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Board gets budget back on track, for now

Original post made on Mar 25, 2010

School Board members were pleased to certify their budget as positive Tuesday night -- a sign of a balanced budget -- for the first time in a year and a half.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, March 25, 2010, 6:39 AM

Comments (65)

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Posted by Dark Corners of Town
a resident of Country Fair
on Mar 25, 2010 at 10:01 am

The 2/3 threshold hasn't stopped many communities from passing parcel tax measures. Just because some communities can't reach the 2/3 level is no reason to just lower the threshold. Oh, right, change the rules if you can't win.

And if there is a balanced budget, why is there a need to raise taxes? The article, in its list of upcoming budget impacts, did not mention that PUSD and the teachers union just signed a three year contract that continues raises in the salary schedule. The furlough days (unpaid vacation days) reduction in pay comes *after* the salary increase has been applied. Approximately 50% of the teachers will have increased pay this year and next year.

That is why the PUSD Board is supporting changing the rules. It knows that it approved increased salary costs for the union and they need a way to pay for it.


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Posted by Repleasnacrat
a resident of Stoneridge
on Mar 25, 2010 at 11:01 am

PUSD will never untangle the budget crisis as long as the current supt. search committee continues to seek some overpaid bureaucrat with a phd in education! For over 50 years I have watched these "superintendent" impliment their hair brained phd thesis in every format possible. remeber "Open class rooms", alternative schools, yada yada ya.

What we need is a cpa that will bust the lethargic teachers union. Pleasnton is the perfect place to start. I can guarantee you if you fired every teacher on June 12th you would have 50 applications for each position! The inefficiency in PUSD are glaring! If you really analyze how much time the average teacher spends with the students, they have it pretty darn easy. Most PUSD children come prepared to learn!

This all started when the district went to 20 per class room. You dont think that came from the teachers union do ya!


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Mar 25, 2010 at 11:37 am

Stacey is a registered user.

I would support lowering the threshold to 55% if it also required a majority participation of the electorate. That way a minority of voters cannot hold the majority hostage.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Mar 25, 2010 at 11:56 am

Stacey is a registered user.

With the 55% threshold, Measure G would have required only 9648 yes votes to pass. That would translate into only 24% of the electorate of Pleasanton (40,961 total registered voters).

Again, this is a minority of voters who would impose a new tax on the majority.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Mar 25, 2010 at 12:03 pm

Stacey is a registered user.


22529 is 55% of Pleasanton's electorate
27280 is 2/3rds of the electorate

12391 yes votes (30% of electorate) needed out of 55% of electorate to pass Measure G with 55% threshold.
15004 yes votes (36% of electorate) needed out of 2/3rds of electorate to pass Meausure G with 55% threshold.

36% of the electorate is closer to a true majority than 24% of the electorate.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Mar 25, 2010 at 12:07 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

This is why parcel taxes generally get put on special election ballots. Less people vote so it is easier to pass. All you have to do is stack the vote with your supporters by not getting the word out to all voters. If there were a requirement for electorate participation, it would place the burden on proponents to get everyone to vote and not stack the vote.


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Posted by Agree
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 25, 2010 at 3:57 pm

"This is why parcel taxes generally get put on special election ballots."

Yes, that is what Cupertino did last year. Look at them now, raising class sizes and cutting programs but giving raises to the teachers.

As long as PUSD refuses to deal with the main problem (raises in time of deficit, overpaid administrators, unreasonable perks, etc) it will be a never ending story.

Look at San Ramon: they passed a parcel tax, and kept the programs for one year. Now they are saying they don't have enough and they have to cancel the programs the parcel tax was supposed to fund! Why? Raises.

Lowering the percentage required to pass a parcel tax is not the answer because we have now seen with many districts that the tax is not the solution, it is a temporary fix at best. The year after they get more money, the need more. Palo Alto is now trying to renew their parcel tax with a higher amount! And they have still cut services for students, but their employees keep their generous raises.

As for Hintzke's comment: consider the source. Only people who know how to manage their personal finances are credible.


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Posted by Ken D
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Mar 25, 2010 at 4:52 pm

"Jeff Bowser, chair of the legislative committee for the Pleasanton PTA Council, had petitions circulating the community to support this initiative. "

Jeff Bowser is likely a frequent poster on these forums and strong supportter of a parcel tax.
If Bowser got elected to our school board we may as well give the checkbook to the Union to write their own checks.


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Posted by Learn to live within your means
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 25, 2010 at 7:15 pm

"Trustee Jamie Hintzke agreed."

