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A tough act to follow

Original post made on Oct 30, 2009

In their search for a successor to school Superintendent John Casey, who will retire next June, members of the Pleasanton school board have vowed to keep the process open and to involve as many members of the public as possible, including parents, teachers, students and those interested in school district affairs. This is good because the board and the superintendent eventually hired will need all of the public's buy-in they can get. The district started the current fiscal year on July 1 with a shortfall of roughly $8 million in the $120.4-million budget approved for the year and so far has borrowed from reserve funds three times to cover mostly unforseen expenditures. In the 2010-11 fiscal year, when the new superintendent will take charge, the budget shortfall could be considerably worse if state aid to education continues to fall below expectations and needs, with estimates of the shortfall next July 1 ranging from $3 million to $4 million and dwindling reserves unable to cover unanticipated expenses. Also, with the four-year board terms of trustees Pat Kernan and Jim Ott expiring, an election will be held next November to replace or to re-elect them, if they choose to run again. That makes it unlikely that the district will also try again on a parcel tax in such a tumultuous year, having lost that bid last June.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, October 30, 2009, 12:00 AM

Comments (146)

Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Oct 30, 2009 at 9:04 pm

I don't know how one gets from the opening paragraph: "The district started the current fiscal year on July 1 with a shortfall of roughly $8 million in the $120.4-million budget approved for the year and so far has borrowed from reserve funds three times" to "a troubled school district budget" in the final paragraph, and then close with "His will be a tough act to follow"--unless one wants to be sure it is an act that is not replicated in the future.

The majority of the shortfall is from bad decisions made about employee compensation, decisions that will impact the budget for years to come. The raids on the principal of the technology fund are more cause for concern. (more at Search begins for new Pleasanton school superintendent: Web Link )

As to raising the bar of academics . . . is academic performance what is meant? Saying "He's achieved that objective" really should give credit to the students, teachers, and principals, and parents who did the real work.


Posted by Karen, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 30, 2009 at 9:24 pm

We need an Accountant with a Law Degree to steer this ship out of troubled waters. What we don't need is the "musical chairs" approach of getting a superintendent from some other District where he/she is not wanted anymore. Nor do we need some "up and coming" person with zero experience in budgeting and California law.

And...are we using the same search firm as the last time? Because it worked so well the last time???


Posted by Concerned, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 31, 2009 at 6:07 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.


Posted by Concerned, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 31, 2009 at 6:13 am

About the superintendent search: 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.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Oct 31, 2009 at 9:32 am

Concerned, There have been successful superintendents that came from other fields (Los Angeles comes to mind), but I can't think of any industry where the names of candidates are published, save elected officials. Who would apply? The people who are interested are not going to advertise to their current employers, private or public, they have their CV/resume floating--and certainly not in this economy.

What does need to happen and has been done in the past is to have a group of community members and parents participate on a panel as part of the interview process. Most of the organizations that will do the search will also set up a couple days to take input from those interested in commenting, including ways to email them.

What I feel is key to whom the board chooses to work with is an organization who stays AFTER the choice is made--they work with the candidate and the board to acclimate, set goals, and do the review of the superintendent. This means that if the search firm has a stable of candidates (and all of them do), they are essentially providing a guarantee of success. There was at least one search firm (and maybe it has changed) that guarantees the first year or does a new search without charging an additional fee (expenses only I think).

I think Pleasanton has a chance to find the best person available for the job--the schools are great; the academic progress of the students is evident. It will be important to find someone who knows to continue that focus and also knows their way around a budget and government accounting (unique if not unusual). Honesty and transparency with the board members and the community will also be essential if we are all going to trust the suggested solutions for moving this district back to fiscal health.


Posted by Karen, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 31, 2009 at 11:00 am

I think we should stop doing the same old stuff here. I would be interested in a retired CEO who is interested in giving back. We have quite a few of those individuals in our own town...people with a proven track record of getting things done and a wealth of experience in finance, management, negotiation and toughness.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Oct 31, 2009 at 12:31 pm

Karen, I think any viable candidate willing to apply and to go through the interview process is great. And I would want someone willing to stay at least two and maybe three years. What are your thoughts about length of a stay?


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 31, 2009 at 1:26 pm

I agree that a former CEO, someone with experience in finance, etc, should be hired. I would prefer that the board stays away from hiring someone with a degree in Education. Let's do something new here, like Karen suggested.

People with backgrounds in Education may not be the best choice. Look around, the educational system is a mess, and all over you see superintendents with PhDs in education - I would prefer to see someone with a degree in any other field, whether that is law, finance, engineering, etc.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 31, 2009 at 1:30 pm

Kathleen: the length of stay should be a consideration. We don't one another superintendent coming in and getting a lot of "goodies" - then retiring after less than 10 years. This is very costly for us, the taxpayers.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Oct 31, 2009 at 4:13 pm

Resident, Interesting question when it gets to contracts. Most superintendents are former teachers, principals, etc., so they are part of the State Teachers Retirement System (STRS) and all that time counts toward retirement. This is why administrators can serve a relatively short time and then retire with the average of their three highest years of pay (like teachers and other "certificated" staff)--once they have 30 years or so, they can retire at something like 80% (this is a guesstimate, but I know a few who had 40 years and retired with 100%).

If you bring someone in from outside education, they will probably want to negotiate something for retirement purposes because they can't be part of STRS to my knowledge and wouldn't build in enough years to make that system worth their time anyway. So it's going to cost us something.

Maybe the savings come from things like not giving a car allowance and giving serious consideration to memberships, travel, conferences, and the like. I say consideration because some of this would have value to someone coming from the outside. I haven't looked at the supt contract in quite awhile in order to suggest what might stay or go.

The larger point to me would be tying part of the comp to results in regard to the budget while maintaining academic excellence. We don't want someone to clean house, balance the budget, build the reserves, and have classes of 50 at kindergarten for instance. To get the right person to do the job well (Ph.D. or MBA), we are probably going to have to pay very well.


Posted by Patti, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 31, 2009 at 4:38 pm

Maybe we should consider hiring someone from Toyota. They are experts of achieveing great results by reducing cost?


Posted by Karen, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 31, 2009 at 10:03 pm

I think a candidate who has made a substantial amount of money in another field will not really be focused on getting retirement benefits - in fact, they would probably view such benefits as part of the problem in the educational system...really... if we could get a retired CEO or CFO of a technology company, for instance, he/she would already have themselves set up for retirement. Things like car allowances, loans for a house etc. would be superfluous. I also don't think we need this kind of person for a decade. Just getting the fiscal situation straightened out would only take about 3 years -good people can get things done without it taking a decade. And I really don't think we would end up with 50 kids to a class because someone like this would most likely be a parent too and aware of class size as it relates to cost and quality. Hopefully, we would streamline class schedules, get rid of bad teachers (by public input/pressure maybe?? at least looking for solutions to this problem) and cut out a lot of time-wasting meetings and assemblies etc. etc. I think we need someone from outside the educationsl system who has a very strong record of financial/management/negotiation success and who hasn't been in the system for their entire career so that they can't see the forest for the trees.

That's why I question using the same search firm...they probably have a "stable" full of candidates who are superintendents from other distrcts who want to get out of their current dilemna so they can stretch out their careers before retirement. We should also not take on someone who "has potential" nor certainly someone who is from a weak school district.

If we don't want to seek out a successful CEO to take the job we should AT LEAST have someone like that in charge of the hiring process for goodness sake.


Posted by DaleG, a resident of Birdland
on Oct 31, 2009 at 10:13 pm

"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."

Who are the incompetent PUSD teachers you speak of? If the names are out there, maybe more people can respond and then the school/district can respond (to those teachers).


Posted by DaleG, a resident of Birdland
on Oct 31, 2009 at 10:20 pm

Its scary that people think the only thing needed in education is someone who can run a profitable business. We should just hire an ex-CEO or the like and only pay them if 100% of the PUSD students pass the high school exit exam or 100% are advanced proficient on the STAR exam.

I'll agree that there a problems in education, but its not all about the superintendent and the unions.

We should just privatize education and make people pay for it. That way, we can divide up the classes in this society and stop pretending that there are none.


Posted by DaleG, a resident of Birdland
on Oct 31, 2009 at 10:27 pm

"then retiring after less than 10 years."

Average CEO tenure GLOBALLY is 7.8 years. A superintendent is essentially the CEO of the district. How long do you expect them to stay? If everyone want to hire and ex-CEO type, they are not coming in planning on staying 20 years.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 1, 2009 at 7:47 am

"Average CEO tenure GLOBALLY is 7.8 years. A superintendent is essentially the CEO of the district. How long do you expect them to stay? If everyone want to hire and ex-CEO type, they are not coming in planning on staying 20 years."

There is a difference here. CEOs make their money from PRIVATE industry. A superintendent, don't forget is paid for by PUBLIC money, that is your taxes and mine.

As a taxpayer, I do not want to support, financially, someone who just served my school district a few years.

Kathleen: the fact that the system is setup for superintendents who are former teachers, etc, to retire in just a few years with a substantial salary, is all the more reason to hire someone from the private sector.

I agree with the post that says let's hire someone who was already successful and is set for retirement. Someone with a true passion for doing the right thing, improving education, and is not doing it for the money he/she can get for only a few years of work. Enough is enough, there are too many people on pensions, living off the taxpayers - one day this will all have to stop. There is so much taxpayer money to go around.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 1, 2009 at 7:52 am

"There is so much taxpayer money to go around"

meant to say: there is not enough taxpayer money to go around, to continue to support people who no longer work and when they did, only did so for a few years (at the salary level they are retiring with).


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Nov 1, 2009 at 8:58 am

Resident, When I say any viable candidate should be considered, I do mean anyone. Let's keep in mind that the district has a history of superintendents who ran the district well and built the reserves that have been decimated during the current administration. Personalities or other foibles aside, I am strictly speaking here about managing the budget and reserves. So I agree there may be good candidates from outside education as well as good candidates from education.

