PUSD trustees hear about parcel tax, marketing plan Comments on Stories, posted by Editor, Pleasanton Weekly Online, on Nov 11, 2010 at 4:10 pm
Pleasanton will support a $98 parcel tax -- if it's marketed right -- experts who surveyed likely voters told school board members Tuesday. The telephone survey contacted 400 residents, conducting an interview that lasted an average of 17 minutes.
Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, November 11, 2010, 3:01 PM
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Nov 11, 2010 at 7:12 pm Stacey is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
I can predict that the next discussion will be to take the $98 amount and determine what can be funded with it. That will make it seem like the priority is to get a parcel tax passed for the sake of getting more revenue rather than determining which programs are deserving of extra local funding.
Ultimately, a parcel tax is a local band-aid that makes the State's broken education finance system seem non-urgent.
Posted by interesting, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Nov 11, 2010 at 8:32 pm
"Although only two of the parcel tax measures statewide passed earlier this month, Heath said that was in part due to mid-term election sentiments. He suggested the dissatisfaction many voters had with officials would be over before a spring election."
Posted by Lee, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Nov 12, 2010 at 9:14 am
A parcel tax of $98.00? That seems low enough for any homeowner to do. I would like to see local control over that money, some input from local families over what is is used for. As the state has cut so much out of our budget we must step up to the plate and recover part of it.
Posted by Tim, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Nov 12, 2010 at 9:22 am
I'm guessing that after the tax is passed, the money going to programs will be reduced by the amount of this tax and that money will be used for salaries, etc. Same philosophy that was going to be used on the $18 state park tax. The state would reduce their state tax contribution by the amount the tax collected.
There are a lot of ways to shift government funding.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Nov 12, 2010 at 10:05 am Stacey is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
To me, the survey results say the same thing that the Measure G election said. The amount of money needed to fund the programs that everyone wants to "save" require a per parcel amount that only roughly 62% of the electorate is willing to support; not enough to pass a parcel tax. The district really needs to evaluate programs. Programs need to justify why they should continue to receive funding based upon their effectiveness in helping the district achieve its educational/organizational goals instead of whatever is popular. When we know that, then we can look at costs and funding. Doing it this other way will be money looking for something to be spent on.
Posted by Steve, a resident of the Stoneridge neighborhood, on Nov 12, 2010 at 10:09 am
We paid for a consulting firm to come up with a way to convince us to pass a tax increase? If that doesn't make you sick, then send $98 to the City Council so they can take credit for saving union jobs.
If you plan to vote "yes", why wait for the tax?. Just send your money now. The only reason to vote "yes" is to take money from people voting "no".
I noticed during the recent vote that communities all around Pleasanton have passed parcel taxes. It appears to be the new and popular way to fool the public into "giving" 'til it hurts.
Of course, I have a sneaking suspicion that $98 might just be the camel's nose in the tent. If this passes, we'll be paying $400 parcel tax within 5 years.
The last time the parcel tax came up for a vote, the world was going to end if we didn't contribute $250 per year for 3 years. The couple that came to my door gleefully exclaimed that San Ramon had just renewed their parcel tax. I told them that if ours passed, I would hope that it would be temporary, and they actually looked sad at the prospect!
Well, now, over a year after our original $250 parcel tax was defeated, the world is still here, our schools are open, some bottom feeding teachers are gone, and they're now saying they only need $98. What happened to $250? Did they only need $98, or $250? Or do they just want another path opened to our bank accounts?
If you trust that they will manage your money as well as you manage your money, vote yes. As for me, I no longer trust government fiscal decisions.
Posted by Yet Another Teacher, a member of the Hart Middle School community, on Nov 12, 2010 at 10:53 am
The $98 parcel tax won't pass in Pleasanton under any circumstances. In fact, I predict this much lower amount will garner fewer votes than the $233 parcel tax that was narrowly defeated couple of years ago.
The reason? The APT (my union) bargained cuts in such a way as to insulate the community from the pain of the cuts. People don't see how badly our schools are hurting.
Meh, whatever. I've lost my interest in the topic now that the 175-day school year is not only a permanent fixture but it seems increasingly likely that state law will be changed under Governor Brown to permit 165- or 170-day school years.
Posted by Yet Another Teacher, a member of the Hart Middle School community, on Nov 12, 2010 at 10:57 am
Oh and if you want to see what a community looks like when the citizens put aside ideological anti-union hatred and actually, you know, support their schools, look at Palo Alto (which has virtually the same per-capita income as Pleasanton, by the way):
Local-record approval for parcel tax -- 79.36 percent
Palo Alto voters overwhelmingly approve a $589-per-year parcel tax to maintain core school programs and staff
by Chris Kenrick
Palo Alto Weekly Staff
Palo Alto voters have said a resounding "yes" to their public schools, according to a vote tally announced at 8:01 p.m. Tuesday on the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters website.