Asking for more money is NOT the solution to the problem. The solution is to start living within your means.

People who borrowed money against their house instead of fixing the root problem, ended up in trouble and foreclosed. Don't let them do the same to the Pleasanton School District.


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Posted by a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 25, 2010 at 9:01 pm

"Asking for more money is NOT the solution to the problem. The solution is to start living within your means."

We need more money through higher taxes and more donations. Now is not the time to be cheap. This has nothing to do with mortgages and is in no way comparable. Do you understand anything about the economy and the root cause of the credit crisis? This had nothing at all to do with the school district.


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Posted by a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 25, 2010 at 9:04 pm

"As long as PUSD refuses to deal with the main problem (raises in time of deficit, overpaid administrators, unreasonable perks, etc) it will be a never ending story. "

None of these "problems" are real. Do you just make this stuff up. Do you understand the first thing about economics or finance? There are no over paid administrators or "unreasonable perks". What is "time of deficit"? Is that some accounting term? Where do you get this rubbish?


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Posted by Dark Corners of Town
a resident of Country Fair
on Mar 25, 2010 at 10:10 pm

To 'a reader' - Are you saying the raises aren't real?


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Posted by a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 25, 2010 at 10:20 pm

No, I am saying they are not problems, and in no way got us into this "mess". That all came from Wall Street. The raises are going to less than 50% of teachers, and are comparable to the average raise that the average worker got in 2009, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.


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Posted by To a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 25, 2010 at 10:20 pm

"Do you just make this stuff up. Do you understand the first thing about economics or finance? There are no over paid administrators or "unreasonable perks"."

You must be kidding, right? Oh, wait it is you , the person who thinks parcel taxes fix everything, who said San Ramon was great because of its tax....

If you don't think this is real and that we have unreasonable perks, etc, you are definitely part of the problem. Perhaps you also think that the unions and their pensions have nothing to do with the crisis California is going through, did you hear about Berkeley's money problems? Yet another California city unable to meet its very unreasonable obligations.


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Posted by To a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 25, 2010 at 10:27 pm

"Now is not the time to be cheap. This has nothing to do with mortgages and is in no way comparable. Do you understand anything about the economy and the root cause of the credit crisis? This had nothing at all to do with the school district."

It is very comparable. Someone who has gone through foreclosure should not be allowed to make financial decisions on behalf of an entire school district.

When people borrow and borrow against their house, and then they have to foreclose, that is no different than a district continuing to borrow (Sycamore fund) and spend money they don't have... it will eventually go into bankruptcy because they cannot count on people voting yes on a parcel tax to pay for the district's lack of good financial planning. It is happening to many districts, and look, Pleasanton now is temporarily "fixing" the problem...for one year, and what about next? Parcel tax you say? You can't count on it, anymore than a homeowner should have counted on the bank continuing to let them borrow more money against their house.


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Posted by letsgo
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 26, 2010 at 11:03 am

"I can guarantee you if you fired every teacher on June 12th you would have 50 applications for each position!"

How can you gurantee this? Do you have some crystal ball? Where are you going to find nearly 50,000 teachers that are willing to live/commute here also knowing that the district is willing to fire everyone no matter if they were great teachers or not?

I'm still bothered by everyone argues that "a teacher can never get fired, but in the private sector you can get fired for no reason"

I have work in the private sector for a long time and many different companies (from large national companies to 5 employee consulting firms) and have never seen anyone fired without cause. I have found it is extremely had to fire someone unless there is an aggregious cause (i.e brought a weapon to work, stole from the company). Its actually much easier to try to get people to quit, which I know some companies even have a process for.

Yes, I have seen layoffs, but it really is not much different then the layoffs the teachers have been going through the last few years.



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Posted by letsgo
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 26, 2010 at 11:08 am

"how much time the average teacher spends with the students, they have it pretty darn easy."

No you are just being silly. If it is so easy why do half of the new teachers quit the profession within 5 years?


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Posted by To letsgo
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 26, 2010 at 11:13 am

"How can you gurantee this? Do you have some crystal ball? Where are you going to find nearly 50,000 teachers that are willing to live/commute here also knowing that the district is willing to fire everyone no matter if they were great teachers or not?"

I think that the person who posted this has the same information as the rest of us.

I too think that teachers would not be hard to find. Look around: many school districts, including top rated ones like Cupertino are laying off hundreds of teachers. Come September, with all the cuts to programs and increase to class sizes, there will be plenty of teachers looking for work.

As for firing people in the private sector: there is a process. In my company, we give a verbal warning, then a written one, then the employee can be terminated. For teachers, the union is involved and it is very difficult to fire one unless there are allegations of abuse or something serious like that.