How we hold the person who gets the job accountable will be very important . . . benefits, retirement, compensation tied to very specific goals. I just don't see how throwing the baby out with the bathwater will be the most enlightened approach. One governance team screwed up; let's get back on track, no matter who is chosen for this job. Then, come November 2010, there are two board members to hold accountable as well, whether we reelect them or have two new people will be another opportunity to look at what is best for our community.


Posted by anonomous poster, a resident of another community
on Nov 1, 2009 at 9:26 am

Here is the guy you're looking for.

Web Link

If you can convince him to move to California, he can turn things around PRONTO!


Posted by Time for new leadership, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Nov 1, 2009 at 10:14 am

John Casey has not been good for Pleasanton.

"with the four-year board terms of trustees Pat Kernan and Jim Ott expiring, an election will be held next November to replace or to re-elect them, if they choose to run again."

Both of these Trustees were originally given their seats by appointment not election, only keeping them through the gift of incumbency.

Pat Kernan sold his home and move out of Pleasanton three years ago, he should not be on the board.

Time for new leadership.



Posted by get them out, a resident of Downtown
on Nov 1, 2009 at 12:14 pm

Kernan commits fraud every time he votes as a "resident" of Pleasanton. Ott only knows how to bob his head and say "yes Dr Casey, whatever you want Dr. Casey" so he needs to go also.
We need to get rid of teacher tenure. If that takes busting the union then so be it. Incompetent and costly teachers need to be gone. They all showed their true colors when refusing to freeze step and column and all other raises in order to save jobs. It's a recession dummies, you will be next.


Posted by Be Positive, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 1, 2009 at 3:29 pm

"Let's keep in mind that the district has a history of superintendents who ran the district well and built the reserves that have been decimated during the current administration."

Let's remember it was former Superintendent Mary Frances Callan who left in the middle of the school year, handing over a debacled Neal school contract that has since cost our district millions in lawsuits and no school to show for it. As I remember, it was Casey who had to pick up the pieces from that mess, and it was Casey who continued to run PUSD without a parcel tax while a majority of cities in the bay area were voting them in. Blaming Casey for what you "think" a reserve should be vs. what legally was required and attained is simply that- your opinion. Fact is, because the reserve was used to cover the millions in cuts in years 07 and 08, the residents of Pleasanton were not faced with a parcel tax. Isn't that the purpose of the reserve? To help cover the budget during the rough economic years? Because this is what actually happened.

Funny how when asked last Spring to vote in favor of one due to the States enormous deficit, it is turned around as blame for his mismanagement. How quickly people forget- or don't pay attention until something is asked of them.

You twist a good story Kathleen. Your ruse of wanting to help the schools is highly questionable when every posting is tinted with a jab at the current administration that you openly stated you did not like. Now look at the responses you are getting--- hire someone outside of education! Who knows nothing about how schools are run? Is this what your district was hoping for when searching for a new Superintendent, when Mary Frances had to make her quick departure, impending investigation from there as well? Web Link
I didn't see you post that opinion there.

We understand you have experience and knowledge, you are paid the same way all classified employees in PUSD are paid, with the support of a union and a salary schedule. I hope you would use that knowledge to advise this community, not add drama where there isn't any.


Posted by Thank U Be Positive, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 1, 2009 at 3:58 pm

Well said!

I am tired of the responders in the School and Kids section who don't have children currently in the school system wanting to dictate school policies and politics. Have the school district run by an ex-CEO--ARE YOU KIDDING ME?????

Would you put your children in a school run by a CEO? If you think that teachers teach too much to the test now, it would be even worse under leadership whose only measuring stick would be test scores and cost reductions. I can just imagine what it would be like: New textbooks? Fuggedaboudit! the old textbooks are still useable (i.e., they are not falling apart yet) and costwise it wouldn't be prudent. Are your children behind in school? Tough--fire them!!!

Education should NOT be run like a business. Businesses are FOR-PROFIT, which winds up in the hands of a few at the expense of many. You people of Pleasanton should be more concerned about the QUALITY of education in Pleasanton, not the cost of it. If you had any insight whatsoever, beyond your pockets, you would see that the entire city would benefit from good schools--from maintaining home prices to keeping down crime.








Posted by To the parents, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 1, 2009 at 4:34 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Nov 1, 2009 at 5:48 pm

Be positive and Thank U be positive, I'll try to respond in the order you present info.

The truth is there wasn't a need for a school (enrollment didn't support it), there weren't sufficient funds to operate another school, and as far as I can tell, the lawsuits weren't necessary for either of the last two superintendents. No investigation was pending that I'm aware of in Pleasanton and anonymous comments in Palo Alto hardly apply here, but if you have additional information, do tell. I'm happy to correct or be corrected. I don't post in Palo Alto because I am not a resident. I do write to elected officials where I have something to say, from here to DC--again, I use my name, but most require it anyway.

With good reserves and a well run district, why would anyone have tried for a parcel tax. Had it been for specific purposes, like CSR at grades 4 and 5, or more counselors, something the community wanted and was willing to support . . . . But that hasn't been determined, say by a survey.

Cuts were necessary in large part because of the tremendous raises (a total of 14.5%) given in the 2005-2008 school years. The state exacerbated the shortfalls, to be sure, but the crumbling began internally.

No twists--I'm not the only one to have strong opinions about what has happened to Pleasanton's funds for education . . . just the only one using my name. I already pointed out that some who came from outside education have been successful. I repeat that any viable candidate is worth looking at, assuming anyone outside education would apply. EEO

In PAUSD, my position is not management (the case in PUSD); I'm not a member of the classified union either. I am part of a small group of confidential / supervisory / non-represented employees there. I like it that way.

I'm not trying to add drama. I'm staying on topic for the areas I have said are important to this community: hiring a superintendent, the election in November, and a possible parcel tax. And many know, including board members, that I would support a parcel tax if it is done properly and with corrections in place for the fiscal health of the district. I've seen what this kind of support can provide.

Anyone living in this community and paying taxes for the schools has every right to speak to this issue, whether they currently have children in K-12 schools here or not, and that includes those who pay the taxes and then take them to private schools.

Students, parents, teachers, and principals are doing very well. Getting them additional support from the entire community will take rebuilding trust in my opinion.


Posted by Patti, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 1, 2009 at 5:57 pm

Is it possible to share a Superintendent? Afterall, Dublin is right over the hghway and Livermore is only a few miles away. Seems like a nice way to reduce costs and develop some consistency.


Posted by Get the facts, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 1, 2009 at 6:29 pm

Get the facts is a registered user.

"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."
If teachers need to be fired, look to the administrators. It is their job. If a bad teacher stays in place, it is up to the administartors to do the work to let them go, it IS possible, I have seen it happen.

"Get rid of the union, it is the only way to hold the teachers accountable."
It will never happen, it is all we have. Please don't blame the state's shortfall on us, we were willing to give up two days last year.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Nov 1, 2009 at 7:09 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Be Positive,

Any idea what happened to the Board policy of having a 7% reserve goal back when the District was flush with revenue?


Posted by Get the facts, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 1, 2009 at 7:25 pm

Get the facts is a registered user.

The problem with a reserve is that any time it is small, everyone wants it built up. But when it gets big, everyone wants it spent to benefit the schools. You can't win either way.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Nov 1, 2009 at 7:46 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Isn't that where effective leadership comes in, keeping a lock and key on the rainy-day fund? How does the Board authorize the hiring of extra counselors in 2006 with no idea of how to pay for them?


Posted by Get the facts, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 1, 2009 at 9:14 pm

Get the facts is a registered user.

More counselors was the top item (or near the top) of the plan created by the Excellence Committee. The money was there three years ago.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Nov 1, 2009 at 9:35 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

But where did the money come from? According to old PW articles, no one knew how they were going to be paid for and I never found how they ultimately were paid for. At best, the money came from the State. At worst, the reserve fund was raided. The Board was considering doing such!

My point is that since certain members of the Board felt like they could dip into the rainy-day fund for hiring extra staff, justified by this Excellence Committee, that's not good leadership. Or at least that's definitely not a type of leader that looks out for the long-term excellence of the district. Like you said, when there's a big reserve, everyone wants to use it.

Web Link

" While all the trustees, with the exception of Trustee Kris Weaver who was absent from the meeting, agreed that they would like to add more counselors, there was disagreement on whether the district should move forward with the hiring even if the state funds do not come through.

"I hate being at the mercy of the state," said Trustee Pat Kernan. Kernan proposed that the board ask the district to hire new counselors, regardless if the state provides additional funding or not, by taking the money needed out of the district's reserve funds.

"I've heard throughout the community people saying, 'The Excellence Committee is great, but you're just going to add a parcel tax and make us pay.' But that is not the case," Kernan said. The district recently hired a consulting firm to investigate the feasibility of a parcel tax for the March 2007 election. "We need to make a statement as a board, be leaders, and back the Excellence Study," he added.

Trustees Steve Pulido and Jim Ott agreed with Kernan, but Trustee Juanita Haugen was adamant that the district should not dip into its reserve funds.

"I'm not willing to risk the reserve for hiring long-term people," Haugen said. "The worse thing we can do is hire someone without knowing we have funding and then cut them the next year, or cut other non-contracted staff."

