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Letter: Superintendent, school board bungled Measure G

Original post made on Aug 8, 2009

Dear Editor,

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, August 7, 2009, 12:00 AM

Comments (67)

Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 8, 2009 at 9:04 am

I read this LTE in the paper this morning. I agree with Ms. Zengel that there were missed opportunities and valuable school funding wasted on Measure G.

I disagree, however, that the community is narrow minded and selfish. A lot of the information presented pointed to the mismanagement being more systemic and not being exclusive to this campaign. It would be interesting to hear from others about their reasons for not voting (the actual votes appear obvious enough).

More importantly, it would be helpful for the board to hear why PPIE/PSEE's goal of $2.8 million has received a low response ($300,000ish to date--oddly, about the cost of the campaign). Is it timing, trust, the economy? Amazingly good people have worked tirelessly to achieve an unfathomable goal at the worst time of the year to accomplish it.

Like Ms. Zengel, our family has decided to write checks to the school--one to the teacher and one to the principal. For us, this is not about being selfish; it's about insuring the money will go directly to impact the learning lives of students.


Posted by This is about Obama, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 8, 2009 at 5:44 pm

Measure G was a referendum on Obama and the people of Pleasanton spoke loud and clear. We don't want a communist, Marxist, usurper in chief who hates America. He cannot even produce a birth certificate and it is shown that he was likely born in Kenya, and received terrorist training abroad.


Posted by Smathleen, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 8, 2009 at 11:51 pm

Kathleen, your derisive and divisive comments have done enough harm to the community and children. Just go back to your hovel already.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 9, 2009 at 8:33 am

I suppose I could pick some anonymous moniker for posting on this topic in order to avoid erroneous accusations or barbed comments. My comments are supportive of the community, speak to the tremendous effort of the volunteers, and acknowledge the work of PPIE/PSEE despite the impossible task.

I didn't write the LTE (nor the one Ms. Zengel responds to); I just commented on it. We will support children directly and hope that everyone in the community will help the classroom, school, or foundation of their choice in the manner and/or amount that best suits their ability to do so.


Posted by Einstein, a resident of Mohr Elementary School
on Aug 9, 2009 at 8:55 am

Einstein is a registered user.

Kathleen,

I would not let those comments bother you one bit. I have been reading your blogs for some time and have found them to be quite eye opening and informative. Please keep up the good work and telling of the truth for as long as you are telling the truth it helps all of us.


Posted by Excellent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 9, 2009 at 9:40 am

Kathleen,

Once again, EXCELLENT posts. Your insights are so valuable and your commitment to engage and discuss the real issues is so appreciated.

Thank you!


Posted by Smashleen, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 9, 2009 at 12:46 pm

Riiiight, Kathleen's insights would be valuable, if only they were true....


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 9, 2009 at 3:28 pm

Emphasis on Smash I guess. Tell me where I've lied--here on line or give me a call, whatever. What are your thoughts about this particular topic, the original letter to the editor?


Posted by Real issues, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 9, 2009 at 3:52 pm

Kathleen is right to oppose Democrat tax, spend, and regulate policies. I'm sure she would agree that our so-called president does not belong in office. He was born in Kenya and is a socialist and terrorist. We didn't vote for change.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 9, 2009 at 6:33 pm

Freedom, social AND economic, is not a combination either Democrats or Republicans offer. Obama is our elected president; unless someone has definitive information about his birth or connections, that won't change before 2012. Could be precedent setting for Arnold though!


Posted by Mike, a resident of Highland Oaks
on Aug 9, 2009 at 6:54 pm

The OP accuses the superintendent of schools of mismanagement but wonders why a majority of voters voted against giving him more money.

Ok, what am I missing here?


Posted by Wade Jackson, a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Aug 9, 2009 at 8:56 pm


Ms. Zengel needs to take off her blinders. That's great you are now starting to write checks to your children's school. I believe most of us have been doing that since our kids were in pre-school.
Measure G failed because the Pleasanton voters know you cannot put out a wild fire by throwing gasoline on it. I am sure the tax payers would be willing to support a measure that would resolve the budget crises and not enable the Board of Directors to fund programs we cannot afford. Measure G was a bad Band-Aid at best.
Wade Jackson
Resident




Posted by Pleasanton Parent, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Aug 9, 2009 at 11:12 pm

Wade Jackson "Measure G was a bad Band-Aid at best."

More like a single stitch on a cut artery


Posted by Gary Schwaegerle, a resident of Downtown
on Aug 10, 2009 at 9:47 am

How about this one: We are in a Global Economy - and what Great Affirmation of the allegations if true; We Truly have the 1st African American as President. Now on measure G the School Board & Dr Casey and All Supporters did an Excellent Job - The Reality is much of the World even a few in Pleasanton are suffering financially.
Sow a Smile Reap a Smile - Make it a Great Day! Gary Schwaegerle


Posted by RE Kathleen, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 10, 2009 at 9:50 am

You lost all your credibility with this response -- really did!!



Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, 15 hours ago

Freedom, social AND economic, is not a combination either Democrats or Republicans offer. Obama is our elected president; unless someone has definitive information about his birth or connections, that won't change before 2012. Could be precedent setting for Arnold though!


