School budget situation still uncertain Schools & Kids, posted by Editor, Pleasanton Weekly Online, on May 22, 2009 at 8:45 am
With Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger calling for more cuts to education after five of the six state propositions failed and Concord-area voters defeating a $99-per-parcel tax Tuesday, there's even more riding on Pleasanton's Measure G.
Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, May 22, 2009, 6:41 AM
Posted by Chas Bell, a resident of the Danbury Park neighborhood, on May 22, 2009 at 9:10 am
Why couldn't we put the election from this past Tuesday and this Prop G on the same ballot? I've gotta think there could have been some cost savings if the powers that be got their acts together and combined the two.
Posted by Done and Done, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on May 22, 2009 at 9:57 am
I am so over this blog...
The same questions are asked repeatedly that have been thoroughly researched and explored in previous posts. If you want to know why Measure G was not put on the last ballot, research it. It is a simple question and has been answered many, too many times...
The consultation firm PUSD hired, told them people who are against a measure are less motivated to go to another special election and vote. The people that are hugely for it will be more motivated, at least in previous issues. It would have been cheaper to put it on the 19th's ballot, but the only way to set it up for the best positive vote is to hold a separate election.
If PUSD was truly EVER interested in cost savings, like those to keep the district running fiscally sound, they would have organized a mail in ballot only, just like SR did. But they aren't interested in saving any money, saving OUR money, what do they care...they'll waste money at the poll or at the district. The only thing they are interested in now is more cash. 15.5 million of the parcel tax for pay raises...them are the facts, jacks.
I'm voting NO! Done.
And I am done with the nasty tone of this blog by the Yes on G supporters. Done.
Posted by Emily West, Pleasanton Weekly reporter, on May 22, 2009 at 10:29 am Emily West is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
From my understanding at the meetings in late Feb/early March the board realized the cost savings of having it on the May ballot, but were afraid negative reaction to the state propositions could hurt measure G's chances.
Posted by jb, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on May 22, 2009 at 6:09 pm
It's for the teachers and administrators. If it were for the kids, the teachers would have immediately agreed to halt raises during this economic situation.
Sounds like the same people who keep voting to add taxes and fees and then say that their kids cannot afford to live in California. Our kids will not be able to afford to live in our communities or California with all these high taxes we have.
Posted by YES ON G, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on May 22, 2009 at 8:07 pm
It's not for the teachers and administrators. If teachers were selfish and greedy would they choose this profession? I don't think so. 33 students in each class for K-3 is absolutely absurd. How can anything be accomplished with that? I think the teachers will be making many sacrifices. Let's keep in mind that the teachers and administration didn't do this to our schools and give them some credit for all the hard work they are doing!
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a member of the Valley View Elementary School community, on May 22, 2009 at 8:40 pm
To Emily West's response (not her issue for supplying the actual answer): That is a lousy way to justify doubling the cost for the election. And the negative reaction is no less.
To Yes on G: The many threads have pointed out how well paid teachers how given the length of their work year and they receive handsome retirement packages. Not saying it's even the major reason they choose the profession, but it is part of the entire picture. Pleasanton schools survived larger classrooms before and can again, but I don't think anyone is saying they'll be 33:1. In fact, were your classes only 20:1 growing up? The administration and the contracts they negotiated had everything to do with the fact that the district now is ill prepared for the downturn in the economy. $8 million gives us time to fix the systemic problems BEFORE we determine if a parcel tax is needed and for how much.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on May 22, 2009 at 8:46 pm Stacey is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
$4.1MM of the budget shortfall is due to increased District costs, the majority of which are employee raises (all employees) that are normally funded by COLA grants from the State. That number doesn't really change no matter what the State cuts. So how is the District planning on funding that $4.1MM? The usual way, by cutting programs like CSR. Then they come asking for a parcel tax to fund those programs because no one would ever vote yes on a parcel tax to fund raises. And if the parcel tax doesn't pass, they cut the programs and lay people off.
It brings up the question of who's interests the district is looking out for, the employees' or the community's? This is a recession of historic proportions. Why is the district treating this as business as usual, cutting programs instead of raises?
"William Floyd teachers averted the layoffs of nine teachers, and helped the 9,600-student district restore 10 other teaching positions, by agreeing to give up part of their raises.
“We did not want to see any of our teachers lose their jobs, or good programs suspended, and that’s what was going to happen,” said Karen D’Esposito, a high school social studies teacher who is president of the union."
