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More cuts loom for PUSD

Original post made on Feb 10, 2011

A snafu with a posted date kept the Pleasanton school board from "sunshining" negotiations with its teacher's union, but the board did hear about yet another round of proposed cuts at its meeting Tuesday. Sunshining is when each side states the part of the contract they want to discuss, according to Myla Grasso, Pleasanton school district public information officer.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, February 10, 2011, 7:34 AM

Comments (144)

Posted by Rick, a resident of Foxborough Estates
on Feb 10, 2011 at 8:20 am

At the end of the article, a parent and booster has a solution for the school and she doesn't even hear from them for two weeks. Why is that people that offer solutions don't even get a response or on the agenda from people in government?


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 10, 2011 at 8:52 am

"the Pleasanton board is eyeing $3.1 million in cost-saving measures, including increasing class sizes in both kindergarten through third grade and ninth-grade English and math. Under the proposal, class sizes would go from 25 to 1 for the youngest students and to 32 to 1 for the high school freshmen."

9th grade CSR is nice but not needed. However, CSR in k-3 is needed, especially in k-2, when kids are learning basic math and reading skills.

It only costs 1.3 million (CSR) and step and column is 1.6 million. Why isn't there a mention of freezing step and column?

I agree with the group that emailed the board: voters need to know if the new agreement between the district and unions will include increase in salaries, before voting for or against the parcel tax. Without knowing, I have to vote no.

But if I know that raises will not happen (that includes step and column), then I would vote yes, and for a bigger tax than 98. I need to see accountability and fiscal common sense during a budget crisis: we can't give raises when we don't even have money to keep valuable programs.

As for the counselors: we do not need that many. During registration, they are needed to schedule classes, make changes, but after that, their use is not there. Students who need mental services should do so through private doctors and if they can't afford it, get state help. Besides, these school counselors are not really qualified to deal with mental problems, their training is not sufficient, and students in need of mental help would be better served by going to specialists.


Posted by Another Concerned Citizen, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Feb 10, 2011 at 9:01 am

Rick - it's not just government. Even the Pleasanton Weekly didn't feel her suggestion was worth printing. It was only worth mentioning that the district didn't respond. Why didn't the Weekly report on the suggestion and all could then see if in fact it would save some funds and allow continuation of the 7 period day.


Posted by Print it all, a resident of Birdland
on Feb 10, 2011 at 9:23 am

Maybe someone who knows Marilyn Palowitch can get her to post her solution here!


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 10, 2011 at 9:35 am

So the 7 period is not back? HS have students selecting 7 periods, and it is not even a sure thing? Does anyone know what is going on? Is this a trick to get people to vote for the parcel tax with false promises?


Posted by ME, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 10, 2011 at 10:14 am

A) Counselors are absolutely needed. They help out with WAY more than just making schedules in the beginning of the year. They do all that they can do throughout the entire year to make sure that all students are successful and can hopefully graduate. Plus they are a huge lifeline to teachers when teachers notice something is up with a student, they can talk to a counselor about it and the counselor then can address it with a student. Cutting counselors is a huge loss to the schools.

B) There are no tricks by the schools. The schools aren't out to get anyone. They are not tricking anyone.


Posted by Not Fooled, a resident of Country Fair
on Feb 10, 2011 at 10:32 am

Of course they are!


Posted by huh?, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 10, 2011 at 10:47 am

I thought this article was completely confusing and did not state the facts correctly. No wonder there are so many crazy blogs. In particular, you can see that Glenn was confused about the potential changes with CSR. Currently the K-3 classrooms have a 25:1 ratio as does 9th grade English and Math. If we loose CSR, K-3 would/could go to 30:1 and the 9th graders would have an AVERAGE of 32:1. Did you know that there is NO cap on the amount of students that would be in a high school class. There could be 38 students sitting in a classroom (if there are enough chairs or floor space for them to sit). The transition to high school is huge and if 1st grade parents thinks that high schoolers don't need anyone to look out for their interests I want to hear their sentiments in 10 years.

Dont' get me wrong. CSR is important and there has been much to gain from having it in all of the classrooms that have had it for the past 10 years. I think pitting high school vs. elementary is silly. Our students are all valuable and will all be taking care of us someday - if we're lucky enough to give them an education.


Posted by resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 10, 2011 at 10:59 am

I'm sure there is no chance that the negotiation report snafu and subsequent PW headlines are being manipulated to help drum up support for the new parcel tax. They wouldn't be that nefarious. Of course they did hire a consultant (with your money, I might add) to figure out how to best sell their new tax for raises.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 10, 2011 at 11:12 am

Stacey is a registered user.

It doesn't make sense to me. Wouldn't it be in the district's best interest to come out before the parcel tax election with the news that they added a non-increasing step or two to the schedule so that step would be effectively frozen? Why would they purposely delay that?


Posted by resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 10, 2011 at 11:26 am

My guess is that there will be a last minute announcement of a "concession". There will also be other changes in the contract that make it a zero sum outcome, but that will be buried further in the text. The point will be to trumpet the part the public wants to hear and minimize the time opponents have to digest the entire program and educate the public hoping the "feel good" message drives home the parcel tax win.

Cynical? Yep, but only because I have spent my career negotiating and know well how the game is played.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 10, 2011 at 11:58 am

""The transition to high school is huge and if 1st grade parents thinks that high schoolers don't need anyone to look out for their interests I want to hear their sentiments in 10 years."

As a parent who has elementary and also HS students, I can tell you that:

1) CSR in 9th grade is NOT needed. Students have been in classes as large as 32 students from 4th to 8th grade, CSR in 9th grade is not needed, students are used to the larger class size by then. Besides, CSR is only in math and English for 9th grade. Students still have science and other classes in large classes. Come on, students are used to large classes by the time they get to 9th grade. The biggest shock for my kids was going from 3rd grade to 4th grade (went from 20 to almost 30 students), but after that, it was fine since classes were quite big all the way through 8th grade. Then give them CSR again in 9th grade for two classes? (out of the 6 they take) - not needed, really.

2) Some elementary programs are not needed even if they are nice. The main teacher can and should be able to take care of it. Example: science specialists. The science concepts in elementary are not hard at all and the main teacher should be able to handle it, even with labs if he/she wants to.


Posted by Sandy, a resident of Mohr Park
on Feb 10, 2011 at 12:01 pm

I strongly agree with "huh?" that 9th grade CSR is valuable. It is only for English and Math Classes (other classes are larger on average). 9th graders are expected to develop composition skills at another stage of depth and complexity than they are taught in middle school. A teacher who has fewer students can give much more nuanced feedback on students' writing. Ensuring that those skills are firmly cemented by the end of 9th grade provides a strong foundation for the subsequent high school years, and for college.

As someone who has taught freshmen and sophomores at private universities for over a decade, I know firsthand that students who have not acquired strong writing skills struggle greatly when they enter college.

Likewise, 9th grade math is key to students' foundation, and without mastering the concepts taught in math that year, students will not be able to grasp concepts in their biology, chemistry, physics, or other science classes. The basic probability concepts are essential for understanding economics and other social sciences that use surveys or polling data as evidence. Having students in smaller classes in 9th grade math, so that teachers can pay close attention to which students are missing certain concepts and take immediate action to close those gaps in understanding, is very important.

"huh?" also said this well: "CSR is important and there has been much to gain from having it in all of the classrooms that have had it for the past 10 years. I think pitting high school vs. elementary is silly. Our students are all valuable and will all be taking care of us someday."

Let's not pit some students against others.


Posted by Sandy, a resident of Mohr Park
on Feb 10, 2011 at 12:10 pm

Regarding seventh period -- I asked Bill Faraghan that question last Thursday at the Budget Advisory meeting.

He said that the current contract does include provisions for a seven-period day at the high schools. The agreement in place for this current academic year that suspended the seven-period day expires in June, and schools are proceeding based on the assumption that there will be seven periods next fall.

From my point of view, though, nothing is certain until negotiations on the annual reopeners in the contract are concluded. I expect that there will be a new one-year memorandum of understanding. Given that the topics for negotiation being sunshined include hours of work and the academic calendar, it is possible that the new memorandum could include something that would affect the seven-period day.

It may seem confusing that the district is planning for the seven-period day but cannot guarantee that it will be available. To provide a guarantee, however, would be misleading. To plan to drop the seven-period day without an agreement with the teachers' union would be equally misleading, because the district cannot change the terms of the current contract without the union's consent.


Posted by parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 10, 2011 at 1:26 pm

I guess this is the problem with short term fixes . . .

I doubt very much 7th period is coming back because there are a whole list of cuts being outlined for next year. There is no way that things are coming back even with a parcel tax passing in it's current form.


Posted by Lynn, a resident of Del Prado
on Feb 10, 2011 at 1:39 pm

This is all hogwash. The counselors in elementary schools are completely worthless and should go. Teachers should be able to work with parents if they think there are issues. Counselors at high school, while they may be needed for some students, in my opinion the ones we have are not worth much at all. Science in elementary specialists in elementary school should go by-by. I agree teachers are equipped to do this.

CSR, in my opinion does nothing except make the teachers job easier. Think back, how many students were in your classes? How did CA schools perform back then? Studies have not shown that CSR is doing what was expected. Time to rethink this.

CA and all counties and cities are in trouble. There should be NO raises given period. Has the DO taken pay cuts beyond 8-9 days spread over 3 years???? That is insulting to the people who have take 20% or more pay cuts or lost their jobs.


Posted by concerned, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Feb 10, 2011 at 1:51 pm

Lynn,

Did you read this?

"As someone who has taught freshmen and sophomores at private universities for over a decade, I know firsthand that students who have not acquired strong writing skills struggle greatly when they enter college.

Likewise, 9th grade math is key to students' foundation, and without mastering the concepts taught in math that year, students will not be able to grasp concepts in their biology, chemistry, physics, or other science classes. The basic probability concepts are essential for understanding economics and other social sciences that use surveys or polling data as evidence. Having students in smaller classes in 9th grade math, so that teachers can pay close attention to which students are missing certain concepts and take immediate action to close those gaps in understanding, is very important."

Sandy knows what she is talking about. I think you should re-think this.


Posted by Really! Really!, a resident of Bordeaux Estates
on Feb 10, 2011 at 2:11 pm

CSR is a very nice thing, but it has not been proven to increase student performance. It should be eliminated until the funds become available again. I had one child who went through Pleasanton school before CSR and two after; I saw no difference in their learning.

The Barton Reading Program should be retained as it is a program which saves the district money by using trained volunteers to provide meaningful reading remediation and instruction to students who might otherwise need the services of a Reading Specialist or Resource Teacher, both of which are much more expensive alternatives.

Elementary school counselors, P.E. teachers, music teachers, and science teachers are luxuries most of us parents did without and still did fine. Until we can again afford them, they also need to be cut.

Absolutely no parcel tax until the teachers freeze their salaries. Many of us in the community have taken severe pay cuts (50% for me personally) over the last few years. There is no reason educators should be immune to what the rest of us are struggling through.


