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Pleasanton school board appropriates $2.4 million to add sections, maintain class size

Original post made on Jun 6, 2011

The Pleasanton school board voted Friday evening to undo $2.4 million of the cuts it made earlier this year after better-than-expected budget numbers from Gov. Jerry Brown's May budget revision.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, June 6, 2011, 7:35 AM

Comments (30)

Posted by Mary, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 6, 2011 at 9:59 am

So please remember this in (x) months when the next cash grab/parcel tax attempt is shoved at you. They will keep yelling FIRE, but the only thing that is actually burning is their desire to maintain the generous pay and raise schedule that is currently in place.


Posted by More is not enough, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 6, 2011 at 10:48 am

Yes, we want to make the middle class hurt like they've never hurt before. Cut their salaries. Cut their pensions. Cut their benefits. Off with their heads! Teachers are so overrated compared with incompetent tech consultants, widget salesmen and bankers. They are soooooo unsustainable as they pontinfacate as unfunded liabilities in front of students who have union doctrine shoved down their throats. I'll tell you one thing. A really really really big wave is coming.
p.s. Preserve the Bush tax cuts for the rich.


Posted by Correction, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 6, 2011 at 10:50 am

Laursen and Bowser voted NO on bringing these programs back. The article only says Bowser voted NO. It was also Laursen.

Laursen voted NO too.


Posted by Concerned mom, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 6, 2011 at 10:58 am

One of the moms from our group just called both the district office and the high school. This is what she found out:

The 7 period is NOT for every student. Only Music students and failing students will be allowed to have the 7 period option, and it is based on space availability.

I for once agree with Bowser and Laursen (not my favorite people, btw) because it is UNFAIR.

Unless PUSD can provide a 7 period to EVERY student who wants it, then it should not be given at all. Giving priority to some students is not equitable.

Even among failing students: how do you select the one that gets the 7 period and the ones who gets told no?

Reinstate the 7 period ONLY if you can be fair about it and make it accessible to EVERY student. Otherwise, do not even go there. There are equality issues here.


Posted by Never Again, a resident of Country Fair
on Jun 6, 2011 at 11:08 am

Four people voted for Measure E in my household, but after this hoodwinkery and fraud never again. What a bunch of cunniving union thugs. I feel so used and abused. I wish I had never voted.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jun 6, 2011 at 12:40 pm

I've been watching the discussions from the sidelines. For those who believe another attempt at a parcel tax will garner the last few percentage points to win, I believe comments like Never Again's are closer to what will happen. That, and those who opposed the last two measures could launch a formal campaign, at least without a new approach to include specific language.

To be fair, the uncertainty at the state level is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, the news looks pretty good at the moment; on the other, Bowser and Laursen voted prudently. Until Governor Brown has signed a budget – and that could be months away given recent history – there is no money to throw at programs.

I agree with the poster on another thread who noted all that has happened is the community is split again in a scramble pitting elementary against high school and middle schools stuck, of course, in the middle.

I continue to believe a parcel tax, if attempted, has to fund something(s) directly. I wouldn't personally argue in favor of CSR, but if there is consensus K-12 for that program over others, so be it. The pitfalls for CSR, though, are many. If the community funds kindergarten through third grades, and ninth and tenth grade English and math, but the state cuts its support, you will have a pool of community money that can't cover the entire expense. If the state continues support and to be flexible with varying degrees of penalties for class sizes over 20:1, what if the flex disappears or the fines change? And middle schools get no assistance.

It seems to me if you find the 'people' to fund, the risks then are only associated with the life of the parcel tax. And it doesn't have to be necessarily the same support for the same concern at every level. Maybe it's library and tech time at all levels, but maybe it's counselors for high schools; after school assistance at the middle school; and reading specialists at the elementary. Somehow, every level has to get some piece of the 'stable' funding. Choosing to support the valued extras is clear; absent a parcel tax or an increase in funding from the state, everyone knows what is at stake for being cut. It also carves out other specific areas for CORE and PIE to do fundraising. That leaves core state and federal funding to support the most important part of school, the classrooms. Core money for core program; no roller coaster ride every time the state sneezes. And the community will have time to decide what 'extras' are supportable necessities.


