http://pleasantonweekly.com/square/print/2009/05/30/letter-cuts-will-radically-affect-our-community


Town Square

Letter: Cuts will radically affect our community

Original post made on May 30, 2009

Dear Editor,

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, May 29, 2009, 12:00 AM

Comments

Posted by parent, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on May 30, 2009 at 1:47 pm

This letter is fiction. Jeff, you are well aware of what is going on with the schools and it has never been mentioned that a school or two will close. That is made-up scare tactics. If classroom size reduction did go away, there would be the same number of kids at each school but larger classes, meaning some rooms (mostly temporary portables that were brought in to handle classroom size reductions) would not be used but not enough rooms that you would close down a school or two. While I understand your passion for this parcel tax, lets stick with the facts.


Posted by Be accurate and truthful, a resident of Birdland
on May 30, 2009 at 1:56 pm

For pity's sake, this is really over the top.
This isn't just fiction, it's outright lying. I will certainly remember this if Jeff Bowser decides to run again for the School Board.
Isn't he married to a PUSD teacher?


Posted by Stu Gazzo, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 30, 2009 at 2:43 pm

"Liar Liar, pants on fire. Your nose is longer than a telephone wire."
All posts relating to the Measure G topic have become fiction. There is no truth to be found here anymore, and all voters have already made up their minds so just sit back and wait for Tuesday.


Posted by Carl, a resident of Country Fair
on May 30, 2009 at 2:43 pm

You mean the portables that PUSD leased, paid by the COPs, which are funded by developer fees, which dried up due to the economy, which PUSD then had to go to the City of Pleasanton for a $1.2M revolving loan?

Good! - now we can get rid of the portables, cancel the lease and save even more money.

No on G! So PUSD continues to wring excessive expense out of the budget.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on May 30, 2009 at 3:59 pm

At least the letter begins with a truth: "In my 37 years in Pleasanton I have seen Prop 13 and numerous state boom and bust cycles impact our schools. While Pleasanton has survived . . . "

The previous two administrations built and handed off a financially solid district despite the boom and bust cycles. Everyone in education (and probably in state government) knows funding ebbs and flows based on those cycles. As did the current district administration, who chose not to prepare for that eventuality.


Posted by Still waiting, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 30, 2009 at 6:07 pm

This is the time line and this is for real:

February 19: State Budget cut 11.4 billion from education; the impact to PUSD was 9.7 million in cuts.

May 8 - CDE announces 8.1 million in ARRA and SFSF federal money to restore the cuts from 2008-2009

Web Link

May 14 - Governor S. announces May revise and that the state has a new 21.3 billion problem and that he's cutting 5.4 billion more in education if the state propositions fail; the impact to PUSD was a new 6.8 million in cuts.

Web Link

May 27 - Governor S announces we really have a 24.3 billion problem and that he's cutting 680 million - 1 billion to education; impact to PUSD is 2.2 million

Web Link

Web Link



The math:

9.7 + 6.8 + 2.2 = 18.7 million in cuts

minus

8.1 million ARRA and SFSF federal money

equals

10.6 PUSD deficit for 2008 - 2010

This is a formula for school closure. Jeff's right on. We desperately need Measure G


Posted by other options, a resident of Grey Eagle Estates
on May 30, 2009 at 6:46 pm

There are other options, including freezing step & column which over four years saves the district $15 million dollars.
That is an option voters will want to see the district make before cutting programs or jobs.
It is an option that Jeff Bowser has chosen to ignore. According to the bio Bowser prepared for his unsuccessful run for the school board, Bowser is married to a PUSD teacher.


