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State funding for Pleasanton schools uncertain as Brown looks to June vote on new taxes, statewide cuts

Original post made on Jan 13, 2011

Pleasanton school officials will probably have to wait until June to find out what Gov. Jerry Brown's proposals will mean in terms of funding.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, January 13, 2011, 7:45 AM

Comments (35)

Posted by imnotsureiunderstand, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2011 at 10:52 am

I don't really understand why we would need to provide transportation for students in a new development any more than we need to provide transportation to any other students in this community. Families get overflowed all of the time and the district doesn't provide transportation for any of those families.


Posted by reasonable, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2011 at 11:22 am

Maybe I don't quite understand:

1) how does flat funding equate a $5.6MM cut in funding? Or are we back to funding teacher raises with cuts in programs?

2) Special Ed has been exempt from most cuts. Obviously, all students deserve an education but isn't it unrealistic to expect special ed kids (who are special ed for reasons ranging from autism and Down's to learning disabilities and behavioral issues) to achieve at the same levels as those who are not? And unfair to pour additional funds into this pursuit of equal achievement at the expense of the large majority of kids who do not have these issues? The fact that they are achieving above average compared to similar groups of students should be celebrated.

3) I find it admirable that there is concern about to/from school transportation from the new Hacienda development, but there are many families who wrestle with school transportation - maybe not due to poverty (although in our community even lower-income families have cars) but due to work schedules, kids at multiple schools, etc. and they are left to fend for themselves, even when kids are overflowed to schools that are extremely inconvenient. Why shouldnt' these new resident families work out carpools and/or public transportation like everyone else? Especially in this era of budget cuts. Or, let's extend our concerns beyond just this development by offering things like early drop-off programs or dedicated Wheels buses for elementary kids.


Posted by Bob, a resident of Avignon
on Jan 13, 2011 at 12:17 pm

I was not at the meeting but watched the video. I don't think the funding is flat. The big issue is if the voters don't pass to the tax extensions in June. They won't. That's a $9M hit. It sounds like the new development is "transit oriented" meaning that people don't have cars. It looks like the transportation issue is not transportion paid by the district rather transportation used by the parents. Special ed cost the district $9M extra beyond what the state and fed pay. It takes away from reg ed kids. Sp Ed grows by 100 kids each year or 6% growth. A lot is paid to outside firms.


Posted by b, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2011 at 1:01 pm

Why doesn't the military have to grovel for new taxes or agree to salary cuts in order to keep fighting wars in countries that didn't do anything to us? Just wondering.


Posted by Me Too, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2011 at 7:16 pm

Special Ed has been exampt from cuts because there are state and federal mandates requiring certain services and student teacher ratios and program. These are extremely costly. I don't know the exact number but the cost to educate a special education student is much higher (a report from Michigan says it costs 3 times as much). As the number of special ed students increases the funding for the general population continues to decrease even if overall funding remained the same. Schools are on the hook for specials from the time of birth if the student has diagnosed learning disabilities.


Posted by s, a resident of Birdland
on Jan 13, 2011 at 8:59 pm

Flat revenues hurt the district because we keep giving out raises. That has to stop.

On the special education enrollment going up, the main reason it is up is because Pleasanton is a destination district for special education kids. We are known as providing much more than other districts. It is a catch-22. We want to provide the best programs for our residents but because they are good, more people come in to take advantage of them which places our costs up even higher. It is obvious we are in this situation if special education enrollment has increased by 200 in two years. That has to be WAY above average in the state. It could also be that that number is not technically correct but they want the residents to feel guilty about not approving a parcel tax as it will hurt the vulnerable. Next you will see parcel tax flyers with special education kids and an administrator saying "go away, the residents of Pleasanton do not want you, that is why they voted the parcel tax down." All part of the scheme to guilt people into paying a parcel tax I believe.

However, if income is flat from the state, we should be celebrating and we know we can handle it. The way district financing works is they feel they should get an increase from the state and if they do not get the increase, they consider that a decrease in funding. They pick the highest income period for the district. If income from the state goes down and that requires a $5M decrease in funding to our schools and then the next year the revenue is flat, the district claims that revenue is down another $5M where in actuality the income is the same as the previous year. The district feels they are "entitled" to more and anything less is a decrease in funding.


Posted by concerned parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2011 at 10:46 pm

s,

A lot of Pleasanton residents take great pride in our schools. We are striving to have one of the best school districts in the Bay Area, and we are already near the top. When faced with the current recession, the very best school districts, like Palo Alto, stepped up and supported their schools. Palo Alto kept their step and column raises for teachers (as did all the other top districts) and passed a parcel tax. I think we can do the same thing here. This isn't about "entitlements". This about community support for schools and teachers. It is my sincere hope that the PUSD communicates with the community and passes a substantial parcel tax so that we can keep programs and hire the best new teachers. I'm well aware of the results of the poll, and public opinion is fluid. I hope that PUSD takes the necessary effort to gain greater support for a parcel tax. We have a good thing going here.