In the end, the board agreed to authorize the district to hire new counselors up to the $602,126 maximum cost, but left it open where the funding would come from. Casey said the hiring of counselors will be contingent on the additional state funding and if the district receives any additional funds from increased enrollment. "

Just also noticing that the "$602,126 maximum cost" is something like $950K today. Wondering how that happened.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Nov 1, 2009 at 9:42 pm

The selection was near the top of a small group of people with funding from a one time source--finite. Where is the survey of the community that asks clear questions with the cost attached? We need to determine what taxpayers (not just parents) are willing to pay for:

K-3 Class Size Reduction to 20:1 at $4,000,000 per year (parcel tax of $X/year)
4-5 CSR at 22:1 at $X (ditto)
X Counselors for the high schools at $X each per year (you get the idea)
X Counselors for the middle schools at $X
Music program at the elementary at $X
Art program at the elementary at $X
Reading specialists at the elementary at $X
and so on

This would be so easy to do on something like survey monkey (the only what I have seen, but there could be others).

In order to determine what to buy, the community needs to know what it will cost and realize the cost will grow and will be forever barring some other source of funding. It will clarify the decision before anyone hits the voting booth to add to their tax bill.


Posted by Julie Testa, a resident of Foothill High School
on Nov 2, 2009 at 12:51 pm


"The truth is there wasn't a need for a school (enrollment didn't support it), there weren't sufficient funds to operate another school,"

Kathleen I agree with most of your positions regarding PUSD but this is an incorrect statement.



Posted by a reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 3, 2009 at 1:10 pm

To Kathleen:

You say:

"We need to determine what taxpayers (not just parents) are willing to pay for"

"This would be so easy to do on something like survey monkey "

NO WE DON'T (capitalization mine)

We need to elect representatives who share our BASIC values, such as fiscal discipline, social responsibility, or whatever our community values. We need give them the tools to do their job. We do not need voters to micro-manage funding decisions. That kind of thinking is what makes California ungovernable. We need representative democracy.

Web Link


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Nov 3, 2009 at 6:39 pm

reader, I suppose if you believe that all taxpayers' interests are being considered and represented you don't need a survey. This isn't micro-managing, it's an attempt to explain to all taxpayers what things actually cost and to determine what they are willing to pay for. The decision to run a parcel tax again (or not) will be done by the board. They really didn't listen to any of the valid concerns raised before this last attempt. There won't be an opportunity to change, if that is the sentiment, who is representing us for another year.


Posted by Get Educated, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 3, 2009 at 9:27 pm

"it's an attempt to explain to all taxpayers what things actually cost and to determine what they are willing to pay for."

What is missing in this comment is what the importance and value these cost items are to the schools. This can be very complicated for the public to fully understand, as we saw last year when news that Vice Principals were being cut at the elementary level. The comments were limited to exposure and experiences the public had with these people. Many saw no use for VP's yet had never worked with them. The absence of this important position is felt throughout the schools. The reasons may not seem important to the public, but they are crucial to the staff and teachers who worked directly with them.

"In order to determine what to buy, the community needs to know what it will cost"

You are not shopping for products, these are specialized educational services that are provided by credentialed professionals. I am wondering why the input of those who work directly with the schools is devalued and not even mentioned here.


Posted by Pablo, a resident of Downtown
on Nov 3, 2009 at 10:02 pm

You people need to wake up...........California is looking at another 26 billion dollar deficit. This is the big issue.


Posted by a reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 3, 2009 at 10:10 pm

To "Get Educated",

That was exactly my point.

We don't poll the public on whether the University of California at Berkeley department of Physics should do:

Charged Particle Beam Research at $x
Free Electron Laser Research at $x
Materials and Interface Nanotechnology Research at $x
Applied Electromagnetics Research at $x

The public would have no idea what to do. We need to elect leaders who represent our values. Those leaders need to explain their decisions as best as they can to the public, but they need to apply their expertise in making those decisions.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Nov 3, 2009 at 10:20 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Get Educated wrote: "You are not shopping for products, these are specialized educational services that are provided by credentialed professionals. "

My tax money goes to this monopoly. While I agree on some level with the idea of leaving certain decisions to the experts, at the same time the experts have a conflict of interest because they're getting to play with my money to their own advantage. Why do I have a roughly 84% increased cost for CSR when I get only a 4% return on my investment and lower cost programs that produce more well-rounded students like the arts and sports get cut?


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Nov 4, 2009 at 6:50 am

Get Educated, I understand how complex the issues are, but this is not a town of idiots. The community as a whole needs to determine whether $4 million for CSR is more important than counselors and art and music and sports or whatever else--like building and opening Neal. It's clear on these blogs that there are varied opinions of what is valued. I don't think this board knows what the community expects. And the professionals are making the recommendations to the board without that input either.

reader, K-12 education, as Stacey points out, is a monopoly. I can't choose the school, the program, or decide I don't want to pay the taxes to support the system--like you can by shopping around for a college that offers what you want at the price you can afford or are willing to make sacrifices to pay for it.


Posted by Julie Testa, a resident of Foothill High School
on Nov 4, 2009 at 9:42 am


Discussion of academic priorities is important so please forgive my editorial.

The need for a tenth elementary school and a third comprehensive high school should not weigh in to this discussion in this time of State budget and the world economic crisis. The opportunity to build the schools that this community needed at the time resources were available has be squandered.

With that acknowledged I can not let the history of the mismanagement of the completion of PUSD's long term school's facilities plan be rewritten.

The tenth elementary school and possibly third high school was in the PUSD long term plan (before 1992), and strongly supported by Pleasanton city planners, because it was in the communities best interest to not have overcrowded schools.

A commitment was made to the community that there would be a tenth elementary school, there was a need for that school, home buyers paid for that school through developer fees. Whether through incompetence or lack of integrity the community may forever be without that resource. In order to retain the community's options, and knowing the uncertainty of Pleasanton's building cap, I will continue to advocate preserving the existing land for a future school.


Posted by public opinion, a resident of Val Vista
on Nov 4, 2009 at 10:39 am

I agree with Kathleen that soliciting public input would be beneficial to the Board of Trustees when making decisions about district priorities (especially what qualities and competencies residents would like to see in the next superintendent). This is done all the time via telephone surveys, e-mail surveys (Survey Monkey, etc.) and focus groups. It wouldn't take a lot of effort to hold "town hall" style meetings throughout the district to gather public input on a number of issues discussed here and on other blogs.


Posted by a reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 4, 2009 at 12:35 pm

"public opinion",

We would be a lot better off without any of that trendy nonsense. California is in so much trouble already because we our leaders won't lead. We have way too much public input and the result is bad government.

Focus groups? These are fine for deciding what kind of label to put on a can of soda pop, not for deciding how many reading specialists a school needs.

Town hall meetings? These things are more like talk shows -- think Jerry Springer. These are nothing more than public relations stunts.

Surveys (phone or email)? How many people, chosen at random, will have prepared for these surveys by studying outcomes for CSR, reading specialists, and counselors? You're likely to get fairly useless or even misleading results.

To repeat, we need to elect leaders who can hire experts to make these decisions. The leaders need to share our values. At election time we can decide whether or not they lead effectively.


Posted by a reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 4, 2009 at 12:39 pm

Kathleen,

Likewise, you cannot decide that you don't want your tax dollars to support the California University system. Your tax dollars go to the state colleges and universities whether you like it or not. In the same way, you can choose not to go to school there just like you can with K-12. With K-12 you can choose home-schooling, private school, or not to have children at all. You can also move to a different school district if you don't like the one you're in. People do it all the time. In any case you have to pay for it with your taxes, just as you do for university and state college system.

The public college and university system is a monopoly just like the K-12 system and we all pay taxes into both. Thank god they don't poll the public on how many nanotechnology experts to hire vs. how many electromagnetics experts. Are you suggesting they should?


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Nov 4, 2009 at 1:06 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

A reader wrote: "We would be a lot better off without any of that trendy nonsense."

This statement is ironic to me. There's many "trendy" fads in education that do not have good research backing up their effectiveness, CSR being one of them. Expert opinion can be valued, but even it is given to fads once in awhile.

What else seems ironic is that the Excellence Committee is to be commended and their recommendations implemented but community surveys are not.


Posted by a reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 4, 2009 at 1:14 pm

Stacey,

Where did I commend some sort of Excellence Committee, or was that addressed to me?

Also, you said "There's many "trendy" fads in education that do not have good research backing up their effectiveness, CSR being one of them. " Are you saying that education experts oppose CSR or that school districts ignore the advice of education experts when they implement CSR? Are you an expert in this area? If so, what are your recommendations on the size of classes for each grade in K-12, and why?


Posted by To Stacey and Kathleen, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 4, 2009 at 1:53 pm

I believe your nitpickiness with categories and subcategories really stems from the fact that you DO believe people are ignorant and will vote down anything they don't understand. Asking the general public to rationalize line item spending is just asking for a defeat of the measure.

Puleeze. Spare us the details. Kathleen, you need to come clean and admit that you want any parcel tax to fail miserably.


Posted by public opinion, a resident of Val Vista
on Nov 4, 2009 at 3:00 pm

"a reader",

"TRENDY NONSENSE"? Where have you been the past half-century? Governmental agencies have used public opinion polls as a method of collecting useful data for years.

Here's another suggestion; how about a process akin to a local governments' updating of their General Plan? Not using the City of Pleasanton's process the last time around as an example, interested parents, teachers and residents would focus on specific issue areas culminating in a 5-year Plan that's reviewed and updated in similar fashion every five years.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Nov 4, 2009 at 5:11 pm

reader, Survey Monkey is easy enough to do and can be reached by anyone who wishes to share their opinions.  If you don't see the value, you don't have to participate.  The election is a year away; long time to wait for someone with shared values, if they can beat an incumbent; an even longer wait if you are looking for change to benefit students.
I can concede the point about taxes going to colleges, but I doubt it's at the rate I pay for K-12.  I haven't looked into it.  However, colleges are very in tune to their "public" and are consumer driven.  While some K-12 parents can opt to move or home school or send their children to private school, it isn't many.  My own opinion is K-12 is encumbered by state rules, federal rules, and testing—very little of which is consumer driven on the local level or even customer responsive.