Posted by Holly Sanders, a resident of Stoneridge
on Jun 6, 2011 at 1:26 pm

The state has cut $19.4 million from Pleasanton schools alone these last few years, with no end in sight. That is a drastic reduction in funding for any school district. While the school board has managed to make it work for one year as the state overestimated the budget deficit, we are still in great need of some continuous streams of revenue due to the instability of our state funding. A parcel tax and a more robust education foundation are two options that can help us out, and that my family would support.


Posted by Never Again, a resident of Country Fair
on Jun 6, 2011 at 1:38 pm


It is eddifying to be standing should to shoulder with the great Kathleen Reugsegger. As she states,

"no roller coaster ride every time the state sneezes."

Its like giving blood. No one should give blood unless they know exactly who its going to. Exact language is needed, otherwise your blood might go to save an illegal immigrant instead of a worthy U.S. citizen. That's why I don't give blood any more. Its the principle of the matter. Vague language? Well then: no can support.

How can I trust some red cross administrator or field doctor to make a rational choice with my blood? Its my blood, and I want to determine it only goes where I want it to. That's why I don't give blood anymore.

I thank KR for the reasoning on this matter. Had I followed her logic on Meaure E, my household never ever would have voted for the measure. Sigh. What a disorderly, vaguely worded world we live in!
Achoo!


Posted by concerned parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 6, 2011 at 1:49 pm

"For those who believe another attempt at a parcel tax will garner the last few percentage points to win, I believe comments like Never Again's are closer to what will happen."

The coming change demographics of Pleasanton over the next several years will easily be enough to tilt the vote in favor of the next parcel tax.

The posting from "Never Again" was sarcastic. There aren't many voters who actually think like that.


Posted by Lug, a resident of Stoneridge
on Jun 6, 2011 at 2:02 pm

I think what we are seeing here is a serious breakdown of trust in the board and the PUSD senior administrators. Plus a breakdown of trust within the community itself. I have watched this developing over a long time. Let me attempt to pick a few of the themes that we are seeing:

(1) The district does secret deals with the unions, and the community is an afterthought
(2) The community is there just to provide money, but definitely not input or questions about how things are being run
(3) The administrators are "educators" and therefore know it all
(4) The board members take their orders from the union bosses
(5) The fiscal management is like Congress with spend spend spend
(6) Elementary, Middle, and High school parents have become gladiators against each other to grab some prize money
(7) The district administrators are conniving sneaks who sabotage any threats bloated salaries and pensions
(8) Marxist principles are contaminating the classroom and sponsored by union bosses
(9) An ideological fixation about having to get a parcel tax passed
(10) The community is greedy/selfish/rightwing/fascists

Looks like a war zone to me. Let me conclude by noting that if this was the feedback from customers to a private enterprise corporation, there would be serious action taken by the CEO! Hope the folks down on Bernal Avenue are taking notice and plan some improvements sooner rather than later. And our board could really help by quit pretending to be the creator's gift to education and just start involving the community more in planning and decisions.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jun 6, 2011 at 2:07 pm

CP, I guess I failed with NA, but others have expressed dismay about the last vote. Apologies to NA. I still think attaching the money to specific positions is an answer. I am surprised students suddenly have time to wait for the demographics to change though.


Posted by Concerned mom, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 6, 2011 at 4:20 pm

Kathleen:

How do you feel about the district adding 7 period only for some students? They are, according to the article, allocating money for this, which means other stuff that benefits ALL students does not get funded.

Your thoughts?


Posted by Blossom, a resident of Stoneridge Orchards
on Jun 6, 2011 at 5:33 pm

Lug from the Stonehead community says it all.

There is such a definite distrust throughout the community with Marxist union thug teachers and their puppet administrators being in bed with one another and the pathetic bought-off politicians are lying through their teeth. The incompetent commies can't find it in their hearts to trust us. Gawd, what is the world coming to?

I'll tell ya one thing, Enron wouldn't have permitted such distrust.


Posted by Once More? Not!, a resident of Birdland
on Jun 6, 2011 at 5:40 pm

In the past when I've read Kathleen Reugsegger's self-indulgent posts I've upchucked my breakfast all over the keyboard.

