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Hostile School Board

Original post made by outraged mother on Dec 19, 2009

I saw the last school board meeting on tv and I was outraged at the behavior of the divisiveness being created. This meeting is where the board votes on who will be the board president and clerk for the next year. Something they do every year and these positions are rotating positions. Board member Valerie Arkin made a great case on why she would be a good board president. Jaimie Hintzke made a motion to nominate her. And then then men on the board became quite hostile. Chris Grant is the current board president and he asked that he be allowed to be the president for another year because, as he said it, "I am having fun." That was his qualification while Arkin spoke about her recent training to be board president at a recent school conference and that she also has the time to spend during the day to help in the transition from the current superintendent to the new one (not to mention she has an MBA and volunteers a lot in the schools). The men on the board voted down Arkin and instead voted for fellow male Chris Grant to stay on the board. I do not every remember the board president being the same two years in a row. This vote ended up in a 3-2 vote.

There are two reasons why I think that the men on the board voted against Valarie. 1) They wanted to keep this board under control of the men and they did not think the women could handle it. 2) They were afraid, or pressured from staff, to not let any of the board members who ask intelligent questions to be the board president.

Valerie has obviously been spending a lot of time researching the issues (while Chris Grant has been traveling around for his job). She asks good questions and does it in a non-confrontational way. When talking about the parcel tax at this same meeting, Valerie was the one who suggested that the district engage those who were against the previous parcel tax to potentially work on parcel tax wording that has some of the problem fixed from the previous one. This is leadership. Instead Chris Grant just wanted to have meetings every month with the supporters of the parcel tax and plan how they will do the same thing again.

I hope the board members read this post and realize what they did was wrong and then reconsider their vote at the next board meeting. Valerie Arkin is well qualified. If this problem is not fixed, and this line in the ground remains there by those male board members, I would expect a lot of 3-2 votes for the next year. That is not a good thing while the district is going through budget issues, changing of a superintendent, and a potential parcel tax. In fact, I believe this vote jeopardizes any change of a parcel tax. With the women being treated the way they were at this meeting, in a disrespectful matter, I do not expect this board will be working together very well. When people work together, and respect each other, they are more willing to compromise. I would not expect many compromises this year as the 3 men have shown a disrespect to the 2 women on the board.

I sure hope the men reconsider their vote and work to bring our district back together. Their actions are much more harmful to our students than the reduced funding, in my opinion. We are going to have difficult budget times whether or not we have a parcel tax and we need a board that respects each other so they can work together. This hostile vote was not a good way to unite the board.

Comments (66)

Posted by shy, a resident of Avignon
on Dec 19, 2009 at 12:14 pm

It might not be as gender based as you think. Seniority, and perspectives (opinions, plans, thoughts, tec.) had a lot to do with it.


Posted by Jerry, a resident of Oak Hill
on Dec 19, 2009 at 2:09 pm

Old Guard vs New Guard= "Don't rock the boat" business as usual...

Ain't small town politics fun...:)


Posted by Perspective, a resident of Amador Estates
on Dec 19, 2009 at 4:12 pm

Saw the same meeting and had a far different perspective. I thought it very presumptous to push for board president after being on the board for such a short period - give it at least two years on the board. I was concerned with the attitude that it's either board president or nothing. I saw the hostility coming from rather than being directed to. As I said, it is all a matter of perspective.


Posted by Pete, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 19, 2009 at 4:56 pm

Actually, no one presented a good case. The transitional taking place within Kaiser,seems to me, would be a priority for Mr.Grant. Assisting in securing a healthcare as large as Kaiser appears very important for our children's future. On the other side of the coin, what was the point of, we haven't had a women the last two terms? No one was prepared quite frankly. Accessibility is important.I hope Mr. Grant knows where he is at and what he is there for. Isn't that what education is?


Posted by Outraged Citizen, a resident of Fairlands Elementary School
on Dec 19, 2009 at 5:16 pm