Posted by No confidence in PUSD, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 10, 2009 at 12:02 pm


After the last board meeting when the school board voted to continue employment for a few employees whose jobs were supposed to be eliminated in order to maximize these employees' retirement benefits, it's not possible for me to have confidence that the school board's first priority is our kids' education.
Their actions indicate their priority is to keep Dr. Casey happy, not the people who elected them, and to whom they are accountable.
To be fair, it is only three members of the school board who seem unwilling to accept that their job is to oversee Dr. Casey and the school district, not to rubber stamp whatever piece of paper Dr. Casey places in front of them.
The women school board members have some backbone and the men are demonstrating for our community, particularly to our young women, that the old boys' club is alive and well.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 10, 2009 at 12:13 pm

RE, I was responding to comments above from Real Issues. If you read that and then my response and still feel I've lost credibility, can you please tell me why? The part about Arnold, btw, is tongue in cheek.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 10, 2009 at 7:52 pm

To No confidence: Interestingly, in a previous thread it was noted the assessment and evaluation position was eliminated--one that tells parents and teachers how students are performing on testing--over those that were kept. Have to agree, the women are asking the right questions.


Posted by Exactly right on., a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Aug 10, 2009 at 8:30 pm

No confidence in PUSD and Kathleen,

I just saw a snippet of the 6/29 meeting last night - I saw where Valerie Arkin nailed the points to the wall. She had the priorities of this community in the forefront. Jamie also voted well.

Now, as far as Pat goes - he needs to resign. I thought I would need to get him a box of Kleenex when he started talking about the people that were leaving. It was ridiculous. This is a business - not a charity or a fraternity.

Grant voted the correct way, in my opinion, with the women on the Board, but Ott and Kernan were out in left field.

When are each up for reelction?


Posted by Concerned, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 10, 2009 at 9:38 pm

I think most of you should come clean and say the real reason why you voted against Measure G and haven't donated to the fundraiser: you just don't want to pay any more taxes or donations, period.

I can understand that--I don't want to pay more taxes either. But I ALWAYS SUPPORT MY COMMUNITY'S SCHOOLS, TEACHERS, AND CHILDREN. Blaming the budget crisis on PUSD's so-called mismanagement of funds shows a bit of desperation. I'd really like you to show me a school district in the state that is currently doing well without community support via taxes and fundraisers. There are articles in the paper and online everyday about the dire straits California schools are in. One article in Sunday's Valley Times discussed how schools can't even afford to update their textbooks. So our students are falling behind, and all you care about is punishing Dr. Casey? Do you really believe that school districts are currently facing a budget crisis because of teacher raises and car/cell phone allowances?

You know as well as I do that getting rid of pittances such as COLA raises won't even solve a fraction of the problems the district faces.

I don't mean the tone of my comments to sound harsh, but really I am flabbergasted. Your vindictiveness against PUSD doesn't make sense to me: it's OK to punish the children of Pleasanton just to make a point to Dr. Casey?

Pleasanton's schools are WONDERFUL. Try getting that kind of quality education for free. If you were to send your child to private school, it would cost 10 TIMES more than $233/year. Pleasanton's schools are a bargain--EVEN AT $233/year.

Where are your priorities?


Posted by Get Educated, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 10, 2009 at 9:41 pm

Kathleen, I said the position was eliminated and taken on by another person in the district office. 33% of the staff was cut, many people will be taking on multiple jobs. Parents and teachers will still receive the testing information just as we always have.

It is important to not inflate and exaggerate the truth in order to make PUSD look bad. As you can see on this site, people take your word as the only truth. I have said this before to you and you have wanted an example...well this is a good example of not all the truth being posted.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 10, 2009 at 10:01 pm

Concerned, Our family will donate now (more than the one year's tax request) and has given much in the past. We support schools. I've said I would support a tax with correct language. The district made errors; blame fall where it may, change is needed. There is so much already said about the raid on taxpayer dollars and the lack of transparency to the people who pay.

Public education is not free--we pay through local property and state income taxes and facility bonds, local and state. This is a supportive community. although the LTE starting this thread suggests otherwise. I'm amazed by those who are working so hard to raise the $2.8 million in such a short time.

Exactly right on--November 2010.


Posted by Concerned, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 10, 2009 at 10:17 pm

Obviously, public schools aren't free and I think people know what I mean, but even considering the taxes we pay Pleasanton's schools ARE a bargain. My son went to an expensive private school for 2 years (we were paying more than $1000 per month), and I can tell you it still didn't compare to the education my son got from his first year at a Pleasanton elementary school.

I am disappointed in the community, and I am saddened at the loss of programs for the children.


Posted by To Exactly right on, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 10, 2009 at 11:04 pm

"This is a business - not a charity or a fraternity."

Balony. It is not a business, charity, or fraternity. It is a govenmnet entity. Running a public school like a business would be foolish.

Donald Rumsfeld tried that with the military. Look what happened there. That isn't a business either.

We need to get away from these outdated bromides from the ninetees.

And please, please don't say it should be "market based", or mention anything about "wealth creation".