To Stacey and Kathleen:  Sigh.  I've been very clear about my opinions.  I don't care what the categories or subcategories are.  Staff and parents can develop a list of things they want to know from the community—what I list are just suggestions, what I know from working in education and from talking to neighbors, friends, and educators.  I'm just one person with some experience and ideas.
I hardly chose to move into a community, twice, because I believed people here are ignorant.  They've passed bonds and unification and are very supportive of schools, be they parents, businesses, or other community members.  Contrary to what you may believe, most communities do some kind of survey prior to putting any measure on the ballot, be it a new tax or re-upping of a current tax.  They realize that they need a baseline of support to build from, particularly given the price tag to run the election (in the last case about $300,000).

I donated more than the tax would have cost me this year.  I would support a parcel tax and have said so repeatedly.  So spare me the drama.  Just exactly what are your ideas?
 


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Nov 4, 2009 at 8:50 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

reader wrote: "Where did I commend some sort of Excellence Committee, or was that addressed to me?"

You didn't. It was addressed to you sort of, but also written to the wider audience. I apologize for the confusion.

The topic is about soliciting community input for funding decisions versus leaving the decisions up to "experts". A parcel tax was put on the ballot earlier this year that sought funding for something that was a recommendation of the Excellence Committee, which is a type of "focus group" like you mentioned. No community survey was conducted for this parcel tax. What the parcel tax was to fund was decided by "experts", a position you seemed to advocate. That's why I see irony.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Nov 4, 2009 at 8:51 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Also, students attending public universities still pay tuition, unlike K-12 public education.


Posted by a reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 4, 2009 at 9:05 pm

To "public opinion",

"Where have you been the past half-century? Governmental agencies have used public opinion polls as a method of collecting useful data for years."

That is my point. That is why California is a mess. I wish our leaders paid less attention to polls. We elected them as leaders.


Posted by Get Educated, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 5, 2009 at 12:22 am

Kathleen stated "The community as a whole needs to determine whether $4 million for CSR is more important than counselors and art and music and sports or whatever else--like building and opening Neal. I don't think this board knows what the community expects. And the professionals are making the recommendations to the board without that input either."



Many hours and extensive thinking has been devoted to just what you are talking about:



PUSD Excellence Committee

The committee was made up of approximately 55 members including high school students, parents, community members, teachers, site administrators and district office staff and was co- facilitated by Assistant Superintendent Cindy Galbo and community member Denise Watkins. An independent consultant, Debbie Look provided research support. A total of four evening meetings and two full-day sessions were held between November 2005 and February 2006 to complete the work of the committee. The final report was presented to the School Board on March 14, 2006 with the priority items ranked according to the committee's perception of their potential value in improving educational opportunities for all students. The findings are being shared with various stakeholder groups within the broader community for further input and discussion. Input from these discussions will then be used to further refine the list of priority items and the School Board and district staff will begin the process of identifying target areas and potential funding sources.

This report was presented to the board March 14, 2006 :

Web Link

There are a variety of opportunities for this community to be involved with the decision making process in the schools, and there is an enormous number of PTA , PPIE, PSEE, leadership groups and SSC members who are working over time doing this as we speak.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Nov 5, 2009 at 6:52 am

Get Educated, Others have mentioned the Excellence Committee and, of course, I know about all the organizations that support schools. I have served on parent clubs and site councils and did fundraising with PPIE and participated on a strategic plan committee. The work of these volunteers is invaluable to our schools.

Since that report was presented, four sets of kindergartners have entered our schools and unsustainable decisions were made by the board and reserves have been spent down and others are being used for "loans" . . . and yes, the state went to hades in a hand basket. And at least until recently, the BAC has not been allowed to make suggestions and a board member was chided for actually studying the budget thoroughly enough to have some suggestions . . . I'm paraphrasing the "where did you find the time to do that?" quote.

So, much has changed and dramatically so since March 14, 2006. I don't know how many districts run a parcel tax without some kind of poll of the community being done first. It can be simple or more complex, but the resistance doesn't make sense to me.

reader: Interesting news this morning about UC Berkeley Web Link It appears to be an internal debate so far, but college campuses are not immune to debates about funding.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Nov 5, 2009 at 9:19 am

Stacey is a registered user.

The purpose of the Excellence Committee was to find what was needed to IMPROVE the district through purchase of EXTRAS. Those findings should not and cannot be extended to finding what is needed to PRESERVE the district during years of extreme budget cuts. And yet this is exactly what happened during the last parcel tax attempt.


Posted by public opinion, a resident of Val Vista
on Nov 5, 2009 at 10:03 am

To "a reader,"

"That is why California is a mess. I wish our leaders paid less attention to polls. We elected them as leaders."

So, you're implying every "leader" elected to public office comes with their own crystal ball, knowing everything they need to know in order to make wise decisions. Nobody is that good. How do you think candidates for public office learn what issues are important to their constituencies, supplying the talking points and background information for their campaigns? They conduct public opinion polls. This is one area of politics and governance that will never change, no matter how much we want our elected officials to "LEAD."


Posted by public opinion, a resident of Val Vista
on Nov 5, 2009 at 10:11 am

In my opinion, "Electeds" and "Leaders" is an oxymoron. If any elected leader gets enough pressure (whether from the public or their major donors) to vote one way or another, they will eventually go with the group that speaks the loudest. Now that's "Leadership."


Posted by a reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 5, 2009 at 3:28 pm

To "public opinion",

"to vote one way or another, they will eventually go with the group that speaks the loudest. "

Not always. Ronald Reagan stood up to all kinds of vociferous pressure both as governor and president. I think we need more of that.


Posted by a reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 5, 2009 at 3:36 pm

To Kathleen,

"Interesting news this morning about UC Berkeley ... It appears to be an internal debate so far, but college campuses are not immune to debates about funding."

Of course they're having funding trouble, like everyone. The state and federal government have put us all in a bind. Yet you won't see the public polled on what kind of specialists and in what proportion to retain in the department of chemistry, for instance.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Nov 5, 2009 at 5:42 pm

I said the poll could be simple or dig deeper; while I'd prefer the latter, there are experts that can advise on what is best. I still believe it is a necessary precursor to a request for a parcel tax. You want my money, fine; but I want answers first.


Posted by a reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 5, 2009 at 9:03 pm

Kathleen,

I would prefer neither. Have you seen this:

Poll: Majority Reject Evolution

Web Link
tories/2005/10/22/opinion/polls/main965223.shtml

"The results were not much different between the answers to that question and those given when a specific timeline was included in the final alternative: God created human beings in their present form within the last 10,000 years. "

Can you see the absurdity in that?

Now, how could science make any progress if we polled the public on where to put our research and education dollars?

A poll could do more harm than good.

I agree that we the school board should justify its need for our tax dollars. They should explain it to us. We can reject there justification by voting no. That's the poll I'm in favor of, a simple yes/no vote.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Nov 5, 2009 at 9:24 pm

Wasn't a poll run for a possible parcel tax attempt a while back, and it wasn't attempted because the poll showed insufficient support? (I am not totally sure.) And no poll was run for the recent tax and it failed. What is not being learned here?

The link got me to a CBS link that said the page could not be found. I'm not talking about evolution anyway, just a local solution for our schools. I hardly think there would be any harm; the polls are done frequently.


Posted by a reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 5, 2009 at 9:47 pm

I agree, a local poll may be useful, but I wouldn't want it too detailed. I just don't think people have time to learn that much about the efficacy of CSR, or reading counselors.


Posted by Get Educated, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 5, 2009 at 10:10 pm

Kathleen-
You claimed that PUSD was not getting the input of the community. I posted the links above to show that you are reporting inaccurate information. You may have been involved yourself years ago, but from the information you post, it is evident that you do not have a true reflection of what is taking place in the district now, and in the past four years since this report was presented. Do you know what portions of the report have been implemented? What portions have since had to be cut?

This is only one report- each school has a detailed plan (SLIP) which is created annually with input from elected parents, staff, administrators, and teachers in order to prioritize the needs of individual school sites while keeping aligned with the district goals. Anyone can be a part of this process, it is not hidden, or kept secret as you insinuate.

The Excellence report is a good example of the forward thinking that is going on in this district. Unfortunately, we do have to maintain now so it has been put on hold, yet to not have a plan in place to direct our district forward would be an example of poor management. What well run company doesn't have a vision or a goal they strive for? This committee was an outstanding example of how PUSD brought together members of the community with school employees to find out what the priorities are in Pleasanton.

If you are not feeling included in the process, then it is up to you to reach out and become a part of the solutions. There are multiple opportunities for this, occurring daily in this district. I agree input from the community is crucial, to repeatedly write that it isn't taking place is wrong. The in-depth conversations, research based sharing, and personal knowledge of what is occurring in the classrooms is such an important part of the decision making process. While a survey may be one form of collecting data, what is currently taking place is much more in-depth, personal, and instrumental in finding immediate solutions to the !2.5 million in cuts our schools are currently enduring.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Nov 6, 2009 at 12:38 am

Stacey is a registered user.

I think you guys are missing each other here somehow.

Decision makers need good data with which to make good decisions. That's how good science works too. A random sample poll taken of the larger taxpaying community provides good data as to what kind of success a parcel tax would have. Such polls also can be used to determine if such a tax would have greater support or less support if x, y, or z were included/excluded and so on.

Let's remember that not all the voters who would vote on a parcel tax (or even for school board trustees) are the same people that attend other school district processes. Relying only upon the people who participate in the District for decision-making related to general votes of the people is not gathering good data.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Nov 6, 2009 at 6:49 am

Get Educated, The underlying implication that I don't know what's going on is inaccurate. I do have a grandchild in PUSD and I work in education and you know both those things. So SLIP, SARC, SPSA, excellence report, or strategic plan--I'm aware and supportive of all those efforts, but then most are required by state law.

