Search begins for new Pleasanton school superintendent Schools & Kids, posted by Editor, Pleasanton Weekly Online, on Oct 18, 2009 at 5:17 pm
The search for Pleasanton school Superintendent John Casey's replacement was set in motion this week as the school board decided to ask consulting firms to bid for conducting a regional, possibly even a national search.
Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, October 16, 2009, 7:59 AM
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Oct 18, 2009 at 5:17 pm
Those who read the PW forums know that I have said the search for a new superintendent is one of the most important issues facing the community in the next 12-15 months. Others included the renewal of the teachers’ contract, the election of board members, and a possible parcel tax election.
Is anyone else bothered by the quote “creates opportunities for new ideas and vision and a renewed enthusiasm for academic excellence”? Was all of this lost in the last seven years?
I am also struck by the certainty that the superintendent is doing a “fantastic job” followed by more information about robbing Peter to pay Paul.
To see what the three years of unsupportable raises (2005-2008 school years) have done to our budget, you can review the “Other Funds Annual Budget” report at: Web Link
Some quotes from the report:
• Adult Education Fund – transfer “$407K from this fund to the General Fund and an additional $300K FY09/10.” The latter to pay for the parcel tax election, I believe.
• Cafeteria Special Revenue: “Historically, the Meals for Needy Pupils adjustment has been transferred to the Cafeteria Special Revenue Fund. The adjustment totals $172K, and the FY09/10 Proposed Budget does not transfer these funds from the General Fund to the Cafeteria Fund.”
• Special Reserve for Other Than Capital Outlay Projects: “Historically, the balance in these funds has included the 3% Reserve for Economic Uncertainties. The FY08-09 Estimated Actuals includes a transfer of all Special Reserve balances to the General Fund . . .” (Over $5 million)
• Sale of Property Fund (also know as the Sycamore Fund or Technology Fund): “The original proceeds, or corpus, may not be expended. . . . In July 2004, approximately $1.0M was paid from the corpus . . . to STRS for the STRS+2 retirement incentive. . . . In FY07/08, a loan was recorded to the Deferred Maintenance Fund for the Hearst Elementary School roofing project. . . . The FY07/08 Unaudited Actuals included new loans totaling $473K, which were needed to balance the Instructional Materials Realignment Fund, the Cafeteria Fund and the Capital Facilities Fund. Finally the FY08/09 Estimated Actuals include a loan totaling $100K for the removal and reconfiguration of the solar panels at Foothill High School.” The report goes on to say: “With the flexibility allowed by the FY09/10 Budget Act, the PUSD used the Deferred Maintenance Allowance and local contribution to repay all outstanding General Fund loans . . . to ensure that funds are available . . . to make the annual debt service and capital lease payments without impacting the General Fund.” Follow that with the quote from the article : “it was also decided to borrow $422,378 from the Sycamore Property Fund to help pay for five portable classrooms, a portable bathroom and mold remediation at Hearst Elementary School. Last month, the board approved two loans totaling $1,210,089 to help make up for deficits in the cafeteria and capital facilities funds.”
A superintendent advises the board prior to any action it takes and has a direct impact on the learning lives of students, their teachers, and their principal. Finding and hiring a candidate for this position is the single most important job board members have, and we have four board members who have never been part of this process. As our elected officials, it will be imperative for the public to contact board members about this impending selection, whether you have children in the schools or not. There are several well-known education search firms. One notable difference in process form the private sector is the amount of community input allowed through public meetings and private interviews with interested/key community members. Some will include a community interview panel. I think these last items are crucial in the selection and for the success of the candidate and board as a governance team.
There is significant pressure on board members to vote 5-0 for a candidate because the candidate might not otherwise accept the position. We need to lend support through clear expectations before the board steps into closed session to make its decision. This is no small feat when the public will not know who the candidates actually are.
As I noted, finding a new superintendent is the first of four crucial steps. The second and third, negotiations on a new contract and a second attempt at a parcel tax, will occur prior to this change in leadership and need equal public input. The last of the four will be a measure of success on the first three when the community votes for board members in November 2010. I hope the parents and community members will contact board members with their thoughts on all of these crucial points.