Posted by concerned, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Feb 10, 2011 at 2:36 pm

"... most of us parents did without and still did fine."

Yes and most of our great grandparents did fine with only elementary school or none at all. Times change. Sandy works in education. She knows what she is talking about.

"Absolutely no parcel tax until the teachers freeze their salaries."

I see it the other way around. Why should Pleasanton be the only place to freeze salaries? What does that say to our teachers?


Posted by parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 10, 2011 at 2:45 pm

"CSR is a very nice thing, but it has not been proven to increase student performance"

Genuine question: Did you have non-English speakers in K and 1st grade when you were growing up? I ask because I didn't and most kids knew their letters etc. when they entered school. I wasn't educated in CA though, so I'm not sure if this has always been the case here?

I'm just raising it because from my experience even 25 kids seems a lot when they are on such different levels here. Some are entering K with years of pre-school behind them and are reading, some don't speak English and are just learning letters.

25-1 does leave kids behind at both ends and 30-1 will be worse.


Posted by concerned parent, a resident of Country Fair
on Feb 10, 2011 at 2:56 pm

The district is having kids sign up for 7th period and then they will come out and say that it is cancelled unless we pass the parcel tax. They are trying to get a group of people angry about a cut that directly affects them so they lobby for a parcel tax. That is why the district always brings up the special reading programs like Bartons. Bartons is one of the best reading programs in the district and it is a VERY low cost because it is mostly volunteers. But they always put that on the top of the cut list to get those parents and volunteers to lobby for a parcel tax. If they put down counselors being cut or even reading development staff (that is not needed as much since we have multiple programs that deal with some of the things they used to deal with), people would not get angry.


Posted by Really! Really!, a resident of Bordeaux Estates
on Feb 10, 2011 at 3:12 pm

I have been in education for 27 years.
I wish there were data supporting CSR, but there isn't until the numbers get below 14 students per class. Sure, it is a wonderful idea and definitely should continue when the district gets its head above water again.
If it is a genuine question, I was educated in Southern California and we did have ESL students. I also taught in three school districts during the 80s and 90s and always had classes of 32-36 students (and that includes nine years of teaching freshmen English). It was hard work, but I think we've started thinking and feeling that the luxuries we've had the last few years are necessities. They're not. By the way, I had students who went on to attend MIT, Harvard, Berkeley, and Stanford, and none of them had CSR or any of the other extras I mentioned above.
Let's all think long and hard about what we really need our schools to do for our kids. Is it having a counselor-led support group or teaching them to read? Knowing all the rules of tether ball or the times tables? Playing the clarinet or doing higher-level critical thinking? Come to grips with the financial situation as it is and focus on giving our children what they need to be successful in the world. Let's get ourselves out of this hole by cutting the fluff, which can always be reinstated, and surely will be, in better times


Posted by concerened, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Feb 10, 2011 at 3:17 pm

"Let's get ourselves out of this hole by cutting the fluff, which can always be reinstated, and surely will be, in better times"

I'm surprised you would refer to learning to play the clarinet as "fluff". Studies abound that link academic performance to learning to read and play music.


Posted by Gerry, a resident of Avila
on Feb 10, 2011 at 3:29 pm

It looks like the board is interested in eliminating programs and services to our children rather than cutting the outrageous union perks and wages. Whose side are they on anyway?


Posted by reasonable, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 10, 2011 at 4:01 pm

As far as "cutting the fluff" that is exactly the problem with this proposal. It cuts small $ amounts here and there that don't add up to much but serve to decimate programs that make a very real difference to individual kids. Music, sports and counseling (or Barton reading, science specialists, etc) may not factor into the SAT but they serve to keep large numbers of kids connected to their school, provide social groups that allow for leadership and confidence to develop (especially in our super-sized high schools), that will ultimately be far more important to their success than whether there were 28 or 32 kids in their geometry class. If it is all about reading and math we will lose our kids enthusiasm for learning. Some kids love reading and math and will do great with this focus. But many others won't. What do my kids get excited about? The school sports team. Debate class. The Science specialist. Leadership electives. And yes, outstandindg teachers. I've never had one come home and say their class was too big.


Posted by parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 10, 2011 at 4:24 pm

"The district is having kids sign up for 7th period and then they will come out and say that it is cancelled unless we pass the parcel tax"

Why do you think 7th period is coming back if the parcel tax passes? The parcel tax, if it can pay for anything to be brought back, should bring back things to help all the students at all levels, not just some of them.

Right now the tax will bring in about 2 million, the S&C raises cost 1.5 million and the cost of the election is 250,000. There aren't going to be huge things brought back with or without a parcel tax.


Posted by Trying to teach, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Feb 10, 2011 at 4:24 pm

Gerry,

Could you explain what the outrageous union perks and wages are? I have taught in Pleasanton for more than 15 years - I make a good salary, but receive no benefits whatsoever (I could purchase Kaiser for my family at about $1500 per month, but fortunately my wife works and actually gets insurance with her job. I have to pay for dental (even though I am covered on my wife's plan). I have 23 years experience, a Master's degree, I volunteer about 4 hours per week for on-campus clubs. I see 180 kids per day (not counting clubs or lunch and after school help sessions). I show up for work an hour before my day "begins", I usually leave two hours after it "ends" and I can count the number of weekends I have not been at school since the year started on one hand. I take home about $4,500 month - which equates to about $1.25 per students each period (or about $1.60 per student hour). Let me know if you are paying your babysitter less than that.


Posted by parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 10, 2011 at 4:30 pm

"If it is a genuine question, I was educated in Southern California and we did have ESL students. I also taught in three school districts during the 80s and 90s and always had classes of 32-36 students (and that includes nine years of teaching freshmen English"

It was a genuine question, almost every kid spoke English where I grew up, I can't remember any that didn't. I don't have any problem with teaching kids English, but I'm sure everyone must realise that it adds a challenge teaching in the early years when some kids are reading and some need a lot of help. I'm not talking about 9th grade, did you teach K or 1st grade?


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 10, 2011 at 4:33 pm

"I'm surprised you would refer to learning to play the clarinet as "fluff". Studies abound that link academic performance to learning to read and play music."

I agree that music is very important, but I can tell you that kids do not learn to play an instrument in PUSD. The ones who do learn is because they take private lessons, and sure, they enroll in the elementary band/strings and then in the upper grades, but those who successfully master an instrument do so thanks to their private teacher, NOT because of what they do at school. I know because I have a child who went through the program. Is it nice to be in a group for instrumental music? Yes, but again, the actual learning of reading music, etc, is done outside of school.

"Is it having a counselor-led support group or teaching them to read?"

I agree, counselors are not needed for purposes of crisis intervention. Anyone who needs counseling should do so outside of school. The counselors in PUSD are not qualified to deal with students who have problems.

There was a suicide at AVHS not long ago, a girl jumped in front of a train. You tell me: did having so many counselors prevent that? No.

It is very unlikely that a student will go to a school counselor for personal problems (I mean, real problems that may need professional attention) because of confidentiality issues.

"Sandy knows what she is talking about. I think you should re-think this"

Sandy is not an expert. She may know what she has seen at work, but does she really know how kids become proficient in Math and English? I know how mine became proficient, and it has nothing to do with CSR in 9th grade.

CSR is not needed in 9th grade. Come on, we do not have CSR in 6th grade, and that is also a big move for kids: going from elementary to middle schol, and I think it is more important to address issues with reading in 6th grade. Yet kids do fine in 6th grade, in large classes without CSR.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 10, 2011 at 4:38 pm

"I could purchase Kaiser for my family at about $1500 per month, but fortunately my wife works and actually gets insurance with her job. I have to pay for dental (even though I am covered on my wife's plan"

Thanks for sharing this information. This is something that has come up over and over. People claim that teachers in PUSD are not paid more than in other districts because they have to pay for their own health care. Yet parents are quick to point out how their kids' teachers do not pay for healthcare because they get it through a spouse. And someone always says no, that can't be! You are proof that it is true that salaries are higher than other districts that do offer healthcare as a benefit.

Paying for healthcare is something that the married-to-a-spouse-who-can-provide-healthcare teachers voted for because it means more money for them, a bigger paycheck.


Posted by parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 10, 2011 at 4:39 pm

Trying to teach - I think he's probably talking about the tenured teachers, many of whom are making over 90k a year for the regular school year + can work in the summer to make even more. These are high salaries for hours worked compared to other teachers in the nation and state, even with health costs taken into account.

And we want the best teachers, so the salaries should be above average and they are. But giving raises this year when claiming we're so poor we have to hand out pink slips to great teachers and raise class sizes, not a great idea.


Posted by no more teacher raises, a resident of Downtown
on Feb 10, 2011 at 4:52 pm

"Why should Pleasanton be the only place to freeze salaries? What does that say to our teachers?"
It says that they have been paid too much and now need to get real with freezing S & C. As it has been pointed out many times, most teachers have insurance coverage from a spouse and they take home far more for working 9 months - with every weekend, every school holiday and every summer off - than teachers in other districts. The parcel tax would raise just enough to pay for teacher raises this year and the cost of the election. What a bunch of crap.
Freeze S & C or I will vote no. Does not matter if it is 27 cents per day or per year, until S & C is frozen I will vote no.


Posted by Rachel, a resident of Del Prado
on Feb 10, 2011 at 5:06 pm

We pay $600 per year PUSD parcel tax already on our tax bill for bonds. Having an average salary of close to $90,000 per year for nine months of work is ridiculous. Of about 1000 school districts in the state of California, Pleasanton pays close to the highest average teacher salary in the State. I'll be voting No.


Posted by Gerry, a resident of Avila
on Feb 10, 2011 at 5:08 pm

@ "Trying to teach"

Sorry but it is difficult for me to feel sorry for people who work only 2/3 of the year and still earn a 90K+ salary. Did I forget to mention the pension package also?

Theoretically speaking, you can start teaching at 22, teach for 25 years, live until 90, and we taxpayers will be paying you 68 years for only 25 years of service. Wow! And where does all that money come from? Yes, it comes from cutting programs and services and hurting our children. Right or wrong, that is just my observations. When times were good, I probably would not mind throwing money away. But the gravy train is gone so let's get back to reality, shall we?


Posted by Arnold, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 10, 2011 at 5:10 pm



Why is it so difficult for PUSD to understand they need to work within the confines of a budget? Education is guaranteed 40% of the state GF budget with about 31% going to k-12, or is it k-14. I guess it doesn't matter because the funding has been consistent and substantial. And that doesn't include Parcel Tax Funding or the cost of Bonds for updating schools.

I'll get to my point, school districts everywhere have taken that expanding 31% and handed it out in the form of increased compensation even though there have been numerous warning signs that the funding was based on a series of revenue bubbles that would inevitably burst. I'll agree that the extent of the problem wasn't known but, I suspect that the districts clearly understood there was a problem, probably by 2007, yet they did nothing to plan for its impact. It was strictly business as usual - more money equated to more money on the paychecks of teachers and administrators, even as the economy and education dollars turned south. The bubbles helped to justify the increased compensation but the popping of the bubbles only led to the increased call for a Parcel Tax - for the sake of our children's education (?).

