Posted by Agree, a member of the Amador Valley High School community, on Feb 28, 2008 at 12:47 pm
I agree with Matt Sweeney's comments. Regardless of what anyone might believe. Coaches are paid next to nothing for what they do, especially if you considered an hourly breakdown. I personally believe that student athletes learn more real life skills participating on sports teams than than they do in the classroom.
I am not advocating one vs the other, but to consider completely eliminating coaching stipends is crazy. Not sure if anyone even realizes but in most high school sports only the head coach gets anything at all, asst. coaches are for the most part 100% volunteer jobs. Athletic booster clubs in our area, already contribute more than our district to make sports affordable for all kids.
We should consider cutting the numerous programs that cost a fortune to maintain, but only benefit the very few. Just like with our current polital environment "special interest" is killing fairness to the greater whole.
Posted by Anonymous, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 28, 2008 at 3:01 pm
To "Agree": I agree that coaches do a lot of work and should be paid. However, I disagree that we should consider the "numerous programs that cost a fortune" - not every student made the school team. So, in a way, Sports is in the category you described. Other programs that not every student is a part of are just as valuable as sports (where again, not every student can be part of the school team).
The goal should be NOT to cut programs, period. Sports, all programs are valuable an should be kept.
I agree that a parcel tax is needed, but like the board member said, they need to show the community that they actuallly did try to cut expenses.
I was a bit angry to read the superintendent's comments. He wants to keep his team intact, but what about the teachers and reading specialists that will be laid off? Aren't they part of his team? If they are not, they are certainly part of OUR CHILDREN'S TEAM.
I would much rather undo the superintendent's team and trim the administration than having to undo my child's team of teachers, reading specialists.....
Mr. Casey: you must trim your team - talk to parents, read their comments, there are positions that are simply a luxury right now. Example: The Public Information Department. If you continue to refuse to see the obvious, then it may be harder to convince people that a parcel tax is needed. How can you possibly tell a parent that reading specialists will be laid off, coaches' stipends reduced... yet your PIO stays on board?
Let's be fair here. Cut at the top, then we pass a parcel tax.
I support a parcel tax unconditionally, but I get upset when I read about the superintendent's wishes to keep his team of highly paid administrators intact, yet he does not think twice about recommending the reading speacialists for layoffs (while his Public Information Department is left intact!).
Posted by Anon, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 28, 2008 at 3:40 pm
In comparing PUSD to SRVUSD please note that according to todays Valley Times newspaper, they have a parcel tax of $99 that are looking to increase to $166 for 7 years. Their current one has been in place for 4 years.That certainly would help explain their more secure position
Posted by AL, a resident of the Highland Oaks neighborhood, on Feb 28, 2008 at 3:55 pm
Something tells me that all of these concerned parents and grandparents who spoke up for the parcel tax are not already paying 10K-15K/yr. in property taxes. Moreover, I wonder how many of these people actually spend time in the schools as I do and see just how much waste there actually is. The reason the test scores are hight in Pleasanton is because the children come from families of professionals with high IQs. I will be voting AGAINST any parcel tax unconditionally.
Posted by Disagree, a resident of the Castlewood neighborhood, on Feb 28, 2008 at 4:04 pm
I would put interscholastic sports at the top of the list of programs that benefit few but cost a fortune to maintain. Please list examples of similar programs you think should be cut. Do you have any idea how much it costs to maintain the facilities for sports? Let alone the initial costs. By the way, I do not think sports should be cut and the coaches should be properly paid. However, teams should also not cut any student that is willing to participate. Why should only 12 students benefit from the coaching, games, facilites that are provided by the district by the varsity basketball program?
Posted by Guessagain, a member of the Harvest Park Middle School community, on Feb 28, 2008 at 4:52 pm
Guess again Disagree,
Whether anyone will admit it or not, we currently have "pay for play" sports situation in our high schools. It is hidden under terms like "transportation fee" and fundraising of the athletic booster clubs The district contributes a realatively small amount of money (coaching stipends), with everything else paid for by the aforementioned plus gate reciepts etc... The "facilities" that you speak of are not very well maintained, and again if need be are improved by the teams themselves, also through fundraising.
Posted by What, a resident of the Castlewood neighborhood, on Feb 28, 2008 at 5:01 pm
"The reason the test scores are hight in Pleasanton is because the children come from families of professionals with high IQs".
Sorry, but this quote from Al is just plain ignorant. IQ is not necessarily guaranteed, nor genetic. Test scores are high in Pleasanton because kids are taught specifically to do well on the tests! Test scores are overrated IMHO because that are not an indication of real knowledge, they can simply indicate an ability to take tests well. It is fairly common knowledge that while Pleasanton kids do well in high school they also drop out of 4 year schools at a fairly high rate, because they aren't well prepared for the "real world" after living in the cacoon we call Pleasanton. In the real world to borrow a term from above "everyone dosen't make the team". In Pleasanton we have to watch all kids self esteem so we coddle them and tell everyone "you are great"! First time they don't "suceed" at something they are crushed.
Posted by AL, a resident of the Highland Oaks neighborhood, on Feb 28, 2008 at 5:27 pm
I agree that test taking is an acquired skill, but not to the extent that you could teach a big group of low intelligence people to score very well on standardized tests. You can only teach people to do better with what they already have. I know a lot of people would rather base their decisions on emotion, but if you go by statistics, areas with high IQ individuals yeild higher test scores. This is fact.
