Town Square

Post a New Topic

Scool Budget Crisis: Have we really thought outside the box?

Original post made by Al Cohen on Jan 12, 2010

A couple of months ago I resigned from the Budget Advisory Committee (BAC) due to a growing frustration that this was an ineffective committee. The assumption I had, after being asked to join by a school board member, is that the committee was in need of parents from the community with business experience. I was amongst several parents with corporate backgrounds that came on board for the '09-10 school year. Of that group several no longer attend meetings or have resigned.

When several parents expressed our frustration with the BAC to a board member, we were told to go to the school board meeting and propose the same issues we had at the BAC meeting so that there was a public record. This recommendation in itself spoke volumes as to the effectiveness of this committee. The reality is that the BAC is given the role of ambassador to the community to carry the message that comes down from the district and the school board. It is given a Hobson's choice of cuts that there is simply no good answer.

In my last meeting back in the fall, I had suggested several potential revenue enhancing ideas to the committee. I had mentioned 1) selling of non-core assets (such as the Neal property in ruby hills.)This is standard practice in the corporate world to refocus your business 2) looking at increasing revenues from the school facility use by clubs and other groups during non-school hours. These were just illustrative ideas since we had no real picture of how revenue is generated beyond taxes.

At that time the mention of a sub-committee for revenue was brought up. I volunteered to join and subsequently never received any info that I had asked for. As stated I have since resigned due to a great frustration with the glacial pace of this committee. Today I spoke with a member of the BAC and he stated that they just decided at the meeting last week to get this sub-committee organized and appoint a facilitator.

I have spent over 30 years in business and 10 years as a volunteer at various school sites in PUSD. The difference in sense of urgency is astounding. I have heard board members state that you can't run schools like a business. I don't particularly agree (that is a subject for another time perhaps), but at least show a sense of urgency when it comes to thinking outside the box. Be open minded and allow non-traditional thinking to be encouraged. Think of different scenarios other than cut expenses and initiate a parcel tax. What would it hurt to convene some business minds and let see if there are things that can be done so we don't have to layoff teachers, custodians and counselors?

We are facing yet another year of difficult choices for the Pleasanton schools. The outlook for the next several years look grim. I encourage all parents to get involved. The schools are paid for by our tax dollars for the primary service of educating our children. My experience at the school sites working with teachers and administrators gives me comfort that they are doing the best they can given the situation. Hopefully with new leadership at the district and new board members, we can get Pleasanton schools back to where we feel that we are giving our children the best education possible.

Comments (148)

Posted by resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 12, 2010 at 3:02 pm

Al,

Here is one registered and active voter that would support you in the upcoming school board election in a heartbeat. I know you have graciously volunteered your time and expertise over many years serving our community. I know it is an imposition, but please consider taking the next step and running this November. Your presence on the PUSD Board would go a long way to help restore confidence that the district is being capably managed.


Posted by Amador Parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 12, 2010 at 3:10 pm

Make that two.
PUSD needs people like Al Cohen who have the intelligence, the expertise, and willingness to work to find all possible ways of reducing PUSD expenses and increasing revenue.


Posted by Rat Turd, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 12, 2010 at 3:16 pm

Make that a 3rd the the points above. I have seen many business types on here and when they come up with what I consider great ideas and think out of the box they are told that you cannot run a school like a business. Well all is fair then and if we want to run it unlike a business we will just have to live with the result. No money and reduced services.


Posted by resident, a resident of Downtown
on Jan 12, 2010 at 3:35 pm

Al, our household would support you for the board but we would leap for joy if you were named to replace that worse than useless Casey.


Posted by Get the facts, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 12, 2010 at 3:45 pm

There are ways schools can be looked at like a business (you must have a budget and stick to it, for example), and all ideas and creative thinking should be entertained.

But you cannot completely look at it like a business. Many companies have endured losses in profit, and therefore have had to cut employees due to lack of revenue, and theoretically less work to go around (though I know many who are working harder than ever for less than they previously made). But in a school system, you can cut the budget in half due to declining revenue (declining tax money), but the product (the students) remains the same. I can cut my salary in half, but come tomorrow morning I will still have the same amount of students that I had today. THAT, is very different than business. A steady stream of funding MUST come in because the student population (at least here in Pleasanton) remains steady. The state has let the schools down time and time again, they continue to underfund the school systems, both lower and higher education.

So look at it as a business all you want, but the models don't match like so many want them to. Apples and oranges.


Posted by Dan, a resident of Southeast Pleasanton
on Jan 12, 2010 at 4:12 pm

I believe Mr. Cohen makes a lot of sense. I appreciate you taking the time to post this topic because many in the community do not know what is going on inside of those meetings.

However, your note sounds quite familiar. In the past, the Pleasanton school district has been criticized for institutional "foot dragging" and just going through the motions with no sense of urgency. The judge in the Neal case indicated that Pleasanton school district violated the "time is of the essence" clause in the Neal School agreement here which shows that they have no real concept of producing what is needed on an expedited pace(see this article for reference and the 15 page ruling here at Web Link ).

Then the school district ends up in litigation blaming other parties, never expressing any regret or issues with failing to uphold its part of the agreement, costing the taxpayers yet more money. It makes one wonder if they ever even intended to build the school in the first place.

Businesses who sell products to customers and have contracts to serve those existing customers, even when they are facing declining revenue because of decrease in new sales revenue, still have to service their existing customer base. They can't just double the price of their product or magically obtain new "revenue."

Commercial businesses that exist in highly regulated fields must follow mandates and government regulations and cannot cut programs for those products or services that are mandated by statute. They can cut those discretionary services that they provide. In addition, cost containment and budget formulation are two separate processes.

School districts need to act like commercial businesses because school districts need to treat the public they serve like real customers. And the public is after all, akin to the shareholders in a business. And the Board in the District is similar to the Board of Directors at a commercial company, with the intent being that they serve a governance function.

What the Board needs to demand is that, under management of the Board rather than staff, that an independent forensic auditor get in there in conjunction with a citizens advisory group go through the books and determine what the heck is going on over there.


Posted by Get the facts, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 12, 2010 at 4:43 pm

"determine what the heck is going on over there."

What is 'going on' is that the Sacramento has failed the school system. You can look on the local level, I'm sure it would be easy to find mistakes here and at every school district (no district is perfect), but the main mistake was made by the state. We are left to clean up the mess of the failed promise of Prop 98, which guarantees stable funding for schools.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 12, 2010 at 4:49 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

The Neal school property is a mystery. Perhaps they are going to build a school there after all. Anyway, I think the district can only cover capital expenses using money from the sale of the property. Maybe they can use it to pay down the debt on the facility bonds. Or maybe they can set up a fund like the Sycamore fund to get around the rules and use the money for operational expenses.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 12, 2010 at 4:53 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Get the facts writes: "But in a school system, you can cut the budget in half due to declining revenue (declining tax money), but the product (the students) remains the same. I can cut my salary in half, but come tomorrow morning I will still have the same amount of students that I had today."

Let's change the words in order to illustrate a slight absurdity. "You can double the budget, but the product remains the same. You can double my salary, but come tomorrow morning I will still have the same amount of students that I had today."


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 12, 2010 at 4:53 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Perhaps that's a great argument for merit pay!


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 12, 2010 at 5:00 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

How a school is like a business...

Revenue is down so we need to lay off x number of teachers because we contractually owe all employees $1.6MM more each year. Student population remains constant. That means less teachers with more students in their class, more workload.


Posted by Dan, a resident of Southeast Pleasanton
on Jan 12, 2010 at 5:07 pm

The District seems to point fingers at others when things go wrong - the developers, the attorneys, the list goes on. Now the District blames the "Sacramento" or the "State" for its failings, the "State" blames the "Feds" and the list goes on and on. The voters elected the representatives at the State level in the first place so when the District blames "Sacramento," it is actually blaming the voters, its customers.

Successful commercial businesses have to operate in economic uncertainty. They have forecasts of revenue projections, but those are only forecasts; consequently, they set themselves up to have adequate funds for periods of economic recession.

If their profit/loss statements or quarterly earnings are not what it hopes it will be, they don't go issuing press releases about the failings of the "State" or the failure of prospects to see the value their products and services offer. They take responsibility for what happens.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 12, 2010 at 5:09 pm

Al:

Should you choose to run for the board this fall, you have my full support. We need someone like you on the board. My neighbor is here with me, and you have the support of that household as well.

Many people continue to say that we cannot run a school like a business, and I highly disagree. Many people want to blame Sacramento. It is true that Sacramento has failed in many ways, but the school districts need to accept their own problems too.

Looking at the list of possible cuts, I am disappointed to see that CSR for instance is on the chopping block again, yet the step and column item is only up to negotiations with the unions! The school district calls for students to stop elective absences and yet they do not say anything about teacher elective absences. The administration just renewed the assistant superintendent contracts, with all their nice perks. Business as usual so far, we need to make some changes.

We need people with solid financial experience and common sense to get on that board. Right now, the YES men are of no use.

Please consider running for the board.


Posted by resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 12, 2010 at 5:46 pm

GTF wrote: "What is 'going on' is that the Sacramento has failed the school system."

This is my favorite "sounds good, but completely misses the point" argument that is continuously pushed by the California Teachers' Union and their various subsidiaries. The implied message is that they have a printing press, but someone forgot to plug it in! What a bunch of dummies!

Of course this disconnect conveniently ignores the actual process that the state of California uses to raise money taxes. Taxes on business income, taxes on personal income, taxes on merchandise sales, taxes on property values. When businesses make money, they pay more tax (and hire people). When individuals make more money, they pay more tax. When more items are sold locally (a derivative of the previous two categories) they collect more sales tax. When there is more discretionary money available, property values go up, and (you guessed it) they collect more tax (I know this one is slightly over simplified, but the rest are as basic a second grade math).

Now, the state has a big (virtual) pile of money that it must divide to operate the services that it has agreed to provide. And through careful negotiation by the CTA and affiliates it has lobbied for and passed laws that guarantee education will get first crack at the pile, and the lion's share.

So now we get to the distribution part. When state revenue is up, school districts get more money. They expand their offerings. They hire more people and pay a better wage.

Now can anyone guess what must happen when state revenue is down? Don't raise your hand just shout out the answer. But if you answer create a new tax you have flunked the test and will need to repeat the lesson to advance.

Class dismissed.


Posted by resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 12, 2010 at 6:40 pm

By the way, did you mean school, or some hip contraction of "it's cool"? ;-)


Posted by letsgo, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 12, 2010 at 6:59 pm

Stacey - this thread started off with intellectual information and some decent information exchange and you throw out one-liners about teachers and crap. If you can't add to a reasonable discussion, please stay at the countless other threads about district cuts and b**** there.

I applaud those who created the thread and those actually adding to the discussion. Of course I must condemn myself, because this post adds nothing of value to a reasonable discussion.


Posted by Amador Parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 12, 2010 at 7:43 pm

Dan's comment that an independent auditor should review PUSD's finances is a good one.
If PUSD has done a good job managing its finances, an audit will confirm this.
If PUSD has not done a good job managing its finances, au audit will confirm that.
But either way, the truth will be known.


Posted by Steve, a resident of Highland Oaks
on Jan 12, 2010 at 8:03 pm

Al, as an executive at a Fortune 100 company, I hear you. I don't think I could stand dealing with that situation. Its a joke and I feel more than justified in voting NO on all property tax increases. The schools give my kids tons of homework but will not do their own. I really think they should take a class in basic economics and finance.

The one thing I think is funny is that people say a school cannot be run like a business. Really? What are all those private schools? Yes their funding mechanisms are different but that doesn't matter. The point is that its a business and it can be done.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 12, 2010 at 8:24 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

letsgo,

Surely a more convincing argument can be made for how a school is not like a business! The one presented so far was rather faulty.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 12, 2010 at 8:45 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

resident wrote: "The implied message is that they have a printing press, but someone forgot to plug it in! What a bunch of dummies!"

Education is roughly 40% of the California state budget. They could increase that percentage and effectively "print money" without actually printing money. :D Of course it means cutting elsewhere. That's one reason why CA parents mobilizing in Sacramento could have an effect.


Posted by a reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 12, 2010 at 9:47 pm

"The one thing I think is funny is that people say a school cannot be run like a business. Really? What are all those private schools?"

People say public schools can't be run like a business. Public schools cannot refuse to serve customers. Private schools can. It is a totally different model.


