I will also withhold my donations until I see some intelligent decisions being made.



Posted by Gene, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 17, 2008 at 11:39 am

What evidence is there they are making fiscally irresponsible choices? Shouldn't it be educational professionals who make these decisions? Certainly there should be input, however some monies are categorical and can only be spent for certain things. How do you know a position is unnecessary? The oversight committee is the school board. It is an elected body, oh whoops, most of our current school board was initially appointed. Why? Few want to run for this job.It is a thankless job. Everybody has been to school so everyone thinks they know how they should be run. Schools typically run on such a slight edge that the gate keeping for how money is spent is regulated very closely. It sounds like there is a huge pot of money hanging around. Even when the state is in good shape the margin is small.

The money should be put into salaries. Anyone who has ever walked into a classroom knows that how the information is deliverable is dependent on a good teacher. Look at the historical background in regards to teacher raises. When people are making loads of money, the raises teachers get is typically close to cost of living, when times are bad they get little or nothing. Teachers do not get bonus' when things are great but they take the hit when things are bad.

This district has done amazing things to keep the level of education up. There are no bad schools in Pleasanton. The reflects positively on our community. The money you put into a parcel tax increases the value of your home and benefits the children of this community. Add up how much you pay for cable each month and then look at the tax. Look at how much your sewer fees are and then look at the tax. It's a bargain.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 17, 2008 at 12:11 pm

Two posters here have equated money gathered from a parcel tax with benefiting the value of your home because the quality of the schools raise the value. I believe this thinking is based upon a faulty assumption that throwing money at a school means that it will be high quality. Good schools (or anything really) come from good design and creativity, not from large sums of money. Keeping a tight budget helps control bureaucratic waste that can be especially prevalent in the public sector. I've seen poor design in the private sector kept "afloat", if you will, by spending large sums of money, but in the end the problem of the poor design still exists and ends up sucking in more money. Let's encourage creativity and not give in to a parcel tax.


Posted by Mary, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Feb 17, 2008 at 12:34 pm

Beth, in all fairness, the list of proposed cuts does include the reduction of district administrators by 3 positions at a savings of $403,200. But, believe me, I am not disagreeing with you!
The district proposals have parents alarmed with the idea that Class Size Reduction might be in jeopardy, AVID tutors will be eliminated, elementary counselors will be cut in half, etc. These "scary" proposals have parents already thinking that a $150 parcel tax is a reasonable, if not cheap, answer.
And to Jim--I agree that parents should take an active role in communicating to the district rather than just commiserating with friends. But going to the budget committee may not accomplish much for the reason you pointed out. The committee is heavily stacked with administrators who may listen to input but then go with their own recommendations to the board. The best way to be truly heard, is to speak directly to the board when your comments will be captured on camera so that there is a record.


Posted by Mary, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Feb 17, 2008 at 3:52 pm

Still talking about school taxes......Has anyone looked at the detail on your property tax bill??? We have been paying significantly for the past 10 years or so on that school bond that was mentioned by a previous poster. The rate is .0756 which amounts to HUNDREDS of dollars on our bill!! Some people with older values pay less but if you are in a newer purchase, WOW. We are talking big dollars per parcel!
It is my opinion that the district has been looking for a reason for years to go after a parcel tax. They will try to sell it this time as a solution for an immediate problem but that once in place they will justify keeping those additional tax dollars.


Posted by perplexed, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 17, 2008 at 4:53 pm

$150 a YEAR FOR SCHOOLS? Anyone ask themselves how much you are paying for your child's cell phone or IPOD???? How about the shoes or the jeans? Yes this district gets more money than some but look at the schools. Our kids learn in some of the best facilities, taught by the best teachers in the state.

It is a matter of priorities... I think Kids are a priority.


Posted by Sam, a resident of Castlewood
on Feb 17, 2008 at 5:03 pm


Gene,
You are right, all but one board member has been appointed. You are wrong to suggest there are not people eager to serve. By making appointments the district controls who has the incumbent advantage, making it very difficult for a new comer to win. There have always been a large number of candidates when there is an open seat. There have also been a large number of applicants for the appointments but they are then discouraged after the process.

What I don't understand is why one of the board members that sold his home in Pleasanton and moved to another community years ago is still on our school board.