But this point about refusing to give blood, even from the bloodless, unless the blood-letter can have in writing exactly where the blood is going, has me thinking. Why should we give doctors and nurses and administrators say over how our blood is used. Without us, there wouldn't be any blood. Would they allow that in the private sector? What's so special about unionized teachers and so-called educated administrators that gives them the right to think they know more about what to do with my tax dollar than I do?


Posted by long time parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 6, 2011 at 5:54 pm

While the posts here have gone way off topic, on the issue of doing another parcel tax, it reminds me of this quote from Albert Einstein:

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

The interesting thing is there is only one real difference between the parcel tax two years ago and this year. That was the amount of the tax. The district attempted to pass the same measure with a smaller amount, hoping that enough people who voted against the tax the first time would think that throwing $98 per year away is not much, they can do it. We did not pick up much votes by lowering the tax, despite hiring a fancy campaign consulting firm and doing a special, single-issue mail-in election.

If the tax was not lowered, we probably would have receive less votes. That means there is even less trust of the district than two years ago.




Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jun 6, 2011 at 5:58 pm

I can certainly appreciate that reinstating services to at-risk high school students is beneficial and defensible. While there is a priority reinstatement list in the packet, I cannot tell who set the priorities for reinstatement or what the feedback was from the parent community. Board meetings are a difficult place to determine what the majority of parents want anyway, because those who are vocal attend and appear to be speaking for the majority.

From the district's board materials it shows $2.1 million went to elementary schools and $200,000 was somehow split among the five middle/high schools (evenly?). Then there was a vote of 3-2 to add $50,000 (each?) at the high schools. (I don't know how the discussions went as I am having difficulty fast forwarding to those parts of the meeting tape.)

What I can say is there clearly is an imbalance in spending among the schools. There are three levels of education (K-5, 6-8, 9-12), or thirteen grade levels, or fourteen schools. Lots of ways to consider how to share the perceived increased funding.

I've already said that CSR is too expensive, and it is money that could have had a greater impact elsewhere in the broader program. For me the $400,000 for reading and Barton specialists is money well spent, counselors as well. That leaves $1.8 million to share. At $17,000 a section, you could have given each high school $100,000; given middle schools $200,000 ($66,000 each); and still have K-3 CSR. That means I would have moved the P.E. money elsewhere. It's not that I don't value physical ed, but it's clear elementary schools still get the lion's share of the pot without PE. And while one wise man pointed out that fair is a four letter word, this at least attempts equity. To be clear, these are my thoughts. I'm not in the hot seat in the board room; not in the room when negotiations occur; don't know how the principals would view this proposal.


Posted by Albert, a resident of another community
on Jun 6, 2011 at 6:06 pm

"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

I wonder if this is linked to how 'long time parent' seems to have posted this identical message no less than 35 times over the past 8 weeks?


Posted by Sam, a resident of Oak Hill
on Jun 6, 2011 at 6:31 pm

"long time parent" said:"If the tax was not lowered, we probably would have receive less votes. That means there is even less trust of the district than two years ago."

Your attempt to interpret the Measure E vote as an indication that there is "even less trust" then two years ago is a bit silly. Nowhere in your post did you acknowledge the simple fact that 65% of voters were in favor of Measure E. You can argue all you want about why you personally voted "no" on the measure, but you have no basis for claiming that your views about "trust" and the district reflect the views of the majority of Pleasanton voters.


Posted by Yet Another Teacher, a resident of Hart Middle School
on Jun 6, 2011 at 7:44 pm

Question for Kathleen Ruegsegger:

Is the very large parcel tax in Palo Alto USD (where you are an employee) designated for specific items?

No--not even your salary (which it helps pay).

Why? Because it's not financially wise to commit money to only one program or set of programs, and to write that commitment in stone. That's what Ms. Ruegsegger is advocating (not in the community that pays salary, only the one where she pays taxes).

Here's a scenario for you: A parcel tax passes and PUSD commits millions of dollars to specific programs, which then prove to be unproductive. Ordinarily, a district would have the flexibility to shift that money into more productive programs, but under Ruegsegger's restrictions, it'd have to keep throwing good money after bad.