"it's up to you to reach out," -- did that too. I got a six inch stack of paper in response to a public information request that did not answer the questions presented, it was more like "go fish." (I will say everyone was polite and very accommodating, but answering direct questions seems not to be allowed. This is not just my impression, by the way.) Others making these requests are told they have to come in to review the information and copies of what they want will be provided at a nickel a page . . . and if you ask for it to be scanned, you are told it can't be done. Why is that? Information should be readily available on the district web site (contracts with APT, CSEA, administrators, the budget, information about salaries, bond sales); some is, some isn't. It supports my issue about a lack of customer responsiveness. But I digress. Other than financially, the district is doing much well. A risk was taken when large raises were awarded that could and has undermined the good that does happen.

I am writing about a poll or survey, depending on the depth, of the community to support a parcel tax. As Stacey pointed out, the majority of voters are not participating. My opinion is the strategy was: parents will vote yes, seniors who get an exemption will vote yes, and maybe everybody who might vote no will be out of town. Many who wrote out here said they didn't have enough information. I personally was unwilling to give money to a district that had already made poor decisions with the funding they had.

Something has to change; maybe a lot of somethings.


Posted by Get Educated, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 6, 2009 at 10:09 am

"Get Educated, The underlying implication that I don't know what's going on is inaccurate. I do have a grandchild in PUSD and I work in education and you know both those things."

I guess that's why I expected more from you. I am baffled at your focus and passion on discrediting this district and administration. I hear you when you say you want a survey, yet you discredit the communication efforts that are going on as "required." And further post this as a negative against this district, as if they are purposely keeping the community out of the process.

Instead of your repeated "large raises were given..." I really expected you would have the understanding of the requirements or motivation for making up for lost COLA increases in the years prior to the dates you consistently post. You also conveniently leave out the last two years of no COLA increases that PUSD is experiencing during the tough economic times. Am I correct is seeing that your district instituted a 2.5% increase last year? Web Link

Yet you rant that this is an example of poor management for PUSD? I admire your district,PAUSD, for their $495 annual tax to support higher salaries for their teachers and smaller class sizes. Yet you criticize this in the town you live in. If they were using proper management in surrounding districts, why would they be instituting parcel taxes at all?

I wish you would use your knowledge and experience to help our schools survive through this economic crisis. I personally find your posts as ways to stir up distrust and drama where there isn't any.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Nov 6, 2009 at 12:40 pm

Doing this from a phone at lunch, so apologies now. In the years 2002-2003 through this school year, PAUSD gave 18%. From 2005-06 to 2007-08, the years I question in PUSD, it was 10.5%--far less than the 14.5 PUSD gave and with a parcel tax to support it. They also tied increases to half of property tax growth ABOVE what was budgeted. In other words, there was sustainability. I'll look at responding to the rest of your email later.


Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Nov 6, 2009 at 3:31 pm

This is a really the tough act to follow: Web Link


Posted by Looking to buy a bridge, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 6, 2009 at 10:00 pm

Get Educated

Thanks for your posts and I agree whole heartedly with your last post in particular. As for your prior post:

"you are reporting inaccurate information"

I would suggest you get used to Kathleen posting inaccurate information. Remember this?

Web Link

I'll quote: "Pleasanton schools will receive $8.1 million in federal stimulus money to directly offset state cuts to education, prevent layoffs and save CSR. The federal funding is more than the proposed parcel tax asks, and covers the majority of even the highest district estimates of shortfalls through 2009-10.

An editorial published two weeks after the Governor's May 2009 budget revise when it was well understood by anyone reading the paper and very well understood by anyone following school board meetings that additional state cuts were going to easily negate the gains made by one-time federal stimulus monies. A mis-informative editorial right before Measure G that I'm sure convinced many people that there was no need for a parcel tax. For PUSD, this ultimately equated to net cuts this year of $9 to $10 million once all was said and done.

And how we are seeing these cuts now. They can easily be seen in how big the classes are this year. My kid tells me that bathrooms are getting dirtier. I've heard the kids are starting to help empty garbage cans in the classroom now to compensate for the laid-off janitors. I get emails from my kid's teacher frequently written at 10PM, 11PM or early morning trying to respond to a question about homework. I suspect the dedicated staff of my child's school is masking a lot. I wonder though how long this will last assuming we go through another series of budget cuts with no federal stimulus to help this time. I'm not looking forward to 30:1 ratios next year or the total elimination of strings and band.

As for one of Kathleen's remarks: "Something has to change; maybe a lot of somethings."

Perhaps the first change is stopping these poisonous threads transparently designed to advance anger, resentment and blame cloaked in a false shroud of public service or intellectual discussion. Perhaps actually be part of a solution to help stop the degeneration sweeping our schools now due to the STATE crisis in funding to public education. This is not a local problem only. And it's going to get worse.

Your last post about PAUSD spoke volumes to me Kathleen. A parcel tax is OK there but not here? A parcel tax in PAUSD equates to "sustainability" but in Pleasanton is high level government corruption due to a 4% difference in salary increases? Do you have any bridges up for sell?


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Nov 7, 2009 at 9:25 am

GE: I speak to one side of the house I don't trust—use of taxpayer funding. I don't discredit anything by noting a lot of what you pointed to as communication is required. It's straight forward. And I speak well of the work of students, parents, teachers, and principals all the time. I think you look for what you wish to rebut and then call me negative. The drama comes from your interpretation, not from what I write.

You may not like my approach, but I am helping. If we are not careful as we move forward, if the finances aren't righted, there will never be a parcel tax. And, for the other districts, most of the parcel taxes were in place before the crisis at the state, and the others that are passing are reups.

Bridge, I have stated repeatedly, but will do so again, that I've seen the good a parcel tax can do. It has to be clear in its purpose and should not be used to backfill the errors of the past (yes, the raises). The quote you use of mine was and is accurate. Those posting out here months ago VERIFIED with district staff that the cost of those raises into the future was the same amount as the parcel tax would have collected. I imagine that is still out here somewhere. A 4% difference was merely stating that even with a source of funding, overly large wage increases did not occur. PUSD didn't have that funding and spent it anyway. They bet on future growth and increases from the state.

Anyone reading my posts knows I've said I would support a parcel tax and that I have always supported our schools.

You can be angry or resentful or place blame, but make it about the poor financial decisions that were made or the ill conceived ballot language and campaign or the low voter turnout. I'm not trying to sell a bridge; just pointing out the cracks.

As a side note, it was good to see Livermore has chosen a search firm for their new superintendent that will include community input. I hope Pleasanton will do so as well.


Posted by a reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 7, 2009 at 9:15 pm

To Kathleen,

Why didn't you speak out against the parcel tax in Palo Alto? People were saying all the same things against PAUSD. The PAUSD have been shown to have no fiscal discipline. The "district has refused to manage within its means and demonstrated poor stewardship of the public's trust and money". Why did you support bailing them out?

"Rejecting Measure A will send the strongest message to the district to put its financial house in order, live within its means, return to educating district students and to consider taxpayer interests in its future decisions."

Web Link

How could you favor measure A? Isn't that just rewarding mediocrity?



Posted by a reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 7, 2009 at 9:24 pm

Following on the previous post, more information on Measure A from Palo Alto.

"To preserve small class sizes; maintain educational programs that enhance student achievement; and restore some essential educational programs"

Web Link

Sounds like what we need here. I'm glad for Palo Alto that they did the right thing and rejected Wayne Martin's opposition to the tax. Their schools continue to be excellent.


Posted by Brian, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 7, 2009 at 10:08 pm

Thanks for the link Reader.

I find it very interesting how vague the ballot language was, and it passed with 75% approval. I seem to remember many times Kathleen and friends complained about that very issue. Thanks for shining some light on this issue. Anyone reading those posts can see through the motive if they are listening.

Measure A PAUSD parcel Tax for $493 a year:

-Restore some of the programs and replace some of the funds lost or reduced due to budget cuts;
-Sustain achievement in reading, writing, and mathematics for all students at all grade levels by preserving smaller class sizes, while maintaining the ability to attract and retain quality teachers;
-Maintain essential academic programs, including science, reading, math, music, and art;
-Protect the taxpayers' investment in education and ensure District accountability by providing for oversight and independent financial audits of revenues and expenditures.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Nov 7, 2009 at 10:37 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Web Link

"Monthly car allowance: $350 to $400, plus free gas"

Wow, even superintendents in Pleasanton get more than that.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Nov 7, 2009 at 11:17 pm

reader and Brian, first, I can't vote in Palo Alto, so I don't comment (I've pointed that out before). Second, Mr. Martin, from what I have seen, opposes all taxes. Third, I've never seen mediocre and PAUSD in the same sentence.

Here are some links you should look at before you determine anything about Measure A. Web Link The board packet includes items about how the parcel tax is spent, audits of that funding, and . . . . . . . . results from a poll conducted to determine if the community will support renewing the parcel tax.

That community voted down the first attempt to renew and increase the parcel tax (Measure I). A lot of community outreach occurred, very dedicated community members and a strong consultant were used. The covenant with the community (and the same approach as for Measure I) for the second attempt (Measure A) was strong enough to convince the voters (a presentation about how the money was to be spent is at Web Link ). The election was held before school was out as well. The difference between the two proposals was $28 less per parcel and two fewer years. I can't say if that is why it passed.

In summary, a failed attempt to renew, a more acceptable proposal that passed, polls conducted prior to the elections, incredible detail about the budget: Web Link

Trust me, it's a vocal, but very supportive community.


Posted by a reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 7, 2009 at 11:18 pm

Stacey,

I'm not sure how your post has anything to do with PAUSD.

Are you saying PAUSD car allowances are lower than PUSD, and that is an important thing?