Posted by Dark Corners of Town, a resident of the Country Fair neighborhood, on Oct 18, 2009 at 9:12 pm
Kathleen - Do you believe step two (second attempt at a parcel tax) will occur before the new superintendent is seated? Would that be an early spring vote? If so, why do you think there has been no perceived action from the PUSD board on this matter? Thanks for all the insight you provide.
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Oct 19, 2009 at 7:08 am
DCoT, I don't know that a parcel tax is the district's second priority, and I don't believe the board will be able to spend much time on that question until the superintendency search is at least underway. I would hope this would be at least one of the questions candidates for the job will be asked. Looking for someone with experience passing a parcel tax wouldn't be a bad idea either. That's just my point of view.
Taking the action to run a parcel tax is driven by timelines for an election, but the board could make that move in a few discussions (one?) if they aren't running a survey of the community and looking at other parts of the process. It could be they are waiting to see if Senator Simitian's bid to lower the pass rate to 55% will occur (I haven't checked its progress lately). If you believe the statistics from the last election would hold (62% in favor this past June) even with a greater voter turnout, then certainly there would be a victory with a lower threshold. The district would also have to identify a source to pay the $150,000 or more to run another election. As I pointed out, there aren't many places left to go and fill that bucket.
For the most part, I am advocating for more community involvement/input into all these issues. It's important to the community's children that we get all four of the issues handled properly.
Posted by stop teacher raises, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Oct 19, 2009 at 10:07 am
Here we go again -- make the taxpayers pay for teacher raises when nothing was given back the last time. A parcel tax that does not go hand in hand with CUTS at the local and district levels is nothing more than extortion to pay step and column raises. Will the new superintendent get a ridiculous home loan? a car allowance? a virtually unlimited expense account? Until we know that expenses at every level will be reduced, not increased, there had better be no talk of a parcel tax.
Posted by Joe, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Oct 19, 2009 at 11:51 am
Yes, by all means, hire a consulting firm for a school chief search to go along with hiring a firm for searching for a fire chief, police chief, chief attorney, sewer chief or whatever other chief you need because nobody in Pleasanton is smart enough, tough enough or fast enough to handle any of our "complex" issues.
Consulting firms are first and foremost in business to scam business, in this case a govenrment entity, out of money. If it weren't so disgusting that tax dollars were being wasted then it would be comical.
Posted by Joe, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Oct 19, 2009 at 11:57 am
PS....And try for a second parcel tax after the first one failed when the school district and the yes/G folks held all the marbles and has all the money. You should have never lost given your superior odds, and now that people are more aware, especially since their property taxes rose while their property values went down, you will just be wasting more money.
Posted by Patriot, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Oct 19, 2009 at 12:36 pm
Joe and "stop teacher raises",
Why all the anger? Look at what San Ramon and Palo Alto are doing with their parcel taxes as an example of what could be achieved here. They have wonderful schools in those communities.
Let's work together to get the same thing accomplished here. Remember this country was attacked on September 11. We are now at war. We need to spend money and create economic activity. The terrorists want us to be afraid, and they want us to cower and hoard our money. If we do that, the terrorists win. Education is the best investment in the future of our community that we can make. We already have award winning schools here. Let's not let the terrorist tear them down. Let's stand together against the terrorists and support our schools!
Posted by Patti, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Oct 19, 2009 at 4:34 pm
Oh please not the parcel tax again! We voted for it last time but not again. We already pay taxes for schools and everything else. Does anyone really believe that with state unemployment around 13% and many people underemployed that people should be taxed more? My neighbors are both out of work and have been for some time and to expect them to pay more taxes seems cruel. Besides our schools are doing fine.
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Oct 19, 2009 at 6:51 pm
Apologies to everyone. I was trying to get to a discussion about the hiring process and traits for a new superintendent. I certainly didn't mean for the parcel tax pot to go back on the boil. This isn't vile about the superintendent, but there certainly is a question of usage of taxpayer dollars. I have a genuine concern how some board members could read the report I linked above and still use words like fantastic. Certainly the state isn't doing school districts any favors, but our district found itself at the bottom of a hole and kept digging anyway.
We need someone who will recognize that and who will be willing to change those past practices--superintendent and board members. If we don't hold current board members accountable to the community in this hiring process we risk having more of the same until our next chance for change in November 2010 and the board elections.
