SAVE PLEASANTON SCHOOLS Schools & Kids, posted by Laura Foster, a resident of the Del Prado neighborhood, on Jan 24, 2009 at 12:34 pm
I am deeply concerned over the proposed level of cuts being proposed to the Pleasanton schools. The disaster that is coming upon our community’s schools is compelling. I have read the full detail of what is being proposed on PUSD website. I also attended the community forum held this past Tuesday night at Walnut Grove Elementary school where Dr. John Casey the PUSD superintendent further clarified the expected enormous cuts to come over the next 18 months. We as a community cannot allow this to happen to our children, our schools and to the collective economic health of our community in which our real estate values are intimately interconnected to the excellence of our schools.
It is easy to abstract the global economic meltdown until you realize the direct impact it is going to have on us very soon. Pleasanton schools have a budget shortfall of 8.7 million dollars over the next 18 months which is already after present cuts have been made. We have already exhausted the Pleasanton schools reserve funds and the very real impact of many cuts will happen starting in a few months. It means our K-3 elementary classes next year will have 33-35 students. You know as well as I that 35 students in a kindergarten class is not school, it is at best overcrowded daycare. It means reducing by half our reading specialists and counselors. Our ratio of counselors to students in elementary will be now 3000:1. This is not counseling, this is crowd control. It means eliminating athletic and enrichment programs, coaching stipends, language programs, high school class size reduction in math and language arts, loss of vice principals, high school campus monitors, librarians, administrators and many many teachers. Many of these people are our friends, our children’s mentors and fellow residents of Pleasanton who will be caught in the cross fire of dismal economic times. To see more detailed information on the proposed cuts, I will refer you to both the Walnut Grove green sheets and PUSD website.
I reject that we need to subject our children to substandard education and destabilize our children’s schools and futures. I reject the notion of shortening our school year, increased class sizes and firing many dedicated teachers and school administrators in order to balance the budget that is being proposed. I also reject the need to eliminate counselors, coaches and student academic and enrichment programs. Education should be the absolute highest priority for us as a community and society to protect and cherish. It is also integral to our collective economic health as a community.
Pleasanton is highly sought after for being a family friendly community committed to our children and educational excellence. As was discussed at Tuesday’s meeting, this is why our homes, one of our greatest individual assets, have not seen the devastating drops in value that many other communities have experienced. Over the past year, the average house in Alameda County lost 35 % of its value. Simple math tells us that if you bought your home in Alameda County for 650K, you would have lost approximately 230K in one year. Over the last year, Pleasanton has seen a 12 % loss, which means the above home would have lost 78K. That is quite a difference. This is in no small way as a result of the world class education provided by Pleasanton schools. Our real estate value is directly and intimately interconnected with the ongoing health of our schools.
So why aren’t other Trivalley school districts experiencing this pain? Why aren’t the schools in Livermore, Dublin and San Ramon seeing anything like this in Pleasanton? Because all of these communities have already passed parcel taxes in the past few years to guarantee funds for the schools. All of these communities have passed a Parcel Tax measure giving this dedicated money to the schools in a town election receiving 66% of the favorable vote. Pleasanton has never needed to have such a parcel tax and so has never passed one. Historically, our schools have been spared the drama of tumultuous economic times until now. We are living history right now and we need to come to action to ensure our community continues in a manner we can be proud of.
So what can you do? You can get involved and help support a Save Pleasanton Schools Parcel Tax proposal to continue stable funding for Education and our schools. This annual fee would not have to be paid by those who rent apartments or homes, and I support an exemption for retired people. This money would ensure that our community can continue to provide educational excellence for our children and is an investment in our continuing economic strength as a community. There are already many groups of parents who are forming at Pleasanton schools to work on this issue through a forming a grassroots organization called SAVE PLEASANTON SCHOOLS.
No one likes taxes. But just think about what spending one dollar a day is to guarantee your child’s education and your community’s economic health. This would be the equivalent of 2 first class stamps. I am sure many people may not want to hear about a parcel tax in these times, but I don’t see that we have any other choice. It is absolutely necessary and urgent. Additionally, it is rare to see the direct impact of the tax money we give every year to the state and federal government. This parcel tax fund would directly benefit our kids, period. It will also be an investment in the continuing economic health of our real estate values.
I urge you to get involved and protect your children’s future. This potential disaster to our schools is real and it will happen if we don’t act together as a community. Please join me and many others already forming to Save Pleasanton Schools. Thank you, Laura Foster, MD (proud mom of soon to be 3 roadrunners at Walnut Grove Elementary School)
Posted by Another Gatetree Resident, a member of the Amador Valley High School community, on Jan 24, 2009 at 1:10 pm
I commend you on a wonderfully written post. Thank you for sharing your views and urging us "to get involved," and for doing it so eloquently.