Posted by Bite Me, a resident of Bridle Creek
on May 30, 2009 at 7:02 pm

All this negativity toward teachers is uncalled for. It's like hating the guy who serves your hamburger at McDonald's. He's really too busy to give a crap about how the company is being run. Teachers are a highly educated asset to our community. If you want em' pay em'. If not say good bye! To compare the teachers union to GM unions is just stupid. GM makes a product that people buy or they don't. Teachers teach kids. They don't sell them. In my opinion they do a damn good job here in Pleasanton and I will pay a measly 64 cents a day to keep the people and programs that are successful. This blog is filled with bitter haters. Those of you who are unemployed are likely just jealous because teachers have a more stable job. You could have found a more stable career path too. You do have options, this is America. And your personal financial problems likely have more to do with your inability to reign in your and your children's spending than it does with the economy. I don't really care if measure G passes. I have enough money to move to a better school district if needed. I'll just hire one of you to pack my boxes. AND, I won't even make you pay taxes on those wages. I bet that will make you happy!


Posted by Still waiting, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 30, 2009 at 7:26 pm

@ other options

Step and column accounts for 1.5 million 2009-2010 according to the Measure G opposition. OK.

10.6 million remaining deficit - $1.5 eliminated S&C = a remaining 9.1 million deficit.

This number might get higher if Governor S. cannot borrow 5.6 billion in RAWs to address the 24.3 billion state deficit.

Jeff's right about the potential for school closure.

Pointing out an unsuccessful bid to serve as a school board member and being married to a PUSD teacher has nothing to do with this stark math. Why does the opposition to G keep failing to mentioning the math? It appears no where in your rhetoric or your blog posts or your web site. This isn't emotional. This is well documented.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on May 30, 2009 at 7:29 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Still waiting,

You're missing a key item. The deficit number being thrown around is for two years.


Posted by parent, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on May 30, 2009 at 7:55 pm

Still waiting,

I guess what you are saying is the step and column raises from the staff might require us to close down a school or two? Wow! I guess we will have the unions to blame for closing down schools in Pleasanton.


Posted by resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 30, 2009 at 8:12 pm

ONCE UPON A TIME THE PLEASANTON WEEKLY WAS A NEWSPAPER. NOW IT'S JUST ADVERTISING FUNDED CAMPAIGN LITERATURE FOR THE DISTRICT EMPLOYEE'S BENEFIT (LIKE THE EDITOR'S WIFE).


Posted by other options, a resident of Grey Eagle Estates
on May 30, 2009 at 9:00 pm

Still waiting,
There are also other options not yet mentioned including cutting administrators raises and perks, and going through the budget line by line and reducing or eliminating the unnecessary spending - which PUSD will do when they don't get more money from the taxpayers. They will have to do what they should have done months ago and tighten their belts - just like everyone else. For all anyone knows, there could be millions of dollars in the budget that don't need to be spent.


Jeff Bowser has a vested interest in step and column because he's married to a school teacher. The majority of voters were smart enough to see he had a conflict of interest when he ran for the board, and still does. Good thing that he didn't win a seat on the school board, or he would be choosing to close schools over freezing wages.


Posted by Be Positive, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 30, 2009 at 9:40 pm

Other options- Amazing that you call someone who has volunteered countless hours for Pleasanton schools as having a conflict of interest. Our schools have been highly successful yet anyone involved with the schools is to not be trusted? This has been the most upsetting reasoning written constantly on these blogs. The private sector has blown our trust so it must be the same with education? This is unwarranted given the track record of PUSD and the rising student achievement that they continue to show year after year.

Your lack of knowledge about the many cuts the administration has made this year may be due to the fact that you have not been following this issue long, or you are only getting your information from the blogs. The budget cuts are not something coming in the future, they have been upon us for months. The belt tightening has been going on for years. Last year over 2 million in cuts were made, avoiding a parcel tax while all neighboring cities voted for one.

There have been public meetings, budget workshops, SSC meetings, PTA meetings- a variety of ways to get informed and be a part of the solution. Those who have been doing so for the past year are the ones I will trust with accurate information. Not those who simply write "it is the wrong time for a tax, we need time to go through the budget." The opportunities have been there for you to be involved, those posting this logic, chose not to do so.




