Town Square

Post a New Topic

Pleasanton school board votes to slash budget by more than $5.3 million

Original post made on Mar 1, 2012

A split school board voted Tuesday night to keep a proposed list of cuts intact, despite a last-minute effort by two members to restore a reading program and a reading specialist.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, March 1, 2012, 7:43 AM

Comments (33)

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Parent and Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 1, 2012 at 9:02 am

"elimination of car allowances for managers and reduction of those same allowances for other management by $200 a month, and cutting the work year for management by five days."

Why not ELIMINATE car allowances for EVERYONE? Why is it that "other management" only gets reduction of car allowances?

Teachers union: you screwed up big time by endorsing Bowser and Laursen and convincing voters to vote for those two who imo do not question the administration and imo are just puppets. Well, now you have what you want, and your teachers will have to deal with bigger class sizes and no reading specialists, but administration is untouched: PIO still on board but in a different position, another PIO hired, car allowances just reduced, money spent on facilities plans, etc


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Parent and Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 1, 2012 at 9:10 am

Are the three board members who approved the cuts (Laursen, Grant and Bowser) unable to think for themselves? How can you approve the elimination of Barton and yet you approved the hiring of a new PIO? Read below, three YES people, in case you are not aware of this. Laursen: you are a big disappointment imo. And teachers union: I say this again and again: you screwed up by endorsing what imo are two morons for the board (Laursen and Bowser)

"The Pleasanton school district has a new public face to replace former public information officer Myla Grasso, who moved to the purchasing department last year.

Nicole Steward started as Management Assistant/Technology Coordinator in November, earning $76,034 as an 80% fulltime employee, although sending out news releases and the district's e-connection digital newsletter is just a part of her duties"

Web Link


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Mar 1, 2012 at 9:26 am

Car allowances and expense accounts and memberships (pay your own if you want to join) and conferences should all be eliminated before programs for kids. Skipping conferences for a year won't hurt anything and no one needs a car allowance or expense account. If you have legitimate business outside the boundaries of Pleasanton, there is a generous mileage reimbursement of like $.50 per. If you are compelled to go out to lunch, dutch treat (everyone pays their own), you were going to eat anyway. Can't say it happens anymore, but every meeting for staff used to have food brought in--it's an unnecessary luxury. I recall a board that took turns paying for the dinners before meetings rather than have the district do it. And then there's that pesky $250,000 for the consultant, the director level for purchasing that should have been downgraded before being filled, and the Management Assistant that should not have been filled. Goes a long way to saving reading support.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Fred
a resident of Jensen Tract
on Mar 1, 2012 at 9:33 am

Wow, hiring of all things, another bureaucrat - Public Information Officer, and at the same time eliminating a critical reading program.

This speaks volumes.

This community deserves better.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Fact Checker
a resident of Downtown
on Mar 1, 2012 at 11:56 am

I think it is completely unfair to vilify Joan Laursen, Jeff Bowser, and Chris Grant for making the tough decisions. Do you think they want to cut reading programs or anything else for that matter? Please. Should car allowances be completely eliminated? Yes, but that cut would not have saved the reading specialist or the Barton program. Want to save your program? Great, where is your alternate cut list then or the money to save it? Everyone is standing in line to save their program on the list. If not your program, then which? We have to be realistic about education funding in 2012 and acknowledge that school board members are doing the best they can in trying times. Instead of just complaining, where are your solutions or your efforts to make change? I got involved raising money for PPIE so we could save some of the programs on the cut list. What will you do???


 +   Like this comment
Posted by fact
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 1, 2012 at 12:07 pm

"Great, where is your alternate cut list then or the money to save it?"

