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Parcel tax thread

Original post made by Dave on Mar 20, 2008

I have been reading the blogs about the parcel tax issue becausesome folks were posting good informatin about how schools are funded. Info I didn't know how to find.
But now the board dropped off the home page and was down on page 2 of the forums and under sports! Is the PW trying to hide this even though still an active thread?
Here is the old page becuase there's good stuff there.
Web Link

Don't go away folks cause you were helping me understand how things work.

Comments (27)

Posted by Jerry, a resident of Oak Hill
on Mar 21, 2008 at 12:31 am

Dave,

I think it's just natural thread progression. Unlike many forums,this forum doesn't kick a thread back to the top when someone post's on it.

You'll probably just need to keep chasing it around. IMO, it's not going away for awhile.........Many parents are upset!!!!

Like you, I've also "been educated" about school financing while reading the parcel tax thread.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Mar 21, 2008 at 9:01 am

You guys should check out the "Message Board View". The link is to the right of the "Post a New Topic" link. Here is the direct URL: Web Link=


Posted by Mom, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Mar 21, 2008 at 11:01 am

When comparing our funds to San Ramon, it's important for our board to know that parents are asked to donate $500.00 per child during registration. These high pressure donations go into a fund that pays aides, reading specialists, and other extras. I'd rather pay a parcel tax of $150.00.

In regards to comparisons to Livermore Schools, I don't believe their elementary schools have vice principals. I am not sure about San Ramon.

If our board is going to analyze the reading specialists positions and their effectivenss to the point of conducting a 2 hour meeting on April 8th, shouldn't place other positions under the same scrunity?

I know my friends who are dedicated reading specialists are feeling "singled out" by the board.

Isn't learning to read the foundation for further success? Are we really a community of character in action or just words. The most fragile learners need our support, not our disdain because they "cost too much." Failing ANY child is a heavy cost for any community to bear.

Mom concerned about the board's direction


Posted by Jerry, a resident of Oak Hill
on Mar 21, 2008 at 9:24 pm

Thanks for educating me, Stacey,

I had no idea that function was there, but considering I have trouble just turning a computer "on" and "off" - it doesn't suprise me that I didn't notice it. :)


Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 23, 2008 at 7:36 am

Reading specialists are important, certainly more important than some of the administration staff the superintendent has refused to consider for layoffs.

The superintendent has refused to make obvious cuts to unnecessary expenses (like his car allowance, for instance) or to unnecessary positions in the administration (does anyone really think we should keep the Public Information Department intact when, at the same time, we are laying off Reading Specialists? - and this is just an example of an administration position that could be cut without impact to the students).

The board, unfortunately, has allowed the superintendent to do this, and we, the taxpayers, will have a chance to be heard when we vote for or against the parcel tax.....


Posted by Mom/Teacher, a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Mar 23, 2008 at 10:32 am

That's not exactly true, the cabinet, including the superintendent, recommended taking reading specialists off the cut list. It was Kris Weaver who insisted that reading specialists be put back on the list.
Only Pat Kernan, who has a deep understanding of what reading specialist do, and Chris Grant, who wants to cut administration first, voted against putting reading specialists on the list. Mrs. Weaver wants the opportunity to "allocate and possibly change" the reading specialist positions. A program with known success, so why change it? Our special education numbers are down over 300 children since 2002. The director of special education has said that he believes the reading specialists have made a difference in those numbers. Special Education is much more expensive than a strong reading specialist program. So, don't blame Dr. Casey for this one. Three members of the school board voted to pur reading specialists on the potential cut list to give "added flexibility". Unfortunately, those reading specialists are hanging in the balance and some have already excepted classroom positions rather than try the impossible task of serving two schools. Reading Specialists have been told they might not know their fate until August. How do they plan for the next school year, not knowing if they are in the classroom, out of a job (4 reading specialists are temporary teachers and received their layoff notices), or trying to share two schools or working on an allocation formula set by the board?

These reading specialists have saved the district thousands and thousands of dollars by serving as staff developers rather than the District hiring outside presenters at $1000.00 a day. A few board members are only focusing on numbers served rather than viewing reading specialists are intervention specialists who also have a huge impact on classroom intervention.

Write your board members if you are upset about reading specialists rather than blame Dr. Casey. He has been a supporter of the reading specialists because he knows first hand the impact they have had on student achievement and teacher training. That evening the board could have placed vice principals or other administrative positions back on the cut list, but they singled out reading specialists. So, if you want to write anyone about your concerns, write the board members.
Mom/Teacher


Posted by mom, a resident of Danbury Park
on Mar 23, 2008 at 6:26 pm

And don't forget that Kris Weaver is up for reelection in the Fall.