Can I make a suggestion?
Urge the Boosters to invest in TRUE educational items that add "to the collective economic health of our community." I suspect there are some who would like to see the funds raised for a new marquee (Web Link) spent on saving a good teacher or two. Not to mention those all ready spent on a sports field sound system (Web Link).
Posted by Concerned, a resident of the Highland Oaks neighborhood, on Jan 24, 2009 at 4:32 pm
Hey Gatetree Resident.. Fine, we'll go tell the Sports Boosters to think about contributing to the effort to save schools, but what about YOU?
What are YOU going to do to help save our schools? Are you going to complain about the few people who do step up and provide sources of funding for school activities or are you going to do something yourself?
Do you really look at stuff like the boosters buying a new marquee or a new sound system for the sports field and think that the schools must be properly funded? Are you kidding me?
I know that everyone wants to look at this and say that they have enough money or they should take money from somewhere else and save some teachers. I wish it worked that way, I really do. In all fairness, many Booster Clubs provide funding for more than just sports activities. Many are known to fund academic programs, buy text books, pay for needed supplies and equipment, etc. But this isn't about just the people who have kids going to the school contributing to the funding. Its about the entire COMMUNITY. That means everyone. Even if you don't have kids in the district. You may not realize it, but you are deeply affected by the health of this district whether you have kids in the district or not.
I hope all of you keep in mind that Pleasanton is known for its school system. Its admired by many and produces great results. Its the driving reason that many people come to this city to live. They want lower crime rates and great schools.
You can turn away from the fact that we need to provide more funding to our schools. But in the end, you'll hurt yourself. Yes, that's right.. if our schools start to slip, it will hurt the value of YOUR house. You can think of this as selfish if you want, but supporting increased funding (i.e. parcel tax) for schools is something that will help increase (or at the very least.. not decrease) the value of your house.
I have seen the list of cuts that they will have to make if they don't get additional funding. We're talking about things like classroom teachers, 1 to 20 ratio in grades K-3, and Vice Principals at the elementary and middle school levels. I can't express how bad this would be. If this happens, I can tell you that Pleasanton will go from having schools that are rated 10 to lower ratings. Are you ready for our schools to be rated in the 6 and 7 range like Fremont or Hayward? Is that a good thing for our community? Absolutely not!!
These kids are our future. We can step up and provide the funding they need to have great schools and a great chance in life.. or we can ignore their needs and deal with it later: in the form of higher crime. Maybe people will pay attention then when we have to pass the bond measures to fund more prisons.
Before you just turn your back on these schools and these kids, really think about what it means. Even if you don't have kids in the district, it will end up affecting you.
When the district puts forth a proposal for a parcel tax, I urge you to strongly consider it. Help you do your part to save the great schools we have. I know that I will. I will go door to door and fight to get our schools the funding they need. I hope that you will do the same.
If we can vote to "Save Pleasanton's Hills" aren't our children worth at least that much effort?
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Jan 25, 2009 at 12:18 pm
Do you enjoy repeating propaganda?
"Pleasanton is highly sought after for being a family friendly community committed to our children and educational excellence. As was discussed at Tuesday’s meeting, this is why our homes, one of our greatest individual assets, have not seen the devastating drops in value that many other communities have experienced."
Devastating drops in value have a lot to do with the bubble build of housing inventory other communities allowed to happen coupled with high numbers of foreclosures. Pleasanton is slow-growth and didn't commit to excessive building. That plays a significant role in Pleasanton's high prices in addition to school quality. Or do you really believe that all those other communities have dropped in value solely because their schools are of lower quality?
"Over the past year, the average house in Alameda County lost 35 % of its value. Simple math tells us that if you bought your home in Alameda County for 650K, you would have lost approximately 230K in one year."
Compare apples to apples. Pleasanton homes are not the same as the "average" house in Alameda County. When scholars study how school quality affects housing prices, they compare houses with the same square footage, age, bedrooms, bathrooms, etc. and community affluence. Before a comparison can be made of school quality, all other things have to be equal. Can you honestly say that housing inventory in Pleasanton is equal with the "average house in Alameda County"?
Posted by Jen, a resident of the Canyon Meadows neighborhood, on Jan 25, 2009 at 5:40 pm
I think that people need to consider having fewer children and stop expecting single people to pay for their educations. I'm fed up with too many kids and the trouble that they cause in school and in our community. Have you ever thought about getting yourselves fixed by a doctor?
