Hundreds of Endorsements of Measure E Schools & Kids, posted by optimistic mom, a member of the Amador Valley High School community, on Mar 14, 2011 at 1:18 pm
Measure E, the proposed parcel tax to support core academic instruction in Pleasanton's public schools, is broadly supported in the Pleasanton community. Those endorsing the measure include all current city council members and the mayor, former mayor Ken Mercer, all current school board members and former member Jim Ott. Endorsements from individual community members number in the hundreds. See the full list at the link below.
Posted by jay, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Mar 14, 2011 at 9:53 pm jay is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
Wow, hundreds of endorsements. That does not even cover the district staff.
I received a call from the parcel tax committee asking me if I support the tax. I was surprised the person calling me was an employee from the district office (he told me). Seems they cannot get enough volunteers from the public so they are resorting to employees. They at least have a vested interest as they need the parcel tax so the district can pay for their step and column raises.
I suggest people go to PleasantonParcelTaxInfo.com to learn more about the Parcel tax.
Posted by Common Sense, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 15, 2011 at 9:03 am Common Sense is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
Wow, hundreds! Well, I'm one of the THOUSANDS who are against any kind of parcel tax stacked on top of the other parcel taxes that we have been paying into the school district for many years now. I betcha most Pleasanton residents don't even know this.
Posted by Nosy Neighbors, a resident of the Pleasanton Heights neighborhood, on Mar 15, 2011 at 11:06 am Nosy Neighbors is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
The recent awakening of the general public to the graft, shady financial inner workings and all around shenanigans by the public sector unions and school districts administrators might finally be the death-nail to any further parcel tax, automatic tenure and genuflect mentality toward these once sacred cows.
I mean, how dare you 60 Minutes of all people for profiling a Charter School where the teachers are actually accountable to a review board and could even be (gasp!)for under performing or because they are ineffectual in the classroom. And that $125K salary? Looks like once you've cut the head off the snake (i.e. administration) those teachers are now performing the tasks of the administrators and seem to find time to prepare lesson & class curriculum, grade tests/homework & yes, actually TEACH as well.
Look, nobody is truly against teachers in general, our children's future or the public schools. What has got our feathers ruffled is the gross misappropriation of funds for the district staff & administrative body, the utter stranglehold the teachers unions have placed upon the community, the lack of accountability to any tenured teacher/professor and simply the top-heavy, spending happy bureaucrats within the various school districts.
So if our last & only means to send a message to these entitlement junkies is to force them into a financially responsible mode of operation via the ballot box, then so be it. The days of city, state & federal agencies that can just go about their business with no regard or accountability for the success of their business is about to come to a screeching halt. Yes it might get ugly for a while but, drastic change is never easy. Once the dust settles & cooler heads prevail we'll all look back on the bureaucratic quagmire we've cleaned up & wonder (hopefully) why this wasn't done decades earlier.
Posted by BobB, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 15, 2011 at 11:27 am BobB is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
To Nosy Neighbors,
I don't know what "gross misappropriation of funds for the district staff & administrative body" you are talking about, but you've just put out a rant that says nothing at all specific about Pleasanton or the Pleasanton school district. I have my two children both in Pleasanton schools, and we've been very pleased with the results. Did you know that Pleasanton Unified School District is one of the best in the state, and in my opinion, better than a lot of private schools? You talk about "accountability for the success". Have you seen API scores or SAT scores for our schools? They are quite high. If you're unhappy with the education your children are getting here, go ahead and see if you can find interest for a charter school in Pleasanton.
Posted by jay, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Mar 15, 2011 at 11:55 am jay is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
Pleasanton currently has a tax on your parcel which goes explicitly to the schools. It is a bond which pays for facilities AND the district employees who work in the facility department. It averages over $850 per parcel and is based on the value of your house. This was supposed to have been paid off already but the district kept refinancing them and stringing the payments out. My understanding is they took money out when refinancing and applied the funds to other projects, which is illegal.
If you want to see how much you are paying for the existing Pleasanton School District parcel tax, look at your property tax bill and you will see the tax-rate breakdown of Voter Approved Debt Service: School Unified. That is how much you are paying for your parcel; directly to the Pleasanton Unified School District. This is what districts do, they get a tax approved and then they keep going back for more. They hope that you forget you have previously approved a tax for them.