Posted by A board meeting viewer, a resident of Pleasanton Middle School
on Mar 23, 2008 at 9:39 pm

Yes, good point!!!! Please attend or watch the school board meetings, and it will give you a very clear prespective of which board members try to represent the child who doesb't have a voice at school board meetings. Too much is decided based upon friendships, e-mails, and parents present at school board meetings. The reading specialists were told they were off probably off the cut list, so they didn't attend or ask their parents to attend that particular school board meeting. After the last elementary principal went home, Kris brought putting the reading specialists back on the cut list up for a vote. It appeared to be a very deliberate move to take that vote at 11:00 P.M. Yet, the Barton Reading Program which had lots of parent representation earlier that evening was saved from the potential cut list. Although a very successful reading intervention program which trains parent tutors, it only serves 2 elementary schools and is specifically designed for dyslexic children. Not all children who struggle with reading are dyslexic. Parents, not reading specialists, meet with these children two days a week; whereas, a reading specialist meets with their students 4-5 days a week and also provides English Language instruction, staff development,writes grants, updates teachers on the lastest research and research based instructional practices, demos lessons, and coaches teachers, particularly new teachers, as they grapple with implementation of new standards. Plus, reading specialists typically have a masters degree and all have reading specialist credentials. Both programs can run and work together, but cutting the reading specialists isn't a good idea right now with so...much pressure on student achievement.

We elect board members to represent all children! I hope Chris Grant and Pat Kernan continue to run and stay on the board. I don't under Jim Ott's position particularly since his own daughter benefitted from the reading specialist program at Mohr.



Posted by Dave, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 25, 2008 at 10:32 am

Kris Weaver has been in favor of a parcel tax for years. But I will be surprised if she runs for re-election this year. I recall her being in favor of term limits when it was brought up a few years back. Chris Grant's seat is up for re-election and I think he wants to keep it. Steve Brozosky stated he would not run for his seat when he was appointed last year so that seat should be up for grabs. Too bad because Steve asks really good questions that most of the others aren't willing to ask.

Pat Kernan was re-elected by default 2 years ago when he and Jim Ott both ran unopposed. But here is the issue. Pat Kernan is not a Pleasanton resident!! Do a search for him and you will find a residence AND his law firm address in Camino, CA. I don't think this is right even though he lived in town for many years and supposedly shares an apartment on occasion here in town. His kids are long grown and out of school. Why is the district allowing him to stay on the board? He should resign so that his seat can be replaced in this next election. We do not need another appointment so now is the time for him to step aside!


Posted by John, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 25, 2008 at 12:01 pm

Calm down, Dave. Pat still has a residence and family in Pleasanton and spends plenty of time here. If you're not satisfied with his performance, then don't vote for him. But don't get sidetracked- there are too many other relevant issues to focus on here!


Posted by Robert, a resident of California Reflections
on Mar 27, 2008 at 8:15 am


Pat uses an address in this community but he and his wife sold their Pleasanton home several years ago and their primary residence is now in Camino two hours from here. Isn't this is illegal!!! There have been elected representatives in other communities that have been caught and held accountable for doing the same, recently a representative claiming to live in San Francisco.

We have heard that the school district is giving students ten day notices to vacate for using false addresses in Pleasanton, why do they look the other way for a board member?



Posted by Ann, a resident of Del Prado
on Mar 27, 2008 at 12:45 pm


John sounds like he is confirming that Kernan only keeps a residence and spends time here but does not live here. Is this legal? Does the rest of the school board know about this and allow it to continue?




Posted by Another mom, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 27, 2008 at 4:22 pm


" it's important for our board to know that parents are asked to donate $500.00 per child during registration. I'd rather pay a parcel tax of $150.00."

Dear Mom,

Our school board does know about the high pressure donations that are extorted out of us parents each year. They have made it clear a parcel tax will not eliminate the donations. The parcel tax will be in addition to them.

Have you had your child's name written on the board and humiliated in front of the class for not paying their fees the way my child has?

Is there really a Pleasanton trustee that does not live in Pleasanton?




Posted by Seems Clear, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 27, 2008 at 4:39 pm

According to this Web Link, it seems pretty clear Pat is based in Camino, CA -- not Pleasanton.