Voters approved Measure A, a $589 annual school parcel tax, by 79.36 percent, well over the two-thirds needed.
The approval percentage was the highest ever for a parcel tax in Palo Alto, according to campaign consultant Charles Heath of San Francisco-based TBWB Strategies.
Posted by trekmtb, a resident of the Heritage Oaks neighborhood, on Nov 12, 2010 at 11:08 am
"Oh and if you want to see what a community looks like when the citizens put aside ideological anti-union hatred and actually, you know, support their schools, look at Palo Alto (which has virtually the same per-capita income as Pleasanton, by the way"
The demographics in Palo Alto are very different than in Pleasanton. I wonder what percentage of Palo Alto's voting population is Senior and therefor exempt from paying those taxes. Lotsa "old" money on the Peninsula.
Posted by Yet Another Teacher, a member of the Hart Middle School community, on Nov 12, 2010 at 11:20 am
Actually, Steve, I don't own property in Pleasanton (can't afford it on my salary), but I am paying an "employment tax" of sorts: five furlough days that amount to about $2200 in lost salary. That's the $589 parcel tax paid for about 4 years, isn't it? And all in one year from a teacher who can't even afford to buy a house or condo in Pleasanton.
Not to mention that with larger class sizes, I'm teaching the equivalent of an extra class a day. More work for less pay--can this be Heaven?
And go heap your hatred on somebody else, Steve. I am immune to the vitriol of the Pleasanton "community" by now and utterly bored with it. Really, all I, and most, Pleasanton teachers do these days is just give a resigned sigh and shrug of the shoulders.
Posted by Steve, a resident of the Stoneridge neighborhood, on Nov 12, 2010 at 11:37 am
Yet Another Teacher -
I don't hate you, but I do hear a lot of hate coming from you. I just would like those who intend to vote "yes" to vote with their pocket book, and leave mine alone.
Salary reductions and furloughs are not taxes. We all experience salary reductions, but you want us to fork over an extra $589.
Also, please stop complaining about large class sizes. When I was a kid, every class had over 30 students, and teachers didn't expect parents to do their job for them.
Now, every week, my first grader has multiple "homework" assignments that require parents to teach them math, reading and writing. I actually expected homework to be something that a child could complete on their own, but that hasn't been the case for ANY of it. I've begun to wonder whether this is any different from home schooling.
Please don't start with the hatred stuff. If someone has a different opinion from you, you simply counter their points with a cogent argument, not emotion.
If you really are a teacher, I'm surprised that you don't enjoy listening to people with differing points of view. Or do you shut them down in your class too?
Posted by Really?, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Nov 12, 2010 at 12:08 pm
"Now, every week, my first grader has multiple "homework" assignments that require parents to teach them math, reading and writing. I actually expected homework to be something that a child could complete on their own, but that hasn't been the case for ANY of it. I've begun to wonder whether this is any different from home schooling."
Sounds like your child is struggling if this is what you are seeing at home. Homework is an extension of what was taught during the day. Teachers do not have ultimate control over what is being listened to by the students.
Not to mention that you are clearly seeing first hand Steve that today's first grade is certainly a different place than when you were there. 6 yr olds will be expected to read, write, and add and subtract or they will be marked at risk of not meeting grade level expectations. More students in the classroom means less individual time to spend with your child when they are not understanding the work. The fact that you are seeing it at home is a perfect example of the "hidden" effects of these budget cuts. You exemplified it well.
You go on to state that your opinion can't be judged, then claiming that a teacher can't have emotion in their opinions and that equates to how they are in the classroom? Give me a break. Teaching is just a job. The teacher that posted has every right to say what ever they want, just like you did. Did they equate your rationale to your line of work?
BTW, your post shouts anger and hatred toward the schools, you must not hear yourself.
Posted by Steve, a resident of the Stoneridge neighborhood, on Nov 12, 2010 at 12:33 pm
My child isn't struggling. Her teacher says she's reading at a second grade level, and she has no trouble with math. Her report card was outstanding. My child also receives praise for how well she listens in class and does what she's told to do.
However, her teacher also doesn't explain any homework. She leaves it up to parents to explain weekly assignments and monthly projects.
Why can projects like a turkey feather with messages about what their thankful for be done in class? Why can't they write a four line oral report and draw a picture in class? At the very least, the teacher should explain the project, and get them excited about doing it. But my child's teacher didn't.
