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Guest opinion: No school board election this November -- what does it mean?

Original post made on Sep 7, 2012

One might argue that no challengers mean that the community is mostly satisfied with the performance of its school board. There is probably some truth to this. While there may be concerns with particular decisions made by the board, or by individual votes of any single trustee, it takes a lot of passion and resources to fight and win a seat against three incumbents. But perhaps even more daunting is the leap one must make from individual advocacy to making policy.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, September 7, 2012, 12:00 AM

Comments (24)

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 7, 2012 at 9:48 am

"We must encourage others to get involved and mentor future board members, whether parent volunteers or business leaders"

The way you do this is by having the incumbents step down, voluntarily, as some have done in the past.

I was hoping to see Chris Grant step down. He, like you, Joan, only rubber stamp what the administration say. But most voters in Pleasanton do not pay attention. Many of the parents in our schools are not citizens and cannot vote.

Winning an election against an incumbent (Grant) who will probably be endorsed by the teachers' union and or other board members, is difficult and can be expensive. And in the end, you do not stand a chance unless you spend a lot of time and money campaigning (Piderit comes to mind)

If you do not see people running for the board, it is not because we are happy with your decisions and saying yes to the administratioin, it is because who has the time/money necessary to run against the incumbent Grant? (Arkin and Hintzke are two members most people want to see continue on the board)

I want to see Hintzke and Arkin remain on the board, they are the only two members that seem to care and have the courage to challenge the administration. I want to see Grant (and eventually you and Bowser) step down, but keep on wishing, right?

The danger in running for a board seat is that Hintzke or Arkin may lose, and that is not good. If Grant could step down, maybe we would see someone willing to run for the board.

Now next time, when only you and Bowser run, I think you can expect to see some challengers.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Sep 7, 2012 at 10:49 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

"But where in appointed self-perpetuating boards is the voice of the public?"

Some elected board members do not listen to the voice of the public either. Perhaps the cacophony of various staff members is causing hearing issues for those officials.

I agree with Resident, Grant should have stepped aside, and perhaps Bowser and Laursen will do so as well. We need people who respect the experts, listen to the public, and ask the tough questions . . . and always with the best interest of students at the forefront of every decision.

Even a squeaky wheel can be making a valid point--and in the case of PUSD, that has already been proven to be true.


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Posted by Sonny
a resident of Bridle Creek
on Sep 7, 2012 at 11:58 am

"The danger in running for a board seat is that Hintzke or Arkin may lose, and that is not good."

I really like the reasoning here, as any reasonable person would agree with it. It reminds me of why Romney won't release his tax returns. People might not like what they see and criticize him for how he's sheltered his money to avoid paying a fair share to his nation. That is not good.

Oh, and here's another doozer. "(Arkin and Hintzke are two members most people want to see continue on the board)" Such an easy assertion to put forward ... until the prospect of running gets in its way. See first paragraph.




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Posted by local
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 7, 2012 at 12:23 pm

I agree 100% with "Resident" above. I would not want to have voted out our two board members who do ask the good questions (Arkin and Hintzke). I was hoping the Grant would not run (he was originally appointed by a previous board, which happens 9 out of 10 times since we do not have term-limits), and kept running as incumbent. The next election should be more interesting and will get people to run since the ones who are not happy with the majority of the board members now would not want to run and displace Arkin or Hintzke.

As for Larson's comments on the problems in Sacramento, how come the Board never discusses any solutions to Sacramento but only will look at endorsing an increase of the taxes. It is time for our "local experts" to be advocates for change.

It is time for change in our Board but that will wait until 2014. The current majority will continue to rubber-stamp things and feel the solutions are only to tax more. Forget trying to go to a Board meeting to make comments or suggest some alternatives other than what the staff reports say. You will only be sneered at by the majority or staff members. Been there, done that.


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Posted by Sonny
a resident of Bridle Creek
on Sep 7, 2012 at 12:51 pm



Sometimes I get the sense that contributors like resident, local, and the other one simply aren't able to anticipate how utterly loopy they sound when read by those who might not agree with them.

So, here's the local's contribution: We don't want our guys to run because, heck, they might lose. So, let's have the other guys step down.


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Posted by Want Arkin and Hintzke to Stay
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 7, 2012 at 12:57 pm

Everyone I talked to who might run didn't want to run because they like the job Arkin and Hintzke are doing. They are the only ones that to talk to people about the issues and ask questions at the board meeting.