As a former educator myself, I have seen time and again, more money does not make better teachers, better schools or better learners. It only adds to bureaucracy. I, for one, wish the district would refund all of the tax money I put in to the pot so could send my children to private school.
Posted by Disagree, a resident of the Castlewood neighborhood, on Feb 28, 2008 at 6:12 pm
Your transportation fees don't pay anywhere near the cost of the facilities. Two astroturf football fields, two Olympic sized swimming pools: did the boosters pay for those?
I know that there are already participation fees and that it is expensive for the families of the athletes. I also know the boosters do a lot to keep the programs running. But I believe that the district still kicks in many millions for the athletic programs in terms of facilities. As they should. My point to Agree was that sports are as much a special interest as any other program and maybe more so than some others.
Posted by Guessagain, a member of the Harvest Park Middle School community, on Feb 28, 2008 at 10:22 pm
I get what you are saying Disagree, but my point was toward costs of participating on the teams and maintanence once something is installed, and what is currently on the table for potential budget cuts ie... coaches stipends. The pool that was replaced at Amador last year was way beyond its useful lifespan and I believe was replaced mostly due to being unsafe and outdated. Prior to that I think the last substantial money put into school athletic facilities was metal bleachers some 20 plus years ago, then the turf field about 10 years ago. The turf field by the way, not only saves money from maintanence, it also saves valuable water resources ;-) As a % of school spending drawn on a graph over the last 25 or so years, athletic facilities would be a very low percentage.
Posted by concerned, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 29, 2008 at 9:31 am
I didn't see the budget hearing but I don't have a problem with Dr. Casey saying he wants to keep his team intact as long as he offered up some signficant cost savings in the administration budget all in the same breath. For example, his team takes a pay cut, reducing car allowances, attending fewer conferences, etc.
It strikes me that the only trustee looking at this correctly is Trustee Brozosky. He's correct--lets see what we can achieve in cuts as well as learn from other districts--then talk about what a parcel tax might look like. Too bad he says he's not running for his seat in the Fall. He seems to be the only one on the school board that can think for himself.
As a community we need to remind our Trustees and leaders of our school district the motto "Putting Kids First". Its reading a bit like that's starting to get lost.
There is very little in the way of cuts to the administration (staff and their expenses).
The bulk of the cuts will be to staff and programs that directly affect the students.
The superintendent and his staff/team are not looking at the budget cuts properly and are ignoring obvious cuts to the administration. Of course, they are not going to recommend cuts that will affect them directly - that is why we need an independent consultant to come in, look at the books and make recommendations.
Even if cuts to the top do not solve the budget deficit, we can at least get an accurate number. Right now, that number is not real, since there are a number of expenses, like administrative raises and luxury positions included in the budget, making the deficit bigger than it really is.
Posted by Jeff, a resident of the Bordeaux Estates neighborhood, on Feb 29, 2008 at 2:24 pm
Superintendent John Casey said he wants to do everything possible to keep the district "team" together.
I too would like to use a lot of other peoples money to pay myself and all of my friends.
He wants to keep his team intact, but what about the teachers and reading specialists that will be laid off? Aren't they part of his team? If they are not, they are certainly part of OUR CHILDREN'S TEAM.
Jerry I like the idea about bringing in someone from the outside. It is obvious there is only one board member, Steve Brozosky, that has a clue.
Maybe we can call Mitt Romney; I hear he has some unexpected free time.
Posted by Concerned parent and tax payer, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Mar 2, 2008 at 9:14 pm
I just looked at the list of potential budget cuts. Frankly, I have to say I'm disappointed as very little seemed to be directed at the administration. I really like the idea of bringing in an outsider with no preconceived ideas to take an objective look at the expenses. Its hard for me to believe that there aren't some ways the district and the City could partner or share resources to save some money. Somebody needs to think outside the box.
Also, i noticed that the slogan "Kids Come First" is no longer in use. Bad sign when it comes to having to do budget cuts.
I admire Steve Brozosky for challenging whether enough has been done regarding reductions before asking for a parcel tax increase. We need to have some accountability by our Trustees to the parents and tax payers. The school board has generally been too quick to rubber stamp the administration's recommendations.
Posted by Agree with "Concerned parent and taxpayer", a member of the Amador Valley High School community, on Mar 2, 2008 at 10:19 pm
There is something very wrong when the board of trustees readily approves proposed cuts made by a superintendent who, in my opinion, seems to care more about his own salary and "team" than the overall well-being of the Pleasanton School District.
Why did the board approve the cuts? Why didn't they challenge them based on trustee Brozosky's comments? The district management just gave themselves a raise, just to turn around and layoff needed staff that directly works with the students?
In my opinion, our superintendent is out of touch and needs us to help him by bringing in an independent financial consultant to help him make decisions based on what is best for the students, rather than what is best for the superintendent and his "team."
Posted by Jerry, a resident of the Oak Hill neighborhood, on Mar 3, 2008 at 2:47 am
Common sense should dictate where, if necessary, cuts are to be applied. Just as in "corporate downsizing", the critical pieces that produce a profit should be left in place. Successful children are the "profits" of a school district.
In my opinion, a serious problem exists within a school district when a parent must bring to the district's attention overlooked state funds to which it may be entitled. This, in itself, should be cause for concern within the community.