Posted by patron of Main St, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Jan 25, 2009 at 6:29 pm
for Laura Foster -- "This annual fee would not have to be paid by those who rent apartments or homes," -- what are you thinking? Why should the people with children in the system not pay for it? The people with no children should NOT pay for this, those with children should. What does living in a rented home have to do with it? If you procreate you pay. I will never support an additional tax for schools, my $12,000 per year in property taxes is already more than enough. Keep your hands out of my pockets and pay for your own kids.
Posted by Another Gatetree neighbors neighbor, a member of the Amador Valley High School community, on Jan 25, 2009 at 7:17 pm
I think that my Gatetree Neighbor is on the right track. Ask AVHS boosters for some script money. It is well documented that the Boster can fund any problem the district may have. Another Gatetree Neighbors neighbor.
Posted by long time resident, a member of the Foothill High School community, on Jan 25, 2009 at 8:58 pm
I have always supported the Pleasanton school district and the teachers of our community - but NOT THIS TIME! The teacher union is too strong and proliferates sub standard performance in our schools. The answer at Foothill to everything is, "It isn't in the teachers contract". So, go to the teachers union to get additional funding for the schools. There are too many parents currently in the schools that do not get involved, do not pay their fair share and expect all the benefits. I say NO to a parcel tax. I say require every parent of a child in the school to pay a $300.00 fee for the use of the school services. They are willing to pay for cars for their teenagers, fancy vacations, IPODS and IPHONES and many other frivolous toys. Put that money back into their children's education and their participation in sports. I say NO to a parcel tax. I already pay 16,000 dollars per year in property taxes.
Posted by concerned, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Jan 25, 2009 at 9:14 pm
Every time there's discussion of budget cuts - PUSD scares the public with teacher cuts. There are MANY other cuts and reductions that can occur without cutting teachers. Cut the bureaucracy in the District Office. Cut extra-curricular or allow parents to pay for these programs. I agree with the above posting that parents are willing to pay for fancy teenage cars and frivolous electronic toys - have these parents put that money into the betterment of their child's education and extracurricular activities. Kids today are involved in several activities - suggest they choose one that can be paid for and suggest they spend more of their time on studying. Perhaps we wouldn't need so many fancy tutoring programs or other fancy programs if we got back to the basics in our educational system and had our kids spend more time on studying at home. Less might actually not be so bad if we think about it. Let's take some personal responsibility in fostering education and stop expecting the school district to do it all. Because right now our teachers and administrators are NOT doing it all. I also say NO to a parcel tax. Figure out another way or do without. Companies are doing it right now....Perhaps all the teachers union money could be better spent!!!!
Posted by TD, a member of the Vintage Hills Elementary School community, on Jan 25, 2009 at 10:37 pm
The state of California needs to look at a mistake they made long ago....that of property tax assessments. Everyone's property should be valued on an annual basis. Why should one house be paying one amount and another be paying 4-5 times more depending on when they purchased it. We all use the same services! A parcel tax will solve nothing so I vote NO. Let's look at the real problem from a state perspective. In the meantime, less is more. PUSD start looking for places to cut and work hard to stay away from teacher cuts. Parents....do your part....look for ways to get involved in the schools and help during these difficult economic times.
Posted by Carl, a resident of the Del Prado neighborhood, on Jan 25, 2009 at 11:14 pm
The PUSD website says a 1% reduction in salary will save $1,000,000. If the PUSD needs $8.7M, that equals an 8.7% salary reduction across the board for every PUSD employee.
Then every program, every service, everything else being considered can just be left alone.
How about it? Reduce every PUSD salary by 8.7% and be done with this 'crisis'. No parcel tax, no more PUSD fear and intimidation, no more public arguments, no more town halls, no more wasting time trying to figure out the budget. Let's just move on.
Posted by patron of Main St, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Jan 25, 2009 at 11:14 pm
Prop 13 was able to be enacted in large part due to the perceived unfairness of rising taxes on older people who had lived for decades in their homes. That was a fine idea as far as it went. However, there are ways to pass that miniscule tax assessment on through inheritance or change of ownership and that passage should be stopped. I have personally seen a distant cousin take over a home via inheritance and property transfer and be allowed to keep the tax base that was for the original purchase price of less than $20,000. This happened in the very late 1990s. This person, who had only once even met the deceased, got a house worth well over one million dollars and paid taxes based on $20,000 plus the annual increase of less than 2%. As long as that loophole exists I have to favor getting rid of prop 13 entirely.
In the meantime, I will not ever support a parcel tax under any circumstances. Instead of the fancy electronics, instead of the beamer at age 16, instead of the $200 jeans, parents need to pay an annual fee. Those who use the system need to pay for the system.