Posted by to concerned parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2011 at 11:00 pm

I used to believe you were actually a concerned parent. I don't anymore. You are starting to sound very scripted.


Posted by steve, a resident of Parkside
on Jan 14, 2011 at 9:11 am

b-please attempt, for once, to stay on topic and stop trying to hijack the subject with your leftist/pacifist agenda.
Even you know that the budget for the Dept of Defense and our military responsible for keeping us safe at home, is not in any way related to local or state school funding.
You're obsessed with weakening our country.
Focus on the subject at hand.


Posted by concerned parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2011 at 9:48 am

To "to concernded parent",

I'm repeating myself in response to people who keep repeating "freeze step and column". Plenty of readers of these threads may not realize that what is going on in these other districts that are in some ways better than PUSD. Just because I'm not not opposed to freezing step and column, does that somehow make me not concerned? Does that make me sound scripted? Frankly, all the freeze step and column talk sounds scripted to me. I've suggested changing the schedule so that step and column increases so that increases are around 1% rather than 2%. That would save quite a bit of money in the first year, and even more in the second.

I don't like the tone of a lot of these posts. There seems to be an implication that our schools are broken and not providing a high quality education experience. I think that is wrong. PUSD schools are still doing fairly well, but that is in jeopardy. It seems to me that some of the people posting here are more concerned with paying lower taxes or opposing unions than they are in maintaining a high quality school district. They are free to feel that way, but there are plenty of parents like myself who are willing to pay higher taxes to keep the quality high.


Posted by to concerned parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2011 at 9:56 am

"There seems to be an implication that our schools are broken and not providing a high quality education experience. I think that is wrong. PUSD schools are still doing fairly well, but that is in jeopardy. It seems to me that some of the people posting here are more concerned with paying lower taxes or opposing unions than they are in maintaining a high quality school district"

No one has said any of that. People have mostly said salary increases are not appropriate right now and we'd like the money to go towards education and teacher retention, not raises.


Posted by concerned parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2011 at 10:26 am

"No one has said any of that."

Read some of the other threads. There were plenty of people saying things like that.

"People have mostly said salary increases are not appropriate right now and we'd like the money to go towards education and teacher retention, not raises. "

Nothing wrong with saying that. I'd just prefer to keep both. I think it would be the best outcome for the community. I can't help but think that if we:

1) Don't pass a parcel tax and keep step and column.
2) Don't pass a parcel tax and freeze step and column.
3) Pass a small parcel tax and freeze step and column.
4) Pass a small parcel tax and keep step and column.

Education quality will suffer in a way that didn't happen in other, better districts. I would prefer:

5) Pass a larger parcel tax with reduced step and column.
6) Pass a larger parcel tax with full step and column.

I'm fully aware of the problem the state faces with pension obligations. I don't think that not passing a parcel tax in Pleasanton will get us any closer to solving that problem. I think districts like Palo Alto have done the right things, and my colleagues who have children in the schools there, and in other districts are generally very happy with the outcome.


Posted by Elizabeth, a resident of Mohr Park
on Jan 14, 2011 at 10:51 am

As a parent of a severely developmentally delayed child (and another one who is GATE), I have to respond for the misnomer of special education monies taking money away from general education programs. I have served on several S.L.I.P. committees at 3 different schools, and as a PTSA/PTA board member for 2 PUSD schools for the last 5 years(just gave myself away). As another poster said there are state and federally mandated (UNFUNDED) laws, which require that PUSD funds special education programs. There are also monies which come from the state and federal government specifically for special education. These cannot be deverted into general education, they are used for special education or not given at all.

I am currently doing preliminary research on the efficacy of the IDEA and IDEIA (now No Child Left Behind) and the progress for those in special education. For the majority of the children with learning disabilities, ADD, ADHD, and high functioning ASD, special education dollars result in higher educational rates, graduation rates and increase enrollment and graduation from colleges, ending in EMPLOYMENT for them as adults. These are children who use to end up on welfare with SSI as an adult.

Yes, it takes more money to educate a child with special needs because they need small teacher-student ratios, maybe aids, therapists etc. Teacher's work longer hours, need education not just on behavior modification and teaching strategies for a wider range of children, but on federal and state education laws (IEP). But the long term benefits aid society as a whole, and reduce the state and federal government cost of supporting and taking care of them as adults for 50 years after school.

I was among those who advocated for not eleminating the reading specialists last year so PUSD could provide textbooks for a FHS AP Calculus II (not freshman but sophmore level) course.

SPECIAL EDUCATION FUNDING DOES NOT COME FROM GENERAL EDUCATION FUNDING!!!!