Posted by Geoff, a resident of the Danbury Park neighborhood, on Mar 3, 2008 at 8:31 pm
The Board of Trustees will have three postions come up for election in December. Hopefully some folks will run who will actually put the needs of our kids first while looking out for taxpayers as well. If Superintendent Casey cuts back on educators without addressing other areas (like his raise, shared resources, etc.) he needs to go. We can probably find somebody pretty decent for >$200K plus benefits.
Posted by AL, a resident of the Highland Oaks neighborhood, on Mar 4, 2008 at 8:44 am
I wonder if Mr. Casey reads this thread. One would think that he may want to know what the people who finance his paycheck have to say about his "crisis." He seems pretty out of touch, though, so probably not.
Posted by Anonymous, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 4, 2008 at 12:28 pm
I don't think Casey or the board read these forums. The best way to make your voice heard is by emailing them, or just wait for the parcel tax to be placed on the ballot and vote and lobby your neighbors (I know I'll be voting NO and talking to all my friends and neighbors to do the same)..... I do not pay taxes so Casey et al can continue to be clueless and make cuts that affect students while giving themselves nice raises and spend money foolishly in other areas.
Posted by Linda, a member of the Pleasanton Middle School community, on Mar 5, 2008 at 12:40 pm
I hope you sent to all Board Members as well. They 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.
Posted by Anonymous, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 5, 2008 at 2:31 pm
Thank you for the information, Linda. In my experience with school districts, the board of trustees seldom listens to the community, continue to either get re-elected (either because no one else runs or because the incumbents tend to win in these local elections)
The administration in general, does not listen to the community either if they think they have the support of the board.
Parents and community members who are vocal tend to suffer somewhat, not long ago I read about a person named Julie on the newspaper, and in my opinion, she was so right, had such valid points about schools being overcrowded, yet again in my opinion, she was portrayed as the bad guy, even in the Pleasanton Weekly.
The only way for the average person to voice their opinion is by voting against the parcel tax and by witholding donations to the schools.
A parcel tax in Pleasanton may or may not pass, but I will voice my opinion by voting NO. My feeling is that most Pleasanton residents will just find it easier to throw money at the problem and approve a parcel tax. That is probably why Casey and the board ignore the community at large and do as they please.
Posted by Linda, a member of the Pleasanton Middle School community, on Mar 6, 2008 at 9:59 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.
Posted by begtodiffer, a resident of the Country Fair neighborhood, on Mar 6, 2008 at 3:29 pm
There are many programs at schools that cost a fortune to run and benefit a very very few. Special interest has taken over seemingly everywhere by interpreting no child left behind, as every child taken care of individually. Everyone seems to want the school run like a business? Unfortunately these are the very same decisions that real business are faced with when revenue and profits are down. Sometimes the CEO and execs are let go, but almost never prior to having a chance to recover from a downturn. How this situation plays out is really how Dr. Casey, his staff and the Board should ultimately be measured IMHO.
Posted by Let's be realistic, a member of the Harvest Park Middle School community, on Mar 6, 2008 at 7:53 pm
Livermore and San Ramon have parcel taxes. Wealthy school districts like Los Gatos and Palo Alto have parcel taxes. These have been in place for a while, and the districts will seek renewal.
PUSD is not the only school district that has spending habits that should be questioned. Los Gatos recently had a financial scandal all over the news, yet they are moving forward with a parcel tax.
Unless you reform the system from the top down (getting rid of county offices of education, have more accountability for all school districts at the local level, etc), it is pointless to try to fight the status quo.
Pleasanton students deserve the same quality of education as students in other districts. If that means approving a parcel tax, so be it.
Posted by Susan, a resident of the Pleasanton Meadows neighborhood, on Mar 6, 2008 at 10:37 pm
"The only way for the average person to voice their opinion is by voting against the parcel tax and by witholding donations to the schools."
Oh, yeah because that really helps the situation. Join a district committee, a school committee, get involved with the PTA, do something to help. Complaining is easier, but not helpful. Have you written to your state legislator to say no more cuts to education? Have you voiced your thoughts to your elected representatives on the school board, or just on this blog?
Steve Brozosky may have been the lone vote against the parcel tax but he also voted to cut reading specialists and AVID tutors. Quality education for students benefits everyone in a community. Are there issues, problems, budget loopholes? Of course as with any agency, business, etc. It must be about the kids! Be a part of the solution, not the problem.
Posted by Linda, a member of the Pleasanton Middle School community, on Mar 7, 2008 at 9:53 am
I think you make unfair assumptions. I would bet many of the people that have the strongest opinions on these post are very involved at many levels. I have found that it is the less involved parents that are naive enough to not have concerns. It is my many years of involvement that brings me to my concerns.
This is a forum to voice those concerns without fear that our children will be effected. The school board would be irresponsible to not be reading these posts.
A parcel tax will be paid by all property owners whether they have kids or not, so they deserve a voice here as well.
Realistic: It sounds like you are suggesting.... all districts misuse money... so let's just give them what they want... so they don't take it out on our kids. ???
Posted by AL, a resident of the Highland Oaks neighborhood, on Mar 7, 2008 at 10:05 am
The reason why I do have concerns is because I am constantly involved at the schools. I don't think most people realize how much waste there actually is. San Ramon spends less per student than Pleasanton does, so why would Pleasanton need even more? Throwing money at problems is for people who don't understand the problems to begin with.
