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Can the topics surrounding the Parcel Tax be posted separately?

Original post made by On the Fence on Mar 10, 2009

I'm one of the Pleasanton parents on the fence about the parcel tax. Before the vote, I'm trying to learn as much as I can about the facts of what is going to happen with or without the additional $233.

I believe there's alot of good & bad information out there on the specific child-related programs the parcel tax will and will not save.

There's also alot of good & bad information on what the district and teachers have conceeded already and what they are willing to conceed going forward.

I know my education on this issue would be better if, rather than posting among the long responses already on the PW site, someone would be willing to post a topic in a neutral language and then let those in the know fill in the blanks with the facts and opinions on that item.

For instance:

What specifically is happening in regards to John Casey's compensation package compared to 2 years ago, 1 year ago, and today?

What perks to District Staff enjoy from the past that have been discontinued or remain? (Mileage, cellphones, conferences & travel, etc)

What schools will lose their band programs without a parcel tax? I believe the high schools will not lose their programs, so is this middle school? Elementary school music?

What concessions are the teachers making in regards to their pay? Cutbacks? Frozen increases?

By breaking up these concerns and issues, we can continue to help each other be educated voters on this tax.

Thanks for your help.

Comments

Posted by stayhomedad, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 10, 2009 at 4:29 pm

I am on the fence on this tax issue as well. If questions like these are not answered, the parcel tax might have trouble passing. I would pay the tax and more if I knew that salaries were no longer bloated, and spending in general was under control. Please, anyone with useful information, please post a note that doesn't attack the other side. I have a hard time believing anyone that says "if I don't support the parcel tax, I don't support the children..." that is just ridiculous.


Posted by Sandy, a resident of Mohr Park
on Mar 10, 2009 at 4:51 pm

The most authoritative answers to these questions will come from the elected members of the board of trustees. They are responsible for oversight of the district budget. Their contact information is available at this link:

Web Link

The last question has not yet been answered. The district and the unions are still in negotiations.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 10, 2009 at 5:28 pm

<<<<What concessions are the teachers making in regards to their pay? Cutbacks? Frozen increases?>>>>

This question has turned into a kind of Clinton/Definition of Sex argument. The District claims that all wages are frozen, yet there is a steady union negotiated increase for length of service and additional training and credentials (known as step and column increases). This is the approximately 2 million dollar per year payroll "rollover" cost.

So have wages been frozen? Absolutely unless you count more pay to the same person for the same job next year as a pay raise.

I guess it really does matter what your definition of is is.

As to concessions, the Union(s) and the District are in negotiations, but the general posture from the District has been to see if the parcel tax passes first. In my opinion, that is putting the cart before the horse and clearly establishing which side the district is favoring by putting themselves into a poor bargaining position.

I think any experienced poker player would "check" at this point. But then those who let their emotions rule the game rarely win in the end. And that is why there has been a great deal of effort expended to try to get you to vote from your heart, not your head.


Posted by 38 Year resident, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Mar 11, 2009 at 10:00 am

The step and column argument, I just don't get it. Do you want quality teachers or not. Every school district has step and columns. Why, because it is an incentive to be competent and loyal. While it is true there is an occasional teacher that has been around too long. These are much more the exception, than the rule. Generally a teacher becomes more and more competent with experience and with training. This equation exists in many professions. A doctor's pay increases as they move through their steps. A tradesman's pay increase as they become journeyman ... etc. Teachers are not paid well enough for what they do. Most teachers consider that their making a difference to world to fill the gap in their compensation.
It is part of the deal; a teacher begins with a low salary and progresses through experience and education to a higher, low salary.

Look at the step and column - the highest paid teacher has to have 75 units post graduate and many years of experience.

Equal industry pay would be well above that (even pro-rated for the 30 less days that teachers work.

Fortunately I have yet to meet an adult with children that thinks teachers are over compensated, I certainly don't.

Everyone is asking the teachers and administrators to give up a lot (some will give up the profession) but the same folks don't have the heart to be part of the solution, frankly I think it driven from the same nasty greed that delivered us to the economic state we are in.
In several years there will be a shortage of teachers, and California will repeat the process we went through 10 years ago, handing out emergency credentials to some qualified and some unqualified applicants. The irony is the young homeowners whining now about a dip in their wallet, will then have school aged children, I'm sure they will be whining then.

P.S. I'm a parent, not a teacher

Yes on Parcel tax




Posted by derek, a resident of Birdland
on Mar 11, 2009 at 11:15 am

Where does it say that people who attain more post graduate units make better teachers? Some of the best instructors I've come across are those in the community colleges, not those Nobel Prize Laureates at Stanford and Berkeley.

Compensations should be dependent on performance, not the number of college credits. No amount of college credits can teach someone to be a good teacher. That comes from the passions within for teaching.

The experience I've had with PUSD teachers in the past 5 years fails to impress. The step and column compensation structure is likely the blame. Having a union also retains bad teachers in the district, which magnifies the problem. It's difficult for me to stand behind a parcel tax to support a failing system.


Posted by makes sense, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 11, 2009 at 11:40 am

Part of the solution is to encourage PUSD to develop a long term strategy to control spending and improve efficiencies, not encouraging their current spending pattern. If you don't see that as part of the solution, then you are part of the problem. Any talk of parcel tax should come after all improvement efforts have been exhausted.

NO ON PARCEL TAX! (until PUSD cleans up its act)


Posted by Liz, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 11, 2009 at 12:02 pm

Superintendent Casey appears to have mislead the community telling us the Step&Column is mandated by some kind of legislation. That does not appear to be true but it is instead a negotiated item.
I am sorry teachers can not understand that looking for reasonable ways to manage the budget in these extraordinary times is not saying we do not value our teachers. In fact it is making every effort to save every teachers job. More lost jobs would be bad for everyone.
Looking at what was the norm no longer applies, compensation increases must stop until the economy rebounds.
Pro-Kids
Pro-Teacher
Pro-Community
NO PARCEL TAX


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 11, 2009 at 3:33 pm

Let's take a moment to clear up a few things:

1) The only reason that step and column raises are part of the discussion is that they are RAISES. And there has been a great deal of misdirection offered from the district (Casey) and various teachers posting on this site regarding that fact to this point. It is at best disingenuous, and at worst fraudulent and dishonest, to report that all wages are frozen while this program is in place. Yet there was substantial effort put forth by the District, its employees, and others to perpetuate that perception.

2) Yes, other industries in the private sector offer similar paths to a higher wage, although there is a far greater need for the "journeyman" to justify his or her worth through quantifiable output. If an apprentice can satisfactorily do your job for less you are sent home. Period. Ant that is the primary difference.

3) The District in general and Dr. Casey specifically, have suffered a crisis of credibility. Once you are caught in a lie, everything you say comes into question. And the district has not been nearly forthcoming enough about their expenses to debunk the cloud of suspicion that is starting to swirl around this budget.

Consequently the "yes" rhetoric is starting to depend more and more on emotional outbursts. But there are solutions that do not require imposing a tax on people that can ill afford the burden at this time. The public sector has negotiated their compensation or been sent home. The private sector has the same opportunity.


Posted by a summary, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 11, 2009 at 4:21 pm

Let me give you a succinct, unemotional summary of the reasons why I'm voting "Yes" on the parcel tax. I am only speaking to my reasons, but maybe they will be enlightening to others who are trying to navigate through the muck.

1) It is only going to cover 43% of the budget shortfall, the rest will be made up with cuts (AKA "trimming the fat") and concessions.

2) It expires in 4 years unless a new tax is initiated and voted for by 66 % of residents.

3) It is $233 a year, which I understand is a lot for some people. I feel I will lose much more to my property value if the schools decline relative to our neighboring districts that have passed parcel taxes

4) I believe my property value IS intimately connected with the health and success of the school district

5) I believe that the cuts that will be made without the parcel tax will have a severe negative impact on the children in our community and on the reputation of the district relative to our neighbors (again, coming back to property values).

6) I believe it is premature to say the union will not make concessions. Last year, they gave up $500,000 in COLA that was earmarked for them and used it to fund science programs. The union president has said at every board meeting I watched that the union wishes to be part of the solution. They are currently in negotiations.

7) I believe that PUSD has great schools and that they are not grossly mismanaged (I'd insert a bunch of data here, but I'm trying to keep it short. See other posts, i.e. EM). Therefore, they have credibility with me.

8) There will be an oversight committee created to make sure this money is spent in accordance with voter intent.


Hope this is helpful :)


Posted by Fran, a resident of Bordeaux Estates
on Mar 11, 2009 at 4:28 pm

I hope the oversight committee is as diligent as the oversight committee for Measure B, that has not met since 2004, while millions of tax dollars have been spent with no oversight at all!

BTW one of the measure B committee members that has not met in FIVE YEARS is co chair for this parcel tax.


Posted by resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 11, 2009 at 4:29 pm

Dear "Summary"

I wanted to take a moment to thank you for your post. Although I am an ardently opposed to the proposed tax, I greatly appreciate your thoughtful and intelligently presented argument for the opposing side. Well done.


Posted by Claudette McDermott, a resident of Happy Valley
on Mar 11, 2009 at 5:44 pm

"Summary"

I wanted to take a moment to thank you for your post. I too greatly appreciate your thoughtful and intelligently presented argument.

I agree. We need the parcel tax to help counteract the cuts.


Posted by Richard, a resident of Oak Hill
on Mar 11, 2009 at 6:32 pm

NO! on the parcel tax. We are struggling to pay our taxes now. We don't need additional resources in the Pleasanton schools just competent teachers.


Posted by Angie, a resident of Valencia
on Mar 12, 2009 at 6:02 pm

On the Fence -
Why don't you phone a couple of the school board members and ask them your questions directly to start. And or call and set up an appointment with the PUSD business services director, Luz C. It seems that many residents are not as inmformed as they may think and are putting out a lot of wrong info and misleading people to think the worst.I get frustrated with PUSD, but I always come back to - why is PUSD number 8 in the State? It doesn't come without good something, good staff, good kids, good at home support, good leadership. Ask your questions of the right people and you will have your answer. Reasearch educational fianance web sites. Stacey has posted them several times.


Posted by Sandy, a resident of Mohr Park
on Mar 12, 2009 at 6:44 pm

On the Fence --

you had asked about which music/band programs would be cut. The article linked below from the Independent indicates that the parcel tax, if passed, would preserve the elementary school strings and band programs.

Web Link

I don't remember hearing anything at the board meetings I attended about any other cuts being made to music programs.


Posted by Jeb Bing, editor of the Pleasanton Weekly
on Mar 15, 2009 at 9:50 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.