On a personal note - remember parents "there for the grace of God go I" No guarentee that those special education students couldn't have been yours - or in 20 years won't be one of your grandchildren. Autism rates alone are 1/100 births in the U.S. (per. CDC Web Link) and 9.5% of children have ADHD (per CDC Web Link).


Posted by to concerned parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2011 at 11:21 am

Number 3 on your list above is the only option that the consultants who did the survey said will pass. I have a friend moving to Palo Alto this summer. She is going to rent - have a guess why?


Posted by To to concerned parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2011 at 1:18 pm

Answer to your question: Because of the high home prices there due to the excellent schools and the supportive citizens?


Posted by watched this regularily, a resident of Country Fair
on Jan 14, 2011 at 5:33 pm

Elizabeth, I believe you are incorrect in saying "SPECIAL EDUCATION FUNDING DOES NOT COME FROM GENERAL EDUCATION FUNDING!!!! ". The Superintendent, at least the last one, repeatedly stated that special education encroaches on general education funding and the amount of the encroachment continues to increase. If you can show me that this is not true I would appreciate it. If you are stating the the previous Superintendent was not telling us the truth, I would like to know.


Posted by Start Afresh, a resident of Country Fair
on Jan 15, 2011 at 8:50 am

According to PUSD Web Link (pg. 9), they will have a $2.7M surplus this year. They project a $3.2 deficit next year, but that does not account for the last $1M in additional federal stimulus money that is coming, nor $700,000 in CORE/PPIE/PSEE donations, nor $2.25M in potential savings from 5 furlough days next year. Once that is put back in next years budget, PUSD will have a surplus for 11-12.
With $11M expected in the fund balance, PUSD is well positioned for the worst case scenarios being talked about.
A parcel tax is not needed.


Posted by Yet Another Teacher, a resident of Hart Middle School
on Jan 15, 2011 at 3:08 pm

It's funny how a lot of the Tea Partiers oppose government and government workers--except for the parts of the government that invade other countries (Department of Defense) and the part that bails out the overpaid, feckless Wall Street bankers (Department of Treasury).

It's also an odd coincidence that many Tea Partiers discovered their undying opposition to the tyranny of all government only after ...was elected President.

No, I'm not accusing them of racism! I'm sure it's just a coincidence :) Just wondering where these people were when Shrub and the Republican Congress was running up the federal deficit and the national debt. (Comments partially removed by Pleasanton Weekly Online staff as innuendo, hearsay or specific accusatory information unsupported by facts.)


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jan 16, 2011 at 10:50 am

Palo Alto comes up often. But it should be clear that PAUSD started with a much smaller parcel tax than they currently have more than ten years ago and have increased it over time.

Special Education does encroach on general funds because the programs are mandated but the funding does not cover the costs, which is the case for textbooks and other mandates as well: mandate this tome at $90 and provide $30. It's actually worse than that when you add auxiliary materials and consumables.

The joke to better fund education and let the military run bake sales has probably been around since there were children and parents and wars. Federal funding is a drop in the bucket though; better to let prisons run the bake sales so state funding reaches children.


Posted by Yet Another Teacher, a resident of Hart Middle School
on Jan 16, 2011 at 5:54 pm

Yes, Kathleen, and it's that parcel tax in Palo Alto that helps you keep your job, right? So parcel taxes are a good thing, aren't they? At least from your perspective....

Notice that Pleasantonians are throwing what amounts to a major tantrum over the idea of paying 27 cents a day in parcel taxes.

The federal government has many unfunded mandates, special education being just one of them. No Child Left Behind should've been called Every Other Child Left Behind, since the feds only funded half of the mandates of that act. It was the ...President Obama ... who did that to the schools.

Oh no, wait, another President was in the office then...forget his name...the guy who came before Bush. Didn't see any of these Tea Partiers protesting against that unfunded federal mandate then. Wonder what changed their minds? It can't be that the current President is a Democrat ..., because these people assure us time and again they are non-partisan and NOT motivated by racism. ... (Comments partially removed by Pleasanton Weekly Online staff as innuendo, hearsay or specific accusatory information unsupported by facts.)


Posted by to yet another teacher, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 16, 2011 at 6:08 pm

YAT - you really need to stop. If you are really a teacher at Hart, you're not helping them or the good names of the teachers in this community. And calling a bunch of people who are, in general, politely dicussing a local issue racist is just weird. But maybe you're not actually a teacher, which makes me wonder, what is your agenda?


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jan 16, 2011 at 7:33 pm

YAT, I am not against parcel taxes. I did have an issue with how the finances of the district were managed. That was made clear before. It isn't about 27 cents a day either. It's about spending any amount without other guarantees and controls in place, at least for me.


Posted by Injustice, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 16, 2011 at 10:44 pm

I don't like that townhouses pay the same as Ruby Hiil
BTW, what's the latest on Jerry Brown's lawsuitd AGAINST the PEOPLE OF PLEASANTON ??