Posted by a reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 7, 2009 at 11:28 pm

But Kathleen, doesn't Wayne Martin provide evidence that PAUSD is a wasteful and fiscally irresponsible district? Isn't it true that taxes and spending have no correlation at all with school outcomes? Why raise taxes if there is no correlation? Isn't the responsibility of the parents to educate their children? If PAUSD test scores are high, isn't that because of parental involvement?


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

The short answer is no. Many factors contribute to the success of students (all have been discussed out here). There is a Young Fives program, CSR at fourth and fifth, Spanish Immersion, Mandarin Immersion, art, music, a glassblowing class, and there will be a pilot for Springboard to Kindergarten (a donation). The taxes purchase what the community desires for its schools. Parents are a child's first teacher--those who want to be their only teachers do homeschooling. Parental involvement is high--didn't I just say they are vocal and supportive? There is PAPiE--they raise about $2 million a year. There are PTAs that raise nearly as much, and well over that if you count the value of volunteerism.

There are about 100 districts in CA where their property taxes are higher than what the state would pay in support to schools. Those districts receive that amount instead of state support (special education, instructional materials, etc. funding is supported by the state). The major difference from a district like Pleasanton is that new students do not come with new money from the state. So if there are 11,000 or 14,000 students, they are still relying on property taxes and property tax growth. These districts have felt the state cuts to categorical programs and some are feeling the pinch from a lack of property tax growth.

My questions: What is it you want to see in Pleasanton schools? What are your ideas? What are you willing to pay for (Dublin pays $96, Livermore $138)? How much are you willing to pay?

Why not ask questions of your district, your elected officials? Have you noticed the reserves are gone, loans are being taken from the one remaining pot of money? Do you really believe PUSD couldn't have planned better? Believe me, or not. Talk to the business office or members of the BAC or research the information on your own. Let us know what conclusions you draw. This is an opportunity to have a dialog.


Posted by Get Educated, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 8, 2009 at 3:28 pm

Kathleen stated "Have you noticed the reserves are gone" Wrong.

If you continue to post wrong information, I will continue to point it out. It does sound more dramatic and scandalous to say gone though.

Please community members of Pleasanton, read the following link to hear WHY PUSD is experiencing the shortfall in funds....from the state.
"This budget was approved in June, but shortly afterward a revision from the state led to a $350,000 deficit. This resulted in the school district having less than the required 3 percent reserves."
Web Link

The reserves being "short" the required 3% is not about poor management like you are led to believe. Please remember, the district cut 12.5 million from the budget last year. Stay informed with what is happening at the state level with funding. It helps to understand the decisions that had to be made in Pleasanton.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Nov 8, 2009 at 6:38 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

I'd like to understand the decisions behind abandoning the goal of a 7% reserve back in like 2006.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Nov 8, 2009 at 6:55 pm

A quote from the June 22, 2009, document, "Other Funds Annual Budget 2009-10," pg. 2, Special Reserve for Other Than Capital Outlay Projects (Fund 17): "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; this transfer was necessitated by the loss of revenue imposed by the State during the fiscal year." Page 20 of that report details the move of about $5.4 million dollars. The amount in the fund for 09-10 is listed as 0.

So maybe I'm misstating, but that is the source Web Link

Can you point me to something that shows a balance in the reserves? I'd be happy to retract if there is documentation of money in the reserves.


Posted by a reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 8, 2009 at 7:38 pm

Stacey,

Such a goal isn't effective or smart. I'm surprised PUSD had such a stated goal because it is counterproductive and detrimental to the quality of the district. I agree with you that the district screwed up when they stated that goal.

Something like "meets or exceeds requirements of the law during times of revenue growth" would be much better for the community and schools.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Nov 8, 2009 at 7:55 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Such a policy like you suggest is better than what the 7% goal policy was replaced with, which was something like "establish a policy".


Posted by Get Educated, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 8, 2009 at 8:43 pm

Web Link

Pg. 4, 9, 10

Quoted from September 22, 2009 -These are "Changes from Estimated Actuals to Unaudited Actuals" The same information as I wrote in my last post.

"This budget was approved in June, but shortly afterward a revision from the state led to a $350,000 deficit. This resulted in the school district having less than the required 3 percent reserves."


Posted by budget revision, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 8, 2009 at 9:45 pm

"This budget was approved in June, but shortly afterward a revision from the state led to a $350,000 deficit."

This resulted from a line item veto from the Governor the day he signed the budget right? Hard to plan a local budget in a climate of such state budget volatility. When the stroke of Schwarzenegger's pen, a slight last minute budget modification, eliminates $350,000.


Posted by To the point, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 8, 2009 at 10:18 pm

All you guys are missing the point: it's obvious that Kathleen will not/would not support a parcel tax here in Pleasanton because she is a taxpayer here and not in Palo Alto.

I would bet that if she lived in Palo Alto, she would be the most vociferous opponent of any parcel tax there.


Posted by Thank U Get Educated, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 8, 2009 at 10:28 pm

Just wanted to say thanks to Get Educated for dispelling the rumors and lies and getting to the truth. For a long time, Kathleen ran amok on PW with hardly anyone challenging the accuracy of her statements. Finally there is someone with insight into the district who is supportive.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Nov 8, 2009 at 10:49 pm

GE: Isn't the restricted reserve the Sycamore/Technology fund? Look at page 7 of your link--it says all the money from the unrestricted reserve was moved to the General Fund.

To the point: Once again, yes I would support a parcel tax. That will be the millionth time I've said it. I donated to a school more than the parcel tax would have cost . . . just doing what I said I would. There is no logic in others continuing to tell me what I will and won't do.

TUGE: Either I wasn't challenged because I'm doing my best to be accurate or no one else is willing to do the work to find the answers if I'm wrong. I will retract if there's reason. Also waiting for ideas from others instead of the energy wasted on the sniping.


Posted by Get Educated, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 8, 2009 at 11:47 pm

I am hoping many saw this article in the Independent Oct. 1, 2009 :

Web Link

"The district also wants to retain a 3 percent budget reserve, even after this fiscal year. That goal would require taking money from future revenue."

I am also hoping that many will be at the school board meeting on Tuesday Nov. 12. I know of many PTAs that are holding special meetings about the budget in order to have parents and staff collaborate on the affects of the budget cuts, and sharing ideas about what can be done to maintain programs.







Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Nov 9, 2009 at 7:55 am

GE: Spent a few minutes this morning watching the presentation at the 9.22 board meeting. What I heard is that for 08-09, the reserve ended at $2.1 million, or 1.4%. For 09-10, it is stated they are $350K short for 3% in 09-10. What I could not determine was exactly how that happened, but it appears there were ending balances captured. That item was followed by borrowing from the Sycamore/Tech fund. So, I'll stand corrected and we'll see how the year unfolds and hope for the best.


Posted by a reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 9, 2009 at 12:47 pm

Kathleen R,

All of the best school districts in the Bay Area are facing shortfalls and have responded with parcel taxes. I think you need to focus on getting a parcel tax on the ballot here before our schools suffer any more. Cuts here have already hurt education here more than it has elsewhere. The difference here is that we don't have a parcel tax. We need to move ahead with a tax. No school district is perfect. Ours is very good. I provided links showing that Palo Alto school district didn't have its financial house in order. It is the same for Cupertino and Peidmont. They passed their taxes despite imperfections. We need to do the same here. The community needs all the help it can get and I would like to look forward to working with you to get a parcel tax on the ballot, and get it passed.


Posted by more fact checking, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 10, 2009 at 6:57 am

How about this one Kathleen?

"And, for the other districts, most of the parcel taxes were in place before the crisis at the state, and the others that are passing are reup" OK, lets check out that information:

Lafayette (passed Nov 07)
Dublin (passed Nov 08)
Livermore (passed Nov 08)
Orinda (passed March 09)
San Ramon (passed May 09)
Peidmont (passed June 09)
Walnut Creek (passed Nov 09)
Acalanes (passed Nov 09)
Albany (passed Nov 09)

Nine passed, eight which passed well after the start of California's budget crisis in Nov 07. I'm curious. Why don't "reups" count? Is the quality of money in "reup" areas worse?


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Nov 10, 2009 at 7:11 am

I haven't done the research on how many of those parcel taxes are new vs reups and increases to current parcel taxes. The reups are easier to pass, and not even those are always successful.

Our children, parents, teachers, and principals are very good. They are the ones raising test scores. I'll agree with some of the others posting on the thread going on taxes, this district has to regain trust before it can run a parcel tax. This doesn't mean you don't need a central office; I'm just acknowledging where the real work occurs.

As to helping with a parcel tax, I have strong opinions and biases about how it needs to happen. That may not be welcome.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Nov 10, 2009 at 7:30 am

More fact checking: I don't think I said reups don't count. They are easier to pass if a district is using the money as promised. The community sees the oversight committee reports, trusts what is being done, and votes to renew and often increase the amount to cover rising costs (usually driven by salary in a people based organization like schools--CSR for example is about hiring additional teachers).


Posted by Sue, a resident of Hart Middle School
on Nov 10, 2009 at 8:08 am

The benefit Pleasanton has are some residents that are paying attenttion and making the effort to hold the district accountable for it's misspending.
I am informed on how the district has mismanaged our tax dollars, I have kids in the district and I will not support a new tax.

Yes there continue to be cuts and the district continues to give raises instead of getting spending in line with the economy. They do not deserve our trust.


Posted by To Sue, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 10, 2009 at 9:23 am

What raises are you talking about? The teachers have not had a raise since the 2007/2008 school year. By spreading lies like that, you are undermining trust and your own children's education.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Nov 10, 2009 at 9:43 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Stop spreading lies yourself and then accusing others of doing it.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Nov 10, 2009 at 9:50 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Movement along a salary schedule is even called a raise in the education industry. Talk about undermining trust...

