Is PUSD broke...? Part 2 Schools & Kids, posted by tax revolt 2, a resident of the Country Fair neighborhood, on Apr 16, 2009 at 6:13 am tax revolt 2 is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
Following up on an April 8 post Web Link on the PUSD reserve fund getting wiped out and needing to borrow $15M, the City of Pleasanton is now considering a $1.2M loan to PUSD.
These borrowing instruments will increase PUSD future expenses with the interest payments required.
At 1% of the total operating expense budget, why is this loan from the City necessary?
Is PUSD starting to look like the California State Government? Teetering on solvency, borrowing and taxing, paying interest on borrowed money... say it ain't so, but if it quacks like a duck......
When will all the facts get out so voters can make an informed decision about whether PUSD has done enough work on structural reform to justify a parcel tax?
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Apr 16, 2009 at 9:23 am Stacey is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
According to PUSD's Budget FAQ, the cost to "rollover" the budget increases by $500,000 annually. An unknown percentage of that increase is S&C. Let's assume it's half at $250,000. It's not enough to say "This is the additional cost of S&C this year." We want to know the total cost for sustainability reasons. So, assuming staffing levels stay the same this whole time, the equation is something like...
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Apr 16, 2009 at 10:19 am Stacey is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
Hrm, that number doesn't seem to include the supposed annual increase. I guess what actually happens is that the annual increase to the S&C increment comes from COLA and since there's no COLA this year they're sticking with the $1.5MM number. If COLA gets paid in future years then the increment will be higher.
Posted by Lisa, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 16, 2009 at 6:06 pm
It is amazing to me that Pleasanton teachers make starting salaries of 55,000 + and can make as much as 98,000 + .
I am at the top of the salary schedule in another city at 69,000 after 25 years of elementary ed. teaching.
When our District went into debt the state took over.
I teach in a school with almost 93% are free and reduced lunch.
We all know the socio-economic factors that determine success and failure in school. I for one do not want to pay a parcel tax to maintain step and column raises on these salaries. Our children will continue to succeed in school, score well on the CST and get what they need regardless .
Posted by frank, a resident of the Pleasanton Heights neighborhood, on Apr 16, 2009 at 6:29 pm
The math you see displayed above is sound and demonstrates the exponential runaway of salary increases in PUSD mandated by teachers union step and column increases. To keep this game going the PUSD wants to increases taxes on the residents.
Teacher union dictated salary increases are a bubble that is ready to break. Passing a parcel tax will keep the bubble growing for another year at least.
Posted by Russell, a member of the Vintage Hills Elementary School community, on Apr 16, 2009 at 7:49 pm
"Teacher union dictated salary increases are a bubble that is ready to break. Passing a parcel tax will keep the bubble growing for another year at least."
That is a really weird analogy. What is the underlying asset that has seen an exponential increase in value, like stock or real-estate? A teacher salary bubble? How does that work? I not an exert economist, but I have studied asset bubbles a little, and I've never heard of something like that before. Are customers bidding up the salaries of teachers to irrationally high levels, like they would stocks or properties, hoping to sell them at an even higher level?
Posted by Russell, a member of the Vintage Hills Elementary School community, on Apr 16, 2009 at 7:56 pm
"We all know the socio-economic factors that determine success and failure in school. I for one do not want to pay a parcel tax to maintain step and column raises on these salaries. Our children will continue to succeed in school, score well on the CST and get what they need regardless ."
You're not saying teachers don't matter, are you? If you are, why bother teaching? Some people believe we shouldn't have public schools at all. I think Milton Friedman espoused that view (maybe someone can find a link). I disagree with it, but the idea has some merit. Are you saying that maybe home schooling and private schools can fulfill the needs that are currently being met by private schools?
Posted by Get out of the wagon, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 16, 2009 at 9:14 pm
See that's the problem and no one has said anything to convince me otherwise yet...
When the public sector hits the private sector so hard for money and doesn't help with fiscal policies to keep the private sector going, we run out of money and the public sector cries WE are unfair.
No one is bashing teachers...teachers need to get out of the wagon too if we have any hope of getting out of this. Keep taxing and bashing me if you like, but eventually I'll run out of money and then what will you do?
Posted by *?*, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 16, 2009 at 10:20 pm
"When the public sector hits the private sector so hard for money and doesn't help with fiscal policies to keep the private sector going, we run out of money and the public sector cries WE are unfair."
The best help that teachers and schools can do for the "Private sector" is to educate the next generation of workers for the private sector. When you say that "WE" run out of money I'm sure to mean everyone including those in the public sector. "WE" all pay taxes and support public entities like Parks, schools, and the military.
Posted by Get out of the wagon, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 16, 2009 at 10:22 pm
Russell, thanks for the question. I think it is important we all discuss things. Being in the wagon means another person outside the wagon is pulling your weight. Getting out of the wagon means doing what you can to support yourself. My best friend is a teacher and she works two jobs, one at the district and another to afford her life - it is her choice to live here. I live here because I can afford to as well. She made a choice to teach and make less, and I made choices to go into a profession that pays more. But now I am missing 5 days of pay per quarter and having to make them up with our own family budget cuts - and maybe a second job. If a teacher wants to stay in this district then they need to figure it out for themselves. It is not my fault they chose this profession. There are no guarantees I will have a job tomorrow and teachers shouldn't get one either. We are all equal - even those in public service. Except for those who mentally or physically cannot contribute to our society and NEED to be in the wagon, no one else should be. Teachers can support the community's effort to work this out without a tax, and vote for union policies that won't create havoc. That is how a teacher gets out of the wagon. That is how we will all be able to push the wagon again (our economy). Thanks for the question.