Posted by Patriot, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Oct 19, 2009 at 7:06 pm
We need to make sure we pull together as a community on this one. I think the examples of San Ramon, Palo Alto, and Cupertino are the kinds of districts that provide a guiding light for us to aspire to.
We can do this together. We are lucky to be in a very affluent district, but I don't think any superintendent that we hire would even consider dishing out huge raises.
Posted by Kim, a resident of the Del Prado neighborhood, on Oct 19, 2009 at 8:36 pm
The public should be part of the decision-making in regards to choosing a new superintendent. In other districts (e.g. MDUSD), a public forum was held to gather input regarding the skills, abilities desired in the new superintendent, as well as qualities needed in the district, e.g., reform, transparency of school district processes, etc.
Any school district dollar being spent that does not impact student education is a dollar that should be redirected to the education of children in this community.
I believe the public has been shut out of most of the goings on within the District. For example, I believe having our tax dollars, from us-the taxpaying public, being spent via PUSD spending money for an actual "Chamber of Commerce" membership serves no student educational purpose, and given the local chamber's political activities, is possibly an illegal misappropriation of public funds and use of school funds to urge support or defeat of ballot measures or candidates.
Why on earth is a public, non-commercial entity, funded by taxpayers like the PUSD paying for membership to belong to a political organization, the Chamber of Commerce?
Where is the transparency and accountability in the PUSD? Who made the decision to use public funds to join the Chamber of Commerce?
School district funds to be used for the purpose of student education, not political posturing, banquets, lunches and hobnobbing with the developers and business community.
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Oct 19, 2009 at 9:55 pm
There are Grand Jurys looking at these kind of expenses. Many districts meet for breakfasts, lunches, and/or dinners with other staff members. Multiple staff members attend conferences--even with an educational value, this isn't a necessity. Information can be shared. Retreats should be held at the district office or on school sites. Again, this isn't just PUSD.
I personally don't know why meetings over meals can't be pay your own--weren't they going to eat anyway? Districts belong to redundant organizations, receive multiple copies of publications--a little scrutiny could save money.
There are other ways to meet with the key business people in the community; paying for advertising is questionable too (public schools take all comers, plenty of scrutiny and statistics are available from outside agencies--with maybe the exception of Adult Ed, why the ad space?
I'm guessing there will be the private sector comparisons--but private companies have shareholders and customers who have a regular choice in voting for change or to not buy a product. That doesn't happen in public eduction. You wait years to vote out bad players, and you have to "buy" the product even if you choose to purchase an education at another school.
I think every part of the budget needs to be reviewed and the approach for rebuilding it should come from the classroom out to ensure the focus remains on the students.
Posted by Jerry, a resident of the Oak Hill neighborhood, on Oct 20, 2009 at 1:45 am
Why not bring in someone, such as a retired CEO of a successful corporation, with the organizational experience/skills to thoroughly review current financial/personnel policies and submit recommendations to get this school district back on track financially, before hiring a new superintendent. In my opinion, this would be well worth the associated cost...
There would probably be some toes stepped on, which could cause friction in some areas, but why bring in a new superintendent to continue the present course. There are probably items on the horizon that will have a huge impact, such as labor contracts(as well as other areas of interest)...
If an Interm Superintendent is needed during the process, surely there must be an Asst. Superintendent in the district that's qualified to fill the chair...
Posted by Please Get the Facts, a resident of the Amador Estates neighborhood, on Oct 20, 2009 at 10:59 am
Kathleen your statements are not correct and are inflammatory.
1) The Adult Fund transfer was to help with the budget shortfall given by the State. With the new categorical flexibility the district can transfer Adult Ed "profits" to the general fund. Glenn Sparks gave a presentation several meetings ago.
2) Cafeteria fund. The district is not subsidizing the Free and Reduced lunch program this year.
3) Special Reserve transfer: last year the district needed to transfer all of the 3% reserve to the general fund to make up for the $4.8M the State took back from the district in the middle of the year. The State asked for the money back after the district had already spent it. This was the reason for all of the cuts, meetings, and hearings last year.
