Surprised on high district pensions! Schools & Kids, posted by Jill, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Mar 30, 2011 at 1:36 pm
I had always thought that school district employees were fairly paid but not highly paid. Then I went to www.CaliforniaPensionReform.com and saw there were 15 employees of our school district (all former teachers since the numbers are from CalSTRS which is only available to those with teaching credentials). Most are probably administrators which were teachers.
Highest in the list of pensions is Merlin Donaldson who now takes home $178,120 per year in retirement pay! That is outrageous. I support our schools but that is excessive . A majority of the pensions are paid for by state and local taxes and the taxpayers have to make up the shortfall when the market does not do well since these pensions are guaranteed, unlike my 401(k).
There are many names on this pension list at California Pension Reform that I have never heard of. Like Merlin Donaldson, Sally Dellanini ($111,388), Steven Dellanini ($101,083) (Dellanini is an uncommon name so are those two related?), Kathleen Kindred ($116,401), Robert Kreitz ($154,536), Robert Kroetch ($140,569), Patricia Leonard ($106,708), Richard Puppione ($100,872), Andree Schacht ($107,100).
While I think these pensions are excessive for even superintendents and highs school principals, I wonder who these people above are. I have been in this community for over 25 years and never heard those names.
Measure E says that the money is needed to attract and retain employees. What we are giving out is outrageous. With a pension this high, they must have really high salaries. There is no way I can support an additional tax now until expenses like this are under control.
Posted by Jason, a resident of the Carlton Oaks neighborhood, on Mar 30, 2011 at 2:07 pm
californiapensionreform. Now there's a reliable source. Jill, one has to wonder about your ability to proportionalize matters. Did you know, for example, that Judge Judy's salary is over $22 million per year?
A look at teachers' pensions shows that many of them are actually shockingly low. But when you're only out to smear someone, that probably doesn't matter does it? I'm confident Pleasanton will see through your desperate attempt to deny our schools supplemental money for the teachers and kids.
Posted by Old-time resident, a resident of the Country Fair neighborhood, on Mar 30, 2011 at 6:42 pm
Some of the pensions for those school administrators seem pretty high. But I don't even recognize most of the names, so maybe it's not accurate, I don't know. And over how many years? I'm just not sure what to make of it.
Anyhows, I'm not sure all that bears much on our current educational people and our willingness to lend them a hand in this time of need. No one likes to shell out money, and that sure includes me. Our household has really been watching our pennies for the past year. But the parcel tax seems like a small amount to pay for good service. We've had mostly good experiences with the schools and can't really complain at all. I hope the community comes together on this for the sake of the children.
Posted by Judith, a resident of the Ridgeview Commons neighborhood, on Mar 30, 2011 at 8:50 pm
My! Unclehomerr! It's not your tax dollars my dear man. It is everybody's, including teachers and administrators. You sound soooo irritated. I wish you'd give credit to the excellent school system we have in Pleasanton. We moved up here from Southern California a few years ago and chose Pleasanton because of its excellent schools and teachers. We have been very pleased with the education of our son who is realizing his potentials far more than back in So-Cal. You sound so hostile! You must realize that you're not the only taxpayer in Pleasanton. We all need to pull together in order to maintain high levels of excellence. I don't want to seem insulting at all, but you sound very angry. Please come back to the community. Think about the children.
Posted by Longtime resident, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 30, 2011 at 8:53 pm
What a shame that you have been a resident in this community for over 25 years and dont even know the names you are attempting to create a controversy over. These people have been a backbone for this district as administrators for years- building the successful district that has helped give Pleasanton it high home values and stellar reputation.
So I ask, why now are you suddenly interested, when for over 25 years, with the same pay structure, retirement system, you couldn't have cared less? The district doesn't pay for their retirement. Teachers PAY into their retirement. So where is the big cover up?
Your timing seems coincidental and exactly why I do not trust those who continue to bash the schools before they even know the facts.
Try getting to know the schools and the amazing people who have dedicated their lives to educate this town's children rather than spending your time trying to see them fail.
Posted by Jill, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Mar 30, 2011 at 9:34 pm
The reason I was not concerned before is because the public never had a way to get this information. I checked the source of california pension reform and they get their data right from CalSTRS as well as CalPERS. There are some outrageous pensions for the City of Pleasanton for CalPERS, many of those people I heard about.