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 11, 2009 at 7:04 am

Concerned, I don't disagree that the loss of programs is unfortunate for the children and those who lost their jobs. It is unfair, and this is my opinion, to blame the community/voters--yes or no or no vote. For us, it was about what we know should have been done better and the changes necessary before we give more money to the current local system. We will gladly support a classroom and school with money. It's money that, under better management, we would pay in a parcel tax. I believe parents and the community support schools and will continue to do so in myriad ways. Whether support for a parcel tax can ever be gained will depend on what the board and management do in the near future.


Posted by Sandy Piderit, a resident of Mohr Park
on Aug 11, 2009 at 8:15 am

Karen -- thank you for writing your letter to the editor and expressing your point of view. Contributions, whether directly to a school or to the district, or through the foundations, are a part of what will get us through this long drought of funding that we are facing in PUSD and in CA.

And Karen, please do not take offense at the fact that the comments on your letter have quickly turned into yet another debate about whether another member of the community also has the right to speak freely about her views on the superintendent, the school board, and measure G. The anonymous posters here have been after Kathleen Ruegsegger for months, and their venom has nothing to do with you, Karen Zengel.

To all -- please do remember that 62 percent of voters cast a ballot in favor of measure G. The measure did not pass because the state constitution requires parcel tax measures to attain 67% of votes in favor in order to become law.

Why some people didn't vote, why people voted as they did, the roles that the superintendent, the board members, and community members played in how measure G got onto the June 2 ballot -- all worthy of discussion and opinion.

The fact is that 62 percent of those who cast ballots on measure G voted YES.


Posted by Observation, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 11, 2009 at 12:27 pm

Kathleen said.

"Whether support for a parcel tax can ever be gained"

I've got a feeling that just a do-over would probably get the needed votes. I think Pleasanton has changed a lot over the past ten years. Some of the no on G vote had nothing to do with Dr. Casey or any alleged mismanagement of funds. I think some of those people don't want to see the changing demographics that good schools can bring to a community. They may have won this battle, but they have already lost the war. Pleasanton has changed. We aren't going backward.


Posted by Pablo, a resident of Downtown
on Aug 11, 2009 at 2:43 pm

Have any of you considered for a moment that in part the no vote on G had a significant amount to do with the economic climate in California and a significant lack of jobs, reduction in wages, or fear of the aforementioned? This was the case in my vote and many others which I spoke. Our taxes are already off the charts and to ask for more when we are not working to support raises is asking way to much and was insulting.


Posted by To Pablo, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 11, 2009 at 3:22 pm

Pablo,

I'm sure some people voted against because they were afraid for their jobs. Have you considered for a moment that some people voted no for other reasons?


Posted by Pablo, a resident of Downtown
on Aug 11, 2009 at 3:55 pm

To Pablo,

Sure I thought there are other reasons but I am just telling you my reason and I was really taken aback when a couple of teachers came to my door asking for support on G and when I told them I was out of work they did not seem to really care so I thought well that is it for that.


Posted by for Karen, a resident of Birdland
on Aug 11, 2009 at 7:40 pm

100% correct - So, we spent $300,000(?) of PUSD funds to get it on a ballot in June. We might have voted for G if 1) it had not wasted taxpayer's money with a "special election"; 2) ensured funding would be in classroom; 3) showed a performance improvement plan of getting expenses under control. G seemed to endorse a etheral plan - too little for too much and never addressed the wastage Casey puts into action. This has nothing to do with Obama. G was a referendum about PSUD and Casey! I'm all for teachers, resources for English language learners and special needs. I'm not for PR, administration, etc. If you want PR, get a grant writing committee whose salaries are minimal with incentives of the grants received with a cap on the salary. I've been paying every year money to teachers for stuff in the classroom (I'm not from CA and this was very new to me. I'm old enough that my folks didn't do it. Taxes were high. That school is still ranked high academically countrywide by many different reports. I had no problems moving abroad to a private American school. Californians moving that year struggled in the same school. Our GPAs matched.) Both my husband and I helped out in the classrooms plus helped with fund-raisers - all in addition to the requested donations. I'd have no problems pitching in more money than G to have a class my daughter wanted to take at Amador. Our finances are such that it would be coming out of her college money, but I'm hopeful for the future. I will not support a general fund because I don't like the apparent priorities of Casey & PSUD.


Posted by To Karen, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 11, 2009 at 8:26 pm

"I will not support a general fund because I don't like the apparent priorities of Casey & PSUD."

What are the priorities? People talk vaguely about cell phone allowances, or "waste". There is never anything but emotionalism and absence of facts from the "No on donations" crowd.

Kathleen talks about unsustainable raises, but no proper, normalized comparisons are ever done.

If anyone has any REAL information about mismanagement of funds, please post it here. But don't bother with the car allowances, cell phone allowances, solar panels, are "unsustainable raises". Do some basic math. Post something real.


Posted by To Karen and Kathleen, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 11, 2009 at 8:52 pm

Yes, please enlighten us on how you would close a $6-9+ million gap in the school's budget.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 11, 2009 at 9:33 pm

Observation: I haven't tracked it lately but I know State Senator Simitian (D, Palo Alto) was sponsoring a bill to lower the parcel tax approval rate to 55%. That certainly could help a future attempt if that passes. Nobody I know on the no side was talking about changing demographics; it was fiscal responsibility.

To Karen: Links, statistics, and comparisons were verified and provided. I can certainly try to provide additional information if you let me know what it is you need. Additional information is available through the Budget Advisory Committee and the future costs of what I called unsustainable raise can be confirmed with the business office.