Yes, bad teachers are very hard to fire. Bad employees in the private sector can be fired following a certain process and has been done many times, it is not hard.


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Posted by reasonable
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 26, 2010 at 11:59 am

Public schools "income" is taxes and the fact is that taxes have gone down. Even if it is not the district's/teacher's fault, less income means less to spend!

When faced with less income, businesses impose layoffs, forced vacation, cut dividends, defer software upgrades etc. Households might stop eating out and drive the old car another year. It is always painful and someone will always be unhappy.

There is a reason tax income is down. It is not becaue of teacher raises or failed parcel taxes, it is because people have less income to tax!! Until the economy recovers and tax receipts recover, the schools have to cut back just like everyone else.

Union contracts don't change the math. There is just less money to pay teachers. They can choose to freeze pay, take furloughs, lay off teachers or increase class size .... there are many ways to skin the cat. If the union prefers to balance the budget with furlough days and keep the raises, why should we care?


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Mar 26, 2010 at 1:01 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Reasonable wrote: "If the union prefers to balance the budget with furlough days and keep the raises, why should we care? "

I think your question obscures more than clarifies. For one, the district management balances the budget, not the union.

The district management is the employer as far as the labor contract goes and they've negotiated away their ability to control annual labor costs, such as raises, that allow them to respond effectively to the vagaries of state funding. It's a little more complex than my simplistic example as there's laws that govern compensation involved too. This leaves the employer with layoffs as the only option to control labor costs in most cases. Because the employer no longer can respond without negotiating with the union, the only way to use other options such as a raise freeze or furloughs can become a battle.

It is this loss of flexibility in managing labor costs, especially during an extreme contraction of revenue, (other than through layoffs) that we should be concerned about, not whether the outcome of negotiations with the union is furloughs or raise freezes. The Stepless Salary Schedule being used in some districts in Arizona is one way to meet the needs of both employer and employee.


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Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 26, 2010 at 3:52 pm

The contracts should have wording that says step and column raises will only be awarded on years where the year-over-year income from the state is at least a specific amount. Without this type of language, there is no way to meet this obligation without laying off personnel.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Mar 26, 2010 at 4:16 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Anonymous wrote: "there is no way to meet this obligation without laying off personnel."

I'd add: or cutting programs.


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Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 26, 2010 at 6:03 pm

Actually it should be "and cutting programs". We do not have programs that do not involve personnel.


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Posted by a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 26, 2010 at 9:51 pm

"the person who thinks parcel taxes fix everything, who said San Ramon was great because of its tax"

But San Ramon is doing better due to their parcel tax. It is an advantage for them.

"Perhaps you also think that the unions and their pensions have nothing to do with the crisis California is going through"

Our current financial problems have everything to do with what is happening on Wall Street. Pensions for state and local workers will be a huge problem if nothing is done about them. Where did I ever say otherwise? If I were in charge, I would raise the retirement age for teachers to 65.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Mar 26, 2010 at 11:13 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

At issue isn't who or what caused the problem, it is having the ability to respond effectively and efficiently. Government is notorious for being unable to do this. In the private sector you either have to or you go out of business. Evolve or die. And that's why citizens get upset when they learn that they've been collectively signed up to contractual obligations that require the taxpayer to be soaked in order to provide even basic services.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Mar 27, 2010 at 8:32 am

a reader, Did you catch The News Hour last night (PBS radio or tv)? There was a piece by John Merrow: Web Link Gives you an idea of how difficult it will be to get change in things like retirement age. John Merrow is no slouch, by the way Web Link , and tends to champion education issues. I try to follow what he reports on at Learning Matters because even when I don't agree, i learn.

Just like a parcel tax isn't the only solution; Wall Street isn't the only problem.


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Posted by person who goes outside sometimes
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Mar 27, 2010 at 9:10 am

You guys are getting so much accomplished here. Dozens (maybe even tens!) of people have glanced at these posts over the past year! Considering how many hours of work each day--for months and months on end--have been put into these fruitful discussions, it is strange that they have accomplished so little.

If six or seven fish engaged in endless debate in one of the smallest ponds on the Internet can't create real change, who can?




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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Mar 27, 2010 at 9:27 am

Outside, Could be mere coincidence in some or all cases that Ott is not running, that Measure G didn't pass, that we'll have a new superintendent, that the district has had to be more transparent, that there have been multiple pubic budget forums, that there have been union concessions, that the city at least is talking about sharing redundant services, that other ponds on the internet are having similar conversations . . . gotta start somewhere. And even you posted.