In fact, the emailed instructions changed during the month as parents requested more instructions. I asked my child if the teacher ever talked about the projects, and she said no.
Considering how much work my wife and I must perform to get through the weekly homework with a smart child, I'm amazed that a parent of an "at risk" student is able to do it.
I really don't hate the schools. Please list my "quotes of hatred" so I can see what you're seeing. I don't mind being judged at all, but I can also respond, right?
My comment about the teacher's reluctance to debate, and her quickness at labeling my opinion as hatred is simply surprise on my part. I would have expected a teacher to generally encourage differing points of view and enjoy debate. Isn't that the stereotype of teachers? Quickly labeling my argument as spewing hatred was unexpected, that's all.
Now, I'm a software engineer, so I always think I'm right :). I also generally try not to inject emotion into arguments. But then again, two of you are saying that I hate you. Oh well, so be it. I'd like to see which of my comments were hateful, though.
Posted by Member, a resident of the Pleasanton Meadows neighborhood, on Nov 12, 2010 at 2:02 pm
I almost hate to ask, but instead of a "parcel tax" why is our school board not looking at asking each family to contribute $98 either per student or per family? Those families that could give more could. Those families that cannot afford anything could be exempted for that year. Would not be wasting tough to come by dollars on consultants or elections that way
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Nov 12, 2010 at 4:04 pm
I wanted to respond to some of the posts.
Senior--there are no parcel taxes here, but we are paying down construction bonds (facilities only).
Tim--There is concern about the "hydraulics" of how any savings to the General Fund via a parcel tax will be used. I believe is will have to be clearly addressed.
Steve--It would be difficult to go from $98 to $500 in one cycle of a parcel tax. Some of our best and most energetic teachers were lost too. The survey test up to about $200 and there wasn't sufficient support.
Yet Another Teacher--Parents (and others) are well aware of the cuts, particularly the loss of five days of learning time. Palo Alto started smaller about ten years ago and have maintained the trust of the community with how those funds are spent. As was pointed out, class sizes used to be 30:1, and higher depending on the grade, when teachers made far less than now. I would not agree more is being done for less, even with the higher expectations for students.
trekmtb--Approximately 12% of the parcel tax in Palo Alto is given back in senior exemptions.
Member--At $98 per student is only $1.3 million; not likely all could pay.
Posted by Steve, a resident of the Stoneridge neighborhood, on Nov 12, 2010 at 4:41 pm
I just want to correct you on my thoughts. I'm advocating voluntary contributions to our local schools. I don't think we need a parcel tax. We just need a local school administration that's willing to justify their costs and maintain our trust.
The $598 parcel tax was brought up by "Yet Another Teacher" in describing the lack of union hatred and *real* community in Palo Alto. I thought it would be a good start if "Yet Another Teacher" got the ball rolling with a $598 donation, but "YAT" wasn't quite ready to do that because "YAT" had suffered some losses in the economy.
So, I'm not an advocate of forcing people to pay more taxes, but I am an advocate of local government establishing a pact with the community to ensure our money is spent wisely. Then maybe there would be a willingness to contribute more (voluntarily).
Posted by Johnny, a resident of the Danbury Park neighborhood, on Nov 12, 2010 at 4:52 pm
When my kids were going to school we used to have fundraisers, pigskin roasts, freethrow shooting with sponsors, we donated our time and our money, paper, pencils whatever was needed to support our kids but this whole parcel tax thing does not strike me as that type of thing but rather just some type of pension collection thing for teachers and administrators.
Posted by Member, a resident of the Pleasanton Meadows neighborhood, on Nov 12, 2010 at 5:09 pm
Per the PUSD website: "Pleasanton Unified School District serves approximately 14,500 students in nine elementary schools, three middle schools, two comprehensive high schools, and one continuation high school."
14,500 x $98 = $1,421,000 (versus $1.3 million) plus add in the $250,000 to $300,000 the consulting firm says that an election will cost) gets you pretty darn close to $2 million. Perhaps, consider $150 (like poster Steve already contributes) and that will take you well over the $2 million mark (of course, adding in money saved by not having a special election ($250k to $300k) as well as money spent "marketing/selling" ($xxx) to voters)
Posted by interesting, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Nov 12, 2010 at 7:45 pm
But if most of the costs in the budget are salaries and they promise the parcel tax isn't paying for salaries, then the budget should not be growing. It's not like many costs are going up these days, many are going down.
Or are they saying that they'll take something that they usually pay for out of the budget, say libraries, and ask for a parcel tax to fund that, and increase salaries in the regular budget rather than fund libraries? I really don't understand this.