1. Delay facilities masterplan - $250,000
2. Put PIO position on cut list - $80,000


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Mar 1, 2012 at 12:28 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

No, no alternate cut lists by citizens. Staff knows very well where cuts can be made, trimming their costs and budgets, identifying weak (not necessarily small) programs, duplicated functions, etc. This is the time of budget fiefdoms, everyone trying to protect their own budgets within the organization and that attitude gets exacerbated when there's no reward for doing otherwise. There was a failure at the top (a number of years ago) to recognize the long-term structural imbalance between spending and revenue that require long-term changes. So all staff has been asked to do so far is short-term cutting (i.e., short-term concessions floated by one-time federal aid), like nipping around the edges. That's a fine strategy if the economy is expected to quickly rebound and revenue expected to return. But 2008 was historic and underestimated.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Parent and Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 1, 2012 at 12:33 pm

""Great, where is your alternate cut list then or the money to save it?"

1. Delay facilities masterplan - $250,000

2. Put PIO position on cut list - $80,000"


To that, add:

3) Eliminate the position of Director of Purchasing - do not just move the person to another postion. Get rid of the position.
I believe directors make 100k+

Right there you have more than 400K, and that funds Barton and more.

"I think it is completely unfair to vilify Joan Laursen, Jeff Bowser, and Chris Grant for making the tough decisions"

They did not make tough decisions, simply said yes without thinking. Tough decisions would have meant saying: no, we are not cutting Barton and instead we are 1) firing the PIO, 2) eliminating ALL car allowances and 3) firing the Director of Purchasing.. etc


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Glenn Wohltmann
Pleasanton Weekly reporter
on Mar 1, 2012 at 2:23 pm

Glenn Wohltmann is a registered user.

The story in this week's paper on the School District's new Management Assistant/Technology Coordinator should have said that this position has been in existence since 2009. The primary duties of the job are analyzing test data; other responsibilities, about 20%, include sending out news releases and the district's e-connection.

Please see the corrected version here:

Web Link


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Mar 1, 2012 at 3:13 pm

Glenn, the position, with many names and varying titles has been in place since at least 2002 or earlier even. There was a different position for Assessment & Evaluation that was collapsed with the departure of the person holding the job. I don't recall when that position was established, but I think it was cut in 2003 or 2004.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mittens
a resident of another community
on Mar 1, 2012 at 3:33 pm

All these liberal loon socialist types complaining about reduced programs. If it's as bad as they say, why don't they just cut a check to the school district instead of asking others to make a sacrifice they don't want to make?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by fact
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 1, 2012 at 4:11 pm

. . . because the district will use the check for facilities studies rather than teachers.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mittens
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 1, 2012 at 4:16 pm

Oh, for goodness sakes, then have you or your wife cut another check for the teachers too. This is simply basic economics. It appears to me that the school district leaders are in over their head.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Mar 1, 2012 at 4:44 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

And make it a blank check. That's the solution Mittens is looking for.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Paul
a resident of Del Prado
on Mar 1, 2012 at 5:52 pm

Editor,
The headline as written implies that the $5.3M cut was the decision of the school board. It's misleading. In fact the cut was determined by the revenue coming into the district, which is out of the control of the board. The board can only influence and decide upon the budget, given the inflow.

Readers,
Say what you might about the board, but the root cause here is the state's revenue and school allocation processes. If you want to see a change in state funding to K12 education, or a change to a voucher system, or any other type of change, contact your reps, make your thoughts known to somebody in addition to the readers of this forum, and get out and vote.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Fred
a resident of Jensen Tract
on Mar 1, 2012 at 6:12 pm

The local school board is the one that signed the annual sweet heart union contracts and golden deals with administrators that have put this school district in dire financial straights. Other districts have asked for paycuts. Not the local school board, who is the one to blame.

The school board cut the funding to particular programs. The 3 that cut the Barton reading program - Laursen, Bowser and Grant decided reading wasn't important over things like consultants to build facilities.

'Paul,' in an extraordinarily 'don't blame me' type of post, claims that the school board actually doesn't make decisions. Instead 'Paul' asks the voters to blame someone else -- i.e the State (the Assembly, the Governor), the U.S. (Congress, the President), and who knows who else, the European Union, the United Nation.