4) Sycamore Fund: is being used as a second reserve. The district borrows from it from time to time to fund necessary programs or programs that will allow the district to save $ in the future. STRS+2 allowed highly paid teachers to retire to be replaced by new teachers that are paid significantly less. It is a program that is infrequently offered by the State. Hearst has had a lot of building problems. There are no State or district $ to pay for the repairs. The district borrows from the Sycamore fund until the State restores funding in the deferred maintenance program. Instructional materials: the district is going through a new instructional materials adoption for primary language arts. Buying it all at once rather than in a two year cycle saved the district 20% on the materials. Solar panels at Foothill...the neighbors we going nuts being able to see the panels. They asked the district to remove the panels. The change was a compromise for the neighborhood. Hearst needs to be repaired to safely house students. With no State $ and the district short of $ it has to come from somewhere.
Lastly the board decided at the last meeting to keep the superintendent interview process to be open to the public. Interviews with the board will be in public meetings.
You really should attend the meetings to get all of the facts.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Oct 20, 2009 at 11:30 am Stacey is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
"3) Special Reserve transfer: last year the district needed to transfer all of the 3% reserve to the general fund to make up for the $4.8M the State took back"
My understanding from the District's FAQ was that they took roughly $2MM of the reserve fund to pay for the "annual budget rollover" (increase in personnel costs) because there was no COLA from the State.
Posted by Pleasanton teacher (and a P-town dad too!), a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Oct 20, 2009 at 3:04 pm
"I would be 100% supportive of a parcel tax - in exchange for the disbanding of the teachers union."
Do you really think the teachers would agree to disband the union in exchange for a parcel tax? Not gonna happen. We tried that route, the voters showed that they aren't in support of a parcel tax. Without our union, we have nothing. I feel unvalued enough without thoughts like this being posted.
Posted by Pleasanton neighbor, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Oct 20, 2009 at 4:27 pm
"There are Grand Jurys looking at these kind of expenses. Many districts meet for breakfasts, lunches, and/or dinners with other staff members. Multiple staff members attend conferences--even with an educational value, this isn't a necessity. Information can be shared. Retreats should be held at the district office or on school sites. Again, this isn't just PUSD."
Kathleen, please explain what you mean by this comment, what is the purpose of what you said? Who do you include when you say "many districts meet for breakfasts..."
Your comments show no information about what PUSD does in terms of staff food being provided and staff members being sent to conferences. Especially during the last two years as massive cuts were being made.
Your subtle digs- this isnt just PUSD- are not so subtle- I see this as an accusation, and a serious one that you are claiming against our schools. The last round of your complaints were filled with misinformation and inflammatory remarks that became "blog" facts that helped to spread many untruths about our schools.
Please explain what you mean, and I would appreciate the digs to be left out.
Posted by poster, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Oct 20, 2009 at 4:37 pm
some good points being made here. if teachers are confident of their abilities and feel they can excel based on the merits of their performance, then why a union and not pay for performance? This way great teachers could be rewarded for great performance.
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Oct 20, 2009 at 4:50 pm
My statements are quoted from a district report. I provided the link. Anything that wasn’t a quote, I indicated a belief, thought, feeling . . . I’m clear; I’m sorry the system doesn’t allow italics or bold lettering.
1) I know Glenn Sparks gave a presentation.
2) Literally taking food out of the mouths of children? That’s a genuine question; I don’t know the answer.
3) Stacey answered this quite well.
4) Saying it’s used as a second reserve doesn’t make it a second reserve. That was never the intention, and I think a few hoops were jumped to make it possible to borrow from the fund. When you borrow from the corpus, do you not lose revenue from earned interest meant specifically for other purposes? I go back to the robbing Peter to pay Paul . . . deferred maintenance dollars, any money made in refinancing the bonds, getting community feedback before you put solar panels up . . . there are better ways to plan and to operate a district. It didn’t happen, IMHO.
The board is keeping the interviews of the search firms public . . . which is required. They are not interviewing candidates in public—no one would apply. The board can, however, vote to have a community interview panel, which has been done in the past and should be done for this interview.
I have to view the meetings on line. I.have differentiated between fact and opinion.
To neighbor: Santa Clara is looking into expenses and costs. It wasn't a dig. Went out of my way to say others meet over meals. I know the expense reports requested for our superintendent noted a number of meals were expensed. It's available at the district. Districts tend to spend money on food, from various on or off site meetings to the board. I haven't asked for all that data. My comments should be taken at face value. Those who know me wouldn't use the word subtle.