Posted by Stats and Surveys, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Nov 12, 2010 at 8:02 pm
The article said 400 people - so how do they extrapolate to say Pleasanton? According to Pleasanton demographics (Web Link) we have a population of 70,097, avg household size of 2.74 and 26,000 dwelling units. So lets say there are 25489 households, that means 1.5% of the town (those in the survey) is going to say how Pleasanton will vote? Sorry, I'll go with the votes of the people - as in voting down Measure G which was a waste of tax payer money.
Yes, I did support the schools - targeted programs, e.g. library; purchased books for the special ed classes and then each class my kids had teachers; supported sports separately and we both volunteered in the class room. We also both worked with our kids and the teachers - resources were needed but none of ours were in special ed.
We still will vote down a parcel tax - all of us vote now.
Posted by Really?, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Nov 12, 2010 at 8:38 pm
Steve, It sounds like you really need to be communicating with your child's teacher, if your child is doing well in school, then a four line writing assignment and color page should not require "home schooling". Especially after multiple emails from the teacher. Communication is so important in order to not only understand what is going on in the classroom, but also the purpose in the work that is being sent home.
I encourage you to look at the opportunities for learning in the assignments your child has, instead of jumping to assumptions about them and the teacher. A writing assignment about what your thankful for is a perfect opportunity for a family to reflect and communicate. Maybe take a step back and look for the learning in what you are doing instead of finding the flaws because you don't like the work.
BTW, I'll try not to stereotype your engineering approach to all of this if you stop to realize that teachers are just people with a bevy of emotions and feelings, including many that would never be appropriate in the classroom, but this isn't the classroom is it?
Posted by enough teacher raises, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Nov 12, 2010 at 9:25 pm
"A parcel tax of $98.00? That seems low enough for any homeowner to do"
Let's say, just for the sake of conversation, that I can "afford" $98,000 per year -- I will not pay 98 cents if it goes to teacher raises! Furlough days are NOT pay cuts. They still get the time off. Pleasanton teachers are paid more than nearly any in the state (or the country for that matter). They work part time, they never miss a school holiday or a summer with their families. Teachers working on Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving??, never happen.
Get off of your entitlement soapbox and then come back with a proposal for a parcel tax. Any tax levied now will go nowhere other than to pay for teahcer raises. Enough already!
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Nov 13, 2010 at 10:35 am
Interesting: Better stated, the parcel tax would not fund new raises. But, the rollover costs are tied to automatic step and column increases that occur for most staff members on an annual basis. I share the concern of paying for "name that program" from a parcel tax and what the potential "savings" would be used for. I think staff would have to be clear, and the board would need to include in any resolution for a parcel tax, that if reading specialists are paid for by the PT, the requisite savings would allow addition of a counselor at the high school or would lower the current deficit spending by that amount--something that doesn't allow for raises.
Steve: We have a new superintendent and are soon to have two new board members in place, so the opportunity for building trust is there. I'm certainly not against voluntary contributions, but it's difficult to budget on them. You can certainly fundraise this school year for next, but you'd have to collect by March 1 to realistically plan for 2011-12, accepting that program usually is people (counselors, library time, resource staff, custodians).
Member: My point is not all families can/would be able to pay. If all families did pay $150, you'd only net $1,115,400 (14,500 students / CA average of 1.95 school-aged children per family x $150 per family). Let's just say 12.4% (Sept '10 CA unemployment) of those families can't contribute, you lose $136,000ish. And yes, you'd save the money for the election, but that's a one time expense and so you're back to netting less than a million each year. Better than a sharp stick in the eye, to be sure; just trying to be clear on what is realistic.
Enough: Furlough days are unpaid vacation days. There is a real loss to staff paychecks and a bigger loss to students learning time. I'm not a fan of this approach to cuts either. I understand the reason the cuts are made this way, but still believe the cuts to salary should be made and the 180 days of school should remain intact. Don't know that any district that had to make cuts, perhaps nationwide, did it that way though.
Posted by Rick, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Nov 13, 2010 at 11:36 am
NO amount of money is going to change things. But you can always expect to hear we need more of your money no matter how much you give. We(California) is last for a reason and it's not money that is the cause.
And right now there is not a politician or leader in this state, county or city that is going to lead us.
Posted by Me Too, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Nov 13, 2010 at 4:47 pm
"Of course anyone that would stay on the phone with a survey company answering questions about a parcel tax would likely support one. I (and many, many others) will not."