Posted by a reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 12, 2010 at 10:05 pm

To Al Cohen,

"but at least show a sense of urgency when it comes to thinking outside the box. Be open minded and allow non-traditional thinking to be encouraged."

I agree that there needs to be a sense of urgency. As to "thinking outside the box", of course we shouldn't discourage it, but in the case of PUSD, I think a bit of conventional thinking would go a long way. If we look to what some of what the best school districts in the Bay Area are doing, we can ask ourselves what they are doing right, and ask how they able to provide the level of quality education that they provide within the constraints of their budgets.

Looking at these districts in the Bay Area, several consistent themes emerge. First, they do a better job than Pleasanton in raising funds from the community. In San Ramon, parents are asked, quite forcefully, to donate to the school district when registering their children for school. I think Pleasanton needs to do this. Second the best school districts communicate well with community. They set priorities that match the values and needs of the residents. The provide transparency and feedback when adding programs and making cuts. Third, these districts use parcel taxes to help maintain the quality of the education experience provided by their schools.

I agree with you that the district needs to be more responsive, needs more of a sense of urgency, and needs to be more open to new ideas. But I also believe that some inside the box thinking can get us much of what we need.


Posted by letsgo, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 12, 2010 at 10:20 pm

While I agree that there are many aspects that a school can be operated like a business, there is one HUGE difference. A public school can not change the price of their product. If we had a great school in Pleasanton and a horrible school in Pleasanton, their cash flow (per student) would be the same. In the business world, if you have a great product, you can charge more for it (or if you can make people think your product is better you can charge more for it). In a public school, you are limited to the funds provided to you annually and those funds are in no way based upon the schools performance. Which is the same model for private schools. You have a perceived better product, people are willing to pay more to send their students there.

But let's be honest here - there is a huge correlation in schools across America between per capita income and test scores (ie student performance). Those schools that are in wealthy areas are going to out perform those in poor areas. The main reason is that the wealthy people became wealthy because they were smarter than others. And we know from high school Biology all about genetics, so smart people have smarter children. I know this sounds completely politically incorrect and of course not all poor people are dumb and not all wealthy people are smart, but in a generalized sense, especially within the working class it is a truism you can not deny.

The point being that the Pleasanton schools aren't going to suck for a long time. The problem is that a slow decline is ok for most people because it goes unnoticed and understandibly it won't really affect too many people who currently live here.


Posted by letsgo, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 12, 2010 at 10:33 pm

While I may be going slightly off topic, I've been thinking about high school sports. I must admit that I have very recently changed my mind regarding school funding of extra-curricular activities (although I guess they like to call the co-curricular activities these days). While I still believe that sports teams are important, I don't think the schools should fund them. My main complaint is that they exclude most of the students. Any student can sign up for any class in a high school. But yet only a select few can be part of a varsity sports team. And while the size of a team does not vary from high school to high school the size of the school does - a basketball team only has 12 people whether your high school has 250 students or 2500 students. So why should everyone pay for those that are better at sports than they are?

While I"m sure almost all sports in high school have some sort of fee, I guess I am saying that the athletes should be paying enough fees to cover all the expenses. Schools are there for education, they are not suppose to be a launching point for a select few students college scholarships.


Posted by Really?, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 12, 2010 at 11:50 pm


I appreciate Mr. Cohen for volunteering for the BAC, but it seems like it would be the members of the committee that would hold the responsibility for its success. At what point do you take responsibility? Is this how your executives run their businesses? To quit because it didn't move fast enough? And now that makes for a viable candidate for the school board? You want people from the business sector running the schools, yet was is successful on the BAC?


You call for "thinking outside the box"....but are your suggestions legal? Whether you agree with it or not the schools are bound by multiple state and federal regulations. This makes a difference when discussing "out of the box" ideas, very different from the allegations that the district isn't interested.

I see many posts slamming PUSD for "pointing the finger of blame", yet when you do it, it's ok? This is how you solve problems?

And how is this going to solve the latest news in cuts from "between the lines" of what our Governor said last week? We could be up to $6.9 million in cuts next year....now that is a lot of talking on the cell phones, really nothing to do with revenue loss.


Posted by To letsgo, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2010 at 4:41 am

"Schools are there for education, they are not suppose to be a launching point for a select few students college scholarships."

The same applies to items like elementary school counselors. Schools, like you say, "are here for education." We should not think of schools as a counseling service. Most elementary school children never even know a counselor exists at their school. The troubled children should seek professional help outside school, in the same way that kids deal, outside of school, with their dental and medical issues.

Counselors in middle and high school are needed because of the course selection and class scheduling, but in elementary school they are not needed. Ask around, most children do not even know that a counselor exists at their school. This is a way to save money: eliminate elementary school counselors.


Posted by To really?, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2010 at 4:52 am

"I appreciate Mr. Cohen for volunteering for the BAC, but it seems like it would be the members of the committee that would hold the responsibility for its success. At what point do you take responsibility? Is this how your executives run their businesses? To quit because it didn't move fast enough? And now that makes for a viable candidate for the school board? You want people from the business sector running the schools, yet was is successful on the BAC?"

The problem with committees such as BAC is that they are there for show. I was involved in something similar in another school district, and it is a joke. For the most part, committees like this exist so the board can say they are receiving and following input from the community. Look at parcel tax oversight commitees, same nonsense. I would like to see Al Cohen run for the board. After all, Kernan has not announced that he is stepping down, and I want to see Kernan as far from the school board as possible since he is not even a full time resident of Pleasanton.

"You call for "thinking outside the box"....but are your suggestions legal? Whether you agree with it or not the schools are bound by multiple state and federal regulations. This makes a difference when discussing "out of the box" ideas, very different from the allegations that the district isn't interested."

The ideas should at least be explored. How do we know the ideas are not legal if the district does not even listen to them? Come on, the district spent money defending Kernan being on the board, they said legally he could be on the board and met the residency requirements. If they could come up with this, I suppose they could find loopholes for just about everything.

"I see many posts slamming PUSD for "pointing the finger of blame", yet when you do it, it's ok? This is how you solve problems?"
The difference is that PUSD works for the taxpayers in this community. As their employer, we want results not finger pointing. Sacramento is to blame for some of the deficit. But some is due to PUSD poor choices and lack of financial planning.

"And how is this going to solve the latest news in cuts from "between the lines" of what our Governor said last week? We could be up to $6.9 million in cuts next year....now that is a lot of talking on the cell phones, really nothing to do with revenue loss. "

The govenor also released a document outlining reforms for education. Among those are the reforms to the seniority system, so when layoffs take place, seniority is not what determines who gets to stay employed. The governor also asked for the substitute teacher regulations to be reformed because right now it is too costly for school districts. The governor called for many reforms, along with budget cuts. The district has quickly pointed out the potential deficit due to the governor's proposal, why hasn't PUSD pointed out the proposed reforms as well? Could it be because the powerful unions would get mad? Could it be because PUSD does not want to change the way things are done? Only PUSD has the answer to that, but it seems strange that they would only talk about the cuts but not about the proposed reforms.


Posted by T. R. Ollman, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2010 at 5:49 am

I like how Stacey pops into a discussion about the efficacy of the BAC and alternate revenue opportunities so she can invent a hypothetical budget-doubling and skewer teachers in this pretend scenario.

Keep spewing the venom Stacey! That'll teach people to help our kids!


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2010 at 6:58 am

"it seems strange that they would only talk about the cuts but not about the proposed reforms."

Ture, the school district should consider the reforms as well. The reforms, if approved, would save money. By being able to layoff the senior teachers who may not be effective, and keep the newer ones who are, we save money because a teacher with more seniority costs more. We would also get to keep teachers based on performance, so our children would receive a better education.

The school district should release the tentative deficit assuming that the proposed reforms will also go through.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2010 at 7:00 am

"it seems strange that they would only talk about the cuts but not about the proposed reforms."

True, the school district should consider the reforms as well. The reforms, if approved, would save money. By being able to layoff the senior teachers who may not be effective, and keep the newer ones who are, we save money because a teacher with more seniority costs more. We would also get to keep teachers based on performance, so our children would receive a better education.

The school district should release the tentative deficit assuming that the proposed reforms will also go through.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 13, 2010 at 8:35 am

Stacey is a registered user.

T.R. Ollman,

I like how my post about the Neal school property on this thread and my discussions about the efficacy of BAC and alternative revenue opportunities in other threads has been completely ignored in a quest to attack me. Keep up the good work!

A reader,

Your response above to Al Cohen is ironic. When I've written about status quo in the district, you said you were comfortable with that. Now it looks like you're finally getting it.


Posted by P-town Dad, a resident of Amador Estates
on Jan 13, 2010 at 8:49 am

Al,

First of all, thank you for your contribution to the committee. The fiscal principles you are recommending make total sense, but our school district often gets mired in bureaucracy. In this time of crisis we need fresh thinking people on the board. Would you consider a larger role with the school board?


Posted by Amador Parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2010 at 9:15 am

The Budget Advisory Committee was not what its name implies. Members were not permitted to advise on the budget. They were given a list of PUSD administration/school board pre-selected items which could be possibly cut, and asked to prioritize that list.
However, by advertising that the BAC had submitted a list of potential cuts to the School Board and community, PUSD gave the impression that the BAC members had reviewed the PUSD budget.
This misconception was cleared up by Mr. Cohen and other BAC members.
Their frustration is understandable. Many of them have years of financial training and business expertise and were willing to donate their time to help PUSD find ways to run more efficiently. They were willing to learn how a school district operates, what expenses were mandated by State law, review contracts, etc.
But they were not given the opportunity to do this.

I believe an independent audit of PUSD's budget is a good idea. However, it will cost money.

Why not let a group of people, who like Mr. Cohen have the know-how and are willing to donate their services, review the entire PUSD budget?

In other words, why not create a Budget Advisory Committee that does what its name implies?

Let them see the entire budget, let them see financial records for the past few years, let them see every contractor and consultant contract. Open up all the files and let them do the job they so willingly have offered to do.

It couldn't hurt.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jan 13, 2010 at 9:24 am

Letsgo, Schools change the price of their product every year; districts receive a COLA and they give a raise; it changes S&C, and suddenly it costs more per student to give an education at both the high performing school and the lower performing school regardless of their performances. Your argument seems to end up supporting merit pay.

And yikes! on the genetics=intelligence, working class people ain't got no smarts thing. There isn't space to list all the cases that would disprove that comment.

Oh, and here's what the president of the American Federal of Teachers said about teacher evaluations and discipline Web Link Could be a baby step in the right direction.

And Al, go for it! We need strong candidates for the board. My hope is that the three men currently seated will all step down for this election.


Posted by Thor, a resident of Del Prado
on Jan 13, 2010 at 9:34 am

Al, Great job in sharing the severity of the budget issue within Pleasanton schools.

Just a couple comments for the public to think about:
Our tax dollars are sent to Sacramento and then doled out to the various school districts within our state. By law, every school district gets the same amount of revenue per student. We need the best and most dedicated teaching our kids if we want to continue to have the performance we have grown accustomed too in Pleasanton.

How to get there:
1. Rethink funding PE and sports. Make it "homework". Many of us already have our children participating in fitness activities. Is it really necessary for our schools to take 50 minutes per day to do this? Additionally, many of our children play sports outside of school. I believe it is only fair that the kids that play these sports get funding by their family or through grants.
2. By eliminating PE, we can increase the teaching time for our core educational classes. Teachers will have more time to cover concepts, perform lab experiments, and have the children work in class to improve on their retention of the concepts and theories being taught.
3. Change the pardigm that every child in Pleasanton needs to be tracked along a university school program to develop multi-tracking programs - vocational schools, Junior colleges and University programs. By developing these tracks, the teachers get students who want to learn and perform according to their goals. This will set clear expectations of performance in the class and for every one of the parents of these children. There will not be "cries" of too much homework.
4. Ultimately, we need the School Unions to realize that the public is their customer and begin servicing their customers. We have some terrific teachers in our district, however, we also have many who should be teaching in JC's or at the college level, since they don't work well with children. The union needs to address these types of members and offer support to move them into roles that will increase the members teaching effectiveness. Also, the Union should be working to have the teachers that are most effective share their techniques and methodologies with others to improve every teacher's effectiveness. If the Unions are not going to take responsibility for their members, the district should realize that the Union is not providing any value to the customer and look else where for competent employees.

