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PUSD discusses borrowing, lauds fundraising

Original post made on Mar 29, 2012

Financial issues once again dominated the Pleasanton school board meeting Tuesday night, with discussions about short-term borrowing, loaning money to itself, and a contribution from the Pleasanton Partnerships In Education. After a lengthy discussion, the board voted 4 to 1 to borrow more than $292,000 from the Sycamore fund to pay for the district's facilities master plan and a new demographer's report.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, March 28, 2012, 5:18 PM

Comments (34)

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Posted by Thomas F.
a resident of Mohr Park
on Mar 29, 2012 at 3:01 pm

I want to know how much the school district loses a day to parents letting their kids stay home when they are not sick, or lets them take a day off to go skiing, or to go to Disneyland, etc. etc. Being sick is the only "excused" absence allowed. Do these parents that complain about all the cuts going on in the district know that when you let your kid miss school the school does not get their federal money that day? The parents that do this should pay the district the amount of money per day the district is out. Something like $50/day.


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Posted by Birthday "DitchSchool" Day
a resident of Pleasanton Village
on Mar 29, 2012 at 3:27 pm

I want to know why the district has a birthday holiday where some staff are not required to work on their birthday. Maybe all kids should ditch school on their birthdays too.

....also when a teacher or administrator or staff is out of the office for any reason, they should pay the district the equivalent of the wages needed to bring a substitute teacher or substitute staff. Something like $500/day.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Mar 29, 2012 at 3:44 pm

Thank you to Bowser for the no vote; a big disappointment that Arkin and Hintzke voted yes. And shame on McGovern for supporting use of this fund; as a former board member, she knows very well what the intentions were for this fund. Was the change of heart based on city needs rather than students and teachers? How did this pass with the superintendent cautioning that repayment is iffy?


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Posted by thank you
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 29, 2012 at 4:39 pm

Thank you to the 4 board members who voted that this facilties study not to be paid for out of the general fund. There is no way it should have been taken from there when millions of dollars are being cut from the classrooms.


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Posted by Jill
a resident of Birdland
on Mar 29, 2012 at 5:11 pm

To "Thomas F", there is no such thing as an excused absence anymore. If you miss a day or school whether you are sick or not, the district is not paid.

To "Birthday "DitchSchool" Day", you are absolutely correct. If staff can take off their birthday, it sends the message that students can take day off also. Staff gets the most liberal vacation schedule of any profession (summer, spring break, winder break, etc.). They do not need their birthday off and they should not be missing school days unless they are sick. I agree that if they are not sick and miss a day, they should minimally have their pay docked by the amount of money to replace them for that day. They all know the schedule when they get into this profession. It has less flexibility that other jobs but a SIGNIFICANT amount of more days off than any other job.


Kathleen, I feel the board did the right thing here with the Sycamore Fund. The reason; developers fees can be used to pay this back. If it were paid for by the general fund, there is no way in the future to use developer fees to repay that. This is a more appropriate use of the Sycamore Fund than to pay for shortage in meals and payments to the teacher's retirement system that they have done. However we are no longer a district that has development pay its own way, like we used to. This board and administration is looking forward to another Bond election to get money from current residents to pay for the impacts of new development. That is essentially what they told the city when the City was rezoning for new apartments. They said they can handle the extra number of students without an impact, presumably because they expect the current residents to pay for it.


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Posted by Birthday "DitchSchool" Day
a resident of Pleasanton Village
on Mar 29, 2012 at 6:02 pm

Developer fees from new development are supposed to pay for new schools.

Taxing existing residents via bond measures has been used to modernize existing facilities, never to add classrooms or to build new schools.

No bond measure will ever pass in Pleasanton to fund new schools.

Development should pay for itself.