Posted by Mom, a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Mar 27, 2008 at 5:22 pm

Yes, believe it or not, my son's preschool used "high pressure" tactics like posting names and making graphs of donations. They placed "wish lists" out on the counter constantly. This was after paying his monthly tuition. So, yes, I understand and believe that it is very unprofessional to do those things. I am sorry to hear that happens in our elementary schools.

Basically, the funding issue is a problem at the state level and districts are coming up with various ways around the lack of funding. Californias have come to think of things like class size reduction, specialists, music and art as extras. Whereas in many states, these are considered part of the core education program.
I am completely against "high pressure" donations at the school site. When I taught in the eighties, we could not ask for donations unless a parent came forward and offered. The school provided all necessary materials back then. We didn't even send supply lists home. Times have definitely changed.

The board is also a bit guilty of "high pressuring" this community into the "parcel tax" or else. Each time I write a board member in support of the reading specialists, the reply from most has come back with a comment about needing the "parcel tax" or "What would you like us to cut?" I don't want the students to miss out on anything that the children before them have had or experienced, so it appears we have to go the San Ramon direction...expensive and high pressure donations, a parcel tax, or lose programs. Personally, I have mixed feelings about all options, so hopefully the state budget at the May revise won't be as bad as projected. Hopefully, our elected officials won't let our Governor repeal Proposition 98 which guarantees a certain level of funding to our schools.


Posted by just so you know, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 27, 2008 at 5:27 pm

Schools are not allowed to charge fees and no students can be denied access because of the inability to pay. They are donations not fees. If a teacher is writing a name on the board for failure to pay, it should be brought to the teacher's attention or to an administrator's. There should be a way for the child or parent to quietly let the school know if money is an issue. Having said that. . .

All teachers rely on donations to give children in this area the kind of education we all want for our kids. There is no other way to provide it with the lack of state support for education. The copy budget for a department alone often exceeds the department's entire budget. Often the amount allocated for textbooks is less than the textbook cost. Those donations, along with the community's support is why the schools are better here than an areas that is economically challenged. The greatest (certainly not the only but the greatest) determiner for good schools is the socioeconomic status of the community.


Posted by Dave, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 27, 2008 at 6:56 pm

Some agree with me even if John thinks it is okay for a non-Pleasanton resident to hold an elected position in the city. Using the mailing address for one of his adult kids, or even spending the occasional night there does not mean Kernan's PRIMARY residence is in Pleasanton. The office for his sole law practice is in Camino for pete's sake! What does that say about where he lives?
A year ago there were a number of Pleasanton residents who applied for the open board seat---ones with kids in our schools and experiencing current day to day issues. I am just saying that there are other residents willing to fill that position instead of allowing someone to continue on when they no longer live here. Where is the 'honesty' in this scenario or does the district pick and choose when the "Community of Character" traits are important?

Sorry to have gotten off the original intent of this thread. But, I am just stunned that this is allowed here when it is front page news when it happens elsewhere.


Posted by Mary, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Mar 27, 2008 at 10:23 pm

Mom, Consider responding to the board member's question of "What would you like us to cut?" with a reply to cut administrator's salaries by 5%! Last fall they approved admin raises of 4% totaling $407k (money not available in the budget) so a 5% cut should more than make up for the reading specialists.
The board should be having that discussion and not buying into the selfish line that Dr. Casey gave them. Per the PW article:
"The problem with that is getting back to having a competitive salary schedule and we don't have the authority to do that unilaterally," he said. "When you start cutting salaries and reducing days, you become less competitive. It's something that we're going to consider, but it's hard to pull salaries back up to where they were."
The district and board know that it will be MUCH easier to pass a parcel tax if the public thinks that reading specialists are at risk of being lost! After all, how many people will vote to approve a tax if it is to give administrator's a raise. That is a lot more than being a "bit guilty" of pressuring the community into a parcel tax. IMO.
And keep in mind that while San Ramon has a parcel tax and perhaps even larger parent donations, the ADA dollars they receive are about $650 per student LESS than Pleasanton. SR teachers, on average, are paid about $4k less than Pleasanton teachers (adjusting for benefits.) Does anyone have any data comparing administrator salaries for the 2 districts?
I still say no parcel tax until PUSD cuts from the top down!