Posted by Tim, a resident of Birdland
on Feb 17, 2008 at 5:11 pm

Stacey,

I agree with all of the posts, including yours, that essentialy say the district is currently wasting money and needs to make some good choices prior to implementing a parcel tax. However, it is a fact that there is a strong statistical correlation between the quality of schools and property values. There is also a correlation, between the money spent per pupil and the quality of education. This is not a faulty assumption, though some places obviously spend their money more effciently than others.

Also, it does in fact take money to create a good school district and/or a superior private sector company (this has been proven time and again by companies like Hewitt, McKinnsey, etc.). As I previously said, I think some easy choices are there for PUSD to save some money through outsourcing of support postions. However, it's also a reality that the state is going to cut funding. If a parcel tax can maintain or improve PUSD then it would be money well spent for the city of Pleasanton.


Posted by been there, a resident of Country Fair
on Feb 17, 2008 at 7:40 pm

My husband and I raised our three daughters here, and it has never been, nor will it ever be perfect. However, I had to scrap and argue on their behalf for a quality education for every year they were within the PUSD system. And, I felt I had to work in every daughter's classroom - nice that I could work from home - not a luxury every parent has. It wasn't easy. Even back then, we had little controversy - with the exception of the very progressive strike in 1986 - and since then, I've seen nary a real interest on behalf of mothers and fathers in defense of their kids! I can't believe that you moms and dads are not in line at every PUSD board meeting making demands upon your Trustees and administrators! Making your opinions known on a blogsite is one thing - actually showing up at a public meeting and making demands can make a difference!


Posted by ANONYMOUS, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 17, 2008 at 11:44 pm

You might want to reconsider your soapbox stance there. You have absolutely no idea who on this blog might be doing just as you suggest. HOWEVER, this blog allows things to be stated anonymously that sometimes parents of current school children do not feel they can say in a public forum. No one wants their child(ren) to be the one to take any retribution should they express criticism for district administration or take a stance contrary to the teachers union. And don't say that wouldn't happen.
Better yet, why not ask Julie Testa how she felt at a board meeting last fall when she was verbally attacked by Dr. Casey after bringing millions of dollars of available state grant monies to their attention. She indicated that instead of staff spending time preparing the justification for a parcel tax, they should pursue these already-paid-for tax dollars. Dr. Casey did not like her insinuations and launched an attack after she was no longer allowed to speak! In a follow-up column, even Jeb Bing referred to her as "badgering," not the most complimentary adjective. Web Link
As follow up, at a January meeting, staff described the nearly $7 million dollars of state grant monies that they were applying for as a result of "taking another look" and seeing that indeed, we qualified. So much for the independent consultants who earlier had reported otherwise. Then there were many thanks to the staff person who prepared the apps (her job.) But where were the kudos, let alone apologies, for Julie Testa at that point?? And did you read about this in the Weekly? No.
If this is how a parent/taxpayer was treated for finding $7M for our district---on her own unpaid time---do you think others are eager to show up time and again to speak to administrators and trustees with other demands? They would just be labeled as "badgerers" too, I'm afraid.


Posted by Julie Testa, a resident of Foothill High School
on Feb 18, 2008 at 10:37 am


Thanks for the support…I did not write the last post.

The Superintendent did eventually say, they owed me thanks for the nearly 7million dollars that the district will most likely receive from the state.

It is interesting watching these posts.
Clearly there are concerns but it does often feel lonely in the absence of other parents at school board meetings.
I understand completely why parents are reluctant to share concerns publicly for fear of retribution...
As parents we are all very busy. It would be valuable to have a dedicated forum for parent input, positive and not. I have been told there is a union issue with allowing community criticism.

We do have good schools. We have a great community that is very supportive of our schools; we have great teachers and caring staff. We have good parents very involved and supportive of their kid. We have good kids. We all deserve credit for the success of our community.
The points made on this thread are thoughtful and valid.
The district needs to be genuinely receptive to community input.

Julie Testa


Posted by Tom, a resident of Downtown
on Feb 18, 2008 at 2:21 pm

Somebody asked what the salaries for the administration are. You can find last years salaries on the district website at Web Link . So take those figures and add 4.12% for the raise just given (and some positions even more).


Posted by Sue, a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Feb 18, 2008 at 9:38 pm


Superintendent 227,000 annually plus benefits package

Assistant superintendents between 160,000 and 184,000

San Ramon administrators rolled back their raises as a gesture of support.