Now, according to this article, "The budget plan also includes spending $5.3 million in reserves, including $2.7 million in one-time federal funding for jobs and $700,000 in state fiscal stabilization funds, along with $1.9 million from the district's undesignated reserves."

I want to decipher this. Of the 5.3 million in reserves, 2.7 million was part of the American Recovery and Investment Act - stimulus money that was meant to save jobs for teachers and protect programs and class sizes for students, over a three year period. That didn't happen but I don't disagree with the school district using these funds that were meant to protect teacher's jobs and using them instead to help stabilize the mismanaged school district budget. I just think it is an indictment on how bad the school districts have mismanaged their funds, and what a farce the stimulus plan was/is. I believe the school district new that this 2.7 million dollar stimulus funding would only cover three years of employee compensation yet they treated it like reoccurring revenue. Unfortunately that money is gone. The 700K was also additional money above and beyond the 31%, and that is also disappearing. Last but not least, the district is using another 1.9 million from unrestricted reserves to cover this budget.

I wish that was the only problem the PUSD faced. Unfortunately it gets worse, or will get worse very soon, much worse. What hasn't been mentioned on this thread is the increased cost of pensions. CalSTRS, which doesn't have the same ability as CalPERS to raise pension contribution rates, is lobbying for increased contributions from the state and school districts. They are doing this because their pension program is grossly under funded.

According to a Calpensions article:

"In the fiscal year ending in June of last year, CalSTRS received $5.3 billion in contributions based on nearly 21 percent of teacher pay — 8 percent of pay from teachers, 8.25 percent of pay from districts and 4.5 percent from the state (20.75%).

CalSTRS, seriously underfunded, was expected to run out of money in about 35 years under the previous earning forecast. To reach full funding, annual contributions needed to be increased by two-thirds, 13.9 percent of pay.

Now dropping the earning forecast to 7.75 percent increases the need for an additional contribution to 15.1 percent of pay. At the same time, the base or "normal" contribution increases from 17.3 to 17.7 percent of pay.

So, what is the dollar amount of the contribution increase from dropping the earning forecast to 7.75 percent? A rough guess would be around $400 million a year, and nearly three times that amount if the forecast had dropped to 7.5 percent."

When you consider that the current pension contribution is 20.75% of payroll and that number will increase to what is probably an understated (20.75% + 15.1%) 35.85% of payroll, coupled with the expiration of the stimulus funding that has been used to fund ongoing operations (as opposed to retaining teachers or programs), I hope people understand the severity of the problem.

the article I referenced: Web Link


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 10, 2011 at 5:29 pm

Here is an example of how the parcel tax does not work, and it is a bandaid for one year at most:

Web Link

click on:
"CUSD 2011-2012 Budget Information" and then on
"UPDATED CUSD Budget Presentation - February 8, 2011, Board Meeting"

As you can see, the 30:1 ratio for CSR is again an option to save money.

Cupertino passed a parcel tax back when PUSDs measure G failed. It allowed Cupertino to keep class size for one year. The year after that, because of step and column, the district took the money from the parcel tax for the raises and again announced the elimination of CSR. The community raised over 3 million and CSR was saved. Now this year CSR is again on the table for cuts.

It is a never ending story. Each year, districts cut programs and use that money to pay for raises. That makes no sense at all!

I will vote no on the parcel tax. Until step and column and any kind of raise in salaries or benefits is frozen, the problem will continue, and the parcel tax will not help the students, it will only help the teachers get their raises.


Posted by parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 10, 2011 at 5:46 pm

Why isn't our budget cut plan suggesting 5 furlough days a year like Cupertino and other areas? I think our plan proposes 3 days for this year and it was 4 days a year last year, so we're actually proposing less?

We're still out of money and I think each day is worth 450,000k, so an extra two days a year would save 900,000K worth of programs + more if the classified union does the same.


Posted by Start Afresh, a resident of Country Fair
on Feb 10, 2011 at 6:10 pm

Thanks for the pointer to Cupertino. Kudos to them for publishing regular updates on the negotiations between the district and the teachers union (Web Link).
Note they had their FOURTH meeting on 1/28.
PUSD and the Pleasanton teachers union can't even seem to get started. More evidence that both are behind the eight ball and playing the Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt game to drum up parcel tax support.
PUSD and the teachers union knew the one year agreement expires 6/30/11. What have they been doing this past year instead of bargaining and taking care of PUSD's budget?
Probably strategizing how to get a parcel tax passed is my guess. And complaining how health care costs keep going up.


Posted by concerned parent, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Feb 10, 2011 at 7:07 pm

"and the parcel tax will not help the students, it will only help the teachers get their raises."

It will do both, but sadly the amount isn't near enough. A larger parcel tax would allow us to both pay for step and column and keep all current programs (and perhaps even smaller classes) for years to come. Combine that with needed pension reform at the state level and we will be in great shape.


Posted by parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 10, 2011 at 7:19 pm

"Combine that with needed pension reform at the state level and we will be in great shape."

And at the city level! The city is worse than the state, at least the state is starting to tackle pensions for future employees.

Don't agree with your comment re. S&C of course.


Posted by concerned, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Feb 10, 2011 at 7:20 pm

"The ones who do learn is because they take private lessons, and sure, they enroll in the elementary band/strings and then in the upper grades, but those who successfully master an instrument do so thanks to their private teacher, NOT because of what they do at school. "

I agree that they have to learn the instrument though outside instruction, but exposure to ensemble playing from an early age is also very important.


Posted by concerned parent, a resident of Country Fair
on Feb 10, 2011 at 8:18 pm

To "Trying to teach": You asked:
"Could you explain what the outrageous union perks and wages are?"

Our retired Asst. Superintendent of HR has a pension that is bigger than our police and fire chiefs. There is also a husband and wife who retired at the same time, now taking home $212K/year as "poor retirees" Here is the list from californiapensionreform.com which lists pensions over $100,000 per year in our district. They all retired fairly recently. I bet most of them are also getting free medical insurance, 100% paid for by the taxpayers of Pleasanton.

CASEY, JOHN M $155,756.28 PLEASANTON UNIFIED
COUPE, WILLIAM S $124,990.68 PLEASANTON UNIFIED
DELLANINI, SALLY R $111,388.08 PLEASANTON UNIFIED
DELLANINI, STEVEN J $101,083.32 PLEASANTON UNIFIED
DONALDSON, MERLIN C $178,119.96 PLEASANTON UNIFIED
JAMES, BILL $109,323.00 PLEASANTON UNIFIED
KETTWIG, JOSEPH L $109,696.92 PLEASANTON UNIFIED
KINDRED, KATHLEEN $116,401.32 PLEASANTON UNIFIED
KREITZ, ROBERT W $154,536.24 PLEASANTON UNIFIED
KROETCH, ROBERT M $140,567.88 PLEASANTON UNIFIED
LEONARD, PATRICIA A $106,708.44 PLEASANTON UNIFIED
MAHER, STEPHEN P $137,527.20 PLEASANTON UNIFIED
PUPPIONE, RICHARD J $100,872.00 PLEASANTON UNIFIED
RADULOVICH, WILLIAM M $115,506.48 PLEASANTON UNIFIED
SCHACHT, ANDREE M $107,100.12 PLEASANTON UNIFIED


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 10, 2011 at 9:13 pm

I have a question: where does the money for pensions for PUSD retirees come from? Is it our district or the taxpayers in California in general?

Some states are trying to alter benefits for CURRENT retirees:

"A legal battle in Minnesota next month will test the ability of states to change benefits of current retirees. The outcome could prompt other cash-strapped states to follow suit or grind a fleeting movement to a sharp halt.

"I think a lot of people will be closely following what happens in Minnesota," said Katie Kaufmanis, director of communications for Colorado Public Employees' Retirement System."

Web Link


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 10, 2011 at 9:25 pm

RADULOVICH, WILLIAM M was only a principal (of Walnut Grove). Why did he retire with so much money? (115K)

How much was his salary to retire with 115K per year?


Posted by John, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 10, 2011 at 10:01 pm

What you are all really saying is that teachers don't deserve to be paid their fair wage. That regardless of the truth, they are not worthy of a decent pay for the level of education they have. And that you are worthy of being the judge of what they do, how hard they work, and what they deserve. How you feel worthy to bully, distrust, and disrespect the educators in this town in beyond me. If this were a failing district, maybe some of your points would be justified, but its not. Your message is very clear to the staff.

Interesting to see the same names transfer over from the city pension posts! Looks like we have some full time propaganda posters working against our schools. Also interesting to hear the complaints when services are not up to the standards of this community. (ie 7th per, supervision, need for outside help) You ask for less in our schools, yet you expect more. AND you expect the teachers to pay for it! Talk about entitlement.


Posted by parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 10, 2011 at 10:46 pm

"What you are all really saying is that teachers don't deserve to be paid their fair wage"

A fair wage would be the average for the country or even the state. That's OK with me. More in fact is OK with me in this excellent district. Salary increases which cause teacher layoffs, not a great idea. Not socially responsible.


Posted by Sandy, a resident of Mohr Park
on Feb 10, 2011 at 10:54 pm

I read these forums because I want to understand the diverse points of view of my neighbors. We may form different opinions, but I believe it is important to begin with an accurate understanding of the facts. So, just two corrections....

Rachel -- the taxes you pay for school bonds are to pay for construction costs that were approved in 2002. They are not connected to teacher salaries or benefits. Every school site in the district benefitted from improvements to the facilities as a result of those school bonds.

Arnold -- it is inaccurate to say that state funding for education has been consistent. Because total state revenues have declined over the last three years, state funding for education has declined as well.


Posted by Start Afresh, a resident of Country Fair
on Feb 11, 2011 at 6:32 am

Sandy -
According to Gov Brown's budget proposal, state general fund revenues for this year are expected to be greater than last year. The report (Web Link) says:

"General Fund revenues without proposed policy changes, for 2010‑11 are now expected to total $90.7 billion, $3.5 billion less than the estimate at the time of the 2010 Budget Act, and 4.2 percent greater than actual 2009‑10 revenues"


Posted by Ulster, a resident of Amador Estates
on Feb 11, 2011 at 6:41 am

Concerned Parent--none of the people you listed were part of the teacher's union as far as I can see. Fact FAIL.


Posted by Rachel, a resident of Del Prado
on Feb 11, 2011 at 6:44 am

First of all, the bonds were 1997, not 2002.

Also, the woefully out of date PUSD website gives a last spending report on it that is 2 years old, posted in 2009.

Web Link

And we are supposed to trust them with more money? No thanks.


Posted by Sandy, a resident of Mohr Park
on Feb 11, 2011 at 7:31 am

Rachel -- an updated report was delivered by Luz Cazares at a board meeting in January. I'll follow up to ask for it to be posted on the web.