Posted by Get out of the wagon, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 16, 2009 at 10:28 pm
The best help that teachers and schools can do for the "Private sector" is to educate the next generation of workers for the private sector. When you say that "WE" run out of money I'm sure to mean everyone including those in the public sector. "WE" all pay taxes and support public entities like Parks, schools, and the military.
This is a nice guilt trip, but where does the government get the money that the public employees are paid by? Through government tax dollars from those that work in the private sector? In this case we know what had to come first, the private monies to fund any public resource. The public sector only has money to pay for their taxes through the taxation of those who generate money from private business. The circle of funds only travels one way. You can't continue the cycle if you reverse course.
Posted by *?*, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 16, 2009 at 10:48 pm
How do we make a bigger pie? That's what the question should be. An educated work force is what will grow the economy. A man much smart than us, Paul Krugmam writes:
Itís true that the economy is currently shrinking. But thatís the result of a slump in private spending. It makes no sense to add to the problem by cutting public spending, too.
"In fact, the true cost of government programs, especially public investment, is much lower now than in more prosperous times. When the economy is booming, public investment competes with the private sector for scarce resources ó for skilled construction workers, for capital. But right now many of the workers employed on infrastructure projects would otherwise be unemployed, and the money borrowed to pay for these projects would otherwise sit idle."
Posted by Einstein, a member of the Mohr Elementary School community, on Apr 17, 2009 at 2:56 pm Einstein is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
The whole issue is answered by simple economics. State chases out all business and less tax revenue. State taxes high wage earners to make up for loss of business tax. High wage earners move out of state. Bottom line is not a sustainable model and has been going this way for some time. School district must now but run like a business and must live within its means. How many staff or members at the district office per teacher and how many $125,000+ jobs at the district? Why do Pleasanton and Livermore each have a district office when they are only a few miles apart............seems to me like there is opportunity for cost reduction before going to the voters.
Posted by Disagree with *?*, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 17, 2009 at 4:43 pm
*?* you wrote:
"A man much smart than us, Paul Krugmam writes:
Itís true that the economy is currently shrinking. But thatís the result of a slump in private spending. It makes no sense to add to the problem by cutting public spending, too."
Personally, you can think Paul Krugman is smarter than you, but I can understand basic fiscal policy just fine, thank you, and Krugman is again wrong - just he has been throughout his liberal career. The private spending "slump" is due to the spending habits of the public sector. Thank you Freddie, Fannie, etc, etc.
The solution isn't to spend more money. Any sound business knows they must streamline and cut costs to be more efficicent and profitable. The government/theorists thinks spending is the way out of it? Basic logic tells us that if you are in debt, spending more using credit cards, etc isn't the way out. How is that then different than what needs to happen in a stressed economy in general? The more a nation is taxed, the more control government has. Give the government too much control and they'll take it and never give it back. Read Common Sense by Thomas Paine and you'll not read Krugman very often again.
Good luck with your logic *?* - hope you yourself aren't drowning financially by following that advice.
Posted by Joe, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Apr 17, 2009 at 5:26 pm
They're doing more than chasing away busines and high wage earners, they are chasing away BOOMERS with money. When Boomers leave with their spending money, everyone loses. And, you can look it up, they are leaving.
Personally, I bought a house in Arizona bigger and better than my home in Pleasanton for less than $90,000.00 thanks to the recession. As soon as the recovery appears I'll be selling and its astalavistababy.
Posted by Einstein, a member of the Mohr Elementary School community, on Apr 17, 2009 at 5:38 pm
Joe, couldn't agree with you more. I know of few people and I am a boomer who can hardly wait to move out of the state. Just look at the statistics of the average income of individuals moving out versus moving in the last 3 years............shocking!!! The real sad part is that these same programs in California which have failed are being implemented nationally.
Posted by Russell, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Apr 18, 2009 at 4:36 pm
Is the school district where you teach comparable in quality to Pleasanton? They gave no raises when revenues were increasing and the cost of living was increasing (2003 - 2006)? Was that bad for morale?
I'm willing to give Pleasanton teachers the benefit of the doubt because they are doing such a good job. We've been very happy with my son's teachers and school principal. I don't feel at all held hostage by them. They did not create the economic crisis that lead to the revenue shortfall.
In lean times like now, I believe education is too important a thing to cut until absolutely necessary. It is an investment in our future.
Posted by Russell, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Apr 18, 2009 at 4:47 pm
To "Disagree with ?"
I agree Fanny and Freddie, and for that matter FHA and even the tax code contributed to the real-estate bubble and credit crisis. But
I think the United States should be spending more on Research and Development now, not less. Andy Grove a smart guy too, and knows something about running a business.
"As a start, Energy Secretary Steven Chu should organize an industry council - like the World War II Production Board - and run it as if we were under wartime pressure. He can pull in the National Academy of Engineering and the National Science Foundation and have them recommend the technical approach. He can use the National Labs for R&D."
"When the government helped American chip companies, the industry did all right. It hung in as other industries left the U.S., and it still leads globally. We can do the same for transportation. We must."
Posted by Jack, a member of the Fairlands Elementary School community, on Apr 18, 2009 at 6:50 pm
PUSD has confirmed that that the $1.5M in step and column raises will cost the district $15M over the 4 years of the parcel tax since the costs are additive. This means that 15 MILLION of the 18.4 MILLION from the parcel tax goes to "step and column" raises alone.
The parcel tax is intended to save the programs that would be sacrificed in order to provide for those promised increases.
Make no mistake Measure G is a salary tax to feed the out of control union demands.