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Posted by Dark Corners of Town
a resident of Country Fair
on Mar 27, 2010 at 10:11 am

To 'person who goes outside sometimes' -
If what you said is true, why did Trustees Ott and Hintzke last year mention the 'bloggers' in their assessment for the defeat of Measure G? Why in a recent board meeting did Trustees Kernan and several public speakers mention the internet bloggers?
Say what you want. The results speak for themselves.
If six or seven fish spend $80,000 in a town where less than 18,000 voted and can't get Measure G passed, who can?


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Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 27, 2010 at 10:46 am

To a reader (Joan?), you always mention that San Ramon is doing better because they have a parcel tax and we don't but you never disclose that San Ramon gets so much less than Pleasanton from the state that their parcel tax added to the state funds is just about what Pleasanton receives from the state alone.


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Posted by a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 27, 2010 at 3:20 pm

To Anonymous,

I've answered that, about a dozen times. Do a little searching.


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Posted by person who goes outside sometimes
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Mar 27, 2010 at 5:32 pm

"Ott is not running"

YOU did that?

"Measure G didn't pass"

Could be. But there were a lot of factors. This is really a post-hoc claim.

"That we'll have a new superintendent"

Are you SERIOUSLY claiming to have driven Casey from his job? REALLY?

"That the district has had to be more transparent"

Not to steal your thunder, but hasn't the recession actually done this?

"That there have been multiple pubic budget forums"

Uh, yeah. THAT never would have happened if not for a few bloggers...

"That there have been union concessions"

How on earth can you take credit for this? I can count a total of one teacher who named himself here, and I'm pretty sure he didn't share your views.

"That the city at least is talking about sharing redundant services" etc.

This is delusional. Go outside.


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Posted by To "person who goes outside sometimes"
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 27, 2010 at 5:56 pm

It is not just a matter of going out, but about being smart when you are out!

If bloggers were not a big deal, why do you bother addressing us? Why does anyone for that matter worry about it? Could it be because many of us do have a voice through our vote and wallets even if we never show up at board meetings?


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Posted by To a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 27, 2010 at 6:04 pm

"But San Ramon is doing better due to their parcel tax. It is an advantage for them."

Really? How? PUSD is keeping class sizes at 25, San Ramon is going up to 28. I know people in San Ramon, things are not pretty over there even with their parcel tax. They lied to the community saying they would use a parcel tax to fund programs like CSR, then this year: oops, they decided to use it for raises. How can you possibly think they are doing better? Again, you are the most naive person - you actually believe the nonsense.


"Our current financial problems have everything to do with what is happening on Wall Street. Pensions for state and local workers will be a huge problem if nothing is done about them. Where did I ever say otherwise? If I were in charge, I would raise the retirement age for teachers to 65."

Wall Street was a portion of the problem. Other states are not in the situation California finds itself in... why? Oh yeah, they did not have a Davis and a three point system and a union-dominated state.

You keep asking if people understand the economy and finances. Yes we do, but it seems like you do not have a clue about how things work. Perhaps you think the housing crisis was tied to Wall Street? May I remind you that Clinton et al pushed for the mortgage for all in the fall 1999? The housing crisis will keep the economy down for years to come - it is not just Wall Street.

Reader: you should READ about finances at some point


 +   Like this comment
Posted by a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 27, 2010 at 6:16 pm

"They lied to the community saying they would use a parcel tax to fund programs like CSR, then this year: oops, they decided to use it for raises. "

That's like saying, "they lied, they decided to use it for janitorial services".

" Perhaps you think the housing crisis was tied to Wall Street"

Yes.

"May I remind you that Clinton et al pushed for the mortgage for all in the fall 1999? "

Duh. Where did I ever say he didn't? So did Bush in 2001. What is your point?

"The housing crisis will keep the economy down for years to come - it is not just Wall Street."

Financial derivatives are a much bigger problem, by an order of magnitude. Do you understand what collateralized debt obligations, credit default swaps, and structured investment vehicles are? Do you understand why Lehman collapsed, and AIG, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Bear Stearns, CITI, and Bank of America all got bailed out by the Treasury and the Federal Reserve by over $2 trillion? It is the derivatives.


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Posted by person who goes outside sometimes
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Mar 27, 2010 at 7:13 pm

"It is not just a matter of going out, but about being smart when you are out!"

Okay: Go outside smartly.


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Posted by a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 27, 2010 at 9:29 pm

Some people were catching on even back in 2008 when things were just beginning to fall apart.