Posted by Linda, a resident of Castlewood
on Feb 19, 2008 at 8:16 am


I did not think it is legal for someone to serve as an elected official if they no longer live in the city? Who is the board member?


Posted by Tom, a resident of Downtown
on Feb 19, 2008 at 10:18 am

The board packet with this years salary and contract for the superindentent is at Web Link . It is item 15.

In addition to the salary of $227,000 per year he receives some pretty good benefits:
10 holidays per year (more if another state holiday occurs on a weekend)
24 days of vacation per year (5 weeks)
$5,000 per year for life insurance
$10,000 per year into a tax sheltered annuity
$1,000 per month as a transportation allowance for use of his personal vehicle
Once retired receives taxpayer paid medical, dental and vision insurance for himself and his spouse until he reaches 65.




Posted by Sue, a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Feb 19, 2008 at 11:39 am

Tom,
Do we know about car allowance, expence account, travel, cell phones etc.?
We may be able to make some suggestions for cuts there. Keep it away from the kids; I don't want to pay a parcel tax to cover those expenses.


Posted by Tom, a resident of Downtown
on Feb 19, 2008 at 1:46 pm

The contract with the superintendent is in the board packet for the previous item I linked to. The raise and update of the super's contract was part of the management pay raise agenda item. That is where I found the items I outlined. For car allowance, that is $1,000 per month. Items like expense accounts, travel, cell phones would not be part of a contract so the only way to find these is to look at the budget for the superintendent's department. You should also be able to get a detailed report of those types of expenses if you contacted the district. That is all public information and through the public information act the district has to give this to anybody who asks.

Looking at this year's budget (anybody can go to the district office and ask for a copy of the budget, might even be online), the superintendent budgets $13,000 for travel, $1660 for meals, $7000 for office supplies. For superintendent communications, which includes the public information officer, travel, office supplies and such is $175,150.

If you look at the complete charges for travel and conferences for the whole district there is about $510,000.


Posted by Angela, a resident of Heritage Valley
on Feb 20, 2008 at 12:19 am

Speaking of long time San Ramon Valley School Board member Joan Buchanan....she is a candidate in the 15th Assembly District, which represents a portion of Pleasanton. Find out more at www.joanbuchanan.com


Posted by Julie, a resident of Foothill High School
on Feb 20, 2008 at 9:05 am


The City and PUSD both have yards for maintenance vehicles. The City has long shown an interest in combining those yards for cost cutting benefits. The district has been reluctant to do so due to union issues. This seems like the time to find savings with these kinds of mutually beneficial agreements. The barrier to outsourcing as suggested earlier has been a union issue as well.These are ways the unions can contribute to help keep the cost cuts away from the kids.

The easy way is to turn to the taxpayers for more money. I do not support a parcel tax.


Posted by not amused with partisan politics in ptown, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 20, 2008 at 9:16 am

Angela, are you the same Angela who is on the democratic central committee, the campaign chair for Cheryl Cook-Kallio, paid consultant for Oak Grove, paid PR person for Jennifer Hosterman, and pro-union organizer? At least you are not bringing partison politics into Pleasanton for local issues/races (ha ha).


Posted by Beth, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 20, 2008 at 11:49 am

Mary: yes, the district proposed to eliminate 3 management positions, as part of a plan to eliminate 4% of employees in each group, ie, 3 out of 68 management, 16 out of 405 classified, and 28 out of 708 teachers. This is NOT acceptable. Management should be trimmed down first and a lot more, while teachers should be the last group to be affected.

Teachers teach my child, most management rarely set foot on campus!

As you can see from the salaries of management, it would be wiser to let go of more administration. From a post above, I guess that the PIO makes over 100K, probably close to 150K - that pays for a couple of first-year teachers. To what is left, add the car and meal stipend for the superintendent, and roll back his raise: you have the money for another teacher! A no brainer in my opinion. Same amount of cuts (money wise) yet my child will not miss the PIO, or the car/meal stipend for the superintendent - on the other hand, my child would suffer if the class size is increased because teachers had to be laid off.

The teachers who will be laid off will be the ones making less money, more towards the 55-60K beginning salary, due to the way the unions have setup rules of seniority and stuff.

So I say we need to look more closely at those 68 management positions: who needs to stay and who needs to go. Those who stay need to do without their car/meal stipends, and yes, without a raise until this budget crisis is over.