Posted by YES ON G!, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on May 22, 2009 at 9:20 pm
If it meant Measure G passing, by all means YES! I'm not made of money and money doesn't grow on the trees outside of my house. I'm just afraid of what is to come of our schools if it doesn't. I'm not by any means out for personal attacks.
Posted by No on G, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on May 22, 2009 at 9:29 pm
I can appreciate your desire to not personally attack, but you wrote
"Let's not make this an attack on teachers. It is the legislation that screwed up and now our community is paying for it. (No pun intended.)"
And you are right. The legistlature messed up big-time and I'm not voting for anyone to get a bail-out or a pay raise (just flat out disrespectful). I would pay for this tax without a second thought if the teachers had agreed to a salary freeze and ALL 18MM generated by this tax went straight to the programs and a reserve fund with a guarantee to not go towards salary/benefits. Instead, my spouse, who has had to take a pay cut, a cut in our benefits, and give up vacation time (and we're the LUCKY ones) is expected to pay this tax so people won't even tighten their belt a little?
This whole situation literally sickens me at how greedy one group of people can be.
Posted by No on G, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on May 22, 2009 at 9:31 pm
Thank you for your respectful tone, by the way. I am clearly frustrated, just not at you. I respect your right to vote however you feel represents your interest and those of others you care for. I wish we were on the same side! :)
Posted by Another no on G, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on May 22, 2009 at 11:47 pm
I'm willing to thank teachers for a lot of things, but please stop posting "if you can read this, thank a teacher." My child learned to read at home, taught by me, before entering school. I learned to read at home, taught by my mother, also before entering school.
Many Pleasanton parents send their kids to school very well prepared to face any academic challenges.
Unless teachers want to take the full blame for any kids who can't read, or don't score well on standardized tests, then please stop taking full credit for those who can read and do score well on standardized tests.
We lowly parents play a big role in our children's education and it's getting very tiresome to read posters like Yes on G! who seem to forget that we parents gave teachers great students.
Posted by Me Not Dumb, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on May 23, 2009 at 1:21 am
If this measure passes, and I don't think it will, the moans from the supporters when the school district cuts class size reduction and other programs in favor of teacher rasies is going to be so loud that it will measure on the richter scale.
Posted by Sandy, a resident of the Mohr Park neighborhood, on May 23, 2009 at 4:40 am
Measure G is about much more than class size reduction. Reading intervention, counselors, libraries, music, technology instruction, school safety.
I spoke with stste senator Hiyashi yesterday, and he has heard nothing specific about CSR being back on the table.
$1.5 is not half of $4.1, Stacey. No one else besides the teachers who are eligible for a step-and-column raise this year is getting a raise. Your assertion is incorrect.
And the quote you give -- ""William Floyd teachers averted the layoffs of nine teachers, and helped the 9,600-student district restore 10 other teaching positions, by agreeing to give up part of their raises." Did you miss the words *part of*? Pleasanton teachers have given up *part of* their salaries. Not just part of their raises, part of their base salaries. Two fewer days of paid work is a salary cut. $654 worth for a teacher making $60000,$975 for a teacher making $80000.
All the revenue from measure G will not go to salary increases. It will go to pay for programs. The $1.5 million in step and column is only locked in because the contract negotiated 4 years ago does not end this year, it will end next year.
There is no way to know whether the next contract will include ANY step and column increases.
Even if measure G passes, all the teacher layoffs will not be averted. Just some of the ones in K-3 and 9th grade teachers, and a few music teachers.
If measure G fails, the teachers who remain behind in K-3 will be teaching 32 students instead of 20. They'll be doing more work, for little or no new pay.
Posted by Carl, a resident of the Country Fair neighborhood, on May 23, 2009 at 8:14 am
Who did you speak with yesterday? There is no CA state senator named 'Hiyashi'. There is a CA state assembly member named Mary Hiyashi. And unless her voice is really low, I don't think Mary is a 'he'. Now, who did you speak with, if at all? And should I trust the rest of what you write?
Posted by Ptown resident, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on May 23, 2009 at 9:55 am
Where in the Measure G ballot language is it specifically stated that no one will be getting a salary raise this year except for teachers eligible for step & column increases? If not on the ballot, where on the PUSD website is this stated?
Where in the Measure G ballot language is it specifically stated that if Measure G passes, K-3 classes will not exceed 20 students?
Where in the Measure G ballot language is it specifically stated that Measure G will guarantee that existing music programs will remain, and current levels of counselors, and reading, math and technology specialists will continue?
