Employees and parents push schools for program restorations Schools & Kids, posted by Editor, Pleasanton Weekly Online, on May 24, 2012 at 5:21 pm
The Pleasanton School Board is looking at restoring nearly $1.3 million in programs and jobs cut made earlier this year, to the relief of parents and district employees who packed the board room to overflowing Tuesday night.
Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, May 25, 2012, 12:00 AM
Posted by Sandy Piderit, a resident of the Mohr Park neighborhood, on May 24, 2012 at 5:21 pm
I hope that negotiations with CSEA can be concluded soon. If staff also agree to furlough days in the event that the governor's tax proposal fails, then I would like to see library staff and Barton on the list of proposed restorations at the June 5 meeting.
Class size reduction definitely merits discussion as its own agenda item. It does not seem likely that the state legislature will return to the old model of providing funds specifically for smaller class sizes, so the district will likely have more flexibility to establish its own approach in the future.
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on May 24, 2012 at 5:46 pm
Of all the places you can spend millions to help students succeed, I am not convinced CSR is where it should go. Is there is evidence that is is "hugely" supported by parents? Would a parcel tax solely for CSR pass? You have four grade levels (K-3) and a few specific classes at the high school level (9-10) with CSR, that leaves the majority of 4-12 students without that benefit.
I cannot support a parcel tax if it again proposes the same vague language. However, if a parcel tax with specific language for funding usage--be that X counselors, Barton, K-3 CSR at X:1, X librarians, X custodians, etc.--was proposed, I would support it.
Posted by Sandy Piderit, a resident of the Mohr Park neighborhood, on May 25, 2012 at 10:19 am
Some of the plans for early start/late start for Kindergarten, to give teachers time with their students in groups of 15 rather than 30, may help parents to feel less of a sense of loss as small class sizes are phased out. Still, that's only for 45 minutes each day.
In the years before CSR, and even now in schools where CSR is not funded, school leaders can be much more systematic about encouraging parent volunteering in the classroom. During our one year in Cupertino, we choose to enroll our daughter in a public elementary that emphasized parent participation. Parents who choose to place their children at the Christa McAuliffe Elementary School are told up front that they are expected to volunteer 6-10 hours per week. There are opportunities for working parents to volunteer by doing work at night or on weekends, or to take days off to chaperone field trips. There are also a lot of parents in the classroom -- 2 or more during most of the school day. They get some training, and work with students in small groups so that other students can get one-on-one time with the teacher.
In other districts, rather than reducing class sizes, teachers in the early elementary grades are automatically assigned one aide per classroom, so that the adult-to-child ratio is 15 to 1, rather than 30 to 1. Aides have training that parent volunteers do not, although they do not need a teaching certification, and they are paid much less (as hourly workers, rather than salaried).
I definitely believe that PPIE could provide a mechanism for parents who support CSR to donate for that specific purpose. They have not done so in the past, choosing instead to designate funds raised from parent donations to pay for librarians and technology specialists at the elementary level. I think PPIE would receive more and larger donations from elementary parents if they also accepted donations designated for class size reduction or for additional aides in K-3 classes.
Is another parcel tax on the horizon? I don't think so, in the next 18 months. If the two tax initiatives on the November ballot fail, and there is a groundswell from parents and community members pressuring the school board to try a third time for a parcel tax, then maybe. If one or both tax initiatives pass, I would not want to see the board entertain the expense of another $250,000 parcel tax election until after they review funding projections for the next 3-5 years.
If the governor's weighted funding formula is enacted, that could have dramatic effects on PUSD's funding (potentially negative ones, because we have low numbers of English Language Learners and low income students. Given that the governor is now suggesting that the weighted funding formula should only take effect after school districts are "made whole" and all the current funding deferrals are paid back, this seems like a more long term issue for Pleasanton.
Posted by Sandy, a resident of the Mohr Park neighborhood, on May 25, 2012 at 11:16 am
TAMom, I believe those survey results were only reported to the PPIE school advisory board last Thursday, so I don't think it would be possible for the school district to have looked at that data in any depth. Some of the parents who commented on the proposed restoration items on Tuesday night mentioned results of the survey, but I haven't been able to get my hands on anything in writing.
The purpose of the survey when it was announced by PPIE was to help develop priorities for what PPIE would raise funds for next fall, in order to provide input to PUSD before PPIE transfers funds to the district next year at this time. While I agree that the data may be useful for this year, that was not the intent for which the data was gathered.
PPIE works very hard to ensure that the money it gathers and then donates to the district is used for the purposes that were described to donors when they were invited to contribute. For the funds raised between August 2011 and April of 2012, the purposes of the donations are described on the PPIE website: