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Another PUSD Budget Proposal for Debate

Original post made by Sandy Piderit, Mohr Park, on Jan 30, 2010

Here's a new take on how to close the $8 million gap for 10/11, and help keep the budget in balance for 11/12. I'm just brainstorming -- I don't have a firm commitment to the cuts I'm proposing, or the specific form of concessions.

This proposal would preserve:
- CSR for K-2
-current high school class sizes, except for grade 9
-no further cuts to high school VPs
-the one remaining elementary VP
- some counselors
-some reading specialists
-some library specialists
-some tech support
-elementary specialists
-Barton
-some site discretionary funds
-SLIP funds

It would require a reduction of 3 instructional days for the next 2 years.

To preserve those programs, union concessions would be needed of roughly
$5.28 million in 10/11 (and an equal number in 11/12):
- Suspension of Step and Column increases ($1.6M) for 2 years.
- Reduction of six days @ $450K each ($2.7M) (3 instructional and 3 staff development) for 2 years.
-suspension of voluntary staff development hours ($380K)
- 3% salary cut for CSEA and 6% for management for two years (not sure on how much this yields --about $600K?)

Some of $2.8 million in items on the proposed cut list would still need to be implemented:
-eliminate CSR for grades 3 and 9 only ($800K) -- recover through parcel tax for 11/12 and going forward?
-reduce district office professional services ($72K)
- Modify service provider in warehouse/graphics ($250K)
- Summer school proposed changes ($200K)
- eliminate district support for extracurriculars ($70K)
-eliminate district support for high school graduations and middle school promotions ($23K)
-secure funds from ROP using cat 3 flexibility ($300K)
-reduce categorical programs (GATE, Arts and Music, Tri-Valley Induction, Adult Ed ($258K)
-reduce school site discretionary funds ($250K)
-delay of OPEB payment for one more year ($670K)

For 2011/2012, some of those cuts could be offset by revenue enhancements (a combination of increased revenue from summer school, adult education, fundraising and potentially a parcel tax)
-CSR for grades 3 and 9
-district support for extra curriculars
-graduations
-GATE
-Arts and Music
-school site discretionary funds
-reverse some of the cuts from 09/10

We would have time as a community to gather input about community priorities before deciding whether to put a parcel tax on the ballot, sometime after January 2011.

Comments (89)

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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 30, 2010 at 1:02 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Suspension of S&C for two years is $3.2MM, not $1.6MM. It might be worthwhile getting separation of the costs of Step and Column, like Step costs X amount and Column costs Y amount.


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Posted by Sandy Piderit
a resident of Mohr Park
on Jan 30, 2010 at 1:28 pm

Stacey, it's true that suspending step and column saves $1.6 each fiscal year. What I was trying to do is separate out what we could use to meet the 10/11 deficit, and then what we could use to keep the 11/12 budget in balance. That's why I wrote "union concessions would be needed of roughly 5.28 million in 10/11 (and an equal number in 11/12)"

but I don't want to count the concessions twice in each fiscal year. All the other figures I itemize are just for 10/11, so I only counted the first $1.6 in savings.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 30, 2010 at 1:45 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

True.

It is actually a little more complex.

In 10/11 that would be a savings of $1.6MM.
In 11/12 that would be a savings of $3.2MM.

So for the two years the total savings is $4.7MM. It is a little interesting that S&C cost is expected to add $1.6MM. The number was $1.5MM last year.


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Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jan 30, 2010 at 1:46 pm

I really think the solution should focus on our children and we should work out from there. I understand certain programs need to be cut, but I think reducing the number of days students are in the classroom learning, is one of the most damaging things we could do. Now if removing these days can be compensated for by converting "soft" learning days into educational instruction days I'm more willing to make that concession.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 30, 2010 at 1:46 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Remember that a freeze on S&C doesn't save $1.6MM each fiscal year, it saves an _additional_ $1.6MM each fiscal year.


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Posted by random thought
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 30, 2010 at 2:39 pm

Has anyone asked how much would be saved by cancelling the football, basketball, baseball, soccer, and all other sports programs at Amador and Foothill? It seems that this would save quite a bit, but it is just a guess.


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Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jan 30, 2010 at 3:26 pm

To Random Thought,
I really don't like the idea of cancelling sports programs.....perhaps its the heavy sports influenced societal value I've grown up with, however I do think sports offers the teamwork, team building, as well as making potential college applicants more attractive.

With that said, I think if we're asking teachers and administrators to put "everything" on the table, it is only fair we also evaluate the cost impact our sports programs have, as well as the direct educational development they offer to our kids.


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Posted by Sandy Piderit
a resident of Mohr Park
on Jan 30, 2010 at 3:31 pm

Hm, Stacey, I thought it was actually $2 million last year, and now it's less because there are fewer total teachers, and thus fewer eligible to move on the steps/columns. I could be wrong -- going totally from memory, no notes.

random thought -- to my knowledge, that question has not been asked at any of the public meetings. If you email budgetinfo@pleasanton.k12.us with your question before noon on Tuesday, the district has said it will make an effort to address the question at the budget forum on Tuesday evening.

Part of the proposed cuts that are on the table at the elementary level involve PE specialists. However, at the high school level, I'm not sure how athletic teams and PE requirements fit together. There's probably some academic credit, and some extracurricular costs. I remember that last year, one of the cuts was that teachers who coach don't get any coaching stipends any more. I'm not sure what the other costs of the athletic teams are, and how much of that cost is already paid by the booster clubs rather than by the school district.