As for teachers giving up two days of pay - that is only IF measure G passes. If it doesn't, they will not be doing that. The same is true for any admininstrator pay or perk cuts.
Call a school board member to confirm any of this.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on May 23, 2009 at 10:57 am Stacey is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
Sandy wrote: "$1.5 is not half of $4.1, Stacey. No one else besides the teachers who are eligible for a step-and-column raise this year is getting a raise. Your assertion is incorrect."
I assumed you understood that the total shortfall is over two years. I also assumed that you knew already from the PUSD website that their costs rise by $2MM in one year, $1.5MM of which are employee raises (all employees, not just teachers). $9.7MM total shortfall over two years - $5.6MM of actual cuts from the State over two years = $4.1MM in rising costs over two years. $1.5MM annual increase in employee costs x 2 years = $3MM. $3MM looks like "the majority of" $4.1MM to me, more than half.
Additionally, the classified and management salary schedules also have step increases, if you didn't notice. Only certificated staff have both step and column. While CA law requires step and column for certificated staff, there didn't appear to be such a requirement for other staff. My guess is that the William Floyd teachers gave up their step increases. I read about a month ago of another district doing this too, but I forgot to bookmark it. The point is that they gave up raises. There's a big difference between taking furlough days versus giving up raises. Furlough days are one-time cuts. Raises have to be sustained in the future so any give-back of raises affects future costs too.
Sandy also wrote: "All the revenue from measure G will not go to salary increases. It will go to pay for programs."
I think you're not thinking this through enough. Not all of the "programs" listed in Measure G are actual programs. There's a lot of jobs listed there: librarians, counselors, custodians, even CSR. Now the cost for the counselors is said to be $960,000. We don't know if that number is only today's cost or if the District included the cost of those employees' raises over four years. I'm going to assume it's today's cost and doesn't include raises because raises normally are paid for by State COLA or increased enrollment. Now if there's no COLA or increased enrollment, how will those raises get paid for? We will have to either use more than $960,000 of Measure G funds to pay for counselor raises (and perhaps cut the music program) or pay for those raises out of the General Fund by cutting somewhere else. So no, these raises are not paid for by Measure G directly. Measure G just helps exacerbate the problem.
Posted by Sandy, a resident of the Mohr Park neighborhood, on May 23, 2009 at 11:55 am
thank you for the clarification about the $4.1 million. I understand how you calculated, and yes, $3 million is more than half of $4.1 million. I apologize.
My understanding is that the $2 million increase in costs per year includes step-and-column and several other non-salary items that Luz Cazares mentioned at the board meeting 10 days ago.
Is it true that raises have to be sustained in the future, or is it not possible that the next time that contracts are renegotiated with teachers and certificated workers, it would be possible to negotiate salary reductions?
My understanding is that the teachers' contracts are renegotiated in the coming year. It is difficult to predict, from next summer forward, what the year-over-year costs for salaries will be. Total costs may rise or fall, depending on the salary schedule and on the number of people on payroll.
It is true that programs are staffed by people. It is also true that the library is not a "program" in the strict sense of the word. Reading intervention is a program, as is music.
We are operating from different assumptions, which is part of why we reach different conclusions.
Posted by Ptown resident, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on May 23, 2009 at 1:53 pm
At a school board meeting, Association of Pleasanton Teachers (APT) president Trevor Knaggs stated that losing even one year on a step and column increase has two long term effects on teachers. It sets them back each year by that amount on the paycheck. Also, since pensions are the accumulated contributions to the pension fund, the pension would be altered downward.
Mr. Knaggs' comments do not sound as if they're coming from a union willing to consider a freeze on step and column.
They do sound like the kinds of comments the president of an organization would make whose main purpose is like any other union, to benefit its members.
I do not think APT will be willing to negotiate step and column. There may be individual teachers willing to accept a pay freeze rather than get laid off, or see their peers laid off, but the majority, and particularly the union leaders, are not willing to do this.
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a member of the Vintage Hills Elementary School community, on May 23, 2009 at 2:50 pm
Sandy: Classes at 20:1, librarians, school nurses, counselors, reading intervention, technology. We need the opportunity to discuss what it is we value and are willing to pay for. None of that will occur or has occurred with this parcel tax.
Once the district has the $18 million, there will be no incentive to explore other measures, except the next parcel tax. There are many ways to pay teachers that reward the best, those who’ve continued their education in education areas, and to insure proper evaluations. The contract that will be negotiated this coming school year, but again, with no incentive to change if the parcel tax is in place.