Posted by pleasetell, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Mar 7, 2008 at 1:47 pm
Well Al, If you are intimately aware of waste, please share? I have personally spent untold hours (my choice) helping as well. I do so because I believe in what I see going on in the schools I participate in. I don't necessarily agree with a parcel tax to solve the "yet to be determined" shortfall. But my experience has not exposed any wasteful behavior regarding expendatures in fact quite the opposite. If you are aware of specific monies being squandered somehow it would help if you were more specific than "I don't think most people realize", with no backup?
Posted by AL, a resident of the Highland Oaks neighborhood, on Mar 7, 2008 at 5:04 pm
Lets see, waste in the school: brand new projectors for all of the classrooms, brand new computers, a golf cart for the P.E. coach to ride around on ( a P.E. coach can't walk?), an overpaid superintendent with a nice, fluffy staff. That's not even getting started on the other aministrative employees that are a total waste of taxpayers money. I have been down to the district offices many times and seen the employees kind of just hanging out down there. If they were busy doing something, they surely didn't seem like it. I guess waste is subjective, though, maybe some people don't see these things as wasteful.
Posted by Let's be realistic, a member of the Harvest Park Middle School community, on Mar 7, 2008 at 6:54 pm
Linda: What I am saying is that unless someone is going to get out there and be an advocate for reform, why should it be Pleasanton schools the ones that do without? Other school districts, wealthy and not, will have parcel taxes, and with them, keep the cuts to a minimum... why should Pleasanton students not get the same?
If on the other hand, someone is willing to take the lead, and either recall the board or demand that Casey shapes up or be fired, then that is fine too, but I don't see anyone taking on that role.
Unless someone is willing to get out there and fight to make things right and reform spending, why not just approve the parcel tax so our students won't suffer?
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Mar 7, 2008 at 6:58 pm
Parcel taxes are discretionary funds and the district hasn't come up yet with any plan on what the tax will be spent on. Therefore it is too early to assume that the funds generated by a parcel tax will go to programs that directly support students so saying the kids will suffer without the parcel tax is a scare tactic.
Posted by Linda, a member of the Pleasanton Middle School community, on Mar 8, 2008 at 7:51 am
Steve Brozosky is that person now! Listen to what he is saying.
It is premature to be thinking about a tax. The cuts the way they are currently proposed are intended to manipulate the emotions of the parents and create panic.
The district needs to take a look at their current spending and make changes that do not touch our kids. Steve found that one department had a surplus of 600K that was being ignored. He points out that many of our businesses that have been effected by the slow economy and have had to take pay freezes and even cut backs. My very small company has had to let several staff people go as well.
"I have been down to the district offices many times and seen the employees kind of just hanging out down there. If they were busy doing something, they surely didn't seem like it."
I could not agree more. I walk through the district office and can not believe the cuts suggested are reading specialists and teachers for class size reduction!!!
Most of class size reduction is funded by the State. The small saving we would have has little value other than to panic parents.
Posted by Jerry, a resident of the Oak Hill neighborhood, on Mar 9, 2008 at 12:49 am
Heard a bigwig Democratic Legisator say they wouldn't allow the Gov. to cut school or welfare funding. Must be an election year......
Someone asked, "why not just approve the parcel tax so our students won't suffer". While no one wishes to see students suffer, if a parcel tax is passed using this sentiment, without first eliminating un-necessary expenditures, "students will suffer" will be the theme heard year after year when funds are supposedly needed for any reason. Remember, somewhere out there is the 50+ items dreamed up by the "Dream Team". Standby for another parcel tax, the children will surely "suffer" if they don't have all these "dream" items - that they've never had.
Thank God for Prop. 13!!!!!!!! But wait, there's whispers in Sac. about the need to "modifying" Prop. 13. If that happens your schools will really be in deep trouble as more companies bale out of the state and take all those tax funds and jobs with them.
Posted by Cosmic-Charlie, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Mar 10, 2008 at 6:51 am
This parcel tax stuff is getting out of hand. Cutting the waste is a good idea but I have this suggestion. Let's double the class size to cut half the teachers out, which would go a long way in saving money. I got my education in the 50s and 60s where our classes ranged from 35 to 40 students each in every class and in every school, and by the way I went to 14 schools. It was the same whether in Texas, Illinois, Iowa Idaho, Europe, or California, it didn't make any difference. And by what I see today, the kids are certainly being shortchanged by all the unnecessary BS they are being exposed to in the schools. What happened to things like teaching them to read, arithmetic and math, social studies, government, civics, real physical education!
A typical school they lasted from eight in the morning till four in the afternoon from middle school on. Just as a side note, I started high school here in California and in my sophomore year I attended school in Boise Idaho for two years after that. I have to tell you I was so far behind the curve going from here to there, but it took me six to eight weeks to develop the schools necessary to keep my grades up and my parents off my back. I was overwhelmed to some degree with what was expected and demanded that school in Boise. After my junior year we moved to Pleasanton and I attended Amador Valley. When we tell you, it was a joke. I couldn't believe how easy this school was. as difficult as the transition was going from California to Idaho coming back offered very little challenges or demands. I left California an "A" student, and found myself making C's
and D's busting my butt just to do that!
I worked very hard to move my grades back up to where they were when I left California, but left to my own accord I probably might have given up had it not been for the friends I made, with whom I began a healthy competition, and let us not forget the demands that my parents made upon me also.
So I don't buy all this reduction in class size, hiring more teachers because of that, the elimination of the arts and physical education. Money is not the solution. Only a commitment to improve oneself and a stern and steadfast peer group. We did pretty good with chalk, paper, books, and a no-nonsense approach to education. I guess you can say we were going to get educated no matter how much we didn't like it!