Sandy: I think it would help everyone to know why people didn't vote.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 11, 2009 at 10:16 pm

To Karen and Kathleen: This isn't just about where to make cuts or the state budget issues. There are earlier decisions that cost jobs. I wouldn't have given 14.5% in raises. I believe that was $18 million over the life of the proposed parcel tax. I couldn't save all the money, because some raises would have been warranted, but it's a good start. By my math that would have been $3.0-$4.5 million for 08-09 and 09-10 (assuming no raises, so again, I don't get to save all of it). I wouldn't have allowed the reserves to be spent down. I would allow the Budget Advisory Committee to make recommendations. I would want to know more about what the community saw as priorities. I would have asked at least two board members to sit in with principals to hear their concerns and priorities. There is much that could have been done to build faith in the community in order to pass a parcel tax. And if there was transparency and a good process and proper timing for an election, I would vote for a tax that supported what the community wants. These are our schools.


Posted by Observation, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 11, 2009 at 11:12 pm

I don't think very many of the No on G votes would switch. I just think a lot of the people who didn't vote would vote now. With 62% of the vote so far, it seems that the community does want the tax. The biggest mistake PUSD made in my opinion was not putting a parcel tax on the ballot in 2006. That would have been a better time.

Kathleen,

In what way is PUSD less transparent than any other school board? Are they doing something differently? As far as I know, there was never a reserve to be spent down. It was just a target, a "nice to have". Why wouldn't you have given the raises? If PUSD was striving to build the best school district in the Bay Area, I think it was the correct decision to bring their salaries more in line with the top districts in the area. As far as changing demographics goes, people don't talk about as openly as other subjects. Sometimes they use code words.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 12, 2009 at 7:08 am

Observation, I wouldn't have given such large raises, but agree something was due. How to overall public employee (teachers, classified, police, etc.) compensation is a topic unto itself. I think teachers are worth more than they are paid, great teachers even more--getting to merit pay is a battle CTA will fight. We are losing our as a state on more federal tax dollars because teachers in CA cannot be evaluated in any way based on test scores, for example. There was a reserve (3% of budget is a state requirement). If memory serves we got to about 4% before it was being spent down and now is under what is required (why the district is now on a state watch list). It was irresponsible.

Transparency is difficult. Management, and often their boards, have lost the sense of customer service, forget that the entire community as taxpayers are the customers, and often believe the customers won't understand the complexities of education (or any other government process really). If you are educators, then educate children, their parents, and the communities. Districts get requests for public information all the time; there is no excuse for not making it readily available and for not posting most of it to the district web site. It's easy enough to do and to know what people would like to have. I can't help but feel the parcel tax was put on the ballot in June, on the heels of another election only weeks before, in hopes that most no voters would stay home. Bad and expensive gamble.

I have learned that being inclusive is a better default approach to adding people to your life or community. It would be sad to find out that the Community of Character is just lip service.


Posted by Get Educated, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 12, 2009 at 9:18 am

Just to be sure to report all the facts, there were no raises last year. Medical benefits increased causing a reduction for many people. The previous COLA increases were in place to make up for prior years of 0-1% increases. This was not the cause of the massive deficit schools all over California are seeing. There was never a year with a 14% increase, I assume this number was added up over many years of increases. How it is posted is misleading.

PUSD has always had the required reserve. There were major cuts to the budget in 07-08. It was in the papers, communicated, editorials were written: Web Link
Web Link
And Pleasanton did not have to go to the community to ask for funding. This was the year, you may remember, that surrounding communities passed parcel taxes. PUSD made cuts, used good fiscal planning and avoided it.

When it is stated that the reserve was run down, there is a valid reason that has been communicated. There was no deception as seemed implied from the postings above. The meetings, the written information was there for those who have wanted to hear it. To blame it on mismanagement is an opinion and not the facts. I can see why it is so easily taken up as fact when we are seeing this in the public sector, but understanding the whole truth about what has occured here is important. PUSD has done an amazing job running top schools while under a constant barrage of cuts to funding, keeping the costs away from the community.

Residents of Pleasanton have a variety of reasons for why they voted yes or no on measure G or why they chose to donate or not. I just want it to be clear what is posted here as opinion vs. what the truth really is. That way residents can make educated decisions, not one's based on misinformation.


Posted by No confidence in PUSD, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 12, 2009 at 11:45 am