Web Link

Web Link

Web Link

Web Link

This one almost gets it:

Web Link

"One pleasant mystery is why the crisis hasn't hit the economy harder -- at least so far. "This financial crisis hasn't yet translated into fewer...companies starting up, less research and development, less marketing," Ivan Seidenberg, chief executive of Verizon Communications, said Wednesday. "We haven't seen that yet. I'm sure every company is keeping their eyes on it."

At 6.1%, the unemployment rate remains well below the peak of 7.8% in 1992, amid the S&L crisis.

In part, that's because government has reacted aggressively. The Fed's classic mistake that led to the Great Depression was that it tightened monetary policy when it should have eased. Mr. Bernanke didn't repeat that error. And Congress moved more swiftly to approve fiscal stimulus than most Washington veterans thought possible."

I guess that part didn't work out all that well.


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Posted by Karen
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Mar 28, 2010 at 12:38 pm

Interesting topics, but what I don't see is where the school budget can be cut? Teachers on the inside should be making recommendations for budget cuts. All 3 of my boys went through Pleasanton schools and they are great... But where can we make cuts? Just some thoughts:
* My friends that do substitute teaching are called endlessly! Often for teacher training, GATE testing, etc. Reduce or eliminate training during the school year, and do it in the summer where you don't have to double pay teacher hours PLUS subs.
* Reduce new book purchases for research books in our libraries - the internet has replaced most of them and kids would rather Google something anyway.
* Our kids are truly spoiled with many school events, a big one is the over the top grad night parties and other events on & off campus. Many times teachers and administrators are required to be there. Get back to high school events that reasonable and in proportion to the accomplishment. They are grad. from HS! These costly grad parties involve fundraising all year plus endless parent hours which might be better spent on more productive volunteer hours to help the schools and students.


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Posted by parent
a resident of Pleasanton Middle School
on Mar 28, 2010 at 3:36 pm

no parcel tax
district not responsible with the taxes already provided
pensions going to break us, cities first then state. . .school districts seem to think they can just go back to the well repeatedly and raise taxes.

my kids have been in school here awhile and nothing special is going on, rather lots of don't bother me, no I can't meet you, let's just have an email meeting back and forth.

NO PARCEL TAX


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Posted by Agree with Karen
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 28, 2010 at 4:04 pm

"* My friends that do substitute teaching are called endlessly! Often for teacher training, GATE testing, etc. Reduce or eliminate training during the school year, and do it in the summer where you don't have to double pay teacher hours PLUS subs."

This was brought up in a different thread. Some teachers (Old Tenure for instance) took this as an attack and per their responses it is obvious they feel entitled.

I did substitute teaching before I went back to work in the private sector. I had work every day! And one day I remember in the elementary I was subbing we joked about it being a "sub day" since all the teachers were training (yes, on campus but busy with other stuff).

My neighbor says her child's 4th grade teacher took a day off to coordinate a PTA event! And many teachers take time off to attend their child's assembly or field trip.

If PUSD got strict about days off for teachers, that would be a big savings. Subs are not cheap. The district has released a document saying that elective days off for students cost the district about 50 dollars in ADA and they are discouraging elective days off. Well, teachers' electives days off cost the price of the sub because the teacher still gets paid. Why isn't PUSD releasing a document explaining the cost of teachers electives days off? I think it was something like 2 million for students' electives days off. Release the same for teachers and reduce the numbers of elective days off.


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Posted by To parent
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 28, 2010 at 4:09 pm

Agree 100%: no parcel tax. PUSD is not fiscally responsible. They need to:

- cut admin perks (why does the superintendent need a 1K car allowance when he lives in Pleasanton? - true he sold his house but only recently yet his car allowance existed since he got hired)

- freeze raises (step and column for instance)

- Get real with pensions. Have you read article after article saying that even a Palo Alto Janitor retired with 90K per year in salary and a lump sum of 264K because of "saved" sick days? Ridiculous!

- Cut so much staff. Have you ever waled into a school? Countless clerks and staff. I remember going to my child's middle school once, talked to a clerk, who phoned the clerk next to her, who phoned a student TA to get something done! Unbelievable!


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Posted by To parent
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 28, 2010 at 4:13 pm

Agree 100%: no parcel tax. PUSD is not fiscally responsible. They need to:

- cut admin perks (why does the superintendent need a 1K car allowance when he lives in Pleasanton? - true he sold his house but only recently yet his car allowance existed since he got hired)

- freeze raises (step and column for instance)

- Get real with pensions. Have you read article after article saying that even a Palo Alto Janitor retired with 90K per year in salary and a lump sum of 264K because of "saved" sick days? Ridiculous!

