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PUSD - Alternative Expense Reductions?

Original post made by Dark Corners of Town on Dec 20, 2009

The first of several "Special Board Meetings" is scheduled for January 5, 2010. Agenda and Board Packet is posted here (Web Link). The title of the meeting is "Budget and Alternative Funding Source Community Forum".
That's too bad. The Board missed a great opportunity to first focus on reducing expenses before looking for new revenue. Last year, there was a published list of expense reduction candidates to assist the discussion of last year's budget. Where is that list for this upcoming budget round? Or is the Board only going to focus on getting more money from the public? How about a community forum called 'Alternative Expense Reductions' with PUSD putting as much energy into controlling costs as in raising revenue.

Comments (32)

Posted by what did you expect?, a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Dec 20, 2009 at 9:38 am

Remember this perspective when they come after us for another so-called essetial parcel tax. They are only willing to go after more revenue, not willing to cut expenses. The former must never happen without first doing the latter.


Posted by parent volunteer, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 20, 2009 at 10:11 am

"They are only willing to go after more revenue, not willing to cut expenses."

I guess with this perspective you have completely missed the 10million+ in cuts that have been made in PUSD including 33% of the district office staff. Not enough for you? Not to worry, the mid year cuts are coming, and after that the 2010-2011 budget cuts look even larger- no CSR, possibly a school closure? All which have been discussed publicly.

These cuts have reached every administrator, school, teacher, classroom, and student. How about a community forum called " learn the truth about what the lack of funding is doing to the education of our children" oh yeah, those have already been held for the past three months all over Pleasanton.

How about attending these community forums to get this information so you can hear how your wishes are being fulfilled.


Posted by a reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 20, 2009 at 10:18 am

To "Dark Corners...",

Please start attending some meetings and get involved. As the above poster pointed out, there have already been significant cuts. Please gets your facts straight before you post.


Posted by Dark Corners of Town, a resident of Country Fair
on Dec 20, 2009 at 3:26 pm

To 'a reader' -

What facts are not straight?


Posted by Rat Turd, a resident of Danbury Park
on Dec 20, 2009 at 5:32 pm

Dark Corners,

Reader is on the side of parcel taxes with no cuts. I guess nobody is thinking about the next step after the parcel tax fails.


Posted by Disappointed, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 20, 2009 at 5:44 pm

The one cut that never happened was car allowances.
But, it probably does cost $500+ a month in car expenses for PUSD administrators to travel those long distances to and from one Pleasanton school to another. And the superintendent needs at least $1,000 a month to travel to schools, the County office, and out to lunch. Our tax dollars should go towards giving these people these perks, as well as paying for any lunches they choose to have out of the office. What better use can be made of our money than to provide some extras for administration?


Posted by a reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 20, 2009 at 5:54 pm

"What facts are not straight?"

There have been cuts in CSR, reading specialists and more. People call those "expenses".


Posted by a reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 20, 2009 at 5:55 pm

"I guess nobody is thinking about the next step after the parcel tax fails."

What parcel tax. I wasn't aware there was one on the ballot. What are the terms?


Posted by Dark Corners of Town, a resident of Country Fair
on Dec 20, 2009 at 6:56 pm

To 'a reader' -

The 09-10 budget contained expense reductions in programs like those you listed. Those decisions were for the 09-10 budget.

The Board of Trustees is now laying the groundwork for the 10-11 budget. The meeting schedule shows four 'Special Board Meetings' that include a 5 pm 'Budget Hearing', the last of these is May 25. For the 10-11 budget, what is the next set of expense reductions being considered? What are possible new revenue sources? This is a new budget. It will have to consider anew revenues and expenses. To go into this budget cycle with the first community meeting focused on new sources of revenue instead of a balanced approach (expense reductions and new revenues) is an interesting political move.


Posted by parent volunteer, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 20, 2009 at 7:34 pm

Where is it stated that there is no other alternative than public funding. You automatically jump to the assumption that there are no future cuts? Have you been to the meetings over the past three months where this has been discussed with community members, parents and staff? It is actually an interesting political move on your part. Place the suspicion and fallacies early.

There is nothing new about the future cuts. This has been written, spoken about, published. One time money was used to fund 25:1 class sizes. This funding will not be there in 2010-2011. Numerous teachers will be cut, classes are going to 30:1 and a school closure could be possible. On top of that the libraries, music, science teachers, computer techs, classroom budgets, and SLIP budgets are all possibilities. News from Sacramento and mid year cuts will make some of this a reality in January. And you speak of balance? It has only been about cuts to PUSD this year, and next.