Even when you take into account that many of the Yes on G people came from the same household, the number of donors to the I Love Pleasanton Schools campaign falls short of the number of people who supported Measure G.
So either many of the Yes on G voters were voters who would not have had to pay the parcel tax (renters, seniors, students living at home)or many of the Yes on G voters now are either unable to afford to contribute, or have changed their minds about supporting the school district administration.
If you are a person who publicly spoke for or against G, no one who works for PUSD will have an honest discussion with you about the way PUSD administration operates.
But if you didn't take a public stand and have friends who work for PUSD who know you will not reveal what they've said, many of them will tell you that there's incredible waste in the district office, and there is no real open communication with Dr. Casey. If you question any of his plans or decisions, he does not appreciate another viewpoint. You are on his S*** list. They look forward to his departure next June and want the Board of Trustees to look outside PUSD administration for the next Superintendent.
If you have friends who are teachers in the district they will tell you that they would have been willing to accept a freeze of step and column instead of putting a parcel tax to the voters. This was not an option presented to them, and the union leaders are like Dr. Casey. They don't want to hear anything that differs from their decisions.
So congratulations to the PUSD administration and the teachers' union for creating an atmosphere where employees cannot speak freely about issues that matter to them. Congratulations for getting most of the Board Trustees to forget that they work for the voters, not the school district.
I have confidence in the teachers who no matter what cuts have been made will continue to do their jobs and do them well because they care about education. They will continue to get my support, financially and as a volunteer in their classrooms. I have confidence in the district employees who will continue to work hard and take pride in doing their jobs well.
But not a penny to PUSD administration while it's under the leadership of John Casey.
If he truly cared about our kids' education and the people who work in the schools, he could have offered his entire $12K a year car allowance to keep a reading specialist or two on staff. It's not money given to cover costs - it's a bonus. His offer to part with $3K a year of that allowance was only made after he was pressured to do so by public opinion.
If he truly cared about our kids' education, he could have offered to pay back PUSD for the loan he received to buy his Pleasanton home. He has the financial resources to purchase another home while his Pleasanton home is on the market, but has that led him to pay back the school district loan?
Anything Dr. Casey does is minor compared to what he could and should have been doing to set an example of leadership and support for the school district.
What has happened under John Casey's leadership? Reserves that were supposed to be there to support the district in a bad economy were spent down way beyond approved levels. An expensive election was held even though a number of people suggested starting in January 2009 the kind of fundraising that I Love Pleasanton schools is doing now. District employees work in a Big Brother atmosphere and resent the favoritism Dr. Casey has shown his friends.
Dr. Casey doesn't listen to anyone who has ideas that differ from his own. His stay in Pleasanton is a temporary one and he will do only what he must do to make his remaining time here pleasant for him and his friends.
That's not leadership.
From him, community of character is just lip service.


Posted by What?, a resident of Pleasanton Middle School
on Aug 12, 2009 at 12:00 pm

<More importantly, it would be helpful for the board to hear why PPIE/PSEE's goal of $2.8 million has received a low ($300,000ish to date--oddly, about the cost of the campaign)>

This is a sham or rarter a sham. The 300k could have been donated directly to your childs classroom. This sucks!


Posted by To Kathleen and No Confidence in PUSD, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 12, 2009 at 3:58 pm

Again, you choose to punish school children because you think Dr. Casey is incorrigible?

The setbacks to the schools are going to cost a lot more than the measly $15K allowances and COLA raises you are complaining about.

I'm sorry that Dr. Casey somehow stepped on your toes or hurt your feelings (cue the violins), but the kids who are facing crowded classrooms, inadequate counseling, no elementary band, and lack of reading specialist support are going to be hurt A LOT MORE.

The children who really need help are not going to get it. Why? So you can get a point across to Dr. Casey that he should give up his car allowance? Pathetic.

Face it: you are not an advocate for the children as you like to think you are. Far from it. Dr. Casey is not the one failing the children--it is you.




Posted by No Confidence in Kathleen, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 12, 2009 at 4:01 pm

You're good, Kathleen. You managed to fool alot of people into thinking you were telling the truth.


Posted by Disappointed parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 12, 2009 at 4:30 pm

I voted for Measure G and have donated to the fundraiser, and I am disappointed in the community for their lack of support for the excellent schools here.

My son just finished kindergarten and he is behind in terms of academics and social skills. I cannot afford a private tutor for him. I am concerned that he is not going to have the teacher attention he needs now with the more-crowded classrooms, and if they discover he is going to need a reading specialist in 1st grade, is he going to have access to one?

These are the more important things in life, not whether Dr. Casey should have a cell phone or car allowance.

I worry about my son's future, and I hope that you, as a parent, are concerned about your children's future, rather than expending time and energy scapegoating the superintendent.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 12, 2009 at 7:01 pm

I'll respond by starting with What? Because it is important, I want to clarify that the $300,000 raised thus far by PPIE/PSEE is going to program according to everything on their web sites. My comment was pointing out what a shame it is (and an odd coincidence) that it is about the same amount as the district paid for the Measure G election. Again, PPIE/PSEE is working diligently for program and whatever donors are citing their dollars are to go.

Get Educated: The facts are that three years of unsustainable raises—a total of 14.5% ($18 million over the life of the proposed parcel tax). The years have been posted many times as 2005-2008, prior to the 2008-09 school year, when yes, there was no COLA provided.

The last sentence in your first link: "With enrollment projections stable through 2017, Casey has positioned the district to handle the state's budget crunch this year without the layoffs and program cutbacks neighboring district are considering. It's planning at its best." And the last sentence in your second link: "The numbers project a slight increase in elementary enrollment, and the Board still believes that Neal School is needed if we are housing more than 6,000 students in grades K through 5 and if an agreement can be reached about construction financing." My opinion contradicts that this was planning at its best. Most people are aware (inside and outside the district office) there was never any intention to build Neal because the operating cost couldn't be justified or sustained in the budget.

I'm pretty sure there was a community survey done at some point that indicated there was insufficient support for a parcel tax. Why was there no support then? PUSD had few options left to them while those other districts were passing parcel taxes.