Chris Grant had been on the board for only a year and a half when he was given the position of president. Valerie Arkin has been on the board for one full year, and not an easy year, but one of the most difficult in PUSD history.
As the original poster noted, the school board president position has been a rotating one - until now. (exception being the re-election of Juanita Haugen and that was done to honor her) Arkin is more than qualified to hold the position and has demonstrated repeatedly, and unlike some of her fellow (emphasis on fellow) board members that she is willing to listen to the community, not simply to those who agree with her.
But the real issue is that currently the school board isn't running the show. The three amigos are Casey puppets and he's pulling the strings. He is the one making the decisions and getting his guy pals to back him up.
As many PUSD employees have learned, oppose Casey and he will do everything he can to silence you. (but if you bow down to him, unlike other employees, you won't get your hours cut because Casey will create a new job just for you!)
Casey wants to silence Arkin and Hintzke because having two people on the board who not only make an effort to represent the interests of the community, but who respect the community enough to listen to all sides of an issue and who have the gumption to be something other than yes men is not what Casey wants.
As for Chris Grant's wanting to remain as board president because he's having fun, guess what Chris? Those of us who attend the meetings aren't having fun listening to your rambling sappy speeches that make every meeting at least 30 minutes longer than it needs to be.
We don't want to have someone who's more interested in being the nice guy who just wants to have fun.
We want leadership. We want someone who promotes bringing the community together. We want someone who is willing to put in the time and hard work towards resolving the many issues PUSD is facing.
That person is Valerie Arkin.
Chris Grant should step down and let someone who is willing to tackle the tough stuff, who wants to work for the benefit of the community, not just have fun being a front man take over.
STEP DOWN CHRIS GRANT! DO THE RIGHT THING. FOR ONCE, DON'T LET CASEY DO YOUR THINKING FOR YOU!




Posted by Time-for-term -limits, a resident of Jensen Tract
on Dec 19, 2009 at 6:16 pm

Unlike almost every other public office at the city and state level, the Pleasanton School Board does not have a term limit of two terms. I've lived in Pleasanton a long time and the city of Pleasanton had a ballot measures about 14 years ago which limited city council members to two consecutive four year terms.

I think one of the reasons Pleasanton Unified is in such a state of chaos is that there are a number of so-called "elected officials" that got appointed in the first place, and once they are in, they stay there forever. Once in, they become an "incumbent" and get elected over and over. The reason the parcel tax failed is that the public does not believe that the functions of the school district are being monitored, and they do not trust the superintendent.

The problem with that is that so-called long time elected officials can easily get to a place that they don't provide an oversight function, but just nod "yes" to everything the superintendent says. And they are there so long that they just end up rubber stamping everything the staff members recommend.

On the other hand, I've watched the City Council meetings and Jerry Thorne, Cindy McGovern, and Matt Sullivan ask questions during the meetings and seem to have an understanding of the material. They have votes against the staff member recommendations, which show that at least they can think for themselves. When you look at the staff members answering the questions during the televised City Council meetings, the staff members appear cordial and answer the question, or if they don't know the answer, they say so.

On the televised School Board meetings, it looks to me like a rehearsed meeting. The existing superintendent, unlike the city staff members, appears on camera on the televised meetings to be very uncomfortable any time a question is asked or a subject is discussed or in some cases, seems to be responding to a question with a rehearsed speech that seems so practiced that it looks like the question was posed in advance of the meeting. The entire school district staff looks like they are very ill at ease or self-conscious or something.

With the three men on the School Board (Kernan and the other two), they just sit there, asking no questions, sort of like well-trained small children or something. Maybe the superintendent has trained the men to provide them so called 'questions' in advance of the meeting. Or maybe they just sit there in a daze or something.

Needless to say, after seeing the recent school board meeting, those three won't get any more of my votes (and I am male).


Posted by Laurie, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 19, 2009 at 6:29 pm

Outraged Citizen,

You are 100% correct and I could not agree more with your assessment of the real MO of Casey and his "yes men" on the Board. It took me going to exaclty two meetings (I know, I'm slow.....I should have figured it out in only one and saved myself the other 3 hours!) earlier in the year to understand what was happening. At that point, quite frankly, I gave up hope of any real change comming out of this Board until Casey and his "yes men" are gone. With Casey's retirement next year, one is down! In the next election round I am hoping the majority of the Pleasanton voters will tell the three gentlemen Board members "thanks and goodbye" and vote back in people who are willing to listen to ALL sides and then do what is right for the community at large, NOT what the Superintendent tells them to do.


Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Dec 19, 2009 at 7:48 pm

Groups of people always duke it out...there's no need be in agreement about everything...unless there is...duh...

All you have to do is read this blog to read about how nasty some people can be...that board is nothing to this blog...


Posted by Big Mistake, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 19, 2009 at 7:53 pm

Business as usual is exactly the wrong message to send when you are talking about another attempt for a parcel tax. This kind of arrogance is the path that led to failure the last time.


