Posted by Sandy, a resident of the Mohr Park neighborhood, on Mar 2, 2009 at 8:43 am Sandy is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
Are the student populations comparable? Assessing school performance is not just about how the students do when they leave; it is also about how the district does given how the students are prepared when they enter, and how much support they have from family and community.
3.4 Percent English Learners
1.7 Percent Free or Reduced Price Meals
27.8 Percent Minority
33 Ethnic Diversity Index
5.5 Percent English Learners
4.1 Percent Free or Reduced Price Meals
36.5 Percent Minority
40 Ethnic Diversity Index
I can't find information anywhere about the percentage of students diagnosed with learning disabilities, but it's possible that Pleasanton also has a higher percentage.
Posted by Parent, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Mar 2, 2009 at 9:11 am
One reason for higher salaries in Pleasanton: teachers have to buy their own benefits packages. They are required to buy dental even if their spouse has it already. San Ramon supplies benefits for their employees. I am sure that the difference in teacher salary does not begin to cover the difference.
Posted by Disagree w/B, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 2, 2009 at 10:06 am
Parent: Employees voted to put benefits into their salaries. It boosted their salaries, a key figure in calculating their retirement benefits. Also, if you don't use the money for benefits (many have benefits through spouses), you can take the money in your paycheck or dump it in the educational equivalent of a 401K (403b).
That's not to say benefits aren't costing more, but there has been a lot of discussion on the various threads about they exorbitant fees staff are paying for coverage. They either have Cadillac benefits or someone isn't negotiating very well with the insurance companies.
Posted by Mary, a resident of the Del Prado neighborhood, on Mar 2, 2009 at 11:41 am
MagPie, I'm disappointed in you. When you request ppl to get their facts straight you might want to spend a moment and offer some facts, yourself. The facts offered are in fact, FACTS. Something interesting to consider before we commit yet again to another parcel tax for "perfection in Pleasanton".
Posted by Concerned, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 2, 2009 at 12:47 pm
There is very little correlation between the amount of money spent and the results. Wash. D.C spends over $13K per student and has the worst results, while Utah has one of the best results with close to the least spending. The family is the most important factor along with the ethnicity. Asians outscore the other groups substantially and you know who the laggards are. It boils down to motivation both on the part of the student and the parents. Pleasanton spends more than enogh money on its schools.
Posted by John Adams, a member of the Amador Valley High School community, on Mar 3, 2009 at 8:34 am
Liz's point is not in the precise numbers (which some need to see while others cannot grasp), but the fact that neighboring districts with similar populations provide an equivalent if not better education for their students on about 20% less funding.
If Magpie thinks San Ramon students enjoy more tutoring than Pleasanton students, she should go fact-finding. Sandy should use Livermore when making socio-economic comparisons. Factless arguments based on emotion are intellectually dishonest as is cherry-picking facts to support your argument. Sadly, these are the tactics we have learned to expect from PUSD.
The fact is that we are already paying a substantial parcel tax (averaging $866/year) and will be for another 20 years. Raising our property taxes will not improve our schools, but it will negatively impact the value of our homes. NO MORE TAXES!
Posted by Disagree w/B, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 3, 2009 at 8:51 am
John Adams--just so we are presenting the facts consistently, the money we pay now is for facilities bonds (and can only be spent on facilities); it is not a tax to supplement the general fund and program. Otherwise, as presented, I will not vote for the parcel tax.
Posted by Bruce, a resident of the Pleasanton Heights neighborhood, on Mar 3, 2009 at 8:54 am
I for one, would like for PUSD to publish the job title and job duties and compensation of each administrative worker in the district. Then maybe we can make some educated decisions as to whether a parcel tax is necessary, or just a general house cleaning. Having been exposed to the political bureaucracy for so many years, I would suspect that the house cleaning would eliminate the need for a parcel tax.
Posted by Sandy, a resident of the Mohr Park neighborhood, on Mar 3, 2009 at 10:08 am Sandy is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
I used San Ramon numbers because Liz used those as a comparison in her post which initiated this thread. I believe she chose San Ramon as a comparison because the district API scores are comparable. In Livermore, they are not.