Alternatively, the parents can tell the district to cut the fat. Are you listening Mr. Casey? We will NOT support your greed and wasteful spending.
Posted by Johnny, a resident of the Deer Oaks/Twelve Oaks neighborhood, on Jan 25, 2009 at 11:22 pm
Everyone needs to stop for a moment and lets ask the hard question. How much of the 8+ million is because of the state budget mess and how much of it is due to poor management? Or can we say luxury expenses by top administrators. The community should only bail out the district if the district tells the full story.
Posted by Jackson, a resident of the Kottinger Ranch neighborhood, on Jan 25, 2009 at 11:52 pm
Three or four times a week I talk an extended walk through Pleasanton. I often walk past the new Amador parking structure and marvel that a High School would merit a parking structure that would make a modest theme park proud. In the morning and afternoons every school in the area is surrounded by parents and students locked bumper to bumper. The sidewalks, however, are almost completely unused. Now my school days are a somewhat distant memory at this point, but I still can’t help but remember that my High School (which was comparably sized) had about 30 spaces allotted for students. They were never full. None of us had a phone or a pager in our pocket. And when we wanted to go somewhere (including to and from school) we walked or rode a bicycle.
So rather than spending too much time lamenting our children’s diminished educational opportunities created by the demise of our artificially inflated tax base, I will offer a humble suggestion. If you drive your child to school --- stop. If you child drives a car that they did not earn through gainful employment outside of your home --- sell it. If your child has a cell phone – cancel the contract and donate the phone to the charity of your choice. Buy your kid a Schwinn. A serviceable model sells for less than $300 at Costco. It is physically impossible to live within the city limits and not be able to travel, with ease, to your assigned school on foot or by bike. Send the money from the car you sold, or didn’t buy, to your local school district. Each month, send the money you didn’t spend on extra insurance, gasoline, and cellular service there as well. Problem solved. And with the extra benefit of fewer “muffins” hanging out of the short cropped tops, fewer cases of adolescent diabetes, and the knowledge that you have provided an educational service to you child that will serve them well as they become young adults.
Posted by Jerry, a resident of the Oak Hill neighborhood, on Jan 26, 2009 at 12:37 am
Your post brings a smile. Like you, most of my generations "ride" was a bike(pedal kind)...
I get a kick out of one young person that attends Foothill High. He rides his bike into Oak Hill Park, locks it to a fence, then proceeds to walk the rest of the way to school. Must not be "cool" to ride a bike to high school these days...:)
Posted by Steve, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Jan 26, 2009 at 4:39 am
Jackson and Jerry,
Your words are music to my ears. We either walked to or rode bikes to school or wherever it was we were going to back then. I drive into the parking lot at Amador now and see BMWs, SUVs, and the like. So, no there is no pity here for the outcome of these budget cuts. You parents who have abundantly should share abundantly and leave those less fortunate without the burden to pay for that which we cannot afford. We pay highly in property taxes and refuse to pay a parcel tax. Sell those luxury cars, save a teacher's job, and stop indulging your spoiled children who will only go on to have a worthless work ethic. Please get real and give your child a bike. How more narcissistic can this community be?
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Jan 26, 2009 at 7:41 am
TD wrote: "Everyone's property should be valued on an annual basis."
It is, by no more than 2% annually. Why should a homeowner's tax burden increase based upon speculators artificially driving up prices? I guess you don't know the history behind Prop 13, where people's homes were suddenly reassessed upwards by like 50%. Who's salary increases at that rate?!
Posted by patron of Main St, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Jan 26, 2009 at 8:12 am
Wow, some of you really do get it. If these self-indulgent P-town parents would stop over-spending on the luxuries for their lazy kids that would solve lots more than the school budget crisis. Less obesity in young people, less medical care later in life, a work ethic that few, if any, of them demonstrate now, less time to play violent computer games, the list never ends. Parents, put your money into their education not their entertainment. And again, keep your filthy hands out of my pockets. I too walked to school, the roads were far too steep to ride a bike. Rain or shine, my Mother never picked me up she just had a hot, home cooked meal waiting each and every day. I remember those meals a heck of a lot more than I would remember or appreciate being driven where I was too lazy to walk.
Posted by Concerned Citizen, a member of the Amador Valley High School community, on Jan 26, 2009 at 9:29 am
It continues to amaze how so many people have all the answers to raise other peoples children. Thankfully their are a majority of people in Pleasanton who actually show compassion for the less fortunate through civic and religous organizations. Is it any wonder why blogs have a rep for attracting the lunatic fringe?