While our schools are facing several years of challenging times ahead, this is also an opportunity to rebuild our school district to succeed into the future.


Posted by Mary, a resident of San Ramon
on Jan 13, 2010 at 9:47 am

This is why I don't live in Pleasanton...


Posted by To Mary, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2010 at 10:20 am

"This is why I don't live in Pleasanton.."

Good for you if you like San Ramon. We did not buy in San Ramon because of the lack of a downtown (Danville has one but not San Ramon) and how spread out the school boundaries are. You have Danville, the old San Ramon, the new Windemere, all going to the schools, there is a sense of division depending on your neighborhood. My close friend rents a house there but now that they are about to buy, they are looking outside of San Ramon. Every community has different things people look for. Schools are just one part of why we bought a house here in Pleasanton. We like the downtown, the parks, and the fact that only one city goes to our school district (unlike San Ramon school district which has people from Danville, Blackhawk, the new and old San Ramon, Windemere.).


Posted by To Thor, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2010 at 10:22 am

"Our tax dollars are sent to Sacramento and then doled out to the various school districts within our state"

Not in basic-aid districts. Pleasanton should explore the possibility of switching to this type of funding.


Posted by To Thor, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2010 at 10:30 am

"1. Rethink funding PE and sports. Make it "homework". Many of us already have our children participating in fitness activities. Is it really necessary for our schools to take 50 minutes per day to do this? Additionally, many of our children play sports outside of school. I believe it is only fair that the kids that play these sports get funding by their family or through grants."

I agree with this, but right now, California requires two years of PE for high school graduation. I am not sure if PUSD could get around this requirement by allowing students to do it on their own outside of school. Besides, what about the students who cannot or will not engage in spors after school? They too need to meet the high school graduation PE requirement.

Web Link

I like the idea of no PE, but the state would have to get involved in waivers and all of that.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 13, 2010 at 10:59 am

Stacey is a registered user.

From the article posted by Kathleen: "She said that teachers should not be evaluated on results that compare their current classes with the previous year's classes, which is the system states typically use under the No Child Left Behind law."

Exactly what CALPADs is meant to address, no?

BTW, T.R. Ollman, I think Kathleen Ruegsegger writes much better than I and yet even she gets attacked here (Be honest. Where did I "skewer" teachers?).


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 13, 2010 at 11:03 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Thor wrote: "3. Change the pardigm that every child in Pleasanton needs to be tracked along a university school program to develop multi-tracking programs"

Hush, hush. That's politically incorrect!


Posted by For Al, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2010 at 11:09 am

Al,
Thank you for your post and being willing to speak openly about the difficulties of working on the Budget Advisory Committee.
While I agree there is an absolute need for creative "out of the box" thinking, I doubt we will see that with this Board.
I recently went back and viewed the December Board meeting. Board member Jim Ott spoke at length about the need for a parcel tax. It seems he sees that as the the only solution.
One of his comments was that PUSD has cut everything possible - that there's nothing left to cut.
But on other posts, I've read how car allowances have just been renegotiated for all the assistant superintendents. It makes me wonder what other expenses, which as a taxpayer I believe are unnecessary, continue to be part of the PUSD budget.
Perhaps the BAC was not allowed to see the PUSD budget in its entirety because PUSD does not want the community to see the expenses which the community would want cut.
I can understand why PUSD administration wants to keep some expenses hidden from public view.
But I don't understand how the School Board, who is supposed to represent the public, can go along with this.
I agree with Kathleen. I hope the three men on the board step down and individuals such as Al Cohen step up.


Posted by GOP4evah!, a resident of Avignon
on Jan 13, 2010 at 11:09 am

letsgo: Stacey has a point, the problem lies with teachers. Think about it, how much of our budget goes toward paying them? Wouldn't our schools be better off if we streamlined faculty? After all, wasn't it teachers what got us into this budgetary problem in the first place? Let's stay focused on the REAL problem and solution. Stacey, don't let the haters get you down. Keep up the good fight against teachers!


Posted by To Kathleen, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2010 at 11:36 am

I agree with you. I too would like to see the three guys step down. The only board member I have respect for right now is Valerie Arkin.

Thank you for posting the article. Unions, get ready for some needed change:

"Daniel A. Domenech, executive director of the American Association of School Administrators, said Weingarten's stance on teacher quality seems realistic because the Obama administration is pushing in the same direction. "When a Democratic administration, which obviously is the only horse the union has to ride, is pushing these kind of reforms, you have to go with the flow," Domenech said. "


Posted by Thor, a resident of Del Prado
on Jan 13, 2010 at 11:53 am

Don't be hating teachers.

The product of our schools is educated children. To what degree is debatable, but without teachers, who will teach our children?

If you want to hate something/someone, hate the California Teachers Association (union). Due to the challenges the union forces on districts, it is almost impossible to get rid of bad teachers/administrators.

Focus on improving the pool of candidates and students will improve. One reform would be to limit tenure to 5 year cycles for administrators and teachers. Every employee is reviewed every five years. A good rating continues to keep that teacher with 4 more years of tenure. A poor rating requires the district to put a corrective action plan in place and review the teacher again the next year. A continuing poor rating would allow the school to terminate the teachers employment. A good rating allows the teacher 3 years of tenure.

We need the best folks to teach our children. These people are the folks who are energetic, enthusiastic about their subject matter and strive to engage their students.


Posted by resident, a resident of Downtown
on Jan 13, 2010 at 11:54 am

for "letsgo" regarding school sports:
Yes! You voiced one of my big concerns. Let's see, we grant all sorts of academic exemptions to athletes just so they can play. Some day they too could be just like the current crop of hero athletes -- Tiger the cheetah, McGuire and Bonds the dopers, Michael Vick the dog fighter . . . . . what a bunch of guys to worship!
School varsity sports do not help academics or learning so they should come at a zero cost to the schools (read taxpayers here). I do think that PE should be continued as parents seem to have created a generation of couch potatoes with a national obesity rate of over 30%.


Posted by Think, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Jan 13, 2010 at 12:11 pm

I keep hearing people talking about thinking outside the boxes.
Sell the Neal St School Property. Too who and for what price? People that's not think outside the boxes, that is the same thinking that got the whole country in to this crisis.
1) It would take a year plus to sell the property
2) Selling the property in the worst restate market in years
3) In 5 years if we need to build a school we can buy it back at 2x

Increasing the cost for clubs/groups to use school facility. Ok let's tell Special Olympics, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts we are doubling there cost. How much of the 3.6 mil will that cover? Plus many of the Gyms and sports fields are not owned by PUSD but by the city.


Plus continuing to take shots at our teachers and the staff is not going to solve anything.

YES we need to do something.
Maybe?
We request (Demand if need) that parents pay $150 dollars per child. 14,000 students in PUSD if only 9,000 paid the $150 that's 1.3 mil.
Some large fundraisers like Golf, Street Fair and so on and so on.
Maybe 100 parcel tax


Posted by Thor, a resident of Del Prado
on Jan 13, 2010 at 12:14 pm

I believe that we make decisions that affect our lives. I think that if parents are allowing their children to eat and drink things that are not healthy, they should bear that responsibility. I want my children (who swim, play soccer, dance, play volleyball) to focus on educational activities while at school, not run the mile or play some sport that they have no interest in.

As a society, we need to allow some people to fail. If parents are making poor choices for their children, should that affect my children's opportunities?

In Pleasanton, we have many opportunities for children to get exercise. We have beautiful parks, skateboard areas, sports fields, tennis courts and swimming pools.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 13, 2010 at 12:41 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

NEENER NEENER NEENER!

Questioning the BAC? Committee haters!
Questioning the budget? Budget haters!

GOP4evah, you can forget about being invited to my birthday party!


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 13, 2010 at 12:53 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Think,

The points you bring up are valid. The elephant question in the room though is what have they been hanging onto the Neal property for if they're not going to build the school (that was already paid for)?


Posted by To Think, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2010 at 1:09 pm

"14,000 students in PUSD if only 9,000 paid the $150 that's 1.3 mil."

So you raise 1.3 million....this would be used immediately to pay step and column, which costs about 1.6 million.

Why would I want to give when I know that my money would be used to pay for raises? And when I know that some of the deficit is due to poor financial decisions (renewal of assistant superintent contracts, union not making concessions and instead asking for more and more, car allowances that are not necessary, step and column that costs 1.6 million one year and doubles the next....)


Posted by Dan, a resident of Southeast Pleasanton
on Jan 13, 2010 at 1:36 pm

The BAC needs full and complete access to the District's financial records, "read access only" user ids to the District's financial system or systems, and needs to obtain the information he says in his letter he asked for from the District, but he indicates he never received. Also, in the corporate world, one of the first thing that is looked at when costs are cut is to look at the expenditures and outlays from the company. And credit cards. How many authorized school district credit cards are in the District, who has them, where are the receipts and what are they paying for?


Posted by SO WHAT, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2010 at 2:02 pm

OK
Let's just Drop the band program, drama program and sports programs.
Drop all advances programs and gifted programs
Cut 50 positions from the school staff.
Only clean the schools very other Friday
Cut all counselors
Cut all reading programs
Let's not be concerned about hiring the best teachers on the market let's just hire the cheap ones

That way we can all move on to complaining about why crimes is up in Pleasanton and are home price's never recover.

So what if they don't have the skills they need to work and lead in global economy.

They are only KID'S



Posted by ProudTeacher, a resident of Del Prado
on Jan 13, 2010 at 2:08 pm

I am a Pleasanton teacher, and I have to pay into our union... PUSD is a "union shop", so my money goes to supporting whatever the union decides to support, whether or not I agree with it. One thing that is supported is keeping every teacher in the classroom - even if they SHOULDN'T be! I find it extremely disappointing that our administration can know exactly who the "good" and "bad" teachers are, but can't do anything about it. Equally disappointing is that we know who the "good" and "bad" administrators are, and can't do anything about that. Everything in our district is based on seniority, and that's a foolhardy way to run an organization. I'd love to save the money that is currently pulled from my paycheck and see the unions (certificated, classified AND administrative) out of PUSD.


Posted by reasonable, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2010 at 2:29 pm

The school district sorely needs business expertise -- years ago I served as a PTA treasurer and was routinely pulled in by the principal to help her understand how her budget worked. (this was not PUSD by the way). Scary.

In particular, we need business people who are used to dealing with unions. Much as we'd like (ProudTeacher -- I wish there were more of you!!) we cannot get rid of the union. However, there are business managers out there who have learned how to work with these organizations and not get railroaded by them. I for one will not vote for a parcel tax until I know it will be used to keep and expand educational programs, NOT for union-negotiated raises, pensions and cadillac health are. Until step and column is seriously discussed, there can be no real budget discussion.


Posted by Concerned Parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2010 at 2:31 pm

I am baffled at the lack of support of the schools is this community. Other communities have passed parcel taxes based on their desire to MAINTAIN their good schools.

Yet, here, we are looking at ways to cut programs, teacher salaries, PE, reading specialists, CSR, etc., just so that we will have $20 extra per month to spend on who knows what.

We should be emulating high-quality school districts like San Ramon, which has the 6th ranked district in the state, not trying to be more like Oakland: not only does San Ramon have a parcel tax, which was supported by a large majority of the community, they also have an upfront "donation fee" of about $300 per child upon registration for school (Pleasanton schools ask for less than $150 per child, and even then it is only a suggested amount and very optional).

I agree with "Think" that we should make it this "donation" mandatory. We should probably raise it to at least $300 per child. This amount is MUCH cheaper than sending your kids to private school.

And "To Think": it is not true that this up-front money would go to teacher salaries. Teachers are paid by the state; any money raised by the school would go towards programs in your school such as reading specialists and music and science classes.


Posted by art lover, a resident of Birdland
on Jan 13, 2010 at 2:36 pm

Dear SO WHAT:
These are the SAME arguments that have been shoved down our throats for a LONG time now. Every time they get more of our money, it has NOT always produced a better school district. On the contrary, I shudder to see some of the incredible gaps in teacher abilities (my daughter's HIGH SCHOOL english teacher says for instance it's not necessary to put 2 spaces after a period- is just the last bit of ignorance I've noticed) and continued administrative bungling. Not only that, some teachers' and administrators' attitudes are down right violent and hateful (Yes, ladies I do hear you talking your hateful talk in the Club Sport locker room! It's not making you friends)
How long will it take for narrow thinkers to understand that most people have matured beyond the point where they believe that shoveling money into a problem is always the answer. Sorry to be so abrupt, but I'm a mad a hell taxpayer and I'm not going to take the administration and union talk any more, that more of our tax money will end their wasteful ways- been there, done that, have the T-shirt.
BTW, Al Cohen: Please don't give up- fight the good fight. I'll vote for you!