The data they have is for the 2005-06 school year and shows Pleasanton at 7419 per student, which is about average for school districts in California. I am not sure where you got your data from, can you post the link?
Anyway, districts like Palo Alto receive Basic Aid funding, and get more than 9K per student (no ADA, it is based on property taxes) AND they have a parcel tax, plus parents donate about 1000 per student to the ed foundation and PTA each year (a friend of mine lives there).
So, Pleasanton is not that highly funded, and a parcel tax should help, even if the money management is not optimal (again, it is the same in pretty much every school district in CA - and in other parts of the nation)
Other states, by the way, give their schools more money per child, and again, unless reform happens the correct way - across the board and at the state and county levels, in every school district, it is unfair to have the Pleasanton students do without the services that other districts will be able to keep because their communities approved a parcel tax.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Mar 11, 2008 at 8:53 am
The previous poster mentioned fairness in regards to services for Pleasanton students versus students in other communities based upon a parcel tax. If you really want to be realistic, let's look at the big picture. The state is planning on not coughing up the money it is supposed to on education. So this budget shortfall is "fairly" happening everywhere. Other communities already with a parcel tax will also end up "fairly" cutting things out of their budgets and "fairly" reducing services for their students. Parcel taxes are band-aids that do not fairly address the root cause. How about pushing your state legislature reps on this?
Also, another poster mentioned the idiocy regarding class size reduction. I agree with that poster. Class size reduction is one of those expensive education fads with indeterminate results from studies on it. I agree it makes sense to some degree to have a smaller class size of little elementary school-age kids, but definitely not when we're talking about more responsible middle schoolers and high schoolers.
Posted by frank, a resident of the Pleasanton Heights neighborhood, on Mar 11, 2008 at 9:59 pm
This comment strikes home: "Class size reduction is one of those expensive education fads with indeterminate results from studies on it."
For years and years and years this issue has been discussed over and over and over again. I know only one real and personal data point. I graduated from a K through 8 parochial school many many years ago. I finished high school in the public sector and went on to finish a Ph. D. in one of the sciences.
At Holy Cross we were taught mostly by nuns supplemented by a few dedicated lay teachers. There were two parallel, tracked classes. Yes, they tracked in those days. Here are the pics of the two second grade classes. Note the number of students in each class. It will blow you away.
Upon graduating 8th grade, our yearbook records a total of 96 students for the two classes. I have contacted many of these folks since a re-union (yes, an 8th grade re-union) a number of years ago. Most have been successful, well-educated folks.
When there is quality of instruction and quality of student, class size becomes minimally important.
Note in the photos the folded hands, and nicely dressed boys and girls. Yes, all of the girls have dresses and the boys shirts with pants, even some ties can be seen. And the nuns made sure that everyone could read and write better than our counterparts in public school, and math and arithmetic was not short-changed either.
Posted by frank, a resident of the Pleasanton Heights neighborhood, on Mar 13, 2008 at 7:35 pm
A ha! I wish I could point out a "little Frank". These were SECOND GRADE pictures my class-mate Billy Amato sent me a few years back. My family moved to this blue collar suburb from the inner city of a rust-belt, industrial, midwestern city, and I joined Holy Cross in the THIRD GRADE.
Mrs. Neely was the teacher that year, one of the lay teachers. Then I had Sister Teresa Rose, Miss Mosgo, Sister Jude, Sister Raymond, and finally Sister Malachi in the eighth grade. She was the school principle, also. I barely remember any of the names of my high school teachers because either public school was rather unremarkable or the rotation through topic classes diluted the effect of teacher impression on our young minds.
In the photos I can point out many of my classmates: Dave Jonke, Sylvia Geyer, Marcia Beljan, Anthony Delia, Jimmy Murphy, Bobby Riggs, Dennis Papesh, and on and on and on. But no Frank in there. We were all second generation Americans whose grandparents were immigrants from Europe; a lot of southern Italians, Slovenians, and Irish in this particular suburb. In many ways this is no different than today - just the countries are different.
Posted by Jen, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Mar 14, 2008 at 11:13 am
As I was paying my property taxes I see that I am already taxed by the Pleasanton School District for an amount exceeding $800. Just like a governmental agency asking for money but neglecting to tell us that we already give them more money on our taxes. I guess they hope that we will all forget about the previous tax assessments when they ask you for another $150. Lets not forget the hundreds of dollars that each of us already give to the schools during registration and the first few weeks of the school year (plus several hundred dollars per student if you are into band or sports).
If you want to know how well the $800 (depending on your property value) is working for you, you just have to look at some recent decisions by the school board to use this money for a new multi-purpose room at Village High School and also for building new lobbies in the gyms of Foothill and Amador (I have no idea how lobbies in the gyms will enhance our student's education). Brozosky has been the only board member questioning those expenses. It just goes to show you, if you give the government more money, they will find ways to unwisely spend it.
Posted by concerned, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 14, 2008 at 11:33 am
It has bothered me that at least two of our School Board Trustees actively opposed the Oak Grove development. While this poject won't help the immediate income/spending gap, it will contribute significant income to the school district through school impact fees collected when a building permit is taken out as well as the annual portion of property taxes paid that go to the school district.