I've asked this before--what misinformation? I will gladly correct anything I got wrong. This isn't a smear campaign. I want the best superintendent we can get and a deeper involvement for community members. And much more transparency and fiduciary responsibility.
Posted by Resident, a member of the Vintage Hills Elementary School community, on Oct 20, 2009 at 6:47 pm
I would also be in 100% favor of a parcel tax if the teacher's union and classified staff unions were dismantled. Can you believe the classified staff union has now put limits on how volunteers can and cannot help in clerical functions within the Pleasanton schools. They don't want volunteers impeding on their "reduction in staff" mandates or their ability to get additional hours paid. This is new since the parcel tax vote and budget cuts. Do they want the schools to fail so they can say, "we told you so." Do they want to prevent the administrative side of the business from running smoothly so that parents will give in and pay more. I would certainly be in favor of a parcel tax if the unions and the mentality that accompanies it were dismantled. It would be a vast improvement and positive in so many ways.
Posted by Pleasanton teacher (and a P-town dad too!), a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Oct 20, 2009 at 7:40 pm
"then why a union and not pay for performance?" Poster, I would love to know how a performance based salary scale would work in the education sector. Please, please do not say test scores, because if that is the way, then no one would want the low, underacheiving kids.
"I would certainly be in favor of a parcel tax if the unions and the mentality that accompanies it were dismantled. It would be a vast improvement and positive in so many ways." Resident, what is our "metality"? I beleive that our mentality is that we have worked hard to be a teacher (college degree, at least one post-grad certification, many classes and courses taken after taking up teaching), and we want to be valued.
I suggest you all read pilot Chesley Sullenberger's new book, "Highest Duty", which taks about his taking a 50% pay cut, and how that is bad for the industry. I don't know about you, but I want highly-trained, highly-paid pilots flying in the sky, I do not want those men and women getting a pay cut of any kind, since they hold my life in their hands. I would hope you would want highly-trained, modestly well-paid (I do not consider myself well-paid, but I do not complain) teachers for your kids.
I will not ever leave my union. I will not ever offer up another concession, not after offering up two days last year as a "shared sacrifice" that all too many people asked for, and having the parcel tax voted down.
I value what I do, even if you don't (and let's be honest, value, in America, means how much you are paid). The union is going nowhere people, sorry to dissapoint you.
Posted by Kim, a resident of the Del Prado neighborhood, on Oct 20, 2009 at 9:41 pm
I want to understand why our tax dollars that are supposed to be spent on education are being sent to the Chamber of Commerce instead. Every penny should be spent on education. Where is the fiduciary responsibility in PUSD?
It says here --- Web Link that the Chamber of Commerce has spent a record $34.7 MILLION lobbying dollars in Q3 alone lobbying against financial regulations, proposals to overhaul energy policies, lobbying against environmental protection issues, and so on all in an aim to overturn the Obama administration. Recently Apple computer, PG & E, Nike and other companies have left the Chamber of Commerce.
So why are our tax dollars being sent to a lobbyist via PUSD?
Posted by poster boy, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Oct 21, 2009 at 8:11 am
Pleasanton teacher and Kim,
First I believe that performance criteria could be determined which could be measured just like in any performance driven organization or entity. For instance, KPI's could developed measuring the areas of safety, quality, cost, human development etc. Teachers could be assessed in one of these categories by improvement percentage not total score. Improvement from beginning to end is the goal. Kim, just like all unions, the teachers union is all about the communistic approach of everyone gets paid the same, no one is different, and job justification. If they can stand in the way of volunteers doing the job they can force the system to fail and make a statement that these jobs must be filled.........see we told you so. Next time the teachers tell you it is all about the kids remember this.
Posted by poster boy, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Oct 21, 2009 at 8:51 am
Probably depends on who is doing the defining. If you are a union official it is all about protecting and creating more jobs regardless of value as it helps justify you keeping that great position and union dues. If you are a company or the district it makes it easier to negotiate with one entity or the bargaining unit. The reality is that high performing teachers would benefit from not having a union and poor performing teachers would either need to level up or level out.
Posted by Patriot, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Oct 21, 2009 at 9:14 am
There is a lot of ugliness on this blog, and it really doesn't help the discussion.