Pleasanton Parent -- I agree that reducing instructional days is undesirable, and should be avoided if at all possible. However, there are plenty of other ways that proposed cuts could affect student learning -- cutting reading specialists, science teachers, music teachers, vice principals -- all those things affect learning as well.

One way to think about it is.... If the choice was not to go on a diet, we wouldn't go on a diet. (I wouldn't, any way -- I love chocolate!) But we must cut back on costs, and we will feel the effects no matter how we do that. Some people would choose to go on a diet by becoming vegetarians, others would choose to go on a low-carb diet, but either way, dieting means cutting calories, and a budget deficit means we must cut costs. We will feel the effects, but we will also, in the long run, come out leaner and healthier.


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Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jan 30, 2010 at 3:44 pm

Sandy,
I agree with your sentiment, however I dislike your analogy - you and I know diets never work as they are temporary solutions to an existing problem. What we need is a "change in lifestyle". /wink/


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 30, 2010 at 3:50 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

$2MM was the total average additional cost that PUSD reported. Of that cost, $1.5MM was S&C. The rest was things like energy costs and other operational expenses. The reason I focused on the S&C cost was because it was roughly the same price tag as K-3 CSR.

Sports are a weird area to me. Like, I get the idea of the benefits of extracurricular (or co-curricular) activity and I like to play sports, but at the same time, whatever sports are formed are largely a result of whatever is popular. The question then becomes why should the general taxpayer (or in the case of a parcel tax, the general property owner) have to pay for these popular activities and how does it benefit them? For example, when I attended PUSD, there was no lacrosse team. That was created because we had an influx of migrants from the East Cost where this is a popular sport. Why should the taxpayer have to pay for this when it was created because there was such an influx? Sports are not the same as, say, PE, which is a part of the curriculum. The teams are created whenever there's a will and a way.

But at the same time, if the population of the school grows and there's no increase in variety of sports, there's less chance for an individual student to access a team because there can only be so many players. I guess that's why sports is always a controversial subject in terms of who funds it.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 30, 2010 at 3:53 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

An answer on sports could come down to whatever the core mission of PUSD is. It isn't to produce professional athletes. Maybe that could be a charter or magnet school.


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Posted by Sandy Piderit
a resident of Mohr Park
on Jan 30, 2010 at 4:33 pm

Thanks for getting the details right -- I stand corrected. It does seem strange that the estimate for increased costs due to S&C was $1.5 million last year, and it's $1.6 million for next year.

We're on the same wavelength about the benefits of athletic participation, and about the difficulty of separating PE and sports teams. I'm sure this is a very difficult conversation to have in public because of the passion that athletes and their parents feel for their teams. Part of what is so difficult about this crisis for the community is that the situation is demanding that we have difficult conversations about many topics at the same time.

I hope we can collectively rise to the challenge.


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Posted by random thought
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 30, 2010 at 9:13 pm

"I'm sure this is a very difficult conversation to have in public because of the passion that athletes and their parents feel for their teams."

I think we owe it to ourselves as a community to find out what it costs so we can decide if it is worth what we are spending on it, just like all the other programs that we are considering for cuts.


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Posted by Johnny
a resident of Del Prado
on Jan 31, 2010 at 1:41 am

We should only keep the sports which actually make money. I suspect only Football and boys basketball are the only ones which make money. Get rid of the rest.


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Posted by Johnny
a resident of Del Prado
on Jan 31, 2010 at 2:01 am

Get rid of band and performing arts. Let's only keep core.


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Posted by Sandy
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 31, 2010 at 7:06 am

How do football and basketball make money? Ticket sales?

And don't football games include band performances? It would be hard to separate out who comes for the game from who comes for the music.


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Posted by A. Parent
a resident of Downtown
on Jan 31, 2010 at 8:07 am

Johnny, except for the salaries for the band directors, I believe all the costs of the band programs are funded by the parents and fundraising activities. The instruments that are "owned" by the district are paid for by the non-profit organizations operated by the parents. As far as I know the sports programs are similarly funded.

Sandy, ticket sales for football games would be greatly impacted by the loss of the bands. Just look what happens at a football game after the band finishes playing. Between Amador and Foothill there are over 400 students in the bands and many band parents attend the games....many leave after the half time performance. This irks some of the football parents but it amounts to many ticket and concession sales.

It's time for the teachers, union, and administrators to take some meaningful salary cuts. Most in private industry industy have seen cuts in pay and benefits and those working in government have had cuts through work furloughs.


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Posted by Sandy Piderit
a resident of Mohr Park
on Jan 31, 2010 at 8:27 am

A Parent -- I agree. Pay cuts will be necessary as part of the solution. That's why my initial proposal included this:

"union concessions would be needed of roughly $5.28 million in 10/11 (and an equal number in 11/12):

- Suspension of Step and Column increases ($1.6M) for 2 years.

- Reduction of six days @ $450K each ($2.7M) (3 instructional and 3 staff development) for 2 years.

-suspension of voluntary staff development hours ($380K)

- 3% salary cut for CSEA and 6% for management for two years (not sure on how much this yields --about $600K?)"

Reducing six days from the teacher's contracts does mean that they would be taking a pay cut. I haven't figured it out in terms of percentages, but they currently work (and are paid) for 185 days. To take that down to 179 would mean a 3.3% pay cut, I think, if I'm doing my math correctly.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jan 31, 2010 at 8:59 am

Sandy, Again, reducing the school year is short sighted. The first 3 days (instructional) will only work if instructional minutes are added back into the remaining days, with the caveat that parties, field trips, movies have to have instructional value if they are included. I think very few are of value.

