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A Better Way to Support Schools

Original post made by common sense, Another Pleasanton neighborhood, on Feb 3, 2012

As we all well know, schools need our financial help. A Parcel Tax is not the way to do it. For one thing a parcel tax with same amount per parcel is not an ad valorem tax and therefore not deductible as a real estate tax.

Donations are deductible though. PPIE has a giving fund which is tax deductible.

A better way though is to do what is done in the State of Arizona.

In Arizona they have a State Income Tax credit for school donations which is deductible at the Federal level and is also directly applied your State Income liability. You can even designate a program within a school or just the school for your donation.

Comments (18)

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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Feb 3, 2012 at 9:06 pm

Common Sense, Getting a tax deduction for a donation is a great, but where do the state and other government agencies, including cities and school districts, learn that they can't keep coming to the well. You have to be able to afford the donation in the first place. And somehow the focus has to change so that donating doesn't fuel other wasteful spending because it is relieving pressure on the budget. Donate to X, district no longer has to pay for X, district uses what it isn't spending on X to hire a consultant ($250,000) or a management assistant ($$$) instead.


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Posted by lazzboy
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 3, 2012 at 9:52 pm

"learn that they can't keep coming to the well." - well there is no money in any other well, what do you expect the schools to do. People find it "unacceptable" if they cut everything down to the basics, but at some point, something has to give. Either there are donations to cover these things or they are cut


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Posted by A Neighbor
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 3, 2012 at 11:19 pm

lazzyboy has a point. Most school district income in CA comes from property taxes. When people are under water on their mortgages or actually lose their homes, they don't pay the taxes. This siphons money away from schools, and much of "the well" goes dry. In Ptown, our well has gone dry due to many external factors and cannot be blamed solely on bad district management, poor administrative oversight or excessive salaries/pensions/benefits. Its a much bigger dilemma than that would imply.

If you want something, you gotta pay for it. Simple as that. You want top-notch schools, you gotta pay for it. PPIE has an excellent track record, community support and widespread trust. But common sense, please never use AZ as a model for how a state should be run. CA is nirvana in comparison.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Feb 4, 2012 at 9:28 am

All for donating and volunteering in classroom, school, PPIE . . . even a parcel tax, if the language is specific as to what it saves (let's say the last parcel tax had said it would support any of things now on the cut list--well, they wouldn't be on the cut list).

It isn't likely we would know what we do now about recent mismanagement if there hadn't been a push for transparency. And even recent decisions have to make you wonder if it is business as usual despite knowing about those external factors.

Keep in mind, these cyclical ups and downs are not news to K-12 education and the best governance teams do their best to be prepared (acknowledging that this has been the biggest of downs).


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Posted by Jimmy the Jet
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 4, 2012 at 3:34 pm

A parcel tax is a reliable source of funding. This would protect against the "ups and downs." The fact is PUSD has made huge cuts in the last few years. Poor management or poor administrative oversight is not the reason for the cuts. A lack of funds from the state is the reason. K.R. will never like the language in any parcel tax. 30 to 1 in K-3, no counselors, limited library time, and no tech support is going to be the outcome of the lack of support from P-Town.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 4, 2012 at 4:27 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

What has been PUSD's total budget annually? Just asking...


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Posted by Jill
a resident of Birdland
on Feb 4, 2012 at 5:03 pm

The annual operating budget is over $107M.

Jimmy the Jet, the parcel tax was about $4M/year. The rhetoric about the parcel tax giving us a reliable source of funding is just rubbish. The parcel tax would be about 4% of the total income. That does not give ANY stability. If we had local control of our funds and we had 80%+ of the income here and the rest from the State, it would be a bit more reliable but still not even enough. Any board member who keeps repeating that 4% of your funding coming in reliably and that makes your income stable does not understand simple finance. It frosts me to keep hearing our board member Grant say the argument about stable funding. It just shows his lack of knowledge of finance.

Think of this another way. If your annual salary was $107,000 and I told you the $107,000 could fluctuate a lot but $4,000 of it would be reliable, do you think that would give you a reliable income to pay all of your bills?