Posted by Holiday Lover, a resident of Birdland
on Dec 19, 2009 at 9:38 pm

According to the school board policies (on PUSD website), the School Board president meets with the Superintendent to discuss the meeting agenda. Maybe that's why the meetings seemed rehearsed. Except for open forum comments, there are rarely surprises.
Chris Grant seems like a nice man, but I've noticed that he always allows Dr. Casey to interrupt speakers - whether they are board members or community members. It does seem that whenever anything is being said that Dr. Casey doesn't like, he interrupts and takes over any discussion.
I'd prefer a school board president who required Dr. Casey to respect the rights of others to finish what they are saying. especially community members who are given a specific time limit.


Posted by past participator, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 19, 2009 at 10:25 pm

School Board meetings are run quite differently than City Council meetings when it comes to staff. Casey is running the show but really should be there to assist the board. At the City Council Fialho responds to the Council but never interjects his opinion or answers, or badgers, the public when they are speaking. Casey has trained the board to think they work for him instead of the opposite. Also, when Casey wants to get something to pass, he brings in other staff members to be "audience members" who plead to the Board. I have never seen a staff member from the city speak at the lectern to plead a point. It is also interesting how "involved" the unions are at school board meetings. The union presidents speeches are actually part of the agenda. For the City, I have never seen a union president speak.

I have given up coming to school board meetings. The meetings are rehearsed and if you have some good point to make, Casey is the first to try to knock down the speaker. Most Board members are puppets of Casey (the three amigos), and they are just there to approve what he asks for.

I agree that term limits would help here. The incumbent has a major advantage in an election. In the board, people run forever until they decide to move or have other things going on (which never happens at election time). Then the board appoints somebody to take their place and that person is now the incumbent. Also Casey has been trying to influence who the board appoints. I was shocked to see him steering the board out of making an appointment that he did not care for. If we had term limits, we could break this cycle.

While I think all the board members are nice people, many are under the control of Casey. That is not healthy for the district.


Posted by iwastheretoo, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 19, 2009 at 11:00 pm

t-f-t-l, I couldn't agree more with your asessment between City Council and school board meetings. Questions of the staff should be OKAY to ask in a public venue. And its okay for the staff not to know every answer--the point is to think and discuss items thoroughly to ensure the best decision is being made.

Holiday Lover, I'm sure the Mayor meets with the City Nelson prior to a City Council meeting to go over the agenda but City Council meetings do NOT come across as rehearsed. And citizens are allowed to speak without being interrupted or critized.

Pat Kernan and Jim Ott are up for reelection in the Fall. Hopefully Kernan will do the right thing and not run again. I would suggest that we need to find people to run that can think for themselves. Personally I'd like to see someone like Steve Brozosky run again.


Posted by Joan, a resident of Jensen Tract
on Dec 20, 2009 at 2:33 pm

I need to comment on what outraged mother said. I agree that the board should allow somebody else to be the president instead of having the same person hold it for two years. This is a fairness issue and it looks bad. I have lost respect for Chris, Jim, and Pat. At one time they used to talk about a community of character. Their action, and trying to publicly embarrass a board member, was real low. I hope during this holiday break that they think about what they did and reconsider their vote. They should be setting an example for our students and their latest action is not the type of behavior that I want my kids to follow. I don't like their clic.


Posted by Colin, a resident of Bonde Ranch
on Dec 20, 2009 at 5:03 pm

Let's be honest here. The entire board and council should be replaced or jailed. Valerie Arkin is not capable of even being on the board. I have known the Arkins since they moved almost 13 years ago and she has not even worked during that time. Big booster of Jerry McNerney and she is a very big proponent of high taxes. They all should be replaced!


Posted by a reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 20, 2009 at 5:58 pm

"The entire board and council should be replaced or jailed"

So maybe you could point at what crime they committed.


Posted by For shame!, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Dec 20, 2009 at 6:02 pm

So Colin, you're saying that someone who hasn't worked isn't capable?
All the stay at home parents who devote hundreds and even thousands of hours volunteering in the schools, churches, sports leagues, etc. etc. should be offended.
As I recall from Ms. Arkin's school board campaign materials, she's been an active volunteer in the schools, served on the YMCA board, and has an MBA. She's managed large budgets, and unlike some of the other board members, she and Ms. Hintzke seem capable of doing something the others are not - listening to the people who elected them. They've accepted that the parcel tax measure failed, and they are not the ones suggesting another run at a parcel tax...that's the three men on the board, so if anyone's supporting high taxes, it's them.
Stay at home parents do work, and they do much of the work that helps keep community events running.
Many of them could probably get paying positions, but instead have chosen to use their skills to give back to the community and I'm grateful for their generosity.
The collusion of the three men on the board to keep Ms. Arkin from being board president is obvious. The one board member who is willing and able to make the school board position her full time job, is denied the leadership because under her leadership, things might change.
And that's not something the "three amigos" or John Casey want.