Staff development is crucial to understanding testing results (oh yeah, they got rid of the assessment position and kept the PIO), articulation, collaboration, and much more I'm sure. If you believe that you will hang on to our very senior staff (scattergram is on PUSD website), maybe you can get away with it. there is a very real possibility, however, that teachers will see a couple years ahead of them with no raises (COLA or S&C) and will retire now. That would bring in a younger, albeit less expensive, staff with no staff development.

One has to be thinking about the potential for unintended consequences--not unlike the ones we are paying now because of relatively generous increases to the salary schedule.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jan 31, 2010 at 9:25 am

There are two articles of interest in today's papers that also link to unintended consequences. "Are we paying the piper" Elected officials must educate themselves about pensions: Web Link Unfunded benefits throw cities and states into a massive $3 trillion hole: Web Link

Some posters, including teachers, believe this is about teacher bashing. It really isn't. This is about unfunded liabilities, finding a more realistic way to pay teachers in general, how to reward great teachers, how to remove bad teachers--how to get out from under negotiations that have all of California swirling the drain (yes, there are many reasons and it isn't just K-12 "government"). It's also about under-funded mandates, as someone else pointed out. We need to force change or all we'll hear is the "whoosh" on our way down. Okay, perhaps melodramatic; just trying to make a point: it isn't about "you"; it's about "us."


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Posted by a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 31, 2010 at 9:36 am

"Most in private industry industy have seen cuts in pay and benefits "

Not true. Again, we see this cliche repeated. Last year saw a 1.1% increase in average wages (when not adjusted for inflation) in the US, and 2008 saw a greater increase. Those are the numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Cutting PUSD teacher and administrative salaries and benefits shouldn't have anything that. The reason we need to make cuts here is that there isn't enough money to keep paying the benefits without impacting the quality of education. Suspending step and column raise could be one way to do that.


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Posted by Sandy Piderit
a resident of Mohr Park
on Jan 31, 2010 at 10:36 am

so, Kathleen, it sounds like you would like to see concessions in some other form. I'd be perfectly happy to see them take the form that would not reduce the length of the school year -- as long as the cuts we still have to make after concessions do not affect elementary schools disproportionately.

I think that one way to achieve both your goal and mine would be to go beyond freezing step and column, and also rolling the base pay back for each position in the salary grid by ... how much? 3%? To whatever it was in 2007? What would be satisfactory to you?

That would preserve instructional days and staff development days, but still yield dollars to stave off cuts.

I'm open to alternative ways to yield the total I'm aiming for in concessions (or a little more or a little less) as long as, in the end, the union will concede rather than moving into work-to-rule.

If we reach stalemate in negotiations (heaven forbid!) and the contract expires, then everyone continues to work under the terms of the expired contract, right? At least until the end of mediation.

I also recognize that neither you nor I are at the bargaining table, so our preferences really only have an indirect impact on what the board and the union might reach agreement on.


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Posted by Dark Corners of Town
a resident of Country Fair
on Jan 31, 2010 at 10:46 am

To 'Sandy Piderit' and others - A large quantity of 'indirect impacts' (feedback and communications) to the Board of Trustees can have a huge impact. Thanks for contributing proposals and alternatives to keep the healthy debate going. More people need to get involved in what could be a devastating impact on our children.


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Posted by a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 31, 2010 at 11:16 am

Here is another proposal. I'm by no means advocating it, but just throwing it on the table. Maybe PUSD should borrow the $8 million it needs to get through the next year until the difference can made up by a parcel tax. Step and column could be preserved, as could CSR, reading specialists, music, and everything else. This would be the tax, borrow, and spend alternative. You could look at it as a PUSD stimulus package.


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Posted by Sandy Piderit
a resident of Mohr Park
on Jan 31, 2010 at 11:25 am

DCOT -- thank you, and thank you to all who are involved, whether on the town square or elsewhere, to finding a collective solution to this community problem.

a reader -- I'm not sure about this, but I think the state would require us to secure the taxes first. I don't think the county board of education will permit us to "take out a loan" and pay it off if and when a parcel tax passes. The only way to get another stimulus at this point would be for the state or the federal government to commit to one, and that seems out of the realm of possibility to me.


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Posted by Cocerned
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 31, 2010 at 12:55 pm

The City of Pleasanton has unfunded liabilities well in excess of $100 million growing exponentially. PUSD is in the same boat. Our state and nation are much worse but so far the Federal govt. has been able to print money.With sovereign debt coming under pressure in Greece,Spain and next U.K. and U.S. this may not work much longer. California's debt is rated below Kazakhstan. The U.S. is not far behind.

There is no alternative to cutting waste and taking paycuts in all sectors of govt.


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Posted by a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 31, 2010 at 2:49 pm

To Concerned,

I don't think pay cuts will solve the larger problem of funding pensions for state workers. The terms of the pensions would have to be modified before we could get to sane position on being able to fund the pensions already promised. Of course tax increases would help close the gap also.


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Posted by Rat Turd
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 31, 2010 at 3:00 pm

Increasing revenue through taxes is partly what created this situation from the beginning. We need to induce companies to come to California who have a manufacturing base. Additionally, a sharp pencil needs to be taken to welfare programs and lavish government retirement programs.