Is this what you are campaigning/hoping for?


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Dec 20, 2009 at 7:56 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

DCoT,

I think the list you are referring to was the "Cabinet identified list of reductions" which was published at the beginning of the year. Perhaps there is no list yet because it is too early.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Dec 20, 2009 at 7:59 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

I think what was then done was that the Budget Advisory Committee (BAC) prioritized the Cabinet list. There wasn't obvious transparency in how the list was put together from whatever information was published on the website, if it was a top-down or bottom-up approach.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Dec 20, 2009 at 8:14 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Here's one of the BAC surveys for FY 2009/2010 from the PUSD website: Web Link


Posted by longtime parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 20, 2009 at 8:24 pm

The BAC was not allowed to enter new things to the list. They were told that they had to prioritize the items from Cabinet.


Posted by Dark Corners of Town, a resident of Country Fair
on Dec 22, 2009 at 7:42 am

To - 'parent volunteer'

I'm having difficulty finding all the 2010-2011 items you mentioned 'published' on the PUSD website or in PUSD materials. Can you post the links here or let the community know where it can get these publications?

Thanks.


Posted by parent volunteer, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 22, 2009 at 10:54 am

Walk into a school in this town, attend a SSC meeting, a PTA meeting. Parents, community members, staff, and teachers are holding dialogues about what their schools value, what programs are working, and the reality of how to run them with cuts to the budget. Published? Take a handout.

I'm having difficulty finding information stating that alternatives are not being explored. You know this as a fact? Do you have this "published information" you claim on this post?


Posted by longtime parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 22, 2009 at 12:20 pm

To parent volunteer,

You can look at the other thread on this board about the Budget Advisory Committee and there is a comment from Al Cohen who was on the BAC and tells that their role was not to come up with alternatives.


Posted by parent volunteer, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 22, 2009 at 2:26 pm

Long time parent,

Then how do you explain the 10+ million that was cut from the budget? These were all alternatives to this community paying a parcel tax. Does Al mention why these alternatives were the ones that were carried out, or the rules and regulations the district has to follow in accordance to cuts? It seems like I keep hearing the blame without the reasoning behind the decisions that are made. Are you saying that whose idea it comes from makes it a better cut?


Posted by longtime parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 22, 2009 at 3:44 pm

The budget committee had good ideas; at least ideas that should have been considered. The district staff did not want to acknowledge there might be other things that could be cut or changed. Some of these cuts affected the jobs of administration so they would not let those ideas be considered. When times are tough, everything has to be looked at and for a group of administrators to make that decision before those ideas go to the public or the board, it is not a transparent environment. Even the school board members at that time asked where the ideas were that were initiated by committee (non-staff) members and staff had the look of deer in the headlights. Talking with members of this committee directly I found that cabinet was presenting a cut list of very visible things. If they could make the cuts without affecting the programs that we like, people would not vote for a parcel tax. They had to make it look like reading specialists were going to be completely cut, classroom size reduction going completely away, counselors cut way back, etc., as that is what the district survey showed that the community would want to save with a parcel tax.


Posted by Sandy Piderit, a resident of Mohr Park
on Dec 22, 2009 at 5:03 pm

Dark Corners, one of your comments makes this point:
"The 09-10 budget contained expense reductions in programs like those you listed. Those decisions were for the 09-10 budget.

The Board of Trustees is now laying the groundwork for the 10-11 budget. The meeting schedule shows four 'Special Board Meetings' that include a 5 pm 'Budget Hearing', the last of these is May 25. For the 10-11 budget, what is the next set of expense reductions being considered? What are possible new revenue sources? This is a new budget. It will have to consider anew revenues and expenses."

You are absolutely right, and I think the board will be open to ideas about the least painful cuts. It does not appear that their emphasis on Jan. 5 will be on specific proposed cuts. Nevertheless, I believe that the focus of the special budget meetings later in January and in early February will become more and more focused on what cuts will be required.

If you want to make suggestions about how to cut on January 5, I think you should! If you can't attend, I encourage you to email or call one or more members of the board. Their contact information can be found at this link:
Web Link

I spoke in public comment a few meetings ago when Patti Ingram first asked the board to consider discussing what would be involved in trying to protect our schools from further cuts by putting another parcel tax on the ballot. I said I thought it was unlikely that such an effort would succeed before the next superintendent has had a chance to settle into the job. I'm pained about this, because even with additional revenue from some of the sources below, I think there will be another round of cuts this spring. The federal stimulus money that protected some programs from being cut last spring was a one-time deal, so cuts are inevitable.