Posted by time-for-term-limits, a resident of Jensen Tract
on Dec 20, 2009 at 6:24 pm

I think the posting above from Colin embodies the word "hostile."

Unfortunately, having thought about it and remembered the past, I believe that the male board of trustee members continue to have rampant sexism and history repeats itself. See this previous article where Kernan said that Kris Weaver, a female, was not "ready" for the job of President of the school board for the 2002 calendar year even though she was elected in the late 1990s. Web Link

In the article, also note that Cindy McGovern "questioned whether Kernan's full-time job as a lawyer and his commitment on other public boards might place a serious constraint on the time he could devote to the duties of school board president."

Given the saga with the Neal school 'agreement' and the lawsuit fiasco, I do not believe Grant and Camino resident Kernan and Ott seemed to have devoted sufficient time to the actual school board here in Pleasanton, as they seem to all be serving on multiple boards throughout the region.

Just how much time do you think Grant and Ott and Kernan can devote to the school board when they are board members of boards all over the Bay Area?

For instance, Kernan and Grant are board members for the Livermore Performing Arts Center Web Link and Ott is an advisory member of the Pleasanton Firehouse Arts Theatre. Given the propensity for the three of them to be on board after board after board, you would think that the three of them just want to maximize how many boards they are on rather than actually perform a governance function for the PUSD.


Posted by Joan, a resident of Jensen Tract
on Dec 20, 2009 at 7:31 pm

Thanks "time for term limits" for that link! It seems that Kernan has a pattern of sexism.

If you want to add to that list of other Boards that these members are on, if you go to Kernan's website (Web Link) you will see he is currently on the El Dorado Community Foundation Board and the El Dorado Land Trust Board, and his offices are in Camino, California. He even has a map showing his home office on highway 50 on the way to Tahoe, and his main number and cell number is for the Camino area. Why is he still on our board?

On the budget, I wonder why Kernan does not have to recuse himself from those votes since he has two daughters who are teachers and their jobs could be affected by the budget decision.


Posted by Really?, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 20, 2009 at 7:41 pm

Wow Joan,

Such holiday spirit. Both of Kernans daughters lost their jobs due to budget cuts. Does that make you feel better.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Dec 20, 2009 at 7:51 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Perhaps Kernan's daughters lost their jobs due to union seniority and bumping rules.


Posted by time-for-term-limits, a resident of Jensen Tract
on Dec 20, 2009 at 8:12 pm

Joan, thanks for the updates on where Kernan is the board member. Can you explain what "recuse" exactly means? I looked up "recused" on the internet, but I'm still not clear.

I'm confused because when I see compensation packages and matters involving city staff discussed at the City Council meetings, the person leaves the room. But when compensation packages and matters involving school staff are discussed at the School Board meetings, the person who is the subject of the discussion just stays in the room. Why does the City Council and School Board operate differently. Why doesn't John Casey leave the room and not leave the meeting room when his compensation is discussed like the City Council meetings?

I have another question. Maybe Stacey could answer because she seems to do a lot of good research. In looking up "recused," I found something interesting.

Is the PPIE president the same person who was removed for misconduct for violations when they were judge? I find it hard to believe, but with all this talk about Community of Character, is it possible Ron Hyde and J. Ronald Hyde are the same person?

Is Ron Hyde, the president of Pleasanton Partners in Education (PPIE)Web Link , where John Casey is vice president and Chris Grant is a board member, the same as Judge Dr. Ronald Hyde, who was removed for misconduct from the Alameda County Superior Court for improper sexually explicit comments and something involving a President of the Pleasanton School Board as discussed in this news link Web Link ? The article says:

"Showed favoritism or failed to disclose a conflict in the case of a woman who asked to have her drunk-driving probation cut short so that she could enter the Air Force. The judge was a friend of the woman's father, the president of the Pleasanton school board, and should have recused himself or at least disclosed the conflict before granting the request, the commission said."

Who was the father that was the president of the Pleasanton school board that this relates to? And are both Hydes the same person or different people?


Posted by Equality, a resident of Harvest Park Middle School
on Dec 20, 2009 at 8:21 pm

Time for term limits - Sexism describes the behavior of the three male members of the school board and John Casey. Sure wish the female board members would file a lawsuit against Casey and the other board members for the hostile and sexist environment they have created.

Stacy - of course Kernan's daughters lost their jobs to union seniority and bumping rules. He might have been able to put in a good word for them to get the jobs, but he has no pull when it comes to getting them to keep their jobs.