One of the stupidest statements I have read. If people do not want the parcel tax, stopping it before it even becomes an issues would be the easiest. If the survey returned that only 40% of Pleasantonians support it, the issue would be dead right there.
Posted by Yet Another Teacher, a member of the Hart Middle School community, on Nov 14, 2010 at 1:54 pm
How I Spent My Four Day Weekend (including my unpaid furlough day)
by Yet Another Teacher
On the first day of my weekend, Thursday, November 11th, I corrected and graded student essays for 9 hours.
On the second day of my weekend, Friday, November 12th, I corrected and graded student essays for 7 hours and worked on lesson plans for another 2 hours.
On the third day of my weekend, Saturday, November 13th, I "only" worked five hours. A real holiday!
On the fourth day of my weekend, Sunday, November 14th, I got up at 5 am and began grading papers and just finished about an hour ago--so eight hours of work so far today.
It's fun having this easy, part-time job where I get lots and lots of vacation time!
Every single response in this thread is so boring and predictable. Overpaid, lazy, greedy teachers vs. the virtuous, hardworking, overburdened taxpayers of Pleasanton.
I have a student whose parents own four homes: vacation home in the Bahamas, vacation home in Florida, home for the older brother at college in Arizona, and their Pleasanton digs.
And his family is not an unusual case. Pleasantonians have the same per capita income as Palo Alto, but Pleasantonians are so locked into their anti-union ideology (with an unhealthy dose of hatred of all government thrown in) that they are willing to slowly bleed their schools to death.
But I've given up trying to convince any Pleasanton voter to pass even a 98 cent parcel tax. Over the short run, you won't see much of a change. 5 or 10 years down the road, you will. These are your schools, your children, and your property values--and your community will be what you choose to make of it.
And yes, Steve's posts are hateful, but I've become so inured to the hatred heaped on teachers by the P-Weekly blahggers that it just bounces off. As I said before, I'm not wounded, just very, very bored with it all.
Posted by Alan Pogue, a member of the Mohr Elementary School community, on Nov 14, 2010 at 7:26 pm
To "Yet another...",
I don't know if I'd call Steve's and "Dark Corners of Town"'s posts hateful, but I would say they are ignorant. The "Dark Corner's..." person posts things that border on delusional. I think she said something to the effect that the entire administration and the principal of some school where her child attends know of a teacher whom they all claim is an "abomination to the profession". Please correct me if I'm wrong. When asked how she could possibly know such a thing she could give no credible evidence. Is sounds suspiciously like Christine O'Donnell claiming to have classified evidence of an imminent military invasion of the United States by China.
The bottom line is that neither of these people have any idea what the schools are like in Pleasanton. They don't get that people move here for the schools. People like the schools here. The schools are doing a good job.
Posted by Me Too, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Nov 14, 2010 at 10:59 pm
Steve: here's an idea - stop doing the homework! If you feel the teacher hasn't done enough then don't help your child, just have them not do the work. People really have to stop blaming the teachers if you continue to do all the work and then just complain on random message boards. While I am all for no homework in elementary schools, if there continues to be no pressure (or information) from anyone, what is the incentive to change? Someone has to make a stand, why not you?
Posted by Another Software Engineer, a resident of the Pleasanton Meadows neighborhood, on Nov 15, 2010 at 12:01 am
To "Yet another teacher",
It always bothers me when I pass through cities in the Central Valley and see the gas prices there, they are always LESS than what we pay here in Pleasanton, even though the refineries have to truck it further. Why we pay more? Because they CAN charge us more!!
I don't care how many homes a student's parents have (you imply they are wealthy), they shouldn't have to pay more!! Even if they can afford to pay the $98 several times over.
When the economy was doing well, most taxpayers were not really looking where their tax dollars were spent. The state collected millions upon millions of dollars when the economy was strong (from stock options to increased valuations on everyone's house. 1998-2006). Question is where did all the money go??????
Now that the economy is bad, we the taxpayers realize that the officials that we trusted with managing our money, have not been doing a good job. And we do NOT want to give any more. The stuff that happened in the little town of Bell doesn't help your cause either.
I too am a software engineer, and I work some crazy hours, weekends etc. Just like you do. It is expected. In my industry we have layoffs, companies downsize, or ship the jobs overseas, or we simply get old and they can hire a young engineer for less money. So you see being a "wealthy" Pleasantonian is not a bed of roses either.
I remember bringing a repairman one time to fix something at my home and he gave me an outrageous quote. When I said I will call for some other quotes, he said "OK, but you live in Pleasanton", as in because you live here, we HAVE to charge you more!! That sucks.
I have lived here for over 20 years and the schools were good then (with less money from property taxes because valuations were lower), and the schools are good now.
