If You Could Control the PUSD Budget Schools & Kids, posted by Really! Really!, a resident of the Bordeaux Estates neighborhood, on May 19, 2011 at 7:54 am
A grassroots movement has begun to maintain CSR, proving many in the community feel this is important enough to justify the spending of huge amounts of money to support this trend. I countered that, at this time, the expense is not justifiable for the results and suggested that programs, such as Barton, which are relatively inexpensive but provide a clear, proven positive result, be supported as a priority.
So the question arises: If you could choose, what PUSD programs would you cut, maintain, or expand in this time of limited funds? What are the reasons for your choices? Thoughtfully consider which programs/ideas provide a positive benefit for their costs and those which don't.
And, remember, now that the Parcel Tax has failed, you have the freedom to donate to PUSD and specify where you wish your funds to go (CORE, PPIE, CSR, Barton, etc.), so don't be afraid to put your money where your mouth is.
Posted by Got out of pusd in time, a resident of the Bordeaux Estates neighborhood, on May 19, 2011 at 9:23 pm
Barton reading is a one on one program... Not much bang for your buck. PPIE does a great job of funding specific programs for dedicated professionals. This money will go to teachers who really want to make a positive impact on THEIR (meaning more than one) kids. Can't count on the DO to make the sound choices.
Posted by Pleasanton resident, a resident of the Del Prado neighborhood, on May 20, 2011 at 10:38 am
Summer School should be cut down, If kids are doing what they are suppose to do during regular school year you don't need summer school. If some one feels their kids need extra help, they should pay for it.
Posted by Education Believer, a resident of the Laguna Oaks neighborhood, on May 20, 2011 at 10:51 am
All programs are important and it's a shame the state has mismanaged the budget impacting all school districts throughout Calif. The struggle is there is just not enough money to pay for all these programs. Certain programs are near and dear to some families, with others being the favored programs for different families. My fear is that donors donate to specific ones but don't raise enough to impact one given area. I like the CORE program through PPIE as it addresses tech and library supporting ALL teachers and students. All teachers and students rely on technology in some way. We currently have NO tech support budgeted! We have beautiful computer labs, media centers, language labs; can you imagine no one available to maintain them? No one to train teachers and students? No one to update software? Not to mention the Econnect, School newsletters and Zangle; the main source of parent communication. Considering a lot of the curriculim is now technology based....it's scary to think there may be zero tech support. Additionally, imagine your school library closed for the majority of the day. Can't go read, check out a book, do some research, use a computer or do some homework. That's just wrong!! CORE will provide this support to ALL students.....not just those that benefit from smaller class sizes or those that need reading support. My dollars will be going to CORE first....and I plan on doubling up to assist a few families that can't donate at all.
Posted by Anonymous, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on May 20, 2011 at 4:07 pm
I have already donated to CORE, and plan to donate to CSR as well as to my school's PTA, which amounts to about $650 total. Much. much cheaper than private school.
Also, I do believe in CSR. My child attended 1st grade with 20 kids, then 2nd with 25 kids. What a difference 5 kids made. The K teacher spent less time on crowd control and more on teaching. And for PUSD, we're not talking about hiring new, inexperienced teachers to have CSR--we're talking about KEEPING the experienced teachers we currently have to maintain smaller class sizes.
I do believe in Barton, as well. It is an excellent program for those who need it. But it is also staffed by volunteers and MOST students do not need to use it.
CSR benefits every student and studies show that the quality of K-3 education follows the child throughout the rest of their school years. While $350 per child is not cheap, I consider it an investment in my child, with a payback many, many more times valuable.
Posted by Mike, a resident of the Highland Oaks neighborhood, on May 20, 2011 at 5:11 pm
Going to the root of the problem will give you a better shot at finding an effective solution. By seeking donations to fund programs that are being cut based on their relative merit vis-a-vis the district's dwindling resources, you treat the problem symptomatically rather than working toward a cure.
To wit, stop diverting such massive amounts of money to unsustainable pension programs, and the problem goes away. Stop scurrying willy-nilly to collect a few hundred bucks here or a grand there while millions of dollars are falling out of your back pocket.
Posted by Education Believer, a resident of the Laguna Oaks neighborhood, on May 20, 2011 at 5:33 pm
@ Anonymous..... I believe in all these programs...there's just not enough money to support them. Although there are no studies available that show that reduced classroom sizes are beneficial(per Superintendent Ahmadi), we all know that the rewards of smaller class sizes are huge. It's just a big price tag with no funds to support it. I truly wish there were!