Posted by Joan, a resident of Jensen Tract
on Dec 20, 2009 at 8:32 pm

Recuse means they are not allowed to participate in the vote or the discussion. In the City Council, if somebody has a potential conflict with the vote (sometimes even a perceived conflict), that person cannot talk with other Council Members, has to leave the room while that item is being voted on, and cannot vote. This has occurred a few times on the Council that I remember (and the City Attorney explained the process for the public). The district has to live with the same rules (these are State rules).


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Dec 20, 2009 at 8:40 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Time for term limits,

Man, you sure seem to have dug up some dirt. Web Link PPIE is a private enterprise. They do some good work and they could probably do a lot better.

Equality,

Kernan, who would not have to pay such a tax himself, voted to place Measure G on the ballot. Had it passed, would the daughters still have their jobs? The more serious issue to me is that a non-resident voted to try to push a new tax on my property. How am I being represented by a non-resident?


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Dec 20, 2009 at 8:46 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

I don't think it is the right time for another try at a parcel tax. There is a lack of faith in the leadership, especially after the staffing decisions made during the summer (i.e., rehiring for cut positions). That won't change much until we have a new superintendent and the next election when school board seats are up. That's one reason why I think groups like PPIE need to start ramping up the city-wide fund raising activity.


Posted by Colin, a resident of Bonde Ranch
on Dec 20, 2009 at 8:51 pm

As a point of clarification I was only point out Arkins lack of qualifications in my opinion and stated they should all be replaced should our council. They are all crooks. We will all be screaming about their performance soon because money will be gone with the economy continuing to flounder.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Dec 20, 2009 at 8:53 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

I didn't much like Brian Arkin's positions when he ran for Council, but I voted for Valerie. They're not the same person. I also voted for Rallapalli.


Posted by Appalled, a resident of Danbury Park
on Dec 20, 2009 at 9:06 pm

Count me out of the PPIE fund raising efforts....

Holy moly. If anyone thinks I am donating to a fund raising organization who is led by a president who thinks nothing of having women paid by the taxpayers to do actual court work to INSTEAD do private secretarial work for him, run errands for him, babysit for his kids, and calls women sexual names like "Boom Boom," "Leg" and "Chubbs" or says "Are we having a PMS day?," my wallet is hearby closed. Adjourned.

Read all about it -

Web Link


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Dec 20, 2009 at 9:11 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

I'm a person who is more apt to donate based upon merit, not personality quirks.


Posted by Colin, a resident of Bonde Ranch
on Dec 20, 2009 at 9:13 pm

Stacey,

I just believe we are in for a huge mess and do not want to make consultants rich so we need experienced business people running our business.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Dec 20, 2009 at 9:28 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Colin,

Fair enough. Supposedly we already have experienced business people running the business. I don't believe that someone is magically outstanding though because they're an experienced business person. I think a better way to put it is by saying "proven business person".


Posted by a reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 20, 2009 at 9:39 pm

To Colin,

"experienced business people running our business. "

I think we do need a consultant and a public school district is not a business.


Posted by Colin, a resident of Bonde Ranch
on Dec 20, 2009 at 9:58 pm

Stacey,

Fair enough. Proven successful business person. Consultants are a waste of time and money. There is a person on one of these writings going by the name Einstein who has some great ideas and many others. I think if people really think about it the parcel tax thing is not going to happen until such time as the corrption is gone if ever.


Posted by Another Gatetree Resident, a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Dec 21, 2009 at 7:18 am

Wow -- This thread makes me wonder why anyone would vote for a parcel tax that will be administered by this band of happy thieves.


Posted by a reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 21, 2009 at 8:52 am

To Colin,

"There is a person on one of these writings going by the name Einstein "

Is that the person who claims to be the CEO of a major corporation? Seems like he shouldn't make claims like that or maybe use his real name.

"until such time as the corrption is gone if ever. "

I don't think any corruption was shown on this thread. This bears repeating.

"Saw the same meeting and had a far different perspective. I thought it very presumptous to push for board president after being on the board for such a short period - give it at least two years on the board. I was concerned with the attitude that it's either board president or nothing. I saw the hostility coming from rather than being directed to. As I said, it is all a matter of perspective."

How would you define "corruption free"? No one uses an office pencil for personal use? What kind of corruption are you talking about?

Anti-tax zealots were making these same kinds of claims in all the other high quality Bay Area school districts, like Palo Alto or San Ramon, when a parcel tax was up for a vote. Those communities did the right thing and voted for education. We can do the same here in Pleasanton. I would recommend you spend less time trying to dig up dirt and more time getting invovled with our schools and raising money.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Dec 21, 2009 at 9:02 am

Stacey is a registered user.