Judith, it is all of our tax dollars. The teachers however get the benefits and the taxpayers do not so it is our concern. I am upset on all the public sector pensions out there and it is getting worse. I was informed that the people on the retiree list are mostly new retires, except for Bill James as previous superintendent. How can anybody in our district have a $178,120 per year pension? That is an incredible amount of money, guaranteed by the taxpayer. I don't think anybody should have a pension of that size, unless they put a lot of money in and took all of he risk, not me taking their risk.
Pensions like this indicate that there is a problem. I don't think giving them more money is going to solve any problems, just give them more money to pay high salaries and/or pensions.
Posted by Longtime resident, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 30, 2011 at 9:51 pm
First of all Jill, the names you attempted to smear are not newly retired administrators. If you had card at all about the schools, you could have gotten to know the people who dedicated their lives to give Pleasanton the reputation it has today.
How are pensions of retired administrators going to affect school funding today? For the children of this community now? PUSD has cut $20 million in the last three years, the teachers to a pay cut this year saving the district $4.5 million and further cuts that would hurt our children.
And this is all you have to say? Maybe we should be posting the private sector payouts, bonuses, retirements and crimes that have really taken our nation into this recession. How they are excused and you and many others have taken to blame the SCHOOLS is shameful.
Posted by Matt, a resident of Livermore, on Mar 30, 2011 at 10:30 pm
I don't have a dog in this hunt, but I feel I should mention that I rec'd a $146,000.00 end-of-year bonus with a major investment firm this past year, and $134,000.00 the year before that. This is over and above my salary, which I care not to reveal. I'm a stock broker with seven years experience, and I'm four courses shy of earning my MBA. I am quite certain people with more seniority than me earned quite a bit more in bonuses and salary bumps than I did. This is preetty standard across the industry.
No offense intended here, believe me. But the $178,000.00 pension number someone posted strikes me as little more than chump change. If Pleasanton or any other school district can recruit top administrators for that much, and keep them, then all the more power to them. My hunch is that these administrators have more expertise than I do. When my firm handed out bonuses, the CEO of my company argued that good help is difficult to recruit and keep around. It wouldn't surprise me if the same were not true of top edcuational administers too. I work hard for my money. I work really hard. But it wouldn't surprise me if top education managers work just as hard. Sorry. Just my two-cents worth.
Posted by comment, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 30, 2011 at 10:40 pm
Thanks for your honesty. We have to also remember that it was Wall Street shenanigans that put us in to this recession and unfortunately many of the very people that caused this mess are getting even bigger bonuses now. Revenue is down because of the mess on Wall Street and that has hit our schools. Yes on E.
Posted by Matt, a resident of Livermore, on Mar 30, 2011 at 10:56 pm
You're probably right, Comment. But your not the first one to make me feel a llittle bit guilty. My best friend in college went on to graduate school and studied for six years. He worked at a fish cannery in Anacortes Wahsingtons during summers and took out student loans. He just took his first job in philoso9phy at the University of North Texas. His beginning salary $51,000.00, which is less than I paid for my Lexus LS460 this past fall. Sometimes I feel like part of the problem. Its bigger than I am.
Posted by Stephen, a resident of the Pleasanton Heights neighborhood, on Mar 31, 2011 at 8:03 am
178 thousand is more than I make. But yesterday I read that a Republican congressman from Wisconsin was complaining to voters that he could barely pay his bills with his salary of 176 thousand. So maybe my beef should be with my employer. No, actually I do okay, and I don't have the managerial skill sets that top level educational supervisors have. I don't begrudge top people in their field making more than I do.
But for me the rubber hits the road when I think about performance. And all in all we've been very pleased with the schools and the teachers. I'm a-okay with the parcel tax. It isn't excessive and maybe can help out until the enconomy improves. We'll be voting Yes on the parcel tax.
Posted by Tim, a resident of the California Reflections neighborhood, on Mar 31, 2011 at 8:31 am
Clem Donaldson was brought to PUSD by Casey. Clem was only here for a few years and did nothing of value that I could see. For him to be recieving $178K, more than any superintendents this must be pension spiking in a big way. Pension spiking is just one more way of cheating. Pension reform is long overdue.