And maybe there are more than the 68 management positions to look at, ie, do these managers have support staff like personal helpers, etc?

Let's keep ONLY the necessary staff (administrative) to keep the district running, at least until the budget crisis is over.


Posted by Sue, a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Feb 21, 2008 at 9:46 am


Beth,
I agree with everything you have said.


Posted by Francis, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 21, 2008 at 8:08 pm


Angela, what an impressive list! I am glad Cook-Kallio's on the council

Thank you


Posted by frank, a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Feb 21, 2008 at 8:28 pm

I have not benefitted from having graduated from Pleasanton schools, but my math leads me to compute that the proposed cut numbers are 4.4 % management, 4.0 % classified, and 3.5 % teachers. The average over the groups is about 4.0 % and management is most and teachers are least.

Already management constitutes only 5.8 % of the total number, while teachers are 60 % and classified are the rest. I trust that management being only 5.8 % of total head count is not particularly high out of a work force head count of 1181?

It strikes me that management is already a small portion of the total and the logic escapes me why posters obsess over cutting the 5.8 % as somehow being a solution to the funding shortfall. Especially when the bulk of the budget is spent on teacher and classified salaries.

As a taxpayer, I want to have competent management overseeing and administering this budget, which is a significant portion of taxes paid by us (budget ~ $150 MM).


Posted by Beth, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 21, 2008 at 9:08 pm

Salary of say the PIO is enough to pay for a couple of first year teachers, probably with some leftover. (I mention that because the information is posted somewhere above - I am sure there are other non-essential positions we could look at. Note the I am not saying these positions are not nice to have, but merely that during a fiscal crisis, it is fiscally irresponsible to keep them while eliminating positions that directly affect the quality of education for our children)

The teachers are in the classroom with the children, and their absence will directly affect the children's learning and performance.

Some administration is necessary, but some is not (again, PIO comes to mind)

All I am asking is for the superintendent to look at eliminating the not so crucial positions (restore them if you want after the budget crisis is over). Once we are down to what we absolutely need to run the district, as far as management goes, then we can talk about a parcel tax or donations. Until then, I am personally not too thrilled about supporting a parcel tax.

A parcel tax for what? So we can pay a PIO? So we can continue to give car and meal stipends during times when the rest of the district is asked to cut down expenses? Not on my dollar.

Frank: wasn't it you who criticized the budget, saying you had concerns about the ratio of benefits to salaries? Guess who came up with that budget? Yes, the current management. So, yes, it is important to have competent leaders in charge.... it is also important to have leaders who will recognize that we are here for the children, and that some expenses/positions must go in order to minimize the impact to the classroom/teachers.

The Independent (today) has an article about Pleasanton and its upcoming parcel tax (look at the front page). After reading it, I could not help but agree with Mike that this is just a way to scare the parents into voting for a parcel tax.

I think it is pointless to continue to try to convince some people about fiscal practices in this district, so the only way to make our voice heard is when we vote on that parcel tax that looks likely to be on the ballot.


Posted by Another Gatetree Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 22, 2008 at 4:58 am

Beth - It is do funny that you should site the PIO position as a waste of district funds. I cited that same position in this thread (Web Link) as one to eliminate to fund the $16,000+ needed to ensure the kids who use the Gatetree Circle drop-off no longer deal with a muddy path now that their "shortcut" has been eliminated by a gate.

Specifically, I stated:

"PUSD has long lived high on the hog from developer fees. Those fees are now dwindling with the town being close to build out. They are being forced to look to traditional sources of funding which are also in short supply. Eliminating the Public Information Officer salary from PUSD might go a long way towards funding the work under discussion. It might even leave a few dollars on the table to purchase items that directly enhance the quality of education the kids receive. Example: Media & Technology is only 2% of the General Fund budget. General Administration is 5.6%, with School Administration at 4.8%. Seems a tad off balance to me."

It appears many are questioning the validity of this position, for various reasons. Until I see waste eliminated when it can, and good sound fiscal management at work in the PUSD, I will be voting down any parcel tax proposed.


Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 22, 2008 at 1:17 pm

I recently moved to Pleasanton from the Chicago area - a place where property taxes paid for schools and increased a bit every year to fund them. Our school system was considered excellent in IL and I wanted nothing less for my children. When I was told I would be moving to California, I looked up statistics regarding education first. Honestly, I didn't want to move after seeing CA ranked bottom (47 out of 50, I believe) in terms of money spent per student.