A reader wrote: "Anti-tax zealots were making these same kinds of claims in all the other high quality Bay Area school districts, like Palo Alto or San Ramon, when a parcel tax was up for a vote."

That's true. We're also seeing it on the threads regarding the City. So how does one evaluate? The question isn't whether or not x, y, or z exists, but by how much. It's like taking on debt. Taking on a little debt is ok to do and useful if it helps you expand, like students getting student loans to fund their education. But if you take on too much debt then it turns into a negative.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Dec 21, 2009 at 9:09 am

Stacey is a registered user.

That's why my reaction towards the City is more positive than towards the District. Government has to flex in a way it isn't used to flexing because of the extent of this economic downturn, but I'm more confident in the City's ability to flex than in the District's.


Posted by longtime parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 21, 2009 at 9:53 am

Consultants will be a waste of time here. In my experience with government, the consultants support staff since it is staff that is paying them. If that consultant ever wants another job at this district, or other districts, they will say that they found that management has done a fine job (and they will find just a few minor items). If they point out problems, they will not be hired by this district again and other districts will be afraid to use this consultant as he/she might find problems in their district.

The only way you could possibly find a consultant to do this is to find a retired person with the financial ability and have this person paid for by a parent/taxpayer committee. You don't want this person to report to, or to be paid for, the district staff. Otherwise we know what the outcome will be already.


Posted by Sandy Piderit, a resident of Mohr Park
on Dec 21, 2009 at 11:27 am

reader "a public school district is not a business."

I entirely agree. School districts need to balance their budgets, but they are constrained in ways that a business is not. In particular, the state requires them to teach certain subjects for a certain number of minutes to every student eligible to attend school in the district. So the board members cannot cut costs in any way they see fit, and the district cannot reduce the number of students if they can't afford to provide services to them all. If we accept the (somewhat misguided, IMO) notion that students are customers, they are customers who can demand service. A business can always refuse service to a customer, and thus avoid the costs of providing that service.

School board members do have a responsibility to taxpayers, and to students. They have to balance the budget, every year. And they cannot "raise prices" without getting approval from taxpayers. Business experience is very helpful when evaluating budgets and spending, but board members have other responsibilities as well -- to evaluate the superintendent, to approve major changes in curriculum, to review recommendations for disciplining students and teachers, etc. Parents who have volunteered also have skills they can bring to the board.

Businesses are not subject to the same constraints. In some businesses, the board might approve a loss for a year or a quarter, if they believe that revenue in the following year or quarter might exceed costs and the loss could be turned into a gain (profit). School boards, if tax revenue exceeds, can usually put those funds into a reserve to be used in future years -- but they cannot financially benefit from those revenues in excess of costs. Board members are only paid a small stipend, nothing like what board members for a business earn.

I could go on, but I heartily agree -- schools are not businesses.


Posted by Colin, a resident of Bonde Ranch
on Dec 21, 2009 at 11:41 am

Reader,

I suspect I know who Einstein is but not 100% sure and I believe it explains why he does not use his real name. Regarding if the district is a business or not I am unsure. That said I believe it important in these times that it be run as one otherwise this dIscussion of taxes is a waste of time. We need to cut costs and eliminate waste before anything else.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Dec 21, 2009 at 11:48 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Sandy wrote: "In particular, the state requires them to teach certain subjects for a certain number of minutes to every student eligible to attend school in the district."

That's the way things are currently set up. On the one hand, that's the benefit of government, providing services to those who would not normally be served by a private company. Government can provide the service at lower cost because of the ability to subsidize "for the greater good" instead of for a profit margin. On the other hand, that's the problem with government, being a monopoly the consumer doesn't have much of a choice. Students are given to districts and schools mostly based upon where they happen to live. Students do not have much of a choice. There are other states that have given more choice to students though. Schools have to actually compete for students. I haven't looked too closely at that, how that's working out.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Dec 21, 2009 at 11:51 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Perhaps we could look into giving students more choice too. Then it takes away the ability to complain about having to take whatever students show up on the door step.


Posted by longtime parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 21, 2009 at 1:02 pm

We need to treat our schools, and all other government services, as a business. We need to be able to measure the ROI. All so often we do things that feel good but we do not measure the results. We also have multiple programs accomplishing the same, or near the same thing. As a taxpayer, I want the schools to be educating our students the best they can with the resources they have. Maybe there are volunteers in the community that can assist, including parents. I feel one of the biggest reason we have good schools in Pleasanton is because of the parent involvement. Besides the additional time and money they put in, they get to interact more with their kids and their kids see the value of education more since their parents are involved. A student that has their parent at school is going to do better than a parent who sends their kid off to school and does not communicate with the teachers. Not everybody can spend the time in the school but they can at least communicate with the teachers and be involved.