Posted by Teacher, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Mar 28, 2008 at 10:10 am

Dear Moms,

I am a reading specialist in Pleasanton, and I don't believe the board will get a parcel tax passed "to save reading specialist positions." If the board is trying to gain support for a parcel tax, they used the wrong pawn. We serve a very silent minority of students in our district. Reading specialists are passionate about our work, and I know I felt completely demoralized when I heard some of the comments from the board that February evening. "Bang for our buck" was the worst. Just reading this thread, there have been so misunderstandings about who placed the reading specialists back on the potential cut list. The cabinet, including the supertindent, asked for the removal of the reading specialists from the cut list. A board member insisted placing them back on to create "flexibility". (However, four of our reading specialists have received lay off notices during this period of flexibility--all experienced teachers which left job security in other districts to come to PUSD. Districts always have trouble recruiting experienced reading specialists, and now these actions from the board will make future searches even more difficult).

A board presentation will be made at the first board meeting in April. The board will examine how all the various reading programs, K-12, serve the children in this district. We are unsure if they will vote on any changes that evening.

Allocating reading specialist time turns reading specialist into tutors. That negates the complexity and the depth of our position and the strength of creating a schoolwide literacy program including providing staff development to our teachers. As in Fremont, once a reading specialist becomes parttime at each school, the strength of the position weakens, and eventually, like in Fremont, is cut all together. Then in a few years, the levels of the children in the upper grades will begin to widen. Why do so many parents leave Fremont to bring their children to Pleasanton Schools? They want the pace of the instruction to meet all children's needs, including their high achieving children.

The most powerful voices are the ones that actually attend the meetings. That has been so apparently clear during this budget process. How this community takes care of their most fragile learners truly defines whether we truly are a community of character in actions not just words.

Teacher


Posted by Teacher, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Mar 28, 2008 at 10:10 am

Dear Moms,

I am a reading specialist in Pleasanton, and I don't believe the board will get a parcel tax passed "to save reading specialist positions." If the board is trying to gain support for a parcel tax, they used the wrong pawn. We serve a very silent minority of students in our district. Reading specialists are passionate about our work, and I know I felt completely demoralized when I heard some of the comments from the board that February evening. "Bang for our buck" was the worst. Just reading this thread, there have been so misunderstandings about who placed the reading specialists back on the potential cut list. The cabinet, including the supertindent, asked for the removal of the reading specialists from the cut list. A board member insisted placing them back on to create "flexibility". (However, four of our reading specialists have received lay off notices during this period of flexibility--all experienced teachers which left job security in other districts to come to PUSD. Districts always have trouble recruiting experienced reading specialists, and now these actions from the board will make future searches even more difficult).

A board presentation will be made at the first board meeting in April. The board will examine how all the various reading programs, K-12, serve the children in this district. We are unsure if they will vote on any changes that evening.

Allocating reading specialist time turns reading specialist into tutors. That negates the complexity and the depth of our position and the strength of creating a schoolwide literacy program including providing staff development to our teachers. As in Fremont, once a reading specialist becomes parttime at each school, the strength of the position weakens, and eventually, like in Fremont, is cut all together. Then in a few years, the levels of the children in the upper grades will begin to widen. Why do so many parents leave Fremont to bring their children to Pleasanton Schools? They want the pace of the instruction to meet all children's needs, including their high achieving children.

The most powerful voices are the ones that actually attend the meetings. That has been so apparently clear during this budget process. How this community takes care of their most fragile learners truly defines whether we truly are a community of character in actions not just words.

Teacher


Posted by Linda, a resident of Pleasanton Middle School
on Mar 29, 2008 at 7:30 am


Do not get pulled 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.

Send email to:

kgweav@comcast.net

ChrisMGrant@gmail.com

steve@brozosky.com

jott@unclecu.org

patkernan@comcast.net By the way ask Pat if he lives in Pleasanton.




Posted by Robert, a resident of California Reflections
on Mar 29, 2008 at 11:53 pm


Pat Kernan and his wife no longer live in Pleasanton. They sold their home more than three years ago.

Pat's wife, Marcia identified herself as "a resident of another community" in this PW post.

Web Link

"Let he who is free of sin cast the first stone."

Posted by Marcia Kernan, a resident of another community, on Nov 16, 2007 at 1:50 pm

Would the Pleasanton Weekly please investigate this? Is it legal to be on an elected board if you no longer live in the community?



Posted by AL, a resident of Highland Oaks
on Apr 3, 2008 at 9:41 am

I received this email from the PTA this morning:

"Join the Pleasanton PTA Council, concerned parents, students and community members and let your voices be heard as we urge our political leaders that cuts in education are just not acceptable!


Where: Amador Valley High School

When: Friday, April 4th, 2008
4:00pm - 5:00pm

Parents and children are encouraged to make and bring their own signs!"