14.1 Percent English Learners
21.5 Percent Free or Reduced Price Lunch
40 Ethnic Diversity Index
And so that you don't have to scroll back up, I provide again the Pleasanton numbers.
5.5 Percent English Learners
4.1 Percent Free or Reduced Price Meals
36.5 Percent Minority
40 Ethnic Diversity Index
So, Livermore serves roughly three times as many English learners as Pleasanton (slightly less because Pleasanton is a larger district, with 14,800 enrolled compared with 13,200 in Livermore) and about five times as many poor students. My argument was that Pleasanton's students might need extra investment in order to make adequate yearly progress. (I still haven't been able to track down comparable numbers for special education students.) This would be doubly true for Livermore.
Livermore also spends less per student ($8,339) than Pleasanton ($9,992) but more than San Ramon ($8,142).
Of course, San Ramon serves, proportionally, only 2/3 as many English Language learners
So, the effect of the combination of student background and personal circumstances, school expenditures, and (the great unknown) teacher quality, yields different results.
I would not want my daughter to attend Livermore schools, where
60.7 are Proficient in Math
57.2 are Proficient in English
790 Livermore district API
compared with, in Pleasanton,
82.4 are Proficient in Math
81.2 are Proficient in English
893 Pleasanton district API
If someone would like to present data that teacher quality is higher in San Ramon or Livermore than in Pleasanton, or that teacher salaries are significantly higher in Pleasanton when the difference between San Ramon and Pleasanton in terms of how health benefits work is taken into account, I would welcome a chance to review it.
I am not arguing that there is no need for administrative cuts. The cuts put in place last week reduced the administrative headcount in Pleasanton by 17.5, or over 25%. I'm not sure how much more people want to see cut, before acknowledging that cuts to teachers are going to negatively affect student performance.
I am still waiting to see what the teachers' union brings forward this week. I don't think they should have been expected to bring forward offers of salary cuts before the state budget was passed, two weeks ago. I fully expect the district to negotiate some cuts with the teachers.
Posted by Another Resident, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 3, 2009 at 10:16 am
PUSD -- Break the mold. Solve something without throwing someone else’s money at it. Don’t borrow. Don’t defer. Don’t assume we will always be there to support your whims. There are too many moving parts in your budget and our economy to implement new, and likely permanent taxes.
Posted by Parent, a resident of the Highland Oaks neighborhood, on Mar 3, 2009 at 10:34 am
As a parent of kids just starting out in the school system this is scary. Our children do not need to be punished because of issues I feel are at the districts administrative level. My children are thriving and the thought of cramming more kids into a classroom or taking away music or p.e. is crazy. Do I want a parcel tax? Absolutely not. Will I pay it to ensure my children get a good education? Yes.
Posted by Apples and Oranges, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Mar 3, 2009 at 11:06 am
Stop trying to compare 2 things that are so different. Kids also pay rediculous money to play sports at SRV and Monte Vista as compared to AV and Foothill. I heard its costs $700 to play Lacrosse this season at Monte Vista? There are probably things the each district does better than the other. I personally don't want PUSD to try to mimick SRVUSD. There are hundreds of things that are paid for by the district that are nice, but not necessary. The nice things that benefit very few, should absolutely be on the chopping block. In these times it is impossible to have a program for each and every special need that might exist. I believe these cuts CAN be made, and without another crutch parcel tax. EVERY school district in the country is facing this same issue. If PUSD hadn't spent foolish money in its obviously unwinable lawsuit against the developers this problem would be very small by comparison.
Posted by Apples and Oranges, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Mar 3, 2009 at 11:14 am
BTW, Statistics are great, but I can tell you using test scores to measure the overall quality of a school is a big mistake. Schools are now driven to ensure their scores are good, and some take outragous steps to ensure scores are high. While colleges use general information for High Schools for admitance, they absolutely don't care if SRV or MV rank higher than AV and Foothill or vice versa.