There has been no new school built since 1997. Since that time, hundreds of houses have been built for the last 15 years, but with no new schools. This includes many Ruby Hills houses, the entire Vineyard Avenue corridor, KB Homes and Greenbriar and Carlton Oaks and Bridle Creek in South Pleasanton and the Busch Property and Stoneridge Square and Stoneridge Place in East Pleasanton, and many developments within Hacienda Business Park such as Avila and the housing development behind that.

Since no school has been opened since 1997, what did PUSD do with the millions and millions of dollars from 15 years of developer fees? Was it embezzled? Why did it disappear?


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Mar 29, 2012 at 7:46 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

It's possible that some of the development money went towards adding temporary classrooms to overcrowd the current schools rather than build a new school. There's smaller additional overhead when scaling schools up versus opening new schools which translates into a larger pot of money left over for other things.


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Posted by xyz
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 29, 2012 at 7:50 pm

"Birthday "DitchSchool" Day",

How do you know the funds weren't used properly? Did you steal the money yourself?

What is it with Pleasanton anyway? Why is there this small group of people who just want to trash our school district? It definitely hurts morale. Other nearby districts, such as San Ramon/Danville, have their share of financial issues, but those communities support their schools. We are already losing top teachers to other districts and de-moralizing the ones who stay. What you people are doing is destructive.


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Posted by Birthday "DitchSchool" Day
a resident of Pleasanton Village
on Mar 29, 2012 at 8:15 pm

San Ramon/Danville management of schools has not used the press to have public temper tantrums attacking the community, its elected leaders, its students, the administrations of both cities, and its developers, and had public wars of words with the communities in which it operates.

Let's compare.

San Ramon has had contentious issues with the developers that have developed Dougherty Valley, but managed through successful litigation to actually get schools built and opened.

San Ramon and Danville residents have not had 15 years of drama played out with the school district using the press to air their temper tantrums. [e.g., Pleasanton's superintendent had a public meltdown with a Pleasanton based developer who happened to be married to the then city manager, then with the board chiming in like a pack of mad dogs out for the kill, had a very public war or words via the press of mudslinging with this developer. Then let's talk about the Pleasanton school board and their many past and present wars with the Pleasanton city council. A wonderful example has been set by such idiotic statements such as this school board member who stated to a city council member who questioned if the amended cooperative developer fee agreement would hold up in court (it didn't, the city councilmember was correct):

[SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER]: To the best of my knowledge, [CITY COUNCILMEMBER] is not an attorney," he said. "I don't believe she has a graduate degree, a doctorate in school administration or finance, but somehow she thinks she's smarter than us." "

But I digress. Back to the issue.

Since no school has been opened since 1997, what did PUSD do with the millions and millions of dollars from 15 years of developer fees?

If 2000 houses have been built with 3000 - 4000 sq feet being the average size, that is 6,000,000 sq feet to 8,000,000 sq feet of residential housing square footage. At $ 6-7 per square foot, there should be a minimum of $36,000,000 to $56,000,000 in the developer fee account, not counting all of the commercial development (Kaiser, Peoplesoft/Oracle, Applied Biosystems, etc.)

That is enough money to build 3 - 5 fancy elementary schools.

PUSD now say the particular developer fee account is "in distress" which sounds like there is no money in it.

Where did $36 to $56 million dollars go that was supposed to be in the developer fee account?


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Posted by P-town Mom and Teacher
a resident of Birdland
on Mar 29, 2012 at 8:15 pm

Teachers do not get their birthdays off. This is a part of the classified contract. Don't know if it is optional or part of the contract. Students would be oblivious to the absence in either case.

When I worked in the business world, no one covered my absences, whether one day or six weeks of maternity. In the teacher world, there has to be a substitute to cover the day's work. No way should the teacher have to pay for that coverage.

Look to the money, think about the new housing approved, and stop throwing teachers under the bus. The school board did not approve the new housing but will have to accommodate the influx of students. There will need to be qualified teachers and safe buildings.