I researched many school districts and individual schools in serveral communities before deciding on PUSD, and I had strong convictions about moving here - not only because the school system was highly rated, but also because I felt the programs offered are above and beyond the basics. I interviewed administrators, principals, and people in the community as well. I feel my kids have benefited from attending school here, and I would hate to see the quality diminish. I also feel fortunate our property values have been able to remain strong while other communities, not so far from us, have dropped hundreds of thousands of dollars – I honestly believe a strong school system keeps us afloat.

I understand questioning salaries and perhaps the administration powers-that-be could show some goodwill by freezing this part of the budget during this time; however, administrators' and teachers' salaries in my IL suburb were very close to salaries here, and we lived in an area with a much lower cost of living.

I understand concerns stated about a parcel tax, especially from those who no longer have children attending school. (Perhaps my view of this is different coming from a place where everyone in a community paid yearly to keep the school system running.) However, California needs to continue to attract quality people to this state in order to create a strong economy. How do you think we will attract and keep quality people? We need to maintain and improve our school system. Just from what I've been able to learn recently, the state of CA has bigger problems in terms of how money is allocated to schools on a statewide basis, but isn't it our responsibility as a community to ensure our schools stay strong?

Isn't there a bigger picture to consider? I'm wondering if you can see that a $100/year parcel tax (about $8.33 per month) could be an investment in the children of this community, an investment in keeping top teachers and school programs, an investment in attracting top business people to this part of the country, and, ultimately, an investment in keeping your property values high. The way I see it, it's not just about investing in a school, it's also about investing in a community – a community, I'm guessing, many are hoping to profit from when selling a home...


Posted by James, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 22, 2008 at 2:49 pm

My comment is for Tim. You either have to be independently wealthy or you just don't care about your fellow Americans. Don't you think enough people in this country have lost their jobs to outsourcing without you throwing the hard working dedicated employees of PUSD out on the street by outsourcing their jobs. There are solutions to this financial problem but causing other financial problems such as welfare and unemployment and hurting people is not the way. I know if you had/have a job you would not want it outsourced.


Posted by Beth, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 22, 2008 at 2:50 pm

Look at the board packet for 2/26/08:
Web Link

If you read the board's comments, there is one by trustee Grant:

“Trustee Grant said he is not convinced this is a short-term effort to raise taxes and thinks that for the next 3-4 years we are in a much more challenging situation. He expressed that we have a number of obligations and we need to be a voice to the legislature. We need to look at reducing non-essential/non-classroom/non-student based programs. He said he was comfortable to look long and hard into administration to see if there are non-essential staff that are not classroom based, that aren't in front line to kids, that we can focus on."

Read on and still Grant board member: “He is convinced that we cannot afford to eliminate our programs that support students. He wants to be on record to oppose any reduction to front line services to our kids."

I think we should all email trustee Grant, he has the right ideas.

Once the district comes up with reasonable budget cuts, there may still be a shortfall. But at that point, I would be willing to support a parcel tax.

To the Chicago ex-resident post: what bothers me is that when you look at the current proposed cuts, only 3 management positions are on the table, and the bulk of the cuts comes from very needed staff like reading specialists, counselors, etc.

The district needs to show us, the community and taxpayers, that they are willing to make the necessary cuts at the top first. It is simply not right to tell me that class size will be increased in K-3 (and with that, losing about 4 million in funding from the state), while keeping non-essential personnel and expenses (PIO, car stipends, to name a couple).

Eliminating positions like the PIO might not solve the problem, but it will make the budget shortfall more realistic and accurate, and it will let the community see that our leaders are competent and think about the children first.

Unnecessary spending must be eliminated first. If the budget cuts implemented are those so far proposed (look at the 2/26 board packet), I will not support a parcel tax. If the district comes up with a sensible plan, then I will support a parcel tax and continue to make donations to our schools.


Posted by Mike, a resident of Birdland
on Feb 22, 2008 at 5:54 pm


If you think 150 is nothing, ask yourself, if a district administrator knocked on your door and asked you to hand him $150 to pay for his salary increase or perks, would you give it to him? Would you write him a check the next year and for ten more years after that?