Posted by San Ramon not doing better, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2010 at 4:25 pm

To those who claim San Ramon is better off because it passed a parcel tax, you might want to read more about this. Go to their website and you will find out that the programs were re-instated only for the 2009-10 school year.

Here is the letter the superintendent sent not long ago:

Web Link

Parcel tax or not, according to people I know over there, the cuts they are talking about are similar to those PUSD is talking about.

Makes you wonder about how a parcel tax really helps, doesn't it?


Posted by San Ramon not doing better, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2010 at 4:33 pm

Forgot to paste the relevant part of the letter:

"My recommendation is that we grapple with the hard decisions in the month of January and early February, as these decisions will most likely impact jobs and salaries, programs, and quite possibly services for our students.

Unlike so many school districts up and down the state, we have managed to avoid the worst of the class size increases, program cuts, employee layoffs, and furlough days. We have done so by intentionally living off one-time money (reserves and stimulus funds), but this of course is not a long-term solution."

Web Link

Also look at what their parcel tax paid for (it says it is only for the 2009-10 school year):

Web Link

"The San Ramon Valley Unified School District Board of Education took action Wednesday evening to maintain numerous programs which, as of March 3rd, were originally proposed to be eliminated or reduced. The programs identified would be maintained for the 2009-10 school year only, and include:

K-3 Class Size Reduction
9th grade Class Size Reduction
Secondary librarians
5th Grade Instrumental Music
Middle school student ratio
High school student ratio (not including reduction in ROP section allocations)
Grounds maintenance
School psychologists
High school stipends for extra-curricular (arts, band, choral, sports, etc.)
Counselors (non 1802)
Crossing guards
High school Discovery Center services
Library/media assistants
Reduction in middle school assistant principals
High school supervision

"This is a significant decision by our Board and will help maintain critical programs and keep many people employed," said Superintendent Steven Enoch. "However, the remaining program cuts for next year and in subsequent years is still potentially devastating.""



Posted by Sandy Piderit, a resident of Mohr Park
on Jan 13, 2010 at 6:25 pm

The district's financial records *are* audited annually by an external, independent agency. It's a state requirement.

The full budget for the district is available online: Web Link

I heartily second the idea that the district should be open to new ideas... but these two suggestions are not new.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jan 13, 2010 at 7:12 pm

Thor: Basic Aid is not an opt in; property taxes of the community have to exceed what the state would provide via ADA.

Think: 2x0=0 I don't think districts are allowed to charge the scouts--don't know about the Special Olympics.

Proud Teacher: Thank you for posting. My hope is you represent the sentiment of many of the teachers. We know there are great teachers in this district, and I want to assure you you have our respect and support.

Concerned Parent: Any relief provided via donations in turn relieves pressure on the general fund. So if you raise $1.6 million for counselors, that's $1.6 million the district doesn't have to pay (read, they save that amount), and it can then cover the $1.6 million on the salary schedule.

Art lover: To defend the English teacher, one space after periods and colons is the new style (has been for a while). I'm still old school, but many of the younger people I work with have converted.


Posted by Concerned Parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2010 at 7:47 pm

To "San Ramon not doing better":

There is no mention that these programs are definitely going to be cut for the 2010 school year. The only thing the letter mentioned was staff elimination, with nothing specific.

Where do we stand? In a far worse position.

1. We will have class sizes of 30 for K-3 for 2010/11, whether or not a parcel tax passes. This will be the worst class size ratio for K-3 in the entire Tri-Valley.

2. We already have the lowest administrator per student ratio in the Tri-Valley as well. After the next round of cuts, well, we're still the worst.

3. All programs reinstated due to the summer 2009 fundraiser will be gone, because the fundraiser was just one-time monies. So, say goodbye to elementary school band, counselors, and reading specialists.

Since we are on the topic of San Ramon, I think your example provides a good idea of how bad the budget situation is for ALL school districts. The budget crisis we are in is not because of teacher salaries or budget mismanagement. It is a FUNDING problem.

That's why we have to step up as a community and save our schools, because the state isn't going to do it!!!!


Posted by Rat Turd, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2010 at 8:16 pm

High unemployment, high underemployment, exodous of wealth from the state heading eastward, california debt beyond belief, and the teachers are still insisting on their raises. How very greedy at the expense of the kids.


Posted by a reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2010 at 8:36 pm

"and the teachers are still insisting on their raises. How very greedy at the expense of the kids."

Where do you get this information that "teachers are still insisting on their raises"? Are you just making it up? Where does it come from?


Posted by Rat Turd, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2010 at 8:40 pm

Reader,

are you saying that the teachers have given up the step and column increases to the tune of $1,600,000 per year? I do not believe this to be the case. You keep talking about a parcel tax but in reality the money or a portion of it just goes to fill the pockets of our teachers while the rest of us have taken pay cuts. No thank you to any new taxes of any kind. We need tax cuts.


Posted by Rat Turd, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2010 at 8:48 pm

Reader,

Attached is a link which explains step and column or automatic raises. You might want to bone up on it if you are unfamiliar or confused about what is going on.

Web Link


Posted by a reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2010 at 8:48 pm

To "art lover",

"...Not only that, some teachers' and administrators' attitudes are down right violent and hateful (Yes, ladies I do hear you talking your hateful talk in the Club Sport locker room! It's not making you friends) "

Violent teachers and administrators? They're nothing more than another street gang? I hope you're reporting this stuff to the police. Have you been attacked? Assaulted with a deadly weapon? Just trying to post silly stuff? Do you live anywhere near here?

" that more of our tax money will end their wasteful ways- been there, done that, have the T-shirt. "

What are you talking about? Pleasanton doesn't have a parcel tax.


Posted by Amador Parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2010 at 8:51 pm

Great note, Al. I would vote for you in a second.

I agree that all three men need to step down from the board. Correct me if I'm wrong, but Mr. Ott wasn't even elected by the people of Pleasanton, was he? I have worked with both Valerie and Jamie and found them to have the students, teachers and district (in that order) in mind with whatever decisions they make. Unfortunately, their voices are not heard over the men's.

The district needs to pull back on the "everyone must graduate with all AP classes and attend a UC" rhetoric. It is not what every student needs. There are man students who would like to graduate from high school and then learn a trade. We will not have anyone in the trades within the next 5 years at the rate we are going. What ever happened to trade/vocational schools?

My wish for a new superintendent? Someone from the BUSINESS world who knows how to budget, deal with those that DO their job and those that DON'T, and deal with unions in a more productive way. Al?


Posted by a reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2010 at 8:51 pm

"Attached is a link which explains step and column or automatic raises. "

Where does it say anywhere in that they are "still insisting on their raises"? At the last budget meeting it was clearly stated step and column raises were currently being negotiated. Please try get involved in your community. This is America, not the Soviet Union.


Posted by Rat Turd, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2010 at 8:56 pm

Reader,

Please do not discredit yourself by trying to lead people to believe that the teachers do not get raises every year. Also nothing is being negotiated at all. Negotiation means there will be give and take. Ask a teacher what the communication from the union is relative to this issue and you will find out that they want it all. Please read the link and stop spreading mis information as it is beneath you I believe.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jan 13, 2010 at 8:59 pm

Sandy, I don't think the audit people are asking for here is the same as the one the district pays for each year. They aren't detailed enough, and they aren't intended to be. Could be something more should be considered. We are on the state watch list; we are in danger of being placed in the "care" of the county or state.

There is reason to be skeptical when funds are moved from a to pay b to pay c to pay a. It appears legal enough, but it certainly isn't very transparent and doesn't engender the confidence of the community.


Posted by a reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2010 at 9:00 pm

"fill the pockets of our teachers while the rest of us have taken pay cuts. "

All of us have not taken pay cuts, and if I'm not mistaken, Al Cohen has not taken a pay cut. I'm more than a little familiar with that company, and few in that industry have taken actual cuts and some have seen raises. When you say "All of us have not taken pay cuts", that means everybody. Some people have taken cuts. Many have had their pay frozen. But many have not. Some have seen smaller raises. What you're saying is false. And please, don't start with the "you saying everything is fine, and no one is taking cuts", because I'm not saying that either.

On top of that, back in 1995-2000 and again 2003-2006, when people in many industries were seeing double digit yearly raises, teachers weren't getting anything near that. Were you complaining back then that teachers were getting inadequate raises and needed more?


Posted by Rat Turd, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2010 at 9:04 pm

5,000 folks at that NUMMI plant in Fremont will lose their jobs next month and another 45,000 statewide so there are quite a few more folks going to join the ranks of the un and under employed. Teachers should take 5% paycuts for starters and then we can talk about sharing the sacrifice.


Posted by a reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2010 at 9:06 pm

"Please do not discredit yourself by trying to lead people to believe that the teachers do not get raises every year."

I'm saying they are currently negotiating that. If you'd been at the last meeting you would know that.

That link is way out of date and deals with Measure G, whose time has come and gone. Any possible future parcel tax may well include a freeze on step and column raises. Again, that was stated at the meeting. Please, bring yourself up to date with what is currently going on in Pleasanton and stop pointing backwards. We need to move forward.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jan 13, 2010 at 9:09 pm

Reader, There were significant raises; most recent raises were unsustainable. It goes back to choices. I think many in government roles from DC to Pleasanton accept shorter years, decent pay, and nice retirements at an early age as part of that choice. Certainly when you choose a government position, you know those trade offs mean you won't see double digit increases very often if ever like the private sector.


Posted by Rat Turd, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2010 at 9:09 pm

Reader,

You need to quit lying by trying to mislead people. The teachers have been, are, and will continue to get raises period. The parcel tax you are trying to peddle is not for the kids or the schools but rather to fund teachers raises each year. You need to re read the article either that or maybe you cannot read reader.


Posted by a reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2010 at 9:29 pm

"The teachers have been, are, and will continue to get raises period. "

Once again, if you had come to the meeting, you would know that step and column raises are currently being negotiated, and a possible freeze was being considered. Once again, any parcel tax proposed may well have a freeze on step and column raises in it. And once again, the article you refer too concerns a past parcel tax attempt. Do you get that? Measure G has come and gone. It is in the past. Why are you having such a hard time understanding that?


Posted by a reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2010 at 9:35 pm

To Kathleen,

"There were significant raises; most recent raises were unsustainable. It goes back to choices. I think many in government roles from DC to Pleasanton accept shorter years, decent pay, and nice retirements at an early age as part of that choice. Certainly when you choose a government position, you know those trade offs mean you won't see double digit increases very often if ever like the private sector. "

Where did I disagree with any of that? And by the way, I think the problem of early retirement and excessive pensions is much more of a problem for state of California employees than it is for the federal government. And I agree with everything that you said. I just see comments here that imply that state workers should share only the downside of economic trends, not the upside. That was why I raised the point about teachers not seeing double digit raises when others were seeing them.


Posted by To Concerned, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2010 at 6:45 am

The San Ramon superintendent does not mention it specifically in his letter, but the parcel tax page does. Here it is:

" The programs identified would be maintained for the 2009-10 school year only, and include:

K-3 Class Size Reduction

9th grade Class Size Reduction

Secondary librarians

5th Grade Instrumental Music

Middle school student ratio

High school student ratio (not including reduction in ROP section allocations)

Grounds maintenance

School psychologists

High school stipends for extra-curricular (arts, band, choral, sports, etc.)

Counselors (non 1802)

Crossing guards

High school Discovery Center services

Library/media assistants

Reduction in middle school assistant principals

High school supervision

"This is a significant decision by our Board and will help maintain critical programs and keep many people employed," said Superintendent Steven Enoch. "However, the remaining program cuts for next year and in subsequent years is still potentially devastating."" "


Many districts with parcel taxes are getting ready to do away with CSR even though they passed parcel taxes last year. The argument: Sacramento is cutting more. Sounds familiar?