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Posted by Diana
a resident of Hart Middle School
on Mar 29, 2012 at 8:43 pm

The district should not spend the money for a facilities master plan from any fund.
Sycamore fund is a Capital fund because it was from the sale of land that the State paid for. If the money is used for non Capital use the State should assess a large penalty. The tech fund was only the interest from the original $7m because the interest could be syphoned off.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Mar 29, 2012 at 9:53 pm

Jill, we disagree. The Sycamore fund was set for a specific purpose with a required 4/5 vote to block the very nonsense that has occurred since Casey started borrowing from it at exactly the same time he was giving unsustainable raises to staff. Raises he benefitted from for his retirement. There is already over $2M in borrowing with little hope of repayment, as noted by Ms. Armahdi. Meanwhile, technology marches on leaving students and teachers here in the dust. No borrowing from this fund is appropriate. By the way, does anyone know, by school, where the funds have been spent on technology? I'm going to bet that is not at every school nor in the same amount.


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Posted by xyz
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 29, 2012 at 10:19 pm

" Birthday "DitchSchool" Day"

I probably shouldn't have expected more, but you're talking about the actions of a superintendent who is no longer at PUSD. Furthermore, I don't think your comparison with San Ramon school district is accurate. There have been financial issues in that district quite comparable to those in our own. The difference is that they mostly support their schools. All you seem to be interested in doing is tearing them down. I moved my family to Pleasanton years ago in large part because of the reputation of the schools. Your posting here is doing more harm than good.


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Posted by Birthday "DitchSchool" Day
a resident of Pleasanton Village
on Mar 29, 2012 at 10:47 pm

It might be different if the school officials stopped spending their time muzzling their school boards and other officials in the community and being non-responsive and evasive to the press/media and obsessing about parcel taxes and actually started managing the school district staff and operations.

Oh, and the legacy of the former superintendent and the former former superintendent and the continued actions of the current superintendent (who has never once let go any of the staff who worked for the former superintendent) has profound ramifications.

They who sow the wind shall reap the whirlwind.


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Posted by lazzboy
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 29, 2012 at 11:04 pm

"San Ramon/Danville management of schools has not used the press to have public temper tantrums attacking the community, its elected leaders, its students, the administrations of both cities, and its developers, and had public wars of words with the communities in which it operates."

Yes, because they have had a parcel tax in place and restored for over a decade. Plus, their annual "donations" are substanially higher than that of Pleasanton. (some schools in the SRUSD request well over $1000 per year "donation")


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Posted by lazzboy
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 29, 2012 at 11:07 pm

"It might be different if the school officials stopped spending their time muzzling their school boards and other officials in the community and being non-responsive and evasive to the press/media and obsessing about parcel taxes and actually started managing the school district staff and operations."

Gee, sounds like a very vague accusation with no real facts behind it. How about presenting at least 1 real fact in any of your posts??? At least in some of them you tell half truths...that's a start.


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Posted by xyz
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 29, 2012 at 11:15 pm

"Birthday "DitchSchool" Day",

Please stop and think about what you post hear. All you seem interested in doing is tearing down the school district, without any regard to those in the community who have children attending our schools. When good teachers leave, students are harmed. When morale declines, students are harmed. We still have a great school district. Let's try to do what other great school districts do and work with our schools and not against them.


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Posted by Birthday "DitchSchool" Day
a resident of Pleasanton Village
on Mar 29, 2012 at 11:18 pm

Chicken and egg argument. Pleasanton school district chiefs' tantrums and holy wars and meltdowns have been going on for 20 years, far before any of their failed parcel tax attempts. And before that, it was city-wide teacher strikes that shut down the schools off and on for months, that had to be resolved by Ken Mercer, the then mayor. [Pleasanton schools can't even solve their own strike issues and have to drag into other govt entities.]

Let's break it down --

Strikes + Tantrums + Mismanagment + Holy Wars + No Accountability =
Long History of No Trust

Long History of No Trust = No Parcel Tax

BTW-Pleasanton receives more than 10% more money than SRVUSD per pupil from the State, but Pleasanton teachers are paid 25% more than San Ramon teachers.