Let me tell you why the schools are good:
1) It is NOT because of money.
2) It is NOT because of teachers. I appreciate your hard work. But we do work hard as well.
3) It is because of the parents that live here. Look around you, hard working, smart, entrepreneurial, many have started companies, took risks, many are immigrants that have found their way to America and understand and value education and are instilling the same to their children. Many went to crowded schools and classrooms, but their parents were there to guide them, to push them to accomplish. And accomplish they did! The parents are the reason. The parents are the reason!
Posted by I'm with you Steve, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Nov 15, 2010 at 9:29 am
Steve - I totally understand what you're talking about with the homework because I raised 3 kids (all went to really good colleges - and have good jobs now - Yea!)
Anyway, I tore my hair out every night, like you, until my oldest was in about 4th grade and this is what I did: I had a serious talk with each teacher about the fact that I would no longer help with homework because self-reliance was a character trait that was *paramount* to me and that I wanted my kids to do their own homework by themselves. I explained that I had been an honor student and that education was #1 to our family but the kids had to do their own work. I asked the teachers to please keep that in mind when comparing their work with other students whose parents helped and polished off their assignments. I also told the teachers that I was on their side and if my child ever acted up in class that they should never hesitate to pick up the phone and ask me to back them up because I would. (And I did have a few occasions to do just that)
I learned that it was more important to hold my kids accountable for their own work than to worry about the correctness and success of nightly homework. It was hard at first to do this but it was better than doing homework with my 4th grader at 10 pm after a baseball game, while my younger kid had to put himself to bed and my 2 year old was still up and running around the house Ha ha -(hubby traveled a lot)
I met with every new teacher at the beginning of the school year to go over my family plan and I never had one who didn't support it. And by high school, they were basically on their own (except for an army of math tutors - so get ready to open up the wallet in years to come)
Oh- and you DO have to teach the multiplication tables to your child yourself - there was no way I could ever get around that...
Posted by Another Mom, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Nov 15, 2010 at 1:19 pm
I want to concur with the comments that every dollar in parcel tax imposed will only serve to ensure step and column raises and pension promises that we be forced to pay. Furlough days are a joke of a sacrifice, in the private sector a pay cut is for all hours worked, not a day off here or there.
Posted by Another Mom, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Nov 15, 2010 at 1:41 pm
Sorry I have to post again after reading some of the teacher postings:
If you think we are too rich and you want more money then maybe you should have had a career like these very rich people. You'll find they spend many weeks a year away from their families, have taken much risk in capital and liability for their positions. The pressure on job performance is sky high and has ramifications for them and many others. Oh right, teachers are not measured by their kids grades, how nice! I am not one of these rich people but I don't begrudge their success.
If you are so resentful of the pleasantonians not supporting the parcel tax or other job issues then leave and find another job. We could get dozens of teachers from other districts, (Oakland, send them over!) who would love to teach our smart children in our wonderful classrooms in our wonderful town.
There was no parcel tax for me when I lost consulting assignments in the downturn. There was no parcel tax for my husband when his pension collapsed in value and his retirement date was pushed out an additional 10 years.
Posted by Sandy Piderit, a resident of the Mohr Park neighborhood, on Nov 15, 2010 at 8:58 pm
I agree that the current pension system for state employees is unsustainable. However, it is important to keep in mind that teachers' pensions are managed and paid out at the state level, and changes to that system have to be made in Sacramento. To fix that problem, we have to look to the governor and state legislators.
A parcel tax is one way of approaching a different problem -- declining tax revenues, which mean that the state is sending less money to school districts, like in Pleasanton. Parcel taxes are one way that school boards can get closer to balancing the budget, by raising revenue from local taxpayers that benefits local schools. Other ways to get to a balanced budget include fundraising and cutting expenses.
In the last four years, the budget for Pleasanton's schools has been cut by $21 million dollars, or 14%. Fundraising was over $1 million in the last 2 years and has helped to save some important programs.
State tax revenue coming to Pleasanton's schools is projected to decrease by another $7 million for the next school year (2011-2012). Cuts and fundraising will continue, and I hope that community members will also consider moving forward with a parcel tax. It's a big decision that will require significant deliberation and analysis before moving forward.
Posted by Pleasanton Parent, a resident of the Pleasanton Meadows neighborhood, on Nov 15, 2010 at 10:23 pm
I agree with your assesment, there is a spending and a revenue problem. I am willing to support a parcel tax once I feel that the district has taken the right steps to move to a sustainable fiscal model that does not place a bias on the taxpayer. In my opinion, the union is the greatest obstacle to any real progress in this regard. None of the concessions (if you can even call them that) came close to meeting my criteria for support.