PUSD is exploiting the budget crisis. The proposed cuts like classroom teachers and class size reduction are intended to be emotional. The state pays for most of class size reduction. The savings from administrative salary cuts make more sense than cutting CRS.

As Beth says:

The district needs to show us, the community and taxpayers, that they are willing to make the necessary cuts at the top first. It is simply not right to tell me that class size will be increased in K-3, while keeping non-essential personnel and expenses (PIO, car stipends, to name a couple).

After seeing serious cuts, kept away from our kids, if I believed there was still a true need, then I would support a parcel tax.

Hey Beth are you going to run for school board : ) ?


Posted by member, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 22, 2008 at 6:22 pm

Do you any or all of your attend school board meetings? PTA meetings? Have any of you been to the budget workshop? Just curious.


Posted by Tim, a resident of Birdland
on Feb 23, 2008 at 7:19 am

James,
Outsourcing PUSD support functions would NOT equal lost American jobs. For example, PUSD's payroll could be outsourced to ADP or Paychex, facilities could be outsourced to a contracted cleaning company like ABM, foodservice could be outsourced to Sodexho and the list goes on and on. All of these are American companies with local employees. These companies leverage scale (overhead spread across multiple clients) and functional knowledge to provide better services at lower prices. Exorbitant expenses to support specific PUSD union jobs (such as these and the duplicate maintenance vehicle yards) should not be absorbed by the taxpayers, particularly during a fiscal crisis. Outsourcing does not always mean an overseas call center with a low paid employee replacing an American job. Check the websites of the companies I mentioned to see what they pay and where their jobs are.


Posted by Fred, a resident of Jensen Tract
on Feb 23, 2008 at 8:01 am


I support Tim's proposal. The unions are the obstacle, they want to maintain control.
We love our teachers but the unions are the worst thing to happen to our kids. They are not about our kids interests.


Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 25, 2008 at 3:38 pm

Read the file "Feb 13 minutes" from the "Budget Advisory Committee Meeting"
Web Link

Some comments make me think that the district is about to cut valuable programs as a way to twist our arms into voting for a parcel tax. That is probably why the cuts start with items that directly affect students, rather than with the obvious jobs/positions/expenses that could go without much impact to the students.


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Feb 25, 2008 at 4:18 pm

Unions are also the reason the budget for a new gym at AV will cost over $400 a square foot to build. Its a gym not a custom home! $400 hammers, $500 toilet seats, all the work of unions and union contracts. Same unions make sure the minimum salary in the NBA is over $1M a year. I guess even millionaire athletes need unions so they are paid a fair wage.

Unions were to originally to stop sweat shop labor. In today's world they are grossly abused....

An open enterprise free market system would be awesome for those that represent real quality and don't mind healthy competition. Union leaders though will continue to scare their constituancy that they need them to be treated fairly.

Tim hit the nail on the head!


Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 25, 2008 at 9:31 pm

And union members are not evaluated based on performance. Their employment - or layoff notice - depends exclusively on seniority and/or tenure. As a result, some very good employees are often laid off, while some not-so-good ones get to stay. However, seeing how the administration is so quick to make cuts everywhere except to the top, perhaps the unions are somewhat necessary. Reform needs to take place, both to take away the power of the unions, as well as to make administrators more accountable to the taxpayers.


Posted by critical of funding?, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 25, 2008 at 11:07 pm

The problem with school funding did not originate with unions. Unions may have been responsible for increased working wages but they are also responsible for limiting class size and working conditions.

As a state we have ceased to value a strong public education. $150 a year is less than dinner for four in a downtown Pleasanton restaurant and certainly less than paying for cable. A single book for a core class is over a hundred dollars.

A parcel tax is a way for a community to invest in their schools. Those complaining really do need to consider that their home values are tied to the school system. Sad but true. Realtors will tell you that they use the schools as a selling point. This nickle and diming of education is unbelievable. It is petty and misses the bigger picture of why education is important.


Posted by Mike, a resident of Birdland
on Feb 26, 2008 at 12:45 am


They will always want more!

As Beth said:

The district needs to show us, the community and taxpayers, that they are willing to make the necessary cuts at the top first. It is simply not right to tell me that class size will be increased in K-3, while keeping non-essential personnel and expenses (PIO, car stipends, to name a couple).

Out of 28 positions on the Budget advisory Committee only 3 are not paid employees of the district.