Posted by Sons of Liberty, a member of the Amador Valley High School community, on Jan 26, 2009 at 9:34 am
The city of Pleasanton wisely planned that its schools be "walkable" many years ago. Due to overcrowding, many young children would have to walk 5 miles or more, cross railroad tracks and busy streets and/or bike in rush-hour-cut-through-traffic to get to school. Let's remember that the largest percentage of our school-age children are far too young to drive "beamers." This overcrowding can only be attributed to bad management on the part of district administrators.
Isn't it odd that the budget deficit seems to be a similar number to the amount lost in their frivolous lawsuit? I guess the district wouldn't want to sell the land designated for an elementary school they will never build. Probably not, as they would rather hold it and speculate the price will go up again.
I remember one year in the last 10 when the teacher's union negotiated a 9% salary increase. I feel that GOOD teachers should be paid well. However the union/tenure system protects far, far too many BAD teachers who enjoy the same raises. Teacher cuts would at least allow the schools to cut out some of the dead wood. Can anyone say "Merit Pay"?
On the subject of property tax, Pleasanton is not an island. Our property taxes do not go directly to OUR schools, but are doled out by the county (Communists!). Property rich cities are supporting the poor districts in Oakland.
NO PARCEL TAX. Our district is fat in many areas. The Superintendent should sell HIS "beamer" and get out HIS Schwinn.
Posted by G, a resident of the Del Prado neighborhood, on Jan 26, 2009 at 9:42 am
Wow - some of this information is a bit intense. I think we have lost what the bottom line is here and that is how do we save the schools and our community from going south... In the real world we can not tell people how they should spend their money, it they choose to but their kids a beamer so be it. That is not something we can change so “Move On”. People have the right to drive their kids to school if they so choose to so again “Move On”. Yes things were different years ago in every aspect of our lives we can not go back in time so “Move on” You can only make those changes for yourself and hope that others will follow. But don’t expect those things to save our school and community in a time of crisis.
I do believe that with the schools going down hill so will the values of our homes. I have seen this happen in other bay area cities and is the reason my family is here in Pleasanton. I recently was talking to a child that attends a middle school here in Pleasanton, he moved from the east coast due to a transfer with his fathers work. His fathers company was not here in Pleasanton so I asked him why they moved here and he told me his parents made this choice due to the schools. That reason is more common than some of you realize so whether you have a child in the Pleasanton schools or not know that if the schools are not staying at the top neither will your home values.
Posted by 38 Year resident, a resident of the Pleasanton Meadows neighborhood, on Jan 26, 2009 at 9:49 am
Stacey - you are the most prolific poster on any board in the history of the internet. And you are dead wrong with many if not most of your "facts". When others post their opinions, it is repeating propaganda in your mind. Don't you think it is time to grow up? By the shear number of times you have posted your opinion, it appears you are trying to drown out everyone else's. You are the real propaganda machine!!
I respect you have an opinion that we should not pass a parcel tax. That is clear from all the gibberish posted and name calling that you have done. (Like calling all public servants pigs, in the other thread.)I think we all know your opinion by now.
Many intelligent, critical thinkers, who are not into propaganda, disagree with you for very good reasons. The fact that their opinions are not yours does not make their opinions any less valid.
Posted by Might not vote for this tax, a resident of the Highland Oaks neighborhood, on Jan 26, 2009 at 9:57 am
I have put three kids through this school district and am happy with the educational opportunities they were given. Two have graduated from UC campuses and pay their own tax, the 3rd one is at a UC now. But let me say that only one out of the three had the "advantage" of class size reduction. I do not think that CSR made a difference for my third child at all. And for those of you who feel threatened by loosing it, don't let propaganda from teachers union affiliated sources fool you. They work for their own best interest to preserve jobs. In fact I believe when the district implemented CSR they were forced to hire teachers very quickly and coupled with the growth of the community at the time some of these teachers weren't very good. However the teachers union protected them with a two year tenure.
On a side note when we moved here and our elementary school was 350 kids I had to help my then 7 year old with his bike because the bike rack was so packed with bikes. Now I drive by the elementary school with 650 kids and their are only a handful of bikes. Maybe there is too much traffic.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Jan 26, 2009 at 10:02 am
I have NOT called public servants "pigs". You, sir, display yet again your poor reading comprehension by trying to put words into my mouth, just like you misread someone else's post earlier and attributed it to me. In fact, you're the one who has been throwing insult at me after insult, suggesting my kids shouldn't receive an education and I have refrained until now from addressing your rudeness.