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jan 14, 2010 at 7:05 am

eader, My response was trying to clarify/respond to this statement:

"On top of that, back in 1995-2000 and again 2003-2006, when people in many industries were seeing double digit yearly raises, teachers weren't getting anything near that. Were you complaining back then that teachers were getting inadequate raises and needed more?"

The difference with sharing the upside is, in the private sector you also share the downside, salary reductions and job loss, that does not occur in the public sector. So when you have S&C, the rise may be slow, but it is generally permanent. Possibly until now.

For the feds, I worked for them, and it was pretty cushy considering. When I left for the private sector, they encouraged me to wait six months so I could "come back any time at the pay grade I left, guaranteed, for life." Their version of tenure. I declined. It may no longer be that way. I'd also mention we have a lot of US legislators that walk away with lifetime benefits--don't have the facts at my fingertips, but they have nothing to complain about.


Posted by To Concerned, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2010 at 7:40 am

"Since we are on the topic of San Ramon, I think your example provides a good idea of how bad the budget situation is for ALL school districts. The budget crisis we are in is not because of teacher salaries or budget mismanagement. It is a FUNDING problem."

Yes, all districts are going through this, but it is the teachers' UNION fault. They are the ones with the unreasonable demands.

Unions are killing California, look at the cities that have had to declare bankrupcy because of obligations withe UNION employees.

The governor proposed to get rid of the seniority rule when laying off teachers. I could not agree more. Let's keep the knowledgeble, competent teachers regardless of tenure or seniority. Let's get rid of the bad ones regardless of seniority.

Unions are a big problem.

The public education system needs to be reformed. I know someone who has a PHd in Math and is a great teacher but cannot teach in the public schools because of the credential. She teaches at a private school instead. Why this nonsense? I would rather have a qualified Math teacher without a teaching credential, than someone who went into teaching and is not that good at Math.

The unions no longer have a use, we must reform the system. We must reform education.

We will save money and have a BETTER education for our kids.

Budget management does have a role in this deficit. If PUSD had managed the money wisely during the good years when there was plenty of money, we would not be in as bad a shape as we are now.


Posted by To Concerned, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2010 at 7:48 am

All the districts are also dealing with:

- abuse of teacher elective days (cost a lot of money)

- step and column (very expensive)

- teacher work days. Teachers "work" but the students do not go to school (450K per day)


So Concerned, while the teachers may not be all of the problem, they are a large part of it. Other problems which have to do with budget management exist. Unnecessary expenses for example:

- Elementary school counselors. Are we a school or a counseling facility?

- Perks for administrators. Did Casey really need 1K per month in car allowance given that he lived in Pleasanton? How much could he have driven for work reasons? How much did his gas really cost? Certainly not 1K per month. Other perks are also unreasonable and too many to list.

- Classified employees Unions. Where else have you seen a janitor be so highly paid?

Sacramento may be to blame for many things, but the school districts have to take responsibility for their own mismanagement of funds. Unions have to take responsibility for their role in this mess.


Posted by Thor, a resident of Del Prado
on Jan 14, 2010 at 8:25 am

Sharing the burden: the unions did offer to skip ALL raises for the period of the parcel tax if it was passed, to the school district. It seems as if that information was never shared to the general public.


Posted by Dan, a resident of Southeast Pleasanton
on Jan 14, 2010 at 8:47 am

If the union had actually agreed to skip raises if the parcel tax was passed, then the ballot measure would have been worded within the actual ballot measure Measure G to indicate that for the life of the parcel tax, then there would be no raises.

The only thing the union agreed to was to have a couple of unpaid days only if the ballot measure passed, which wasn't even in the ballot measure language.


Posted by Concerned Parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2010 at 8:52 am

To "To Concerned":

You can hardly blame this entire budget crisis on teacher unions. It is primarily a funding issue. Don't you know that Californians, as a whole, contribute LESS as a percentage of their income to education compared with the entire nation?

Also, even though Prop 98 guaranteed a minimum amount of funding to the schools from the state, the schools have been shortchanged for the last few years. Currently, the state is being sued for failing to provide the minimum amount.

And to get to the bottom of this, we have Prop 13, which has indirectly affected education in California, since there are many, many homeowners who are paying property taxes at below inflation rates. This has reduced state funding for schools, a large percentage of which comes from property taxes.

Yes, teacher salaries make up the bulk of PUSD's budget, but that is the case for all school districts. Their is a large personnel cost, because that is bulk of a school's "product"--teaching.

And, no, I would rather have a certified teacher teaching my child, who has passed all requisite exams, not someone who feels entitled just because they have a PhD.

And even though San Ramon cannot keep CSR, they may have to go up to 25 (which is what we're at now), rather than 30, which is what we're facing.


Posted by parent, a resident of Downtown
on Jan 14, 2010 at 9:10 am

If schools cannot be run like businesses, why is it that numerous local private elementary and middle schools are expanding and adding services? They are strpped by the unions and school boards. With the status of the PUSD, we will see our private schools expand - at least until we get a new board!


Posted by Al Cohen, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Jan 14, 2010 at 9:11 am

To "a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood":

I believe you do not know me at all. There are other "Al Cohen's". I was a CEO of a company that had to take 50% pay cut for a year. I have subsequently left and retired. With respect to running for school board, while it is very flattering, I plan to focus on Amador Valley HS (where my daughters go to school) and helping out in any capacity I can on a volunteer basis. I would support other candidates that may have similar views. I am hoping others who are interested step up.


Posted by resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2010 at 9:33 am

To your point: You can hardly blame this entire budget crisis on teacher unions.

Agreed, but only on the word "entire". Certified employees make up the bulk of any district's expenses. The tenure system and unsustainable increases set the table for failure when the economy took a nosedive. Refusal by the union to acknowledge the problem and make immediate substantive cost concessions has brought PUSD to the brink of crisis. Teachers are respected members of our community. But if the union membership does not take control of their representative organization and step forward with a meaningful plan to relieve the financial burden VERY SOON, there will be little chance of the public supporting any additional funding through fundraising or supplemental tax. The wave of resentment and vilification is very quickly rising.


Posted by Mary, a resident of San Ramon
on Jan 14, 2010 at 10:07 am


"Good for you if you like San Ramon. We did not buy in San Ramon because of the lack of a downtown (Danville has one but not San Ramon) and how spread out the school boundaries are. You have Danville, the old San Ramon, the new Windemere, all going to the schools, there is a sense of division depending on your neighborhood. My close friend rents a house there but now that they are about to buy, they are looking outside of San Ramon. Every community has different things people look for. Schools are just one part of why we bought a house here in Pleasanton. We like the downtown, the parks, and the fact that only one city goes to our school district (unlike San Ramon school district which has people from Danville, Blackhawk, the new and old San Ramon, Windemere.). "

Well, when I said "this is why I don't live in Pleasanton" what I should have said was "I am so glad I didn't decide to live in Pleasanton - because it was a real possiblity". The real reason I don't live in Pleasanton and chose San Ramon instead would be the commute, since I work in San Ramon, and the schools since they are top rated. I was going for convenience, and the schools - which so far have figured out how to keep things going during these tough times. I bought a home in a neighborhood where my child can go to school grades k-12 all within 1 mile of our house. As you might notice, I like to keep things simple. I've noticed that some people like to complicate things and make it really hard for others to ever get anything done. There is a lot of finger pointing, and sarcasm, it's just a bunch of noise to me. Nobody is right, and nobody is wrong. You all have valid points, but if you point fingers you are never going to get anywhere. If you have a problem with something, then speak up and let your voice be heard but don't end it with that, hit the streets and rally up others to join your cause....otherwise please be quiet people. If you are not part of the solution - you're part of the problem. FYI-I don't think the school boundaries are an issue any longer - the whole Danville/San Ramon/Windemere/Unincorporated minutiae. For the most part, if you live in Danville, you are going to Danville schools, and so on and so forth. Windemere is fully self sufficient grades k-12 now too. So I don't really feel like any one neighborhood is imposing on another one here in this SR/Danville/Windemere trifecta.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 14, 2010 at 10:20 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Way up above it was written: "Come on, the district spent money defending Kernan being on the board, they said legally he could be on the board and met the residency requirements."

Actually that's not quite true. There's been no determination that Kernan meets residency requirements and no trial. All that was determined was that there's no criminal intent. Interested individuals could next obtain a legal opinion through the "quo warranto" process and use that as a basis to sue if warranted. Web Link


Concerned Parent wrote: "It is primarily a funding issue."

Funding and spending are intertwined. If you're a profligate spender, you'll never have enough funding. If you are thrifty, you'll always have more than enough funding.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 14, 2010 at 10:23 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Web Link

California taxpayers have to work a total of 235 days in order to fund their government before they start earning for their own households.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 14, 2010 at 10:27 am

Stacey is a registered user.

"Happy Cost of Government Day, California. Taxpayers in the Golden State worked eleven days later than the national average to pay off their burden of federal, state and local spending and regulatory costs in 2009 – a total of 235 days for which you were working for the government (and you thought you were working for yourself!)." Web Link


Posted by To Concerned Parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2010 at 10:54 am

"You can hardly blame this entire budget crisis on teacher unions. It is primarily a funding issue."

You are kidding, right? Like I said, Sacramento is a problem and funding issues exist. However, look at the teachers' unions: they negotiate collective raises and benefits, whether a teacher deserves them or not. Step and column is out of control, teachers get too many days off, and if you read another discussion on a different thread, a teacher actually posted their right to elective time off to go on field trips and such. Without the unions, I am sure we would have: less costs AND better teachers.

"Don't you know that Californians, as a whole, contribute LESS as a percentage of their income to education compared with the entire nation?""
But our incomes are higher so our taxes are higher. In fact, look at Texas, where yes propery taxes are higher but there is no income tax. It is all relative. We earn more in California, we pay more for a house. My taxes on my house are 12K per year. Someone in Texas with a much better house will pay that much or maybe even less (even with prop 13 our taxes are high because of the cost of housing here). But in Texas they do not have income tax, in California we do. Texas is not a welfare state, California is. I could go on and on but you get my point, right?

"Also, even though Prop 98 guaranteed a minimum amount of funding to the schools from the state, the schools have been shortchanged for the last few years. Currently, the state is being sued for failing to provide the minimum amount."

I agree. But again, this is only part of the problem. In fact, some districts that do have parcel taxes are going to use that money to pay for COLA and will not fund what they promised their communities in order to pass the parcel tax. COLA will be in the negative this year and there is a reason for that. Districts across the Bay Area are getting ready to cut programs that their parcel taxes were supposed to fund, but step and column will be saved. Now this is a problem!


"Yes, teacher salaries make up the bulk of PUSD's budget, but that is the case for all school districts. Their is a large personnel cost, because that is bulk of a school's "product"--teaching."

Why do you think that is? All that time off, all those guaranteed raises (step and column), generous benefits overall. If we could do without unions our expenses would be lower. If instead of keeping ineffective expensive teachers (my family has dealt with quite a few) who have been here forever and cannot be laid off because of their UNION, we would save money and our kids would be better off. If we got rid of so many elective teacher days off, we would save money. If we got rid of teacher work days, we would save money. If we ended the school years 5 days earlier, we would save money. But guess what? The teachers UNION has to agree and they won't.

"And, no, I would rather have a certified teacher teaching my child, who has passed all requisite exams, not someone who feels entitled just because they have a PhD."

I would rather have the knowledgeable teacher. Have you taken the CBEST? It is a very easy test (I did subbing a while back before going back to work full time in the private sector).
The CBEST is so easy. It does not compare with the GRE or LSAT. The classes the Education majors take are very easy compared to other majors. Teaching credentials, by the way, are very easy to get and many teacher who have all kinds of credentials still DO NOT know how to work with kids, and on top of that, lag behind in Math and difficult subjects (speaking from experience, my kid had a teacher who taught that if you calculated 9+4X10 the answer was 130! When I told her that NO, multiplication comes first, she argued, I had to tell my kid to ignore the teacher when it came to Math)

"And even though San Ramon cannot keep CSR, they may have to go up to 25 (which is what we're at now), rather than 30, which is what we're facing."

Let's wait and see. San Ramon passed their tax for programs, so why are they even talking about cuts? Oh yeah, they too have a union to deal with, and step and column and all that.


Posted by To Al Cohen, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2010 at 11:10 am

I am sad to read that you are not going to fun for the board. Should you change your mind, I will vote for you. I am sure many people would too.


Posted by To Stacey, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2010 at 11:13 am

Thank you for pointing out that Kernan's residency is still an issue legally speaking.

