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Is PUSD broke...?
Original post made
by tax revolt 2, Country Fair,
on Apr 8, 2009
Is PUSD broke...or running out of operating cash?
At the April 7, PUSD Special Board Meeting, agenda item 4.0 reported the reserve fund will end the current year at $40,000. That's $3.8 million short of the reserve requirement.
Agenda item 5.2 (which was approved) is to authorize borrowing $15 million dollars using Tax and Revenue Anticipation Notes to "act as a cushion to the general fund in the event that we experience temporary cash flow needs". PUSD reports they have "not required this cash flow support for the last few years". The reliance on future revenues to fund current expenses is dangerous territory. (and pay interest - another new expense.) Sure, one might say that 'everyone does it'. But so does the state of California look at the fiasco they are in.
Is it any wonder the Pleasanton Chamber challenged the school board to address the long-term stability issues of school funding? Even after they supported Measure G? The Chamber had two representatives on the Budget Advisory Committee.
These are two well respected CPAs, one of whom participated on the Excellence Committee. What did they learn and share with the Chamber board such that the Chamber issued the strongly worded challenge?
Is it any wonder that Trustee Kernan, when leaving the Board Meeting early, left with a comment that said essentially, the meeting did little to address the number one problem (budget) facing the district?
(I would put a link to the webcast here so readers can hear the exact words, but PUSD hasn't posted it.)
The PUSD façade is cracking. The evidence mounts further that PUSD is unwilling to do the hard work necessary to put their fiscal house into order. The call is now out to address the long-term stability issues of school 'expenses'. For example, many PUSD employees will receive a salary increase next year. Call it what you will, step and column, contractual obligations, whatever. However you look at it, these are automatic salary increases of approximately $2,000,000 occurring every year. This will total $20,000,000 over the next four years. Stop piddling with cell phone bills and gasoline credit cards and whether teachers can or can not wear buttons in class. Slay the elephant (apologies to all elephants) in the room and get on with really Saving Pleasanton Schools.
This parcel TAX (aka Measure G) remains a "feel-good band-aid on undiagnosed trauma" and does not solve the structural spending issues of PUSD. Until that happens, the bleeding will continue.
Voting NO on Measure G will force PUSD to solve the real funding/spending issues and propose a real long-term solution.
Voting NO on Measure G will truly Save Pleasanton Schools.
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Posted by Mom2
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 16, 2009 at 10:20 am
You mention the District allowed all of these things to happen, yet the school board of elected representatives has final say. The board has always pushed to keep Pleasanton's salary schedule competitive with neighboring school districts. I believe the community has always supported paying our teachers a wage that would keep them in the area if possible. Over the years, a competitive salary has helped draw experienced teachers from other school districts and recruited some of the best and brightest out of college.
Those of you who are still confused about step and column, the salary schedule is public information on the PUSD web site. Teachers are rewarded column increases for continuing their educations. A teacher cannot advance across the salary schedule without taking addition college units. These units are paid for by the employee and the reimbursement/reward is an increase across the salary schedule. After a teacher completes a masters program, the District rewards that teacher $500.00 more each year.
( In Fremont, the increase is an addition 3% on the salary schedule amounting to about $3,000 a year for their top earners). Personally, as a parent, I am glad their is an incentive for teachers to return to school and improve and expand upon their teaching strategies.
Secondly, teachers do move down the salary schedule based upon years service. If a teacher moves from another district, PUSD only grants that teacher 7 years experience. PUSD has many teachers who have come with 7-25+ years of experience, and yet are paid at Step 7 when they begin their careers here. You could say we are gaining a lot of expertise for a bargain. That's also why a teacher with 25 years of experience can get a pink slip because that teacher came here and now has fewer years in Pleasanton than a teacher who started his/her career in PUSD.
The salary schedule is designed so that beginning teachers advance on the salary schedule faster, so they will stay in teaching and area, and possibly, be able to buy a home. At one time the District has so concerned about beginning teachers and their low pay, they were considering sponsoring "teacher housing".