Posted by Shocked!, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 21, 2009 at 1:07 pm

Time for Term Limits,
I am also shocked that a man who was fired as a superior court judge for numerous incidents of misconduct is heading up PPIE.
While PPIE has made valuable contributions, I have to question the judgement of a group that has elected such a man to be its president. I won't make any further contributions to this group unless Mr. Hyde is removed. Supporting a group who honors a man guilty of discrimination and gross misconduct is tantamount to condoning the behavior.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Dec 21, 2009 at 1:39 pm

This link, supposedly presented at Sony's shareholder meeting, does give one something to think about in terms of what we are or are not doing for our students.

Web Link

Much of this has always been the case, learning behind the curve and adapting in college and the world of work. However, it does point out that now, changes occur more rapidly. For me, it speaks to how schools are stuck in one delivery system with little innovation or at least, not moving fast enough to address the future our children will face.


Posted by Colin, a resident of Bonde Ranch
on Dec 21, 2009 at 2:20 pm

I just read in the paper that JC's are going to offer bachelor degrees and California is facing another 30 billion deficit so I suggest we will have tto run schools like a business or the result will be no money.


Posted by Answer, a resident of Grey Eagle Estates
on Dec 21, 2009 at 2:28 pm

Time for Term Limits
You stated:
"Showed favoritism or failed to disclose a conflict in the case of a woman who asked to have her drunk-driving probation cut short so that she could enter the Air Force. The judge was a friend of the woman's father, the president of the Pleasanton school board, and should have recused himself or at least disclosed the conflict before granting the request, the commission said."

To answer your question, the School Board President referred to was Pat Kernan.


Posted by time-for-term-limits, a resident of Jensen Tract
on Dec 21, 2009 at 2:36 pm

I looked at the video that the poster put above and I do agree. Thank you for posting it.

The traditional education delivery model focuses on the students regurgitating what they are taught.

In truly student-centered education in this rapidly changing world, education must help students develop their own ideas, ask questions, rather than simply having them regurgitate information. It is about discussing issues and encouraging innovation in an atmosphere of open exchange, where students' views and diverse perspectives are respected. Education is about learning to think clearly, adapt quickly, to write well, to argue thoughtfully and developing the student's fullest intellectual potential.

In most corporate organizations, there are checks and balances, but I do not see this happening with the current majority of the School Board (the three). And if the persons in charge (superintendent plus the three) are perceived to have a rather skewed view of public service (the "I am in charge, I can do no wrong, do not dare to question my viewpoint or authority"), then we are headed for failure on all fronts, including fiscally.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Dec 21, 2009 at 3:06 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

OK, now the conversation is getting to the heart of the matter and looking at the bigger picture. What is your substantive concept of education? What are the goals? How do we know that we're achieving that? Are we doing what we need to? Are we doing what we don't need to?

Now's perhaps the opportune time to provide this link: Web Link There's a preview sample available to view.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Dec 21, 2009 at 3:17 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

So to answer the looming question about how to educate students for jobs and technologies that haven't even been invented yet...teach them how to think.


Posted by parent volunteer, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 21, 2009 at 3:38 pm

This is exactly why I feel so fortunate to have my children educated in Pleasanton.

My youngest son's teacher is a mentor teacher in the Thinking Strategies. She has been crafting this amazing teaching style for the past seven years and has paid for most of her training herself. Up until the budget mess, all teachers in Pleasanton were able to be trained by her and other teachers in the program through demonstration classrooms. She mentioned that teachers from around the state visit Pleasanton schools to learn how to instruct further than the listen and regurgitate methods a previous poster mentioned. This teacher also travels to give presentations at the county and state level.

I was at school one day volunteering when a Principal from India was visiting, asking for details about the way the teachers were instructing. Not only that, the teachers have held parent education nights on how the thinking strategies benefit kids and what parents can do at home to support their children. My other son is experiencing state of the art education in the laptop program. Harvest Park's teachers are using amazing teaching strategies incorporating technology into their program.

If you don't know what these programs are like, you really need to get into classrooms to see how teaching has changed since I was in school. You would be amazed at what Pleasanton schools are doing for our kids.

I wish more people would speak up about what is going on in our schools instead of the constant complaints. My children are doing much more than just reading and writing and scoring high on their standardized tests, they are being taught how to think critically every day. This is coming from their teachers, programs that PUSD has brought to our schools, and ones that no longer have funding for continued training.