A bigger problem in Pleasanton in my opinion is parents helping their kids too much and artificially proping up grades. It is alarming how many Freshman that go away to 4 year school are back in one quarter or semester, not because of grades, but because the kids couldn't manage being away from home. Virtually everyone I talk to says a major factor in them moving to Pleasanton is the quality of the schools. My glass is half full.
Posted by concerned, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 3, 2009 at 11:30 am
I was talking with a parent in the SRVUSD in summer while sitting at Shadowcliffs, and she told me that the schools ask for a "Donation" of about $350, per child to help pay for things-for example, such as the Para's (aides) that work at the schools, who can help the teachers out with various tasks such as stations, or copying etc. I student taught in a San Ramon school, as well as a PUSD school, and the students in San Ramon didn't all have their own math homework book (consumable), such as we have here-where the kids tear complete the pages. I had to make photo copies of the pages, to hand out for homework. It was a bit more work, but I think those books are somewhat expensive. I know the teachers in Pleasanton have a limit on use of the copy machine, and the machine stops working when the allocation of copies is reached-maybe that ought to be changed, and hopefully the teachers have common sense not to abuse the copy machine, but certainly that is better than eliminating class size reduction. The same could be done with the science workbooks, and other workbooks. Maybe the copies could be made at graphics, to allow for economy of scale-I know the text book publishers wouldn't like this-maybe they should lower their price.
Posted by Get the facts, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 3, 2009 at 11:45 am
To "concerned", these are fine ideas, but to copy pages out of a book almost always violates copyright laws. So anyone doing it might be saving money, but it costs the publisher money. I doubt there are many convictions on this, but it is wrong nonetheless.
Posted by Go Falcons, a member of the Foothill High School community, on Mar 3, 2009 at 11:54 am
San Ramon parents pay more for sports because their Boosters are not as successful. The only part of the sports program that the district pays for is coaches stipends. Parents pay everything else through donations and fundraising.
Posted by Ptown Family, a resident of the Pleasanton Valley neighborhood, on Mar 3, 2009 at 12:02 pm
I'd rather give $500 to my kids' teachers than $200 to the district.
BTW: Amador Valley band programs are almost fully support by parents through students fees. Have been for many, many years. The district pays the director's salary and some instrument funds (and maybe a little something else I'm not aware of) the rest is through fees and an annual fundraiser. We are also putting away money for future purchases. One year's fees are usually between $650-$900 per student, depending upon the schedules.
Many people in the community are not aware of how much of those programs are parent-paid.
Posted by Get the facts, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 3, 2009 at 12:25 pm
Just to make sure the comparisons are accurate, the Foothill and Amador bands take many more trips, resulting in bus rentals and the like that costs so much (entrance fees too, possibly? I don't know). Sports at Foothill & Amador cost $150-175. So, multiply times three (if your child plays three sports) and it comes to 450-525, similar to the low end of the band program which goes the entire length of the school year. Band clearly does cost more, but there are longer trips involved, and it is year round.
Posted by Lydiksen Parent, a resident of the Highland Oaks neighborhood, on Mar 3, 2009 at 2:45 pm
Awesome work stating ACTUAL numbers. I am a woman who lives around a bunch of emotional wannabe hippies who don't know any of these facts. They don't bother reading any of the details, they just go around spouting off about how they "don't want so-and-so to lose their job."
The main reason for high test scores, which nobody cares to admit, is that some districts have a higher proportion of higher IQ students. Also, I grew up in classrooms of 25 or more, and I can honestly say that 90% of my teachers were better than the teachers my children have had at Lydiksen. That just tells you how much class reduction has helped.
Posted by K Parent, a resident of the Highland Oaks neighborhood, on Mar 3, 2009 at 3:37 pm
I think class size reduction for the K-3 grades is crucial. I've taught at the high school level and have actually worked in some of the K-3 classrooms and the attention span difference is huge. All kids are different but why should the kids who need a little extra get kicked to the curb? Because their I.Q. isn't high enough? No, I don't think so. These young kids need a fair chance at the fundamentals to prepare them for the academic road ahead. I think class size reduction helps this and I think it's worth fighting for. Thankfully, we've had excellent teachers at Lydiksen and my children are doing great because of them!