Posted by concerned parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 17, 2011 at 7:52 am

" don't like that townhouses pay the same as Ruby Hiil"

I don't either, but I'd probably still vote for it.

I also don't like it that the guy down the street pays 1/4 of what I pay in taxes for an equivalent house.


Posted by PEVC, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 17, 2011 at 9:07 am

To 'Injustice' - just google 'jerry brown pleasanton housing urban habitat settle' and read all about it.
And yes, the fixed parcel tax is regressive and unfair.


Posted by resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 18, 2011 at 11:18 pm

Hey yet another teacher,

You should watch your temper! How dare you call Pleasanton residents raciest! Leave and go get another job if you hate it here. You don't sound like you should be permitted in a classroom anyway! Maybe the school district should evaluate whether you fit to be teaching!


Posted by other concerned paarent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 18, 2011 at 11:32 pm

concerned parent "Joan Laursen?"

If that is you why not just say so.


Posted by other concerned parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 18, 2011 at 11:34 pm

Concerned parent "Joan Larsen???"

We don't like your tone either!


Posted by Concerned Parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 18, 2011 at 11:53 pm

By the way I do agree that a parcel tax should be passed. I voted yes the first time.


Posted by concerned parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 19, 2011 at 9:40 am

To "other concerned paarent",

I don't get the question about Joan Larsen. I did vote for her.


Posted by Special ed, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 29, 2011 at 6:44 am

"Special Ed has been exampt from cuts because there are state and federal mandates requiring certain services and student teacher ratios and program. These are extremely costly."

Perhaps PUSD needs to look into what is really required vs. what the parents demand. I know someone (not in PUSD) whose child has a degenerative condition. This child is still in diapers and has no verbal skills. The doctors believe she has the comprehension of a 3 year old. However, this child is in a public high school! Yes, with an aide just for her, who changes diapers and feeds this child throughout the day. I am sorry, but we have to be realistic and realize children like this do not belong in school, at least not in a mainstream high school. Parents should not make the state or school district finance their child's day care because that is exactly what it is.

I also know other kids who have mild disability problems like dislexia which can indeed be helped. For these kids, we should definitely invest the resources and help them succeed in school because that means a productive adult in the future.

Lets take it case by case and see if it is really worth it to spend the money on additinal resources for a particular student.


Posted by No to a tax, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 29, 2011 at 6:56 am

"By the way I do agree that a parcel tax should be passed. I voted yes the first time"

And I hope it does not pass (I too voted yes the first time but am now against it). All it would do would be to finance step and column. I am voting no. Will there be cuts to programs? Yes, but that will happen with or without the parcel tax because every year the cost of step and column goes up and districts must find a way to fund them because they do not want to freeze them.

San Ramon and Cupertino went through this: successfully passed a parcel tax (higher than 98 dollars), and for the first year, things were okay and programs were not cut. The year after, the programs the parcel tax were supposed to be saved were threatened again because the parcel tax funds were being used for step and column/raises.

I will not play that game. PUSD needs to perhaps act the way charter schools do, and make some tough decisions. If teachers quit, let them. Come next June, many teachers will be unemployed, as districts across California lay off the young and not tenured ones in order to give raises to their old timers.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 29, 2011 at 8:33 am

Stacey is a registered user.

A supermajority is used in cases when a tax will be imposed only upon a subset of the population. California wants to ensure broad support for such a tax since not everyone will be paying it.

To achieve quorum on important issues, the ancient Greeks went so far as to drag indifferent people to the meeting. We do not have any quorum requirements in our elections and that's all I was suggesting we add if we were to switch to simple majority (more than 50%) voting for parcel taxes.


Posted by reasonable, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 31, 2011 at 9:59 am

Can't a parcel tax be used as "categorical funding" which can only be used for specific purposes (maybe raises are not among them?). I think the parents and other residents would be much more supportive of this (I know I would be)if the parcel tax were specified for programs like music, science, art, counseling, etc... in other words, the programs we are constantly being threatened with losing. Or, if they were used specifically for class size reduction to say, 25, in the upper grades. Not to supplement the general school fund where it will undoubtedly be absorbed into step and column raises or even special ed


Posted by parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 31, 2011 at 10:12 am

That sounds like a good idea, but it's difficult to see how it would work in practice for a couple of reasons.

One is that parents in the community value really different things based on the age of their kids. Class sizes vs 7th period vs AP classes vs music classes vs reading specialists. These are all near the top of the list of things to be saved for some people and are not at all important to others.

Secondly the services provided by the general fund would have to be cut by the amount of the raises each year since we aren't getting more money from the state and there aren't easy things to cut now. So what would you include to be saved by the parcel tax and what would be OK to cut as part of the general fund to pay for the raises?


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