Posted by comment, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 31, 2011 at 8:53 am
Sounds like maybe you have a personal issue with Clem Donaldson? How do you know he did "nothing of value"? The PUSD administration must be doing something right. Just look at our test scores. At any rate, your alleged pension spiking has nothing to do with Measure E.
Posted by Quite contrary, Mary, a resident of the Apperson Ridge neighborhood, on Mar 31, 2011 at 10:41 am
Mary, Mary. You and Tim sound so morose and eager to complain about everything under the sun. Perhaps you haven't achieved the level of respected professionalism that so many of our teachers and administrators have. In most fields, professionals earn pretty good money, as well they should. I may be wrong, but you sound as if you are filled with envy. Just because you aren't doing well yourselves shouldn't mean that we take it out on respected members of the community. The world is larger than you or me. Think big picture and perhaps it will relieve you of some of your pain.
Posted by Yet Another Teacher, a member of the Hart Middle School community, on Mar 31, 2011 at 10:48 am
It should be made quite clear that those pensions on that website are all of ADMINISTRATORS. Those folks have much higher salaries than teachers. The average PUSD teacher's pension, after 25 years of service, is about $46,000 a year, which anyone with sense will tell you is not enough to live a middle-class life in California. $46,000 a year is also about 25% of Clem Donaldson's pension.
Still, I'm very surprised at how Clem Donaldson's pension is: $178,000. How the heck did he manage that?
Posted by mom, a member of the Pleasanton Middle School community, on Mar 31, 2011 at 12:36 pm
Pension reform is needed of course, but only after the corrupt practices on Wall Street are reformed first. We seem to be picking on the wrong people...the middle class rather than the robber barons who drove the country into an economic crisis.
Just to clarify, Andree Schacht was not an administrator. She was a teacher who retired after 38(!) years teaching middle school Spanish. My child was in her class and was very well prepared for high school Spanish as a result. I know that Mrs. Schacht never had children of her own, so it seems she devoted her life to her students and her teaching. I don't think her pension is unreasonable from that standpoint. Try spending 38 days with middle schoolers, let alone 38 years. I know I couldn't do it. She must have really loved her job!
Our family moved to Pleasanton for the schools and we are so pleased with the education our children have received. There's always a teacher here or there who doesn't meet the mark, but on the whole it's been wonderful.
Posted by Sam, a resident of the Oak Hill neighborhood, on Mar 31, 2011 at 1:07 pm
I don't understand all of the bitterness over Measure E. By any measure, Pleasanton schools are among the best in the area. People all over the bay area know about Pleasanton. When I tell people I have a house in Pleasanton, their response is "Wow!" because they know about Pleasanton schools and the Pleasanton community and how they compare with the schools and community in their areas. Our schools are the envy of many people around the bay area.
The parcel tax is a modest amount ($98 per year) AND it is closed-ended (4 years). Is that too much to support a top-ranked school program? If it does have the intended effect of bettering our schools, then the resulting increase of the appraised value of any Pleasanton house you may own will much more than make up for the $98 per year for 4 years parcel tax. On the other hand, if Pleasanton schools go down in ratings, watch as your house value plummets to the same level as surrounding communities with similar quality schools. And then watch as the character of the Pleasanton community changes as a result of lower house values. I'll be voting YES on E.
Posted by New to Pleasanton, a resident of the California Reflections neighborhood, on Mar 31, 2011 at 1:31 pm
Although there are some sour exceptions, I'm really impressed by the positive attitude and willingness to pull together as a community that comes out from so many of the above emails. Happy to be part of the Pleasanton experience, and count on our household's vote for Measure E.
Posted by Mike, a resident of the Highland Oaks neighborhood, on Mar 31, 2011 at 4:32 pm
I'm self-employed with an annual income that varies depending on myriad factors. Like Matt, I don't see teacher pay as all that impressive. Pensions, however, are clearly unsustainable. As such, all sides need to open their hearts to compromise. I feel a No vote on E would help to set the stage for such compromise by letting the system know that the public is looking for an alternative to simply throwing more money at the problem.
Posted by comment, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 31, 2011 at 5:23 pm
A no vote on E doesn't have anything to do with pensions. Those policies are set at the state level. What E will do is help our schools here in Pleasanton. We have one of the best school districts in the state. PUSD wouldn't be asking for this parcel tax were it not for the the financial problems on Wall Street. This isn't throwing money at anything. Now that the Rhee fraud is out there, I think most people will be voting for E. Everyone I know will be voting yes on E.