Arnold -- increasing general fund revenues next year do not mean that funding for education will increase next year. In fact, the best case scenario, what the Governor describes as "flat funding" for next year, actually translates to a small decrease in funding for next year compared with this one, and involves new cash deferrals in state payments to schools.

Web Link


Posted by Thank you!, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 11, 2011 at 8:47 am

AMEN JOHN!!!! The entitlement in this town is absolutely ridiculous! People think they are entitled to anything and don't have to give up anything to get it.


Posted by Support of Schools, a resident of Birdland
on Feb 11, 2011 at 8:50 am

I believe that teaching is the most important job on the planet! These people devote their time to bringing up our future. Without their hard work and dedication to the children, our community (as well as most communities) would be in the toilet. I am not a teacher, but have many teacher friends. I do not make what they make nor have the retirement package they have, but I would and could not do their job. They spend their own money, spend their own time over and above what their "contract" states so that they can better serve their students. If you believe that they only work 2/3 of the year then you are crazy. My friends are planning their school year well before school begins in August - unpaid. They take home papers to correct during their evening hours at home - unpaid.

Do I believe they get paid too much?? No way! Do I believe that they do not deserve a good pension after all the years of dealing with our children - No Way! They deserve every penny. Do I think it is ridiculous that movie stars make millions of dollars for a movie - yes! Do I believe that a sports athlete can make millions a year for working only part of the year - Yes!! But yet people will pay hundreds of dollars for season tickets and thousands to watch a Super Bowl in person, to help support these outrageous salaries. I think 90K a year with a good pension is not too much to pay for a career that was filled with dedication and love toward our future.


Posted by Rick, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 11, 2011 at 9:05 am

Does it seem like we will become Greece? When all government workers take us to bankruptcy? Thank you so much.


Posted by parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 11, 2011 at 9:32 am

So "support of schools" would you rather give teachers raises than protect the jobs of the newer, lesser paid teachers? Are you OK with them getting pink slips to pay for the raises of others? I'm not. I don't think that is responsible of the unions or management.

We are out of money - well, our funding will be flat . . . So the choice is raises for some or keep salaries flat until we have the funding to pay for rasies and keep good teachers in their jobs.


Posted by Support of Schools, a resident of Birdland
on Feb 11, 2011 at 10:12 am

To Parent:

My post was for those people who believe that teachers are paid too much. I was merely trying to say that I don't believe they are paid too much!

I believe that they should and could probably forgo raises until things get better...that is what the private sector is doing and should be the fiscally responsible thing to do. My teacher friends are okay with no raises while things are in crisis mode. They would rather do that then see class sizes rise at the elementary level. They believe if class sizes rise then the quality of the education will suffer for it...more children left behind.

Again, I was merely trying to say that PUSD teachers deserve the salaries they earn in P-Town. I guess I didn't say it very well!


Posted by parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 11, 2011 at 11:25 am

To support of schools:

Thanks for clarifying. In that case I agree with you entirely!


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 11, 2011 at 12:39 pm

"If you believe that they only work 2/3 of the year then you are crazy. My friends are planning their school year well before school begins in August - unpaid. They take home papers to correct during their evening hours at home - unpaid. "

Facts: teachers work "year" is less than 9 months. Plus they get holidays, a week off during thanksgiving, a week off in april... Crazy are the people who do not see that this is a less than full-time job, even with the teachers who bring work home (what professional doesn't do that, yet only teachers get all that time off)

Besides, a kindergarten teacher who must bring work home is not a very good one, since there is not much to grade at that level, and as a parent volunteer in the past, I recall doing the grading for the lower levels DURING school time.

As for those who truly grade: the turnaround time for return of essays, projects, (anything but scantron type tests), is weeks, so I doubt that many teachers work more than half an hour at home on the grading of these. Oh yeah, and in middle and high school: TAs do the bulk of the grading for most work except big projects, which again, take weeks for students to get back.

Please do not try to deny the reality: teachers do not work a full-time job in the sense that they do not work 12 months, get plenty of holidays and time off. I have friends who are teachers too and see that firsthand. They are the ones with the time to do scouts, coach, drive kids around, good deal for us the friends, but a bad deal for us as taxpayers


Posted by Ha!, a resident of Danbury Park
on Feb 11, 2011 at 12:51 pm

@Resident - Year round school for the kids!!!! Make them teachers earn their pay!


Posted by reality check, a resident of Foothill High School
on Feb 11, 2011 at 12:57 pm

You're right; it's not a traditional 12 month 9-5, but it is more than a full time job. If you think it's easy, then your teachers are good. They are able to handle all of the work and make it look easy. It's not.

Please don't insult the teachers by claiming that they only put in "half an hour of time at home." Here are some numbers to ponder: 175 students in an English class=175 essays to be graded outside of the school day. A conscientious and thorough teacher will grade about 3 or 4 essays per hour. So it will take him/her between 44-58 hours to get those papers graded. This is why it can take several weeks to get those papers back to the students. Keep in mind that essay grading is only part of the job, so other tasks must also be done outside of the contracted days/hours.

I assure you, most of your teachers are working about 50-60 hours a week during the contracted school year, and then additional hours during the "off season."


Posted by John, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 11, 2011 at 5:31 pm

So Resident, what's your point? Are you trying to convince the people of this town that the teachers do not work hard and are not entitled to their salary because of the hours school is in session? How are you authorized to judge what this career entails, and why should we believe your bashing of professionals who have shown proven success year after year?

I'd like you to explain how the job is possible within the hours and days that school is in session when they are in front of students? Do you think we are fools to believe that this is a part time job because of the hours and days required to be on site?

Again a brilliant example of the mean and divisive nature of many in this town, and towards an amazingly successful school district! What is it exactly do you want Resident- pain, suffering? This unjustified attack is what is really wrong with this community, and I for one am sick of it.


Posted by Oh Resident, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 11, 2011 at 6:59 pm

You are so incredibly ignorant and it's time that you step inside a classroom. You are forgetting the hours teachers spending contacting parents, updating websites, writing lesson plans, re-writing the lesson plans year after year to make them better, meetings with at-risk students/parents, the list is endless.

You obviously know nothing about the subject that you are talking about. A kindergarten teacher does so much more than you know, including teaching students how to read. You probably didn't learn how to read until you were in 1st or 2nd grade. It's much more different than when you went to school.

Try volunteering at your school and getting involved, so you can see what teachers do instead of talking like an uniformed citizen.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 11, 2011 at 7:28 pm

"Try volunteering at your school and getting involved, so you can see what teachers do instead of talking like an uniformed citizen."

Because I have volunteered in the classroom, I know what goes on there. If you believe a kindergarten teacher takes work home, you are mistaken. Work gets done during school hours (and the time after kids go home) and the lesson plans are the same, year after year. Ask any parent with more than one kid: same homework, same lessons. I even asked one teacher once why she would not move to the upper 4-5 grade since she would be better with older kids, and she said she already had the curriculum down, and lesson plans, for the year she taught and did not want to "start all over."

I am not insulting teachers, simply responding to the post above that says that teachers work a full year. They do not. They get paid a full year's salary for less than 12 months worth of work, even if during the days they work they put in a full day or more (as most professionals do)

About the teacher work "year" :

Even for those who do work outside of the classroom, taking home papers to grade (not the kindergarten teacher of course), and put a full time week: they still do not put a full year.

Most professionals put a 50-60 hour work week, very few put 8 hrs/day, so working more hours is normal for most professions.

The difference is that teachers get: summers off, a week off during thanksgiving, a week off during april, and every holiday, as well as teacher work days.

Yes, it is not a full time job from the point of view of a work YEAR.

Do they prepare before school starts? Maybe they do for a day here and there, but not the entire summer, or the week off during thanksgiving. And explain why some teachers in HS won't even allow kids to take tests home: I'll tell you, because they reuse them, and they don't want kids sharing it with other students. Yes, the work assigned is the same, year after year, so unless teachers are moved around to other grade levels they have not taught (which does not happen all that often), they already have lessons, tests and are ready to go


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 11, 2011 at 7:34 pm

"And explain why some teachers in HS won't even allow kids to take tests home: I'll tell you, because they reuse them, and they don't want kids sharing it with other students."

To make sure no one gets confused: I mean why some teachers will not allow students to take the test home once it is already graded and every student in the class has taken it. Yes, this is very common, and kids cannot take the test home to study the concepts they may have missed. Why is this? The tests are reused, the work is the same.


Posted by John, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 11, 2011 at 8:06 pm

Resident- What you ARE doing is making judgements that are totally unfounded. You may experience one situation, but are in no way any kind of authority to be stating what time teaching takes. What kills me is that you think the false information you write is valid reasoning for them to pay for our children's education.

You are correct, STUDENTS are not in the classroom 12 months a year. Your continued postings show you have no idea what it takes to prepare, maintain, and run a classroom. If you think teachers here are doing as you describe, you certainly would be seeing a whole different quality of education. And you state you're not insulting teachers, your lack of understanding of the professional work that they do is plain ignorant and offensive.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 11, 2011 at 8:47 pm

"STUDENTS are not in the classroom 12 months a year."

That's right, teaching is not a full time YEAR type of work, even if teachers work full time during the school year.

In fact, many teachers (I know people who are teachers) have other jobs during the summer. Why? They want the extra cash, and they can afford to do it since they have the entire summer off.

Teaching, no matter what you say, is not a full time job as far as the work YEAR is concerned. Teachers do not work 12 months per year like other professions do.


Posted by To resident, a resident of Carriage Gardens
on Feb 11, 2011 at 9:20 pm

I am a teacher and you are COMPLETELY wrong. Do you know why I don't give all of my students the test to take home? Because I'm limited on copies, my classroom budget is small, and I every month I end up going to Kinkos and paying for my own copies. Yes I reuse the test - DURING THE DAY THAT THE STUDENTS TAKE IT and not the next year. And do you really think most students would take the test home to study the concepts they missed? Honestly?

Have you bothered asking the teachers for a copy of the test? Have your children? Probably not because it sounds as though you are incredibly passive aggressive. Every teacher I know would gladly allow a student to take a test home and keep it.

Get in the classroom!


Posted by My 2/100, a resident of Avila
on Feb 11, 2011 at 9:20 pm

Resident: Get help. Seriously.


Posted by Shocked, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 12, 2011 at 1:32 am

It seems like Resident (and others) want to see teaching as similar to any other hourly job. "You didn't work this one hour, or this particular week, or that week, so down with your pay!"

Well maybe it's time not to see teaching like it's some hourly, blue-collar laborer job and see it for the very special role it plays in our society and all our lives. It's a full-time, exempt, professional role, just like many private-sector jobs. And when teachers have certain times off, it's offset by how hard they work when they are on - just like other exempt jobs.

And while it's unfortunate that there are people out of work, or who do work in hourly jobs with reduced benefits, that's no reason why teachers, of all people, need to somehow match to the lowest common denominator in the labor pool.

I can only assume the people who are most against teachers and schools are either bitter because of their own job situation, or don't have kids in school anymore.