The fault lies in the 5 school board members.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Mar 1, 2012 at 7:11 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Fred,

I think you're right on about the board having the power over local contracts and programs: how money is spent. That said, Paul still correctly identifies the state's system of education funding as a major cause of school budget problems. School district funding in California is almost entirely dependent upon the state system.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Paul
a resident of Del Prado
on Mar 1, 2012 at 8:04 pm

Fred, I share your anger at the cuts, but I want you to direct yours in the direction where I think it will do the most good.

Barton Reading v Facilities? It's not as simple as that. You make it seem like it's an either-or. I wish it were. For schools to work, educators (Barton and otherwise) need a place to educate. Frankly, I'm glad that the district chose to hire a facilities consultant v. bringing on a staff member. In the long run it's cheaper, and it allows the district to focus on their core competency of teaching v. facilities management.

Sweetheart union contracts? The structure of the state education system promotes unions and contracts. The CTU is the largest, most influential union in the state. Immense power. You think the CTU reps in Sacramento and the legislators being influenced care whether it's Laurson, Bowser, and Grant in Pleasanton, or Tom, Dick, and Harry?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Fred
a resident of Jensen Tract
on Mar 1, 2012 at 8:36 pm

A facilities study or demography study could easily have been done by an existing staff member. Corporations and other public sector agencies all the time do facilities studies without using high priced consultants or hiring additional staff. A facilities consultant? Spare me.

If class size has increased at many elementary grades from 20 to 25, there is less need for classrooms. With increasing class size to 30 per class, there are plenty of surplus classrooms unless of course the schools have made all of that empty classroom space a bunch of fancy teacher lounges.

And by the way 'Paul,' you know as well as I do that the abbreviation is CTA rather than CTU.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Mar 1, 2012 at 8:48 pm

Paul, There are local issues and choices being made, local representation, and local unions who endorse and support those choices and representatives. While there are problems to be addressed at the state level, watching what is going on in our own back yard is the initial priority.

The facilities study can easily be delayed in favor of educational programs. Others have already listed some of the reasons why this delay causes no harm and saves $250,000.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Fred
a resident of Jensen Tract
on Mar 1, 2012 at 9:59 pm

Kathleen, I had thought that PUSD for facility-related consultants, architects and legal expenses for facilities that they have always used the Capital Facilities fund? Do you mean that Ahmadi actually used General Fund dollars used normally to pay for teachers salaries to pay for this facility consultant? Was this a mistake? How could they do this?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by long time parent
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 2, 2012 at 8:32 am

Ahmadi is using the general fund because the capital fund is broke. They have spent everything, including the extra millions of dollars they took from the taxpayers in cashing out in the bonds. They have also heavily mortgaged some facilities with interest-only loans for some time and soon they will have to pay off the principal, and there is no money for that. They continue to mismanage funds and will not even tell the public how they spent the money in the capital funds. There is a group of people who have been trying to get this information but just get stonewalled by the district., a clear indication they have something to hide.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Fact
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 2, 2012 at 8:41 am

Yes, it is coming from the general fund. And yes, that money could have been used for child facing programs. And yes, it could have been delayed.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Mar 2, 2012 at 8:53 am

Most attorneys and consultants are paid from general fund dollars. Capital funds, rightly so, have limits defining how they can be used.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by long time parent
a resident of Birdland
on Mar 2, 2012 at 2:50 pm

Our capital fund has been used to pay for lawyers, consultants, and even district employees before. The district felt that if it affected facilities in any way, it was paid for by capital dollars. That work until they milked the fund dry.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Member
a resident of Birdland
on Mar 2, 2012 at 8:46 pm

Why is it that business must and does downsize, and re-orient to become more efficient, simple, and direct, but the school district just functions like it has the luxury to pick and choose between educating children and perks. So give up a few perks, what's the big deal?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by common sense
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 2, 2012 at 8:56 pm

I think we deserve a better Board of Education. The ill feelings they display to each other seems a little overboard. So, the school district may or may be cut items based on what happens in November. A $5 million cut in a $115,000, whats that 3%?