Web Link

"Incremental Raise: The incremental RAISE is the raise that brings employees from wherever they are on the salary schedule to the career rate as employees master their crafts through practice and experience. The size of the incremental RAISE is equal to the difference between an employee's current step and the next highest step in the same year. Employees earn this RAISE as they become masters at their job. Once they have mastered the job rate, they should be paid the career rate, and thus would no longer need to receive the incremental RAISE.

On-Scale Raise: An on-scale raise is the raise applied equally to all of the salaries on a salary schedule itself. For example, a 5 percent on-scale raise would increase the starting salary by 5 percent and the career rate by 5 percent. This raise has nothing to do with individual employees. Rather, this raise is the amount that the value of the job is increased each year."

So to summarize, there's been no on-scale raises, but there's been incremental raises. Stop telling people they are spreading lies when it is you who is being misleading.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Nov 10, 2009 at 10:33 am

to To Sue: I think you mean to say no raises since 08-09. There was a raise in 07-08--the three years I have spoken of 14.5% raises were the school years 05-06 through 07-08. The Budget FAQs page that held that data appears to have been taken down, but the district office can confirm.


Posted by a reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 10, 2009 at 12:45 pm

To Kathleen R,

You said,

"I have strong opinions and biases about how it needs to happen. That may not be welcome."

But people make compromises. A "my way or the highway" attitude won't be very helpful, but I don't see how expressing your opinion would hurt anything. One thing you could do would be to explain to the public, through articles and editorials, what kinds of benefits a parcel tax provides, and why we need one here. You could talk about restoring CSR and counselors, among other things.


Posted by To Sue, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 10, 2009 at 2:19 pm

As I said, no raises SINCE the 2007/08 school year, with "since" taken to mean "after". The "step and column" raises you are referring to, Stacey, are like promotions, which is NOT the same thing as a raise in salary. It is a PROMOTION to a higher position, the next "step".

How is this unfair? In what industry would you find that someone getting a promotion stays at the same salary level? You people are holding PUSD to ridiculous standards!!!

Again, I'd like to know what raises Sue was talking about.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Nov 10, 2009 at 3:18 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

To Sue,

We can agree to disagree in terminology. You prefer not to call them raises while I've provided an outside reference that also calls them raises. That's fine. You can use whatever terminology you like, but telling others that they are spreading lies because you don't like the terms they use makes what you write no better than spin. You want readers to be clear on issues and have the facts straight so why obscure it with jargon?

I pay taxes. The government receives it as revenue. Does that make what I pay not a tax? Of course not.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Nov 10, 2009 at 3:30 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

What's the fear behind using the word "raise"? Let's EDUCATE and use some clear terms when talking about employee compensation, like "on-scale raise", "incremental raise", "total raise", "column differential", and "career rate". The merits of the salary schedule system or the fairness is irrelevant to the terminology used.


Posted by Tim, a resident of Birdland
on Nov 10, 2009 at 3:30 pm

Stacey is on target.

The district shortfall continues to increase because salaries are going up. Call it what you want they are raises at a time that the State is not giving increased funding to cover higher salaries.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Nov 10, 2009 at 5:30 pm

reader: No highway; depends on the compromise; I do make compromises (can't seem to get through life without them). If I put my name to something, it has to be what I believe. Using CSR as an example, I think it's great for reasons other than student performance. I'd like to know what the community (not just parents) is willing to support--maybe it is CSR, maybe it's counselors, or elementary APs, or music, or arts, or sports, or all of it. That's where I keep hitting a wall--no poll/survey to work from. So I can provide some support, but currently within the confines of not enough info.

To Sue: Just trying to clarify when the last raise was (07-08) or when the years of no raises began (08-09). Clearly "since" was not definitive for me, and then I turned around and used it too.


Posted by TO Stacey, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 11, 2009 at 7:11 am

I agree we must educate the public as to the difference between salary raise (such as a 2-3% annual raise that people typically associate with the word "raise") and a raise due to a promotion (called step and column in the school district).

The latter is what *SOME* of the teachers have received since the district has halted their salary raises after the 2007/08 year. Of course, many teachers have been laid off since then, too. Why is there no mention of that? I mean, that is a COST-REDUCTION, yet people voted against the parcel tax on the basis of "all the teachers are getting raises". I believe there is a big difference between automatic raises and step-and-column raises. And to lump them into one category is just wrong.

I think during the last parcel tax effort, there was great misunderstanding about the word "raises," which is what hurt the campaign so much. The way Sue used it was very typical of someone who didn't understand the difference.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Nov 11, 2009 at 8:26 am

Stacey is a registered user.

"I believe there is a big difference between automatic raises and step-and-column raises. And to lump them into one category is just wrong."

Not necessarily. Whether or not the raise is on-scale (salary) or incremental (step and column), the district's total employee compensation costs rise. The first order of business is to control costs. When employee compensation costs are the single largest expense of the District (given the nature of it being a service), why should they not be looked at? I think many went through the budget with a fine-tooth comb looking at what costs could be controlled prior to touching employee compensation. That's why there was all the discussion about cell phones and executive perks. I think it was that scrutiny that lead the public to turn down the parcel tax, not the fact alone that some were getting raises. The attitude was like, "If they can't control these other costs, why are we handing them another $18 some million to spend?"

Is it fair to individual employees? Of course it never is. Layoffs or pay cuts, both generate their own morale issues.


Posted by Sue, a resident of Hart Middle School
on Nov 11, 2009 at 9:11 am

" many teachers have been laid off since then, too. Why is there no mention of that?"

I fully understand the difference between raises and S&C and COLA. I think it is reasonable to call all increased salary compensation raises.
It was unfortunate that the layoffs were necessary do to the unwillingness to freeze salaries. Teachers sacrificed their own.
There was no confusion. The public is not willing to pay additional taxes to pay teacher's raises when we have all taken hugh salary cuts.
The outcome will be the same in any future PT election if the district and unions do not CHANGE.

This conversation was covered to death on the parcel tax bloggs. If you were not a part of those discussions go back and read them.


Posted by resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 11, 2009 at 1:31 pm

Sue,

Re: "There was no confusion. The public is not willing to pay additional taxes to pay teacher's raises when we have all taken huge salary cuts."

"The outcome will be the same in any future PT election if the district and unions do not CHANGE. "

Thank you for acknowledging what most in the education community seem to ignore. The public was well educated on Measure G. The outcome was not a misunderstanding. Better salesmanship would not have changed the course, nor will it if another attempt is made.


Posted by a reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 11, 2009 at 6:00 pm

resident,

"... nor will it if another attempt is made."

You are assuming that a new parcel tax will be identical to Measure G. It is likely to be quite different, just as Measure I differed from Measure A in Palo Alto. Many people have stated that they would support a new parcel tax in which some changes have been made (look above to Kathleen's comments). A new parcel tax may get overwhelming support.


Posted by Sue, a resident of Hart Middle School
on Nov 11, 2009 at 6:08 pm

The changes that need to be made are not in the wording of the ballot measure but with the district administration and unions.


Posted by a reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 11, 2009 at 6:09 pm

Sue,

You said:

"...when we have all taken hugh salary cuts."

That is grossly wrong. That has been large, documented salary increases of many industries this year. In fact this year investment bankers compensation have reached record highs, even beating levels from 2007.

Web Link

In fact Pleasanton employers Oracle and Kaiser Pemanente have both increased budgets for employee compensation this year. Unless your claiming that you have some documentation showing not only an average salary decline for Pleasanton residents, but also a that no one received even a raise, then you had better back that up with some verifiable sources. Otherwise you statement is both ignorant and absurd.


Posted by a reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 11, 2009 at 6:53 pm

Sue,

You said,

" not in the wording of the ballot measure but with the district administration and unions."

That may apply to some people, but to others a change to the parcel tax wording would be sufficient to earn a vote. There is only so much that can be done at the district level to change the way unions do business. For many, that does not preclude passing a parcel tax.


Posted by Get Educated, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 12, 2009 at 5:17 pm

I will repost from another thread information that continually is left out when talking about "Step and Column" salary schedules.

You may not understand Step and Column or agree with the way all the public school employees are paid in California, but this system has been in place for decades.

I have never heard such misrepresentation about what it is, why it is used in public schools, and how it works as I hear posted on this site.

Out of a thirty year career, a teacher will only move steps 15 TIMES. The rest of the years are "frozen" years. To move across the columns teachers have to personally pay for units taken at a University. To state that all teachers are receiving a raise every year is deceiving and inaccurate. I haven't moved on the schedule in four years, while my medical benefits have risen and I have had no COLA increases. I have had a decrease in pay.

If it is so well understood, then tell me- why has the State of California paid all school teachers using this same formula? What is the purpose of a step and column schedule vs. a private sector salary structure. What is the savings to a district? (Hiring new teachers vs. ones with experience and units from other districts.) What is the benefits to the education world of structuring unit increases this way? How else would a teacher's salary increase in the manner that a private sector employee's would? 50% of a teacher's thirty year career sees movement (or a raise as you say) if they can last that long, that seems to equate to private sector getting raises in fat years, and nothing during financial downturns. So this is equal- out of a private employee's entire career they are only earning bonuses and raises 50% of the time?

To simply call it a raise is eye catching and insights emotion from those who don't understand the purpose and structure of a step and column schedule. This system has a purpose rooted in the nature of the profession. Teaching is a craft that is developed over years of experience. Starting out as an "apprentice" is a part of the program. Developing as a master teacher over the years is the goal.


Posted by Robert, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 12, 2009 at 5:37 pm

In other words, over a thirty year career a teacher is guaranteed FIFTEEN promotions without changing their job or responsibility. And if they make it past those first few years they are basically untouchable. That of course is in addition to any actual promotions they might incur.

I actually think it is those in the education community that are confused about life in private business. Every time I hear teachers or administrators try to justify the tenure and auto pay raise systems I am further convinced of their naiveté.