And if it's the latter, that's pretty darn short-sighted. Because while you may not have kids, your house does. And by that, I mean that your house value WILL MOST CERTAINLY go down if the school district suffers. So while you might easily drop $50 a night eating out several times a month, or $200 a month on a shopping run at costco, or (as noted above) several hundred dollars on tickets to a professional sports game, if you don't think it's a good use of a few hundred dollars more to support the schools, keep that in mind when your house value is say $30k LOWER due to that penny-foolishness.

Get over these little details and see the big picture. A good school district and good, happy teachers are a great thing for our kids and for society.

And if you're just selfish, then for your property value. Where else can you turn a few hundred more dollars per year into tens of thousands in property value??


Posted by reality check, a resident of Foothill High School
on Feb 12, 2011 at 7:50 am

Oh, Resident...I can see that you're not willing to see other perspectives or the value of teachers in our community, so I won't continue to try to convince you.

I will agree with you that many professionals put in 50-60 hour work weeks year round, but I'd be willing to bet that those people pull in much more (salary and benefits) than a teacher does and they also have much paid vacation time off.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 12, 2011 at 9:57 am

Here is the PUSD calendar for this school year:

Web Link

I had forgotten about the winter break. So let's see, another profession may get a few weeks vacation per year. Teachers get:

- the entire summer off (about 2.5 months off)
- a week off during thanksgiving
- a little over a week off during the winter (this year it was from dec 18 - jan 2)
- a week off during april

Right there it is 2.5 months + 3 weeks off during the school year - and that does not include the holidays. See the calendar.

Insulting my comments will not change the fact that teachers do not work a full year. You have not offered any fact that can support your statement that teachers work a full year, emotional outbursts and insults do not change FACTS.


Posted by concerned parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 12, 2011 at 10:16 am

"...or don't have kids in school anymore."

Or don't understand the value of high quality education to our society.


Posted by Teachers, a resident of Del Prado
on Feb 12, 2011 at 10:16 am

are nothing really special and are no different than anyone else. In college they choose the easier route and did not want to go into the private sector and compete and that is fine as long as they realize that they will nor should they. There is nothing wrong with being a teacher but their union is downright evil and willng to through its own low seniority members under the bus. A guy at work said they a union is like a rat. Rats get along as long as there is food (money), when the food goes away they turn on everyone else, when they have fed on their surroundings, then they turn on each other, when they have fed off of each other they will start eating their own tails...............pretty gross but that is what they and our local government are doing to our community.


Posted by Teachers, a resident of Del Prado
on Feb 12, 2011 at 10:18 am

I meant they should not nor expect to make the same amount of money as those in the private sector.


Posted by concerned parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 12, 2011 at 12:24 pm

"In college they choose the easier route "

And I'm sure you chose the harder route. What did you do in college? What did you do after that? Please tell us how you are not like a rat?

So you and I are special because we work in the "private sector", but teachers are "nothing special"?


Posted by Shocked, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 12, 2011 at 12:45 pm

Have you ever considered the opposite? That maybe teachers should make as much, or more than the private sector? Why not? Why does someone make a lot of money in the private sector - because of the "value" they add? So then why can't we properly value what teachers do?

Why do some rather seem to think of them as "lowly government employees," like a necessary evil, when they're fundamentally playing a critical role in our childrens' lives???

I can only assume that those who are not supportive of happy, quality teachers, must not have kids or don't care so much about them. If you don't have kids, then perhaps living in a community that cares about kids is a bad idea. If you do have kids and don't support quality education, that's just sad. And maybe you should still move to a lesser community that doesn't support schools as much.


Posted by parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 12, 2011 at 1:05 pm

This has gone a bit off topic. I think most people support the excellent teachers we have in Pleasanton.

The real question regarding budget cuts is:

If a parcel tax passes (or if it doesn't) do you think the limited money we have in out budget should go towards $1.5 million step and column raises? This is the current plan and it will mean teacher layoffs. Or should it go towards keeping valuable teachers and programs without the raises?

I prefer the second option and know many others who agree. I also think the parcel tax would have a much greater chance of passing if this was the plan going foward. If these two things happened it would mean $3.6 million more in the budget to retain teachers and keep programs. If the parcel tax does not pass because people oppose it (mainly because of S&C) we then lose this amount of money, teachers, programs.

I know that there are parents who would love to support a higher parcel tax (myself being one) but that isn't going to happen right now.

So in the real world we have to deal with the hand we're dealt with and I want to retain the teachers we have.


Posted by Teachers, a resident of Del Prado
on Feb 12, 2011 at 3:51 pm

I actually think the opposite. I believe you should not be able to live in this city unless you have a household income in excess of $250,000 because the people making this amount of money can support their own services. The "little people" who do not make enough money are the ones which are the drain on our city services. They cannot afford to compete and want those who can to support their decision to have children they cannot afford to educate and to care for.


Posted by To Shocked, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 12, 2011 at 4:17 pm

To Shocked, do you think teachers making $98,000 per year for 180 days of work is underpaid?

Personally I think they are paid fairly.

If we pay for a parcel tax now, it does not even cover the step and column raises in the second year of the tax so we are back to the same problem. So I don't want to throw money at a problem that is not being addressed by the district. The problem is not going away with the parcel tax.

Also, "To Resident" above on taking tests home. My daughter did ask to take the test home afterward so her and I could see what she might not have learned but the teacher said it was not allowed. I taught my kids that education does not stop at the point you are tested on it. I wanted her to see what she did not get right on the test so see if there was a concept she was not getting, or just a simple mistake.

I think for the most part we have great teachers but the union is doing them a big disservice.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 12, 2011 at 5:20 pm

"My daughter did ask to take the test home afterward so her and I could see what she might not have learned but the teacher said it was not allowed. I taught my kids that education does not stop at the point you are tested on it. I wanted her to see what she did not get right on the test so see if there was a concept she was not getting, or just a simple mistake."

That was exactly y point. My child wanted to see what concepts were missed on the test, but the teacher did not allow an already graded test, which every student in the class had already taken, to be taken home for review. This demonstrates to me that teachers are re-using the tests instead of coming up with new ones each school year.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 12, 2011 at 5:25 pm

"If a parcel tax passes (or if it doesn't) do you think the limited money we have in out budget should go towards $1.5 million step and column raises? This is the current plan and it will mean teacher layoffs. Or should it go towards keeping valuable teachers and programs without the raises?"

I think the answer is obvious: PUSD should not give raises if doing so means cancelling programs (which is what they did last year).

I have said this before and I will say it again: I will vote no on a parcel tax if raises/step and column are not frozen. I would be happy to vote yes, for a bigger than 98 dollars tax if I am guaranteed that no money (from current or future funds) is to be used for raises (which include step and column).


Posted by parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 12, 2011 at 5:52 pm

So if parents and teachers agree that retaining valuable teachers is more important that S&C raises, which I think most do, why don't the school board (who represent parents), management (who should be trying to ensure best use of funds available) and union (who represent teachers) talk about this? Why does everyone think it's so impossible if the main stakeholders are OK with it?



Posted by John, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 12, 2011 at 6:46 pm

To "To Shocked"

Considering the salary you posted is earned only for those after a 20 year career in the district, then minus their benefits which actually brings them to below $80,000 a year. They may not be underpaid, but clearly are not overpaid compared to similar degree/years of experience in the private sector.

Not to mention, the salary that you chose to use as an example will not increase on the salary schedule again- they are frozen for the rest of their years in the district. (A teacher only moves 12 times out of a 20 year career- so the annual raise argument is not accurate for many)

You do remember that their salaries were cut last year due to furlough days. Whether you agree with these days or not, this was another reduction on the initial salary you posted.

180 days is time that kids are in school- to think that teachers are spending the same hours as kids is a continued lack of knowledge and respect for what the job requirements actual entails.

Teachers deserve this pay, they should not be the ones to fund the services that we receive. My company raised prices to save jobs, what makes teachers different that we expect them to pay for this communities' education system?


Posted by Barbara, a resident of Ruby Hill
on Feb 12, 2011 at 6:48 pm

Enough with the step/column. It will not be touched. If you want programs to stay and if you want home values to stay or increase in value you better vote for the parcel tax.

PUSD teachers took a huge pay cut this year and last year and PUSD parents did not pass the parcel tax last year. PUSD teachers will not negotiate to give up salary again for a selfish community.

Show the teachers you care about your kids education this year by passing the parcel tax. Then, maybe, in turn, they'll negotiate something. If the parcel tax doesn't pass, you will not get teachers to give up salary. Think of it as "My turn...your turn"...that we truly ALL care.

But, please, stop with the SC crap. The union members will NEVER vote for that. And be sure to thank all those democrats running CA for the mess we're in. It's not the PUSD teachers fault.


Posted by PUSD teacher, a resident of Mohr Park
on Feb 12, 2011 at 7:00 pm

Do I care about teachers getting laid off? Yes
Do I care about the ratio of elementary kids? No
Do I want my pay deducted to save a teacher's job so the Pleasanton parents are happy with kept programs? NO WAY

There are many districts and teachers CAN find another job. It actually would be good for some teachers to experience life outside PUSD. So many come from Pleasanton and then return to teach straight from college, and they truly don't have a clue about the real world of teaching in districts that truly don't have money.

I vote to take away all elementary programs, specialists, Class Size Reduction, and music from all levels.

Let the Pleasanton community experience a year of what the majority of schools are like in California which do not have any of those things.

Then next year we'll see if anyone wants to pass a parcel tax. Please, please, Pleasanton......VOTE NO ON THE PARCEL TAX!! We can't wait for you to experience a less-than-ideal education for your kids.


Posted by Unbelievable!, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 12, 2011 at 7:30 pm

"We can't wait for you to experience a less-than-ideal education for your kids."

We are already experiencing that, because YOU and your fellow bad attitude teachers who feel entitled to raises with OUR taxpayer money, got raises during a time when the money was not there. Last year, we lost programs while YOU got your raise. Teaching jobs are not plenty, as districts get ready to lay off teachers. I just wish there was a way to get rid of teachers like you, but thanks to your union, your job is guaranteed for life, even if you are the worse teacher in the planet. Maybe that is why you went into this profession: easy college degree, easy job, tenure even if you are bad, raises despite bad performance.....

As for teacher working full-time:

My neighbor was here this afternoon, and she said her child, a student at AVHS was told by his AP World teacher that not all essay type tests would be graded because the teacher does not have time for grading them! I wonder what this teacher does with her time. My neighbor said that the other tests are scantron, meaning multiple choice, easy to grade by machine tests! What does this teacher do from 3-5 pm every day since she does not have time to grade essay type tests? And why is she giving the tests in the first place if she has no intention to grade them?


Posted by Educator, a resident of another community
on Feb 12, 2011 at 8:46 pm

Our contract was signed in good faith and we have abided by our end of the contract and the citizens of this city need to abide by the committment they made. We never said we would take salary freezes if the economy did not do well, we only did our jobs and abided by the contract. Citizens of Pleasanton do your duty and pay for what you asked for. That is all we ask.