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Posted by lazzboy
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 29, 2012 at 11:23 pm

"BTW-Pleasanton receives more than 10% more money than SRVUSD per pupil from the State, but Pleasanton teachers are paid 25% more than San Ramon teachers."

BTW: SRVUSD teachers have their health care benefits paid for while PUSD teachers must pay for theirs to the tune of $11000+ per year. You are free to argue that this is what they negotiated, but then you are not free to argue comparable salaries based just on pay schedule. You must actually include facts in your arguement which you are seem to be short on in your posts.


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Posted by Birthday "DitchSchool" Day
a resident of Pleasanton Village
on Mar 29, 2012 at 11:38 pm

PUSD teachers are not forced to pay for their benefits such as medical. Most PUSD teachers are covered by benefits of a spouse. A low percentage of PUSD teachers purchase the benefits plan which are mainly confined to single person households. The remainder get do not.

Salaries are here for all PUSD and SRVUSD employees Web Link.

Even with the MDV component Medical Vision Dental contribution, PUSD is still higher.

You can see the base pay, other/OT pay, employer contribution to pension and other misc costs for each and every Pleasanton Unified employee and San Ramon Valley Unified employee.


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Posted by lazzboy
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 29, 2012 at 11:47 pm

So Birthday, please present the numbers that show PUSD teachers are paid 25% higher.


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Posted by lazzboy
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 29, 2012 at 11:58 pm

Sorry "birthday," I am probably on the dumb end, but I cant' see on that web link where you can get aggregate data of the teachers in PUSD and the teachers in SRVUSD to compare. Could you run the searches and point me to the results? I truly am interested, but I can only find individuals listed and such and can't really find aggregate results (and I am not about to try to cut and paste that stuff into excel as you can well imagine)


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Posted by Birthday "DitchSchool" Day
a resident of Pleasanton Village
on Mar 29, 2012 at 11:58 pm

You can download the data yourself since it is publicly available at the link provided. But salaries are now at least $4.5 million more because of automatic 'step' raises, because that data is two years old. Have at it, Lazz.

So Lazzboy, please present the numbers that show the spending of that $36 to $56 million dollars collected in the last 15 years went that was supposed to be in the developer fee account?

Or can you point out 3-5 schools that might have been built with that money and opened in 15 years that I don't know about. Just point out the location on Google Maps. Maybe they are cloaked. { Romulans? }


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Posted by lazzboy
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 30, 2012 at 12:08 am

Birthday - seem a bit defensive of something? All I asked was for you to support your statement of fact with actual evidence. I know nothing of other schools or the last 15 years which youa re now intent on discussing. You made a simple statement of fact that PUSD teachers are paid 25% more than SRVUSD teachers and yet when challenged your only argument is "you go look it up" or you change the subject to talk about other money and new schools.

It is very simple, you can either prove (by simply typing in what the results of your search from the link you provided) your 25% claim or not. This has nothing to do with any other topic or spending or financing.

"You can download the data yourself since it is publicly available at the link provided." - this is what I am having problems with. I can not find the spot on the website to easily download the teacher data. I figured since you already had done that, that perhaps you could help me out.


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Posted by lazzboy
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 30, 2012 at 12:10 am

It is a bit funny how posters get bogged down when asked for facts.


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Posted by Birthday "DitchSchool" Day
a resident of Pleasanton Village
on Mar 30, 2012 at 12:24 am

No, it is funny how posters seem to not be able to do math themselves and ask others to do it. Download it. Add it. Compare. There is this thing called addition, subtraction and multiplication and division. Don't ask me to to define those for you too, L.

See in those 3 minutes between your last two posts, you could have started your actual analysis of the data.

When I did the analysis, Pleasanton's salaries were 26.3101799% more than San Ramon's.

Have fun Lazz. And is Lazzboy a nickname of Lazyboy? Get out of the recliner and do the analysis, L.