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Posted by Sandy Piderit
a resident of Mohr Park
on Jan 31, 2010 at 4:23 pm

There are plenty of changes at the state and federal level that we can debate, and they certainly could address a number of the causes of the current funding challenges for PUSD. However, this thread is to discuss proposals for closing the 2010/2011 budget gap in the Pleasanton schools.

I would respectfully ask that if you want to discuss issues that go beyond decision-making that the PUSD board members can make, that you discuss those issues in another thread.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jan 31, 2010 at 6:32 pm

Sandy, I want to respond to you before I look at other postings. My only issue is that cuts be thoroughly thought out before they are implemented. Furlough days are done to cut costs without impacting . . . retirement (something like per diem calculation remains the same). It's why they are preferred to actual salary cuts.

Once again, we are proposing cuts without benefit of real information about what is valued.

I don't think we are in opposition, really. We both want the same thing--the best education for the community's children.


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Posted by Just A Thought
a resident of Downtown
on Jan 31, 2010 at 6:43 pm

I am a PUSD classified employee and a former parent volunteer in the schools. I believe that the cuts that have already taken place have severely impacted (short term and long term) where our school was. I am an advoate of all three units, certificated, classified and management offering up furlough days until this crisis is over. For me personally, I would vote for one day per month. This will be difficult for my family; we work hard because we need every penny, but we cannot ignore the state budget that is causing all this. Cutting corners is important and I feel we are doing that. I hope all teachers and other employees really take a good hard look at whether giving up some days to save our jobs, which contribute to the total success of our students is NECESSARY.


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Posted by Sandy Piderit
a resident of Mohr Park
on Jan 31, 2010 at 7:45 pm

To all -- I have received information offline noting that if there is a reduction in the number of days that teachers are paid, then the CSEA and management employees are also affected -- so to propose a 3%/6% cut to those employee groups on top of reducing days would doubly impact their take-home pay. That was not my intention in making my original proposal.

The implication is that to get to $8 million in cuts, deeper cuts in instructional days would be needed (or something on my list of programs to be preserved would have to move back to the list of programs to be cut).

And Kathleen -- I apologize if I sounded confrontational. You're right, we do want the same thing, and sometimes my caring can come out as frustration. I don't mean to direct it at you!

I'm not locked into any particular way to maintain a high quality education, and I appreciate the back-and-forth here because it helps me continue to learn about how school districts deal with budgeting, pension implications, and other operational issues.


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Posted by Dark Corners of Town
a resident of Country Fair
on Jan 31, 2010 at 8:49 pm

To 'Kathleen R' - Can you help explain furlough days better? Would all PUSD employees take the furlough day on the same day, thereby shutting down the entire district for a day? Would this be equivalent to the 'Reduction of Work Days' that PUSD is possibly negotiating? But then you say it would not effect retirement. That begs the question, would an across the board 5% reduction in salary effect retirement? Thanks.


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Posted by john
a resident of Valley Trails
on Jan 31, 2010 at 9:04 pm

I think, given the reduction in many homeowners property taxes,
a parcel tax has a pretty good chance of passing. Last attempt was not that far away from getting thru. Bet I'm not the only one thinking this.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 31, 2010 at 11:16 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Why beat up Sandy? She's correct in trying to keep the thread on topic. I don't agree with her all the time, but she has my respect because it is obvious that she is working to understand other points of view and come to fair and equitable solutions.


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Posted by frustrated
a resident of Country Fair
on Jan 31, 2010 at 11:34 pm

Good start, however freezing step and column and reducing school days hits some of the teachers twice. In step and column not everyone gets a step every year, so some would not be affected by a freeze.

But let's talk days of instruction and staff development days. I believe it was mentioned at one of the board meetings that 5 days equaled about an average of a 4% reduction. If instructional days are reduced - it is a whole shut down. So no one works and no one goes to school. It is the fairest option and affects everyone - management to admins. I think it would be helpful to have 3 days reduced this year and 10 days with a combo of staff development and instructional days for next year. Remember, daily salaries are about $450K a day and reducing days is a negotiable item. Those darn unions.

The pros and cons of reduced school days and unintended consequences.... well, in order to have time to teach the curriculum, field trips and assemblies would have to be suspended and maybe if Cindy Galbo took a few things off of the teachers plates our excellent education could be maintained. I am not proposing we lower our standards, just some things that teachers think our kids could live without - maybe a standardized test and assesment or two?? Just throwing this out.


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Posted by Gunslinger
a resident of Danville
on Jan 31, 2010 at 11:36 pm

I wasn't really trying to beat up on her specifically. So sorry. Whenever I talk like that it's aimed squarely at the teachers unions. If she's not with them, then I'm sorry for lumping. But anyone who suggests a parcel tax gets a rise out of me considering what's happened here in Danville


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Posted by Frustrated
a resident of Country Fair
on Jan 31, 2010 at 11:50 pm

On the topic of pensions. From what I understand, reduced days of work means reduced pay, which means less money that the employee is contributing to their retirement. PUSD does not pay for retirement.

Medical benefits are a different story. If I have this correct, in PUSD, let's say you have put in your 30 years and you can retire at 60. Medi-cal does not kick in until age 65, so PUSD does pay the medical insurance premium until Medi-cal kicks in at 65. This is the OPEB liability that has been talked about and was deferred this year to bring back some positions after G failed. Personally, I think PUSD should consider phasing this practice out. It is too expensive. Maybe health care reform will kick in and people can get insurance before Medi-cal kicks in. PUSD does not pay lifetime benefits like so many other cities around the state do. Thank goodness, they would be in a bigger world of hurt.