Posted by Longtime resident, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 31, 2011 at 6:19 pm
Now unclehomer- That's not what Fox news has reported (since you quoted them)- they are in favor of bankers and big financial leaders to continue to make the big bucks- their reasoning- we need to draw the best to the field and keep them with a competitive salary! These are the same people that my tax dollars bailed out after they ruined our economy- failed. This is where PUSD administrators are different- you see, they haven't failed, as a matter of fact, they continue to show improvement annually in our schools, after cutting millions from their budget and staff. In terms of any successful business model- in the private sector these folks would be given bonuses and raises!
The hypocrisy is so glaring, I have to laugh now whenever I hear those who continue to blame the hardest working public servants that have never benefited from the gross salaries that those in the private sector currently have. Like education doesn't need top managers? Oh, and the private sector bonuses and raises are alive and well, and not just for management. These are the people who have make the system broke- and here you protect them! Oh go blame a teacher, that makes sense. You have been duped, and the more you post, the more it shows.
Posted by cornelius 'corny' walker, a resident of the Foothill Farms neighborhood, on Mar 31, 2011 at 6:20 pm
unnclehomrr gives out a shout, "People are straying from the point." I thought the point WAS pensions, as in "Surprised on high district pensions"? Am I missing something? Jill didn't mean 'high district pensions' as in people being surprised in high altitude districts, did she? Uncle, I say uncle.
Posted by comment, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 31, 2011 at 9:38 pm
"Stop throwing money at a system which isn't working.. NOW!"
The system is working. PUSD is one of the finest school districts in the state. Test scores are already near the top and continue to rise. Wall Street corruption and leveraged derivatives trading is what caused the recession. That's what caused the budget shortfall at PUSD. I think Measure E is the very least we can do to maintain our high quality school and I don't even have children in the schools.
Posted by Holly Sanders, a resident of the Stoneridge neighborhood, on Mar 31, 2011 at 9:48 pm
Many cuts have already been made these last few years by PUSD and employees due to the state continuing to take away massive funding each year - Thank you teachers and classified! It will take a variety of actions and changes to save the great schools we have, and Measure E will be a stable stream of money the state can't take away. I am definitely voting YES ON E which will help our children now at only $98 per year.
Posted by Just a teacher, a resident of the Castlewood Heights neighborhood, on Mar 31, 2011 at 10:54 pm
Please take note that none of the people on this list are teachers. When you try to "get back" at the people on this list you are hurting the extremely hard working teachers. There has to be a better way to get reform without harming the teachers.
Posted by Rita, a resident of the Rosepointe neighborhood, on Mar 31, 2011 at 11:05 pm
I think the old uncle is only ABOUT inflicting hurt and harm. Any cause, justified or not, seems to give reason for him to lash out. There's a shortage of cards in the deck, or at least it seems. I'd like to give him the benefit of the doubt by asking him to attempt to state in his own words, as clearly as he is able, just what it is he's so upset about. Such a request has been offered in the past, but it's been met either with silence or questionable weblinks accompanied with claims we're all stupid. Total head-shake.
Posted by Can't Believe It, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 1, 2011 at 12:32 am
When I read these posts, something doesn't smell right to me. It's obvious that the PW forum is being inundated by a concerted, organized effort to put down any comments against pensions or the parcel tax.
The problem is that...about 97% of Pleasantonians will never see any pension at all - zero- after decades of hard work and successful careers. But we all have to pay taxes to support the ridiculous pension figures we see reported here.
All you organized, paid posters...we're on to you...
Posted by Sam, a resident of the Oak Hill neighborhood, on Apr 1, 2011 at 12:47 am
I'm heartened by all of the positive responses I see here in support of our schools and Measure E. I think that most of us here realize that we have a pretty good thing going here in Pleasanton. Among many of the crazy, colorful, broken - and some downright dysfunctional - communities here in the bay area, Pleasanton stands out as a safe, clean community with outstanding schools. Our property values reflect that. People pay a premium to get a house in Pleasanton (I did!). Pleasanton was also selected to the Top 100 list of CNN/Money's "Best Places to Live" in 2010. Think that the quality of our schools might have had something to do with that?