Posted by Get out of the wagon, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 18, 2009 at 11:11 pm
A sincere thank you to Pollster. And also to you Jack! I'm a parent of two little ones, with my oldest starting Kindergarten next year. If PUSD wants to "go for the juglular", as my spouse puts it, and increase class size on the littlest ones, then they will and there is nothing we can do about it. It's their decision to put the kids last over salary increases. I'm certainly not giving any more tax money to a school district that is going to swallow it up and ask for more if things aren't better in a couple of years. I'm hoping that the 60% of this community that do not have children in the schools will vote this down. Boomers have done their job - my parents did enough. As soon as the real estate market improves and you Boomers decide to sell off your homes to us younger ones, the Bond money will kick back in and the district will be fine - but then we'll just see how we as a community feel about them after this. The true test of character is how you behave during a crisis - PUSD has been fairly shallow, only coming up with "concessions" after the community shared their "thoughts" of them. We just need to ride this out and realize if more money is the answer to better schools, well then we should be set by this point! The money that has flowed into this district over the years is enough already. And by the way, I read G, and there is NO LANGUAGE in the Measure that states the money will go to maintain programs such as class-size reduction ("the jugular" for parents with the littlest guys - like me). Jack was right - it is for salaries.
Thanks for the refreshing honesty from a majority of you. You can't go anywhere in town without a bunch of whiny people freaking out these days about this situation. Let's start planning for the threats of the district when they don't get their money, and let's come up with community solutions, starting at each house...like, I'm not waiting for my daughter to be a vicitm of a large class size, we'll start learning to read at home this summer.
The teachers and the unions voted for "change" and I think we should give it to them!! I'd actually like to see more control of the district by the school board anyway...now that'd be "change", and I'd even send my $233 in CASH on Monday if that would happen!! :)
Posted by Lisa, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 19, 2009 at 8:53 am
Yes, I teach in a school district that gives our children quality education. I have friends from Pleasanton who volunteer in my classroom and have said they believe our children get a better education than their own children received here in Pleasanton. If you are defining a quality education based upon the API of the school, then you would say the teachers in our school district are not as good as those here. I say if you gave my students the same life experiences and opportunities as the majority of those here we would surpass these schools.The FAMILY and PARENTS are the majority of what makes our schools successful.
As far as no COLA..."was that bad for morale"? I will tell you what bad for morale is.
Having people act as though the socioeconomic factors in a child's life have nothing to do with their success or failure in school...that is bad for morale.
Watching teachers receive salary increases on the taxpayers back is bad for my morale.
Having the public judge the success or failure of a school on its API, that's bad for my morale.
You see ,I knew I wasn't going to become rich getting into education. I did it because I love to teach. And amazingly my colleagues at school feel the same way. There is the word moral in morale.I cannot have a good conscience unless I feel I am doing what is right and fair.I became a public servant. The up side is I have more job stability than the private sector, the down side ...well I will never be Bill Gates. So I live with my CHOICES. And I will exercise my choice of NO TAX INCREASES. Let's ALL carry a little of the burden our nation has right now. EVERYONE.
Posted by Joe, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Apr 19, 2009 at 9:36 am
The Pollster might be joking, I don't really know. But I do know this,that based on the conversations I've had with family, friends, and neighbors he/she is not far off and most people are voting NO.
One thing about this tax, though, is that it has a lot of people who didn't care before asking a lot of questions now. One thing that the school district has done is put themselves under the microscope, and there will probably be new faces at the meetings and new faces on the Board after the next election
Posted by ChangedmyMind, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 19, 2009 at 10:43 am
I agree, Joe, they are under a microscope.
When I first heard of the proposed parcel tax I was all for it, after all, what could be better than money for kids? Then a friend told me about this web site and I must say, that it is most informative. So far as I can see, the No posters facts seem to check-out more than the Yes posters facts, so I changed my mind.
This is not a school tax, its a tax for raises-as far as the facts I've read, most of the money is going to raises. That's not right and I won't support it. If the teachers break with their union and let the money go to the kids, then I could support it, but not the way this is written.
Posted by Russell, a member of the Vintage Hills Elementary School community, on Apr 19, 2009 at 10:45 am
With all due respect, I can't see where you answered my question about teacher morale during the 2002 - 2006 time period. Cost of living was rising and revenue was rising but teachers were not getting pay increases? Why? Were they doing a bad job? Getting no pay increase in the face of inflation is equivalent to getting a decrease. Your colleagues were happy with that?
"I say if you gave my students the same life experiences and opportunities as the majority of those here we would surpass these schools."
Why do you say that? What evidence do you have that would back that up? What is it about this school district that makes it better than Pleasanton.
Yes, as parents, we are involved with our son's education, and my wife volunteers in the schools. When I was growing up, I transferred from public schools to private schools when my parents moved from Pennsylvania to Florida. The Florida schools at the time were awful. The public high school did not offer math beyond algebra. There were no advanced placement courses offered. Physics was taught by a gym coach who new very little about physics.
From talking to my son's teachers, and looking at the homework, tests, and projects he is given, he is getting an education better than I got in a private school. I have a friend who graduated valedictorian from Pittsburg High School, but nearly flunked out of UC Berkeley because he was so unprepared for the freshman classes. He had good parents who cared about education, but couldn't afford private schools for their three children. The Pittsburg High School was awful.
Good schools matter. Of course parents matter, but unless they are home schooling, they can't do it on their own.
I'm supporting measure G because are teachers and principals are doing a great job.