Yes the 60 Minutes program was interesting this last weekend. No Tenure. That makes the teachers accountable. My guess is this district has not fired a tenured teacher; or only a couple based on criminal acts. I remember 5 or so years ago that some teachers were caught with the answers to some of the state testing that were copied down from some pre-release test. At most they were suspended for a week. It is a shame that we let this all happen. We have some great teachers but we also have some teachers that should not be teaching our students. And they all make the same salary. I loved the quote from 60 Minutes when the person was asked what it takes to make tenure. He said "a pulse."
Posted by jay, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Mar 15, 2011 at 12:00 pm jay is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
BobB, another thing that I found really interesting is the API scores. Ever since we had the budget problems and we had to raise the number of students in K-3 classes, our API scores went up. The district has proved that classroom size reduction is not that important. I guess it does not really matter since the parcel tax will not be paying to bring back classroom size reduction (CSR). The amount it too low and the employee raises are ahead in line before CSR.
Posted by Common Sense, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 15, 2011 at 12:20 pm Common Sense is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
To Bob B, you should pay attention to where your tax money goes - you are wrong, we do pay parcel taxes to the school district. Plus, when a person adds on to their house or builds a new home or building, loads of money goes directly to our school district - about $10 per square foot for living space in a home. Call the building dept and ask, it's public info.
Posted by BobB, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 15, 2011 at 12:32 pm BobB is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
To Common Sense,
You are wrong. That is not a parcel tax. It is a bond. It can only by used for things like buildings and facilities. It cannot be used for reading specialists or other programs. Measure E can be used for those things.
Posted by BobB, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 15, 2011 at 12:38 pm BobB is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
The district hasn't proven that class size "doesn't really matter" any more than they proved that step and column improves scores. You could just as easily say that test scores went up because of step and column. That would be wrong too. It is just one datum and not statistically significant. The bottom line is that are schools a very good. My family moved to Pleasanton largely for the schools, as many other families do.
Posted by jay, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Mar 15, 2011 at 12:57 pm jay is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
BobB, this is a tax on our parcel that goes directly to the Pleasanton Unified School District. It is just like a governmental agency to say "that money goes to us but it is something completely different".
If you went to a bank to borrow money for a car and you already had a home loan, do you think the bank would ignore your home loan? You should try to go there and say, "do not pay any attention to the home loan, I am only borrowing for a car now."
Posted by jay, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Mar 15, 2011 at 1:58 pm jay is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
So this is another local school tax. There are people for the parcel tax that keep refuting that the residents of Pleasanton are paying a local school tax already. The point is true, we already have a local school tax in Pleasanton, and this is another Pleasanton school tax.
Looking at the current tax on our parcel, the district has not held an oversight committee meeting since 2004. The district keeps refinancing and spending the bond money but has failed to convene the oversight committee. The district has shown that it does not have a good track record of accountability or oversight committees so I have no faith that the current parcel tax they want us to approve will have any better accountability.
This is not new news the the district. During the last parcel tax election two years ago, taxpayers were upset that they have no had any oversight committee meeting since 2004 for our existing local school tax, and told the district so. The district upon being notified that they "forgot" those meetings, should have started this right back up. Instead, they ignored the accountability and failed to have restart the oversight committee meetings. The district has shown contempt to the taxpayers.
Posted by BobB, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 15, 2011 at 3:56 pm BobB is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
Now you're changing your story. First it was a parcel tax, now it is a "school tax". You just seem to be slinging whatever mud you can just to see what sticks, like some vaguely remembered story from five years ago.
It would be a different matter if our schools were failing and test scores were low, but they are not. We have one of the best districts in the state, which in my opinion is better than a lot of private schools. I think their track record is very good. I'm generally very happy with the quality of education my children are getting.
Posted by jay, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Mar 15, 2011 at 5:06 pm jay is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
Not sure where you saw me changing the story. We already have a tax on our parcel for the Pleasanton Unified School District. Perhaps to make it more clear for you I should have said "So this is another local school parcel tax.". Pretty much the same thing. It is another local school tax on our parcel.