But to fight that, someone would need to bring a lawsuit. It is easier to wait until this fall and make sure he gets zero votes (hopefully the community will not re-elect him).

My point with the Kernan comment was to let others know that loopholes exist, and if the district has found a way to use those loopholes to keep Kernan on the board, they could certainly find loopholes for other negotiations and cuts.


Posted by To Al Cohen, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2010 at 11:14 am

"fun for the board."

meant run for the board. I pressed the key just below the r. Sorry.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 14, 2010 at 11:16 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Agreed. It would have been better to initiate that quo warranto process a year ago when the election was further away.


Posted by art lover, a resident of Birdland
on Jan 14, 2010 at 1:09 pm

The swear words and very graphic language that I heard teachers using in Club Sport- mostly what they'd like "to do" to Schwartzeneger and also to parents who did not want to vote for the parcel tax was shocking and disturbing. In my mind- violent. They painted a very graphic picture of violent acts they'd like to "do" to the governor. So, that is why I used the word violent. I will not stoop so low as to repeat the words here. It does color what I think of them and the rhetoric that they "only want to help the kids."

I'd just like people to get together and actually be open to ALL options that we can activate to bring our kids up to the educational levels of the rest of the world. This does mean taking a look at the WHOLE educational system as it stands now:
Getting the CA University system to stop making so many wasteful classes mandatory for ALL students. Calculus for history majors? How about math classes that teach them how to balance a check book, read a mortgage contract, calculate which is a better deal in the grocery store, how to buy and research stocks, bonds etc., INvesting in 401k plans etc. Challenge them to think about where to put their resources for charitable good. Most of our kids have such entitlement issues! It also angers me that teachers do talk to them in the class room about how they are not getting what they are "entitled" to. Yes, I'm paying teachers (through my taxes) to complain about the raw deal they're getting. Sorry, but all of us are suffering. Just because you are a teacher, administrator, city official, pta member, congress person, Safeway clerk, Lucky's executive, car dealer etc. doesn't mean you are "entitled" to anything! Our children are not entitled to an education either! How about that! It is through the hard work of tax payers, that we have what we have. Sorry, just printing more money, will not solve the problem either.

How about making more parents take child development classes so that when their kids do struggle in school, that they have the background to realize that we are demanding so much of kids that do not correspond with their developmental steps. We push a lot of things on younger and younger kids these days, but are still way behind other countries in the world. Why is that? They are certainly not getting more money per child in, let's say Slovakia, who we are just ahead of in math skills. This is quite embarrassing. Yet, just shovel more money at schools and it will get better. Well, we've been doing that- and look where it's gotten us.
Your children will be the most important project you EVER do, so why are you leaving all their education in hands of poorly prepared teachers? Enjoy more quiet time with them and for gosh sake, LET THEM BE BORED! "Open" time on their hands may be hard for you, but how do you expect them to cultivate interesting thoughts, and develop creative ideas. This is where the US outshines the rest of the world- in creative, outside the box kind of thinking. This is why so many immigrants come here; for freedom and the education. They have however, seen what they are getting, and have set up all these Sylvan, Kumon type places to do, what the educational system has failed to do.
So, you have to have even more money to pay for the extra education. Not very fair to lower income residents- huh?
Let's get rid of so much "busy" work that the CA school system bestows on kids, instead of working on critical thinking skills and problem solving. Get rid of endless multiple choice tests graded by a computer. One of my kid's teachers will not give them back their tests to learn from- so she can recyle them over and over again! THAT'S a disgrace. She actually admitted that she doesn't want the kids copying the tests, so that they could be used next year.
How about:
Getting kids to clean up after themselves instead of complaining that we don't have enough janitorial staff. Have you SEEN the chewing gum all over the school pavements? Maybe if the kids would have to actually show responsibility for their actions and remove gum themselves, they'd think twice about making work for others.
We very much do need more trade schools and other options.
Unfortunately, most of this spells a dirty word to most public employees: Work. Let's all work to get reform away from the politicians, union leaders and so called "educational experts" who set "educational" standards in CA. Look where it's gotten us? It's idiotic to think that we are going to get lasting and meaningful change from people who fight for status quo. Are you happy with your children's education? Has education gotten better and better in CA?
Those are the questions I leave for you.


Posted by Concerned Parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2010 at 1:53 pm

If all the posters here are parents with school-age children, you should have received an email from Myla Grasso. It basically says, "As a result of the Governor's proposed budget, PUSD may be looking at the necessity for spending reductions of $3.3 million in addition to the $3.6 million estimated as of our First Interim budget report. Therefore, spending reductions that may need to be considered for next year total $6.9 million."

Look, we are in a serious budget crisis. Freezing step and column would only account for $1.6 million. Having kids clean up classrooms would only amount to a hill of beans. We are talking about another $5.3 million we have to resolve. If teacher salaries were the only cause, it would be easy to solve, but it IS much larger. The failure of Prop 98, the unplanned impact of Prop 13 on California schools, lower tax receipts, all of this has added up to the crisis we are now in.

I think there is no doubt there will be concessions from the staff, but we as a community cannot ask the district to shoulder all the costs. The blame does not land solely on their shoulders. The system is broken at the state level, and the district has no other funding alternatives except for education foundations (which we already have in the form of PPIE) and a parcel tax.

California is already near bottom-ranked for per-pupil funding in the nation. It is also 48th in the nation for class sizes. We cannot keep cutting from our schools without disastrous results.

To "To Concerned": if you think so poorly of public school teachers and so highly of private school teachers, then why aren't you sending your children to private school?

I have sent my children to both private and public school, and I have seen much better outcomes from the Pleasanton public school. Compared to the cost of private school (which can run more than $1000 per month), spending $10-$20 per month extra to maintain the quality of my children's education is a no-brainer to me.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 14, 2010 at 2:43 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

art lover wrote: "The swear words and very graphic language that I heard teachers using in Club Sport ... was shocking and disturbing."

Well, even teachers are human.

"How about math classes that teach them how to balance a check book, read a mortgage contract, calculate which is a better deal in the grocery store, how to buy and research stocks, bonds etc., INvesting in 401k plans etc."

That's supposed to be taught in high school. Not everyone goes to college.

"We push a lot of things on younger and younger kids these days, but are still way behind other countries in the world. Why is that?"

I think it is more a cultural thing. American culture doesn't value education as much as it values other things. Possibly the definition of education between the two cultures is different too.


Posted by Rat Turd, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2010 at 3:14 pm

Concerned Parent,


"the unplanned impact of Prop 13 on California schools" This is a pretty difficult statement to make. Prop 13 was passed in 1978! If we could not anticipate the impact of something with a 32 headstart we have big issues. We should start thinking about why Pleasanton, Livermore, Dublin are all within a few miles of each other and we all have different districts. 3 superintendents, 3 HR departments, 3 engineering groups, 3 IT groups, 3 of everything and very wasteful if we have no money. Taxes will never pass in this environment.


Posted by resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2010 at 3:23 pm

Re: "California is already near bottom-ranked for per-pupil funding in the nation."

... but very near the top of the list in percentage of income paid in tax. More is not the answer.


Posted by Concerned Parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2010 at 4:00 pm

We should be thinking why Dublin, San Ramon, and Livermore have all passed parcel taxes, and we have not. That we now have the worst school district in the Valley. Why are we striving to be the worst district in this area? What does this say about us as a community? That we're stingy and don't support our schools? How lovely.

Prop 13 has had very, very real impacts on our schools, and continues through this day. A large percentage of people still pay below-inflation rates on property taxes.

Before Prop. 13, 55% of school funding was local, almost all of it from property taxes. By the beginning of the 90s, less than one-third of school funding was local, more than 60% came the state. Our school district has very limited options of raising money whenever we get less money from the state.

And, resident, I'd like to see where you got your numbers. Since California spends among the least amount on income on education, doesn't it make sense to raise the amount we spend on education and decrease it in other areas? Did you know that funding for the bullet train to LA voters approved is coming from the general fund, money which could have been used for education? Why are our priorities so misaligned?


Posted by resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2010 at 4:16 pm

"That we now have the worst school district in the Valley."

That is a simply a ridiculous statement. I see you and reader have switched good cop/bad cop rolls.

"And, resident, I'd like to see where you got your numbers."

I have to head to the airport now, but start with Stacy's link from earlier today.


Posted by Walnut Grove, a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Jan 14, 2010 at 4:45 pm

One way PUSD is trying to educate the community is by discussing the funds it loses when students are absent.

Parents are being asked to make a voluntary contribution of $51.54 for each day of elective absence.

This is not a bad idea except to be fair, teachers who elect to be absent should also be asked to make a voluntary contribution to offset the cost of a substitute teacher.

Not saying anyone should be required to reimburse PUSD, just that if PUSD is asking parents to reimburse the school district when their child's absence costs the schools money they should ask the same of the teaching staff.










Posted by To Concerned Parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2010 at 4:45 pm

"To "To Concerned": if you think so poorly of public school teachers and so highly of private school teachers, then why aren't you sending your children to private school?"

I should not have to send my kids to private schools. I like the community my kids have developed at school. That being said, I will continue to do what I think is best, and continuing to speak against the unions, because they are killing not only education but the state of California.

Your statement is nonsense. So are we going to ask all the people who do not agree with Obama to move to another country?


Posted by To Concerned Parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2010 at 4:56 pm

"We should be thinking why Dublin, San Ramon, and Livermore have all passed parcel taxes, and we have not. That we now have the worst school district in the Valley. Why are we striving to be the worst district in this area? What does this say about us as a community? That we're stingy and don't support our schools? How lovely."

Using your logic from above, I suppose I should ask you: if you think we have the worse school district, why don't you move to another one you consider better?

Maybe in Pleasanton we have more informed people who are not willing to buy the nonsense the district tells us, so we vote NO on the parcel tax. Look at San Ramon: parcel tax and all, and they are getting ready to cut programs the parcel tax was supposed to save. At least here in Pleasanton even if we see cuts, we know we are not paying more so the teachers and administrators can continue with their raises and perks.

About prop 13: Unless you have numbers, you cannot say that prop 13 is hurting California. It could be, but you do not know for sure.

Other states have cheaper housing and even with a higher rate of tax, their taxes are lower. By the way, Colorado also has a regulation in place similar to prop. 13.

I am not saying prop. 13 is good, but unless you have numbers to compare California to a top rated state without prop. 13 your comment does not have merit. Let's look at another state, tell me how much on average the residents pay for taxes and how much of that goes to education. At least for my family, we are already on the highest tax bracket and pay our fair share of property taxes, and my family is not unique.

We did receive the emails from Mayla Grasso, but they are vage. 6.9 million they say, but they do not talk about why: is it because of COLA in the negative? Is it because that includes the 1.6 million needed for step and column? Is it because that includes the new contracts for the assistant superintendents? Perhaps Mayla Grasso should explain how she comes up with that number. Break it down, tell us how much the state is not giving you and how much you want or need to spend and why.


Posted by To Concerned Parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2010 at 5:00 pm

"vage"

meant vague


Posted by T.R. Ollman, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2010 at 5:24 pm

I'll never get used to the anti-teacher rhetoric I see on this site. I can only imagine the conversations that must go on with the kids at home: "Mommy, I want to be a teacher when I grow up!" "Socialist leech! Now fork over the $3.50 for the dinner I cooked you."

or "Daddy, my teacher taught us the alphabet song today!" "Don't get too attached, kid."


Posted by Concerned Parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2010 at 7:03 pm

To "To Concerned": What is it about the statements "The governor's proposed budget" and "reduced funding from the state" that you don't understand? You are really, really reaching hard to justify your weak argument that this budget mess is the result of teacher salaries.

Regarding your statement that I should just move: If I had known the community was so unsupportive of its schools, believe me I wouldn't have moved here.

Like "resident", just admit that you don't want to pay more taxes and that you don't care whether the schools have to cut staff, programs, salaries, etc. You would rather spend that extra $20 per month to on your lattes. I don't agree with "resident" at all, but at least this person is honest about their opinions.

Actually come to think of it, while we are on the topic of resident, are you and resident the same person? How come you both have property taxes of $12K?


Posted by Insanity, a resident of Downtown
on Jan 14, 2010 at 7:36 pm

If anyone thinks they are going to get a tax passed by the voters against themselves in this environment is crazy. We need other solutions.