Posted by Carl, a resident of the Country Fair neighborhood, on Apr 19, 2009 at 11:53 am
Russell - If Measure G was a vote on whether teachers and principals are doing a good job, then it would pass with a 90+% yes vote.
But Measure G (aka Parcel Tax) is not about the teachers/principals. The question is whether the PUSD Administration and Board of Trustees are good stewards of the taxpayers money, whether they have managed hundreds of millions of dollars well, whether they have worked hard enough to cut waste, and whether they have treated their Budget Advisory Committee and public honestly and truthfully.
Many options have been discussed that can save ALL the teachers jobs and ALL the services for the children without the need for a parcel tax. And last Friday, California announced that $3.1B in federal money is now available ($2.6B for K-12) (and there is more on the way), primarily to save teacher and district jobs. See LATimes article Web Link
"If we are going to do right by our kids and take advantage of this wave of change, then everything must be on the table," said state Supt. of Public Instruction Jack OíConnell, at an education conference in Irvine.
I hope PUSD has a press release on Monday announcing that they submitted their application. With all their high priced administrators and consultants, surely PUSD will be first in line for these funds.
As each day goes by without this announcement, it truly means PUSD does not deserve any parcel tax dollars.
Posted by Get out of the wagon, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 19, 2009 at 1:45 pm
Hey Russell (and cudos to Changed My Mind)
In regards to my comment about Boomers, I am referring to those that will be selling their homes in the future to move on to more affordable retirement communities, etc, I say this because the Boomer generation is just beginning to retire. My parents are 64 and 62 and are holding onto their house here until they both officially retire and can sell their house to get on a predictble budget.
I do own a home here in P-town, so the tax does apply to me, but my parents live in a neighborhood with the "value" homes of the 70's, the houses with 4-5 rooms and huge yards. Most of the owners of these homes don't have a bunch of kids attending K-12, or if they do, their kids are on their way out of PUSD (I would wager not may 65+ year olds here in P-town have kiddos requiring class-size reduction, meaning K-3), so that is what I meant regarding the Boomers getting ready to move on with their retirements, etc.
Most of the people in this community that have been here for years aren't subject to the Bond Measure because when it went into effect it applied to homeowners that purchased after the Bond Measure was passed. No one in thier 50's to 60's want to sell a house that they have a low payment on to switch for a tiny house that their housepayment will skyrocket on because of the Bond Measure and new property values. I live in a teeny house and have a larger house payment than my parent's house payment when their house is 3x's our sqft'g. My parents said it doesn't make sense financially to do that for their finanicial plans. So they will stay in their house until they need to sell. This is one of the reasons the housing market in Pleasanton has felt invinsible. The "more mature" owners (no disrespect intended...) are sitting in their houses until they get into retirement and need to move. There are far less of those of us with kids in the beginning stages of the school age years in this community.
Finally, all I can say about the wagon analogy is that I think the reason you are not understanding me is because perhaps you are focused on one group of people and their needs over the community as a whole. Taxing a group to pay for one small group isn't the best in values. It just isn't moral or right, even if the slogan says, "It is for the children"...don't hijack my children for your political causes - the school district is doing this for the staff not the kids. The kids will have the same teachers if they feel they can get away with it.
And as far as the "change" they (the teacher's union) voted for, I'm referring to Barack Obama. The unions love the democrat party because they keep the money flowin'. They voted for him and his "change" he advertised. This is the change they wanted, so I figure, they should have it...including the flailing economy.
Of all I have read in this thread, I'd say I agree most with Changed My Mind, who said
"This is not a school tax, its a tax for raises-as far as the facts I've read, most of the money is going to raises. That's not right and I won't support it. If the teachers break with their union and let the money go to the kids, then I could support it, but not the way this is written."
Keep working through this, Russell, with the rest of us and we will come to a solution that is best for the whole community. Money is just a bandaid.
Posted by Get out of the wagon, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 19, 2009 at 2:02 pm
Somehow I missed your comment before writing my last.
Thank you for this comment. You are right on. How can a district ever learn fiscal discipline if as soon as there is any difficulty they run to the "rich" parents (hahn - we live here because we work our tails off!!!) for a "bailout"?
I used to work in a school district myself (certificated specialist) and my elementary school decided we needed a reading lab to help at-risk kiddos struggling. We didn't want to just drop them into the point of no-return (aka special ed)when they could learn to read. I was the one reponsible to get it going. We needed materials, an assistant that I could train, etc. I had a committee and we sat down with the principal who asked us to help him come up with the funds to hire and purchase minimal materials out of the school budget. There was a glaring $40,000 sitting in an account about to get another $40K. Although the state had just purchased a new text book line for the district, the money was for text books. But we didn't NEED text books and wouldn't for the next 3 years, minimum, which meant by that point 160,000K would be in this account.
Instead of the principal accessing that money to pay for the things our community needed to help the kids even READ THE TEXTBOOKS BEING PURCHASED, we couldn't get our hands on the money. This is certainly not an isolated event. There is a ridiculous amount of money being spent in the public schools and it is a sinking ship. I got out to really help kids. This is why the district needs to figure out what money it really has and what is really important before coming to the parents with thier hands extended.
Posted by Jason, a resident of the Pleasanton Meadows neighborhood, on Apr 19, 2009 at 6:56 pm
I'm wondering how many of you who are attacking teachers' salaries are applying to become teachers. Since it's such a lucrative gig I would think that all of you are. Check out the what's in the staff parking lots then compare that to what's in the student parking lots at Foothill and Amador on any given day.