Posted by No on G, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 30, 2009 at 10:12 pm

Be Positive,

You stated, "Our schools have been highly successful yet anyone involved with the schools is to not be trusted? This has been the most upsetting reasoning written constantly on these blogs. The private sector has blown our trust so it must be the same with education?"

The trust you speak of needs to go both ways. If you are ever mislead, you learn to be cautious.

Are you asking people who perhaps got hosed by corporate greed to turn a blind eye and assume it will never happen in another context again? I think what has been learned is to ask questions.

Wisdom simply stated is putting into practice a concept learned by another - good or bad. It would be unwise to never ask questions - and that alone isn't "mistrust". Isn't that what happened in the example you gave about corporations? Trust is earned.

In the infamous words of our greatest president, Ronald W. Reagan, "Trust but verify".

He also said, "We must keep up our guard, but we must also continue to work together to lessen and eliminate tension and mistrust...as long as we make it clear that we will continue to act in a certain way as long as they continue to act in a helpful manner. If and when they don't, at first pull your punches. If they persist, pull the plug. It's still trust but verify. It's still play, but cut the cards. It's still watch closely. And don't be afraid to see what you see."


Posted by Be Positive, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 31, 2009 at 9:29 am

Doubt has been placed by those not wanting to pay $233 to support our schools. The lies that have been spewed are so blatant to those who have be actively involved in the schools, it really is sad that this is the tactic they choose to use. All PUSD records have always been public, people just chose not to be involved or care until something was asked of them. Now to hear the uproar is so ironic.

I will expect future meetings, budget sessions, all PTA meetings etc. to be packed, standing room only, after this is over. That will be the true test to see who is in this for the improvement of our schools and who is in to defeat measure G because "its not my problem."


Posted by Yes on G, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on May 31, 2009 at 10:00 am

@ be positive.
I agree, here here to being part of the solution not part of the bitterness.


Posted by Kent and Annie, a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on May 31, 2009 at 11:04 am

Too bad many are blinded. They can't see the reality that an integral infrastructure of our society- our schools, are crumbling down due to the unfortunate economic tragedy that has befallen our nation. Schools, universities, state colleges, private and public ALL OVER are commonly undergoing hardships. And no, it's not because they were managed by Dr. Casey, or because they are part of the CTA, or because they have the Board that we do!

There are many other causes and advocacies my family and I can participate in. We choose to save our neighborhood schools because our schools need us now more than ever.

My friends and I, our whole block and our church group are all voting YES on Measure G.

YES on Measure G!

YES on Measure G!

YES on Measure G!


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on May 31, 2009 at 11:21 am

Be Positive, Saying this is about not wanting to pay $233 is only half the sentence. The other half runs along the lines of, "to a district that has mismanaged what it already has." If opponents are spewing lies, please tell us what is seen as being a lie so it can be clarified or corrected. Not all PUSD records are public (students and employee evaluations), of course, but much is not readily available without a written request. I was surprised by the raises given in the recent path, but the general public would have no way of knowing they weren't sustainable. To question it now is not ironic, it's just good reasoning to know what has occurred leading up to a request for more money.

The ideas of those who have been opposed to how this campaign has been run have not been welcome in any forum thus far. So, the true test, if this measure is defeated, will be whether this board and administration are open to suggestions and systemic change.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on May 31, 2009 at 11:32 am

s/b "in the recent past."

Yes on G: No bitterness on my part. Either this measure will fail and we can all look to future choices or this measure will pass and I will pay. I knew that coming into the debate.

Kent and Allie: The opposition is presenting facts. It's an intelligent community, so I don't think anyone is blinded; they're just making choices based on the information.


Posted by Gary, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 31, 2009 at 11:45 am

YES on Measure G!

Because it's the right thing to do!


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on May 31, 2009 at 12:00 pm

Gary, Can you define why it's the right thing to do? I mean, would you vote no if I followed it with the same comment?


