I cannot attend tonight's school board meeting. However, I've read many comments for and against support of the parcel tax. Myself, I have mixed feelings about it. I am a parent of children who will be entering Kindergarten in the PUSD this fall. I'd also note that I, myself, am being laid off from my job.
For me to vote for this proposed parcel tax, and encourage others to, I would want to see the following enacted by the school board. I don't have all the answers to this situation, but if I was at tonight's meeting, this is what I would stand up and propose to the school board to consider as cost-saving ideas/suggestions that are worth seriously considering, with or without passage of the parcel tax:
1. Public Information Officer position eliminated. This is a luxury for PUSD that can no longer be justified paying a full-time salary for. PUSD can certainly survive without a PIO.
2. All vice principal positions eliminated, and any and all support (i.e., assistants, etc.) and administrative positions also eliminated. These are also luxuries that can no longer be afforded in these unprecedented, lean economic times. Maximize funding for retaining as many as those possible on the front lines, the teachers.
3. Mr. Casey's entire contract, including his salary and perks (i.e., allowances, housing subsidy, etc.) to be renegotiated by the school board. His salary alone, at $227,000 annually, should be reduced by $75,000, with all other perks, aside from insurance and pension (presumably CalPERS) benefits, including his special housing subsidy, eliminated. If he feels that he and his family can't live on $152,000, then I recommend he find employment elsewhere. If he refuses to have his contract renegotiated, pursue whatever legal action is required to either get him to the negotiating table or to fire him. The Pleasanton City Manager, Nelson Fialho, makes approx. $155,000 annually, plus benefits, and I would argue that Mr. Fialho has as much, if not more, responsibility and workload as does Mr. Casey. $75,000 saved by PUSD from paying Mr. Casey I think would fund at least 1 full-time teacher position, or 2 part-time ones. Mr. Casey's sacrifice is a small price to pay, I think.
4. No more funding of political campaigns by the California Teachers Association. I believe they contributed approximately $1.8 million to fight passage of the recently passed Proposition 8 in last November's election. While I understand that teachers elect to contribute into the CTA's fund, the CTA should either discourage those contributions entirely, or better yet, redirect them right back into the California school system as a donation from teachers/the CTA, with each school district in the state getting 100% of the portion of the money donated from teachers of each respective school district that otherwise would be spent on this political lobbying.
5. If Sunol and Castlewood residents, or any other residents/property owners (besides seniors) outside of Pleasanton are exempted from paying the parcel tax, if it passes, and they have children that would be or are attending/assigned to a PUSD school, based on PUSD rules, then they MUST agree to pay the exact same parcel tax amount assessed to all Pleasanton property owners, which would be a special fee billed to them representing the exact same amount of the parcel tax, in lieu of them paying the parcel tax through their property tax bill.
6. Owners of rental units in Pleasanton who rent to parents of children attending PUSD schools can raise those specific renters' rent to an amount equal to the approved parcel tax amount, so those parents are also, in effect, paying the same school-related tax. The property owner would then be required to pass along that additional amount to PUSD. In lieu of the property owner assessing and forwarding that amount, the renters themselves would have to agree to pay an amount equal to the parcel tax directly to PUSD. No free ride/exemption for them.
7. 100 percent of the parcel tax, if passed, to be used for retaining as many teachers as possible. The funds raised from the parcel tax cannot be spent on any other purpose. The school board to approve an exception to parcel tax funds being put into the general fund in order to allow this to happen. This would help retain Class Size Reduction, and again, maximize funding on the maintaining the front lines, the teachers.
8. No pay raises/pay freeze for anyone working in PUSD until 2011 at the earliest.
Again, I don't have all the answers, and I wish I could present these ideas in person, but by putting these out here in this forum for discussion, I hope that perhaps they'll at least be shared by others with the school board tonight for their serious consideration.