Once a teacher reaches 20 years of experience with the district and/or combined with the 7 years granted upon arrival, that teacher is "frozen" on the salary schedule. During the years of no COLA which will obviously be the next 4-5 years, those teachers do not receive any raises. There are a couple of spots on the salary schedule where teachers do not advance for 4 years.
When teachers at the top of the salary schedule retire, the cost of salaries to the district will go down. However, one of the results of the economic downturn and spouses of educators losing their jobs is that many of the educators at the top of the salary schedule arent' able to retire as planned. I have friends who were planning on retiring this year until their husband's jobs were either eliminated or redefined.
The high cost of health benefits have also kept teachers in the profession into their 60s. Teachers health care benefits do not continue after retirement (like some public employees), so many teachers are now staying until 65. And although teachers have received raises and step and column advances, health care costs have advanced beyond COLA. Like all citizens, health care is placing a burden on most families who don't have continuing coverage. Unfortunately, the downturn in the economy has had a domino effect that was hard to predict. These are the "worst of times" for education in California. I really don't see how the district could have forecasted that the governor would short them of $8-$10 million dollars. He isn't planning on paying back money he has borrowed unless his propositions pass in May. Already, the polls show their passing is very unlikely. After his defeat in May, he will deliver another blow to public education. He has "stolen" from the mouths of babes and will get away with it because citizens are turning on each other instead of him and the fools in Sacramento. The Gov is ruining public education and yet, Pleasanton citizens are bashing each other.
I actually expected Pleasanton citizens to come together and raise money to save the band/string teachers. It's only $120,000 a year. I expected our local businesses to come forward and provide grants to keep librarians, technology specialists, and reading programs. But, no, all the energy has gone into "finger pointing" and children are getting caught in the cross fire of angry, educated adults that could be "doing" so much more with their time. Even if it is someone's fault, don't we teach our children to move on and get busy with solutions. It sounds like "the queens of Walnut Grove" need to reunite and fight for your grandchildren. PUSD's school children need champions for their award winning programs. Even if these programs didn't exist when your children attended school, I hope you can see their value for today's children.
However, Kathleen, it is clear that you aren't going to be happy until teachers and administrators roll back their pay to a point you find acceptable. I guess the two days of pay for teachers isn't enough? Three to five days for administrators?
The anger towards teacher's salaries is so perplexing to me since I truly don't see these as high salaries ($53,000-$55,000 minus health costs = $41,000-45,000 a year for a college graduate with an additional fifth year to earn a teaching credential). A teacher making this salary can't even qualify for a condo in Pleasanton anymore. About ten years ago, when the condos were still in the $200,000 range, they could. A huge salary cut for some of these young teachers would either force them out of the area or out of a newly purchased house. Personally, I don't want my child's teachers under that type of pressure.
Already, more and more teachers are living in Tracy and beyond.
Once again, the "freezing of the salary schedule" will hurt the beginning teachers the most. Those at the top are already "frozen" on step and column. The two days off the calendar year was developed to ensure that all teachers received a cut in pay. Beginning teachers lose less than teachers making more.
I do respect your opinion, insight, and your desire to halt taxes. With your fine writing, I hope you are writing to all of your representatives in Sacramento. It is obvious that you were a champion for education when your children attended Walnut Grove. We need "grandparents for education" to be heard in Sacramento. I know I have encouraged my own parents to write their representatives to protest the misuse of our tax dollars. My parents raised us when California's education was one of the best, and now, they are very discouraged to hear about the conditions for most California school children.
We are fortunate in Pleasanton. Let us remember the school children over our hills in Oakland, Richmond, and areas of greater San Jose which attend schools without any "extras". I have had student teaching candidates tell me of broken toilets, bullet holes through windows, no heat, very few materials, and dirty, smelly campuses. So, please, everyone, write your representatives. It is disgraceful that children living in California have to attend substandard schools.