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Pleasanton school board to hold study session on debt service tonight

Original post made on Mar 6, 2012

The Pleasanton School Board will hold an hour-long study session starting at 5 p.m. tonight to look at the district's debt service.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, March 6, 2012, 6:50 AM

Comments (27)

Posted by None of the Above, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 6, 2012 at 9:32 am

It is astounding to me that this late into the game administrators STILL have car allowances.


Posted by Parent and Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 6, 2012 at 10:23 am

"For Superintendent Parvin Ahmadi and the district's three assistant superintendents, car allowances will drop from $600 a month to $400 per month in the upcoming school year."

This should be eliminated altogether, not just reduced.

And while you talk about cuts to administration, get rid of the new PIO (Coordinator, Technolody)


Posted by No gas goodies, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 6, 2012 at 10:40 am

How often and how far do district administrators travel...I want to see a log. They'd have to drive from 7am to 7pm visiting our schools to use $400/mo. Do they ever take time to conduct business in the district. Just how many times do they drive OUT of the district, how often and for what ??? They couldn't drive to schools often enough to spend $400. We all drive TO our jobs. I'd like to know the district BUSINESS miles driven. We would be better off NOT providing this FUN money extra, and let them deduct actual miles on tax return, or submit monthly district business report. In my early days, working at a University I submitted professors gas reinbursements. I see no need for the $400, bonus.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Mar 6, 2012 at 10:47 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Yes, $400 a month is still a car payment, not a car allowance. And the truth is, no one needs an allowance to drive around the district. And, with limited reasons for leaving the district, the ample $.51/per mile reimbursement can make up for those trips.

Glad to see the position being listed for the latest retirement is at assistant superintendent level and not deputy superintendent. Need to be open that this would also mean stipends for advanced degrees, a car allowance ($600 with a temporary reduction? $400?), more commitments on benefits, etc.

There should be some alarm about the debt service. Is this meeting televised or at least taped for later viewing?


Posted by fact, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 6, 2012 at 10:52 am

They'll need a lot more than an hour to discuss all that properly!


Posted by Too much gas!, a resident of California Somerset
on Mar 6, 2012 at 10:54 am

25 dollars a month for the Administrative Assistants? What, so they can go to the dollar store and pick up staples and post-its? This is criminal. We shouldn't even have Administrative Assistants. Let the Principals and Vise Principals do their own typing and filing.

Kindergarden is way overrated. It's just a scam by entitlement groups to get the state to babysit their kids most of the week and then pay for it with my tax money.


Posted by Steven, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Mar 6, 2012 at 10:55 am

"The salary for the job will range from $158,310 to $181,664 for a 217-day work year. A Master's degree is required, with an emphasis in educational leadership or organizational leadership."

Had I known, I would of became an assistant superintendent, instead of a software engineer (I do have a Masters degree). I make a decent living, but not $158,310, and certainly not working 217 days a year!

Is the job really, really worth to pay someone $158,310 at a minimum?

"Documentation shows the bond debt grew significantly from 2006, rising to more than $10 million in annual debt service in 2007 and will top out at about $15 million per year in 2013."

No wonder!! With salaries like that.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Mar 6, 2012 at 10:59 am

Stacey is a registered user.

A car allowance rather than per-mile reimbursement is a way to control costs if the employee is doing a lot of driving on the job. An employee would need to drive roughly 784 miles in the month at $0.51 per mile to achieve parity with the $400 car allowance. How many miles are actually being driven for business? If they're spending all their time every month driving back and forth to Sacramento, a car allowance could be a good thing to offer.


Posted by Sandy Piderit, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 6, 2012 at 11:45 am

I just realized that according to the agenda, the study session is from 5-6 pm tonight. Then the board meets in closed session from 6-7, and then the public meeting begins at 7.

I had really wanted to hear the entire debt service presentation, but because of another commitment, I can't be there in time. I hope it is recorded.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Mar 6, 2012 at 11:55 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

There really aren't many reasons to leave the district. Not sure why there aren't more teleconferences for one thing. There are professional affiliations (ACSA--Association of California School Administrators--is one) and employees are often covered for the membership, the meeting fees, and the time away. I don't know how many people have this benefit, but if it is every administrator, then maybe that is too many.

On another note, I went back to verify that for the few contracts I requested these positions receive golden handshakes at retirement and the district paid medical, dental, and vision premiums. Why both?


Posted by resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 6, 2012 at 1:10 pm

Way over compensated as employees and it only gets worse when they retire in their 50's. This madness has to stop soon.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Mar 6, 2012 at 2:10 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

I wouldn't say over compensated, but how people are compensated needs to reconsidered. I went into this during the parcel tax elections, but I think a teacher should be able to earn more than a principal. The value in the system and for the children is in the classroom.


Posted by Arnold, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 6, 2012 at 5:03 pm

Will the rapidly approaching increase in pension costs be included in the discussion?