At a recent school board meeting, I think one of the board members requested a presentation by staff on benefits, retirement and OPEB.


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Posted by Gunslinger
a resident of Danville
on Feb 1, 2010 at 12:37 am

Oh, you're not suggesting anything but getting rid of standardized tests and assessments. That's not a big deal

the kids come first!

Right


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Feb 1, 2010 at 7:14 am

Sandy--No worries! I see it as a dialog too.

DCOT--Furloughs. I think it depends on the deals cut. I don't believe the unions HAVE to agree to the same number of days. For example, classified staff could be on duty or even management. We had a recent local holiday where 10 and 11 month employees were off, but 12 month employees worked. Had to do with the semester break. However, furlough days where everyone is off does have the advantage of savings from turning off the heat and lights and copiers, etc.

John--I don't agree with your assumption. How many elections have you watched where the percentage "settles in" even as the vote counts increase and the outcome doesn't change. I don't think that you can say that more yes voters would show up and there wouldn't be more no voters as well.


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Posted by john
a resident of Valley Trails
on Feb 1, 2010 at 7:25 am

but Gunslinger, it was a majority that voted yes for the parcel tax- just not the super majority(i have no problem with that by the way)

Kathleen - many parcel taxes pass on the second try. I'm saying that
there might be enuf elements to tip the balance - it's not going to take much. I think you are actually making it more possible.


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Posted by Gunslinger
a resident of Danville
on Feb 1, 2010 at 7:59 am

Ok John, I know you already know this, but for those who are reading, the teachers unions use a lot of messed up tactics to convince a community that they support a parcel tax when they don't. Here's how

First you do broad polls and surveys, such as:

"Would you be willing to spend a a couple hundred dollars a year to help your childs education?"

The assumption is that if you aren't willing to spend that money than your kid will suffer. And is a couple hundred bucks worth your kids suffering? Certainly not.

However, if you provide these same parents a multiple choice, such as would you rather be taxed more or would you rather stop paying for illegals? They'd probably choose the latter. If you said, would you like to be taxed more, or would you like to see class sizes go up if that saves the state billions of dollars a year and won't effect your childs performance.

But with the teachers unions push polls, where people are made to feel like if they don't say yes to spending a bit more money they're harming their kids, it can appear that the people support a parcel tax. However, that's not precisely what the people said. The majority just spoke out of some broad hypothetical. If the question was more specific and given with alternative solutions, you better bet the polls would not look good for the unions

Nonetheless, the unions then go the people and say "see you all want a parcel tax." individuals in the audience think, "well I certainly don't want one, but I guess the majority does," because they have been prohibited from seeing that they are indeed the majority. Fundamental political trick- don't let the majority know they're the majority.

The unions organize events where they say "fifty parents showed up to city hall demanding we put our kids first and don't raise class sizes!". Then you find out these "parents" are in fact teachers, all of them. But until this is pointed out, the average person of the community feels that they must be in the minority when their opponents are nothing but a facade.

The unions then put their desires on a special election ballot so that there's not much time for debate, most people don't know about it til it's too late, and the teachers of the area end up being the main block that knows about it come election time and thus the main block who votes for it bringing it into being


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Posted by Concerned
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 1, 2010 at 8:06 am

If there is a second try at a Parcel tax it will go down by a big margin. The public is a lot better informed now and there is a major taxpayers' revolt brewing.


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Posted by Sandy Piderit
a resident of Mohr Park
on Feb 1, 2010 at 9:17 am

Gunslinger, I agree that these issues are all interconnected. In fact the CAUSES of our local problems are mostly outside our district (any anyone who disagrees, please not that I said mostly, not entirely.)

And I'm not asking you to stop discussing these issues. I'm asking for a separate thread (this one) to talk about SOLUTIONS to Pleasanton's short term problems.

I'm happy to learn more about the CAUSES of Danville's problems, or the state's problems, or the roles of unions in creating problems at the state level, or even how Danville has tried SOLUTIONS to its own problems in the short term -- but please, please, to the extent that you can, make a different thread/threads for those.

I don't mean to take offense, but when you write all in the same paragraph that "And Sandy, you don't want us to talk about the state problems but it's all interconnected. You tax and spend thieves got us into this mess on the state level, now you want us to make up for it with a tax and spend local problem..."

it does look like you're accusing me of being a tax-and-spend thief just like all of "them". Forgive me if you get a rise out of me for that every once in a while. While you're vilifying "unions", and insisting that parents who are also teachers are the ones who manipulate the local system... please leave me out of that. I'm not a union member. I'm a parent, and a college teacher.

These conversations would be a lot more constructive if we could just exchange points of view as individuals, and think of our problem as one that we (all community members, in the town and in the state) will solve together, rather than accusing others of causing the problem and insisting that "they" solve the problem. We all need a voice in solving these problems.


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Posted by Gunslinger
a resident of Danville
on Feb 1, 2010 at 9:28 am

Sandy, if someones at fault, they deserve to blamed. Blame helps one identify a problem and fix it. The teachers unions are part of the problem, so I need to cast blame first to help people identify the issue. But dont tell me that I'm not providing solutions. I've said my grand model a thousand times. Shall I repeat it every other comment? I think you know my plan. It has something to do with class sizes...


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Posted by Sandy Piderit
a resident of Mohr Park
on Feb 1, 2010 at 9:48 am

I know your grand model, I think, but I don't understand how it would work. I even set up a whole other thread several days back so you could explain it to me.