Posted by Insanity, a resident of Downtown
on Jan 14, 2010 at 7:57 pm

The following link is why a tax of any kind is not a good idea.
Web Link





Posted by To Concerned Parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2010 at 8:01 pm

"What is it about the statements "The governor's proposed budget" and "reduced funding from the state" that you don't understand? You are really, really reaching hard to justify your weak argument that this budget mess is the result of teacher salaries."

What is it about admin and union perks and raises during a deficit that you do not understand?. Like I said before, Sacramento has some blame but the school district's lack of good financial planning and teachers' union unreasonable demands are also at fault. Teachers do have a role in this mess. A post above by "Walnut Grove" makes a good point: if the district is going to ask students to reimburse the 51.54 their elective absence cost, they should also ask the teachers to reimburse the cost of their elective days off.

"Regarding your statement that I should just move: If I had known the community was so unsupportive of its schools, believe me I wouldn't have moved here."

I only used that statement to show a post above how their logic was not a good one. I was asked why didn't I put my kids in private schools since I did not think highly of public school teachers. I was just trying to make a point.

"Like "resident", just admit that you don't want to pay more taxes and that you don't care whether the schools have to cut staff, programs, salaries, etc. "

No, I would gladly pay a tax if it was for the right reason. Show me the cuts, show me a freeze to step and column, show me the elimination of car allowances, etc. Then I am OK with a tax. I care about schools, I am just not fool enough though to keep giving them money so they can fund their perks and raises while our kids still do not get to keep the programs they need. Look at San Ramon: people approved the parcel tax, and here they are talking about getting rid of CSR, a program that was supposed to be funded with the parcel tax. We will see in a couple of months what San Ramon does, and whether or not they really use the parcel tax funds for what they said they were going to.

"You would rather spend that extra $20 per month to on your lattes. I don't agree with "resident" at all, but at least this person is honest about their opinions."

I do not like lattes, but yes I would rather keep my 20$ per month than give it to the superintendent for his latte or whatever he does with all that extra money he gets, like the 1K per month for car allowance.

"Actually come to think of it, while we are on the topic of resident, are you and resident the same person? How come you both have property taxes of $12K?"

Sorry to disappoint you. I have never posted under "resident." My taxes are about 12K because of what I paid for my house minus the amount I was able to substract when the value went down these past couple of years.


Posted by To Insanity, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2010 at 8:07 pm

Great article. Thanks for sharing.

On another note, Obama just demanded payback from the banks, he did that for various reasons including the fact that the banks, after taking money from the public, are about to give big bonuses to top executives. Even Obama is aware that the public is upset because of misuse of taxpayer funds.

With school districts, a similar reasoning applies: no more tax payer money for them because giving them money means giving so they can give themselves nice raises and keep their perks. They have, after all, just renewed the assistant superintendent's contracts right before announcing a big deficit!


Posted by a reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2010 at 9:25 pm

"Look at San Ramon: parcel tax and all, and they are getting ready to cut programs the parcel tax was supposed to save."

The cuts would have to be a lot worse if they hadn't passed their parcel tax. Their K-3 class sizes are smaller than Pleasanton's already, and we are talking about going to 30. We have also cut the many programs others have mentioned. A parcel tax can help blunt the effect of decreases in monies from the state.


Posted by a reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2010 at 9:43 pm

To "To Insanity",

I'm struggling to see how that article has any relevance to this thread except to say that here are four things that could go wrong with the economy. The article also commits a major factual error in claiming that "with the combined Fannie-Freddie rescue totaling about $111 billion so far--the biggest bailout of all." Didn't Newman get the memo? The AIG bailout was $182 billion. And to say that they played a "central role" in the "2008 financial meltdown" ignores the fact that it was not they who were writing credit default swaps that effectively bet against their own financial products they were selling to other parties. It was those derivatives (credit default swaps) that played the pivotal role in freezing credit. They turned a $300 - $400 billion problem into a $7 trillion problem. Fanny and Freddie played a role, but a smaller one. These reader's digest condensed version economics articles leave so much out.

With a school district donations and parcel taxes allow districts to preserve programs that maintain the high quality education experience we offer in Pleasanton.


Posted by a reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2010 at 9:51 pm

To Stacey,

You beat me to it. I was going to say those things.

""How about math classes that teach them how to balance a check book, read a mortgage contract, calculate which is a better deal in the grocery store, how to buy and research stocks, bonds etc., INvesting in 401k plans etc."

That's supposed to be taught in high school. Not everyone goes to college.

"We push a lot of things on younger and younger kids these days, but are still way behind other countries in the world. Why is that?"

I think it is more a cultural thing. American culture doesn't value education as much as it values other things. Possibly the definition of education between the two cultures is different too.

I'd also add that I think a UC graduate should have exposure to calculus as well as physics, chemistry, and biology, even if her major is history. I think knowledge of science and math are necessities for educated people in modern times.


Posted by To Reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2010 at 10:32 pm

"With a school district donations and parcel taxes allow districts to preserve programs that maintain the high quality education experience we offer in Pleasanton."

I am not too sure about that. Look at other districts: only a year after their parcel taxes passed, and they are already talking about cuts to the programs they said the tax would save.

Reader: you assume that step and column will not be funded by the parcel tax. What do you think about the administration renewing 3 year contracts for the assistant superintendents (perks included) just before they announced the deficit? Is this supposed to make me trust the administration and give them more money? I have the feeling that donations will not be plenty and parcel taxes will not be approved unless we see some serious changes here in PUSD.


Posted by To Reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2010 at 10:34 pm

"you assume that step and column will not be funded by the parcel tax"

to add to that: Even if the district does not use the parcel tax or donations to fund step and column directly, they would probably cut program X in order to fund step and column, then use the tax and donations to re-instate program X. Did you see what they did last year with the modest donations raised over the summer?


Posted by To Reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2010 at 10:39 pm

"The cuts would have to be a lot worse if they hadn't passed their parcel tax. "

The cuts would not have been as bad had they agreed to freeze step and column, and many other needed changes.

"Their K-3 class sizes are smaller than Pleasanton's already, and we are talking about going to 30. "

You do not know what their classes will look like. Wait and see what San Ramon does before you jump to conclusions about our class sizes and theirs, or the health of the district in general.

"We have also cut the many programs others have mentioned. A parcel tax can help blunt the effect of decreases in monies from the state."

You mean a parcel tax can help pay for things the state refuses to fund, like COLA? You mean a parcel tax can fund program X that was cut to fund step and column? Wouldn't it be better to cut all the waste first, then compute how much we REALLY need, and then approach the community?


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 14, 2010 at 11:06 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

There's some statistics I saw before, but didn't bookmark, about the myth of Asians doing well in school. The basic idea was that by the third or fourth generation from the immigrant, Asians do about the same as whites in school. That points to a cultural explanation.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jan 15, 2010 at 7:06 am

If you have a new source of funding coming in, it relieves the pressure on the general fund, which may save CSR on paper, but then you take what you saved on CSR and spend it on S&C. It is why I think there either has to be zero raises for the life of a parcel tax, no matter what COLA might come from the state, or a freeze on S&C. Something's got to give if you are coming to the community for more money.

Anyone remember what was either APT's and/or CTA's drive for $30/$60/'90? That was starting pay, top pay, by 1990. Now it's something like $55/$98/'10. Some may also remember when a flat dollar amount was offered and APT worked over the younger teachers by spreading the money heavily at the top of the salary schedule, explaining the young teachers would appreciate it when they got there.

In the long term, I think I've pointed to COLAs, if they ever come out of the negative, being used in a way that puts the lions share in a reserve and splits some portion between actual raises and a pool for one-time "bonuses" or a merit pay system that does not permanently impact S&C. So I'd say half of the COLA has to go to a reserve until such time as it is around 10%. You can then debate about increasing costs, and negotiate anything that's left. RIght now, state COLAs are the starting point of negotiations. COLA is 5%, raises should be 5%. It's how we dug this hole.

Of course, when the COLA is negative, I don't see anyone wanting to start negotiations there . . . negative .38% COLA and increasing costs of -2% (WAG), so negotiations start at a -2.38%. That would be interesting.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 15, 2010 at 7:57 am

Stacey is a registered user.

"First law on holes - when you're in one, stop digging."


Posted by resident (one of many), a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 15, 2010 at 9:22 am

"First law on holes - when you're in one, stop digging."

Nice!


Posted by To Kathleen, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 15, 2010 at 9:33 am

"If you have a new source of funding coming in, it relieves the pressure on the general fund, which may save CSR on paper, but then you take what you saved on CSR and spend it on S&C. It is why I think there either has to be zero raises for the life of a parcel tax, no matter what COLA might come from the state, or a freeze on S&C. Something's got to give if you are coming to the community for more money."

Yes, absolutely right. The district needs to be forthcoming with the community. They need to stop playing games. Cutting program X to fund step and column, and then going to the community crying for money to re-instate program X is very misleading and highly dishonest.

I would still like to see a breakdown of why we expect to have a 6.9 million deficit: is it because 1.6 million was taken from the programs to fund step and column for example? Is it also because a portion of that 6.9 million deficit is to fund COLA, administrative perks and so on?

Does anybody know if this administration and board would be willing to have an accurate breakdown of how they are coming up with this 6.9 million? Ie, for them to say: we did not get enough from the state to fund step and column, therefore we took it from CSR, and now we are coming to you asking for help to reinstate the funds we took from CSR.


Posted by a reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 16, 2010 at 5:49 pm

"You do not know what their classes will look like. Wait and see what San Ramon does before you jump to conclusions about our class sizes and theirs, or the health of the district in general."

Their are already doing a lot better than us. Their class size is at 20 for K-3. Ours is at 25 and going to 30. There are no conclusions to jump to.

" You mean a parcel tax can fund program X that was cut to fund step and column?"

Yes, that is what I mean.

"Wouldn't it be better to cut all the waste first, then compute how much we REALLY need, and then approach the community?"

That is easy to say, but then how do you ever know if you have "cut all the waste first". You can always say there is some thing that can be done more efficiently. When does it ever stop? Enough is enough. San Ramon and Palo Alto have successfully used a parcel taxes to help preserve programs and maintain a high quality education experience in their districts.


Posted by a resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 16, 2010 at 9:53 pm

A reader - a correction:

FYI, SRVUSD is at 22:1 this year - they were not able to maintain 20:1 due to the costs. This is clearly stated on their website, and their superintendent states the reasons they opted to do this...We can't say what 2010-2011 will hold for them yet...


Posted by a reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 16, 2010 at 10:28 pm

OK, I'll take your word for it. 22 is still better than 25, and the web site says "She pointed out that not all classes would go as high as 22:1 and that many would remain at 20:1."

San Ramon is doing better. That is the bottom line. That was enabled by the parcel tax.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jan 17, 2010 at 9:09 am

Reader, CSR is not the way I would measure whether a district is successful or not. And we don't have to go to 30:1; there are other choices that can be made that will maintain 25:1. It's in the hands of the teachers, or at least their leadership.

It is premature to talk about another attempt at a parcel tax. That doesn't mean work can't begin, but I would like to wait for a new superintendent and two, if not three (Chris Grant should step down), new board members. That makes it a new ball game and, hopefully, a governance team we can support.


Posted by a reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 17, 2010 at 10:41 am

"It is premature to talk about another attempt at a parcel tax. That doesn't mean work can't begin..."

I agree that we shouldn't rush it. I agree that we should have a professionally conducted poll to see what level a parcel tax the community would be likely to support before another parcel tax is attempted.


Posted by To reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 18, 2010 at 4:51 pm

" You mean a parcel tax can fund program X that was cut to fund step and column?"

"Yes, that is what I mean."

So you agree that this is the right thing to do? To cut program X which the community values so the teachers can keep their ridiculous step and column? And to then mislead the community and appeal to them for help to reinstate program X?

Are you part of the district or something? You sound just as dishonest as they do.

Luckily, the community knows what's going on, that is why the parcel tax failed. And it will fail again. I can't believe you agree with cutting program X to fund step and column, and to then mislead the community into giving money to reinstate a program that should not have been cut in the first place.

About the waste: yes, it must be cut first. Let's start with step and column, let's follow with car allowances, there are many things that even a high schooler could tell you should be cut during times of budget deficit. I agree with you: enough is enough - but I mean enough of the nonsense!!!