Posted by frank, a resident of the Pleasanton Heights neighborhood, on Apr 19, 2009 at 7:59 pm
Continuous escalating salaries in PUSD.... I was shocked to recently learn that classified and management salary schedules mimic certificated (teacher's) salaries with "step and column" increases. That's why management is conflicted. It does not want to upset a good thing going for them and will go to the taxpayer to scare them to kick in more money rather than oppose teacher union mandated salary increases.
Over the 4 years that the parcel tax will apply a total of $15 MM will go toward these salary increases. The parcel tax money will go to programs that do not need to be cut if management and teachers union did not conspire to consume revenue for salary increases.
Posted by Get out of the wagon, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 19, 2009 at 8:12 pm
Not sure how much you read of this topic and the thoughtful comments herein before you wrote your comment, because I don't think you would have made the comment you did if you had. In response to you, I have to quote Lisa from above...
"You see ,I knew I wasn't going to become rich getting into education. I did it because I love to teach. And amazingly my colleagues at school feel the same way. There is the word moral in morale.I cannot have a good conscience unless I feel I am doing what is right and fair.I became a public servant. The up side is I have more job stability than the private sector, the down side ...well I will never be Bill Gates. So I live with my CHOICES. And I will exercise my choice of NO TAX INCREASES. Let's ALL carry a little of the burden our nation has right now. EVERYONE."
Beautifully stated, Lisa. Now if we could only have you working for PUSD!! :)
So Jason, life is about choices, and the parents of PUSD kiddos that chose to work their tails off, either at school first, or at a job, either way they are entitled to what they earn and to buy whatever they want for their children - even if that means better than every possession a teacher has. That is the result of choices. That is America. That is the way of our country. No one should feel guilty for what they earn in an honest days work, or provide to their children. It is all about choices. Period.
Your blame-game politics and guilt ridden philosophy isn't helping anyone - it isn't based on anything more than your own sour grapes. It is never right to take from those who have, to give to those who don't - especially by a vote. No matter how you frame it, it is "wealth redistribution" or theft. For you to bottom line this as an attack against teachers is as helpful as saying on the other side we believe the teachers are manipulating us parents by using kids as the bargaining chip.
All the teachers at PUSD have chosen to work there - it was their choice.
And now I (and what is looking like the far majority of P-town) am making mine and that's...
Posted by Get out of the wagon, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 19, 2009 at 8:26 pm
Changed My Mind -
Aww, thanks. :) Good to know we are trying to be fair with each other, and trying to be respectful, as we try to come to a good decision in and for our community. I just hope we don't come to a point that we'll have retribution for "No on G" or "Yes on G" lawn signs, etc. come voting time. Pleasanton is such an amazing family town of wonderful neighbors. I don't want us to ruin that - no issue is that important.
I know there is another way out of this. We just need the district to have enough pressure pushed back on them that they'll do something more than just ask for "help". I think they have, what we teachers refer to some students as having, and that is "learned helplessness". As long as someone will do the work for them, why should they? Human nature is flawed, so get a bunch of humans together and they will certainly do the wrong thing if not motivated to do the right.
Come on Pleasanton, let's do the right thing and get this right... right now! :)
Posted by Reader, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 19, 2009 at 9:14 pm
I read a lot but I don't usually like to post because it seems that all too often these threads get taken over by "instigators" which I usually think of as kids trying to "yank us". But this thread seems to have started and remained adult, with some good info and insights.
I would hope that there will be no lawn signs because I can recall that just a few months ago much incivility revolving around prop 8, Obama, and McCain signs (I still don't know where my McCain sign went,but at least they didn't damage my lawn).
Somebody named "Hoss" tried to link Measure G and Prop. 8 on another post, but he was soundly ridiculed to the point of entertainment.
You're right, be civil to each other. I'm voting No on G, but I will still call you friend or neighbor if you screw-up and vote yes.
Posted by just wondering, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 19, 2009 at 10:15 pm
I just watched the webcast of the last school board meeting. I'm just amazed at how our trustees just trust the staff as they go through budget issues. The only person somewhat questioning and offering up opinions is trustee Arkin. As an example, she pointed out that $100,000 per year for 100 employees to have a cell phone seems a bit high when you think of it on a per month basis. I have come full cirle on the parcel tax. I will probably vote yes for it as i do believe ultimately our children will be hurt. However, I think as a community, our bigger focus needs to be on finding citizens to run for the school board who will question the staff recommendations and not just accept them. I keep hearing that school board trustees should have children in the district. Frankly, I think trustees should NOT have kids in the district so that they can make the tough decisions without feeling any concern how their children will be treated. The best example of this is the step/column raises that will cost $15 million on the next 4 years. When the teacher's contract is up for renewal, we need trustees that will demonstrate fiscal responsibilty and not necessarily give the teachers what they want. Same when it comes time to hire a new superintendent. For me, I'm just really disappointed in the people we've elected to serve as trustees of our school district--present and recent past.
Posted by Wondering Too, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 20, 2009 at 8:33 am
I always thought it was a good idea for the trustees to have kids in the school district so they'd have a vested interest, but you make some very good points and I'm rethinking that idea! It also seems that trustees shouldn't be related to anyone who works for the school district.
With the exception of Valerie Arkin, I'm disappointed in the current Trustees. The hard questions that are being asked shouldn't be questions the public is asking - they should be questions the School Board members should be asking.
Regardless of whether someone is for or against the parcel tax, we should all be in favor of the people we elected doing the job we elected them to do - make sure the taxpayers' money is being spent appropriately.
$150K a year in cell phone costs - and according to original budget cuts, the amount is $150K per year it seems as if this is information the school board members should have known long ago and questioned.
They're just now discovering that a big part of that $150K is due to personal phone calls. Yet when the Business Director mentioned this during the meeting, except for Valerie Arkin, the trustees didn't even blink an eye.