While I certainly support each individual's right to a position on the Oak Grove project, it is troubling that at least two school board members actively opposed a project that will generate significant income to the school district while at the same time they are asking us for a parcel tax increase.
This just adds to my conclusion that the superintendent and several members of the school board are out of touch with the community. I think the school board election this fall is extremely important to elect members of our community who are truly going to act as "Trustees" of our schools.
Posted by Yvonne, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 14, 2008 at 1:33 pm
Hi "concerned". I think you might be missunderstanding how schools are financed.
On the developer fees, this is for capital costs (facilities) to support the impact of the new students being generated. The district did a study to figure out the cost per new student for facilities and this is what is being charged when you build a new house. This is not a money maker but rather covers the actual impact. In addition, there is a cap on square feet of the house that is being charged which I believe is around 4,000 or 6,000 square feet (cannot remember actual amount). So the houses in Oak Grove will not be paying any more fees than other homes recently approved in the community as much of their square feet will not be subject to school impact fees (maybe we should ask the school district to remove this cap).
On property taxes, the property taxes do not go to the schools. This was changed with proposition 13. The schools are almost completely financed by the State based on income tax and other state taxes. The property taxes go to the city and the county, and not the school district. This was done with proposition 13 so that all kids in California had a good education and not just those kids in areas with expensive housing.
So actually the Oak Grove development will not really effect the finances of the schools but will add to the over-crowding that we currently experience. The developer fees will probably go to adding more portables which give the kids less field space for sports.
Posted by Linda, a member of the Pleasanton Middle School community, on Mar 14, 2008 at 1:33 pm
I am glad to see Town Square Posting. The column is over due.
You did not do the comments on the parcel tax justice. The parcel tax and the districts list of cuts has been the top topic of posts for weeks. There have been many comments that deserve to be printed in hard copy.
This topic needs more consideration than others because it is a forum for parents to voice concerns without fear of our children being effected.
Posted by Decline, a resident of the Golden Eagle neighborhood, on Mar 15, 2008 at 7:24 pm
I agree that memebers of the school board should not have come out against Oak Grove. Yvonne is the one who misunderstands the issue. 0.0854% of a home's assessed value goes directly to PUSD, every year. If the average Oak Grove home has an assessed value of $3MM and there are 51 homes in Oak Grove that's over $1.3MM in annual incremental revenue for PUSD - about 25% of the current PUSD deficit. The small number of additional Oak Grove PUSD students would have no measurable impact but the revenue would be substantial.
Posted by Mary, a member of the Amador Valley High School community, on Mar 16, 2008 at 12:19 am
Decline--- can you provide information where you get your property tax figures? I have examined my property tax bill and see the .0756% I pay on the Measure B bond monies that voters approved in about 1996 to pay for renovations at all school campuses. We will continue paying this rate for another 8 years or so. Someone wrote on this board that they are paying more than $800 annually and I am sure looking at my bill that is for this bond. So unless you have other information, I believe the amount you are referring to DOES NOT go to the operating budget of the district.
Here is a link to a an article I found called "The Basics of California's School Finance System." From this, I do not see how Decline can calculate the amount of property tax that 1 home (or 51 homes) can bring to the district. One of the points about property taxes (below) says that the Governor and Legislature determine what part of those revenues go to schools. The article explains that school funding is based on funding in districts back in 1972 (pre-Prop 13!)
The column on the left of the diagram shows the five sources of
operating funds for schools in California:
¡ñ The federal government contributes about 11% of the education
budget, up from about 8% in 1996¨C97.
¡ñ About 61% of the funds are from the state¡ªgenerated by business
and personal income taxes, sales taxes, and some special taxes.
** Local property taxes are a little less than 21% of all funds. The
Legislature and governor determine what part of these revenues
goes to schools. ****
¡ñ The tiny line near the bottom of the column¡ªless than 2%
of the total, or about $150 per student¡ªis from the California
¡ñ Miscellaneous local revenues are about 6% of the total. These
come from a variety of sources, such as special elections for
parcel taxes (needs a two-thirds vote for approval); contributions
from foundations, businesses, and individuals; food service sales,
and interest on investments.
These simple boxes tell the whole story: there are no other
sources of funds to run California¡¯s K¨C12 public schools.
I think Yvonne is more correct and Decline, frank and concerned are the ones who misunderstand the finances and simply want to turn this forum into another Oak Grove discussion. For the record, I was bothered MUCH MORE by councilmembers telling me by their sign waving not to sign a citizen initiative than I am by the stretch you are making linking trustees and the school budget to that issue.
Posted by Mike, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Mar 16, 2008 at 11:22 am
Thanks Yvonne and Mary, your explanations are the same as I understand the property tax revenue.
I am disappointed that Decline, Concerned, and Franks fixation with Oak Grove have overshadowed the good points made by Jen of Birdland.
We do already pay a substantial amount to the PUSD bond. As it was pointed out that is for facilities and capital needs only. That bond along with the millions of developer fees and millions in state bond money is why our schools should not be overcrowded.
The Holly Grail is operating dollars(money for salary) which is why PUSD prefers to overcrowd our kids rather than use the capital dollars to build schools. Sadly our district has chosen to spend capital money on projects like lobbies for the HS gyms at an absurd cost of nearly 2 million each. That kind of spending is necessary to blow through the more than 30 million in excess dollars shown on the facilities balance sheet only a few years ago.
The district must create an illusion of need to pursue the parcel tax. They would gladly trade the $800+ in bond money that must only be used on bricks and mortar for a $150 parcel tax that can be used on salary!