- Cut so much staff. Have you ever walked into a school? Countless clerks and staff. I remember going to my child's middle school once, talked to a clerk, who phoned the clerk next to her, who phoned a student TA to get something done! Unbelievable!

- Do we really need elementary school counselors? Come on, not many use them, and a troubled child should seek help through private insurance or medical, not the school!

- Release the budget - line by line along with an organizational chart. Let's eliminate redundant positions. Do we really need 2 part time directors of HR when we have an assistant superintendent of HR?

- etc


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Posted by Two parent
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 28, 2010 at 4:16 pm

Agree 100%: no parcel tax. PUSD is not fiscally responsible. They need to:

- cut admin perks (why does the superintendent need a 1K car allowance when he lives in Pleasanton? - true he sold his house but only recently yet his car allowance existed since he got hired)

- freeze raises (step and column for instance)

- Get real with pensions. Have you read article after article saying that even a Palo Alto Janitor retired with 90K per year in salary and a lump sum of 264K because of "saved" sick days? Ridiculous!

- Cut so much staff. Have you ever walked into a school? Countless clerks and staff. I remember going to my child's middle school once, talked to a clerk, who phoned the clerk next to her, who phoned a student TA to get something done! Unbelievable!

- Do we really need elementary school counselors? Come on, not many use them, and a troubled child should seek help through private insurance or medical, not the school!

- Release the budget - line by line along with an organizational chart. Let's eliminate redundant positions. Do we really need 2 part time directors of HR when we have an assistant superintendent of HR?

- RELEASE THE KRAKEN!


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Posted by a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 28, 2010 at 5:26 pm

"- Cut so much staff. Have you ever walked into a school? Countless clerks and staff. I remember going to my child's middle school once, talked to a clerk, who phoned the clerk next to her, who phoned a student TA to get something done! Unbelievable!"

I'm sure you know all the details if each individual work load and are sure they are over staffed...

Let me guess, you have no kids in school now.

"- freeze raises (step and column for instance)"

And what other kind of raises would you be referring to?

" Do we really need elementary school counselors"

Yes we do.

And yes we need a parcel tax.


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Posted by a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 28, 2010 at 5:28 pm

"my kids have been in school here awhile and nothing special is going on, rather lots of don't bother me, no I can't meet you, let's just have an email meeting back and forth."

"nothing special is going on"

What? What are you talking about?


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Posted by Johnny
a resident of Del Prado
on Mar 28, 2010 at 5:31 pm

Reader,

I think you have beat the drum a little long on the parcel tax thing. It will not happen. Did you realize that Friday over 2200 people at NUMMI lost their jobs and next Friday, 3700 more will lose their jobs? It says in the paper another 35,000 statewide will lose their jobs affliated with this operation. Since a large number of people at NUMMI live in our town do you really want to burden them with another tax just at the time when they will be trying to make ends meet? I know you think it is funny but it is not so leave the issue alone or pass the hat and fund it yourself and yes I am one of the people who will lose their job next Friday.


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Posted by concerned
a resident of Kottinger Ranch
on Mar 28, 2010 at 7:08 pm

"a reader" will keep repeating the same mantra over and over, no matter what the facts are. "a reader" should just say that since the sun will come out tomorrow, we need a parcel tax.

I know many in town who took some salary cuts of around 10%. These are not furlough days. This is working the same number of days but getting paid less. Since government cannot loose customers, like companies, they reduce their services. Furloughs do not work in the private sector because a company that lowers its service will go out of business.

I encourage "a reader" and others who have money and believe the schools can use some more money to donate to the latest fundraising. If the district cannot raise enough money by voluntary fundraising, that means to me that the community as a whole cannot at this time afford a parcel tax. Everybody who would pay a parcel tax can easily donate to the fundraisers of the schools; you do not need kids in the school system. One area where the school fundraising is missing out big on is businesses in Pleasanton. The district should be tarketing companies in Pleasanton for a donation; at a value of at least how much they would pay if there were a parcel tax. The Chamber of Commerce has said many times the the education in our city helps businesses so they should be happy to donate if they can afford it. Maybe each company should be asked to donate $10 per employee employed in Pleasanton. If they have 100 employees, they are asked to donate 1,000 to the schools.