Posted by optimistic mom, a member of the Amador Valley High School community, on May 20, 2011 at 5:41 pm
Pleasanton resident, FYI, summer school has been dramatically cut back over the last two years.
I'm donating to CORE because I think literacy is the heart of education, and the library can be the center of the school, especially in elementary. Teachers work with librarians to select resources for students to use on different research projects, and to inspire students to write by reading good writing. I don't want to see libraries open only two hours a day.
I also support funding for Barton and reading specialists. Folks seem to think the Barton program is less important because it is not used by all students. About 25% of kids have difficulty learning to read, and would benefit from working with a trained volunteer or a reading specialist. The current level of funding in Pleasanton does not permit all first-graders to be formally screened for reading difficulties. When those kids don't get help in first or second grade, their difficulties can slow down class for all of their classmates. Getting them the one-on-one or small group help they need means that teachers can move ahead with the rest of the class -- all students get their needs met.
If I was going to cut something in the school budget, I would pick legal costs. I wish the district would consider dropping some of the lawsuits that have become black holes for taxpayer dollars.
Cutting something that affects students? Testing. We pay a ton of money to the companies that develop and score standardized tests, and then we don't even get the results back for months! I am allergic to the idea that we can capture meaningful learning through multiple choice questions, and I would much rather sit down and review my kid's work with the teacher. Compare an essay from the beginning of the year and one from the end. Listen to them talk through a practical math problem. Watch them carry out a science project.
Posted by Not so optimistic, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on May 20, 2011 at 7:18 pm
I like your comments very much. I disagree a bit on your assessment of the objective tests. Although I do not think 'teaching for the tests' should be a school's primary goal, I do think they are a helpful diagnostic, perhaps no less so than a teacher and parent tracking essays, math progress, and science projects.
After spending considerable hours this spring with my son preparing him for the star test, I must say that he learned a good deal, and improved in such areas as concentration, mental quickness/agility, and analytical reasoning. Fact is, I think, that educating our kids today is a far greater challenge than it may have been even a generation ago. The pace is faster (and in some ways less forgiving of students who fall behind), the environment far more competitive, and teachers are faced with greater diversity (and now numbers) in the classroom ... and this is not even to mention all the 'type-A' parental personalities that insist (with good intentions) on getting more involved with classroom teaching.
At the same time, there's the obvious: there isn't enough money to support teachers and the kinds of diagnostics needed. That a community like P could not raise a couple million in support of the challenge continues to boggle my mind. I think about it every day, have applied for a job transfer, and so most likely we will sell our home and leave the area.
Posted by Nomad, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on May 20, 2011 at 7:37 pm
I would have negotiated 3 furlough days to (1 instructional, and 2 non-instructional) to generate $1.4 million in savings. And use those savings to pay for CSR. I would rather have 179 days of CSR programs, than 180 days without it.
2 more furlough days would have brought back collaboration at the high school level.
5 furlough days total and we'd help K-5 and high schools. A very slightly shorter school year, yet richer in helping the kids.
So, exactly where are the PUSD school boards priorities? Protecting teacher salaries? or providing the best education for our kids?
Posted by optimistic mom, a member of the Amador Valley High School community, on May 20, 2011 at 8:26 pm
Nomad, the question is, why would middle and high school teachers vote to take furlough days in order to save elementary teachers' jobs?
(OK, now I sound cynical rather than optimistic, but there it is. Teachers are not even backing each other up any more, because they are so bruised from the onslaught of public criticisms.)
And Not so, I do understand your point about testing. I'm not saying I'm completely opposed -- just that if I was going to make a budget cut, I'd make one there. Teachers can write their own test questions, whether multiple choice or short answer, and grade them in house. It's not clear to me what the benefit of paying test-making companies to write the questions and score the answers, if they take so long to return the scores to teachers and students.
Posted by Zoolander, a resident of the Ruby Hill neighborhood, on May 21, 2011 at 8:06 am
I'm not sure why the lack of support for the Barton Reading Program, staffed with volunteers with 1 on 1 tutoring for "kids who don't read good." All joking aside, I have seen positive results from the program, and it seems like it fits the bill of a high impact - low cost initiative.
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on May 21, 2011 at 6:00 pm
I think I would advocate for starting in the classroom and moving out from there. Maybe you end up with the district as is; maybe it looks entirely different. I think we could learn a lot.
For example, would you consider small schools of K-3 only and slightly larger schools of 4-5 or 4-6? If 4-6, can middle schhols have a smaller population? Could high schools be subdivided into magnet academies? Would technology and assistant teachers and free work time be a better model for the classroom?