Posted by Jerry, a resident of Oak Hill
on Feb 26, 2008 at 3:07 am

Doesn't the school board make the final decision where the cuts will be applied?? If so, that's where the pressure should be applied, NOW. After all, they're politicians and politicians seek re-election, even some that have been appointed.

If the parcel tax goes on the ballot it will pass. Remember, "It's for the children".


Posted by AL, a resident of Highland Oaks
on Feb 26, 2008 at 8:55 am

We just received an email today about the "budget crisis" and proposed parcel tax. How on earth can they justify taxing us even more than they already do? Is $10,000/yr not enough property tax for them to collect from my family? When I volunteer at my childrens' school each week I notice a few things:

1) The teachers are wonderful and should not be cut.
2) There are way too many administrators and support staff.
3) There is too much importance placed on the latest audiovisual technology, computers, etc. (is any of this stuff really necessary?)
4) Head on down to the district offices if you want to see a whole group of people with a lot of time on their hands.
5) How much is this out-of-touch superintendent paying himself?

I don't understand why the solution to problems is always just to collect more money from people. How about a little bit of common sense and accountability here.


Posted by AL, a resident of Highland Oaks
on Feb 26, 2008 at 9:01 am

I just want to add...if we they are proposing even more taxes on us, then I should be given the amount of taxes I pay into education as a voucher. This way I can pay for my children to attend a school not run by the likes of Mr. Casey.

By the way, the person who said "A parcel tax is a way for a community to invest in their schools," either has no idea, or is not aware of the amount of wasteful spending in the school system.


Posted by Deb, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Feb 26, 2008 at 10:00 am


Out of 28 positions on the Budget advisory Committee only 3 are not paid employees of the district?

This is not a committee representative of the district if it does not have proper representation from parents. 25 out of 28 members could not suggest cuts that would negatively affect their boss. 25 out of 28 would not recommend cuts that would negatively affect themselves. Is it any wonder that the recommendations are, make the parents pay or their kids will?

A parcel tax requires a super majority because of the lack of accountability that comes with it. Meaning it needs a 2/3 vote not a simple 50%.
A bond only requires a 50% vote but they could only use that money for facilities not salary. That facilities money just gets in the way…parents start to expect too much…like more schools…maybe another high school…what a nuisance!

If they don't show us they have heard our concerns it will not pass.




Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 26, 2008 at 10:02 am

A previous poster used the phrase "nickel and diming education". What about the nickel and diming of homeowners with taxes? Some of you folks out there may be wealthy enough to pay, but rich people are not a majority of the population. Not everyone spends $150 on cable or goes out to eat at a downtown Pleasanton restaurant.

One point missing here, Pleasanton schools didn't get to the quality they are at today through parcel taxes. Therefore I don't think a parcel tax is warranted until there is hard evidence that Pleasanton school quality is suffering. It is all a scare tactic at the moment. Money from parcel taxes end up being discretionary funds. There is no guarantee this money will go directly to children education programs.


Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 26, 2008 at 11:58 am

Isn't Myla Grass the PIO? I just noticed there is a Myla Grass on the Budget Committee.

My two cents: the PIO, as well as other administrative positions should be cut BEFORE any teachers are laid off.


Posted by More from Anonymous, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 26, 2008 at 12:02 pm

and also BEFORE they expect me to vote yes on a parcel tax.

I already pay more than 12K/year in property taxes. Sure, 150 more is not that much, but it is not the way to do things.

Administrators need to be accountable to the taxpayers, and make smart moves (financially speaking) before expecting us to approve a parcel tax.


Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 26, 2008 at 8:49 pm

Tim,you are talking about outsourceing your neighbors jobs. I work for the district and I also live here in Pleasanton. I have childern to feed and a morgate to pay. The great benefits that everyone talks about are not the great. I pay out over half of my paycheck in taxes and benefits. We don't have state disabilaity, we have to buy our own disabilaity insurance. When you talk about bad spending habits and job cuts, why don't you start at the top of the state where these problems orgrinated from.


Posted by To Anonymous, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 26, 2008 at 9:53 pm

Jobs/positions should be evaluated on their merit, ie, whether they make sense financially for the district, whether they are needed, can be outsourced, etc.

They should never be evaluated based on whether a neighbor and fellow Pleasanton resident holds that particular job/position.

