PUSD Board Meeting 8/18 at 7 pm Schools & Kids, posted by Dark Corners of Town, a resident of the Country Fair neighborhood, on Aug 17, 2009 at 9:25 am
The first Board of Trustees meeting of the 09-10 school year is Tuesday evening. Agenda items include the use of funds raised by ILPS.
With the possibility of another parcel tax measure, expectations of more state funding reductions, and the expiration of the teacher's contract in 2010, it is important the community continue to increase their level of participation in PUSD matters.
Open question to the Forum: "What is important to you this year regarding PUSD?"
Posted by Me Too, a resident of the Canyon Creek neighborhood, on Aug 17, 2009 at 9:16 pm
I would just like to see what happens. See how the district reacts and changes tot he changing funding (don't forget tha the districts budget will probably be cut again next year before the end of the school year).
Class size are increasing at least somewhat. We are losing some programs. Will our schools still rate amongst the best? Let's hope so. Its only reasonable to expect some decline in test scores, but those are a year away.
I'm a bit curious to see how many people will be showing up at board meetings. There were A LOT of people angry about how the board and district operate, let's hope they show up to every meeting and put forth their wisdom to helping our school district.
Posted by Swami, a resident of the Pleasanton Valley neighborhood, on Aug 17, 2009 at 10:49 pm
This is a year to plan for different financial scenarios over the next 5-10 years, everything from state going further in the red to recovering. I would like to see the PUSD plan ahead, and the community think through how to support the schools differently.
The community as a whole has gone through some wrenching change already with this years' parcel tax debate and rejection fallout.
Some familiar faces will be missing from schools that they have contributed a lot to. The reality has hit home (or will) for many who would have shown up to vote for the parcel tax if they had comprehended the outcome. The reality has also hit home that those who do not see value in a $233 parcel tax are a significant minority, and should not be ignored as appeared to be the case in the run-up to the election.
The effort by the PPIE and PSEE, though well short of their goals, is a laudable one. While a $99 parcel tax would have raised far more, the fact is that several members of the community contributed considerable time and energy to help bring in private funds that did not exist before the drive.
So there are several questions (ultimately leading to research, decisions and actions) for the school district and the community - What is worth protecting, how can we leverage the community's obvious enthusiasm, how can we improve quality of education despite the cuts? What can we learn from other school districts in CA and other states (and possibly other countries) so we develop an understanding to manage best for the various scenarios ahead?
Posted by Me Too, a resident of the Canyon Creek neighborhood, on Aug 17, 2009 at 11:12 pm
Swami - while planning for the future financially is great idea, we know there's really not much to plan for. Most of the budget is for teachers. We have either more or less teachers OR we have some sort of major educational reform.
We all know that educational reform is not something that can happen overnight. The problem is, everyone says there is a better way, but until its proven nobody really knows. Programs and systems are implemented that worked on a small scale but they don't work or don't have the support to work because maybe the cause test scores to go down for a while (until the program is really in tune). The problem is we don't have patience nor a sense of risk/reward. Companies stay alive by balancing the risk reward - a new product is launched after research is done and the company plans to make money. If they fail, the company may lose money for a while, but what happens if a school fails - hundreds of kids are affected.
I'm rambling now, but its going to take a lot of effort (and support fromt he community) to see any real change in education and I just don't see that happening. If you have followed the posts in the past leading up to the parcel tax vote you will see a lot of people saying that their education was good enough, why change? That becomes the biggest obstacle....WHY CHANGE?
Posted by Minding my pennies, a member of the Pleasanton Middle School community, on Aug 18, 2009 at 9:09 am
I believe this crappy economy has forced many families to evaluate pretty carefully what they are willing to spend their money on, including education. Many folks that I spoke to wrote checks for I Love Pleasanton wanting the money to go to a program that THEIR children would directly benefit from-not someone else's. After reading what the donation list covered at my son's school I don't want to write that check either as he won't receive much benefit from it.
As there will be no way to please everyone this year the school board has a very hard task ahead of them. Two seem capable of the job-Arkin and Hintzke, the other three are the same rah-rahs that didn't see the No on G train coming down the tracks ("just GIVE and don't bother to ask questions!")so I'm not expecting much tonight.
Posted by Ken Harder, a resident of the Castlewood neighborhood, on Aug 18, 2009 at 11:13 am
I think that all of you folks are truly underestimating the impact of the economy and lack of resources which will impact even further the schools. The economy is imploding in California even more, unemployment continues to rise, wealth and industry are leaving the state so to think people who are unemployed or feel they are taxed to much already are going to fund more taxes for schools when we are funding illegals in the state have another guess coming i suspect.