Yes, it is propaganda she's repeating. The evidence Laura Foster is repeating comes from some PUSD publication that two other posters here have also cited. You insult me when I point out the logical fallacy of that propaganda. And then you have the nerve to suggest that I need to grow up. I don't care if you don't agree with me, but have a respect for facts. And keep the insults to yourself.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Jan 26, 2009 at 10:16 am
"Many intelligent, critical thinkers, who are not into propaganda, disagree with you for very good reasons."
Better yet, here's a challenge. You claim to be thinking critically on this matter, yet you have not written ANY rational, logical, or research based argument for why anyone should support a parcel tax. Put your money where your mouth is and produce such an argument, insult free. Don't just CLAIM there's very good reasons. State them.
Posted by G, a resident of the Del Prado neighborhood, on Jan 26, 2009 at 10:32 am
In regards to Stacy’s respond "Are they going downhill? How can you tell? How fast are they going to do downhill? Give the kids in school some credit. They're not going to suddenly become dumb in one year.
It has nothing to do with out kids suddenly becoming "Dumb" And please dont suggest that is what I meant. A child can only learn what they are taught. If they are continually cutting things out of the curriculum or making the year shorter than what will they end up with. A whole lot less than they deserve that’s for sure.
To Mr. Might Not Vote - I think that years ago the class size would not have mattered much. Do you remember going to your child’s class and seeing that one kid who was the class "wild Child" ya know the one you hoped you child would never want to have a play date with. Well things are different now it’s not just one child in the class it’s a whole bunch of them thanks to the ADD/ADHA epidemic and the huge rise in Autism Spectrum Disorders. Where do you think the teachers are going to put most of thier time? It will go to dealing with the "disruptive" kids and not the child that is sitting there waiting for the next assignment. So adding another 10 kids to a class is a huge problem. Sadly these are not the same kids as 15 years ago...
Posted by AVHS parent, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jan 26, 2009 at 11:20 am
We spend $100,000 to give our Seniors a great last year of high school, senior breakfast, grad night, senior bbq, etc., and frankly, only about 50% of the kids attend every event. They don't care as much about it as some of the over zealous parents do. It is crazy! Use that money for more important needs. The kids will live!
Posted by Might not vote for this tax, a resident of the Highland Oaks neighborhood, on Jan 26, 2009 at 12:10 pm
Hey G - it is Mrs. Might not vote for this tax. It wasn't 15 years ago it was about 10 and there were difficult kids in the classroom, on the playground and in the neighborhood. My oldest child began 3rd grade with a class of 37. He graduated from Berkeley in Engineering. What we did as parents was try to teach our kids how to deal with those difficulties. We let them know that life isn't perfect and that regardless they needed to be as resourceful and work as hard as possible. And let me say this has served them very well in the transition to a public university.
When I see what the District, the teacher's union and the residents of Pleasanton are willing to give in order to make up for budget cuts, then I will decide whether or not to vote for it. I have never in my life voted against an education bond or parcel tax but the sense of entitlement seems to go across the board here and needs to be brought back in line.
Posted by Parent, a resident of the Stoneridge neighborhood, on Jan 26, 2009 at 12:22 pm
Raising top-notch students begins at home. It requires firm commitments from the parents to ensure that their children are on top of their schoolwork, getting help when necessary, and providing adequate guidance on their educational endeavors. Throwing more money at PUSD or the schools will NOT accomplish that goal.
I've researched other school districts in the Bay Area and found that districts with more money do not produce better schools (or smarter students). Demographics seem to play a more important role. I can post some numbers here but it's probably easier if you were to explore them for yourself, as they're readily available at many websites (e.g. greatschools.com).
Posted by Resident again, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jan 26, 2009 at 2:14 pm
Teachers have too much power, given to them by the union. Merit pay, full work days and more accountability for all teachers, even those who have aged with the district, must be implemented. Unions have too much power. Administrators seem to refuse to eliminate unnecessary expenses before threatening parents with cuts to valuable programs.
I support a parcel tax, but only after I see reasonable changes. We are in a recession, has Casey figured that out? People are going without raises, some are getting laid off - has Casey figured that out?
Posted by A concerned taxpayer, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jan 26, 2009 at 3:09 pm
A lot of my ideas are already on this board. Over the past 10 years the stockmarket has gone no where but the spending of the public sector (State,County,City,schools etc.) has skyrocketed. Even after adjusting for no. of students and inflation it has increased. The public sector employee is earning higher salaries than the private sector with much greater job security, less stress and getting several times the pension and medical benefits.