Posted by To Reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 18, 2010 at 4:56 pm

"San Ramon is doing better. That is the bottom line. That was enabled by the parcel tax."

So the parcel tax bought them one year of classes that were up to 22 students, big deal. They are getting ready to make some changes, just wait and see.

By the way, you should talk to San Ramon parents, they are not that happy over there. And some of their teachers with the most seniority sound just as bad as some here in Pleasanton. Why would a family who bought an expensive home in San Ramon choose afer all to go to a private school? Talk to parents and you will find out. More money does not mean better schools, especially when that money was never really needed (again: had they not funded step and column, the potential cuts would not have sounded as bad)


Posted by Get Educated, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 19, 2010 at 12:00 am

Many comments seem to be attempts to blame teachers for the budget deficit, while the S&C structure of pay has been a nation wide method for decades.

While many in the public sector enjoyed inflated incomes in the 90's, I took another job to cover the cost of being a homeowner in this town. Now that private sector jobs have taken a hit, teacher's pay structure has remained the same, I still have my second job, and it is now my fault that the schools aren't being funded?

Teaching is a craft that is mastered through experience and continued education. A schedule addresses that. I wonder how much districts save by not starting teachers at a "career rate" ?

What other method would work for this type of profession? Public opinion to rate the increase or decrease of pay?

I'm a good teacher, I work at least 14 hours a day going above and beyond for my students- weekends and holidays included. Does that mean, according to some opinions posted here, that I would get a bonus this year for my merit? Or is that only for years that you feel it is ok? Do you know and understand the new methods of instruction I am currently practicing in the classroom? If you do, does that mean I am quailified for more pay, and if you don't understand or agree with this type of teaching, do you decrease my pay? Are you, the tax payer, educated on these methods and qualified to make that judgement? I used to get a stipend for being a mentor teacher, that ended years ago even though I am still continuing the work, yet there is public outcry for my pay to decrease?

You may not agree with S&C, but at least understand this nationwide structure:


Useful terms to understand salary schedules

Bottom step: Step with the lowest salary on a column.

Bump Steps: Increments that are larger than the other increments on a column. These typically appear between the bottom or top steps on a salary schedule.

Career Rate: The top step.

Column: Columns reflect the different salaries that are attainable for different levels of educational development of employees. This is paid for by the employee. Every school district that has a salary schedule has additional compensation for teachers with a Master's degree, for example. Other columns reflect additional credits beyond the Bachelor's or the Master's, up to and including the PhD. The number of columns vary, with some locals having as many as 18 columns

Column Differential: The difference between the salaries on the various columns.

Devaluing a step: Lowering a step's value relative to the maximum salary.

Increment: An increment is the difference between one step and the next step closer to the top step. The increment can be measured in dollar or percentage terms, depending on the purpose for which you need to understand its size.

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.

Starting salary: (Professionals only) bottom step salary.

Step index: The percentage value of the salary on any step relative to the value of the top step. This figure is found by dividing the salaries on a salary schedule by the top step.

Total Raise: A total raise an employee earns is the sum of the on-scale raise and the incremental raise.

Top Step: This is the step with the highest salary on a column.

Uniform Column Differential: All of the salaries on a column are uniformly greater than the salaries on the same steps of a previous column (column to the left).


Posted by To Get Educated, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 19, 2010 at 7:42 am

"Many comments seem to be attempts to blame teachers for the budget deficit, while the S&C structure of pay has been a nation wide method for decades."

Teachers last year had two options: agree to NO step and column and keep CSR or insist on your step and column and see CSR go away. Guess what the teachers chose? We had to lay off good teachers so the old timers could get their precious raises, all during a time of RECESSION where everyone else was seeing paycuts or layoffs.

Just because Step and Column has been in place for decades, it does not mean it is a good thing. Many things in place for decades were wrong - look at the auto industry, great example of decades long bad practices that took a whole industry down.

"Teaching is a craft that is mastered through experience and continued education"

This is not always the case. I am amazed to see the elementary school teachers for example, claim they need time to prepare. For what? After teaching a grade level for a year, that is all you need. Come on, the curriculum is one that any parent knows by heart, and dealing with kids: you either know how or you do not. I have seen teachers with many years of "experience" who still had no clue about how to deal with kids.

As for middle and high school teachers: the time to prepare is needed but after teaching the same subject for a while, all the class materials are in place, so the job becomes very easy.

I did subbing for a while, and it took me a few weeks to get used to it. The material, I already knew, and it was just a matter of adjusting to working with the different classes and getting used to the school environment. It is not rocket science. Now for a regular teacher it is even easier, because the class is the same year round, so I do not agree about the long years of experience to be able to teach in k-12.

Teachers can defend their system all they want. But they are not fooling anyone. And for those who think we parents are supportive: understand that many times we just get through the year. We will not confront you or make noise, but that does not mean we think you are a capable individual, and rest assured that we will do what we can to make sure our next child does not end up in your class.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 19, 2010 at 10:33 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Get Educated wrote: "Teaching is a craft that is mastered through experience and continued education"

There are those in the education field who would greatly disagree with this statement. Web Link


Posted by Get Educated, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 19, 2010 at 3:43 pm

You obviously will only see your point of view and believe that you are correct when you are not in this profession to speak from experience.

Funny how your comments are one tribute to what many call a "poor" quality teacher...one who teaches the same curriculum every year. What makes your belief the "right" one? And YOU should be the decision maker of my merit? According to you, this is how all teachers do it? I guess you know my schedule, and my curriculum? The families who are a part of my class?

Your simple antiquated comments show that you are here to bash and blame teachers, not hear what is actually going on in the classroom. I have been frozen on the S&C for years now. My benefits have risen, resulting in a loss of pay for two years. And yet, you can only spew your propaganda that I created this budget problem? YOU are not fooling anyone, except yourself.

Stacey- great article- I was referring to the what experience and professional training does to improve the craft of education over time, not what children are sitting in front of me. This is a great topic- I especially like the book Savage Inequalities- which speaks to schools that have even more serious worries to deal with.


Posted by a reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 19, 2010 at 9:51 pm

To "To reader",

"By the way, you should talk to San Ramon parents, they are not that happy over there."

I have a lot of friends with children in San Ramon schools, who are happy to have them there, just as many Pleasanton parents are happy to have their children in Pleasanton schools. For the most part, they are happy with the teachers. There are always exceptions, but they are for the most part good. As to private schools, both Pleasanton and San Ramon have a very low percentage of students going to private schools, compared to other districts.

"especially when that money was never really needed (again: had they not funded step and column, the potential cuts would not have sounded as bad)"

That is a baseless claim. Why is money for step and column "not needed"? You could just as easily say "if teachers would forgo salaries and work on a volunteer basis, the potential cuts would not have sounded as bad". But I don't think it would be the smart thing to do for San Ramon or for Pleasanton.


Posted by a reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 19, 2010 at 9:56 pm

To "To reader",

"And to then mislead the community and appeal to them for help to reinstate program X?
Are you part of the district or something? You sound just as dishonest as they do."

Really helpful comments. Where did I say anything that was in the slightest bit misleading?

"there are many things that even a high schooler could tell you should be cut during times of budget deficit. "

Ha, now I know you are not being serious. A high-schooler might tell you that reducing the school year to one month, cancelling final exams, and banning homework would be a good way to save money. ;-)


Posted by To Reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 20, 2010 at 10:05 am

"Where did I say anything that was in the slightest bit misleading?"

By being an advocate for the parcel tax, and telling people that is the only option to keep the programs, WITHOUT telling them that the truth is: Program X was/will be cut in order to fund Step and Column, which is a raise for the teachers in times of budget deficits.


Posted by To Reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 20, 2010 at 10:07 am

"A high-schooler might tell you that reducing the school year to one month, cancelling final exams, and banning homework would be a good way to save money"

The good students will not do that. A good student will be able to come up with good solutions, which is more than I can say for the current "leaderhip."


Posted by a reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 20, 2010 at 9:10 pm

To "To reader",

"By being an advocate for the parcel tax, and telling people that is the only option to keep the programs..."

Here we go again. You say "the parcel tax", but there is no proposed parcel tax. Please figure out what you are talking about before you post. There are currently groups investigating a possible parcel tax. There was an extensive question and answer session at a recent informational meeting where the question of freezing step and column was brought up and was being considered. I am in favor of keeping step and column, but I would support a parcel tax either way. A consultant who spoke at the meeting recommended polling voters to see what programs they value the most, what sacrifices they think should be made, and at what level they would support a parcel tax. There is nothing misleading in that, and there is nothing misleading in what I said. You should make some effort to find out what is going on before you start throwing around false accusations.


Posted by resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 20, 2010 at 10:10 pm

Reader,

You are arguing semantics. You may substitute the word "a", or "your" for the word "the". You have posted literally hundreds of comments over the last six weeks ALL ending in some version of "I support a or we need a parcel tax." You have insisted that it is an absolute necessity to maintain a quality school district. The irony of your frantic effort is that it has probably done more to harm to your campaign than good.


Posted by To Reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 20, 2010 at 10:21 pm

"I am in favor of keeping step and column, but I would support a parcel tax either way."

Why would you be in favor of keeping step and column? It is not a program that benefits the kids. It is something that gives raises to teachers even though we are facing a deficit and are still in a recession.

Yes, you are misleading people.

Misleading the community happens when you talk about how program X was cancelled and the only way to bring it back is to pass a/the parcel tax. That is a LIE and you know it. The truth is, certain programs can be re-instated by simply freezing step and column and making other cuts to the waste we have in PUSD.



Posted by a reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 20, 2010 at 10:44 pm

To "To reader",

There you go again.

"Misleading the community happens when you talk about how program X was cancelled and the only way to bring it back is to pass a/the parcel tax. That is a LIE and you know it."

I never said that. "the only way to bring it back" Never once, not ever. It is you who are misleading people by claiming I said anything of the sort. I clearly said that freezing step and column was one of the ideas being considered as a condition for a future parcel tax. How is that possibly compatible with the claim that I am misleading people about it? And, yes, I favor keeping step and column even when we are still in recession.


Posted by a reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 20, 2010 at 10:47 pm

To resident,

No, I am not arguing semantics. The "To reader" person claimed that I was lying or being misleading about step and column raises, but I have never hidden that. I have also said that I would support a parcel tax that froze step and column or reduced it.


Posted by To Reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 21, 2010 at 6:19 am

One of your posts:

"The cuts would have to be a lot worse if they hadn't passed their parcel tax. Their K-3 class sizes are smaller than Pleasanton's already, and we are talking about going to 30. We have also cut the many programs others have mentioned. A parcel tax can help blunt the effect of decreases in monies from the state."

Your solution that you have posted over and over is a parcel tax. In the statement above, there was NO mention of freezing step and column, only of how a parcel tax "can help..."

I could post more stuff, there is plenty you have posted. You obviously are very much for the district and raises for teachers even during this downturn.

No need to argue with someone like you, although I suggest you do not become part of any parcel tax committee unless you want to see it fail. Some measure G people were just as pushy and had the idea that "parcel tax is the only way, I know what's best" and look, G failed.


Posted by a reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 21, 2010 at 6:53 am

Here we go again.

"there was NO mention of freezing step and column"

I do not mention freezing step and column in every one of my posts, but I have mentioned it. I have said that I believe we should poll voters to see if that is what they want. To not put "freezing step and column" in everyone of my posts is in some way misleading? That is quite a stretch. Where have I mislead anyone?

"You obviously are very much for the district and raises for teachers even during this downturn."

Yes, I agree. It is just my opinion. Let's poll voters and see what they say. I think this district is doing a great job educating our children. Our API scores bear that out. It is why many people choose Pleasanton, and it is why my family chose Pleasanton. I think it is important that our schools remain competitive. Districts like Palo Alto and San Ramon support their schools and it provides many benefits to their communities.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 21, 2010 at 10:30 am

Stacey is a registered user.

A great job educating children should not come at the risk of becoming fiscally unhealthy.


If you were a member and logged in you could track comments from this story.

Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: *

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Jim Kohnen Post Office Signed into Law
By Roz Rogoff | 5 comments | 830 views

Never Say Never -- the Perry Indictment
By Tom Cushing | 5 comments | 619 views

Patience and very deep pockets can pay off
By Tim Hunt | 0 comments | 468 views

CPRA: Balancing privacy, public's right to know
By Gina Channell-Allen | 3 comments | 444 views