Posted by a reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 21, 2009 at 3:56 pm

To longtime,

" I feel one of the biggest reason we have good schools in Pleasanton is because of the parent involvement."

I feel that one of the biggest reasons we have good schools in Pleasanton is that the residents demand the best teachers and principals. A parcel tax will help us continue to retain the best.


Posted by Why?, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 21, 2009 at 4:18 pm

Am I reading the above posts correctly?
[Portion removed due to hearsay]

So far, I'm not reading anything that makes me believe Kernan should be on the school board. He doesn't live here as a full time resident, there have been questions about his ability to remain impartial on questions regarding staff, and now on top of some doubt about whether he used his influence to get two of his daughters job at PUSD, [Portion removed due to hearsay]
He vetoed Kris Weaver's request to be board president giving the same reasons as he did to Valerie Arkin's nomination - not yet ready, need continuity. That makes me wonder if he is sexist.
Other people have wanted to serve on the school board, so why does Kernan continue to stay?
Is he good friends with Casey? Does he know where the skeletons are buried?


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Dec 21, 2009 at 5:04 pm

Reader - It's a single note song you are singing. No balance, no room for a choir full of voices. You are going to lose those who prefer a harmony.


Posted by Colin, a resident of Bonde Ranch
on Dec 21, 2009 at 6:06 pm

Longtime resident,

I think you are right. Reading all of this I now believe it should be run like a business and the leaders need to be held accountable both professionally and personally. After reading all of this I would be against raising anymore revenue for them to waste and not until the entire board is replaced. I was aware they lacked capability but did not know they were corrupt until reading all of this.


Posted by a reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 21, 2009 at 7:13 pm

"It's a single note song you are singing. No balance, no room for a choir full of voices."

I hardly think these forums are suffering from too much pro-parcel tax posting. With comments like "That makes me wonder if he is sexist.", it seems like people are happy to post hearsay and unproven allegations. I've talked about fundraisers also. If you go back and look at everything I've posted, you'll find more than just pro-parcel tax. Do you realize that people I've randomly talked to around town had no idea that all the other high quality school districts were using parcel taxes.


Posted by a reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 21, 2009 at 7:14 pm

"I was aware they lacked capability but did not know they were corrupt until reading all of this."

All hearsay. You would do well to do some research and check the facts.


Posted by Amador Parent, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Dec 21, 2009 at 7:31 pm

Thank you time for term limits for posting the informtion on the removal of Ronald Hyde from the Superior Court bench.
I read that one of the reasons cited for his removal was because he "showed favoritism or failed to disclose a conflict in the case of a woman who asked to have her drunk-driving probation cut short so that she could enter the Air Force." The article identified the woman as the daughter of a friend, the Pleasanton school board president, who at that time was Pat Kernan.
It would seem to me that it would be news that a superior court judge was dismissed in part because he showed favoritism to a public figure in Pleasanton.
I've searched the PW archives, but have found nothing about a drunk driving arrest connected to any school board member. There is nothing detailing a connection between Robert Hyde and any school board member.

Time for term limits, you did dig up information that seems to have been buried. In your digging, did you come across any information as to why Hyde asked for the probation reduction? In other words, did someone come to Hyde and ask for the reduction? Or did he act on his own?


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Dec 21, 2009 at 8:05 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Amador Parent,

I'm assuming you missed the link provided by another poster above so here it is again: Web Link It answers all of your questions.


Posted by Mary, a resident of Country Fair
on Dec 21, 2009 at 8:38 pm

Reader,

I bet after you get done talking everyone knows about parcel taxes whether they wanted to or not. Reader, you have any new ideas or just the same old tax and spend?


Posted by Colin, a resident of Bonde Ranch
on Dec 21, 2009 at 8:42 pm

Mary,

Thank you! Reader has blinders on does care about attacking others.


Posted by Dark Corners of Town, a resident of Country Fair
on Dec 21, 2009 at 8:48 pm

Amador Parent -
And this one...
Web Link


Posted by a reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 21, 2009 at 9:35 pm

"Reader has blinders on does care about attacking others."

I'm having trouble understanding that sentence. Are you saying I attacked someone? While wearing blinders?


Posted by a reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 21, 2009 at 9:37 pm

Mary,

I could do the same thing.

Do you have any new ideas, or just the schools are crap and you will never vote for a parcel tax?


Posted by a reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 21, 2009 at 9:38 pm

Hyde works for PPIE, not PUSD.


Posted by Interesting, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 22, 2009 at 8:31 am

The case against former Judge Hyde was very interesting to read. But who knew it was so easy for an average citizen to call and speak directly to a judge?
Thanks DCOT for providing the link...it was an eye opener!


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