A parcel tax of $98 per year for 4 years is a small price to pay in order to support such a vital element of what makes Pleasanton such an attractive and desirable place to live. We've got a great thing going here in Pleasanton, so let's do what we need to in order to keep Pleasanton one of the outstanding communities of not just the bay area but (according to CNN/Money) of the country.
Posted by corny, a resident of the Foothill Farms neighborhood, on Apr 1, 2011 at 1:33 am
Hey homer who can't believe it. It's you against the entire world, baby. Someday I'd like you to write us a little bit concerning your idea of justice. Let it all hang out, y'know? Like, what is justice? Are pensions ever just? If so, what would constitute a just pension? If not, what would community school districts use as enticement to bring aboard good teachers and administrators? Or would you prefer what Michelle Rhee advocates: you must cheat your students to the top if you want any perks over and above your base salary? I'm certain you have a well-formed idea of justice, not just an "I don't get pensions and so nobody else should either." That is, I'm sure your posture is morally grounded, not just based on a pitiful inability to see past your own pain. So, please tell us. Give us the big picture. I'd love to hear back from you, as I'm always open to views that might lead me to change my mind. And please don't burden yourself thinking up a new moniker; your spelling and grammar are always ample identifier enough. One doesn't need to have a Ph.D. in linguistics to pick you out of a crowd. Conspiratorially yours, Corny
Posted by Ruth, a resident of the Ridgeview Commons neighborhood, on Apr 1, 2011 at 1:55 am
You young people can't seem to carry on a chat about a subject instead of sounding like Dr. Phil fresh out of a marketing convention.
In addition to the huge pensions, doesn't seem fair to tax tiny condominiums, mobile homes, small houses the same as commercial plots, shopping centers, even the huge Wal-Mart shopping plaza, and the huge Stoneridge Mall, taxed at the same amount as a 600 square foot small place to live.
Posted by Ruth, a resident of the Ridgeview Commons neighborhood, on Apr 1, 2011 at 2:26 am
With so many folks out of work these days or taking 10% to 20% pay cuts, shouldn't the school employees take a pay cut too? Why can't they balance their budget?
It doesn't seem fair to ask for a taxpayer bailout, especially when the tax for tiny inexpensive plots owned by residents with limited incomes and those merchants downtown struggling to stay open = the tax for larger real estate plots in those mansion subdivisions, shopping plazas, and large corporations located in town.
Posted by Wait a minute....., a resident of the Amador Estates neighborhood, on Apr 1, 2011 at 7:12 am
It always amazes me when people get on teachers for their high pensions. Teachers pay into an account called STRS. They do not get free money for their retirement - THEY PAY INTO IT, just like a 401K.
What I don't get is why people aren't calling out firefighters and police officers who get CALPRS and do not pay into their retirement (it is provided by the state/city). Why isn't this community up in arms about their pensions? How come their isn't a website dedicated to calling out those state employees?
I just don't get why all this negative attention is directed towards teachers. We have amazing schools and wonderful test scores.
Posted by comment, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 1, 2011 at 8:44 am
" Folks who risked their lives in the military don't get anywhere near these huge pension checks."
Doesn't square with what I've seen. I currently work with a "retired" Army colonel who went into defense civil service, retired from that too, and is now working for a contractor. He is making way more than any retired PUSD administrator. Well over $200,000. He's a good guy and I don't begrudge him making all that money, but let's get real about this.
Posted by to anon, a resident of the Vineyard Hills neighborhood, on Apr 1, 2011 at 10:31 am
You should really take up such matters with the state my dear. As for our school district, it costs a great deal more to live in the Bay Area than it does to live in rural South Carolina. The comparison is not apt. You don't have an axe to grind against our teachers, do you?
Posted by I'll ask again, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Apr 1, 2011 at 11:52 am
I'll ask the question again: Why so much anger towards the teachers, who PAY into their retirement? Why not towards the police officers/fire fighters WHO DO NOT PAY into their retirement? Why isn't their a website dedicated to informing the public about how much they make in retirement?
Posted by Voting no, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 1, 2011 at 12:31 pm
There were many posts regarding Pleasanton's pension debts a while back. I believe there is equal concern there.
It is good that teachers contribute to their own pensions. But it is not good that taxpayers are forced to come up with the difference. Rather than re-adjust pay/retirement, it seems that all the district can do is ask for more money.