Posted by Resident, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 3, 2009 at 4:20 pm
Although I want to see the unions and administration doing their part before I would support a parcel tax, I would not compare Pleasanton to San Ramon.
I have friends in San Ramon, and what you see on paper is not necessarily an indication of a good school district people are happy with. The town is divided, with Windemere vs. the old schools, the Danville crowd and the Alamo - Monte Vista crowd. It is not as perfect as you might imagine. My child's friend, a San Ramon resident, attends a private school. For those thinking of moving: do your research.
Regardless of what San Ramon does, I want to see the teachers giving up unjustified perks, I want to see the Director of HR back on the list of cuts, I want to see Casey's car stipend gone, and the list goes on.... all of that before I can say yes to a parcel tax.
Posted by Lydiksen Parent, a resident of the Highland Oaks neighborhood, on Mar 3, 2009 at 4:46 pm
K Parent- You must be one of the lucky ones who has had the one "good teacher" in each grade level. I can think of maybe 3 "excellent teachers" at Lydiksen. There could be more, but certainly not the ones my children have had. I have never seen so many parents living in la la land in my entire life.
Talking about the quality of teachers really isn't the issue, though. The issue is throwing money at problems. As the original poster pointed out, San Ramon has more money per student and the test scores are higher. Giving the district more money, simply allows for less accountability. In other words, we keep giving you money, you keep doing things the same way.
Thinking all of the teachers are "excellent" and not demanding accountability on the part of our district is simply preserving the status quo and is cruel to our students.
Posted by Curious, a resident of the Bonde Ranch neighborhood, on Mar 3, 2009 at 6:26 pm
Why do you all care about accountability now? What about 5 years ago? Why was there not so much anger toward the teachers & district at that time? Is it just because you are all unemployed and disgruntled now? Let's support our kids and the institutions that love and nurture them. Your jobs will come back, all will be fine. Let's not make the kids suffer the same way you are. I know, misery loves company. Maybe you could start a club?
Posted by just sayin', a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 3, 2009 at 7:52 pm
In San Ramon parents are "strong-armed" to make very large contributions at walk-thru registration. It varies by school but I have heard numbers tossed around between $300-$500. There is *serious* pressure, and schools have "lists" of who has paid and who hasn't. Is it legal? Absolutely not - but the people who live there are committed to providing a quality education for their children, so they pay. In fact there were several international students living in Chevron corporate apartments who weren't "ponying up" - it impacted a single school in particular. Representatives went to Chevron and pressured them to make a large donation to the school to compensate. And Chevron did.
I find it interesting that 66.6% of the voters can decide to pass a parcel tax. So 33% of the population can be taxed against their will. However it is "illegal" to demand a dime in payment from parents who have 100% vested interest and are using a program? Why can't the law be changed to allow schools to assess a fee @ walk-thru? Even $50-$100 per student - straight to the school would be a tremendous help. Those who *truly* cannot afford it can provide documentation - and get a reduced fee or exemption. I suspect the numbers of who cannot *truly* afford it would be quite small...some of the burden should be shared by those who are using the system...
Posted by Donna, a member of the Vintage Hills Elementary School community, on Mar 3, 2009 at 7:53 pm
Consider Student Count. Counting students typically is done one of two ways: enrollment or ADA.
Enrollment. Enrollment is a point–in–time count of the number of students enrolled in the public school system. Official enrollment counts in California are typically taken on a given day in October. All students enrolled as of that day are included in the count regardless of attendance. The enrollment for the state is the sum of the enrollment for each school. Average Daily Attendance. As the name implies, ADA is the aggregate attendance divided by the number of school days in session. Only days on which the student is under the guidance and direction of teachers are considered “days in session.” The ADA for the state is the sum of the ADA for each school.
Because enrollment counts are higher than ADA counts, PPF calculations based on enrollment counts result in lower per–pupil rates.