Posted by wowsa, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 12, 2011 at 11:02 pm

@Barbara and John
Thanks very much for your statements and information. Very telling details which, to my way of thinking, stops in their tracks all the frantic handwavers here who don't see the value the entire community gains when our children are being properly educated. So, that's it? Approx $80 thousand for a top-step teacher? Where do these chicken little bozos get off claiming that the sky is falling? Who are they trying to fool? Clearly they have an agenda and are spreading misinformation in order to bamboozle us.


Posted by Still have PIO?, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 12, 2011 at 11:22 pm

From the article: "according to Myla Grasso, Pleasanton school district public information officer."

I thought the position of public information officer was eliminated a couple of years ago. So we have money to pay for a PIO but not teachers? That job does nothing to help our students in the classroom.


Posted by John, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 12, 2011 at 11:45 pm

Not getting the community information in a timely manner has never been an option for this community even with the budget cuts. Thanks to PUSD for continuing to provide service even when your staff has been reduced by 23%.

Really, take some time to find out Ms. Grasso's multiple job titles beyond this position, now that there is no one else to do it all.


Posted by Start Afresh, a resident of Country Fair
on Feb 13, 2011 at 6:54 am

To Wowsa -
The top-tier teacher salary is $98,045. Web Link
This report says there are 123 FTE at that pay level.
Seems like you are the one spreading mis-information.
It would help if PUSD would update this document so the voters have the most current info.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 13, 2011 at 7:33 am

"This report says there are 123 FTE at that pay level"

Wow, it looks like a lot of teachers are making a fairly good salary, and looking at the rest of the data, the remaining teachers (except for 73 out of the 89 the ones in the 92K salary range, and the ones already making 98K, everyone else will be getting a raise. That is a lot of people getting raises during a time when there is no money even for programs)

"Our contract was signed in good faith and we have abided by our end of the contract and the citizens of this city need to abide by the committment they made. We never said we would take salary freezes if the economy did not do well, we only did our jobs and abided by the contract. Citizens of Pleasanton do your duty and pay for what you asked for. That is all we ask."

We did not ask for (at least I did not), nor did we make a commitment, to keep giving raises when the money was not sufficient. Your union negotiated this behind closed doors with the incompetent board members (one of which was not even a resident of Pleasanton). What a nerve to ask the residents of Pleasanton to pay.

btw, we never asked for lazy teachers. Did you read the post above about a teacher (AP World at AVHS) who is not even grading the essay tests claiming lack of time? Do you really think that is what we asked for?

We will see many changes, perhaps programs cancelled, throughout California because of raises. Maybe that is what we need, for every taxpayer to see what the union is all about, and how schools will be less than ideal yet the teachers will get their raise. Reform will have to take place, and maybe this is the time to sit tight, vote no for silly taxes the district asks for (since they are asking for money to pay raises, not for programs), and see what happens. Education reform is all everyone talks about, and that reform means perhaps the end of the union, its corruption and its collective and unreasonable bargaining.


Posted by Start Afresh, a resident of Country Fair
on Feb 13, 2011 at 7:48 am

To 'Barbara' - You said:
"And be sure to thank all those democrats running CA for the mess we're in. It's not the PUSD teachers fault."
Except for one tiny omission, that teacher union dues fund the California Teachers Association (CTA) which is the largest political financial contributor in CA (well, except for Meg :-), and put those Democrats into office in the first place.
It is the teachers' fault.


Posted by John, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 13, 2011 at 8:45 am

"What a nerve to ask the residents of Pleasanton to pay."

This truly says it all.

Entitlement speaks loudly.

Resident, hopefully the whole community wont be judged by your words as you judge the entire PUSD staff by the actions of one teacher. How far you have gone from the real picture, and the truth about how successful PUSD is.


Posted by Ezekial, a resident of Civic Square
on Feb 13, 2011 at 10:29 am

I wonder what does make for a fair salary? According to some, 98K based on degree, taking additional courses, and 20 plus years of teaching experience falls well short of making a teacher eligible to live in the community that assumes you must make 250K to be a contributing member. Does the community want to pay teachers salaries that fall so far short of what it takes to live reasonably comfortably in the community?

I sure do not understand all these claims about teachers being losers because they decided to be educators. Let's be real. Most in the private sector don't have any college degree whatsoever. A sizable minority don't even have a high school diploma. And most in the private sector who do have a college degree got it without knowing exactly what they were going to do with it. Like history, English, sociology, political science, humanities. No, this sounds like an effort to degrade a profession that, in my opinion, should be at the top of the ladder salarywise. (One of my neighbors fixes and installs lawn sprinkler systems. He says he earned 133K last year. Good for him is what I say. But I think our teachers do a more important job than that.)

If it were up to me, I'd give our educators an even higher salary, and more help in the classroom. Their jobs are among the most important in society. We place our children into their hands for a good part of the day. I think about how difficult it sometimes is with even a couple of kids in my household. The thought of being responsible for 30 children, day in and day out, is something I couldn't do, and I have two Masters degrees. Pleasanton is a very well off community, but some of its members don't seem very sophisticated.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 13, 2011 at 11:17 am

For those who insist on defending teachers no matter what, even if the raises they get are hurting student programs, and even if some are so bad that should be fired (but thanks to their union, they will be in PUSD forever), read this:

Web Link

"if layoffs are unavoidable, you would think that it would be in the interest of everyone to keep the best teachers and cut those who are least effective. "

Teachers bargain collectively, and that is a problem. Am I judging PUSD based on one teacher I read about in a post? No, because I have personally experienced bad teachers. But this one teacher mentioned in a post above really demonstrates the culture of the teacher union.

How can a HS teacher at Amador, one that teaches AP World, an important college prep class, get away with telling her students that she will not grade all essay tests because she does not have time? Why is this allowed? Isn't there someone overseeing teachers at Amador? Parents will obviously not complain, what is the point? The union will prevent such teacher from getting fired, the principal will deny or try to smooth things out, and in the end the teacher will continue being a bad teacher, and no one can fire her.

Not all teachers are bad. Not all teachers are good. In times of money shortage, we cannot afford to give raises. The seniority system needs to be gone. The good teachers should stay , the bad ones should be laid off regardless of seniority.

No on a parcel tax unless we are guaranteed that the money will go to benefit the students, not to give teacher raises.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 13, 2011 at 11:23 am

"If it were up to me, I'd give our educators an even higher salary, and more help in the classroom"

If we go to a performance based pay, we can reward with more salary, those excellent teachers who go above and beyond the call of duty, those who really teach our kids, those who truly know what they are doing and get their job done.

Likewise, we could fire the bad teachers, those who are not capable of performing their job, such as those teachers who claim they do not have time to get their job done.

After all, that is how the private sector operates, and good employees get nice bonuses and salaries while bad ones get laid off or fired.

Teachers cannot continue to enjoy the job security despite bad performance, and at the same time demand to be paid more. Perfomance based pay would ensure the best quality of education for our kids.


Posted by Atticus, a resident of Apperson Ridge
on Feb 13, 2011 at 12:07 pm

Resident,

When you said "If we go to a performance based pay, we can reward with more salary, those excellent teachers who go above and beyond the call of duty, those who really teach our kids, those who truly know what they are doing and get their job done," where do you propose we get the money for higher salaries and to pay for the vast increase of administrative and district staff needed to more thoroughly and frequently assess all the teachers? Because--make no mistake-- the four administrators at each high school are already very very busy.

Are you advocating for a parcel tax?


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 13, 2011 at 12:42 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

"Anyone who has ever done a poll or drafted a ballot measure knows that the secret lies with how you ask the question." Web Link

"virtually all public money is fungible: If you vote for a cause you like, it will free up dollars for one you don't."


Posted by Ezekial, a resident of Civic Square
on Feb 13, 2011 at 1:00 pm

Well I'm not sure I want a private sector model being imposed on my kids' educational lives. Face it, lots of businesses fail. Lots fail because of bad management. Some businesses are real horrors for everyone involved, workers and clients. Verizon. Need I say more? I don't think I want our teachers answering to a private sector management type of thinking. I don't think I want them always looking over their shoulder for fear that a high priced management team doesn't find them productive.

I think probably most of these negative stories being told by parents are at best one sided. At worst they are probably based in ignorance or misunderstanding. I wonder if these parents go to parent teacher meetings and discuss matters of homework and test grading, or if they are just taking their kids' stories at their face value.

I also resent how the teachers are getting blamed when other teachers get pink slips. As if it is their fault. I think our teachers are more important in the community than most private sector workers. We all contribute, but teachers' contributions are truly extraordinary. I'd really like to see some of the complainers try teaching for a while. I bet they'd gain a greater appreciation. Let's pay our teachers what they deserve. If we don't want to, then own up to it. But it is not fair to blame teachers for what obviously is an inadequately sized tax base.


Posted by parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 13, 2011 at 1:26 pm

"Let's pay our teachers what they deserve"

And what do you suggest that number is? What % more than national average is OK? What % more than state average? What % more than county average?

I think that salaries here are very good for doing what is an important and difficult job, but one that is important and difficult in other areas too. We're talking about salary increases when there is no money to pay for them.


Posted by Start Afresh, a resident of Country Fair
on Feb 13, 2011 at 1:30 pm

Stacey - Great article. I like the author's description of ballot language as 'compelling but vague enough to attract a majority of voters.' Web Link
Pleasanton's new parcel tax Measure E is vague, and an attempt to make it more specific was criticized by the parcel tax consultant and hence the school board did not strengthen the language.


Posted by parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 13, 2011 at 2:13 pm

"I vote to take away all elementary programs, specialists, Class Size Reduction, and music from all levels. Let the Pleasanton community experience a year of what the majority of schools are like in California which do not have any of those things. Then next year we'll see if anyone wants to pass a parcel tax. Please, please, Pleasanton......VOTE NO ON THE PARCEL TAX!! We can't wait for you to experience a less-than-ideal education for your kids."

Why don't you swap jobs with say a teacher in a poorly performing district with their salary for a year? Then see if you really want to advocate raises at the expense of programs here. I wonder who would want to go back to their old job at the end of the year?


Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Feb 13, 2011 at 2:54 pm

Resident, on what do you want to base performance? Test scores?

What makes a teacher excellent involves too many factors - many of which are subjective. Test scores are also impacted by a host of things out of a teacher's control: e.g. a child's language ability, level of family involvement, income, temperament, intelligence, etc.


Posted by Ezekial, a resident of Civic Square
on Feb 13, 2011 at 3:44 pm

But I do think there is money, provided more is taken in. I lived in a nice county in central New Jersey where property taxes were nearly 4X higher than here. I'm no expert on this matter, so I can't say what number is a fair number for our teachers. But I think we might consider first what is the average income of the community and second what it takes to afford to buy a home in the community. If I'm not mistaken, Pleasanton is well above national, state, and county averages in both areas. So it seems reasonable to pay our teachers accordingly. I don't believe the claim that there is not money to pay for what teachers deserve to earn. It sounds to me like there are folks here who don't want to pay in accord with what they have. And instead of owning up to this, they blame teachers. I don't think that is right.