The average person's net worth has shrunk by a third with numerous businesses going bankrupt and people losing jobs. It is high time the public sector took its share of the cuts. We have to get back to the level of spending of 10 years ago adjusted for inflation and number of students. Nothing is sacred. Administrative costs, teachers' salaries and benefits all have to be looked at. In the private sector well-run companies take 10-20% paycuts during recessions with highly-paid employees taking the biggest % cuts. We can't keep jacking up taxes.
Posted by Bruce, a resident of the Pleasanton Heights neighborhood, on Jan 26, 2009 at 4:31 pm
I have yet to see anyone address the real problem and that is the democratic assembly. When the state passed the Lottery years ago to give additional funding to the schools, Willy Brown and his fellow democrats reduced State funding to schools by the anticipated lottery earnings. So instead of using those funds to better education, they kept funding the same and used the money saved buy more votes with give away programs.
Any time there is a ballot inititive like school vouchers to replace the ineffective educational system we have, The teachers union can fund tens of millions to defeat it. How about putting their excess dues back in the classroom instead?
How about a ballot inititive to make every politition have a fiduciary responsibility to balance the budget. If they don't, they make up the difference. If you don't have the heart to make them responsible, at least have them not get paid if there is not a balanced budget in place.
If we don't take back control of government, this problem will never change. The polititians need to be reminded that it is about us and our children, not about how much power they have and how much money they can raise to get reelected.
I should never begin to comment on these letters as I always get carried away, but there needs to be some basic logic and common sense put back into the life equation.
Posted by Enrique, a resident of the Walnut Hills neighborhood, on Jan 26, 2009 at 4:52 pm
For everyone with an opinion, which seems to be many on these blogs, please make your voices heard by attending one of two forums hosted by the school district. They are January 26th, 7pm at the Amador MP room and Wednesday, February 4th, 7pm at the Foothill MP room. Meet directly with Dr. Casey and other members of the budget committee, and tell them directly what you believe.
I have been deeply involved with the schools for the past six years and have given my opinion to Dr. Casey on a regular basis. When the district was thinking of a parcel tax last year, I was against it and let them know directly. This year, after reviewing the budget data in detail, I am now for it because the situation is dire.
However, I will only support a parcel tax after cuts have been made at the administrative and school site level. A parcel tax should be a last resort, and I believe that we have reached that stage. If the tax should pass, then it should first be marked strictly to support class size reduction, intervention programs, and personnel that directly support student needs at the school site level.
With the large number of people posting on these blogs, I expect a huge turnout at these forums. If there aren't, which is what I expect, then what we have a group of people that just blow smoke all day long.
Posted by Paul, a resident of the Foothill Farms neighborhood, on Jan 26, 2009 at 8:17 pm
Enrique is right, get to one of the forums and voice your opinion.
I'm happy Enrique says "I will only support a parcel tax after cuts have been made at the administrative and school site level." Cuts have already been made at many levels, especially at the administrative level, where by attrition numerous positions haven't been filled. Over 2 million in savings at the District Office. This is how we rode out last year without too much damage.
The bottom line is that Sacramento isn't doing it's job, so it's up to us to pick up the slack. Livermore, Dublin, San Ramon, even Oakland have passed parcel taxes, we're the only ones who have been able to afford going without one. Our time has run out.
Get facts like these and more by coming to the forum next week at Foothill, it's too late now to get to Amador.
Posted by Resident again, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jan 26, 2009 at 10:18 pm
"However, I will only support a parcel tax after cuts have been made at the administrative and school site level. A parcel tax should be a last resort, and I believe that we have reached that stage."
Enrique, how can you say we have reached that stage? I have not seen paycuts for Casey and cabinet, I have not seen the elimination of unnecessary yet highly paid positions like the public information officer, some of the directors, I have not seen the unions be reasonable and eliminate the very expensive yet not justified teacher work days.... how can you say the district is at a point of asking for a parcel tax?
Do you realize, with all your involvement, that last year, Casey et al fully knowing of the budget deficit, decided to BORROW from RESERVES to give themselves a RAISE?
Again, I support a parcel tax, but I will not be fooled into thinking it is going for academic programs, when I know that they cut academic programs so the above (Casey's raise, car stipends, teacher work days, etc) can stay intact. Then they cry and say: see, we did our best.... not believable. You are dealing with intelligent adults, all of us have experience in the real world and will not fall for arguments that even my children would laugh at.
Posted by David Cannon, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Jan 27, 2009 at 10:36 am
I am not in favor of another tax until I have seen a great deal more belt tightening. The city of Pleasanton must prioritize their spending. We do not need another sports park when our school programs are in jeopardy. We do not need to spend 250 thousand dollars on beautifying a creek when class size reduction is being lost. City management, show me you understand how to prioritize your budget. Only after I have seen you squeeze the pennies will I consider another tax. And when you have shown that you know how to spend our current tax dollars, make sure you can justify why you need more money than our surrounding cities. Livermore floated a smaller bond measure. Is Livermore's fiscal management better than Pleasanton's? If so, why?