What happens when the teacher's retirement system, CalSTRS, gets their pension rate increase? According to CalSTRS, if the sate approves the increased pension contributions in 2012 (wont happen because there isn't any money) it would add 15% to the cost of payroll for every school district employee under the CalSTRS plan. If the state waits until 2015 (likely), the additional cost goes up 17 percent of payroll, potentially increasing the PUSD contribution from 8.25% to over 25%. Here is what CalSTRS has to say about this soon to be rising cost. The Cost of Waiting:

"The longer we wait, the more difficult and costly the funding gap will be to solve. Based on current actuarial assumptions, CalSTRS actuaries project that the Defined Benefit Program will deplete its assets by the early 2040s."

It sounds like the increased pension costs could add 12-15 million dollars to the districts annual employee costs. My hope is that the school board gets out in front of this issue and engages in honest discussions with all stakeholders. The financial turbulence these increased pension costs represent is rapidly approaching; the unfunded liability is compounding at an annual interest rate of 7.75 percent.

I hope the unfunded pension debt is included in tonight's discussion.

Here is the chart, from CalSTRS, that shows how the delay in action increases the cost: Web Link


Posted by Cooked numbers?, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Mar 6, 2012 at 8:41 pm

How could PUSD say 350 single family homes are about to be built soon in the Vintage Hills attendance area and 200 single family homes are going to be built in the Alisal attendance area and that the District is about to receive a windfall of enormous sums of developer fees to repay the Certificates of Participation?

This makes no sense. Where are these going to be built?


Posted by long time parent, a resident of Birdland
on Mar 6, 2012 at 8:53 pm

On the car allowances, they receive those high allowances PLUS if they travel outside the district they receive an additional mileage reimbursement. They should be receiving nothing for a car allowances and only a reimbursement for travel to places out of the area (like Sacramento).

Does anybody know if the district also pays for their gas? I heard somewhere that they pay for gas credit cards also but cannot remember where I heard that.


Posted by Cooked numbers?, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Mar 6, 2012 at 9:06 pm

So for these cooked up numbers of bogus housing units all around town to justify an absolute windfall of developer cash, who did the District blame this time?

A. Humpty dumpty?
B. The butcher, baker or candlestick maker?
C. Lozano smith?
D. The state or governor?
E. The feds?
F. All of the above.
G. None of the above.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Mar 7, 2012 at 11:17 am

Don't know about gas cards. Do know they used to have a gas pump that some were able to use. Don't know that it is the case now.

Was anyone able to attend the study session that can tell us what occurred? Thanks!


Posted by lazzboy, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 7, 2012 at 9:08 pm

"Had I known, I would of became an assistant superintendent" - it is all public record, if you had bothered to research it than you would have known and obviously become an ass. super.


Posted by Mike, a resident of Highland Oaks
on Mar 8, 2012 at 3:49 pm

The goodies are all well and good when you can afford them.

Mike


Posted by was there, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 8, 2012 at 8:00 pm

The "Study Session" was not actually a study session. It was a monologue by the finance person on staff who was trying to fill as much of the allotted hour as possible (so there would be no time to answer questions), followed by 10 minutes at most of questions allowed, and then they adjourned for closed session. None of the public's questions were answered nor was the board even allowed to spend much time on questions, let alone get a straight answer from staff. Finance person avoided most board questions by playing games with terminology by saying the none of their financial information was projections but were predictions and frankly staff was just plain rude to board members who asked questions.

Good questions from the audience, including Cindy McGovern, but absolutely no answers. People were cut off at three minutes so no chance to be a real study session or workshop as advertised.

Staff pretty much tried to defend themselves and said the the housing numbers used for calculating how their loans can be paid back were done by others; not themselves. Even though the consultants who produced the numbers for the county have been consultants to the district also and they have a working relationship with district staff.

The feeling in the room was that the district has way overextended themselves in borrowing for facilities, could not specifically tell how much was actually borrowed for each specific project, and it does not look probable that the district will be able to pay the loans back without raiding the operations funds; taking away more money from the classroom. Staff called the capital funds "distressed" but most everybody else in the room thought it was much more than "distressed".

Cindy McGovern did point out that the current master plan study that is being done at $250,000 is probably the first expense she ever remembered for facilities being paid for by the general fund and it was plain wrong that the district was doing that.

A member of the audience pointed out that the housing that they had in the plan to pay back the loans were made-up, including placing some of the housing in the middle of lakes and in the airport protection zone, and larger projects that have not even been submitted to the city being built in the next year or two.

I have no idea if there will be a follow-up to this meeting. They allocated one hour, which was not enough, and also started late because of technical issues preventing them from broadcasting the item. Although I think that people in the room felt that the technical problem was planned so that they could not broadcast what they were doing and let the community know what kind of questions were being asked by those who showed up.




Posted by Cooked numbers?, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Mar 8, 2012 at 9:53 pm

Placing houses in the middle of lakes (underwater?) and underwater loans. No wonder the district literally is drowning in debt.

Sounds like the old Florida shady con game...the decades-old Florida tradition of peddling soggy and mosquito-infested swamp land, with no roads that access the land, to unsuspecting buyers.