Posted by Anonymous, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 16, 2008 at 11:54 am
The bottom line is: the superintendent has chosen NOT to make obvious cuts to his adminstration/team/expenses. He is cutting programs that affect the students, while leaving expenses that do NOT affect students intact. Then he is going to come to us, the taxpayers, and tell us that the parcel tax is needed to reinstate reading specialists, etc. I do not buy that.
Our superintendent needs to get help. The board must hire an outside consultant to come in, look at our budget and expenses and make intelligent recommendations. Perhaps we are overpaying management - a competent staff would NOT have suggested cuts to reading specialists without first making cuts to some obvious administrative positions and expenses.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Mar 16, 2008 at 11:55 am
I don't understand. There is a fact here that the Oak Grove project will bring increased revenue to the district in a way that gives a proportional advantage to Pleasanton (small number of additional students with a larger amount of revenue than from other developments). How is that a "fixation"? It looks like an advantage to me! Will it solve the current budget crisis? Of course not. This problem is stemming from the state. It is happening EVERYWHERE, to every school district in California. Like the data Mary posted, 61% of the money the district receives for operating funds is from the state. So everyone, time to call up your state legislature representative and let those guys know how extremely dissatisfied you are with how the state is handling education funding. Your tax dollars at work!
Posted by Jerry, a resident of the Oak Hill neighborhood, on Mar 17, 2008 at 2:40 am
The Web Link referenced by Mary is a great explaination of school financing in California for those of us that didn't have a clue.
From what I understand after reading the info on the Web Link, if Decline's math is correct, the property taxes($1.3 million)generated by the "development" would go in "the big pot in Sacramento", then doled out to all the districts in a percentage as determined by the Gov and his buddies.
If my understanding is correct and if the entire $1.3 million was used for school financing, then distributed equally, PUSD would receive approx. $1300($1,300,000 divided by approx. 1000 school districts). Not a substantial amount by any means. Wouldn't amount to much in ADA dollars.
If I'm wrong, please correct me. I'm always willing to learn....
As more industry leaves the state taking jobs and tax generating revenue with them due to taxation and regulations pushed by special interest/so-called environmentalist, you haven't seen anything yet..............My neighbor moved his family and business(135 jobs)to Nevada, said he was fed up with all the continuous BS in California.
Posted by Julie, a member of the Foothill High School community, on Mar 17, 2008 at 10:08 am
I went to a housing conference about a year ago. The speaker was assuring the audience that smart growth could pay for itself. However he was very honest when he responded to my question, he was emphatic that when it comes to schools growth does not pay for itself.
Our schools are overcrowded, PUSD will not build schools with the developers fees, because the operating dollars are their salary dollars. Each new home has the potential to brings students that will add to our overcrowded schools.
Posted by Just curious, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 17, 2008 at 10:49 am
So how does San Ramon do it? They have all that new Windemere development, and they are building new schools as we speak (elementary, middle, high school). I was told that there is an increased tax imposed on the buyers of those new homes, and that, combined with fees from developers (who by the way, build the schools along with the new houses) pay for the schools. Why can't Pleasanton do the same? Does anyone know where to find all the rules, etc?
Posted by Mary, a member of the Amador Valley High School community, on Mar 17, 2008 at 4:07 pm
Maybe you are correct but I interpreted the info in a different way. First of all, Decline has not responded about his calculations. I don't have any idea where the .0854% of value (the $1.3M) comes from. Our regular property taxes are much higher at 1.0%. BUT, the way I understand that school financing document is that less than 21% of the total property taxes goes to schools at the state level. And yes, that is the amount I understood to be the amount our legislators determine. The remaining 79% (or the balance) goes to other aspects of the state budget. I don't see that there is any direct link to the property taxes paid by Pleasanton homes & business with what PUSD receives.
Yvonne, does that go along with what you were trying to say?
I have also read that one of the reasons for our state budget problems is the drop in the housing market. Lower values mean less property tax revenue so that substantiates my understanding.
If anyone else has links or more info to share, please do so. Like Jerry, I want to try to understand this as best I can. I appreciate this opportunity to listen to learn from one another and hear other ideas.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Mar 17, 2008 at 7:51 pm
Instead of a parcel tax, how about everyone with a child in a PUSD school take their 2007 tax cut from the Feds and donate it to PUSD? The Federal government expects you all to spend that money anyway to help boost our consumer-driven economy. Or go buy that giant HDTV you've always wanted!
Clearly, under the existing rules increasing property tax contribution from Pleasanton simply benefits everyone else with little flow back to Pleasanton. The following is taken from the article's abstract:
"The funding system is complex and results in unequal funding amounts at the student level. In many cases, the amount of money a school district receives depends on how savvy the school district is and the size of its central bureaucracy rather than the needs of individual students. California should create one simple funding mechanism that distributes both categorical and revenue-limit funding based on a âweighted student formulaâ that would include one base allocation equalized across the state and additional weighted funds for students with additional needs including special education, poverty, and English learners. This process would make school finance in California simpler, more equitable, and bring significant cost savings by reducing categorical administration costs and central office costs and redirecting some of this savings to increase per-pupil funding allocations in California. "
While in this thread there has been much written attacking the administrative costs, it turns out that under current rules having a competent and savvy administration is key in maximizing the revenue that a school district receives. Without it the large portion called "categorical funds" would be lost. In 2004 this was $12B of the $41B budget for schools. These categorical funds flow to the student but incur necessary administrative overheads. No adminstrative support, no categorical funds.