Alternative sources of revenue that are not a parcel tax might include:
-fundraising from community donors
-fundraising from corporations and foundations
-fundraising through grant applications (e.g., through the federal government's Race to the Top program)
-ideas for new income streams (renting out unused space, expanding summer school programs that bring in revenue through fees, and other possibilities that haven't been considered yet)
-donations in kind (paint for building maintenance, gasoline for lawnmowers, anything we might be able to get an organization to donate rather than pay for it)

I want the board to ask for other ideas about generating new revenue like the ones above. I am also willing to listen to other community members with varying opinions about whether a parcel tax should be considered at all. I'm curious to hear others' points of view about whether they think a parcel tax should be considered for June or November of 2010. My gut says that anything before May of 2011 would be unlikely to pass, no matter how well the wording is crafted to take community priorities into account. But I don't want the board to make a decision based on their gut or on my input alone. They should listen to everyone who is willing to give input, both about generating revenue and about areas for cuts.


Posted by Dark Corners of Town, a resident of Country Fair
on Dec 22, 2009 at 8:58 pm

To 'a parent volunteer' -

So 'published' means I need to 'take a handout'? 40,000 voters in Pleasanton will need to come get your handouts? Hintzke and Ott said last June that the key to getting a parcel tax passed will be voter education. So far, there is no PUSD information on the 10-11 budget on their website, no list of proposed expense reductions for the 10-11 budget, and their first special budget workshop focuses on new revenues.

I suggest that if you have a 'handout' that it get posted on a website somewhere so everyone has access to it.


Posted by Dark Corners of Town, a resident of Country Fair
on Dec 22, 2009 at 9:01 pm

I recommend that since negotiations for the teacher contract is underway, that there be a freeze in step increases for the next 1-3 years.
I also recommend that the unions cut their dues in half and give the teachers back their hard earned pay. If a teacher would like to voluntarily donate to the union, they are certainly free to do so.

Anyone else have ideas they would like to contribute to this discussion?


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Dec 22, 2009 at 9:28 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Alternative revenue streams:

I came across this tonight and it stuck out at me because it looked so non-sequitur in its place. I have no idea what it really refers to, but it looks like a revenue stream. Web Link

"
35182. The governing board of any school district may market or
license any noneducational mainframe electronic data-processing
software developed by the school district to any person or any public
or private corporation or agency. Proceeds from the marketing or
licensing of noneducational mainframe electronic data-processing
software under this section shall be used exclusively for educational
purposes.
"


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Dec 22, 2009 at 9:45 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Parent volunteer wrote: "Parents, community members, staff, and teachers are holding dialogues about what their schools value, what programs are working, and the reality of how to run them with cuts to the budget."

This is what should be happening because that's how things improve, how waste is identified bottom-up, how new ideas are generated. If we had passed Measure G, these kinds of discussions would not be taking place. "A crisis is an opportunity riding the dangerous wind."

Last school year the BAC was presented with a list of cuts identified by the district administration. That way of looking at the budget is incremental, dealing with annual changes. That approach is fine sometimes. There was some talk here and at the budget forums about doing zero-based budgeting. I hope these discussions happening now lead in to looking at the budget in the same manner: what the schools value, what programs are working, what is vital to the running of the schools, etc. That's what San Diego Unified is now doing (posted on another thread). Sometimes when you look at the budget that way, you suddenly discover all the things that you really don't need and didn't even realize it.


Posted by a reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 23, 2009 at 8:36 am

"This is what should be happening because that's how things improve, how waste is identified bottom-up, how new ideas are generated. If we had passed Measure G, these kinds of discussions would not be taking place. "

Which, of course, isn't true at all. We would still be having these conversations, just like other districts that have parcel taxes are. This is due to the global financial crisis that have hurt all school districts. A parcel tax will help with that. Let's get to work getting one passed.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Dec 23, 2009 at 9:56 am

Stacey is a registered user.

A reader wrote: "We would still be having these conversations"

Which, of course, isn't true at all. The depth and breadth of the conversations would be superficial. The ball would be kicked down the field further.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Dec 23, 2009 at 10:00 am

Stacey is a registered user.