The job is either needed and/or makes sense to have in the district, or it is not, regardless of who holds that job (be that a neighbor or someone we have never met from a far away community).


Posted by Bravo!, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 27, 2008 at 6:35 am

Quote: Jobs/positions should be evaluated on their merit, ie, whether they make sense financially for the district, whether they are needed, can be outsourced, etc.
They should never be evaluated based on whether a neighbor and fellow Pleasanton resident holds that particular job/position.

The job is either needed and/or makes sense to have in the district, or it is not, regardless of who holds that job (be that a neighbor or someone we have never met from a far away community).

****************

Bravo! While I feel for anyone who finds themselves unemployed, positions like the PIO are "fluff." Heck, when I was in High School our Journalism students put out the district newsletter as part of their course studies.

Looks like a "neighbor" can't see beyond the wart on the end of their nose.


Posted by someday, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Feb 28, 2008 at 1:24 pm

Someday our school systems will be run more like a real business where quality is rewarded and subpar performance isn't. I understand that teachers feel the need to be part of a "union", but it is that same union mentality that allows an average or poor achiever to continue on with tenior, even if they aren't outstanding. In any private enterprise, outstanding effort is usually rewarded with promotions, raises etc... whereas with teaching everything is based on time of service.

The school district seems to never be accountable for proving that it complied with past commitments to budgets? Once money is approved there seems always a way to move that money around to accomplish whatever the district desires. School Bond Measures or Parcel tax measures always rely on 2 things. 1. They "seem" low on a per household basis, and 2. They play on the emotion of needing to "do it for the kids".

I have experience putting 3 kids (Sr. this year), through the Pleasanton School system. In that 20 years district funds seem to be cut over time and parent fundraising increases whether it be for school or sports. Whether anyone will admit it we are already in a pay to play situation whether it be school or sports and we used to joke that when your child went into elementary school he/she was going from "pre-school" to "free-school". Public school has turned out to be _anything_ but free. Until now parents have always made up any "shortfall" somehow.

I have seen a new culture develop in Pleasanton public schools in the last 5 years especially, where parents expect everything to be free, and will not pay a penny themselves. This puts the burden on those willing to help to not only make up the difference for thier kids, but also make up the difference for those unwilling to help.

I am certain that the "quality" of Pleasanton's Schools has been the motivation of many to seek to live here. I question whether they really understand what it has taken for our schools to get where they are in terms of quality?


Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 28, 2008 at 2:40 pm

Read the article
Web Link


Posted by Jerry, a resident of Oak Hill
on Feb 29, 2008 at 12:24 am

Could it be time to bring in a retired CEO of a successful corporation to sort out the "fat" with an unbiased eye. This is a common occurrence in the corporate world, with great success.


Posted by Linda, a resident of Pleasanton Middle School
on Mar 5, 2008 at 12:46 pm

They Board voted 4 to 1 to move forward on a parcel tax. They did not respond to the input shared on these threads.
Steve Brozosky was the only board member that was not fully committed to the parcel tax. He tried hard, made strong points and was dismissed.
Two brave parents made comments questioning the parcel tax. Good effort Joan, great job John! The board acted as though they had not heard John at all. John was well spoken and his comments followed the theme of these threads... he was ignored.
If you do not have kids in the schools you can be a voice where many of us can not.

Send email to:

kgweav@comcast.net

ChrisMGrant@gmail.com

steve@brozosky.com

patkernan@comcast.net

jott@unclecu.org


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Mar 5, 2008 at 1:12 pm

It might not be a good idea to post email addresses like that. There are programs that grab email addresses from webpages and send spam to them. What most people do these days is to write the address in a way that makes it difficult for the spam programs to parse, like "steveREMOVETHIS (at) brozosky (dot) com"


Posted by Linda, a resident of Pleasanton Middle School
on Mar 6, 2008 at 9:58 am


Do not be played for a chump.
Do not get trapped into the question of which programs should get cut. Give direction to restructure and find cuts that do not touch the kids or get an outside professional to come in and show PUSD how it would be done in the real world.

Only then should a parcel tax be considered.



If you were a member and logged in you could track comments from this story.

Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: *

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Circumstances without Pomp
By Roz Rogoff | 3 comments | 1,062 views

‘Much Ado’ or is it Adios for ObamaCare?
By Tom Cushing | 25 comments | 724 views

Political posturing about water
By Tim Hunt | 3 comments | 649 views