Posted by To "Minding my pennies", a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Aug 18, 2009 at 12:44 pm
"No on G train coming down the tracks ..."
That train is likely to get run off its tracks. The 67% rule for local education parcel taxes is likely to changed to 50% as part of a larger bipartisan initiative next year. There was an article about it in the Valley Times last weekend. Too bad it couldn't have been sooner.
Posted by Ken Harder, a resident of the Castlewood neighborhood, on Aug 18, 2009 at 12:57 pm
I wonder if what happened in Fremont in the Mission San Jose area will happen here and that is that the homes got so expensive the only people who could afford them were older folks without kids and the younger folks moved out in the valley.
Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore, on Aug 18, 2009 at 1:00 pm
Is it clear to the donors how the money will be distributed? Does admin. have the final say re: how the money is used? How will the PUSD be held accountable for every PENNY that has been given in good faith?
Don't be surprised if the donors get outslicked by the PUSD, as in a double-cross!
Posted by To Ken, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Aug 18, 2009 at 3:32 pm
I doubt what happened in Mission San Jose will happen here in Pleasanton, as now after the failure of the parcel tax and fundraiser, a young family who wants good schools will likely choose San Ramon or Dublin since they have lower student-per-teacher and administrative-staff-per-student ratios than Pleasanton. Also appealing is that San Ramon's and Dublin's housing prices on average are lower than Pleasanton's.
So if you were a family with school-age kids, which city would you choose: an over-priced town with average schools, or a more reasonably priced town with great schools?
Pleasanton doesn't compare to Mission San Jose anymore.
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Aug 18, 2009 at 4:53 pm
I will preface this by acknowledging it’s my opinion. It is for each reader to consider and respond, but I hope it is a place to start a discussion about what we can do in the coming 12-15 months.
So to Me Too: It could be a little bit of “we have seen the enemy and it is us.” We are paying substantial tax dollars and not holding accountable those we elect to oversee that money (likely true at all levels of government). At least some measure of the community believes PUSD has failed us (and I say some measure because we really don’t know how the majority of registered voters who didn’t vote one way or the other on Measure G really felt).
I would say that “why change?” comes more from union leadership, administrators, and some board members than it does from taxpayers. Grant it, curriculum changes, testing changes, and what teachers are expected to deliver to our children does change (mostly at the demand of the state). But we do not see change in how teachers/administrators are compensated and rarely the work year or the work rules—as you point out, the biggest part of the budget.
So I don’t believe people are saying their education was fine when they went to school, so why change. The cost of class sizes at 20:1 is outrageously expensive, and there is a limit on what can be expected of taxpayers. That may not be clear to those who advocate for increased taxes (usually legislators) despite the drive by those of us who pay who expect their tax dollars to be used effectively and efficiently and for costs to be contained.
So I think the question should not be why change, but what change do we want to occur? and how to we bring about that/those change(s)? The first, and unique, opportunity will be if the community will insist that negotiations with both unions be open to the public. We need to determine what changes we, the customers, want to happen with a contract set to expire in 2010.
The next opportunity will be the anticipated announcement of the superintendent’s retirement. The community should expect to be part of this process, and the search should be comprehensive. Pleasanton is a great community; many very qualified people will apply. We cannot skip this step under the guise of saving money—this is one of the most important steps we can take because that person will guide the board and lead staff in all areas of ABCs (administration, budget, curriculum), directly impacting the learning lives of students.
The third opportunity will be if the parcel tax is attempted again next spring or earlier. There should be a online survey available to all members of the community (or hardcopy where access isn’t available), from high school students through senior citizens, that addresses various issues and needs and their cost to the public (if there is one) so that a correlation between desired priorities and willingness to pay is found.
The final opportunity to speak as a community will come when we vote in November 2010 for our elected officials on the school board. Most people likely don’t have the spare time to spend at night meetings, so while attending board meetings is one place to voice opinions, what you write to board members and the superintendent should be given equal weight. Failure to meet the expectations of students, parents, and the community at large is not an option and should mean that some are voted out of office if they do not take these opportunities for change and their constituents seriously.
These are the four areas that come to mind that can bring comparative change in just over a year. No student need suffer if we all are diligent in turning the system around from having a business as usual approach to one that is responsive to its customers, the community’s taxpayers.
Posted by Parent, a resident of the Amador Estates neighborhood, on Aug 18, 2009 at 7:37 pm
Kathleen-"We cannot skip this step under the guise of saving moneyï¿½this is one of the most important steps we can take because that person will guide the board and lead staff in all areas of ABCs (administration, budget, curriculum), directly impacting the learning lives of students.
After the cuts, we don't have money left for this. We will get what's left and it will certainly need to be someone brave enough to take on this very divided community. Not such an attractive position is it?