Also, if there was $4M of a parcel tax coming in, it would all be spent. Then next year if the state revenue was down, you would still be making cuts since you have spent all of your income. the only way locally of absorbing the yo-yo finances of the State is to have sufficient reserves and not passing all of the cost of living increases that we do get as salary increases to the employees. However, our unions will never let that happen. They want their money now and do not care about the long-term.


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Posted by Sam
a resident of Oak Hill
on Feb 4, 2012 at 5:44 pm

Kathleen R. said: "All for donating and volunteering in classroom, school, PPIE . . . even a parcel tax, if the language is specific as to what it saves (let's say the last parcel tax had said it would support any of things now on the cut list--well, they wouldn't be on the cut list). It isn't likely we would know what we do now about recent mismanagement if there hadn't been a push for transparency. And even recent decisions have to make you wonder if it is business as usual despite knowing about those external factors."

Kathleen, if you truly and honestly believe that mismanagement is at the heart of all the school problems, then the solution is not to insist on "specific language" or specific goals as a condition for any further donations. Either you trust the current management or you don't. If you don't trust the current management, then the only solution is to replace the managers with ones who you have more faith in. Then once you do have good managers in, give them the funding they need to do their jobs and stand out of their way.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Feb 4, 2012 at 6:23 pm

Sam, Then I guess I don't. It's business as usual with the current superintendent for hiring a friend into a position the district doesn't need; for not demoting a management position before filling it after a retirement, and for pushing for a consultant for $250,000 to study facilities--all the while knowing the state was going to put pressure on K-12 budgets.

Even with the best of people in place, if the community wants to save counselors, for example, with a parcel tax without specific language, then it all goes into one pot and some day we'll see counselors on the cut list. The truth is there are too many internal competing interests vying for the funds, and every department protects their own. So, I don't think I'm wrong to give money to a classroom or to continue to ask for transparency and accountability. One person's opinion.


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Posted by Bill Carman
a resident of Country Fair
on Feb 7, 2012 at 10:30 am

One of the most valued part of living in Pleasanton is its school system. Home owners enjoy a value premium because of these schools. They should be willing to pay a parcel tax to support them.


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Posted by Sherm Lollar
a resident of Deer Oaks/Twelve Oaks
on Feb 7, 2012 at 10:48 am

A parcel tax is rubbish. The corrupt teachers' unions pocket it all for their wild weekend parties and then want more the next year. They're greedy. Some of them make more money than I do. I don't have kids, so why should I care? I shop at Walmart and see a lot of apartment dwellers working there. I'm supposed to pay a parcel tax to support their kids and the kids of animal abusing illegal aliens? Give me a break! I shouldn't have to pay anything toward education at all. Let the irresponsible parents who have brought kids into this socialist world pay their own way. No more charity to entitlement groups.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 7, 2012 at 11:20 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Sherm,

Sure, a parcel tax won't solve the district's fiscal problems, no disagreement from me there. High reserves have traditionally been a hedge against poor revenue years and past district leadership squandered that, not to mention the roughly $5000 in 2009 they spent on staff lunches out of Hearst student body funds. Addressing these fiscal management issues will be the key to solving the district's fiscal problems. What I take issue with though is you calling the teachers' unions "corrupt" and "greedy" and calling kids an "entitlement group". For one, kids are the future of the human species and not an "entitlement group". They don't become legally entitled to anything, especially since they are underage and can't even own a bank account, let alone be a party to a contract. For second, there's no evidence of corruption in our local teachers' unions. Unless you have proof that a teacher or outside party has to bribe the union leadership in order to gain favor, I don't see how you can make this claim. And even then, I would hope that individual members take action against such corruption using whatever legal means are available, but it really isn't part and parcel to this discussion of district fiscal problems.


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Posted by Sandy
a resident of Mohr Park
on Feb 7, 2012 at 11:30 am

Stacey, I think Sherm's comment may have been snark. I hope so, anyway. I certainly agree with you that I've seen no evidence of corruption in our local APT and CSEA units.