This seems like a great idea, until you realize they are not speaking to the Superintendent, who STILL refuses to realize that he and his office are a huge part of the problem. I someone should oganize an alternative rally at the same exact time where everyone meets in front of Caseys office and demands that he look for cuts in his administration. Once again, wasting time and not addressing the real problems.


Posted by Parent, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Apr 3, 2008 at 1:49 pm


I would like to have a meeting but what good would it do to make it at 4-5:00 on Friday at the district office? No one will be there.

I support the PTA rally but agree we need to influence locally also.

If some parents want to meet at 3:30 at Amador with our own signs then hope parents from the PTA rally will support our points, that would make more sense.


Posted by Kevin, a resident of Parkside
on Apr 3, 2008 at 11:08 pm

I think it is fair to say that the problem is in the state as well as local. The rally will be good to show your support to the state legislators although those from the state that will be at the rally seem to be tax and spend representatives that want to raise taxes. I think the message to them needs to be to work within their means and ensure that schools get funded to the amount required by law. They might have to severly cut other programs in the state (many of which they started up in the last 4 or 5 years).

Locally, you need to go the School Board workshop next Tuesday, April 8 from 6pm till 7pm. This workshop is on their proposed Parcel Tax. This will be at the School Board chambers at the district office. This is the time to tell the Superintendent that "he and his office are a huge part of the problem." You need to tell him what it is you would want him and his office to do before you would even consider to support a parcel tax. The Board has to hear this. You would be wise to tell the board that our district gave out raises to management just before the reduction in revenue was made public (how convenient) while San Ramon held off in their raises. If we took these raises back that we would not have to make all these these cuts. It is easy to make the connection that a parcel tax would be paying for the raise to management. Do you want to pay for a parcel tax that paid for the raise to the Superintendent's staff?

Another thing that I have not heard mentioned at their hearings is the cost of an election. I thought I heard from somebody that this is over $100,000 to the district. We need to ask. If you do not support the parcel tax, it is best to let the board know now before they spend the money on the election, forcing even more cuts. I imagine that the district will also hire consultants and send mailers in favor of their parcel tax so the cost may be much more than $100,000.


Posted by Reading Specialist/Mom, a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Apr 5, 2008 at 8:55 am

There are a lot of negative blogs about PUSD administration. This problem is truly at the state level, not at the PUSD administrative offices. I have worked in four school districts, and PUSD is the most slim in support staff at the administrative level. Many districts have various curriculum directors, we only have two. Most districts have a person or two more for each GATE, English Language Learners and other special projects, we have one person doing all of those jobs. We only have one person in charge of the large task of testing. As a reading specialist, I work directly with many of our administrators at the district office, and they have a tremendous workload because years ago, during the last budget crisis, they trimmed the work force.

If you are angry about administration, go the the California Department of Education website and look at the amount of jobs in Sacramento. The biggest problem with funding is that we need more to come directly to district without categorical strings attached.
Please use your energy to write Sacramento. Right now, the fact is our district has to cut 4.5 million dollars. It has to come from somewhere. I am one of the reading specialists who may have my caseload cut in half, and it saddens me that 50% of my students won't continue services next year. I don't blame Dr. Casey, I blame the governor's budget. As a mom, do I chose reading specialists, counselors, or class size reduction? I know I don't want my kindergarten to enter a class of 33 instead of 20 in the fall.

I believe it is harmful to start comparing our district to others, but each district has it's own particular needs. As far as pay, some of the very best teachers in the bay area come to Pleasanton from our surrounding districts because of the PUSD pay schedule and the working conditions, including the support we receive from our administrators. Those of us who left districts are only placed on the 7th step of the salary schedule even if we had 8 or more years in our other district. I had 14 years experience before leaving another school district. We do this and give up our tenture because PUSD is an outstanding place to work and the pay schedule allows us to only suffer a minor hit to our pay. Otherwise, PUSD wouldn't beable to recruit experienced teachers to our district. As a mom, I am thrilled that my son will get the best of the best.

PUSD has a system that is working for children, so we can afford to take away any of the people or programs that have made us the 8th or 9th? best district for its size in the state of California.

I hope this community can pull together and fight for our children instead of against each other.




Posted by Mike, a resident of Birdland
on Apr 5, 2008 at 6:41 pm


You have only said what we already know.... there is even more waste elsewhere.

FACT:
"our district gave out raises to management just before the reduction in revenue was made public (how convenient) while San Ramon held off in their raises."

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)."

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

GO:
School Board workshop next Tuesday, April 8 from 6pm till 7pm


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