I am stymied as to why a "valid reason" that "has been communicated" hasn't just been repeated here. Was this reason and the written information posted on the district web site? PUSD doesn't require a 3% reserve, the state does. The district spent down those reserves and put itself on the state's watch list in the process. By the way, if you ask exactly what the reserve dollars bought, the information provided only notes transfers from one fund to another. There is no information on exactly what the money purchased.

I think I have been careful in stating what my opinions are and have been willing to correct where I've made a misstep about facts. This is not misinformation unless the information provided by the district is incorrect.

No Confidence in Kathleen: I am telling the truth. Each person did and will decide for themselves. If there is something else I can provide, please let me know.

To Kathleen and No Confidence in PUSD: I wish I had all the power attributed to me so that PPIE/PSEE raised all $2.8 million by this Friday. I hope the community will continue to donate as much as each can afford monetarily or in whatever way they can if money is not possible; I think the organizations have been given an impossible goal at the worst time of year to accomplish it. And yet they stepped up to the challenge anyway. The foundations and people like Amy have my gratitude and respect.

Disappointed parent: I think the community is stepping up in many ways that are not reflected in the foundation numbers. We will donate more directly to the school.

I heard a comment that said not voting is the same as saying, "None of the above." So is that what the majority of voters say this about Measure G ?


Posted by Judy Smith, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 12, 2009 at 8:04 pm

Kathleen- when you post statements like:
"I wouldn't have given 14.5% in raises. I believe that was $18 million over the life of the proposed parcel tax." You are deceiving the public. It makes it look like the teachers received a 14% increase at once- which they received 0% last year and 0% for this year.

You wonder why people get upset with your posts, they see how hard you are working to defame PUSD. The teachers ARE PUSD. You can't then turn around and then say you support them.

You are free to post your opinions/gossip, but reader's beware- this is only half truths posted to make a successful district look bad. How is this helping during the worst cuts to education in California's history. Where is the outrage towards Sacramento?


Posted by Still waiting, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 12, 2009 at 8:45 pm

I like this question to Kathleen in an earlier post: "Yes, please enlighten us on how you would close a $6-9+ million gap in the school's budget."

Of course it's going to be far worse next year. No federal stimulus. That would mean, what, an additional 6 - 9 million on top of the programs just cut? Kathleen, how would you solve this? Union bust CTA/APT? CSEA? Force out the superintendent and certain board members? Turn the district office into a crater? Solve all supposed inefficiencies and wastes (what medium size company has achieved that miracle?). Perhaps our prerequisite for helping our local schools should be the total successful reform of school finance in Sacramento?

Why do I suspect this kind of conversation is happening statewide at many districts now?

My take is that when the floods come, you grab sandbags and stop as much damage as you can and protect your kids. Measure G was the best option to help insulate our schools from what's happened. This last local and state budget was just the warm up for what's coming.

I think you know that Kathleen and I think you do have good intentions. However, I'm afraid of where good intentions can lead.


Posted by Paula, a resident of Laguna Vista
on Aug 12, 2009 at 9:52 pm

Who are you people talking to? Measure G had nothing to do with the schools as it was only about giving teachers raises. Let's get real and specific here. We should make the district make the cuts they must make and then the money to make up the shortfall should be spread amongst us the people who have children in school to pay and no one else as it is our responsibility.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 12, 2009 at 10:29 pm

Judy, If you are going to repost what I write, please post the whole context. I responded to Get Educated who said I was posting misinformation--I restated the issue of the raise AND followed it with the years those raises were given. I was clear on those points throughout the campaign as well.

Raises given were 14.5% over three school years from 2005-08 or about $18 million over the proposed life of the parcel tax. Fact. That I wouldn't have done it, my personal opinion. No raise for 08-09; and as far as I know, no agreement for 09-10, with a contract that is open to renegotiation because it ends June 2010.

I have been fortunate to know many wonderful teachers from the time I was five through my grandchild's experiences now. I have family that were teachers and administrators. I have friends that are teachers. I do support teachers. I've said PUSD is a successful district academically and that has much to do with parents, teachers, and school site staff and administration. It gets fuzzier the further you are from students and disappears on the topic of how the budget and reserves have been managed.

Plenty of outrage towards Sacramento and I've sent emails to the governor and legislators. My favorite thing on many of their websites (US as well) is you can't comment on proposed legislation unless you live in their districts, even if they are the authors.

Still waiting: I responded to that question. While I have ideas, I'm sure others have ideas, probably better ones. I'm not after any of the unions, but I don't like the me too clauses that make "negotiations" a bit of a sham. I'd remove me too clauses for administrators on the negotiations team and the superintendent (in this case he is making the recommendations to the Board and is hardly neutral). I'd make negotiations open to the public . . . it's our money they're bargaining with. I wouldn't crater the district office or the people in it, but I'd hold them accountable and push for more transparency at all levels. In my opinion, better guarantees in the actual language of the parcel tax would have been sufficient to get the 67%. I've mentioned that Senator Simitian was sponsoring a bill to lower the pass rate to 55%. Could be that will be all it takes for Pleasanton.

I realize there are unintended consequences despite the best of intentions. I do feel terribly for the teachers who lost their jobs. I also feel APT holds the power to save their own. (CSEA is a different matter, and I feel even worse for those who lost their jobs or had their hours cut. They don't have the power to save their own).