One thing is for sure, if something is there already or recently lost, someone will argue it has to remain. It's one reason why the current delivery of education looks much the same as it has for years, one teacher, x number of kids.
Posted by Teacher Comments, a resident of the Avila neighborhood, on May 21, 2011 at 9:06 pm
The first thing I would do in order to save money is completely cut the laptop program. I feel that the program encourages entitlement among the students (I realize that most parents pay for their own laptops, but also know there are some that get their laptops through PUSD. In addition, it costs money to update the technology for this program).
I would add a vice principal to each of the middle schools. They are in desperate need of help in the office, especially monitoring student behavior. I would also make sure that there were 3 counselors at each middle school. The recent suicide of a student has proved that our children need support.
I'm obviously a middle school teacher and while I completely understand the benefits of CSR at the elementary level, I do struggle with agreeing to furlough days in order to save CSR in K - 3 and 9th grades. We have absolutely no at risk programs (no Barton or anything else), and are dealing with class sizes that range from 32 - 34. On top of it, we are expected to keep the test scores up. Optimistic mom is correct - it is difficult for middle school teachers to take furlough days when there are no immediate benefits to our programs.
Posted by Think We're Dumb?, a resident of the Parkside neighborhood, on May 21, 2011 at 9:42 pm
So Teacher Comment just wants to add more teachers and bureaucracy at the expense of us trod upon taxpayers who are forced to let her laze about without taking any furlow days at all.
Lets' follow Kathy Ruegseger. Aren't you listning Teacher Comment! We can't afford more! Enough is enough! Like Kathy says we should be using more technology instead of more lazy teachers. I'd much rather have my sixth grade kid in a class of 45 with a good internet in front of him than some lazy and pathetic teacher who doesn't no math. Like Kathy says, someone like you will always want to remain. Even when your expendable.
Wake Up and Smell the Coffee. Not one nickle more!!!
Posted by Parent, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on May 21, 2011 at 9:52 pm
"For example, would you consider small schools of K-3 only and slightly larger schools of 4-5 or 4-6? If 4-6, can middle schhols have a smaller population? Could high schools be subdivided into magnet academies? Would technology and assistant teachers and free work time be a better model for the classroom?"
I say good god, why would you want to do any of that. I say we should keep doing what we are doing now and not change at all. We're doing fine and our schools are good. Let the other districts tinker if they like. They are the ones with all the problems. Things are just fine as they are.
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a member of the Vintage Hills Elementary School community, on May 21, 2011 at 10:18 pm
I said start in the classroom and work you way out . . . I posed questions of possibilities, not absolutes. It is a conversation--change, don't change--just asked you to think about it. And to clarify, I meant a teacher with an assistant teacher, not to take teachers out of the classroom.
Posted by Really?, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on May 22, 2011 at 9:00 am
Kathleen- what a switch on words- you invite thoughts on district issues yet you rewrite the superintendents letter to the paper, as you think it should have been written? Never have I read such a blatant disrespect for our leadership, and yet you claim to be a friend, a supporter? Where is that post now? Did you request it be taken down?
We will not be reforming any of the programs in our schools now as we spend all of our time preparing to go into triage mode with further cuts thanks to your "work" here. The excellence committee had many reform ideas that the community, staff, and administration came together to create- that is now lost due to lack of funding.
I believe you are disillusioned to the role you have taken in cutting major funding from our schools and the views this community has toward what you say vs. what you do.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on May 22, 2011 at 9:30 am Stacey is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
The ideas from the Excellence Committee were NEVER funded. The Board authorized hiring more counselors from the Committee's suggestions without identifying funding, just left it up to Casey to figure out where the money would come from. Worse still, some on the board at the time suggested using one-time reserves to hire the extra staff. Others on the board thought the worse we could do was hire staff and lay them off the next year.
Posted by No counselors, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on May 22, 2011 at 9:38 am
". I would also make sure that there were 3 counselors at each middle school. The recent suicide of a student has proved that our children need support."
I disagree. I think the recent suicide of the middle school child shows that the counselors at more than one PUSD school failed. They failed to come up with good solutions.
Everyone knew this kid had problems and what did PUSD do? Transfer him to another school and then finally to the "middle school program" at Village.
I thinkt that the counselors in PUSD are not capable of dealing with true crisis. Sure, they will manage a little thing here and there, but when it comes to the real stuff, they have no idea what to do.
The type of professional help that troubled teens/kids need should be sought outside of school, with people with true credentials.
I would get rid of the counselors. That way, if a student is troubled, his/her parents can be notified and advised to seek professional help, rather than being led to believe their child is getting the help he/she needs at school.