Posted by parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 13, 2011 at 6:23 pm

"I don't believe the claim that there is not money to pay for what teachers deserve to earn"

You need to go to some board meetings. We have run out of money to pay raises, that is why they are reducing services and handing out pink slips in March.

And I don't get paid more than the norm for my industry sector just because I choose to live in Pleasanton. Pleasanton teachers are paid very well and way above average and I have no problems with that. I do have a problem with raises.


Posted by Ezekial, a resident of Civic Square
on Feb 13, 2011 at 9:56 pm

I wish my job didn't have me abroad so often so that I might attend board meetings. But I do try to keep current.

I continue to think there is money available in order to pay Pleasanton's teachers what they deserve. Perhaps not in the Parlor, but perhaps in the Counting House is where all the money is kept? There are reserves available, and the economy is steadily getting better. What isn't there today should likely be there tomorrow. What isn't there today would almost certainly be there if the community was earnestly more supportive of their teachers.

If one genuinely believes in supporting our teachers, why not support additional or raised parcel taxes? If one genuinely believes there is no money, maybe we need to raise more. Blaming and punishing the teachers just isn't the right way to go. We lay them off and then say it is because the other teachers make too high a salary? I'm sorry, and I do not want to sound offensive. But that does not strike me as being truthful.


Posted by parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 13, 2011 at 10:51 pm

"We lay them off and then say it is because the other teachers make too high a salary?"

No, that's not what is being said. What is being said is that the cost of new raises (not the high salaries) will result in layoffs.

I am all for a parcel tax to support retaining teachers and programs, but not for raises in this economy.


Posted by Ezekial, a resident of Civic Square
on Feb 14, 2011 at 12:21 am

I think my last comments were clear enough. It almost seems as if you are purposefully attempting to misunderstand me. But I'll take one last stab, before I'm off to airport.

We lay off teachers and then say it is because other teachers are demanding raises. Teachers demand new raises and we say that that will result in lay offs. It still seems to be blaming and punishing teachers for a condition that really boils down to the community withholding its support for our teachers. Teachers have been hit pretty hard the past couple of years, and now this effort against them seems like kicking them when they're down. If someone doesn't want to support teachers' raises, fine. But don't then turn around and blame teacher lay offs and larger classes on the teachers themselves. I do not think that at all presents an accurate picture.


Posted by parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 14, 2011 at 7:37 am

Ezekial, with or without a parcel tax / community support, we'd still lose teachers and programs because of the raises if not in year one than definitely in year two. The union is to blame, not the teachers. Many teachers would happily forgo S&C in favor of keeping these positions. If you can't go to the meeings, look up the information on the PUSD website. A more sustainable solution must be found.


Posted by Start Afresh, a resident of Country Fair
on Feb 14, 2011 at 7:58 am

To 'Ezekial' -
You have the first part exactly right. Funds that are used to pay increased salaries and longevity bonuses could be used to prevent layoffs. The union and PUSD continue to ignore this option.
The second part forgets that it is the community that funds the *entire* PUSD budget. It is all of us that pays for the entire $165,000,000 2010 budget through state and federal income taxes, business taxes, sales taxes, individual donations, and community fundraising. Higher state income and sales taxes have been in place since 2009. We are all paying a greater share of our incomes to fund government and education. To say that the community is 'withholding its support' is a complete falsehood. Community support has never been greater. The state of CA will have more revenue this year than last.
You ignore what the citizens do to fund the public sector, and you call for more support (aka TAXES).
This is the accurate picture.


Posted by concerned parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 14, 2011 at 10:18 am

"Start Afresh",

"You ignore what the citizens do to fund the public sector, and you call for more support (aka TAXES)."

Of course our taxes (and donations) fund PUSD.

I'll answer that plenty of us parents would be happy to contribute more to fund our excellent district with its excellent schools and principals. I'd like to see a higher than $98 parcel tax pass so that we could retain all of our current programs that benefit children (and perhaps add more), and contiue to pay step and column raises for teachers. I don't have a problem with it. I think it would be a good thing for our community.


Posted by concerened parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 14, 2011 at 10:22 am

"A more sustainable solution must be found."

I don't think we can assume that adding a substantial parcel tax to would create an unsustainable solution, unless you assume that the economic downturn will last forever and we won't have a recovery. Once revenues from the state begin to increase at more historic levels there should be enough to pay continuing expenses.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 14, 2011 at 10:41 am

"When you said "If we go to a performance based pay, we can reward with more salary, those excellent teachers who go above and beyond the call of duty, those who really teach our kids, those who truly know what they are doing and get their job done," where do you propose we get the money for higher salaries and to pay for the vast increase of administrative and district staff needed to more thoroughly and frequently assess all the teachers? Because--make no mistake-- the four administrators at each high school are already very very busy.
Are you advocating for a parcel tax? "

I would be more willing to support a parcel tax if I knew that my money would go for the good teachers ONLY, and not to continue to give random raises to every teacher just because they happen to be in the union and have the collective bargaining.

A good teacher in elementary would be able to teach science, therefore eliminating the cost of science specialists.

A good teacher would truly teach, thus making the need for intervention/reading specialists less. It would still be there for some, but not for as many kids.

Good teachers can make the difference between an educated group of kids who can move on and be productive. Right now, no matter what others say, PUSD has its share of really bad teachers. The Amador AP World teacher is an example... that is, btw, a way to evaluate performance: when a teacher refuses to do her job (ie, grade essay tests), that is not a subjective but a very objective way to evaluate that teacher. She gets an F in my book and would get fired if not for her tenure.

Performance based pay (and get to keep your job only if you perform) would ensure we only keep the best teachers. At that point I would be OK paying some extra to keep the best educators on board.

Right now, we are being told the tax is to retain top teachers, yet I see so many bad teachers who are tenured and getting raises. PUSD is trying to get money to continue to reward bad teachers, and that I am not okay with. There are some teachers I know of that I would gladly pay more to because they are excellent, but some others that should be fired.

I will vote no on a parcel tax unless they freeze teacher salaries because right now, the system we have in place, allows the bad teachers to stay and the good ones to be laid off (if not yet tenured). And during a time of financial crisis, we cannot afford to give raises to bad employees who have done nothing to earn the raise, other than be part of a union.


Posted by Start Afresh, a resident of Country Fair
on Feb 14, 2011 at 10:49 am

To 'concerned parent' -
Nothing stops all of you happy parents from writing a $1,000, $10,000, or $100,000 check directly to PPIE or to PUSD. The addresses are here (Web Link) and here (Web Link). Go for it!
Or are you going to write your check to fund a political campaign, yard signs, websites, glossy mailers, PW full page color ads, consultants and more?


Posted by Start Afresh, a resident of Country Fair
on Feb 14, 2011 at 10:56 am

And just how much will this political campaign cost? $80,000? $100,000? or is the goal $130,000?
Add that to the $70,000 PUSD spent on parcel tax consultants, $30,000 on a four page glossy mailer, and up to $250,000 for an election. Add PUSD staff time and legal consultants, and this campaign will cost way more than $500,000.
That could fund so much for our kids.


Posted by concerned parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 14, 2011 at 12:02 pm

"Nothing stops all of you happy parents from writing a $1,000 ..."

And of course, I have. I hope you have been doing the same to help with your child's education. We have donated both to the PPIE and to the specific schools that our children attend.

"Or are you going to write your check to fund a political campaign, yard signs, websites, glossy mailers, PW full page color ads, consultants and more?"

Yes.

"That could fund so much for our kids."

But the revenue from the tax will return so much more. Plenty of us "happy parents" feel this way. I don't get it. Are you an unhappy parent or something?


Posted by concerned parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 14, 2011 at 12:17 pm

"yet I see so many bad teachers "

I must be missing something. Maybe my oldest child navigated Pleastanton's school system without hitting these really "bad" teachers. Sure, some are great, some maybe just average, but in general, PUSD has been very good in this regard. Maybe your standards are different than mine? What are you using for comparison?

At any rate, if you think you're going to change the way the salary system works at PUSD by voting no on a parcel tax, then you're mistaken. It won't have any effect either way on that.


Posted by anon, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 14, 2011 at 12:27 pm

To: concerned parent

"But the revenue from the tax will return so much more. Plenty of us "happy parents" feel this way."

If only that were actually true...the money will fund the school districts looming pension crisis and ever increasing employee payroll costs. If you are expecting much more than that you have set yourself up for a big dose of disappointment.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 14, 2011 at 12:31 pm

"At any rate, if you think you're going to change the way the salary system works at PUSD by voting no on a parcel tax, then you're mistaken. It won't have any effect either way on that. "

I do not think I will change it. But I will not follow the crowd and do what is wrong just because I don't think my vote will make a difference. Perhaps if every voter votes no on parcel taxes, and refuses to vote for any tax increase until the root problems are addressed, we will begin to see some change. Joining a group of followers who vote yes because they see no other alternative but to embrace the status quo is not what I choose to do.

Yes, your experience has been different than mine. Many students end up with great teachers, others do not. My kids have had good teacers but also some really bad ones.

Why do you think PUSD needs reading specialists, Barton tutors, all kinds of remedial classes? It can't be because we have top teachers. My kids have done well, but not thanks to the teachers, they have done well despite bad teachers here and there.


Posted by Start Afresh, a resident of Country Fair
on Feb 14, 2011 at 1:05 pm

To 'concerned parent' - Luz Cazares said that even in the 'good' budget scenario, there will need to be more cuts the following year. This parcel tax does NOTHING to help protect anything during the four years.
The point is that the underlying escalation of costs is not solved. PUSD's interim report shows that salary and benefits will increase $5 million next year, and $4 million the next. And there is NO increase in the number of teachers. The problem is not revenue. These yearly band-aids do nothing to solve the underlying structural expense problems of the district.
This parcel tax does not solve the problem. It only papers it over for one year. Then we have three more years of the tax along with more cuts/layoffs.
Real permanent solutions are listed hereWeb Link


Posted by concerned parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 14, 2011 at 1:20 pm

"Why do you think PUSD needs reading specialists, Barton tutors, all kinds of remedial classes? It can't be because we have top teachers. My kids have done well, but not thanks to the teachers, they have done well despite bad teachers here and there."

Do you seriously believe that? I think you are very much in the minority of parents if you think most kids going through PUSD have "done well, but not thanks to the teachers, they have done well despite bad teachers here and there."

Sounds more like you have some personal axe to grind. How is it that my kids have done well without a bunch of outside tutoring and help?


Posted by concerned parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 14, 2011 at 1:23 pm

"These yearly band-aids do nothing to solve the underlying structural expense problems of the district. "

An economic recovery will do that. I also believe that we need a larger parcel tax than $99 that will cover the deficits we have so that we can keep programs in place until revenue from the state recovers.