Other people seem rehearsed and robotic or don't say anything.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 7, 2012 at 1:38 pm

"So, here's the local's contribution: We don't want our guys to run because, heck, they might lose. So, let's have the other guys step down. "

Well, it was Laursen who asked the question, trying to appear concerned about the lack of candidates. I think, and this is just my personal opinion/speculation, that she probably wanted Hintzke or Arkin to be replaced with yet another yes person, to make it 4 instead of 3 people who refuse to say no to the administration even when those decisions hurt our students.

And remember that when Laursen and Bowser were elected, there were NO INCUMBENTS running - they both stepped down.

Chris Grant does not belong anymore. His presence serves no purpose as he simply rubber stamps everything without thinking. Next time, we might see some challengers because many people would be OK if running for a board seat means having Laursen or Bowser or both no longer be on the board.

Thank you Arkin and Hintzke for staying on the board, we need people like you. Shame on you Grant for refusing to step down, knowing that you are a zero to the left because you don't even think about what you are saying yes to.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Sep 7, 2012 at 3:54 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

You know, Sonny, this wouldn't even be a topic if Laursen, Grant, and Bowser would actually press staff a little more diligently about their recommendations. I've seen it done by other boards. It's not about being adversarial to staff, but showing critical thinking to benefit the students and families they are elected to represent. I think they are capable of taking on that role and would vote for them if they did.


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Posted by Sonny
a resident of Bridle Creek
on Sep 7, 2012 at 4:00 pm

Thank you very much for your little tidbit of 'insider' information, Little Miss Gossip.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 7, 2012 at 4:29 pm

Here is a PW story about a 4th board candidate that dropped out of the school board race:

Web Link

I can't say that I agree with him that the parcel tax is the solution, but at least he is trying to find solutions to problems he sees as a relatively new resident to Pleasanton.


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Posted by Nomad
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 7, 2012 at 7:27 pm

Joan - Thank you for writing about this important issue. I agree with you that Pleasanton would be better served if parents and residents took more active roles supporting our great schools.
There is an important player in local school board elections that you should include in your analysis. (You may have been limited in the number of words PW allows you, and that is understandable. However, nothing stops you from writing more in this section.) What are your views on the role the APT (teachers) and CSEA (classified staff) unions play in local school board elections? Do you think they have a positive or negative effect on the decision of citizens to run for office? Do their endorsement processes encourage or discourage people to run? Do you support or oppose Proposition 32 which aims to reduce the political influence of unions?
Thanks much!


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Posted by Really?
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 8, 2012 at 12:04 am

Resident you are amazingly rude, Grant has given countless hours and work to PUSD- amazing the logic to your posts. Just asking big questions at board meetings certainly does not quantify your importance on the board. In fact, those two are the only ones who have not stepped foot in our school in two years, whereas Laursen and Bowser are working along side educators even during the summer.

I suggest KR that you stop and actually listen to those who do not always share your opinion. The bias and prejudice made from assumptions from watching board meetings is really showing how really out of tune you have become with what is actually happening in the classrooms. This is an area where you clearly have no clue.


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Posted by Want Arkin and Hintzke to Stay
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 8, 2012 at 1:57 am

Asking questions at board meetings indicates to voters that those they elected actually read the materials and are an active and engaged board member.

"Really" states that Laursen and Bowser worked along side educators in the summer. Laursen and Bowser are elected board members. Voters elected them to be governing board members, not to work along side so-called union educators. We elected board members, not classroom volunteers. The governing board should work with the at-large community to oversee to overall operations of the district. The superintendent, who works for the Board, has day to day responsibility for running the district.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Sep 8, 2012 at 8:18 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Really?, I do volunteer in the classroom, and I do listen to other's opinions, but I have no expectation for opinions to change on either side. I have learned a lot from those opinions though.

Where is it you think I'm out of tune? For example, did anyone else's teacher inform them they can no longer accept direct donations? They must be given to the school (you can indicate the purpose) and they will be sent to the district to deposit and budget back to the school or classroom as indicated (I verified this with the district). My concern with the process is the district could log the donation and then supplant the school's/classroom's discretionary budgets. Sounds far fetched, but I have seen discretionary funds reduced or eliminated. I think this limits teachers' options.


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Posted by Nurse Shark
a resident of Bridle Creek
on Sep 8, 2012 at 8:58 am

@ "Sonny" & "Really?"