Let's get the discussion back on track. One of the most important jobs for the new superintendent will be to pass a substantial parcel tax. We should seek out someone with both a solid public relations background. We need to get the vote out, so that the right people vote and vote the right way. This will require some voter education.
Pleasanton residents strive to look to the future, not dwell on the past. There is no reason, given the profile of our residents, that we couldn't have a school system fully equal to that of San Ramon or other fine districts. We need do not have a spending problem, we have a revenue problem. The numbers are out there, so I won't try any dishonest tricks of trying to lie with statistics. If you want to look it up, the numbers are out there. We can solve the revenue problem the same way it was solved in San Ramon, Palo Alto, Cupertino, and other great districts.
Posted by resident, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Oct 21, 2009 at 10:02 am
GET A CLUE
The community, with no organized opposition, HANDLY defeated the well organized and financed campaign to asses further taxation on homeowners. I believe this was a clear mandate from the community for the district to reassess and restructure their expenses. The last special election cost the taxpayers in access of $300,000 that should have remained in the education budget, but instead was wasted in a failed attempt to coerce the taxpaying public into supplementing the available funding for unsustainable raises. A slick salesman is not going to change the outcome. Look for someone with better negotiating skills, greater business sense, and a little less grease
Posted by Patriot, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Oct 21, 2009 at 12:19 pm
No need to shout of be rude. People can disagree with each other in a civil way. Remember that a majority of Pleasanton residents supported the previous tax -- 62% of voters favored it. A newer tax is clearly the way forward, now that more and more people are getting educated on the problem. They are looking at the facts. The majority of Pleasanton residents would love to see our school district rise to be the full equal of districts like San Ramon.
You say that the there was a clear mandate, but as far as I can tell the mandate was for the tax, not against (62% of voters favored measure G). Compare expenses and spending of PUSD with districts with districts like San Ramon or Cupertino, and we come out favorably. There were not unsustainable raises. Just compare PUSD salaries with comparable districts.
You say -- "no organized opposition, HANDLY defeated the well organized and financed campaign"
But the campaign was not well run, or well organized. Look to San Ramon or Palo Alto for examples well run campaigns. The opposition was organized and quite vocal (though misguided). Didn't you see the booth at the Tea Party? The web sites?
The next special election will also cost money, but it will be money well spent. If we spend $300,000 to bring in 30 Million in new revenue for our district we will have made a sound investment. Together we can get our K-3 and ninth grade class size back down to twenty (or smaller). We need a new superintendent who can make this happen.
Posted by Get the facts, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Oct 21, 2009 at 4:05 pm Get the facts is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
It appears to me that the parcel tax failed not as "a clear mandate from the community for the district to reassess and restructure their expenses" as Resident has said, but failed due to voters not wanting another tax. Who can blame them, I don't want to pay more taxes either.
Like Patriot said, compare our expenses. Before the cutbacks of the last couple of years, Pleasanton had less administrators per student than the average. It must be much lower now, with VP cutbacks at the middle school and elementary level, and a district office with many less administrators.
Parent, I beleive an annual pre school-year Tahoe retreat was cut out two years ago. I have no other knowledge of other retreats at other times.
Poster Boy, great to pull out the old standby, "outside the box thinking", but give us real ideas, not cliches. And on the merit pay thing, give us a real plan. When a good plan comes forward, believe me, I will be on board. But I have yet to hear a good plan from anyone, ever.
Posted by poster boy, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Oct 21, 2009 at 4:46 pm
the merit thing is quite easy and can be driven by quantified results based on what the deliverables are. Most people break it down by the old safety, quality, quantity, and human development categories. Each one would be weighted dependent upon the goals of the district in terms of education. The union would never go with it because when you do a system like this it becomes very clear very quickly who is performing and who is not.
In my opinion, the parcel tax is a dead issue and to try it again would be like poking people in the eye. Look at how little money was generated by the pledging system. Wasn't the goal something like 2,5000,000 and only 200,000 so was raised. I would entertain a program where the amount needed was divided up amount the parents with children either in school or entering school. I have 3 children in school and would be willing to pay a use tax based on the number of children I have utilizing the program. I believe very fair.
Posted by Teacher, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Oct 21, 2009 at 5:49 pm
I'm hearing that the mid year cuts coming could be as much as 5 million.Where is that going to come from? CSR, reading specialists, music,P.E.,counselors etc- deja vu? Without additional revenue from somewhere, the programs and people we were able to save last year will definitely be gone. I can't help but feel it's going to be worse than last year as we are already feeling it in so many ways!