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Posted by Fred
a resident of Birdland
on Feb 7, 2012 at 12:16 pm

By definition unions are greedy and corrupt. We are a nation of individuals, and individuals should not be permitted to join together to form a greedy and corrupt union. That gives them too much power over our heroic job creators. If the socialist government discriminates against companies and restricts their freedom by not letting them monopolize then it shouldn't allow unions to exist. But it does. And you know why? Because unions are filthy rich and buy off politicians. You want proof? A true thinking person who has read history like I have doesn't need proof. The proof is in the pudding. Look at Jimmy Hoffa for cripesakes. Teachers are unionized. Unions are corrupt. Therefore teachers are corrupt. Even a birdbrain can figure that out.


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Posted by REALLY?
a resident of Foothill Knolls
on Feb 8, 2012 at 10:13 am

I'm SO ASHAMED OF THIS COMMUNITY. LOOK AROUND US! MOST OF THE SURROUNDING COMMUNITIES HAVE SUPPORTED A PARCEL TAX AND DONATE TO THEIR SCHOOLS AND EDUCATION FOUNDATION. PLEASANTon PRIDES ITSELF IN BEING AN AFFLUENT, WELL EDUCATED CITY, HOWEVER REFUSES TO DONATE AND SUPPORT EDUCATION. WHEN OUR SCHOOLS BECOME INFERIOR TO OUR NEIGHBOR'S SCHOOLS AND OUR PROPERTY VALUES ARE LOWERED.....THEN PERHAPS YOU'LL GET IT! STOP POINTING THE FINGER AT PAST DISTRICT MANAGEMENT AND BECOME PART OF THE SOLUTION TO PROTECT OUR SCHOOLS AND, MORE IMPORTANTLY, OUR KIDS AND THEIR EDUCATION.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Feb 8, 2012 at 11:49 am

REALLY, The current administration and board have made some major gaffes of their own (already noted above)--proving the point that some of us have tried to make: give them money without specificity and they will spend it where none of us had intended. And to be fair to this community of voters, most of those voting chose to support a parcel tax, some voted against it because of the lack of specificity, and there are those who will never vote to tax themselves more. And the community has been generous with donations (PPIE, COPE, schools, classrooms) and volunteering. If donations are down, it's because of the gaffes made this year. Why keep throwing money at an institution expecting a different outcome?

Perhaps your frustration is better aimed at those in power who believe they can continue with business as usual.


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Posted by PUSD vs. EBRPD
a resident of Del Prado
on Feb 8, 2012 at 12:15 pm

Why donate or volunteer any time to any people or institution or corporation or related institution or corporation that can't have a civil discussion and instead type in some sort of hysterical manner with ALL CAPS? Or why would anyone want to deal with anyone who shouts to the media that an area developer has acted with FRAUD AND DECEIT, thus ensuring no developer in the entire Bay Area will ever want to deal with Pleasanton Unified School District ever again?

Let's compare the Pleasanton Unified School District to another district, i.e. the East Bay Regional Park District.

The difference is you don't see East Bay Regional Park District going around bullying the public, making hysterical allegations about developers through the media, making snide comments to the public at public meetings, being at war with the grassroots environmental organizations, not responding to Freedom of Information Act requests or email questions, harassing visitors that visit their parkland, refunding their bond measures to milk more money out of them, or being at war with the residents and various other public agencies within Alameda County or Contra Costa County.

So guess what? People support their bond measures, volunteer there and visit them, and have nice things to say about them.








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Posted by Fool me once
a resident of California Reflections
on Feb 8, 2012 at 4:33 pm

I agree with Kathleen. I will never give money to PUSD that is not very specifically designated. Even so I will watch for the bait and switch, and hide the pea, that they have been so good at. Sam, you are foolish to suggest that taxpayers should not pay attention to how money is spent. PUSD never could breakdown how the 9mil that was ilegally cashed out from the bonds was spent.


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