You're wasting your time. Little Miss Gossip is pathologically unable to perceive other people's points of view or take things in proper perspective. She clearly has an axe to grind with the school district and has been obsessively posting here for YEARS, consumed utterly with the need to belittle, nitpick, and slander everyone in education. Meanwhile, she pretends to be a school supporter, maintaining that "some of her best friends are teachers" and that she would support a parcel tax, as long as it's never actually passed. Please don't feed the Staceleen


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 8, 2012 at 9:34 am

"They must be given to the school (you can indicate the purpose) and they will be sent to the district to deposit and budget back to the school or classroom as indicated (I verified this with the district)"

That is true. This year we received a letter asking for donations for a specific class, yet we were asked to write the check to the district (not the school or the teacher or the PTA)


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 8, 2012 at 9:47 am

" Grant has given countless hours and work to PUSD"

I have watched board meetings, and in my opinion, he just agrees to everything, and that goes back to when Casey was the superintendent.

Remember when the superintendent used some of the money raised to bring back two of his buddies and not affect their pension? Rubber stamping bad ideas from the administration does not count, imo, as "countless hours of work"


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Posted by Strange
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 8, 2012 at 12:09 pm

Our classroom donations were written to my kid's school as always. I would not be happy if they went to the district. I only support my school directly these days.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Sep 8, 2012 at 12:57 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Strange, The reassurance I received is your check goes to the district only for tracking (budgeting to the school) purposes. The money does go to the school. I am working on getting more information from the district.


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Posted by Really?
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 8, 2012 at 3:03 pm

I stated that you were really showing how out of touch you have become and you come back with sharing our new accounting procedures? Seems like you also share this with another hint of conspiracy once again, PUSD must be doing something wrong. Please stop public postings that only result in starting rumors and instigating distrust where it's not warranted. As a former board member and PAUSD employee I certainly would have expected more professionalism and comprehension of these procedures.

I'm even more convinced of your lack of understanding what is going on inside classrooms, not a mention of the effects of 30:1, how kids learn best, special needs students in classrooms with 30 etc etc... just an accounting procedure.


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Posted by get your facts straight
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 8, 2012 at 5:00 pm

To respond to "Really"? Are you aware that board members are assigned to certain schools? Joan Laursen even mentioned this at their last board meeting. If you are a teacher or other employee who hasn't seen some of the board members visit your school, that is why. Get your facts straight before saying incorrect statements. Plus, board members "working alongside educators during the summer"? What are you talking about? Does the district know they are doing this? If they are actually working with teachers, that is not appropriate for a board member. I would hope the superintendent would counsel them on not overstepping their role.


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Posted by Diana
a resident of Hart Middle School
on Sep 9, 2012 at 10:13 am

Resident nailed it.
Chris Grant (nicest rubber stamp I have met) should have stepped down to open the seat. There is always a flood of candidates when there is an open seat. The incumbent has too great of an advantage, especially if they are one of the Union's favorites. It is hard to run against the Union's campaign cheating. There was great concern that one of the only two effective Board Members would be unintentionally unseated.

Joan is disingenuous in her encouragement of wanting others to become involved or she would be advocating term limits and vowing to step down at the end of a reasonable term (8 or 12 years). If Joan truly supported community involvement she would also be advocating a welcoming attitude at the board meetings rather than her harsh enforcement of the three-minute speaker rule. Was she the one who suggested using a hook for speakers who exceeded three minutes?
I also want to see Larsen and Bowser off the board and believe there will be some serious challenge in the next school board election.


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Posted by Want Arkin and Hintzke to Stay
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 10, 2012 at 1:33 am

The California "parent trigger law" allows parents to gather signatures for a petition to force change in the type of union-cozy, ineffective and apathetic bureaucracy that currently runs they school district.

The movie "Won't Back Down" is definitely on my "must see" list of movies to go to!


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Sep 10, 2012 at 11:45 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

I said I was still talking to the district about classroom donations. In a conversation with the district this morning, it was explained one can still donate directly to the classroom. Donations are collected and tracked by the school secretary and there is a process for teachers to submit requests for purchases to be made with those donations. While discretionary funds (which go to the sites, not classrooms) have been reduced (done on a per pupil basis), it is not based on donations received at the site.

While keeping track of donations is reasonable, a teacher might find it easier to manage the donations on their own without the work involved with submitting requests to the office. A smaller headache compared with everything else a teacher is required to accomplish.

Really?, in 20+ years no one has previously said you could not donate directly to the teacher. I asked if others had been told the same thing and also called the district. The answer will be clarified for staff. Better that than a teacher having no extras to fall back on for the school year.


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