A good school district should be able to raise more in donations than a parcel tax (I believe San Ramon does). A parcel tax is usually computed as the minimum amount a family will pay and will vote "Yes" vote on it. Donations should be much higher if the community feels the district is well managed and performing well. If the donations do not at least equal how much a minimal parcel tax would raise than I believe the district has failed. Since the fundraising this last year did not generate a lot of money, the district failed there, and it is good that the Superintendent and at least one of the board members will be leaving. The district needs to improve its accountability and then the money will flow in through donations. If the only way to get more money it to force somebody to pay, it does not make the district look all that good.

And completely unrelated but I need to say this, the teachers taking a pay cut does not mean that we do not value them as much, just like employers who have to cut employee's pay because of economics does not mean they value their employees any less. I am tired of public employees trying to guilt the taxpayers when times are tough by saying if they do not get more money that they are not valued. Maybe our economic teachers should be running the unions so they had some footing in reality.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Mar 28, 2010 at 7:46 pm

Outside, Sorry not to get to this sooner, I've been . . . outside. I didn't claim "I" accomplished anything, just pointing to coincidences. Save for the superintendent, who let people know a long time ago he would retire this year, and the inability to increase pay cinched it. Collectively, I do believe we had an impact for the better. In fact, I know we have.


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Posted by Anonymousse
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 29, 2010 at 2:56 pm

Concerned,

You said: "A good school district should be able to raise more in donations than a parcel tax (I believe San Ramon does)... Donations should be much higher if the community feels the district is well managed and performing well."

You do not know the San Ramon school district then. Not only do they have a parcel tax for the community, but if parents don't also "donate" to the schools, then the names of those parents are posted on the school's website, like a Scarlet Letter.

PUSD does not force parents to donate, and I believe last summer's fundraiser wasn't successful partly because people did not understand the magnitude of the budget problems, and because people who are used to getting something practically for free resisted paying for it. However, did you know that this year, the PTA for my children's school received a record amount of donations, more than other years, because parents were more informed?

I believe parents will step up to the plate, but as has been mentioned before, raising more than $1-$2 million in a fundraiser is unprecedented, and we're looking at a potential budget shortfall in the future that is larger than that.

We need a long-term funding source for our schools that is less dependent on state funds and more dependent on local funds. After all, we as a community benefit greatly from the excellent reputation of our school district. For example, this is an excerpt from an article in the Chronicle:

"Real estate agent Matt Heafey enjoyed living in Oakland but was quick to flee for the pricier environs of Piedmont a decade and a half ago when it was time for his youngest child to start elementary school.

They're all happy to ante up the "school district premium," or the extra price a homeowner pays solely to be within the boundaries of a distinguished public school district.

Most Bay Area residents know the districts most in demand: Communities like Piedmont, Tiburon, Orinda and Palo Alto attract their fair share of buyers most covetous of their schools. And they're glad to pay up.

What exactly is the school district premium? Some agents believe it's 10 to 25 percent of a home's sale or rental price."

In the long run, we cannot expect the teachers in this district to forego raises and promotions forever, nor can we expect to balance the budget solely on parent donations. The "school district premium" applies to Pleasanton, too, and many homeowners in this district enjoy a 10-25% premium on their home prices.

People in Orinda, Piedmont, Palo Alto are largely supportive of their schools and are interested in maintaining their schools' good reputations. It benefits their children, and it benefits them as well. It seems here in Pleasanton that people are OK with having mediocre schools. If that's the case, then we as a community cannot command a "school district premium" anymore. Just as everyone in the community benefitted from our good schools, everyone in the community would suffer from our bad schools.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Mar 29, 2010 at 3:15 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Let's be clear on what a "school premium" on a house is. It isn't a straight 10-25%. It is the percentage above another comparable home in a comparable community. It is the result of "everything else being equal".


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Mar 29, 2010 at 3:23 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Let's go further. One would need to ask how the housing market defines a good school. Is it by reputation only? Do the actual student outcomes match that reputation? How are we measuring those outcomes and which ones does the housing market care about?

Reputation is not always the same as reality. What may be good for the housing market is not necessarily good for the substantive goals of education.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Mar 29, 2010 at 3:24 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Should we, as a community, focus on increasing our "school district premium" at the expense of the goal of education? We still have an achievement gap here in PUSD. Does the housing market care?


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Posted by For real?
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 29, 2010 at 5:51 pm

Anonymousse
You wrote -
You do not know the San Ramon school district then. Not only do they have a parcel tax for the community, but if parents don't also "donate" to the schools, then the names of those parents are posted on the school's website, like a Scarlet Letter.

If the SRVSD board approves of its schools posting names of families who do not donate to their children's schools, that's, well, rotten.