If you want my support, I want the following:
- No decrease in instructional days, if anything we need to increase them at no additional cost
- No more tenure
- No more S&C "automatic" salary increases. Teachers should be allowed to and encouraged to continue their education but pay increases should only occur once the learning has been demonstrated in the classroom.
- Pay for performance - mid year and annual ranking of teachers based on a pre-defined set of criteria (test scores should be part of this ranking)
- Bonus incentives for top performers
- Total compensation reform - if pensions are the desired form of compensation, then annual salaries need to be adjusted down to reflect this. If higher salaries are desired, then pensions need to be changed.
Posted by Alan Pogue, a member of the Mohr Elementary School community, on Nov 16, 2010 at 10:47 am
To "Pleasanton Parent",
Do you have any exposure to the Pleasanton school district? You do realize that we have an excellent school district here.
You say you want the district to move to "right steps to move to a sustainable fiscal model". Then you talk about bonus pay and pay for performance. Is that to improve on the already excellent instruction in the Pleasanton schools? Is it to save money? Then you go right back to talking about pensions, but as Sandy already said, that can only be addressed at the state level.
Posted by Alan Pogue, a member of the Mohr Elementary School community, on Nov 16, 2010 at 11:03 am
To "another software engineer",
To say that Pleasanton's excellent school system has nothing to do the teachers is just nonsense. Lay off the American Spectator and right wing publications a little bit. Not everything done by governments is horrible. The University of California at Berkeley has an excellent computer science department and it has a lot to do with the professors.
Posted by Pleasanton Parent, a resident of the Pleasanton Meadows neighborhood, on Nov 16, 2010 at 12:36 pm
I moved to Pleasanton because of the schools, so yes, I do have exposure to the school district. My concern is with continued excellence and specifically removing barriers prohibiting progress towards it. Our schools are excellent today, but I want them to be excellent 20 yrs from now, I think we can all recognize the current year to year budgeting approach is not going to get us there.
The intent of my statement is to recognize that excellent teachers are a contributing factor to continued excellent performance, and that we must attract and retain the brightest while also purging the bottom performers. An incentive and/or performance based reward (as a portion of overall compensation) is one method to do this. I do believe Pleasanton can develop a sustainable fiscal budget that provides these types of benefits. I personally recognize that additional tax payer funding may be required to support this vision, as well as address the issue of reduced levels of tax revenue as a result of businesses moving headquarters to tax friendly countries to avoid our high tax rate as well as global competition putting downward pressure on private sector salaries. The point is that yes, we have an unsustainable spending problem, and yes we have a declining revenue problem.
Meanwhile developing nations are investing billions into their education systems, not for the next year, but for the coming decades. Our current educational system, as excellent as it is today, is not prepared for that global competition. And instead of focusing on those challenges, we continue to fight short sighted union budgetary issues and cut instruction days.
I disagree that we need to wait for the state to act, this is our school district, our children, and our community. As a community we should outline the vision for our schools over the coming years and then begin the process of driving to that vision.
Regarding your statement about the University of California at Berkeley, I think a key differentiation between the grade school and university level is that the state currently dictates the curriculum taught at the grade school level, where as professor's dictate the curriculum at the university level - additionally, professors at UC's are typically performing research in their field of teaching and are the experts on the subject matter. The same does not hold true at the grade school level. What differentiates an excellent teacher from an average teacher at the grade school level, in my opinion, is their ability to adapt to a students learning style and present the information in a manner that trully builds understanding within the child vs just presenting the information from a text book that someone else wrote.
Posted by Nomad, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Nov 16, 2010 at 6:39 pm
To 'Sandy' - Can you provide more background into the $7 million less in state tax revenue for the 11-12 school year? Asst. Superintendent Luz Cazares showed a multi-year projection at that last board meeting that shows total state revenue stays flat next year, and then increases by $3+ million for 12-13. Web Link
Posted by Glenn Wohltmann, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Nov 16, 2010 at 7:04 pm
I can address that. As Ms Cázares has been pointing out, the state's budget is based on a number of what she calls "shaky assumptions."
Among those are projections that California will get more from the federal government than the feds said they'd provide, the sale of state property that currently has no buyers, and budget reductions that would have had to have gone into effect at the beginning of the state's fiscal year in July to hit the state's goal.
Also, under the new plan, schools will have to go into short-term debt because the state's final payment, usually done in May, won't come in until July.