For example, no one cared that the district was spending over $120K-$150K on cell phone charges until the budget crisis forced people to take a serious look.


Posted by parent volunteer, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 23, 2009 at 10:15 am

Really DCOT, maybe I'm not saying it clearly enough.

There is no parcel tax up for a vote. Meetings have taken place in order to address impending cuts and what people value saving and possibilities for cuts. The process of bringing a parcel tax to a vote must be brought forward from the community, not the district. After many of these meetings a group came forward requesting the board to look into further. If it does go to a vote, a process of educating the community about what they are voting on would be important.

You seem to have really jumped ahead of the process- demanding that 40,000 people have a handout? This is not an online only process. The real work has been taking place in person. This is crucial to educating people, not rushing the process, and to say it isn't happening is misleading.

It's really your choice about whether you feel strongly enough to attend or your set only with the suggestion of the teachers only pay for the services they provide. Interesting considering your point earlier in this thread--->"To go into this budget cycle with the first community meeting focused on new sources of revenue instead of a balanced approach (expense reductions and new revenues) is an interesting political move."

My idea is to work to not create a them vs. us attitude. To encourage community members to join the process of coming up with a balanced solution. To educate the community about why choices are made according to rules and regulations that are mandated by the state. To find out what our schools are doing right and what it takes to make that happen. And to hear what the community values in educating our children and what they are willing to cut.

These are the steps I think need to happen through constructive dialogues, not something that can be accomplished through a handout.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Dec 23, 2009 at 10:24 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Has anyone seen that commercial where the man asks the little girl if she'd like a pony? She says yes and he gives her a little toy pony. Then he asks the same question to another girl who happens along and she says yes. Then the man calls in a real live pony and gives it to the second girl. The first girl asks why she didn't get a live pony and the man says something to the effect that, well, she didn't ask for the live pony.


Posted by Dark Corners of Town, a resident of Country Fair
on Dec 24, 2009 at 8:17 am

To 'a parent volunteer' -
You are clear, thank-you.
A parcel tax process is driven by the district. A community can not create one. That the community must support it (vote in favor) is necessary. And we can agree that an educated electorate, (hopefully all 40,000 of them) is better than an uninformed one.
What is there to hide with this 'handout'? Why can't it be posted to the web? Is it a PUSD approved document? If so, then it should be made available to all in the most effective way possible (we do live in the internet age....). If not, then the carefully doled out community education (using community organizing techniques) is no more real than the parcel tax that you and 'a reader' are so quick to say does not exist.
The PUSD Board's first special board meeting is titled 'Budget and Alternative Funding Source Community Forum' on Jan, 5. I encourage everyone to attend, watch, participate.
Merry Christmas everyone and Happy New Year!


Posted by Sandy Piderit, a resident of Mohr Park
on Dec 24, 2009 at 3:40 pm

Parent volunteer and DCOT, I agree with you both.

Parent volunteer wrote, "My idea is to work to not create a them vs. us attitude. To encourage community members to join the process of coming up with a balanced solution. To educate the community about why choices are made according to rules and regulations that are mandated by the state. To find out what our schools are doing right and what it takes to make that happen. And to hear what the community values in educating our children and what they are willing to cut. These are the steps I think need to happen through constructive dialogues."

DCOT wrote, "The PUSD Board's first special board meeting is titled 'Budget and Alternative Funding Source Community Forum' on Jan, 5. I encourage everyone to attend, watch, participate."

I'll just add that the meeting of the board is scheduled for 6:30-7, and then the community forum will occur from 7 pm onward. The location is the Amador Valley High School Library.

Come one, come all!


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Dec 28, 2009 at 6:50 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Alternative revenue sources...

This isn't an alternative source. It is the main source. Increase enrollment in order to obtain more total ADA revenue. The question was asked in another thread on how to do this. There are many answers, of course. In California, people who work in Pleasanton can seek to have their elementary-aged children enrolled in Pleasanton schools. There is some of that that goes on already, it is just a matter of if there's room and it is up to the district on who they will take. Another reason for transfers is if we offer some program that isn't available in a district of residence. This is one reason why districts create magnet schools. So there is the opportunity to market and pursue such transfers in order to increase enrollment. It is a matter of gathering the right information to see what is possible. Think outside the box.

For the Hacienda TOD project, roughly 300 additional students are expected according to preliminary estimates. PUSD supposedly can take them. If they could do it at some point in the future, they can probably do it now.


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