Just wondering...I agree with you that it seems as if the trustees rely on what the PUSD staff tells them.
They were elected to monitor what PUSD does, not just rubber stamp it.
I'm disappointed too, and I will remember this disappointment at the next election.
Posted by Wondering Too, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 20, 2009 at 10:00 am
It was my understanding that the Board can direct the superintendent to do as they request.
So I agree...stronger trustees are necessary. But if the current ones wanted to, I think they could direct the superintendent to talk to the union about freezing step and column, they could direct the superintendent to provide them with detailed information on cell phones, car allowances, etc.
I don't know if any direct requests to the superintendent requires a majority vote by the board.
Personally, I don't object to the board doing a little micro managing!
Posted by Amanda, a resident of the Old Towne neighborhood, on Apr 20, 2009 at 10:37 am
I agree.......it comes back to strong Trustees.
Did you see at the last board meeting, the attorney they were paying to give advise did not say what Casey wanted to hear so he began telling the attorney what to say. I would guess it is not any different with all but one of the board members.
Posted by Wondeirng Too, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 20, 2009 at 11:17 am
You saw that little exchange too! It was funny. The attorney started talking and Dr. Casey interrupted to "clarify" what the attoney was saying which ultimately was as you said...getting the attorney to say what Dr. Casey wanted him to say.
I thought the Board meeting was supposed to be run by the School Board president, Chris Grant. Everyone else has to wait their turn and be called upon to speak and everyone else extends that courtesy.
I've decided to start watching every meeting carefully and whenever Dr. Casey interrupts someone, I'm going to be very skeptical about the content of his interruption.
Posted by just wondering, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 20, 2009 at 12:08 pm
Doesn't the superintendent work for the Board of Trustees and don't the Board of Trustees in effect represent us the residents of Pleasanton? Shouldn't the board of Trustees give input to the team negotiating contracts on behalf of the district? Shouldn't this be done in the context of the overall financial health of the district? Generally, I expect the board of trustees not to micro manage the staff. However, if the staff isn't going to look at the details, then that forces the Trustees to do it for them. I would encourage people to view the webcast of the last meeting with the discussion of cell phone usage and costs--it occurred 2 hours into the meeting. For me, this is an example of a cut that can be made away from the class room yet the staff didn't really seem to have a handle on it especially when Trustee Arkin asked about monitoring personal calls. Clearly, some questions need to be asked and some direction given.
I would feel a lot better if our Trustees would start asking some questions of staff over some of these important items especially related to the budget. They're either just accepting what staff tells them or questions/discussions are being done outside the meeting. Meetings are supposed to be held in public with discussion among Trustees done in public. I know its a tough job but no one forced any of the Trustees to run for office.
Posted by Wondering Too, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 20, 2009 at 2:03 pm
I think we should all start copying the info and comments we find on the town square forum and start emailing it to the School Board members. (many state they don't read the blogs)
On another thread, someone posted the information that May 4th is the deadline for PUSD to apply for federal monies....that's informaton I hope the School Board and PUSD alredy know, but to be safe, we should probably pass it on! We certainly don't want to miss the opportunity to get funds we're eligible to receive.
Posted by HelpMe, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 20, 2009 at 6:05 pm
Can one of you smart guys answer this for me?:
The parcel tax is supposed to generate about 18M and 15M is supposed to go to what has been called "step&column" raises if I am reading correctly. Do they mean that the 15M is just for the raises alone, or does that 15M also include salaries
If the 15M is just for raises, then this tax just doesn't make sense.What programs can be saved on 3M ? You see the quandry I'm in.
Posted by Wondering Too, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 20, 2009 at 7:22 pm
What school districts call step and column is what all tne rest of us call pay increases - or raises.
Difference - in private sector, generally a company does employee reviews annually, and the employee gets a raise (or not) based on job performance.
Teachers do not get pay increases based on their performance. They get raises based on how long they've been employed as teachers, and based on additional education they complete.
Hence, a teacher with a master's degree who has been working at PUSD for 7 years, will earn more than a teacher without the master's who has been working the same number of years, and both would earn more than a PUSD teacher who has only been teaching at PUSD for 3 years.
This is my understanding of step and column.
Salary issues are negotiable between PUSD and APT (the Pleasanton teachers' union).
Many people are suggesting that in this economy, all PUSD salaries, including those of teachers, be frozen - something which is becoming the norm in the Bay Area.
Posted by to helpme, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 20, 2009 at 8:30 pm
To HelpMe, the $15M is just for the raises so you are right, it only leaves $3M for actual programs. Not a very good return on your investment.
As to previous posters about negotiating with the unions, I have asked school board members about this in the past and they say the superintendant and the management team work to negotiate the unions and the school board members are told to stay out of it, saying the board members are not qualified to negotiate contracts. By the time it gets to the school board members, the contracts have been pretty much negotiated and if a board member asks for a change the superintendant tells them it would mess up all the negotiating they have already done. As you can see the board is hostage to the management team. That needs to change.