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Aug 18, 2009 at 9:59 pm
Parent, I don't think you can spend $300,000 on a failed campaign (one that a board member told me they knew didn't have the needed support) and skimp here. I have some thoughts on how it could be done for very little to no money, but I am working through the idea and will talk to other knowledgeable people. If there is any consensus, I'll post it for everyone who cares to consider it.
There are very qualified people who will want to come to Pleasanton. It is still a great district. I still believe we have a united community that is supportive of teachers and students. Even though we have disagreed on how and how much is needed and exactly what it is we need to support, someone will have the skills to tackle the challenge.
School hasn't started, so it is unclear to me where the students will suffer, if at all, and if you strictly mean class size. I am concerned, however, about counselors, resource specialists, and then extras like elementary music. Those would be my priorities, but we haven't determined as a community what our top priorities are and how much we are willing to pay. I hope that is part of the process in the coming months.
Posted by To Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Aug 18, 2009 at 10:41 pm
"likely true at all levels of government"
Where have you been the last thirty years? Have taxes gone up or down on the whole since 1979? (Down) Are there more civil servants in the federal government now than there were in 1979, or fewer? (Fewer). And regulations (there was a great deal of de-regulation).
Look Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and Newt Gingrich actually accomplished some things. With the exception of programs for seniors (prescription drug benefits...), federal government is smaller and more accountable than it has been in decades.
"At least some measure of the community believes PUSD has failed us"
How do you know that isn't have a dozen people who post to this blog. Some people who voted against the tax may not have any problem at all with PUSD. They may just not have the money to pay. And others just vote against all taxes.
"That may not be clear to those who advocate for increased taxes (usually legislators) despite the drive by those of us who pay who expect their tax dollars to be used effectively and efficiently and for costs to be contained."
The majority of us voted for the tax.
You sound like one of those people who think that if only we stopped all those "earmarks" and stop spending money on "fruit fly research" then we wouldn't have to raise taxes to pay for prescription drug benefits.
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Aug 19, 2009 at 6:42 am
To "To KR": "On the whole" - not sure what that measure is. I'll get the data. It's not the number of people in government; it's what they cost. My comment was a nod to those who think all government is spending too much and in areas it shouldn't.
About PUSD, some measure could be 6 people, could be 1200. Maybe I should have added "in their fiduciary responsibilities." I don't think that change would alter your comment though. I agree there any number of motivations for each person's vote from no on all taxes to yes to a tax I won't have to pay--which could also explain the majority of yes votes. I don't have that information. I suppose the Registrar of Voters could provide a breakdown on the vote.
As to the link, I'm not a Palin fan.
I started what I wrote by saying it was my opinion. Can you tell me your opinion about the four areas I listed as opportunities? Even if it is half a dozen people out here, I'd be interested in what each of them thinks.
To "To KH": I read the article. Senator Simitian tried this bill before without success. I have not seen whether he has more support for it this time around. It could be it drowned in the budget debates and has yet to resurface. I'll check his web site for its status. And it's 55%--more than just a simple majority, but lower than the 2/3rds we have now.
"The bipartisan government reform group California Forward revealed details Friday about a package of proposals it plans to place on next year's ballot to overhaul state government and, the group hopes, break paralyzing legislative gridlock."
"Allow cities, counties and school districts to raise funds for long-term purposes with just majority approval from voters. "
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Aug 20, 2009 at 9:34 pm
related, First I'm seeing of the California Forward package. Because Simitian represents Palo Alto, I hear about his proposals. SCA6 is the bill for 55%, so there seems to be a connection. I'll check out the link provided by To Kathleen.
Why we need a PT, I posted this on the other thread in response to your post: To Why: A few thoughts on the Palo Alto process. They did a survey. The community's priorities were clear. The first attempt at a renewal/increase (a parcel tax was already in place) failed. The renewal/increase campaign was run again and succeeded overwhelmingly. They hired probably the best campaign firm (my opinion and their record), Tramutola. (I believe PUSD used them for the passage of at least one of our facilities bonds.)
Other comments: If it is true that only $31,000 of the money raised by PPIE/PSEE was for CSR, it could be the community at large does not agree the cost is worth the outcome. We need to know if that is the case. Given the current economic outlook and the flexibility provided by the state, even PAUSD is growing classes by one student rather than renovating and opening another school. Palo Altans also chose to fund raises to remain competitive on that side of the Bay. The district is looking at next steps to renew again.
So before there is another attempt, and perhaps too soon, there is something to be learned about process and priorities, and knowing where the district will get another $150,000-300,000 to pay for an election. Missing those steps could mean the same outcome we had before.