Is it the problem of the Board of Education to solve all the ills of the students? I think back to the day when parents parented and schools didnt have Asst Principals and all the other positions they do today.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Fact
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 2, 2012 at 9:23 pm

The school district is cutting these things BEFORE the November elections because they don't know the result of the election. So class sizes are going up, reading specialists are going, high school classes are being cut even though there might be plenty of money for these things after the election. And some of them won't come back. Quite a few of the board members don't see the value of CSR for example, so once it's gone, good luck getting it back. The money will be spent on other things.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by ?
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 2, 2012 at 10:02 pm

"Pleasanton school board votes to slash budget by more than $5.3 million"

Isn't the districts revenue 150 million? Is a 5 million reduction really slashing the budget?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by fact
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 3, 2012 at 10:34 am

"Is a 5 million reduction really slashing the budget?"

Um, yes, these are the cuts for next year:

1. Reduce District funding for Barton
2. Reduce High School Counseling
3. Reduce Middle School Counseling
4. Reduce reading specialists
5. Reduce one specialist section weekly for grades 1-5
6. Eliminate K-3 class size reduction
7. Reduce categorical programs
8. Additional sections for comprehensive high schools
9. Reduce district office classified support
10. Eliminate health services liason position
11. Reduce library assistants at Elementary
12. Reduce library assistants at Middle School
13. Eliminate site technology specialist at elementary
14. Eliminate site technology specialist at Middle schools
15. Eliminate Band/Strings teachers
16. Reduce Elementary Counseling Services
17. Reduce Middle School Counseling Services
18. Reduce High School counseling services
19. Reduce reading support for elementary
20. Eliminate Barton
21. Reduce summer school for high school
22. Eliminate adult education
23. Reduce psychogists
24. Reduce program specialists
25. Eliminate home schooling support
26. Secure funds from regional occupation program
27. Reduce graphic services
28. Reduce high school custodial services
29. Reduce middle school custodial services
30. Reduce district office custodial services
31. Reduce grounds services
32. Reduce maintenance services
33. Eliminate car allowance for managers
34. Reduce car allowance for contracted managers
35. Reduce work year for management personnel by 5 days
36. Defer 50% of FY 12/13 OPEB Contribution


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Mar 3, 2012 at 12:58 pm

Fact, No disagreement that these are major cuts. What some would like to get at is whether these are the needed cuts.

Cutting all consultants by some amount and the facilities plan altogether could save things of actual educational value for students.

And if I were someone in #9, I'd certainly be wondering how my years of service are less valued than the Management Assistant hired in November.

And if I were someone in #27 I'd have the same question in regard to the Director of Purchasing, a position which easily could have been demoted before being listed as an open position (and maybe left unfilled).

What exactly is "secure funds from" ROP. Is this similar to what they did to Adult Ed (now being eliminated)?

The list should be somewhat consolidated as items 1-3 are listed twice (I realize that there originally were two lists).

No thinking out of the box for #21, despite repeated references to districts that have saved these classes by working with the city.

Seeing the list, of course, causes an OMG moment. But there are other ways to tackle some of these cuts.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Parent and Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 3, 2012 at 8:23 pm

"Um, yes, these are the cuts for next year"

I do not see the item where they eliminate the Manager/coordinator of Technology (aka new PIO). Why? Her salary can pay for at least one teacher or reading specialist (which are actually needed)


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Fact
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 3, 2012 at 11:43 pm

The cuts suggested by the people on this board probably add up to about 500k. Well worth saving and re-prioritizing but what about the other 5 million? It's negotiations, tax, restructuring or donations and I'd suggest a stronger mix of all would benefit the community. Everyone should have the goal that the children come first.


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Email:


Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: *

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Lulu is back home!!!!
By Roz Rogoff | 6 comments | 902 views

Measure BB could pay to connect Dublin Boulevard to Livermore
By Tim Hunt | 3 comments | 501 views