The reason the management team wants to do the negotiation is actually a conflict of interest. Typically the management team gets the same raises as the bargaining groups. They say they have to get the same raises so the percentage differences in pay between management and the union workers stays the same. So the management team does the negotiation to the greatest salaries since the management team gets the same raises as the union members. Forget about reserves, or anything else; it is all about getting as much as you can. The board is afraid to change this since they rely on support of the unions at election time. It is also amazing how much the board members praise the workers of the school district at each lovefest, er Board Meeting, for doing the job they were hired to do. It is past praise actually, it is sickening. I am not saying to just ignore the staff but the board meetings have turned into competitions on which board members can say the nicest thing about a staff person. If you want further support on that, after a speaker at the podium spoke about cutting costs, board member Ott praised all the staff people in the room, and said "how can we ever lay off any of these nice people." That does not sound like what a governing board should be doing.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Apr 20, 2009 at 8:41 pm Stacey is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
I believe some districts have a "me too" feature in their union contracts which basically mean that if one employee unit gets x% raise then all the other employee units get the same % raise. I'm not familiar at all with PUSD union contracts in this regard, but it is possible they have this considering that all the different employee units have gotten the same percentage raises (other than 2007/2008 where teachers agreed to shave a small percentage off theirs for some other program).
Posted by HelpMe, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 21, 2009 at 6:02 pm
Ok, smart guys & girls I need help again.
A neighbor told me that Pleasanton teachers do not get health insurance as part of the wage package, but they do receive a seperate stipend to buy their own insurance. If this is true then married teachers who fall under their spouse's insurance are making out pretty good, in fact they are almost politicians, and the unmarried teachers are getting screwed.
If this is true, then there is something wrong with that teacher's union or with the school district to hand out maney to people who don't really need it. And they still want a raise ?
The more I read and the more people I talk to the more stunned I become. What the hell is going on here ?
Posted by Get out of the wagon, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 21, 2009 at 8:40 pm
Your neighbor is correct. Here is the deal: During the late 1990's (bewtween 97-99, I believe), PTA (Pleasanton Teachers Association) voted by a majority to give the teacher's their benefit money up front. If they wanted to "buy-back" their benfits, they could still do so through the district who would negotiate the plans. If they got their benefits from their spouse, then they basically got a 10K raise in their salary immediately at that point. It passed overwhelmingly in favor of cash up front.
To the "outside world", what is important to note is this was very contentious within the association during the proposal, because those who were not partaking of their benefits before, were helping to subsidize the costs of those who were. Those who needed to stay within the district health care plan had their rates jump and they were livid with those who voted to open it up.
So as you put it, the unmarried and the teacher that is using their benefits and are married with or without kids pays a lot more. I personally preferred the plan to the other at the time because I got my money to allocate the way I wanted in my family. Why spend twice for benefits, especially when my husband's PPO was an awesome choice for the money at his private sector company. It definitely put a lot more money in my pocket; 10K at the time in 1999. I was pretty narrowly minded at the time and have since had my eyes opened by the districts in the 2000 campaign.
It was all about supporting Gore and manning phone banks to call the parents because, as the Union told us at our meetings, "Parents trust teachers". Boy were my eyes opened to the manipulation of a teacher's union. I realized quickly how much unions just want to protect themselves and what they have.
I eventually moved on to another (better for me) school district, one that sounds similar to Lisa's in comments earlier in this thread. Anyway, within a short period of time, this cash for benefits policy showed up there also and has since become known around other local districts informally as "The Pleasanton Plan".
If there is one thing you can do to make a liberal employed teacher hostile, other than disagree with a parcel tax, it is threaten their benefits!
Posted by HelpMe, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 22, 2009 at 9:57 am
It doesn't matter anymore, I have all the information I need to make an informed No vote.
What does matter, however, is that the Supt.,PUSD, and the teachers would have the gall to ask for money for raises on the backs of the very people who have endured pay freezes, pay cuts, and even job losses and then say its "for the Kids" when its really "the need to fill their greed". You are not above belt tightening, you are simply not that important and you should all feel ashamed when you use scare tactics to push for a yes vote. I know that I feel ashamed for you!
Posted by Joe, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Apr 22, 2009 at 2:12 pm
Russell...why would you ask Stacey if she had children in the schools? Are you implying that only voters with children should vote, because only they can understand the school system? I've read other comments where the poster said that only property owners should vote, and still others who say that only property owners with children in schools should pay the taxes.
Pro-G people need to present facts and not use children as their shield, and so far the only fact that jums out at me is that over 80% of the tax is going to raises...NOT ON MY DIME !
Posted by Russell, a member of the Vintage Hills Elementary School community, on Apr 22, 2009 at 2:12 pm
"90%...what are your sources on that one ?"
Scroll up to Carl's comment on this page for my source.
"There are probably god and bad teachers just like any other profession ..."
But we are talking about Pleasanton teachers, and most of us agree that Pleasanton teachers are generally better than average and some are excellent.
"......greed and an overinflated view of themselves."
I think they are deserving. Have you ever dealt with a bad school district? Do you know what it is like facing your first year of college when your high school didn't teach trigonometry, much less calculus? Look at what our two high schools offer. This school district has earned my trust.
Posted by Russell, a member of the Vintage Hills Elementary School community, on Apr 22, 2009 at 2:17 pm
"...why would you ask Stacey if she had children in the schools?"
I'm asking to see if she has any first hand experience with the schools. I do have first hand experience with the schools and it has been very good. Maybe she has had a bad experience. I love to hear about it. Maybe I'll vote no on the measure. I'll keep an open mind until the day I vote.
"and so far the only fact that jums out at me is that over 80% of the tax is going to raises...NOT ON MY DIME !"
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Apr 22, 2009 at 2:32 pm Stacey is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
I have first-hand experience with PUSD schools, yes... as a student. In a few years I'll experience it all again, this time as a parent. No, no bad experiences. You're trying to determine if my position is colored by an emotional attachment. It is not. A PUSD education instilled valuable critical thinking skills and it was done without all the fluff.
