Re: Pleasanton school district to end fiscal year with hefty balances
Original post made by Arnold on Mar 17, 2013
posted under Schools & Kids, posted by Editor, Pleasanton Weekly Online" (Mar 12, 2013)
Apparently the Online Editor of the Pleasanton Weekly isn't up to date concerning Pleasanton school district finances, unfunded liabilities, and the significant cost increase about to consume district budgets throughout the state. The costs I'm referring to can only be hidden from full view for another year or so, or until the new GASBy reporting rules take effect. The new guidelines coming from the credit rating agencies, in conjunction with the new GASBy rules will also impact the cost of borrowing. If this editor thinks ANY "hefty balances" ACTUALLY exist then I think the editor needs to do more homework.
The premise of financial stability (hefty balances) is so flawed it represents a disservice to the entire community. If the " Pleasanton school district to end fiscal year with hefty balances", and everything is just peachy, then why has the district been spending 100's of thousands of taxpayer dollars to raise millions in parcel tax funding from property owners?
The truth is the district has known about the impending increase in pension costs for several years but completely ignored the problem. The unfunded pension liability has now grown too large to ignore, or at least you would think so. Unfortunately, during this time of understanding the problem actually exists, the PUSD has seemingly done nothing to mitigate the problem while doing much to exacerbate it.
As it relates to PLANNING for the future, TRANSPARENCY, and BUDGETING accordingly, I'm giving the PUSD an "D-". I sincerely hope that the parents of school age children, and also the taxpayers that are sure to be asked for more Parcel Tax funding & Bond Funding, ignore the irresponsible headline at the top of this page. It's (past) time parents ignore the cry's of wolves in sheep's clothing (the PTA, CTA, School Board, Governor (and even the Pleasanton Weekly)) and understand that their increased tax dollars aren't really being spent on education.
"It's All About the Kids" is mostly about a very effective campaign slogan coming from the unions/union members that have the most to gain. I know that's a very difficult concept for many to rap their heads around - but it's true for the most part! Like always follow the money - and it isn't going to improving education.
My hope is that people who read what I've wrote will at least challenge what's considered by many as the status-quo. In other words, or in part anyway, will the Prop 30 money taxpayers voted for increase education funding for more programs and reduced class sizes? I don't think so. I believe the answer is NO.
Is it true that Prop 30 dollars will stay in the classroom? For those not paying close attention there are several recent articles from both national and local publications (WSJ & many others), and also the teachers retirement system itself (CalSTRS), that doesn't paint a pretty picture of the California school system or their/our financial stability.
I also find it difficult to believe that both the PUSD, and the On-line Editor of the Pleasanton Weekly, can independently come to the same very flawed conclusion regarding school district finances - but it appears they've done just that. Apparently their budget horizon only extends to the nextů Unfortunately the CA educational system and our tax dollars aren't in sync.
Link to the original article (Pleasanton school district to end fiscal year with hefty balances): Web Link
on Mar 17, 2013 at 12:07 pm
" In other words, or in part anyway, will the Prop 30 money taxpayers voted for increase education funding for more programs and reduced class sizes? I don't think so. I believe the answer is NO. "
This sounds like pure speculation. Are you basing this on anything? I read that the district is planning to lower K-3 class sizes from 30 to 20 for the 2014-2015 schools year and to hire more reading specialists. Have you read something that says otherwise? PUSD brought down class sizes in the past, and increased classroom services like reading specialists in the past. Are you saying they won't do that in the future? Maybe your saying that the money for the decreased class sizes won't come from propostion 30 taxes, but from other sources? That does sound likely.
Could you please provide links or references to anything that you said above?
Also please elaborate on the what the PUSD is doing "to exacerbate" the problem of unfunded pension liabilities?
" and everything is just peachy, then why has the district been spending 100's of thousands of taxpayer dollars to raise millions in parcel tax funding from property owners"
That's a simple one. They certainly weren't saying "everything is just peachy" when they were asking for the parcel taxes. There was a major financial downturn going on at the time. I don't think they are saying "everything is just peachy" now either. Class sizes in K-3 are still at 30. Many positions with direct impact on the classroom have been cut and not yet replaced.
I'm not saying that the unions didn't have a lot to gain with passage of proposition 30, or that PUSD will be getting or using some or any of the funds in classrooms in Pleasanton. But I do find it likely that passage of a parcel tax or school bond in Pleasanton will positively impact our schools and the quality of education they provide. If some of that money goes to raises for teachers, I would support that too. A local parcel tax or bond stays local.
Arnold, please understand that many of us with school age children moved to Pleasanton because of reputation and test scores of the schools. Even with the recent problems we still consider the schools, teachers, and principals to be generally very good, and we are proud to have our children attend.
on Mar 17, 2013 at 5:14 pm
I'm not basing anything on speculation. What concerns me is the financial recklessness that I'm seeing; the math behind the unachievable promises. It doesn't impress me that the PUSD can claim "lower K-3 class sizes from 30 to 20 for the 2014-2015 schools year and to hire more reading specialists". What does that matter if the programs can't be sustained? Do you want year over year concistenency or do you want the constant uncertainty of budget chaos.
I do not believe the PUSD can even deliver the numbers you've stated given the way the district is being run. You mention 2014-15 numbers but even those budget years rely on temporary tax hikes. What happens when those TEMP taxes expire? I guess you can claim the economy will soften the blow but that's nothing more than a guestimate at this point.
What I do know is that the Teacher's Pension (CalSTRS) is in dire straights and in need of a significant cash infusion. The PUSD also knows this. The increased cost will amount to an additional 15% of payroll (not just a 15% increase but an almost tripling of the current pension cost of 8.25% of payroll, to 8.25% + 15% = 23.25% of payroll for the tax payer portion/district portion of the pension obligation).
John, that increased cost will wipe out the temporary tax benefit and increase the cost to the district for decades - it's that bad. I don't have the time to address anything else from your post but I will leave you with a link to the Wall Street Journal article: The Calstrs Tax - There goes the money from California's November tax increase.
on Mar 18, 2013 at 11:45 am
Prepare for the tsunami. Do not be fooled by these balanced budgets and surpluses. Teachers are bad news. Unions are bad news. Anything that involves taxing me is bad news. We're like Greece, we're like France, CalSTRS doesn't have any underpants. We're doomed.