Would you mind going over to that other thread and explaining it in a little more detail? I promise, after that, I will not accuse you of not offering a solution.

Here's the thread:

Web Link


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 1, 2010 at 9:55 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Blame is nothing more than a political tool.


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Posted by Gunslinger
a resident of Danville
on Feb 1, 2010 at 10:20 am

Everythings a political tool then. I guess speaking is a political tool as well. The teachers unions are to blame for this problem. Sorry if you don't want to hear that. Big surprise in this modern relativist world of zero responsibility.

PS: Remember, I stand for the people, not a small minority of special interest groups who stand to gain from my arguments, as the teachers unions do theirs


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 1, 2010 at 10:37 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Identifying problems via blame is poor root cause analysis methodology. It leads one to believe that removal of the responsible party solves the problem. It's like saying that voting yes on a parcel tax will fix the budget problem.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 1, 2010 at 10:41 am

Stacey is a registered user.

So blame becomes nothing more than a political tool by which to "fire up the troops". Not much difference between Gunslinger blaming a teacher's union for causing problems and a teacher's union blaming a community for not "supporting education".


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Posted by Finally A Solution
a resident of Beratlis Place
on Feb 1, 2010 at 11:48 am

8 Million works out to about $551 per pupil.
The families of each student should be given the opportunity to donate the $551 to the district to maintain services.
Maybe parents could submit their tax statements to the district to determine if they could afford the $551 per pupil and if not some fundraising could be done to make up for those who can't afford it. Public education should be free but this calls for out of the box thinking. The fund-raiser last year was pathetic.
The quality of our schools affect the quality of life for all of us and if we can't see past our greed this once great school district will be no more.


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Posted by Sandy Piderit
a resident of Mohr Park
on Feb 1, 2010 at 12:11 pm

You vs. them, right? And if I'm not with you, then I'm with them.

Stacey and I disagree about many things, but we do not call each other idiots. We don't even imply it.

Unions are not greedy. They're organizations. Some of the people in unions are greedy. So are some of the people who are not in unions.

I'm going to invite you, Gunslinger, one last time -- if you want to advocate for your point of view, please do it in another thread. If you want to criticize the proposal I made about how to close the $8 million gap, have at it -- I can take the criticism.

This thread, that I created, is to talk about the $8 million budget gap in Pleasanton, and how to close that gap. Between now and Feb. 23.

There's another thread I created, before your comments were deleted for objectionable content, because I wanted to understand your solution (which seems like it's designed for implementation at the state level.) I did my best to quote the core of your grand model, but I am sure I left out details, and it's possible that I unintentionally misrepresented your point of view. Here's the thread: Web Link

Just click on the link.


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Posted by Gunslinger
a resident of Danville
on Feb 1, 2010 at 12:49 pm

I didn't call anyone an idiot. Have you never of the Idiots Guide to blah blah blah? That was a joke I said to convey the point that what Stacey was spewing was psychobabble nonsense. Sensitive much?


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Posted by Gunslinger
a resident of Danville
on Feb 1, 2010 at 12:50 pm

I meant to say never heard of


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 1, 2010 at 1:19 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Perhaps that's why no one here or on the Danville Express forum seems to take Gunslinger seriously. Poor root cause analysis leads to poor and unrealistic solutions.


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Posted by Finally a Solution
a resident of Beratlis Place
on Feb 1, 2010 at 1:20 pm

Hey Gunslinger -
Could you please post your salary and what you do for a living? I would love the opportunity to judge whether or not I approve of how much you make for what you do.
As far as the unions go it seems that you have something to gain from their demise, perhaps you are as greedy as you think the unions are?


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Posted by Gunslinger
a resident of Danville
on Feb 1, 2010 at 2:09 pm

Ya, I do have something to gain, MY COUNTRY BACK! And the majority's with me. I represent the majority special interest, the special interests of the people. And I work in the private sector. My tax dollars pay for your job, not the other way around. I'll let you dictate to me when you pay my salary

Stacey, you sound like a robot. So let me get this straight. No ones ever to blame for anything? Uh huh. I can see the emperors nude, no matter how much you attempt to declare fundamental concepts to be untrue


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 1, 2010 at 5:04 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Gunslinger wrote: "No ones ever to blame for anything?"

Straw man argument now? How about I blame you for your poor root cause analysis?


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Posted by Finally a solution
a resident of Beratlis Place
on Feb 1, 2010 at 6:40 pm

Well dear Gunslinger - I too pay taxes, and chances are my family pays MORE than our fair share. In fact last year we paid more in taxes than these teachers make in a year. That's a shame. Don't we really all pay each other in some way for goods and services? Does that mean we need to boss each other around?
I am sorry you are so angry about taxes, yes they are a burden, but Gunslinger there are many other countries you could move to if it's so bad here.

Let's find a real solution to a - hopefully - temporary funding problem. You can rant and rave about the problems with the education system and I guarantee you we could find thousands of parallels in private industry. Nobody working in education is getting rich off of you and I my dear Gunslinger. But, the unregulated bankers and CEO's sure are.

The fact of the matter is in a wealthy country like ours we have a moral obligation to properly educate our people. If we can't accomplish that no country can. I am not saying the system is perfect, but a broken system does not always necessitate destroying it altogether. Work on fixing the problems, the real problems, not nitpicking and placing blame on people who are powerless to make real change.

Gunslinger, people like you want to go backward to the good ol' days where only certain segments of our population are afforded opportunity.