Posted by Go to Oakland!, a resident of Canyon Creek
on May 31, 2009 at 1:11 pm

Vote no please, I have friends who want to move from Oakland to here and a no vote will surely open up more affordable housing and there is no way that our schools will be as bad as Oakland overnight, so a NO vote will work for them. By the time the schools really start to degrade from the negativity, bad morale and overcrowding their kids will have graduated. It's all about your personal situation people, don't make PUSD out to be the bad guy, when they are on top YOU take the credit for it and when times are tough you blame, blame, blame. My perspective is one of a person who did not grow up with such a sense of entitlement as this community. Really it's no wonder someone started the community of character campaign. If there were ever a group of folks who need it it's you Pleasantonians. If measure G fails, welcome to the real world. If it passes, good for you maybe there is a chance of this place remaining Pleasantville. All in all though there are some nasty folks in this town.


Posted by My, my..., a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 31, 2009 at 1:46 pm

TO: Go to Oakland,
Yes on G
Kate
Allie
Kent and Allie
Be Postitive
More Attacks on Teachers
Or...

TO ALL THE SAME PERSON:

Why do you bother to post such unintelligent comments, and then post to congratulate yourself on your post?

You are the only ONE that sounds so ridiculous on these forums, and keep coming back to post more.

If you want to vote yes on G, then by all means do so and feel free to post why you are so inclined.

However, stop posting character attacks on the people who are actually presenting well thought out ideas, while decrying that they are devicive, nasty, and lacking character. Where is your actual arguments of why you are pro-G. You sound ridiculous.

I can see you are motivated for G to win, but using broad sweeping generalizations like, "My friends and I, our whole block and our church group are all voting YES on Measure G" sounds a little suspect and wholly immature. Most people in these posts usually stick to themselves and thier own household, but yet you don't.

You come across as a juvenile that has the "me and my friends" mentality and I highly doubt you are any older than 18. Can I prove it? No. Can I deduce it? Yes. How? Your consistent writing samples regardless of what you post under. If you indeed are more mature, you need to work on your arguments and writing skills.

As an educator myself, I can see your approximate written lanugage developmental age. It is good to know you are interested in community issues, but you need to take a step back and stop irritating those on this forum that are truly trying to solve a crisis, that even you said is important to you.


Posted by Mom2, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 31, 2009 at 11:13 pm

The reasons to vote "yes"- I know your mind is made up, Kathleen, but here you go.

To maintain reading specialists and the Barton Reading program, two stellar reading intervention programs which few districts have been able to maintain or implement (Fremont, Dublin, and Livermore no longer have reading specialists, San Ramon funds their reading specialists through parent donation monies)

To maintain elementary, middle, and high school counselors. Again, I don't know of any elementary school district which has counselors on campus. The elementary school counselors contribute, in my humble opinion, to the nearly conflict free environment in on our elementary school campuses. Counselors provide a much needed intervention which frees up the classroom teacher to focus on academics. The peaceful environment on our elementary school campuses was the biggest difference I experienced moving from Fremont schools.

The bands and strings program - children need the opportunity to start a musical instrument as soon as possible. If not for school music programs, some children would never realize they have a gift. These elementary school children become our awarding winning middle school and high school students.

Class Size Reduction - Pleasanton will not be able to maintain class sizes at their current levels of 20-1 without the parcel tax. Formulas will change and class size will rise. I think raising the class size will affect our students' social and academic growth and Pleasanton's draw to families. I have a young child, and I would not choose to move to district with a 25-1 or 30-1 over a district that is maintaining smaller class size under 22-1. Livermore, Dublin, and San Ramon will most likely have smaller class sizes than PUSD next year if the parcel doesn't pass. I was just speaking to my sister-in-law today, and her daughter's fourth grade class in So. Cal is 36 because of budget cuts.