Historically contracts roll over with little change except to salary, benefits, hours and NEVER for less. Why would anyone believe it will change this time through, particularly with a parcel tax in place.
Posted by Ptown resident, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on May 24, 2009 at 2:11 pm
I'll ask you the same question I've been asking Sandy to respond to - Where on the Measure G ballot is there any definition of "small" class sizes?
I agree that smaller class sizes are better than large class sizes. There may not be any evidence that links class size to student achievement, but I have to believe that it's much easier for teachers to manage a class of 20 rather than 30, and smaller classes probably allow students to have more 1 on 1 time with a teacher.
So why didn't the school district or the board members write Measure G to state something like no more than 25 students in K-3 and 9th grade classes?
Posted by Sandy, a resident of the Mohr Park neighborhood, on May 24, 2009 at 2:45 pm
Ptown Resident --
I believe the trustees thought it was necessary to keep some flexibility in the language of the measure, because they anticipated the $8.6 million in additional cuts that is anticipated for next year.
I do know that the current budget for next year is based on the assumption of class sizes of 30 in K-3. (I think in grade 9 English and Math too, but I'm not positive.) The budget can be modified if measure G passes.
It is my sense that the intermediate option between 20 and 30 is 25. If each school that has 5 kindergarten classes of 20 now loses one teacher, then the average class size will go from 20 t0 25. If each school loses two K teachers, then the average class size will go to 30.
I know others have argued that it is possible to go up to an average of 22, 24, or some other number, but I have not heard an explanation of the logistics for how that would work.
The trustees approved the bill, though, so I cannot speak for them directly about why they chose the language they did.
Posted by RS, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on May 24, 2009 at 2:45 pm
The measure includes these words:
"keep class sizes small"
Today that means 20 kids to 1 teacher.
The word "Keep" in the language tells me the goal is to maintain the size they have today.
However, if the classes ended up a bit larger than today...but still much, much smaller than 32-33 to 1 - I'm all for it. And, I say this as someone with no students in the district, any longer.
I understand there are valid concerns about the district. I hope all that are concerned do get involved in a personal way and not just on a blog....and they work to eliminate those concerns. In the meantime, the kids have done nothing to deserve what the cuts will do to their education. For me, the $233 a year for a few years is an investment I am willing to spend. Heck knows we have done worse with our tax dollars - giving it to the state to use as they see fit. It will be nice to see these dollars stay right here.
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a member of the Vintage Hills Elementary School community, on May 24, 2009 at 4:43 pm
RS: Today does not mean 20:1--the state has given flexibility on class size reduction with smaller fines. So it can easily be 25:1 without your having anything to say about it. The school district also had a "goal" to have a 7% reserve; they ignored that goal and gave 14.5% in raises instead. By the way, students as young as their 20s did not have CSR and haven't yet made it to government. Won't they be an unhappy bunch when they try to figure out the bills we've left behind?
As to the parcel tax, you will be paying for past salary increases and not much else. What is wrong with waiting a year to sweep up the mess? There is money and time to accomplish it without hurting kids.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on May 24, 2009 at 6:17 pm Stacey is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
Sandy wrote: "I believe the trustees thought it was necessary to keep some flexibility in the language of the measure, because they anticipated the $8.6 million in additional cuts that is anticipated for next year."
I dunno, Sandy, which is it? That the trustees anticipated these cuts or that no one could have anticipated this economic recession. Now, if they REALLY anticipated cuts, then they'd have their 7% reserve instead of abandoning that goal some time in 2006.
The truth is that the District is unprepared for cuts, no matter what size.
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Jun 2, 2009 at 5:39 pm
RS, I don’t know who you are, so I can’t speak to those differences specifically. If you want to talk, I’d be happy to have the conversation. I’m one person with an opinion, but discussing opposing viewpoints often can lead to finding common ground to build on for solutions to any number of issues. I don’t know if my opinion will be shared by a majority today or not. I have said that if the measure passes, I will pay. Not just because I have to, but because a yes win says it’s what was wanted by the majority of voters.
I do know what a difference a year makes; I also know CSR at 22:1 won’t be the cause of any harm. But much of what has occurred at the district office; much of what happens in more than just a few classrooms has hurt students (and often great teachers) and will continue to do so. I think it means systemic change is necessary. If the measure passes, we’ll see what we have at the end of the four years—--possibly just a long delay in getting to long-term solutions.