Posted by Russell, a member of the Vintage Hills Elementary School community, on Apr 22, 2009 at 9:59 pm
I looked at Web Link, and the pie chart there had the two biggest slices going to Small Class Sizes (42.9%) and Counseling Services (20.7%). I didn't see anything about raises. Is there a specific place I should look?
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Apr 22, 2009 at 10:44 pm Stacey is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
Who cares if the money from the parcel tax seems to be earmarked for specific programs? $15MM in step and column raises over the four year life of the parcel tax that plans to raise $18MM means they're playing a shell game with the money. That's not cutting spending. That's increasing it.
Posted by Parent, a member of the Vintage Hills Elementary School community, on Apr 23, 2009 at 12:39 pm
Some parents may be worried that the district will lose teachers to other districts that may pay teachers better. It comes down to supply and demand. I'm worried about it. Good school districts can go downhill if the community doesn't them.
Posted by Joe, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Apr 23, 2009 at 1:39 pm
I wouldn't worry too much about teachers leaving Pleasanton, they know how good they have it even if they didn't get a raise. The kids here may carry cell phones and I-pods to school, but they don't carry knives or guns. No teacher ever got threatend with an i-pod.
Posted by ChangedmyMind, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 23, 2009 at 1:44 pm
Worry about losing teachers...that sounds like more scare tactic propoganda put forth by the Pro-G side. It has no basis in fact. Is it any wonder that I changed my mind on this tax. Facts,people,facts!
Posted by Jill, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Apr 23, 2009 at 2:12 pm
Its called electioneering folks, and you just had a whole year of it. Clinton is too emotional, Obama is too young, McCain is too old, Change you can belive in, and straight talk, etc.
And now comes Measure-G. Its for the kids, its to retain the top teachers, its to keep your property values from falling, etc.
Everything but the truth, because we "can't handle the truth". And in order to find the truth you have to dig, and most people don't have time for that so they feed on the slogans and propoganda and some buy it and some don't. I hope nobody buys it this time because then we will all have bought it.
Posted by Hmmm..., a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 23, 2009 at 10:51 pm
You cannot even begin to compare our little district to college preparatory districts like Palo Alto or Cupertino (which has the high schools in a different district than the rest of the schools, Fremont Union High School District - to be specificWeb Link , so you can't compare it). Monta Vista HS is in Cupertino (the crown jewel of that district, and where Steve Jobs launched his educational computer labs, etc.) MVHS has engineering labs and other advanced classes and programs that cannot be compared to FH or AV. This is a ridiculous argument to justify how much to pay our teachers. We are an average school district - I mean I think it is pretty good compared to our neighbors, but that isn't saying much. You can't put us up against Gunn in Palo Alto or Monta Vista in Cupertino. Call Stanford and ask what percentage of their kids are from local high schools. A large percentage of MV's graduating classes went to Stanford and other high acheivement schools. You can't say that about Pleasanton and say, Cal. We can't say that about our district kids, or their teachers.
Posted by Russell, a member of the Vintage Hills Elementary School community, on Apr 23, 2009 at 11:25 pm
Sure Monte Vista scores are higher than Pleasanton's, but Palo Alto High? 2007 API scores for Palo Alto were almost identical, so I think the comparison is apt. Am I looking at the wrong scores? Cupertino High School has lower scores. You're talking about just the charter schools. We can throw San Ramon into the mix too.
Posted by Hmmm, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 24, 2009 at 5:32 pm
Yes, I can mean that. I can mean that we are an average school district because we are. There are many below, but in the Bay Area, we are average. You can't compare us to district that include high schools that are college preparatory schools. I am not talking about charter schools and I am not talking about Monte Vista in Alamo. You brought up Palo Alto District which encompasses Gunn High and you brought up Cupertino as a school district, (which doesn't include high schools), but I believe you must be referring to FUHSD which includes Monta Vista (yes it is spelled correctly for the school in the Monta Vista neighborhood in Cupertino). That is like comparing Cal State East Bay to Stanford. Do you understand the industry that surrounds those schools and the educational levels of the parents in the South Bay and Penninsula that have their children attending these schools and what they are demanding? They have the tax base to support it and have for 40 years. I grew up and graduated from MV in Cupertino. We just don't have that parent and student profile here yet, although it has increased as the Boomer's kids have settled here. You simply cannot compare a little school district to the big ones just because you think we "should be" or want to be and use that to justify how we should pay our teachers. We are paying far more than our community can bear as it is. API scores do reflect the full scope of a school district and what it offers. Program to program does do that and we are woefully short when you compare. One good school district simply doesn't necessarily compare to another good school district just because it is a good school district.
Posted by Russell, a member of the Vintage Hills Elementary School community, on Apr 27, 2009 at 9:25 am
"There are many below, but in the Bay Area, we are average. You can't compare us to district that include high schools that are college preparatory schools. I am not talking about charter schools and I am not talking about Monte Vista in Alamo. You brought up Palo Alto District which encompasses Gunn High and you brought up Cupertino as a school district, (which doesn't include high schools), but I believe you must be referring to FUHSD which includes Monta Vista (yes it is spelled correctly for the school in the Monta Vista neighborhood in Cupertino). "
My mistake on the spelling.
Cupertino High School and Palo Alto High School are have about equal to Pleasanton's high schools in test scores. That is what I was comparing. I showed the links above. Compare the salaries for those schools.
"There are many below, but in the Bay Area, we are average."
We are higher than most of the Santa Clara, San Jose, Mountain View, and other South Bay schools. Do you have some statistics that show Pleasanton schools measuring about the same as a Bay Area average? That would be an eye opener. Do you include Pittsburg in the Bay Area? What defines Bay Area?