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Posted by xyz
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 30, 2012 at 8:37 am

Should have said "here" not "hear". Sorry for the incorrect usage. Ididn't go to school in PUSD ;-).


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Posted by Diana
a resident of Hart Middle School
on Mar 30, 2012 at 8:46 am

Kathleen by state law the Sycamore Fund is on the books as a capital fund and subject to a fine by the State when used for noncapital uses. I agree that it should not be used the way that it has been used. Only the interest was eligible to be used for technology and even that was sketchy. Sandra and Luz have both cautioned that if the loans are not repaid the State can fine the district. The money from the sale of land is intended to be used to purchase other land or build new facilities, because the State gave the money for capital use only.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Mar 30, 2012 at 8:48 am

Stacey is a registered user.

xyz,

You're absolutely wrong that this community doesn't support its schools. Support doesn't always mean money. Your statement is offensive to the many parent volunteers who work every day ensuring that teachers are well-supported in the classroom.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Mar 30, 2012 at 8:56 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Diana,

As I understand from when I last looked into it, the interest earned on the principle investment (from sale of property) can be used for any purpose. While the district can't use the principle for non-capital uses, it can legally borrow principle for non-capital uses as long as it pays itself back within a certain time period. The state laws on the matter dictate the time period. I believe you are right that there is a penalty if they don't pay themselves back.

Seems like the facilities master plan expenditure cannot be considered a capital expense.

$7MM would have been a nice nest egg to put forward towards the construction of a badly needed new elementary school.


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Posted by Jill
a resident of Birdland
on Mar 30, 2012 at 9:22 am

"Birthday "DitchSchool" Day" is correct that PUSD receives significantly more money from the State per student than San Ramon. The EdData database from the state, which is online, spells that out. Even when you add in the Parcel Tax of San Ramon, it just covers the difference between that PUSD receives from the State and San Ramon.

I believe the facilities master plan can be paid for with capital dollars and believe it has been done that way in the past. The facilities master plan's whole purpose is to define the capital dollars and projects needed.

While some blame the past super for these problems, it has not stopped here and has probably gotten worse with the new super. If you watched the workshop on debt, staff could not answer any of the public questions on specifically where the money was spent (how much on each project). I don't know if the current super is clueless on this or just trying to hide things.

If you think things are bad now, it is going to be a lot worse in Pleasanton because our district has not done anything to prepare for the new development (or even the recently completed development). They just spent the millions of dollars they collected in developer fees and now have no money, lots of debt, and many more students coming into the district. In the past, our bonds have paid for renovations and new development paid its own way. Now the district will be coming after the current residents for more bonds to pay for new development. Their lack of planning will cost us all.


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Posted by xyz
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 30, 2012 at 10:33 am

Stacey,

There is no reason to take offense. I am one of those parent volunteers myself, and I'm not offended by such statements. Financial support is lacking in this community in a way that it is not in others, like San Ramon. I think an important factor in that is the very negative and inaccurate portrayal of our district that you see in forums like this, from what appear to be a small number of people. Posters like the above seem only interested in tearing the district down and spreading uncertainty and doubt. They are not supporting the chools.


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Posted by Jill
a resident of Birdland
on Mar 30, 2012 at 11:41 am

I am one of those people who has donated a lot of time and money to the district. My concerns now are that the current administration is destroying the great district we had, and then trying to cover it up. The public cannot get answers to straightforward questions on our finances and neither can the two board members who ask the questions. I believe we could get a lot of donations from families if the donations went to the schools and not the district office, following the model that San Ramon has. Many in the community trust the district office as much as we trust the bureaucrats in Sacramento.


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Posted by Parent and Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 1, 2012 at 1:09 am

"I want to know how much the school district loses a day to parents letting their kids stay home when they are not sick,"

Not as much as when a teacher calls in (for no good reason) and the district has to pay for a substitute, which happens very often.


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