A Final Consideration—PPF Levels Do Not Shed Light on Actual Support Per Pupil. Regardless of the formula used, PPF calculations represent averages. None of these numbers reflects the actual amount of money that was spent on a particular student in a particular district. Funding is distributed to districts in varying amounts (due to categorical formulas and historical allocation factors) and districts may make different choices in spending. Thus, actual spending per student varies significantly across districts and school sites.
"Everyone who has had an educational experience feels as if they are an expert on how and what should be taught." Until you have done the job, you really can't know, just as some of us can't know what a CPA does or what a car mechanic does, but I can guess and make assumptions. If you really want to know why parents and teachers make emotional statements it is because they are putting kids first. It's a good thing for the kids and for the community.
As for funding and APA etc. - please don't compare San Ramon and Pleasanton. There is so much stuff that goes into these numbers - I was told that San Ramon and Livermore actually get more money from the state because they have been historically zoned "agricultural" (Pleae see information above). I know that parents in San Ramon make a donation of about $350.00 per student to support classrooms. If there are 25,959 students enrolled in San Ramon Unified (number from the eddata site), that would be $9,085,650.00 in additional revenue. Of course Pleasanton teachers do usually ask for $30 to $35 dollars, and occasional lab fee and field trip costs.
It's interesting to me that 10 years or so ago when Livermore went through this the community was so outraged that a Charter School was opened, but our community doesn't feel the same way because it is a different time I suppose. I don't understand why we are having an "Educational Civil War" in Pleasanton instead of a war against the way the state and Federal government fund our schools. If you are good at reading numbers and statistics perhaps you could go to Sacramento and help out because they missed that class I think.
If you really want to know how a classroom works, spend some time with a teacher. I think they work weekends too....
Posted by Lydiksen teacher, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 3, 2009 at 10:42 pm
Gosh Lydiksen parent, I hope I am one of the three good Lydiksen teachers. I feel bad for the other 40 or so teachers here who are crummy teachers. I will let them know how you feel, and to shape up or ship out!
How about the rest of the staff? How about our administration, our secretaries, our aides, our custodians, how many of them are no good?
You know, we really think highly of our parents. And we think highly of our students. I wish you could say the same about our staff, because we work our tails off for your kids, and there are only three of us that are good? If we stink that bad, then please home school your kids or take them to a private school. Just know that we will continue to love and care for your kids, no matter what you think of us.
Posted by Lydiksen Parent, a resident of the Highland Oaks neighborhood, on Mar 4, 2009 at 8:38 am
I just wanted to clarify, since my words were twisted, that I never said ALL Lydiksen teachers stink. I just said they are not all "excellent." There is an in-between. I have also noticed that teachers with students at the school hand pick teachers for their own children. Why is that?
The point that Lydiksen teacher stated just shows that our schools are not run like a business. He/She is basically telling me that if I don't agree with her that the whole school is great, I should go elsewhere. Teachers are supposed to work for the public, since they are paid with public funds. Can you imagine if in business clients were told "like it or leave?" That is just totally unprofessional in my opinion and further evidence that just giving the district more money is a just a mistake.
Posted by Another Lydiksen Mom, a resident of the Highland Oaks neighborhood, on Mar 4, 2009 at 9:57 am
Wow, the amount of animosity towards our teachers is alarming! I love our teachers at our school and most of the parents are pretty good people too (even the la-la land ones). We moved from San Ramon 5 years ago to be here and I'm not sorry. Yes, teachers do work weekends and over holidays and even during parts of the summer. Of course ALL teachers are not great, but that's to be said about any profession. Let's remember what this is about-our kids! Teachers and parents are on the same side on this.
Posted by Jeb Bing, editor of the Pleasanton Weekly, on Mar 15, 2009 at 9:55 pm Jeb Bing is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
We're intentionally giving topics pertaining to the June 2 parcel tax measure and teacher layoffs a rest because the postings have become repetitive and, in some instances, accusatory and hurtful to teachers and other employees of the school district who are unable to respond to postings, most of which are made under the cloak of anonymity. The postings online will remain, but future postings to these threads or new ones dealing with teacher layoffs and the parcel tax can be made only by registered users of the Pleasanton Weekly forum.