The original plan from the state called for $7 million in cuts. It remains to be seen how much of the state's spending plan will actually materialize.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Nov 16, 2010 at 7:51 pm Stacey is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
The short-term debt you refer to are probably TRANs or Tax Revenue Anticipation Notes. They aren't a new thing. The State's been jerking districts around for a long time on when they actually send districts the money.
The revenue might grow, but California's budget deficit is expected to remain roughly $20B through to 2015-2016 according to the LAO. It will remain so as long as the Legislature continues to ignore any practical yet politically unpopular structural reform.
Posted by Nomad, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Nov 17, 2010 at 7:42 am
Glenn and Sandy - So far, a review of all the major budget documents on the PUSD website shows no reference to a 2011-2012 state revenue reduction of $7M. Again, the 11/9/10 document presented by Ms. Cazares shows that total state revenue is expected to be flat.
Sandy - where do you get your information that is different from what PUSD presents at the school board meeting?
Posted by Nomad, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Nov 17, 2010 at 7:51 am
Sandy - I like your recommendation that a parcel tax decision "will require significant deliberation and analysis before moving forward".
The consultants recommend a board decision in early February, but the first budget workshop and budget hearing isn't until Feb 1.
If PUSD believes it is important to have this serious deliberation with the community, then either the board meetings/budget workshops and hearings schedule have to be held in Dec/Jan, or the parcel tax schedule has to be moved out to later in 2011. What other options does PUSD have?
Posted by Sandy Piderit, a resident of the Mohr Park neighborhood, on Nov 17, 2010 at 3:37 pm
I agree that additional open forums should be scheduled now for January. I will email that suggestion to board members.
I have not been able to come up with documentation for my $7 million number, other than my notes from a board meeting just after the state budget was approved. I did track down additional analysis about the state budget situation... the memo excerpted by Robert Miyashiro and Ron Bennett, who run a school funding forecasting firm. Because the analysis is statewide rather than scaled down to just PUSD, the numbers are in billions rather than millions, but I think the implication is clear -- there will be no increase in state revenues directed to education in 2011-2012.
"With the 2010-11 State Budget less than one month old, the Legislature's nonpartisan budget analyst projects a two-year budget gap exceeding $25 billion, with $6 billion attributable to a shortfall in the current year and $19 billion in 2011-12."
"The just-enacted Budget is likely to be out of balance by $6 billion, in large part due to unrealistic assumptions about the receipt of federal funds ($3.5 billion) and the inability of the state to secure budgeted expenditure savings. In addition, voter approval of Proposition 22 will prohibit the state from redirecting certain special fund revenues for General Fund purposes, resulting in a loss of $800 million in savings."
For 2011-12, the problem is compounded because of the loss of many one-time solutions, including the loss of $8 billion in revenues as a result of the expiration of the temporary tax hikes enacted with the 2009-10 Budget Act.
"Primarily because of the loss of tax revenues related to the expiration of the temporary taxes, the LAO projects that the Proposition 98 minimum guarantee will drop 4.4% in 2011-12 to $47.5 billion. ... In addition, $2.3 billion in new funds will be needed to backfill for the loss of one-time budget solutions enacted for 2010-11. As a result of the combined effects of a drop in the Proposition 98 minimum guarantee and the increase in baseline costs, the 2011-12 shortfall is projected to be almost $5.2 billion."
Posted by interesting, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Nov 17, 2010 at 7:04 pm
I think at the end of the day it's going to come down to the definition of "raise or "increase" - this seems to be the crux of whether a parcel tax will be supported from the results of the survey. From what I read it seems like many would support a parcel tax regardless, there is a % that will never support one and there's a small, but very important, swing group in the middle.
If one group believes that an increase means "new" increases and another group believes than an increase means "any" increase including step and column, there will be problems with each side accusing the other of being misleading. As long as it's clear, people can move on with the debate, whether they like the answer or not.
I think this needs to be made clear by / to the board before they vote on whether to progress this as there are implications either way. There's no point in putting heads into the sand about this and I agree it will need time for proper consideration, so it's worth getting moving asap to make this work in a positive way.
Posted by Resident, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 17, 2011 at 11:53 pm
""Affordability of the measure is key," Bryan Godbe told the board. "We did find some tax sensitivity.""
They called me. I told them I did not care about the amount but I wanted to see the money used properly. The lady then asked: is that a yes or a no? All the questions they asked, I did not have a yes or no answer so they put whatever they wanted.
Is the result of such survey accurate? I doubt it, as I have talked to others who were also surveyed and their experience was similar to mine.
Most people I know do not care about the amount but about what the money will be used for. Indirectly supporting raises is a concern and was not addressed by the survey.