I don't like that change is rarely about intelligent discourse and often has to be about rocking the boat. Are government entities too calcified to change; is the citizenry too complacent; some of both? I'd rather be able to clearly identify the problems and then look for multiple solutions so the best option moves forward. Measure G was the only option played and in a hail mary toss. I don't believe it could be called well intentioned.


Posted by Yo Paula, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 12, 2009 at 10:32 pm

You present no numbers, no facts, just emotion.

"only about giving teachers raises"

Where did you get that idea? Show us real numbers -- You've given us nothing. And don't bother with the ridiculous predictions of "step and column" raises that are based on speculation.

"money to make up the shortfall should be spread amongst us the people who have children in school to pay and no one else as it is our responsibility"

Society doesn't work that way. We all pay taxes for benefits that go directly to just some members of society, but we as a society benefit indirectly. I hope that you just weren't thinking straight when you wrote this, and that you're not trolling. Of course, this is a public forum, and Pleasanton Weekly Town Square seems to have plenty of trolls.


Posted by Parent volunteer, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 12, 2009 at 10:35 pm

I agree, let's get real- the district did make cuts- 12 million in cuts, and 33% of the district office administration were let go. There has been an enormous effort to raise funds through donations. Just read what is happening to school districts all over California...instead of Obama blasting posts, where are those blasting Arnold and the decisions to not fund public education!

Measure G had nothing to do with teacher raises, stating this shows you are not aware of how teachers are payed in the state of California.


Posted by Yo Kathleen, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 12, 2009 at 10:40 pm

"I'd rather be able to clearly identify the problems and then look for multiple solutions"

What problems? As far as I can tell, there aren't any local problems, just problems in Sacramento. We can solve that with local targeted taxes.


Posted by lollipop, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 12, 2009 at 11:06 pm

Too many drama queens in this little town...

Our schools and our children will be fine...stop overreacting!

"G" is gone...history. Invest your energy and time in educating your children rather than wasting time debating about a failed measure.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 13, 2009 at 6:50 am

Parent and Yo, There were local problems; Sacramento just piled onto that mess. I think we will have other things to debate in the coming school year, but lollipop is right. Please just help where and how you can.


Posted by last thought, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 13, 2009 at 7:53 am

i'll always remember the 2 conditional unpaid day-offs offered by the union(vote was 70% to ok it). For me, that was a cut to the chase statement on how serious the teachers saw the situation. Couple that with that phoney photo of all those teachers that set to get laid off in this tabloid and that was the final straw.
No, too many chicken littles-no wonder the teachers union so powerful.


Posted by Sure..., a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 13, 2009 at 8:36 am

To lollipop

"Our schools and our children will be fine...stop overreacting"

Apathy and complacency won't educate our children.

People debate the issues because they care about them. Stop wasting our time with irrelevant posts.

Kathleen, there weren't local problems. PUSD was the best school district in the Bay Area bar none. It was the only top district without a parcel tax until 2008.


Posted by Paula, a resident of Laguna Vista
on Aug 13, 2009 at 8:59 am

We should be paying for our own children and not expecting others without children to pay nor families who have paid for years whose children are grown and gone. My niece is a Pleasanton teacher and she received one of those pink slips but was told not to worry as nothing would happen to her as they were just trying "to ring the bell loudly". Education is something we should supply but other things such as sports, cheerleading, band etc. are extra activities and should be paid for by the parents whose children use that service. I have 3 children in Pleasanton schools and am willing to pay my way.


Posted by No confidence in PUSD, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 13, 2009 at 10:23 am

To the poster who responded to my post.
Now why would you say I am punishing the children in the school district? I continue to volunteer and I make my financial contributions, which far exceed the proposed and defeated $233 parcel tax directly to the schools and specific programs. I mentioned that I would continue to support the schools and teachers in my first post, but would not provide any funding directly to PUSD where it is under the questionable control of Dr. Casey. You are very selective about what you pull from a post, but that has been mentioned by others.
Dr. Casey has hurt the community by his lack of leadership. He pushed for a parcel tax and ignored suggestions to first go to the community with a fundraising program like the one that PPIE/PSEE are working so hard on now. He hired an attorney to discuss illegal campaign practices which would not have been necessary if he had not allowed questionable activities to occur on school campuses and on school employees time. He has chosen to keep on administrators, particularly those who are personal friends, rather than keep those who are qualified for specific jobs or teachers, aides and other staff crucial to our student's education. Watch or attend school board meetings and see Dr. Casey in action!
He is not interested in conserving funds for our kids education but in conserving funds for his retirement and that of his friends.
He did not create all the budget problems, but he certainly was running the district when the reserves were spent down. It is his job to deal with problems as they come up in a fair and intelligent manner. Many community members, including former administrators and business leaders have at one time or another tried to convince Dr. Casey that certain plans of action - such as suing Signature Properties - were ill advised and would result in lengthy litigation which the district would lose. Many of those same people tried to tell him that the parcel tax was not the right approach to the budget problems and would also fail.
Dr. Casey does not listen to any suggestions that are not in line with what he wants to do and many PUSD employees are aware of this and have learned that when he asks for suggestions, the only comments he wants are those approving what he has already decided the district will do.
What is even worse is how Dr. Casey has taken over the School Board so that the men on the board rubber stamp Dr. Casey's requests. They have forgotten that they do not work for the school district, they work for the community. They are unwilling to separate their personal relationship with Dr. Casey from their business relationship.
Some people fall for the snake oil salesman's pitch and some do not.