Posted by parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 14, 2011 at 1:31 pm

"An economic recovery will do that"

Can't bank on that. That's just hoping. I'm not certain at all there will be a recovery until we create jobs in the US. The recovery after the dot com bust was a fraud based on housing prices that were artificially driven up by low interest rates. This stock masket advance is a fraud based on QE2, which is driving up the stock market and in particular commodity prices, which is causing poverty, unrest and eventually will hurt businesses who have to buy things at a higher cost.

Job creation will be difficult with global competition and our own complacency.

"I also believe that we need a larger parcel tax than $99 that will cover the deficits we have so that we can keep programs in place until revenue from the state recovers."

That's not an option. The price has been determined already.



Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 14, 2011 at 2:54 pm

"I think you are very much in the minority of parents if you think most kids going through PUSD have "done well, but not thanks to the teachers, they have done well despite bad teachers here and there.""

No, I don't think so. Ask around, and the kids who score high on tests and get good grades get help either at home or from private instruction. Tutoring services actually do quite well, private teachers whether in music, language, or other subject are plenty and many students use their services.

There are many kids in PUSD whose parents know this.

And there are kids who fall behind because they do not use that extra outside of school help. Those kids are the ones in need of reading specialists, barton tutors, etc. The difference between a student doing well on tests and academically and one who does OK but not great, and those who are way behind, is the help or lack of help, outside of school.

We hang out with high achievers, as well as students who are struggling, and one thing we have all learned is to not to rely on the school. And yes, some of our kids are already in top universities, but trust me, not thanks to the school district.

Are there some excellent teachers? Yes, but not enough. Here is a way to recognize the excellent teachers:

Web Link


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 14, 2011 at 3:03 pm

"This parcel tax does not solve the problem. It only papers it over for one year. Then we have three more years of the tax along with more cuts/layoffs.

Real permanent solutions are listed here Web Link "

I agree that the parcel tax, especially of only 98 dollars per year, will not benefit the students. It would only pay for raises for the first year, and after that, it may not even cover that.

I agree with some of the proposals offered, such as:

" 1. Initiate and implement improved teacher and principal evaluations.
2.
Initiate and implement a merit pay system that rewards teacher excellence."



Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 14, 2011 at 3:11 pm

"How is it that my kids have done well without a bunch of outside tutoring and help?"

I don't know. Are your kids already in college? Have they taken the SATs? That is a good way to measure how well or not they are doing.

It may also be that you, like me, worked with your kids at home, prior to entering school, and pretty much throughout, and that is why they do well. I do not know your circumstances, but statistically speaking, many PUSD students are in remedial type classes, use barton, etc.

Many parents in Pleasanton think their kids are doing great, that the schools are great, and then I find out their kids enrolled at Las Positas instead of a 4 year university (one of my neighbors is in that category). Nothing wrong with community colleges, but it is a fact that many PUSD students move on to community colleges, and many of them end up in remedial classes. That is not doing well, imo, especially when the reason for going to Las Positas was not financial but had to do with academics.


Posted by concerned parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 14, 2011 at 3:24 pm

"I don't know. Are your kids already in college? Have they taken the SATs? That is a good way to measure how well or not they are doing."

Oldest is. SAT and AP test scores quite high. Doing great second year in Davis.

"It may also be that you, like me, worked with your kids at home, prior to entering school, and pretty much throughout, and that is why they do well."

Not that much. Sometimes asked when they needed help. We were usually delighted to see good grades and test scores.

"I do not know your circumstances, but statistically speaking, many PUSD students are in remedial type classes, use barton, etc"

I haven't heard that. Please send me a link that has those statistics.


Posted by John, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 14, 2011 at 3:34 pm

Although your personal story and connection have a powerful meaning to you Resident, it is just your opinion. From what you have judge as being good vs. bad, I have heard no explanation from conversations you have had with the teacher as to why they chose to run their test or program the way you deem wrong. Are you a credentialed educator? Do you have a vast knowledge of the standards and mastery requirements? One on one help at home is vastly different from 30:1 in the classroom. At what point is your child held accountable for their learning? I hear many stories about the lack of attention spans in classrooms these days, yet I don't hear one teacher complaining about that!

Your example that we have bad teachers because we need reading specialists and Barton is a clear example of where you lack the knowledge of program requirements. These programs are for students with learning disabilities and IEPs. Are you proposing the learning disabilities are the fault of bad teaching?

I ask you, why do you feel it's the teachers responsibility to pay to educate your child? All teachers took between $2000 and $4000 in pay cuts last year, why are we going to them year after year to pay for PUBLIC education?

As you continue to bring up complaints, all I hear are the surfacing effects of cutting $20 million from our schools, and here you are working quite diligently to keep the cuts coming. Less people, less money, less time to complete the same standards.

I value public education, our school district is a proven success year after year. Even the teachers have shown their dedication after sacrificing to save programs they feel are crucial, doing so even after the community voted not to support the schools. I am disturbed by this ongoing effort to not support our schools when it is coming from a lack of our tax dollars funding them.


Posted by parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 14, 2011 at 3:56 pm

"I ask you, why do you feel it's the teachers responsibility to pay to educate your child?"

No one has asked teachers to "pay" to educate our children. We are asking how the money in our limited budget is going to be used, with or without the parcel tax.

We are asking why some of the highest paid teachers in the country need a salary increase when the budget isn't big enough to pay for this.

The kids have lost class sizes, great teachers, 7th period, important programs. We have lost teacher meetings to discuss report cards and days of school. It is not just the teachers giving here, the kids have lost so much and it's just getting worse.

I think most people taking the time to write here care deeply about education. It seems that there is a camp who feel that the economy is getting better and we don't have trouble ahead and that a one year patch up will work just fine. I just don't see it that way, I sense more trouble ahead and think we need to tackle some of our structural issues so we can stay a great district for the kids and teachers.


Posted by Michelle, a resident of Downtown
on Feb 14, 2011 at 3:57 pm

John,

that is a bit insulting to the taxpayer so this state don't you think? We already pay one of the top 3 highest state income taxes in the nation, one of the highest county sales taxes in the nation, and currently pay 2 different school bonds. I would think that would be enough if more than 40% of the population in California are paying taxes. It will never work with 4 people trying to support 10 and good luck with the parcel tax. I do not think it has a chance in hell of passing based on the comments from those in my neighborhood and down at the school. The union has done a nice job of sitting up their own teachers.


Posted by anon, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 14, 2011 at 4:19 pm

""I ask you, why do you feel it's the teachers responsibility to pay to educate your child? All teachers took between $2000 and $4000 in pay cuts last year, why are we going to them year after year to pay for PUBLIC education?

As you continue to bring up complaints, all I hear are the surfacing effects of cutting $20 million from our schools, and here you are working quite diligently to keep the cuts coming. Less people, less money, less time to complete the same standards."

Really? Reduced pay for decreasing the days you work is a pay cut? Maybe, technically, but it isn't the type of pay cut most people are familiar with. Where is the 20 million "cutting" coming from? Didn't the Governor say he wasn't touching K-12? How many days do you actually work now anyway, 160? 170?

How many millions of dollars has the CTA spent over the past decade to insure that compensation and benefits only go up, teachers, administrators, and the teachers union remains protected, and that the GF dollars for education remains untouched. The states GF revenue is down and so is the 40% of the budget that is dedicated to education. It's time that PUSD adjust to the new reality, the new norm if you will, and quit trying to pilfer money from other peoples retirement accounts to pay for their own. You do know you're competing with other public employee union groups for the same scarce resources. And I feel like I'm fighting off all-ya-all to try and keep money in my own pocket. I work all year and don't have the entire summer to work a second job for extra money.

I know, it's all about the children. That's why the only thing we ever here about is how everything will be cut unless we pay-up. I guess that's what people think they can get away with when they hold a monopoly on the service that is being provided. Shame on the teachers union!


Posted by citizen, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 14, 2011 at 6:07 pm

Anybody who thinks there are more than three or four contributors on these threads is sadly fooling themselves. Same three or four, different names, from one thread to the next. And one or more, as amply indicated on this and other threads, is operating with half a deck.


Posted by concerned parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 14, 2011 at 6:49 pm

citizen,

You may be right about that. I've been trying to post consistently as
"concerned parent", but it some others have posted using "concerned parent" as well. The person posting as "parent" also seems to be a single voice. I think "parent" makes a lot of valid points. We just disagree on some things. Reasonable people can disagree. Some of the others do seem a little strange.


Posted by Start Afresh, a resident of Country Fair
on Feb 15, 2011 at 5:36 am

To 'John' -
How did you arrive at the $2K - $4K amount? The union MOU says 5 furlough days is 2.7% of a full time salary, which would mean the top teacher makes $148,000 per year?
And half of the teachers (per the most recent scattergram) received pay raises with step (~3%) greater than the furlough day effect.
Don't let the facts get in your way, OK?


Posted by concerned parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 15, 2011 at 8:26 am

He "Start Afresh",

"And half of the teachers (per the most recent scattergram) received pay raises with step (~3%) greater than the furlough day effect."

Sounds like the glass is always half empty for you.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 15, 2011 at 8:36 am

Stacey is a registered user.

concerned parent,

The first rule of holes is to stop digging.


Posted by parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 15, 2011 at 8:36 am

To concerned parent - you're right, we're not a million miles away! I wish I could be more optimistic! This recession has got me down . . .

I'm deeply frustrated because I know a lot of the teachers who are at the wrong end of this equation - about to get pink slips. I also have kids in elementary where a lot of the cuts have been made and are about to be made. The cuts that management say haven't hit the classroom yet have for our family - I can see the impact every day.

I feel like the union and management are playing games with us and I'm tired of it, real teacher and kids lives are being affected. The whole thing makes me sad and I'm very torn about the "right" way ahead.


Posted by Start Afresh, a resident of Country Fair
on Feb 15, 2011 at 12:46 pm

To 'concerned parent' - It's PUSD and the unions who cry that the glass is half full. The question is who are they going to let drink from the glass. Student programs? or Teacher raises?


Posted by concerned parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 15, 2011 at 1:02 pm

"I'm deeply frustrated because I know a lot of the teachers who are at the wrong end of this equation - about to get pink slips. I also have kids in elementary where a lot of the cuts have been made and are about to be made. The cuts that management say haven't hit the classroom yet have for our family - I can see the impact every day."

Yes, I agree with this. I think part of the problem is the way California funds schools. Even a decent reserve fund would have been quickly drained given the size of the decrease of general fund money coming from the state. How does any school district plan for that? I'd like to see reform in the way California funds public schools.

" This recession has got me down . . . "

I think that goes for a lot of us.


Posted by concerned parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 15, 2011 at 1:04 pm

Stacey,

That one went over my head. Just like the one about counting how many windows a house had.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 15, 2011 at 2:04 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

How unfortunate for you.


Posted by concerned parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 15, 2011 at 3:14 pm

Stacey,

Any chance you could explain what you were talking about?


Posted by concerned parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 15, 2011 at 4:55 pm

Resident,

"but statistically speaking, many PUSD students are in remedial type classes, use barton, etc."

Can you please show us where you found these statistics? Maybe provide a link?


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