Notice that Ms. Ruegsegger does not advocate for any of this in Palo Alto. Apparently, the status quo there--a flexible, large parcel tax in a wealthy community with the same per capita income as Pleasanton--suits her just fine.

But, as so many are fond of pointing out, this here town ain't Palo Alto.

And yeah, I know Ruegsegger will now pretend to be puzzled why I question her inconsistent positions. The Kathleen Ruegsegger who exists in Palo Alto dwells in a parallel universe and has no relation to the Kathleen Ruegsegger who exists in the Pleasanton universe.

And yeah, I also know people will say if I love Palo Alto schools so much, why don't I go work there?

I happen to like Pleasanton students and schools, but thanks for the nice thoughts.


Posted by Close Reader, a resident of Birdland
on Jun 6, 2011 at 7:52 pm

Yet Another Teacher

sounds just like all the other whiney teachers we have in P-town. Get WITH it! If you don't trust us to make good decisions for you and your school, go to Palo Alto or somewhere else. Stop exploiting us taxpayers with you're high salaries. Shouldn't you be preparing lessons? Your post just shows how lazy you are.


Posted by Get Educated, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 6, 2011 at 8:11 pm

Kathleen, to continue the fairness discussion- when you mention reinstating funds equally, shouldn't we be mentioning the equality of where the funds were cut from to begin with? And to be accurate, we need to go back over the last three years of cuts and what came from which grade level.

Fairness would be looking at the total cuts each level has endured, and reinstating those that have endured the cuts first. This seems like your kind of equations- if X was cut from elementary, and X from middle etc.....Why would we be adding funding to grade levels they didn't experience the cuts?


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jun 6, 2011 at 8:28 pm

YAT, as an employee of PAUSD, I didn't have a voice in how their parcel tax is spent. Those I worked with do, however, know exactly my stance on parcel taxes. Therefore, the only place where I pay taxes and can vote is still Pleasanton. But think of it in a new way, I brought Palo Alto money here. I don't change who i am because of my location. BTW, I retired.

From what I have read and the people I have talked to, you don't probably want, say, high schools without counselors. So I do believe there are absolutes that can be supported for at least a period of four years.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jun 6, 2011 at 8:37 pm

Get Educated, looking at where the cuts were from matters. But I think reinstating should be holistic--it may be that one thing that was cut isn't as important as something else on the cut list. I wouldn't favor, for example, restoring 20:1 in K-3 and not having enough counselors or APs at the middle and high schools.


Posted by Pete, a resident of Downtown
on Jun 6, 2011 at 8:44 pm

"What a bunch of cunniving union thugs. I feel so used and abused. I wish I had never voted." First of all, it's "conniving."

Second, I don't believe you. You cannot be abused. If you really feel that way, you must be a Republican...another name for victim.


Posted by concerned parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 6, 2011 at 9:37 pm

"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

Einstein never said that. Why do people keep attributing that to Einstein?


Posted by Quantity Counts, a resident of Birdland
on Jun 6, 2011 at 9:46 pm

Find out what the parents' household income is for each respective school. Schools with highest parental incomes should get the biggest piece of the pie. Because its only fair that people who work hard at market value get more support for their kids. After all, they pay higher taxes. Let the losers' kids gnaw on the hind end; maybe that might light a fire under the butts of their parents. Maybe not. Probably not. Losers don't get fired up. Why should we aid and abet their loser kids? As Thrasymachus always said: Justice is that which belongs to the stronger.


Posted by Back to Reality, a resident of Amador Estates
on Jun 6, 2011 at 9:50 pm

Dear Concerned Parent,

You don't really think 'Long Time Parent' has a clue as to anything Einstein wrote on do you?


Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 6, 2011 at 10:50 pm

So you're retired, Kathleen? Enjoying your fat pension, eh?


Posted by disgusted, a resident of Birdland
on Jun 7, 2011 at 6:27 am

You people are mean and petty, for the most part. I am shocked by the bitterness and sarcasm that you so easily spew at your neighbors. No wonder everything is so f* ed up! Try some kindness folks, it goes a long way.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jun 7, 2011 at 6:29 am

Anonymous, I had 16 years of service. My pension won't come anywhere near the $100,000 list. Other events made it possible.


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