The killer combination of tenure, step and column, COLA, and public retirement package for part time employment is a pretty amazing deal. Those who are in the business of education could garner some credibility and move forward to other topics if they would just acknowledge their favorable position. Whining about the compensation system just makes public employees sound ungrateful for the outstanding deal our tax dollars provide.


Posted by a reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 12, 2009 at 8:47 pm

Robert,

Your post sounds more like whining to me than "Get Educated". If you think teachers are getting such a great deal, why don't you try to get a teaching job?

How would you set up the pay structure for teachers? Some kind of merit pay system? How would it work?

If you want to hear some real "naiveté", just look at what Sue said above. As I stated before, my private sector employer is giving raises. Many others are as well.

We need to get a parcel tax passed here in Pleasanton just like every other quality school district in the Bay Area has. And yes, they have the step and column pay system also.


Posted by To Robert, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 13, 2009 at 6:33 am

Teaching is hardly a part-time profession (the exception would be kindergarten). I suggest you actually ask a teacher how much time they put in after class ends planning the school days, grading papers, holding conferences, etc.


Posted by resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 13, 2009 at 12:15 pm

I think that part time employment is a relative term. To be fair, public school teaching is not part time like an after school job at the mall. But then again, it is not nearly as many hours on an annual basis as most people's "full time employment". And I agree that the overall compensation package is reasonably generous.


Posted by a reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 13, 2009 at 12:45 pm

To resident,

I think teachers do a very important job, and should be generously compensated. We are moving toward a knowledge based economy. Jobs requiring less education are getting scarcer and jobs that require more education are getting more plentiful. We need to do our best to educate our children, and attract capable people to the teaching profession.


Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 13, 2009 at 2:22 pm

I personally think teachers are not compensated enough, and paying $200 per year to maintain our good schools seems fair to me. Public school teachers have to pass stringent state-mandated requirements to even get hired. On the other hand, private school teachers have no such mandated requirements, and they charge more than $10,000 per year for the privilege of being taught by them.

I've had my children in both private schools and the Pleasanton public schools, and Pleasanton's schools are much better than the private schools. They are a BARGAIN for what you get! Try finding a private shool that only costs $200/year.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Nov 13, 2009 at 8:31 pm

Parent, We all, of course, pay a lot more than $200 to support public schools. The experience at either public or private is dependent on many factors. The biggest part of the deal in public schools is not paying taxes for public education AND whatever a private school costs.


Posted by Non-Parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 13, 2009 at 10:29 pm

Parent,

I am glad you feel that an additional payment for your child's education is a valuable investment. Please feel free to donate to the school of your choice. But don't assume the rest of us should pass yet another tax that will NEVER go away and solve nothing.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Nov 14, 2009 at 7:20 am

Does anyone know what search firm was chosen yesterday at the special board meeting? They delayed deciding at the Tuesday evening interviews. Thanks!


Posted by a reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 14, 2009 at 10:48 am

To "non-Parent",

You said " But don't assume the rest of us should pass yet another tax that will NEVER go away and solve nothing."

That is a completely wrong statement. A new parcel tax will solve the same problems here that parcel taxes are solving in San Ramon, Palo Alto, and many other good school districts. For example CSR, counselors and the like.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Nov 14, 2009 at 11:24 am

Stacey is a registered user.

I agree that the statement is misleading because it doesn't mention that these parcel taxes usually have expiration dates. It is equally misleading to suggest that the parcel tax is a magic bullet solving these budget problems. Parcel taxes are only ever a short-term band-aid solution.

San Ramon may have a parcel tax (and just passed a new one) but they've already got cutting CSR on the list. And you already know they've increased their CSR ratio too, right? Web Link


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Nov 14, 2009 at 11:26 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Here's the info on San Ramon's CSR, in case you missed it: Web Link


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Nov 14, 2009 at 11:28 am

Stacey is a registered user.

"The district had planned to increase class sizes, but after voters approved the San Ramon Valley schools Measure C parcel tax in May, and the governor's budget revision that reportedly accounted for a worst-case scenario, the district decided to keep the smaller classes.

However, district officials say the state budget agreed to after that doesn't include money for any classes added since the school year ended, which hurts the growing district, and that future budget projections are dismal. "


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Nov 14, 2009 at 11:31 am

Stacey is a registered user.

"We continue to face just a serious funding issue," said San Ramon Valley Superintendent Steven Enoch. "Just about every school district around here has increased class sizes."


Posted by the rest of the quote please, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 14, 2009 at 11:49 am

"they decided to let those classes reach 22 students if needed. District officials expect them to gradually grow throughout the year. Of current kindergarten through third-grade classes, 57 percent have fewer than 20 students, 35 percent have 21 students each, and 8 percent have 22 students."

Sounds a whole lot better than where we're at now. I'll bet in 2010/2011, when we're at 30:1 or 32:1, they'll be at a sliding scale of 25:1. San Ramon's parcel tax will help insulate them from the full force impact of what's coming now.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Nov 14, 2009 at 12:37 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Please explain how the rest of the quote is relevant. Actual numbers in class sizes are always different from calculated student-teacher ratio. And the part you also seemed to miss was the reason they did that was because the State won't fund CSR for new classes. San Ramon is a growing district and they seem to expect to add a lot more students.

The point is that parcel taxes are only short-term band-aids. San Ramon raised the ratio, may do so again, or completely eliminate CSR despite having a parcel tax in place.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Nov 14, 2009 at 12:40 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

In a year, let's see if they still have 57% of third-grade classes under 20 students.

Let's also remember, there's no statistically significant gain in student achievement between classes at 25:1 and classes at 20:1. Classes have to be at 15:1. See the Tennessee STAR results.


Posted by To Stacey, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 14, 2009 at 2:26 pm

The optimum level is 15:1, with the threshold being 20:1. AFter that, it is a statistical fall-off. 25:1 is worse than 20:1; 30:1 is worse than 25:1. Where do you draw the line????

Because of Pleasanton's lack of funding, we have the worst CSR for K-3 in the whole Tri-Valley.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Nov 14, 2009 at 2:34 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

"Where do you draw the line????"

The line is drawn at where ever the increase in output is worth the input. If there's no statistically significant increase in output for what is being paid in input, there's not much justification. Education is a long-term investment. If you're pouring 84% more resources into it and only getting 4% increase in outputs...


Posted by Puhleese, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 14, 2009 at 2:41 pm

Stacey, you are cold-hearted. You do not have children, and you are quoting these "statistics" about getting a return for your money.

We are talking about CHILDREN, here!!! Not numbers, things, animals. Helping even ONE CHILD do better in school is not statistically insignificant.

What's significant is that perhaps you have shifted their life to a better path. Perhaps you have lifted him or her out of a life of poverty.

Puhleese, Stacey, get a life!!!!!


Posted by OMG, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 14, 2009 at 2:46 pm

I knew it! Stacey IS a machine! That's why she posts so much and has no friends.


Posted by I'll explain, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 14, 2009 at 3:14 pm

@ Stacey

"Please explain how the rest of the quote is relevant"

The quote is irrelevant if you believe parcel taxation for public education is a short term band aid. That the financial insulation against the full force of state budget cuts is a meaningless effort whose benefits aren't quantifiable.

The quote is very relevant if the data proves that parcel taxes result in smaller class sizes. The article you posted demonstrates that parcel taxes, once again, result in smaller class sizes. We've seen this proven in Dublin and Livermore too.


Posted by a reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 14, 2009 at 3:57 pm

To Stacey,

You said:

"Let's also remember, there's no statistically significant gain in student achievement"

But you're only talking about one study. Let's see a number of studies and a variety of expert opinions and interpretations of those studies and we might be able to make informed decisions about CSR. Findings that may apply to inner city schools may have no relevance to more affluent suburban schools, for instance.


Posted by a reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 14, 2009 at 4:03 pm

To Stacey,

You said,

"Parcel taxes are only ever a short-term band-aid solution.
San Ramon may have a parcel tax (and just passed a new one) but they've already got cutting CSR on the list. And you already know they've increased their CSR ratio too, right?"

But San Ramon is not cutting class sizes as much as Pleasanton. The parcel tax is doing its job. Also, a short term solution may be all we need. Four or five years from now we may be seeing increased revenue from a recovering economy and property values. We'll have to wait and see. That is the way these things are designed to work.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Nov 14, 2009 at 7:45 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Puhleese,

If you throw a million dollars at improving the achievement of only one child, that's not being warm-hearted. That's called being stupid. A volunteer tutor spending a little free time with a single child can have much more of an impact on that child than all the money you could pay.


Posted by Puhleese back, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 14, 2009 at 8:14 pm

Hmmm - a volunteer or a credentialed teacher and, typically in PUSD, with a post graduate degree. Puhleese back.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Nov 14, 2009 at 8:30 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Oh, ouch. You sure got me back with that one. Even educators review the effectiveness of the methods. That's the whole purpose behind studies like Tennessee STAR, but hey, anyone who dares question effectiveness must be cold-hearted.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Nov 14, 2009 at 8:35 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Also, if you're using up the time of credentialed teachers to tutor a single child when you have ready and available volunteer tutors that can tutor the child in something that doesn't need a credentialed teacher for, you're not really using your human resources efficiently.


Posted by Geez, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 15, 2009 at 7:13 pm

Stacey, it's a good thing you don't have kids. If you found out you were paying too much for their food, clothing, and shelter, you wouldn't hesitate to throw them out with the trash.


Posted by Puhleese, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 15, 2009 at 7:16 pm

Stacey, as usual you are exaggerating things. That "million dollars" you are talking about that would come from a parcel tax would go ALOT further than helping 1 child--it would restore CSR, add counselors, library staff, restore music programs, etc.

And Bah Humbug back to you.


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