Posted by Get the facts, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Oct 21, 2009 at 6:41 pm Get the facts is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
Poster Boy, I'm still waiting for a specific plan from you. "the merit thing is quite easy and can be driven by quantified results based on what the deliverables are. Most people break it down by the old safety, quality, quantity, and human development categories. Each one would be weighted dependent upon the goals of the district in terms of education"? Huh? No specifics here, just a bunch of dancing around. Please do NOT base your ideas on test results of student performance, there are waaaay too many pitfalls in that area.
I will agree that the parcel tax is dead, I do not think it will pass. Too many people think the problems are within the system, when the problem is a lack of revenue. Because of this, they want to fix an unbroken (albeit not a perfect) system.
Posted by Ptownparent, a resident of the West of Foothill neighborhood, on Oct 21, 2009 at 6:54 pm
It's informative and always interesting to read all the comments regarding all the differences between "having a union, mid-year cuts, merit pay", etc...Everyone should stop for a moment and truly assess just how "good" the schools are in comparison to the rest of the country and not just with those around the Bay Area. We need to stop spending all the wasted energy on this that and the other thing and get focused on the true quality of education offered here and now.
Posted by Patriot, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Oct 21, 2009 at 8:34 pm
I agree we must stay focused on that the quality of education we provide here. School districts like Cupertino, Palo Alto, and Piedmont do very well when compared to other top schools nationwide. High schools in those districts are consistently in the top 50 high schools in the nation. San Ramon is an up and coming district that is also doing well.
We have a revenue shortfall here in Pleasanton, and the best way to fix that is with a parcel tax. We need to hire a superintendent who will spearhead a public outreach and communication campaign to explain why the money is needed, where it is going, and what cuts and sacrifices will be made by the district. All of the other top districts have stood up for their schools, and they are seeing real results. We can do the same thing here.
Posted by Patti, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Oct 21, 2009 at 8:45 pm
I do not believe for a moment that a parcel tax would ever pass in this economy. I read somewhere on one of these blogs the idea of a use tax and I would be in favor of it. We should all pay extra for the use of the schools. I have 2 children in the Pleasanton schools and would be more than happy to help pay there way through the system and I believe we should all do so. To many people are hurting in this town to expect them to pay when they do not even have children in the system. We are parents should put our money where our mouths are so to speak. Maybe $500.00 or more per child when we go to orientation.
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Oct 22, 2009 at 7:15 am
Again, I had hoped this would focus on getting the best superintendent. We have great schools, but I believe it is the work of the students, parents, teachers, and principals that make that happen.
For the parcel tax, when we talk about mandates--there is no conclusion to draw. Yes, 62% of something like 10% of the community chose to vote yes. Not sure what the result would be if everyone voted. Even if the ratio stayed the same, it would not be enough to pass. I'm not against a parcel tax. I see every day what they can do for the learning lives of children, but the finances of the district need to be solid. PUSD squandered that foundation.
To get back to the leadership, there is no doubt that the state budget was a dinky pile on for the bad decisions the district already made. Please remember, our district is on the financial watch list: Web Link
We have every reason to be proud of our schools; we also have many reasons to worry about a superintendent and the board members who put it all at risk.
Posted by Patriot, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Oct 22, 2009 at 8:59 pm
You said "but the finances of the district need to be solid. PUSD squandered that foundation."
Let's not dwell on the past. Even if you believe that is true of the past, it is the future we need to worry about, and the new superintendent will have the very important job of educating the public on why a new parcel tax will be vital to keeping our school quality from declining dramatically. There will be no way to do that with cuts alone.
"Please remember, our district is on the financial watch list"
I see the best district in the Bay Area (Piedmont) on that list. I don't know if you can draw much of a conclusion from PUSD being on that list.
Let's try not to dwell on the past and put our best foot forward.
I'm looking forward to seeing put your energy into to getting the future parcel tax passed. Our community needs it now more than ever. We will need to select a superintendent with the experience necessary to accomplish this important priority.
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Oct 22, 2009 at 10:30 pm
Noting Piedmont brings up other questions, if they can be on the watch list, having renewed and adding another parcel tax, it seems to me that a parcel tax shouldn't be looked at as the only answer we should be looking for.