Posted by Paul Stewart, a resident of the Foothill Farms neighborhood, on Jan 27, 2009 at 11:49 am
David, thanks for putting your name on your post. Too many people are unwilling to do that, to hide anonymously behind their comments.
To clear up any confusion there might be, the city of Pleasanton has nothing to do with funding the schools. That money comes from the state. Livermore, and virtually all the surrounding cities, have a parcel tax which helps fund the schools. They are not better run than Pleasanton, in fact Pleasanton has been run so well financially that we have avoided a parcel tax until now. But unfortunately Sacramento has let us down, and now we need to take matters into our own hands if we want to keep up the level of education we have come to know. That is what the other districts have done, alleviated the problems by passing a parcel tax.
I encourage you to go to the public forum at Foothill next Wed (Feb 4) at Foothill. Please go and ask questions, find out about the budget, parcel tax, etc. There is a lot of misinformation out there, I encourage one and all to look for the correct information. Also, go to (or watch on TV) the School Board meetings tonight and every other Tuesday night.
Posted by patron of Main St, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Jan 27, 2009 at 11:49 am
Why don't we just give them a parcel tax the same way the government gave the banks billions of dollars? When we ask they what they did with it (other than giving themselves more raises) they can tell us that it is none of our business. It's working with banks, right? Aren't you happy knowing that your billions have been thrown away to fund executive benefits? A parcel tax given to these morons is no different.
Posted by Another Gatetree Resident, a member of the Amador Valley High School community, on Jan 27, 2009 at 12:23 pm
Posted by Another Gatetree neighbors neighbor, a member of the Amador Valley High School community, on Jan 25, 2009 at 7:17 pm
I think that my Gatetree Neighbor is on the right track. Ask AVHS boosters for some script money. It is well documented that the Boster can fund any problem the district may have. Another Gatetree Neighbors neighbor.
Thank you for your added voice. I find it amazing the majority of the posters on this topic continue to think Boosters is the sacred sports cow. Please tell me where continuing to hold back funds for true educational needs helped people like -- oh -- Michael Vick, Rae Carruth, or even our own local Brendon Rose.
Posted by Green Girl, a resident of the Pleasanton Heights neighborhood, on Jan 28, 2009 at 12:34 pm
For those that are already willing to pay, well . . . go ahead. The District Office is located at 4665 Bernal Avenue. If you feel so passionate and are financially able, then maybe if enough of the community donate, then maybe we won't need the parcel tax as a part of the solution. Think of all the money and resources that we would be saved in the campaign, trees saved, gas emissions saved, etc. Please consider it if you are able.
Be aware that with the parcel tax, the county will take its share of the parcel tax, about 1.7%?
Let's use this as a source to explore creative ideas. Here are a few others for consideration:
1. Absolutely freeze ALL salaries. Offer no COLAs. Everyone must share the responsibility of this downturn. Everyone. Does John Casey really NEED to make $255/year??? The rest of us seem to live with much less. Let's just make what we need; not what we want . . .
2. Give some ‘golden handshakes’ (i.e., ask people to take retirement for the 'greater good') and/or institute more positions with job sharing.
3. End the propagation of the economic downturn and allow those willing, to accept less. Isn’t a slightly smaller paycheck (with benefits) much better than 0? We're NOT saying teachers are overpaid here; it's just that times ARE difficult. Education has been sort of 'immune' until now. And, this challenge is all around us. Teachers are not going to be able to pick up a job somewhere else very easily. So, wouldn't getting some level of income be more desirable than none at all? For teachers that have a spouse in another job with a 6 figure salary, that's completely different as opposed to a single parent teacher living in an apartment.
4. Shorten the school year by 5 days (elementary has so many field trips, parties, etc. that I KNOW some days can be spared). This saves $2MM!
5. Sell Neal school property
6. Establish a Volunteer corp. For those positions that must be eliminated, the service does not HAVE to go away. There are many of us who have talents and skill sets and would be willing to share them until things turn around. Think of art, music, PE, coaching, science, computers, to name a few. Check out: Web Link to see what I'm talking about.
7. Put some of the DO jobs out for competitive bid; there are many unemployed that would be qualified for many of the positions. For example, does a position of Asst Director of Nutrition really deserve to earn $90K when our children are eating chicken nuggets and corn dogs?
8. Solicit private donations
The solution is a hybrid. Divided we fail. United we stand.