Can you name a San Ramon school that does this, and either provide a link to the school's webpage, or advise which school and where on the school's website this kind of information is posted?


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Posted by a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 29, 2010 at 9:33 pm

"We still have an achievement gap here in PUSD"

I'm not up to date on this jargon. What is an "achievement gap"?


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Mar 29, 2010 at 9:44 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

A reader,

I guess you missed this: Web Link


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Posted by Get Educated
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 29, 2010 at 11:00 pm

This achievement gap has been the year long focus for the schools when action planning how to improve our programs. Something to keep in mind are the total number of students represented in these focus groups. This was something we noticed when studying test results. It has been a productive ongoing process that PUSD is currently addressing, since August.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Mar 29, 2010 at 11:17 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Does it need to be addressed? Probably. Does the housing market care about it? Probably not. And that's an example of where what's good for students is not necessarily good for the housing market.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Mar 30, 2010 at 7:00 am

GE, the Assessment & Evaluation position was part of the cuts for 09-10. While I am certain others are trying to tackle the work, the level of focus on the disaggregated data is likely suffering. Other choices could have been made; what was decided ended up being a bad choice for teachers and students.


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Posted by a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 30, 2010 at 9:27 pm

To Stacey and Kathleen,

We should consider a parcel tax. It can help with those things.


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Posted by Pati
a resident of Downtown
on Mar 30, 2010 at 9:37 pm

Reader,

Why do I think you will vote for legalizing pot?


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Posted by Concerned
a resident of Kottinger Ranch
on Mar 30, 2010 at 9:39 pm

"We need a long-term funding source for our schools that is less dependent on state funds and more dependent on local funds."

A parcel tax does not fix this problem. I believe that local control is better but we have to convince the State of that.

If you have a $120M budget and a parcel tax of $5M, that does not make you any less dependent on state funds as the parcel tax is such a small percentage of the overall budget. The parcel tax is a bit more than the raises we give out annually with step and column.

I was always amazed with trustee Ott kept giving this same statement that the parcel tax makes us less reliant on state funding. Ott is president of a bank and if he thinks that getting 5% of your revenue from a different place makes you less dependent on your main money source, I don't know how he got to be president of a bank.

Unless we can change the school funding where most of the money comes from local sources (i.e., we get to use our property taxes revenue and apply directly to the school district instead of the state taking it, taking it's slice, and then give it back to the district) a parcel tax will not solve this problem.


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Posted by a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 30, 2010 at 9:39 pm

To Pati,

I will be voting against it. I guess you were implying that my opinions tend to the libertarian view point. How will you be voting on the issue?


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Posted by Get Educated
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 30, 2010 at 11:15 pm

"the level of focus on the disaggregated data is likely suffering."

I wrote about a district wide collaboration effor to address this issue and you have to say it is not working or suffering? A mistake on the districts' part? I am wondering what part of this process you have been a participated in order to comment on the work that is being done? It is extremely valuable work that is a normal part of our districts obligations.

You are correct that whole departments have been reduced or cut. Teachers are working with an $11 million reduction last year and administration is working with a 33% cut in staff. That does not mean the work is not being accomplished. The work load has increased, if that's what you meant to say. I am not sure what you mean that our students are hurting from our efforts. Your negativity sure is a disservice to this community since it is not a true picture of what is really happening in our schools.

I encourage people to attend their school's school site council meetings and PTA meetings to hear from the Principals and staff about the real work that is still being accomplished regardless of the budget cuts. Comments like Kathleen's are simply not true.


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Posted by Anonymousse
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 31, 2010 at 1:25 pm

Concerned,

What other local sources are you referring to? Roughly one-quarter of a school's budget needs to come from local sources, as the state generally provides only around 60% (federal money accounts for about 10%). The two main local sources of revenue for a school are fundraisers and a parcel tax.

We already have fundraisers, and as I mentioned earlier, raising more than $1-$2 million from this source is unprecedented. How would a parcel tax not help shield the district from swings in state funding? Teachers cannot forego raises forever, nor can parent donations alone support the schools.

Unless Prop 13 is repealed and we become a basic aid district, there is no control over where our property taxes go.


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Posted by Pati
a resident of Downtown
on Mar 31, 2010 at 1:53 pm

Reader,

I believe I will vote for it. It is a wink and a nod legal now so why not vote for it so at least we can get some tax out of it. On another note I see some are still trying the parcel tax route but I do not believe it will ever pass in this environment. So many out of work or underpaid at this point. Teachers and many others will have to go without raises for quite some time I fear because I cannot see California pulling out of this one for a decade even if they do the right things.


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