I am also happy with the quality of education. I see no reason to give more money as what they are doing now is good (albeit their financial policies and lack of accountability on the money we already give them fall short). Their problems going forward is they are giving out step and column raises of $1,500,000 per year in a time when we are not seeing revenue increasing. You might be ok with a parcel tax to pay for raises but I am not.
Posted by Sandy, a resident of the Mohr Park neighborhood, on Mar 15, 2011 at 9:17 pm Sandy is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
Jay, you are correct that we already pay taxes for schools. The point that Bob is making is that "parcel tax" and "school bond" are technical terms and cannot be used interchangeably. Their designated purposes are also different.
The funds raised through measure E can only be used for specific purposes, and salary increases are not one of them. The purposes are:
* emphasizing core academic instruction in math, science, and reading skills
* attracting and retaining highly qualified teachers
* supporting specialized science and reading instruction
* keeping school libraries open and maintaining library services and materials
Over 4 years, measure E will raise $8 million dollars. The total school budget each year is over $120 million. Measure E will not prevent all the cuts that are currently under consideration. Together with the state tax extensions and some concessions, those cuts could be reversed. It does not look likely to me that the state tax extensions will even go on the ballot, though.
To focus on salary increases is to focus on a tiny corner of the big picture. It is true that the funds that come from other sources can be used to pay step-and-column salaries. It is also true that the district and the teachers' union are in active negotiation, and salaries are one of the issues on the table.
I understand that some people feel that salaries should be frozen given the economic times. However, it is important to understand that some teachers have had their salaries frozen for more than a year already. Last year, the teachers agreed to concessions (in the form of furlough days and other steps) that exceeded the cost of step-and-column increases for the year.
I don't think it makes sense to guarantee in advance that there will be no more salary increases for 4 more years. That's why the district negotiates annually with teachers -- so that current economic conditions can inform adjustments to the contract. Concessions alone will not close the gap -- and neither will measure E alone.
To preserve the quality of our schools, I am supporting measure E. Hundreds of others have joined me in stating their support in public. That commitment to educating the next generation is a key part of the Pleasanton spirit.
Posted by jay, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Mar 16, 2011 at 11:37 am jay is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
Sandy,the term "parcel tax" is not a technical term. You can look it up. It is a common term generally referring to a qualified special tax. In other areas it refers to a tax on a parcel (hence the name parcel tax). So although the current Pleasanton school tax is used for a bond, it is still a tax on the parcels of Pleasanton.
I wish you would stop being dishonest about raises. You know that the general fund pays for all operations including raises. The parcel tax would go towards things that are paid for by the general fund. Raises are still being given out and it is all part of the same pot. A raise means less money going to all operations.
"The funds raised through measure E can only be used for specific purposes"
Not so. Maybe you missed that board meeting when a board member asked for specific projects to be listed and she was told they should not do that because if you make it specific, you have to spend it on those specific projects. That is exactly what I would like to see with my money. So the money can be spent on anything.
"I understand that some people feel that salaries should be frozen given the economic times. " Yup. Especially when you cannot pay for them and are asking for more money from the public to pay the raises. It is no coincidence that the amount of step and column raises for the first year, plus the cost of the election, is how much money they expect to raise in a parcel tax. If no raises, no parcel tax is needed?
"I don't think it makes sense to guarantee in advance that there will be no more salary increases for 4 more years."
Since this is a four year parcel tax, you would think the district would be doing some multi-year planning. But they are not. If the parcel tax pays for the raises in the first year, how will the raises be paid for in the second year? Will they be asking for another parcel tax, or will they have to cut anything that was paid for in the first year of the tax? I do not think it is out of line to stop all raises until income increases from the State. If income does not increase but you give out raises, you have to make cuts elsewhere.
If this parcel tax were to pass, one year from now the board will be issuing the same amount of pink slips because raises are still going on.
To preserve the quality and sustainability of our schools, I am not supporting measure E. Measure E is a band-aid and does not address our spending policies. Each year that we do not address them, the problem gets worse. I say we stop digging the hole now.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Mar 16, 2011 at 12:06 pm Stacey is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
The current salary schedule's step and column used to be paid for by COLA increases coming from the State. The State is no longer paying COLA, thereby putting the pressure on districts to either cut programs, raise taxes, or renegotiate in order to fund S&C. It would be completely honest to say that we need to pass a four-year $188 parcel tax in order to maintain just the current labor cost structure alone.