The article recommnends new rules so that there is no need for savvy categorical fund justification and therefore less overhead and more dollars flowing to the students.
Adding a parcel tax may be a short term fix but does nothing to fix the source of the problem.
Posted by frank, a resident of the Pleasanton Heights neighborhood, on Mar 17, 2008 at 9:05 pm
Footnote: the link I present in my last post happens to be a libertarian website but I have no ownership in that fact - just presenting another analysis which has relevance to our present circumstance..... Seems to me having an administration that can compete with all other school districts to get our share of the "categorical funds" is rather important. Let's not dismantle it thinking that somehow that solves the problem.
Posted by Jerry, a resident of the Oak Hill neighborhood, on Mar 18, 2008 at 2:49 am
Like you, I have no way of knowing if Decline's info is valid. I was merely attempting to use his/her stated calculations to show the property taxes generated by the "development" would have very little affect on the PUSD budget.
The article on the Web Link referenced by Frank is very educational for those of us attempting to understand school financing. Easy to understand the differences between the two systems in the article.
Posted by Mike, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Mar 18, 2008 at 10:40 am
I don't share your confidence in PUSD's savvy administrators.
I understand that the well paid administrators subcontract their responsibility to other well paid consultants and still missed the opportunity to apply for state grant money. Only after a parent brought it to their attention, persevering beyond their protests as they insisted that PUSD would not qualify for the money, they finally recognized they were eligible for millions of dollars.
I also find it unbelievable that a competent school administration would allow reading specialist to be identified in recommended cuts when nonessential cuts have not been seriously explored.
Posted by raven, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 18, 2008 at 2:14 pm
I agree with the posts that cutting the administration to the bear bones is not the solution. The answers are not simple since district workers are both unionized. Working for the district for many years, there are many areas that parent or community can replace a classified worker or at least cut down the time using them. The certified employees are usually teachers and the pink slip on those teachers have already been handed out.
Reading specialists should not be targeted, but it's easier in the minds of the district and board than to take on the parents and coaching staff to adopt a pay to play policy. Their fear is too great to the backlash that might envelop them. The district and board hate confrontation.
So it will take many, many parents to either go to the school board and protect the reading specialists, or go down and insist on a pay to play policy.
Posted by frank, a resident of the Pleasanton Heights neighborhood, on Mar 18, 2008 at 7:45 pm
So, where in my post did I say the current administration is competent and savvy? This is the usual practice of one poster putting words in the "mouth" of another poster, which seems epidemic in these threads. I have no opinion whatsoever on the competency and/or saviness of our administration nor did I express it in my post.
The thread is filled with attacking administrative costs including the cost of the superintendent. If you agree that the present funding system in California requires these administrative costs if our school system is not be out-categorical funded by other school districts, then why try to reduce these costs to zero?
So, rather than using me or something you claim I said as a foil for expressing your lack of confidence in our administrator, just go directly to your complaint about him.
Posted by Mike, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Mar 18, 2008 at 10:21 pm
In rereading your post it still seems to imply you are suggesting PUSD administrators are savvy. But I did not intend to misrepresent you; I stand corrected.
I have not seen anyone suggest cutting admin to the bone. The suggestion is it would be reasonable to rollback their raises and freeze salary to prevent cutting reading specialists or other damaging cuts.
Posted by raven, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 19, 2008 at 9:38 am
Sorry I overstated. I don't see the administration rolling back or freezing salaries unless their is a big push from the community to do so. Everyone I have spoken to about this issue is in favor of the pay to play policy. The biggest boulder in the way is a united community response. A packed house at the school board meeting supporting the reading specialists or a pay to play policy is the best approach. The pattern of a large group speaking in favor of a direction has been successful.
Posted by Teacher/Mom, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Mar 19, 2008 at 3:01 pm
Thanks for the support of programs that affect children. I was a teacher in Fremont for 10 years before coming to Pleasanton. One of the reasons I left my tenture behind was Fremont Unified School District cut reading specialists and counselors. It only took a few years of those cuts to take a toll on my ability to maintain the pace of my upper grade instruction. When a child's reading issues are not remediated early, he/she moves up through the grade levels getting further behind peers each year. In fact, a child leaving first grade behind in reading has a 85% chance of NEVER reading on grade level again. So, cutting reading specialists is most definitely a unwise idea because these cuts will cost in the long run....not only in the individual's life, but also the pace of instruction for all and the increased cost in special education when many of these children will be referred and tested for services that are much more expensive than reading specialists' salaries. Reading Specialists also mentor and train new teachers as they grapple with the implementation of content standards and shifts in instructional materials and practices. Do write the board members if you feel these cuts are unwise. If the community doesn't speak up, we will experience these cuts and education for all kids will suffer. I fear the board doesn't understand the scope of the position and the impact on reading instruction for ALL students, not just those in need of remedial services provided by a trained and certificated professional.
Posted by Anonymous, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 20, 2008 at 11:33 am
Can someone please explain how Sports work in Pleasanton (middle and high schools)?
My neighbors said that at least in their middle school, they were recruiting coaches from the parent community. The team always has the coaches' child be a part of it, and not all kids that try out make the team. If this is the case, then it sounds more like a volunteer type of deal, is that the case? If so, are we then talking about high school coaches' stipends being reduced? Does someone know how it works?