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Posted by Another solution
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Feb 1, 2010 at 6:45 pm

Forget about $551 per pupil, since WE ALL benefit from great schools how about $120 per resident of Pleasanton? Donations are tax deductable you know so it would actually cost you less. That will be $8 million and next year is handled. We will turn all of this negative energy into then finding sustainable solutions for the future. Or maybe we could donate $4 million and cut $4 million. The rhetoric is getting old, remember to keep it simple when trying to think of solutions.


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Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 1, 2010 at 7:14 pm

Another Solution,

They tried that last year, remember Measure G? This community is too unsupportive of its schools. It will be up to parents and teachers to save our schools. The schools cannot charge parents a fee to educate their children since it's public school and education is a constitutional right, so they ask for donations. But not every parent will or can donate, so it's not a reliable source of funding.

I think there needs to be a combination of lower parcel tax, parent donations, and staff concessions for there to be any chance of our district getting through this without cutting crucial programs.


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Posted by Sandy Piderit
a resident of Mohr Park
on Feb 1, 2010 at 8:18 pm

Anonymous -- last year's measure G was for $233/parcel, not $120 as Another Solution proposed. (And 62 percent of voters were in favor.)

I agree that we cannot rely on year-to-year donations, unless they are gathered by March 1 to support the following school year. Even then, the amount collected will vary from year to year.

Your final sentence, Anonymous -- I could not agree more. We need to find the right combination.


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Posted by A teacher
a resident of Foothill High School
on Feb 1, 2010 at 8:22 pm

"our district getting through this without cutting crucial programs"
Crucial to who? I am not paying for your kid's education. Period.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 1, 2010 at 8:42 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

A teacher,

You GET PAID for kids' education. You can either be paid or not.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 1, 2010 at 8:45 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

So that's the meme that's going to be used? "Paying for other kid's education"?


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 1, 2010 at 8:50 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

How about, "I'm not paying for your health care, retirement, welfare, etc."?


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Posted by A teacher
a resident of Foothill High School
on Feb 1, 2010 at 9:06 pm

So Stacey,
Who is paying for your retirement, health care etc? We all live off of one another, we pay for goods and services. I will not provide a service if I am not adequately compensated. You want quality, you pay for it. I mean why buy a Mercedes when you can buy a Honda?
There will always be a need for teachers and there will always be those who are trying to force us to work for pennies.
I do get paid to educate and you get paid to do whatever it is you do. Or maybe you just married well? That's the situation for a lot of people in this town who go around acting like they could do my job and do it better.


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Posted by a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 1, 2010 at 9:08 pm

Stacey,

My guess is that "A teacher" is not actually a teacher.


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Posted by a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 1, 2010 at 9:16 pm

To "a teacher",

"I will not provide a service if I am not adequately compensated. "

Sounds like you're drawing a line in the sand. How are you defining "adequately compensated"? Are you adequately compensated today? What about the COLA freeze for the last two years, are you against that?

"That's the situation for a lot of people in this town who go around acting like they could do my job and do it better. "

Where do you get the idea that a lot of people are going around acting like that? Have you met many people who told you that? What is it that you teach?


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Posted by A teacher
a resident of Foothill High School
on Feb 1, 2010 at 9:41 pm

Stacey,
I suspect "A reader" is not actually a reader.


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Posted by a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 1, 2010 at 9:47 pm

To "a teacher",

From what you say, it seems that you would be happier teaching in another district.


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Posted by frank
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Feb 1, 2010 at 10:11 pm

A Teacher needs to learn some lessons.

Econ 101. There is approximately one government job (includes public school teachers) for every 4 private sector jobs. The private sector jobs create the tax dollars to pay for the government jobs. Without private sector jobs, there would be NO government jobs. (Imagine only government workers who pay their entire salary back to the government who in turn gives it back to them!) The government jobs are supposed to provide services for the taxpayers.

These private sector jobs are almost entirely "at will" employment jobs as well as small businesses and independent contractors, who succeed through free market competitiveness.

Unfortunately, you are not part of this. You survive because you belong to a union. Otherwise, someone with your attitude would unlikely be competitive in a free market. Your posts have a good chance of becoming the "poster child" for what's wrong with the union teacher work-force in PUSD.

(No, "we" don't live off of one another. Government workers such as teachers live off of taxpayers. You work for us and are supposed supply services to us. We don't live off of you. Geesshhh...!)


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Posted by A teacher
a resident of Foothill High School
on Feb 1, 2010 at 10:18 pm

Frank,
Government workers don't buy the goods and services that you in the " free market " provide? If we make up 1/4th of the workforce it seems like we would certainly be a large contributing force to the overall economy and therefore YOU.
In addition we too pay taxes. Frank seems like maybe you need to take Econ 101 again, you must have had a lousy government worker teacher the first time around.


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Posted by a disgruntled parent of a pleasant town
a resident of Amador Estates
on Feb 1, 2010 at 10:40 pm

i believe that you mean 1/5 of the work force
sheesh teachers these days!
my goodness


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Posted by nobody
a resident of Birdland
on Feb 1, 2010 at 10:44 pm

I hope you don't teach English either. "Crucial to who?" Isn't it "to whom?"


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 1, 2010 at 10:56 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

I think Frank said it best... "Your posts have a good chance of becoming the "poster child" for what's wrong with the union teacher work-force in PUSD."

"Paying for other kid's education"

That's not actually what happens and all you're doing is trying to spin things. Your union negotiates a compensation package. If they end up agreeing to a lower amount, perhaps in exchange for higher amounts later, that isn't you paying for other kid's education. That's you just getting paid less because the district couldn't afford you otherwise.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 1, 2010 at 10:57 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

A reader,

One would hope not.


