http://pleasantonweekly.com/square/print/2009/02/25/an-idea-for-a-different-use-of-parcel-taxes


Town Square

An Idea for a Different Use of Parcel Taxes

Original post made by Disagree w/B, Another Pleasanton neighborhood, on Feb 25, 2009

I posted this on another thread, but it was suggested I try this.

I have had this thought knocking around of how to look at a parcel tax—no more than five years, maybe three is better—strictly for rewarding excellence in teaching and school site administration. It's difficult because I don't think you'd want to tie it to test scores. A teacher can have an exceptional class one year and a less exceptional another year, but s/he is still a good teacher.

I'm skeptical enough that it would require having an oversight committee, but I don't think it should include district or union leadership (okay, maybe the head of human resources and the business person). It could be for annual one-time merit pay or for support of a school/classroom idea/enhancement. The idea would be to let great ideas have a chance to flow, to have teachers work together at a grade or department level, to have schools work together, to allow for innovation. Good old fashioned brainstorming or a way to foster excitement in the classroom—-for students and teachers.

The committee can be inclusive of parents, teachers, principals, and/or other experts from outside the PUSD community—-former superintendents or board members, retired teachers or principals—-I'm open.

The language to the community would be specific enough: To establish a committee for the review of meritorious awards to teachers and principals for excellence in the classroom and/or to support innovative programs at the site level. (Needs work, thinking on my fingers here.) It cannot be used to supplant general fund programs (i.e., it cannot pay for K-3 CSR costs not covered by the state; $2 million).

My idea, in a nutshell, is to find a way to reward those going above and beyond in closest proximity to students and to give teachers and principals support from the community that will inspire them and, in turn, our children.

There are a lot of leaders in this community who certainly could have other, better ideas. I thought maybe a forum for what a parcel tax COULD do might make for a good discussion.

Comments

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Posted by k
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 25, 2009 at 4:24 pm

Although your idea has merit it will never happen.
The unions won't allow that kind of oversight.
A large part of the problem isn't just the PUSD,
but the unions who refuse to operate the way
a good business operates.

Once a teacher is tenured they get the automatic
raises and benefits. It doesn't matter about performance.
Although there a many many good teachers
there are many who would and should be terminated.

If you wonder about this just look at other industries
Who have unions is: steel, auto, phone company AT&T
To name a few.
let go, but due to the union PUSD is stuck with!!


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Posted by One More Voice
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Feb 25, 2009 at 4:32 pm

The use of a parcel tax in any context absent of real changes within the district still gets a no vote from me.

BTW, funny you should mention AT&T. The "Wireless" Union Represented employees have voted to strike and have been working without a contract since the beginning of the month. The "Wireline" (read that to mean "copper" or "Plain Old Telephone") contract expires early April. Get ready for a strike.

Add to that all the money spent to move the new officer team from San Antonio to Dallas because Randall Stephenson didn't think San Antonio was cosmopolitan enough and I would venture to say the comparison is somewhat valid if "leadership" is included.

Not all waste is at the "union" level.


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Posted by Liz
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 25, 2009 at 4:41 pm

I do not support a parcel tax. I may be willing to consider one if all proper concessions were made by the unions and administration.
I would also want to see written into the PT that administrators can not get any salary or benefit increases for the entire length or the PT. There would be incentive to streamline and ween off of the tax. You can bet it would not be an unending parcel tax.


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Posted by frank
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Feb 25, 2009 at 9:46 pm

Nice try but I believe parcel taxes cannot be earmarked the way the poster suggests. I think any parcel tax just flows into the school district's budget without earmarks. If this is true, the idea is dead in the water. Perhaps some others with more specific knowledge can comment.


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Posted by Disagree w/B
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 26, 2009 at 5:38 am

I have sources I can check and will try to get to that today. Even I would abandon my idea if there was no way to keep the money in a restricted fund (and those already exist, so I'm hoping it's possible).


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Posted by Sandy
a resident of Mohr Park
on Feb 26, 2009 at 5:51 am

Sandy is a registered user.

Your idea could certainly be implemented not through a tax, but via donations to an educational foundation -- something like PPIE.

It's an interesting way to get around the rumored opposition in teachers' unions to merit-based pay.


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Posted by *42*`
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 26, 2009 at 10:28 am

"The idea would be to let great ideas have a chance to flow, to have teachers work together at a grade or department level, to have schools work together, to allow for innovation. Good old fashioned brainstorming or a way to foster excitement in the classroom—-for students and teachers."
That happens now. Teacher do collaborate. Staff development and Wednesday mornings are times when teachers can meet and do just what you suggested. This is time that many want taken away from teachers. We agree that teachers need to be innovative. Give them the tools and the time.


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Posted by Disagree w/B
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 26, 2009 at 11:46 am

Updates and comments:

Frank: A parcel tax can be restricted by the specific language placed before the voters. So the question that could be pursued is whether the language can say it must be held in a fund separate from the general fund and only disbursed after approval by a committee.

Sandy: PPIE is great, but it would be unlikely you could raise the necessary funds from every parcel holder.

42: I know teachers collaborate--of course they collaborate--heaven forbid if they didn't. The point I'm making is that the innovation could be supported with funding that is more substantial than a parent organization or foundation could provide (and these are wonderful and needed entities). Teachers are feeling slammed; this is a thought on how the community can provide support and inspiration with certainty as to where their hard earned dollars are being spent.

This was just one idea I started with the hope that a community of leaders could use as a jump start to more creative ideas. The current proposal is on a course to fail, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't find another idea worthy of consideration. We don't have to wait for the district to make the proposals.


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Posted by Sandy
a resident of Mohr Park
on Feb 26, 2009 at 7:02 pm

Sandy is a registered user.

Disagree w/B

It's true that you couldn't raise as much through donations as you could through a parcel tax. I'm not convinced that you'd need $2 million to make your idea work, though.

How many teachers or teaching teams would you want to recognize each year? With how much money?

I'm thinking $5000 bonuses, or maybe $7500... to perhaps 5 or 10 percent of the teachers. I can't find the total number of teachers in the district easily, though. Can anyone help us out with a good estimate?

The argument I keep hearing on this site is that the district should be "making do" without a parcel tax. If we could find a way to implement your idea without going through the hassle and cost of an election (something else people seem to oppose) then it seems that we would be the better avenue.


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Posted by .
a resident of Birdland
on Mar 7, 2009 at 5:46 pm

Just a reminder:
The union does not support keeping bad teachers and cannont protect bad teachers from due process. There are state measures in place so those teachers not performing can be identified and their improvement supported - no improvement means termination.

Principals are the only ones who have the power to remove teachers.(The union does not have this power.) If a bad teacher is allowed to remain, it is the principals you need to hold accountable.


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Posted by Jeb Bing
editor of the Pleasanton Weekly
on Mar 15, 2009 at 9:59 pm

Jeb Bing is a registered user.

We're intentionally giving topics pertaining to the June 2 parcel tax measure and teacher layoffs a rest because the postings have become repetitive and, in some instances, accusatory and hurtful to teachers and other employees of the school district who are unable to respond to postings, most of which are made under the cloak of anonymity. The postings online will remain, but future postings to these threads or new ones dealing with teacher layoffs and the parcel tax can be made only by registered users of the Pleasanton Weekly forum.