Except in this situation, the PUSD has conjured up their own con game and the unsuspecting buyers are the general public.


Posted by Cut the fat, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 8, 2012 at 10:07 pm

Too many questions and too few answers. I looked at the agenda packet and there are certainly many red flags articulated by Government Financial Services Inc, and others. Haven't had time to study the issue but my fear is the current path being pursued by the board is less than sound given the uncertainty of both the economy and the revenue their numbers assume.

Not impressed by the current board or the track record of some on the previous board under the direction of Casey. Ultimately, I think it is wise to proceed with caution and not strap the school district with debt that could be detrimental in the long run.

The district has some serious financial issues on the horizon and it doesn't appear they're taking them seriously. Plenty of items in the contracts for both teachers and administrators that can and should be eliminated, and can and should be eliminated (emphasis added).

If it were only really about the kids


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Mar 9, 2012 at 10:57 am

I thought this was a good graphic depiction of part of the problem facing California. It's from the Chronicle and illustrates the predicaments for cities . . . could just as well have school district names though. Web Link


Posted by Parent and Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 9, 2012 at 12:08 pm

"it is all public record, if you had bothered to research it than you would have known and obviously become an ass. super."

It did not used to be like this. Salaries are now inflated. It used to be that the union protections were given in exchange for less salary. Somebody in the private sector made more money but did not have a guaranteed pension. Now the public sector, including education, enjoys the same salaries as the private sector and yet have the guaranteed pensions (90% of their salary) after only 30 years of service, and many retire and receive six figure pensions plus healthcare and then get another job in the public sector!

The former Walnut Grove principal retired not long ago with a six figure income, for instance. Talk to CIndy Galbo and you will see her generous retirement package. We cannot afford to go on like this. We do not have the money, it is that simple.

Reform is needed.


Posted by long time parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 9, 2012 at 12:21 pm

Here are those who have retired from our district with pensions over $100,000 per year (source: Web Link):
CASEY, JOHN M $155,756.28
COUPE, WILLIAM S $124,990.68
DELLANINI, SALLY R $111,388.08
DELLANINI, STEVEN J $101,083.32
DONALDSON, MERLIN C $178,119.96
JAMES, BILL $109,323.00
KETTWIG, JOSEPH L $109,696.92
KINDRED, KATHLEEN $116,401.32
KREITZ, ROBERT W $154,536.24
KROETCH, ROBERT M $140,567.88
LEONARD, PATRICIA A $106,708.44
MAHER, STEPHEN P $137,527.20
PUPPIONE, RICHARD J $100,872.00
RADULOVICH, WILLIAM M $115,506.48
SCHACHT, ANDREE M $107,100.12


Posted by Cooked numbers?, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Mar 9, 2012 at 4:07 pm

PUSD under the direction of the Superintendent of Finance Luz Cazares refinanced the Certificates of Participation less than two years ago and added $5 million to the payments that are due. And it has to be paid back in a shorter time. But the Board was not told this nor was it put anywhere in writing. They were told they would save $800,000. The Board was misled.

David Casnocha is a bond attorney who has worked for PUSD. The attorney general of California has said his practice of advising districts to do cash-out bond refinancing was illegal and unconstitutional. This also raised taxes beyond the bond measure original amount.

Since the attorney general stopped this practice, Casnocha has been making the rounds of districts having them do COP refinancing. See this example -- Web Link

"Consideration of Approving the Refinancing of the Certificates of Participation (COP): Presentation by Bruce Kerns, Stone & Youngberg and David Casnocha, Stradling Yocca Carlson & Rauth: Bruce Kerns addressed the Board and explained that at the present time the primary source of payment for the COP was the general fund. Initially, developer fees had helped to offset them, but that was no longer possible due to the economic downturn. He stated he was offering for the Board's consideration shifting the payments to later, thereby
lengthening the loan and eliminating current payments. Mr. Kerns presented three options: Option 1: Lengthen the repayment term by 6 years, increase the interest rate by 1.85%, and reduce the annual debt service by an average of $100,000. Option 2: Lengthen the repayment term by 6 years, increase the interest rate by 2.82%,and eliminate the annual debt service for 3 years. Option 3: Lengthen the repayment term by 6 years, increase the interest rate by 2.34% and eliminate the annual debt service for 3 years, and allow for a graduated payment
schedule for 2 years – this plan was recommended by staff. Mr. Casnocha explained that there would be no penalty for refinancing or for pre-payment of the refinanced loan and if approved, Anzar would serve as collateral (as it does now). Business Manager Jeanne Howland stressed that this refinance was a key component to the District's financial recovery and the number one recommendation to the Board by the Budget Council. After some discussion Trustee Alameda requested Mr. Kerns return to the Board next month with figures for eliminating the annual debt service for 5 years."


Posted by TV Watcher, a resident of Danbury Park
on Mar 10, 2012 at 10:50 pm

All meetings are recorded and copies on DVD are availbale at media services for check out. It is the office behind the main building at 4465 Bernal Ave.


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