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Posted by A teacher
a resident of Foothill High School
on Feb 1, 2010 at 10:57 pm

Oh yes, I forgot to clarify. I am a pretty terrible teacher. But you know how it is, you get what you pay for! Goodnight all, I have to get up and go "teach" tomorrow. It's a good thing all you parents teach them for me. Thanks.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 1, 2010 at 11:09 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

We all pay for kids' education through our taxes. If a teacher is getting paid less, that's less tax the State is collecting. That's no different from a worker in the private sector paying less because their salary was cut or they lost their job.


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Posted by Really?
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 1, 2010 at 11:37 pm

"Otherwise, someone with your attitude would unlikely be competitive in a free market. Your posts have a good chance of becoming the "poster child" for what's wrong with the union teacher work-force in PUSD."

Truly amazing that the community is free to post their rude attitude, demands for teachers to loose 4-10% of their salary, bash them with ignorance for the job they have no idea about, and then to top it off....tell them they are not allowed to post anything negative in response! Why, because you pay their salary this also takes away their rights to an opinion and freedom to express it? The gall of many posters amazes me.I guess it is fair to say it is becoming the "poster child" of what's wrong with this community?


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Posted by Sandy Piderit
a resident of Mohr Park
on Feb 2, 2010 at 6:37 am

I have noticed a pattern across all these Town Square threads....

hypothesis 1: the more comments on a thread, the more typos are made.

hypothesis 2: The more typos are made, the more likely commenters become to accuse one another of a lack of brain power.

hypothesis 3: The more accusations are made, the more defensive the responses become.

Rather than ask for someone to do the research to prove or disprove these hypotheses... I'm just going to ask the editors to freeze this thread.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 2, 2010 at 7:28 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Really wrote: "Why, because you pay their salary this also takes away their rights to an opinion and freedom to express it?"

No. It is because they posted their opinion and others have the freedom to respond to it just as you have the freedom to respond to Frank, just as I have the freedom to respond to you, just as others have the freedom to respond to what I write, etc.


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Posted by Gunslinger
a resident of Danville
on Feb 2, 2010 at 7:46 am

Stacey, what you're not fully understanding is that, yes the teachers pay taxes toward things, buy only after our taxes have paid for their salaries. So essentially they're giving some of our tax money back to the government when they pay taxes. You see, we in the private sector create wealth and resources that those in the public sector then live off of. We pay their salaries. Then they give a little of their salary back in taxes, but they didn't create that wealth. It would be like if I made a hundred dollars, gave.you twenty, then you give me five back and say you're contributing money. It's like, no. You're giving a little back of what I gave to you. I am happy to pay for teachers, just not an unnecessary amount of them, being that their salaries consume 85% of the education budget. Keeping class sizes irrationally reduced forces us to hire about 50% more teachers than we need. That's 40% of our education budget, about $10 billion a year of state waste. I'm sorry, while our infrastructure crumbles and truly endangers us, I don't thinks it's necessary to spend such a hefty portion of our taxes toward one inane goal- keeping the ratio of about 22 kids per 1 teacher. If money really did grow around us, we could afford to pay for such minor luxuries. We could drive our kids to school in armored cars too, and hire celebrity talent to tutor our children. But we don't have endless cash! So wise up and realize what's truly necessary for a kids growth and education

And Sandy, what's your point? That angry people misspell things?


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 2, 2010 at 7:55 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Gunslinger,

I do understand that but I think the argument can be made without it. Kids' education (which include teacher salaries) are paid for out of tax dollars.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 2, 2010 at 7:59 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Sandy,

I think what may be useful is to develop a list of the pros and cons of the different options.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 2, 2010 at 8:05 am

Stacey is a registered user.

For example, money saved (pro) due to freezing S&C has to be paid back (con) iirc. Cutting salary on the other hand doesn't automatically include having to pay back (pro) and a compensatory future raise can be negotiated (pro because money is still saved), but cutting salary can affect retirement levels (con). Furloughs affect actual take-home pay (con) but preserve the salary schedule (pro). Etc.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Feb 2, 2010 at 8:53 am

There are also unintended consequences/benefits. With a senior staff looking ahead at years of 0% if not less, many may choose to retire now, effectively lowering costs as newer (lower on the salary schedule) staff members take their place.

Classified staff have retirement calculated on a formula using their highest year of pay; certificated staff have a formula based on their three highest years of pay (pretty sure that's right). So if those three highest years are behind you with little hope for change before 2014, maybe you leave now if you can afford to do so.

I'm an advocate for cutting by percentage--not lost of staff development, not loss of instructional days. I don't say that as if it is painless. It does, however, keep things that are vital. For those who think summer is too short, start school later, or end it sooner and then shorten needless breaks like a week at Thanksgiving, or two weeks for winter, or the week in spring. Again, something worth vetting. If parents want longer summers, there are ways to do that which don't require cutting five days because we believe they are for parties. AND you can add days to summer school and maybe make more money there.

Of course, calendars are negotiated . . .


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Posted by Sandy
a resident of Mohr Park
on Feb 2, 2010 at 9:09 am

Gunslinger -- Yep, that's my point. "Angry people misspell things."

Also, I'm moving on to another thread.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Gina Channell-Allen
president of the Pleasanton Weekly
on Feb 2, 2010 at 9:54 am

Gina Channell-Allen is a registered user.

This thread has strayed from the original topic.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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