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a member of the Vintage Hills Elementary School community, on May 22, 2011 at 10:01 am
I didn't start this topic and I didn't request the other be taken down. The parcel tax wasn't going to fund the ideas of the excellence committee. If it was, it should have listed them. Yes I support public education and this administration, but I don't agree with everything either. I don't think the two Haave to go hand in hand.
I'm not sure what your expectations are. I donate, I participated in the process for the parcel tax, I am one vote. I cannot believe 6000 voters are making their decisions based on my comments; that would seem to be what is delusional.
Posted by KR: stop!, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on May 22, 2011 at 1:17 pm
"Yes I support public education and this administration, but I don't agree with everything either. I don't think the two Haave to go hand in hand. "
Stop saying that. You do not support public education. If you did, you would not have spoken so loudly against measures E and G. After all, you benefit from a parcel tax in the community where you work.
You are an older person from what you say about having grandkids, so you are basically paying very little in taxes already. Your taxes probably do not even pay for the services you do use in Pleasanton, yet you complain about 98 dollars.
Stop saying you support schools, because you do not. How obnoxious of you to suggest you can write the letter better than the superintendent. Do you have nothing better to do but criticize everything PUSD does?
I wish your Palo Alto boss could see everything you say online.
Posted by Really! Really!, a resident of the Bordeaux Estates neighborhood, on May 22, 2011 at 3:34 pm
Well, that went downhill fast!
I was truly hoping to generate ideas for educating our students, who deserve it, on the budget we have. I am, obviously, a strong proponent of Barton because it is cost-efficient, incredibly effective, and engages members of the community in the education if its children. Middle school teacher, if you do not have Barton at your school, perhaps you need to advocate to get it there. The program exists at Harvest Park and Hart because they have requested and supported to have it there. Therefore, I can only guess you are at PMS, where it is not supported by administration (according to my sources).
We can do better for our kids than bickering and finger pointing among ourselves.
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a member of the Vintage Hills Elementary School community, on May 22, 2011 at 4:10 pm
You’d have to describe your idea of an older person, because I don't pay less or use more. It is not the amount of the parcel tax I have objected to, either time. I do support schools. I didn’t write it better; I wrote it differently.
Sorry Really Really about the diversion. If I could control the PUSD budget, it would be important to know what parents valued for their students, what teachers need to meet those values, and how best to support those 26 or more individuals in every classroom (that’s at least 25 students and a teacher). Personal biases include but are not limited to professional development and additional site support from district-wide grade level teacher specialists for collaboration on best practices to appropriate resources for students that include libraries and technology. I really would take all the money in the pot and start working from each classroom out. Maybe that would only confirm what we already have.
Posted by KR: stop, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on May 22, 2011 at 5:00 pm
"You’d have to describe your idea of an older person, because I don't pay less or use more."
Really? You have been a resident of Pleasanton for a long time. So if you own a house you are paying a lot less than most people thanks to prop 13. By older I mean you have grandkids and have lived in Pleasanton a long time - maybe you started young, but it's the same concept: your property tax bill, if you own a home, is not as much as that of younger families who bought later than you, perhaps during the Bush terms.
Posted by KR: stop!, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on May 22, 2011 at 5:06 pm
Oh yeah and if the rest of us paid as little as those who like yourself enjoy the benefits but do not pay your share thanks to prop 13, you can be sure that there would not be money even for basic stuff like police and roads, which YOU use.
But you refuse to pay 98 dollars, maybe in the future, with no high earning work force, high property tax payers in place, since we are not educating our children properly, prop 13 will have to end!
Posted by KR: stop, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on May 22, 2011 at 5:20 pm
One last comment about property costs and taxes; in general for all properties: The kind of peoperty people bought in say, 1997, pays way less taxes than the same property bought later. Having paid PMI due to only a say 10 percent down, does not mean the taxes are going to services, it is a fee for not having the 20 percent down. And as for the market crash: may have had something to do with banks letting people borrow without the 20 percent down payment.
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on May 22, 2011 at 5:38 pm
Those who bought in '97 may pay less than those who bought in a few subsequent years, but then the housing bubble burst, and you could practically buy a house at '97 prices (an exaggeration to make the point). Generally, the last guy buying will pay more in taxes than someone who bought the same home before he did. Also, with the downturn in housing values, homeowners seeking value reassessments (can't blame them) means there are fewer tax dollars generated.
When I first moved here, someone told me that I just had to adjust to paying for the privilege of living in California. I said I didn't mind as long as they were paying too. I doubt there is political will to change Prop 13--as time marches on, there is likely to be a large percentage of homeowners who are happy not paying as much as those just buying in.