It will take 4-5 years for California to rebound, and the parcel guarantees that the district is responsible for maintaining the essential programs. With that guarantee, how can salaries rise? I know this. I am already frozen on the salary schedule, and I willingly voted to take two days off my pay next year. I don't foresee or expect any COLA or raise for the next five+ years. However, I will donate more to my son's classroom and supplement my own classroom to compensate for having no SLIP funds next year. We didn't have SLIP funds this year, and most of my fellow teachers, did spend their own money to ensure programs and activities would proceed as normal. I don't know of any greedy teachers on my particular campus. Like many of the bloggers, the economic downturn has affected my family's and many teachers' families economic stability as well.

However, without the parcel, the programs which have made Pleasanton unique and successful will most likely be cut. We have already lost programs which the parcel will not restore. I think losing our Vice Principals especially on the larger campuses will be a much larger loss than we can imagine. Kathleen, if you have ever written or read an application for a California Distinguished or Blue Ribbon school, you know that these programs gain the district points and are often the cause for winning such awards. The reviewers are particularly interested in how a district provides interventions and services for English Language Learners, the special education population, and struggling readers.
And Kathleen, since you worked/work for our previous superintendent, I am sure you know that cutting such programs and raising class size will most likely affect the amount of awards this district will receive. Those Distinguished and Blue Ribbon schools do place our district in the top ten percent. I am proud to have worked in Pleasanton schools which received these rewards. I had been a teacher for fourteen years in two other districts before Pleasanton, and none of my schools were honored with Distinguished or Blue Ribbon. I can tell you it makes a difference. As a teacher on a awarding winning campus, you have a responsibility to maintain the quality which earned these rewards. The elementary PUSD teachers are the most dedicated group of educators that I have ever worked alongside. I have become a stronger teacher because I am surrounded with teachers interested in becoming the best they can be and helping students do the same.
Kathleen, I realize you don't particularly care for Dr. Casey and you work for our previous administrator, but I know you can at least appreciate the value of our school being able to maintain programs which earned such prestigious awards.
Like Jeff Bowser, I have been in education long enough to see the ups and downs. However, I must say, I have never seen the cuts this deep, and it disturbs me that so many bloggers are taking their frustration and anger out on each other. I have written countless letters to those who hold the strings in Sacramento. The department of education has become a huge albatross around our necks with regulation after regulation, yet the state doesn't provide adequate funding for mandated services. Sacramento cut the funding for Miller-Uhruh reading specialists even as districts were to provide interventions to meet No Child Left Behind standards. Many districts dropped their reading specialists once the state pulled the funding. Pleasanton kept ours, and of course, it has cost them. Last year, the board had to dip into the reserves to keep them for this year. I don't see that as irresponsible because children's intervention plans were at stake. Of course, I see those struggling readers each and every day and am thankful that we have a trained reading specialist to give them another round of reading instruction at least four times a week. They do catch up with their peers and it's priceless!
Please vote YES!



Posted by NO ON G, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 1, 2009 at 10:37 am

Mom 2
Where on the ballot is it stated that passing Measure G will guarantee the Barton Reading program will continue to be funded as it has been?
I attended those community forum meetings and heard parent after parent at the microphone talking about the value of the Barton Reading program. I talked to people I know who have kids in the program and they have all been very grateful for the changes the program made in their kids' lives.
I completely agree that the Barton Reading program is very important, so important that it should have been listed on the ballot as something Measure G will save.
Either the school board members weren't listening to what the parents at the forums were saying, or they were, and they still chose to be very vague about what the Measure G funds would save.
I would support a measure that was very specific about what it would pay for, but that's not Measure G.


Posted by Privatize, a resident of another community
on Jun 1, 2009 at 12:23 pm

Kathleen,

Are you that much in love with taxes that you won't say what needs to be said. We need to stop throwing away money on violent, ineffective public schools. Vouchers will get us there. Why should one penny of tax dollars be spent on education. Where is that in the constitution? The ultimate goal has to be closing the schools.