I've posted enough information and links that would make it clear this isn't just my belief. Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Whether I can actively support a future parcel tax attempt will be dependent on how this search and other issues resolve themselves in the coming month.
I share your interest in moving ahead and finding solutions, but don't want to lose the lessons of the past.
Posted by Resident, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Oct 23, 2009 at 12:43 pm
What is wrong with "pay for performance"? Every other business except the government/education use it and it works very effectively. It would not need to be based on test scores. Test scores are one measure that could be taken into account but certainly not the entire measure.
What is wrong with a child utilization tax? Parents in this community - including myself - pay for all kinds of things for our kids. This includes sports, private training in academics, sports and dance. We buy cars, toys and a lot of bells and whistles that are definitely not necessities. What is wrong with taking away some of those frills to put towards the education of our OWN children. I don't see this as the wrong option. Why should others pay a tax because I have children in the school? This way, I can also see how my dollars are being spent and act as an advocate on spending. When it goes in to a dark tax hole - there's no accountability. We could get creative.
Posted by Patti, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Oct 23, 2009 at 2:17 pm
I am the one who mentioned paying for the children which are ours in school. I have 2 and believe that if there is a gap between money allocated from the state to the district then us as parents should make up the difference. It seems much more fair to me and also if it is our money we have more of a vested interest in making sure it is spent responsibility.
Posted by Patriot, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Oct 23, 2009 at 9:14 pm
If think you are suggesting that parents donate to the school system. I support that also. I don't have any children in the Pleasanton school system, but I still support a parcel tax and have given to the schools. Just look at what the parcel taxes are doing in places like Palo Alto, San Ramon, or Piedmont. The problem is revenue. In my opinion, the state of California does not apportion enough of its spending toward education. This is partially an unintended consequence of proposition 13. Parcel taxes compensate for that. We need one here in Pleasanton.
Posted by Patti, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Oct 23, 2009 at 9:28 pm
I believe that Californian's pay more than enough taxes but the money is not always used appropriately. I think parents with children in school, like me should a pay an additional use fee like a toll on a bridge. You use the bridge you pay toll. If others wish to pay or donate such as you that is great but I am against taking money from people who do not have children using the services.
Posted by Yo Patti, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Oct 24, 2009 at 12:31 pm
All children deserve to be educated. What about those parents who cannot afford to pay a, say, $500 "utilization tax" per child? Should their kids go without an education?
As a homeowner here in Pleasanton, I pay taxes to support services I have never used and probably won't for a long time, such as the Wheels bus and the shuttle service and the senior center. These are all things that benefit the community as a whole.
Probably most people who are at that level of poverty would be exempt from paying a parcel tax, so why would you want to deny their children an education?
Should the burden of education fall on just parents? I think anyone who thinks that is shortsighted. Education benefits the whole of society, from raising poverty levels and lowering crime.
Posted by Patti, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Oct 25, 2009 at 10:36 am
That was a pretty big exaggeration don't you think? Everyone in this town is getting an education and nobody is doing without so please do not stretch the truth. We will get bombed with links here but California now has a state income tax rate of 10% which is one of the highest in the nation and we pay a ton for education so I do not believe revenue is the issue. Again, parents who have children using the services should pay a use fee of say $500.00 per child in order to be fair to all of the people who are already paying taxes for education but do not use the system. By the way, please be more civil in your posts by not making fun of my name as in "yo patti". You should use your own name.
Posted by Concerned, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Oct 31, 2009 at 6:09 am
"I would be 100% supportive of a parcel tax - in exchange for the disbanding of the teachers union."
I agree with this. We need to be able to fire incompetent teachers. It seems like no matter what a teacher does: from being completely incompetent, to being biased against certain students, to being rude and arrogant with parents, she will still not get fired. And the kids are the ones who suffer.
Get rid of the union, it is the only way to hold the teachers accountable.
As for the new superintendent: please publish the names of the candidates. I came from a district with a really bad superintendent who "quit" after only four years: someone like that should not make the list regardless of the "on paper" qualifications. Let residents have a say - many could have insight about specific individuals. I don't think a superintendent should come from a pool of former administrators. Let's bring someone smart, with real world experience, with a degree in a field other than Education.