Posted by To "No confidence in PUSD", a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 13, 2009 at 12:43 pm

You present no facts and only emotionalism.

"but would not provide any funding directly to PUSD "

Then you are punishing the children. Do your homework. You cannot support CSR and other programs by giving to your school directly.

" ignored suggestions to first go to the ..."

What evidence to you have for that? He made a decision. That doesn't mean he didn't hear the other side. He disagreed.

"He has chosen to keep on administrators, particularly those who are personal friends, rather than keep those who are qualified for specific jobs or teachers, aides and other staff crucial to our student's education."

Do you have any specific examples, or just hearsay?

We need to do the right thing and both give to our schools and to PUSD directly. A lot of us our proud of our schools. CSR is an important part of that, as are many other programs.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 13, 2009 at 7:43 pm

Sure "best school district in the Bay Area bar none" is a subjective comment, which is fine. I'd rather ranking based on multiple measures. However, I did say academically this is a good district (and why) and a bad district with regard to fiduciary responsibility.

For "To No Confidence . . . " I have heard similar things, but it is only that. I would suggest that if enough people could speak anonymously or through others you could at least see the smoke, if not the fire--assuming either is there. If the board is responsible to the taxpayers and the superintendent to the board, it seems to me the board should be be held accountable and ensure the superintendent is as well.


Posted by Sure..., a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 13, 2009 at 9:52 pm

I meant the best with regard to managing money. PUSD went the longest of any of the top districts without a parcel tax. Their biggest mistake was waiting too long to put the parcel tax on a ballot.


Posted by Katheryn, a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Aug 13, 2009 at 10:14 pm

Regarding the Parcel Tax, whether June 2nd or earlier...Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda. It's easy to Monday morning quarterback.

Time is money....instead of second guessing or bashing Kathleen, take the time and write letters to your local legislative representatives, much more rewarding and productive that personal attacks on community members.

If you fear your child will be lost in a class of 25 vs. 20, then be a partner in your childs education. A strong tie between the teacher and the parent only equals success of the child.

Work to be part of the solution........


Posted by Disappointed parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 13, 2009 at 10:55 pm

I agree, Katheryn. And the solution right now is to donate to the fundraiser, so that the children do not have to suffer through inadequate staffing and resources.


Posted by Katheryn, a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Aug 13, 2009 at 11:35 pm

Yes, but for some families, the recession has hit extremely hard in the past 4+ months. Some families only have the funds to cover the classroom supplies ($45-$65) any other monies are dedicated to PG & E, Pleasanton Garbage, Water and telephone bills. Many are just learning to live "within" their means.

Giving to PPIE would have been much easier 5 months ago in anticiapation of the budget cut....but things have changed....so fast.....People's incomes are decresaing dramatically. The donation that one intended to give prior to Aug. 15 has been used to pay bills.

Time's have become dire....not just for PUSD, but for some Pleasanton families.

School starts in 12 days. As parents, we can take a strong role in getting our children excited about starting school. If you don't have the funds, but you have the spare time, please volunteer. Get your child excited about starting school again. They will thrive if you get involved!! More importantly, they don't know what's going on, they're just excited to be back at school with their friends!!

Work to be part of the solution....


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 14, 2009 at 6:16 am

Sure, Rather than belabor the point, we can agree we disagree on the point.

Kathryn, I also agree. While it appears the economy is at least slowing from free fall, most believe it will take quite some time to reabsorb lost jobs. There are many ways to help teachers, whether you have children in the schools or not, whether donating money or time or supplies. If teachers are as strong as we say (and I believe they are), then anything we do to help them will help students.


Posted by No confidence in PUSD, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 14, 2009 at 10:49 am

To the poster who cannot come up with a name. You want specifics. Watch or attend the board meetings. It's all there.
There are other things besides CSR that parents value particularly the basic skills of reading and writing. My contributions go to the basics and to benefit the students who need help with the basics so they can go on to college or join the workforce. Parents who want their children to participate in sports or other non-academic activities find a way to make that happen.
I support making contributions directly to the teachers whether it is funds for classroom supplies or volunteering. The teachers are not responsible for PUSD's poor fiscal management. They are being asked to do more with less and hard as that is, they will do it because most of them are dedicated professionals who take pride in the work they do.
If you want other specific information about PUSD's lack of fiscal responsibility, go back and read threads that ran during the Measure G campaign. Many of them provide links to previous board meeting notes and budget information.


Posted by Russell, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 15, 2009 at 4:54 pm

It is time for another parcel tax. Better public outreach and "get out the vote" efforts can close a 5% gap readily. More to come.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 15, 2009 at 5:15 pm

Hi Russell, It will take more than outreach and get out the vote efforts. At the minimum, the language has to have guarantees and a community-based decision needs to be determined on what it is willing to pay and what it is will to pay for. Otherwise, it would be safe to say that those who opposed the last attempt will be as involved and the split could remain the same.


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